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2 years of riding... what i've learned

Posted September 6th, 2011 at 03:25 PM by alex.s

tomorrow marks the end of my 2nd year of riding motorcycles on the street. yay i've survived so far! i always like looking back and reading or remembering how i thought about things then. hopefully years down the road i'll look back at this and laugh at how silly and stupid i was.

It kind-of amazes me how different i think of motorcycles now vs before i started riding. i never really understood the whole "open road freedom" thing before. "open road? hows it different from being in a car with the windows down?" i would think. "freedom? i'm free to go places in my car!"... hah. when i thought of motorcycling i would think of the skills required for operating a two wheeled vehicle. i would think of how great super sports looked. back then, i don't think i would have ever considered getting an older bike. it used to be "kz1000? you mean that ugly old kawi that kinda looks like a harley?" now it's "kz1000, that beautiful beast of a time machine with such a stylish tail... god i want an old kz1000... oh man a naked kz1 cafe bike... i need one." back then it was "sport bikes", "harleys", and "dirtbikes"... that was all i knew and couldn't tell the difference between a softail and a shadow. "enduro? that's like long-haul truck racing right?" now the difference between the 94 fzr600 and the 95 (they look identical, save paint) is astonishing to me... so many changes to the frame construction... i mean to move from an all steel to an all aluminum frame in one year, with no issues, keeping almost the exact same mechanical design... astonishing.

back then i didn't understand what a squid was. hell i didn't really even fully comprehend the consequences of your own behavior in a vehicle when i drove a car. driving a car is like playing a video game... you're in your own little bubble. you feel protected. you're so disconnected that when someone is about to hit you, instead of thinking of the physical consequences or how you're going to get out of this mess, you start thinking about how it will effect your insurance, or how long you'll have to wait for your car to be repaired... hell if someone else is in the wrong you might even let it happen. what a foolish thought process that is to me now. I would ride scooters like i drove my car... i wore a helmet because it was a law, and i wore a jacket or sweater because it would get cold in the wind at night. the thought of what would happen in the event of an accident wouldn't have crossed my mind. now, crashing is all i think about when i'm around other vehicles. it gets worse when i'm in cars, especially when someone else is driving. jesus christ people can't drive. and when you point things out to them, or make an observation about how they could be a better driver, they get defensive! as if they're the worlds best driver. wake up people, you're traveling, not fighting other people for the last scraps of food. don't be so aggressive, don't be so impatient, stop trying to run everyone else off the road.

before riding, "onboard toolkit" meant a tire-iron and spare tire and a jack. mechanical issues? pull over and get it towed. now, there's a reason for everything. i wouldn't be caught riding without my tools and if there's an issue on the bike, there's a way to fix it that doesn't involve calling a mechanic. a vehicle no longer is a magic carpet ride... it's not "push on this pedal and it goes forward", it's "open the throttle to supply some power to the drive train and give the rear wheel some power" the difference between rear brake and front brake is now a life-altering decision. before, going faster meant pushing on the gas pedal more. now how the suspension is going to react to your inputs effects your braking points and the line you take into a turn. "more brake" has turned into "more gas". drifting is something you do to setup for the next corner instead of looking cool, and instead of black ice being a "cool slide for a few seconds" it's "a painful slide across the pavement for a few seconds while you watch your bike get wrecked from a distance"

i've learned that life is best when finding your own path... being in the middle of nowhere and stopping to listen to ...absolutely nothing. smelling the wonderful scents you drive by and seeing the beautiful forms made by wind flowing over grassy hills surrounded not by concrete labyrinths, but by trees and rocks older than all of us and a single stretch of road that exists purely out of necessity. maybe i'm getting a little hippyish here but i've learned to enjoy the things worth enjoying, and stop caring about things i can do nothing about. there's no point getting stressed when you can think about the freedom of motorcycling. there's no point getting angry when you can turn a wrench on something that makes you happy. there's no point being sad when you can see, smell and feel all the amazingly beautiful things there are in this world.
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  1. Old Comment
    Alex's Avatar
    I enjoyed this!
    Posted September 8th, 2011 at 01:39 PM by Alex Alex is offline

  2. Old Comment
    Jono's Avatar
    Posted September 8th, 2011 at 06:49 PM by Jono Jono is offline
  3. Old Comment
    akima's Avatar
    Thanks: what a great read.

    I'm a new rider, but people like you are opening my eyes to the full motorcycle experience much quicker than if I was just doing it all on my own.

    Just today I was stuck behind a couple cars that were waiting at the lights which just turned red. It was ok though. I slipped my Ninjette into neutral, popped open my visor and glanced around in this area I'd never been before. There was a very old, beautiful-looking church, stone walls, sprawling trees lining the streets and autumn leaves on the pavements. I knew the lights were going to turn soon, so I took one last breath of the cool air before going back into my alert riding mode and dropping into first gear, ready to pull away. I imagine many of the other people in that queue were just holding their breath waiting to get rolling again.

    It's no longer about the destination it's about the journey!
    Posted September 26th, 2011 at 12:59 PM by akima akima is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Trailerboy531's Avatar
    This is a solid blog with good advice and insight. More people need to see this!
    Posted October 26th, 2011 at 05:18 PM by Trailerboy531 Trailerboy531 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    etiainen's Avatar
    Dude, an awesome read! Thanks for the insight.
    Posted November 7th, 2011 at 02:41 PM by etiainen etiainen is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Firehorse's Avatar
    Just getting around to reading blogs, this was a worthy stop. Thank you.
    Posted April 17th, 2012 at 10:07 PM by Firehorse Firehorse is offline
  7. Old Comment
    thanks, good erad!
    Posted September 6th, 2012 at 06:33 PM by oblivion007 oblivion007 is offline
  8. Old Comment
    BlueDragon's Avatar
    I was randomly going through blog posts and I'm glad I found this! I recently hit my 1 year riding mark and I can already see how much riding a motorcycle has changed the way I drive my car and how much more I really notice around me on a motorcycle. Great post!
    Posted August 7th, 2015 at 12:23 PM by BlueDragon BlueDragon is offline

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