Friday, April 14, 2017

Dear Lady Rider

Yesterday, I sold my motorcycle.
 
I know it was the right time to do it. I have been thinking about giving up motorcycling for two years now. I rode twice last spring and she has sat in the garage since then. A friend had posted online he was looking for a ride for a friend so I mentioned I was selling mine. She sold quickly.
 
As a goodbye to a very good part of my recent life, I wrote a letter to the young lady who is beginning her riding life. It felt good to pass on what I've learned from great biker friends on the road.  Oddly, I don't feel sad about giving up something that I truly loved doing. The time feels right for me. If you are one of my biker friends reading this, I thank you for all the wisdom you've imparted on me.

Dear Lady Rider:
 
I am thrilled you are just starting your journey on the road with this motorcycle.  This bike has taken me all over the state of Washington and a bit of Arizona. The best part of riding is the friends you’ll meet along the way. Bikers are the best people on the planet and now you are one!
 
This bike has a smaller gas tank than some of the people you’ll be riding with. My advice to you is to always top off the tank before you start out on a ride. Make sure you know what the plans are for your ride of the day so you can figure out where you need to stop for gas.  There is no light that comes on when you need to make the switch to your reserve tank. Make sure you always reset your trip meter so you’ll know exactly how many miles you have on a tank. You’ll get approximately 145 miles out of the main tank and when it is empty, you’ll have to reach down with your left hand and move the switch to the reserve tank. Robert will show you!  PRACTICE this before you need to do it on the road. Practice just moving your left hand down and finding the switch so that if it happens to run out of gas, you’ll feel confident about switching the tank to reserve. You MUST remember to switch it back when you fill up. Second advice on gas is fill up at the end of your ride so you are ready to go when someone calls and says LET’S RIDE TODAY!
 
Some things I’ve learned over the years are things other bikers taught me. I’ll try to remember a few here to pass on to you but I sure don’t know everything so listen when you are out with your biker friends. They know things!
Y   Start out riding around the block, use your signals, figure out your brakes. Then turn around and ride the other way. Just keep making your circle bigger and bigger and soon you’ll be out on the highway. It’s okay to be scared. Practice, practice, practice!
Y   Have your eyes open for gravel. Gravel is like ice. The first time you slip on it, you’ll know what I mean. The first time it happened to me coming out of a parking lot, I slipped and my first instinct was to put my foot down on the ground. Big mistake. It hurt. But I didn’t go down. J
Y   You’ll likely have bees fly up your sleeve or down your jacket. You must be a tough girl and grit your teeth. There is no room to panic when you are on a motorcycle. I’ve been stung a couple of times, once on the neck. That is nothing compared to what it’s going to feel like if you go down from panic.
Y   Carry a hoodie in your bag for times when you think it is warmer than it really is.
Y   Always wear your leathers even when you think it’s too hot. Summer time is for vests. BUT, if you happen to go out without a vest, never wear a shirt with buttons.  Tuck your shirt in or it will be flapping in the wind and you’ll be mad at yourself.
Y   Never ride when you are tired, hungry or distracted by chaos in your life. You need a clear head that is focused on the road. Before every ride, I always said a little prayer to the motorcycle gods to please let me have a clear head, a safe ride and good weather.
Y   Weather.  Always check the weather before you go out on a ride. You do not want to get caught in wind and rain. But if you do get caught in bad weather, constantly assess the situation and don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sitting it out for awhile”. There is no shame in that.
Y   RIDE YOUR SKILL.  A local guy said this to me one time when I was going out with a huge group (18 bikes!). What this means is … don’t get cocky or follow the crowd if they are doing stupid shit. You’ll find people who want to take risks. You do not have to follow them.
Y   Carry cash in your pocket just in case your credit/debit card doesn’t work at the gas station. Shell is famous for letting you fill up once and then at the next stop your card won’t work. Also, bikers stop a lot for lunch!
Y   Carry a bottle of Gatorade and a snack in your bag. Summer heat is brutal and you want to stay hydrated and not let your blood sugar get low. J
Y   Most of all, have big fun!

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