Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Give Fear a Square Kick in the Shin

From what I've read, and otherwise gathered from talking to folks that don't ride, motorcycles scare the hell out of a lot of people. As in, "Oh my god, that motorcycle parked over there is going to lunge at me and eat my travel-sized dog."

People have told me they don't ride because it's too scary, and they don't know how I do it.

Here's something to consider: motorcycles scare the hell out of people that do ride, on occasion. Any biker will be able to tell you about a time he/she almost shat in his/her gear. It might have been an oncoming truck intruding in the lane, or gravel in the middle a fast curve. If you've never had to check your pants after a ride, you haven't been riding for very long.

It's not a lack of fear that lets us continue to enjoy riding, it's just a good supply of nerve. Nerve as in ability to cope in a demanding situation, in equal measure with impudence and audacity.

Some people don't have enough nerve to get on a bike in the first place. Some don't have enough nerve to make it beyond the first high-intensity experience. That's OK. At least they know their limits now.

But a select few are the sort who survive a close call, yell "Wahoo!" and ride on, because letting fear win is unthinkable.

Long time riders are the ones who have it together enough to face a terrifying situation, respond correctly, and then look over at fear and death and give them a cheery wave just to shine 'em on a bit. It takes a lot of nerve to get back on a bike after that.


Anonymous said...

This is my first year riding but I have an idea of what you're talking about. Joe Public looks at us throwing our bikes thru curves at 50 or 60 and thinks we're nuts; we do it because 1)we bothered to learn how, and 2)it's a blast.

What must look like bravado to non-motorcyclists is just confidence born of demonstrated ability.

Canajun said...

Well said.

RazorsEdge2112 said...

Plenty of 'pucker moments' here. IMHO, the main thing is to learn from them and maybe do a little WOO HOO after the kick stand is safely down.

Charlie6 said...

Yep, plenty of "oh shit" moments for me as well. It sometimes helps for me to let out a woohoo during said events as training kicks in and I manage to get away with it. Riding in high winds, taking a curve a little hot...that kind of moments.

Sometimes, you pay the piper, the protective gear does its job, you get the bike fixed and ride on.

Sometimes, you think: "What the hell am I doing on this trail on this motorcycle?!" Making through unscathed is always nice.

Good post.


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Lady Ridesalot said...

Very well said. I remember a few of my "oh shit" moments and your right... there was definitely a woo hoo moment right after it.

Or maybe more like a "shew!" ... but regardless, it's part of what makes it exciting.

Be smart... ride safe... and ride fun!! WOO HOO!!

PeterTorrres said...

nice written, keep doing a great job.

RazorsEdge2112 said...

Charlie6 - Your comment made me think of two 'what the heck am I doing' moments.

It was on my first poker run on my hot, high powered Honda Rebel 250. :-) Went into a sweeper a little hot and that was initially OK. After rounding about 75 of the curve, the radius of said curve reduce significantly. So, as I bank more and more, the rear end started slipping and the front end started oscillating back and forth. In front of me was a nasty looking guard rail. Luckily, the MSF training kicked in and I just held it steady and made it through. Serious WOO HOO after that one.

The second was when I took my Sportster down a desert trail road. the first mile or so was rough hard-packed desert road. That was ok. Then it quickly turned into a loose dry sand that seemed to want to suck my rear tire down to the forks. It was a mile from the interstate, getting hot, I was alone and no cell service. Luckily for me, there was an extra wide rear tire on the back end and that saved me from burying her. Now THAT was a "WOO HOO, What the heck was I thinking" sort of ride.

RazorsEdge2112 said...

Sorry - I meant to write, "...suck my front tire down to the forks.

irondad said...

Lucky wrote: It takes a lot of nerve to get back on a bike after that.

So that's what they call it.