Monday, May 02, 2011

Why I'm Probably Not Going To Give You A Ride Anytime Soon

I was waiting for a green light when a young woman crossing the street asked me, in a shockingly loud voice, if I'd give her a ride. The response that came to mind was, "No, you look like an aspiring crackhead," but saying that out loud would have been rude.

Instead, I smiled politely and said, "Not today."

Undeterred, she asked, "How about tomorrow?"

Well, she was persistent, I have to give her that. I said, "We'll see," and the light turned green, giving me a perfect excuse to end the conversation.

If I, by some stroke of fate, run into her tomorrow, I'm still not going to give her a ride. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person.

The young woman I encountered today is hardly the first woman I've never met before to ask when I'll give her a ride. It happens frequently. I'm sure most of you have had the same experience: someone in the general areas spots your bike, and asks for a ride.* I always smile and say no.

It's not like I don't want to share the joy of riding with new friends (or old friends, for that matter). Riding is great! Everyone should do it.**

Riding is great, but great passengers are few and far between. I can think of one passenger who hasn't done something to terrify me at speed, and that's because she'd been a passenger with other riders in the past, so she understood the "sit there without flailing around and hang on" principle completely. Other passengers I've had have done things like lean the wrong way in turns after I'd explicitly told them to lean with me.

There's nothing like the taste of adrenaline in your mouth when you think you're going to wad the bike with a passenger on the back. I've learned my lesson. If I don't know that I can trust a passenger to behave, they don't get on.

Another thing is that the Triumph isn't really built for passengers. If you're taller than five and a half feet, we're both going to have a rough time. So unless you're a tiny, tiny person, the rear seat and foot pegs are really just for show. If I had a bigger bike like a Goldwing, one where we'd both have a bit of space, I might feel differently.

But another issue, and it's a big one, I have with giving rides is a little more personal: I don't really like it when people I know well get in my personal bubble. If I don't know you, forget it. Going for a ride with a passenger, on the Speed Four, is like getting a prolonged hug. If I'm not one hundred percent comfortable with a passenger, they aren't getting on. There are very, very few people I don't mind having pressed up against me. If I'm not comfortable with the passenger, I'm going to be distracted, and that's not safe for either of us.

So it's nothing against you, possible crackhead stranger, but I'm probably not going to give you a ride.

*Would you hop on the motorcycle of a total stranger? Seems like volunteering for a really bad experience to me, but then, I'm sort of the cautious type.

**Until it becomes apparent that, maybe, they should not actually ride.


bobskoot said...


I agree with you. I don't give rides either. I'm not really sure I know how, nor want to be responsible for someone else, and you are right about the LONG HUG.

I have had a large bag of dog food on the back before and it felt okay. Perhaps it would even be okay with two bags of dog food. I was thinking that perhaps 3 bags of dog food would be around 100 lbs, but I never had 3 bags on the back yet.

Riding the Wet Coast

Karen Weimer-Boyd said...

I love riding with my daughter as a passenger. She knows how to ride and obviously there is a level of comfort that doesn't come easily with non-family members.

I have never given anyone else a ride, and except in an emergency, I don't plan to. Lack of safety gear (Pants, jacket, gloves etc. in addition to helmet) for a passenger is one easy excuse that lets both of us off the hook without creating hurt feelings.

No Name said...

First thing I wanted to do when I trailered my bike home from the seller was to remove the passenger seat. But it would have been a pretty involved process that left some empty hardware behind, so I settled for removing the sissy bar.

My next bike will be the large American-made one, and it will have a single seat. The only thing that's going on the back is camping gear.

My thought is- and tell me if this sounds cold- you want to ride on a motorcycle? Buy one.

SonjaM said...

Totally agree, I wouldn't let strangers ride pillion. I have no skills and no desire whatsoever to ride two up, and I'd rather have a single seat.

Allen Madding said...

Total stranger on my back giving me the long hug? Um, no. Not looking for saddle tramps.

I'm with ya on this one my friend 100%.


Canajun said...

There are only 2 people who ride on the back with me - my wife and my daughter. Both have been well schooled in proper passengering and it's easy to sometimes forget they are even there. My wife, always a good passenger, got even better once she had her own motorcycle.
I won't carry unknowns except in an emergency, and likewise won't ride with someone whose skills I don't know first hand.

Lady Ridesalot said...

Not only would I not give the probable crack head a ride... I would not ride as a passenger on a bike of someone I did not know. In either case... she's kinda dumb, if you ask me.

Charlie6 said...

Lucky...the only time I give rides is when I am riding one of my sidecar rigs.

I tried riding two up with my wife and neither of us liked it much, she will however ride in the sidecar just fine.

Even when I give rides in the sidecar, it's just around the neighborhood at slow speeds since I don't carry a spare helmet. If we're going any kind of distance, the monkey must have a helmet!

So, nothing wrong with your "no rides" principle. It's a big responsibility one undertakes with passengers. Not to mention, you've no idea what that stranger is like on the bike or sitting right behind you.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Kev said...

I've definitely had a few people hit me up for a ride and I have turned them all down except one. I was heading to work at 8 AM in the morning and was getting off my bike in the empty parking lot when a gal in a pickup truck pulls up and asks me if I'll just give her a quick ride. I'm not sure if it was the cowboy hat that convinced me or what, but I took her for to the end of the parking lot and back and that was it. She was holding her arms out like an airplane the whole time. Afterwards, she gave me her phone number, but I wasn't interested so I tossed it. In hindsight that was maybe a mistake.

Brady said...

You need to drive around at a gymnast convention. This will solve all your problems, they are small, have great balance, and are usually built in a way that you will not mind the 'prolonged hug' They are also quite bendy, I'm not sure how that's applicable HERE, but it seems relevant somehow.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

irondad said...

Interesting that I find this post today. Yesterday I, too, was accosted by an aspiring crackhead. This one had purple hair. She had a low cut tank top with very thin straps and had been walking coatless in the rain. I don't remember much else about her.

She asked me where my extra helmet was. I replied that I only wished I had one. She said she did, too. Then she walked on.

When we teach our Advanced Rider Training class on the track we often offer passenger rides to the students. Sometimes experiencing it is the only way they can get it. You'd be surprised at how many so called experienced riders are horrible passengers and are agraid to lean with the bike. Having complete strangers ride pillion is part of the job.

In a delightful contrast Bolty rode on the back of my bike at an ART. She's an awesome passenger because she actually had riding skills. Bolty had already "gotten it", we were just fine tuning.

I could live with passengers like her all day.