Take The Magic Carpet Ride

a3I got a very nice
little letter
from a new reader
who asked
me some questions
about motorcycling —

Does one get too old
to learn how to ride one?

How hard is it?

What are the things
to look out for when riding?

How does one know
what they need
on a motorcycle?

Despite the fact that
the issues she asked
about are a bit more
complicated
than can usually be
answered on a single
blog post,

I think I have showna8
in the past an
absolute talent
for completely
oversimplifying
even the most
complicated of subjects….

So I guess I’m the
man for the job.

Ahem.

I started riding
motorcycles when
I was 13 —
(my parents knew NOTHING
about it, and lucky thing, too)

I was doing handyman type
chores and babysitting
(yes, I was babysitting —
hey, I needed gas money)
for a couple that lived
in my neighborhood,
and the lady of the house
took a liking to me,
and let me take
their early 70’s era
Suzuki 500 motorcycle
out on occasion.
(It was red, of course)

She figured it wasn’t
hard (to ride),
and what harm
could I do in the end?

I figured that I’d
just learn on the go.

And both of us turned out
to have had the completely
wrong idea.

(Although one or two
of her other ideas
I totally enjoyed)

But, I didn’t wreck
the bike or anything.

And it wasn’t powerful enough
for me to go really ape with it.

Just enough to scare
the living beee-jeeezus
out of me several hundred times.

And I guess what
I’m getting at herea31
is that,
no matter how you learn:

whether it be in a riding class,

or you just decide to wing it
in the off hours of the
Wally World parking lot,
a34
you’re facing a steep
learning curve as it is,
so bring plenty
of cojonic audacity,
and start to learn on
something small and light.
(it’ll be cheaper to replace)

I don’t really see age
as a limitation,
personally…

although I do know chef
Alton Brown, who was
famous for riding his m/c’s
back and forth to his Atlanta
area studios recently decided
to quit riding saying that he
didn’t feel comfortable
with the age-related loss
of reaction time and
situational awareness.

But, anyone familiar with Alton
also knows how anal
the guy can seem about things —apol
all things
and motorcycles
aren’t really going
to keep one in any
kind of comfort
zone most of the time,
anyway.

I don’t blame him,
but as for me,
I’d rather be the guy with the pickle
riding off the mountain
when it’s time to me to GO .

And if you don’t
get that reference,
you’re obviously not a biker.
Yet.

aNYHOO…..

I think most motorcycle
dealers these days
will give you a referral
to a local training class —
those classes are usually 4-6 Saturdays leading up to
getting a m/c license or such.

They do them at
the Police Academy here,s
on a specially designed course,
and I will often spin by
and watch the fun
on my way home
from the gym.

Some people have no business on a
motorcycle
— ever —grannie

But you
(and everyone else)
will know who
they are
right away
in a class like that.

They usually either flunk out
or no-show on the second class,
so, no worries.

Is it difficult to ride?
Naaaaaaah. Eazy Peeezy.a

Is it difficult to ride well ?
Oh man, damn sure, it is.

You got no idea how difficult.

So what’s to be done?
Practice,
Practice,
Practice,
Practice.

Which means
Ride,
Ride,
Ride,
Ride,
and Ride.

You must learn
to be totally bug
comfortable with:
the throttle,
brakes,
clutch,
gears,
and all the safety equipment.

(not to mention, bugs in your teeth, pebbles smacking you in the leg, sand in your eyes, birds flying into you, and so many assorted goodies like that …… )

Do me a favor, though —a35

Forget where
the horn switch is —
— if you’re in a situation
where you’re tempted to
use it, you should instead
be totally focused on
slowing, stopping, evasion,
and balance —
beeping your horn
takes a measure of biker
valuable time and
attention away from
you at the
exact time you need
all of it.

You really need to
be able to operate
every piece of your
bike blindfolded.

(just don’t try it)

 

In an emergency,
there is absolutely
NO TIME to look
for your kill switch,
choke, high beams,
or your gas toggle.

You must learn where
your sled’s center of
gravity is, and how to
use it to control your bike.

And you need to be able
to stop and turn on a dime.

Otherwise, you might as
well change your name
to Parto D. Pavement.

Cause people in cars have
4 solid walls around
them when they’re driving,
and, though either ignorance,
forgetfulness,
or maybe they just
don’t give a fuck —
they usually drive like it.

What’s a little dent on
a fender to them, after all?

But a collision —
— any collision —
to a motorcycle rider
is potentially life threatening.

No four walls.
Just hard concrete.

So YOU must learn
to read their little minds —
to drive defensively,
and to always assume
the ‘cage driver’
is about to do
something stupid.

I like to make eye contact
with people coming
out of side streets,
I will throttle back
until I’m sure they’ve not
only seen me,
but also have decided
not to pull out anyway.

And sometimes they fool you anyway.

I know plenty of riders
who have ruineda4
a perfectly good
Mercedes-Benz paint job
with their essential bodily fluids
because they assumed that
driver was competent.

(Blood and guts are acidic
and absolutely ruin
a car’s finish, ya know)

Assume they’re all
morons, and you’ll
be much safer.

As for what type of
motorcycle you’d want….thr

Well, as I said,
lighter and smaller
would be my recommendation
when you’re learning.

You can get a nice used bike to learn on
for under a G
just about anywhere.

Once you’ve built some skills —
that’s the time to talk
about something with
power, style, class,
and a long term financing contract.

Don’t buy into the whole
‘ Real Bikers only ride
Harleys ‘ bullshit, either.a1a1

Real Bikers ride whatever
(and whomever) they like ,
and they don’t give a fuck
about who says otherwise.

Buy what you enjoy
and are comfortable on.

I’m here if you got questions —
as long as you don’t ask me
‘the elephant in the room’ one.

Well —
OK….

I’m thinking it took me
40-plus years
to feel like I could ride
my way out of a paperbag….

Your mileage may vary.

.

PS: I think I mighta forgot
the part in her letter when
she asked about turning and leaning —

It’s tricky to explain,
but briefly:

You lean the bike – not you.
If you’re banking to the right,
then your head and shoulders
should still be perpendicular
to the ground,
while your weight,
since the bike is leaning right,
will have to shift slightly left
to keep your center of balance.
But you can drive your foot
down into the right pedal
to ride the bike harder
into a steeper right turn.
This one takes practice,
but just remember,
the bike turns, you don’t.
And passengers should always
mimic the driver’s position.

Zoom, Zoom.

HOY !!!!!

.

types

.

.

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8 thoughts on “Take The Magic Carpet Ride

  1. mislucja says:

    Awesome post!

    Gonna hear Arlo in my head all day 😉

  2. HA! I know that song! 😀

    Great write, C! It was interesting and enjoyable to read! It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the back of a motorcycle. I have a best friend with a bike…so I should get on his back and have him take me for a ride.

    HUGS!!! 🙂
    PS…What one or two of her other ideas did you totally enjoy?!?!

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