Tag Archives: biking

Fear and the art of motorcycling

I’ve been riding a motorcycle since I was old enough to sit up straight and wrap my arms around my dad’s waist. I would climb up behind him on his big, tough-looking bike and no matter how many times he told me to be careful not to burn my ankle on the exhaust, I always did. The quick sear of delicate flesh and I learned my lesson for that day, only to forget again the next. And then we would be off for a quick ride, and while it seemed to me at the time that we were going lightning fast, I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t allow speeds over 30 km/hr.

The summer of 2010 saw me get my first motorcycle and learn to ride by myself. I have a small 250cc engine, but the bike is bright blue and looks old-school, and I love it. I rarely go on the highway and am perfectly content to not exceed 60 km/hr (much to my mom’s delight, and my husband’s chagrin, as he whizzes past me on his street bike).

I love the feel of the air on my face and the fact that you can smell just about everything as you fly through the breeze. And it still makes me giggle every time I pass another rider and we exchange an intimate little wave like we’re both part of a secret club that only cool people can join.

There are plenty of perks to riding a motorbike (I only had to fill the gas tank once last summer!), but of course there are loads of risks as well – mainly, falling off and/or dying. As a new rider though, there is no shortage of both unsolicited and caring advice from the aforementioned cool club of other riders. Here’s a sample of some I’ve received:

  • Ride like everyone is trying to kill you.
  • Make eye contact with every other vehicle you pass and stare them down. Like they’re trying to kill you.
  • Having a fear of dying is healthy.
  • Learn how to jump start (that is, run start) your bike. I learned that early on.
  • Not all bikes have coolant. So when your husband asks, “Did you check the coolant?” on what I now know is an air-cooled bike, looking for where the coolant is stored for an hour is not the most productive use of my time.
  • As per the last point, learn how your bike works.
  • It’s ok to rev the sh*t out of your bike. It may annoy non-riders, but it’s good to warm your engine up and it makes you seem badass.
  • Again, ride like everyone is trying to kill you. They don’t always/often see you.
  • Don’t wave to people on scooters. They like to think they’re part of the club, but we all know they’re not.
  • And of course, wear long pants.

But to this day, judging by the raw skin, I apparently still haven’t learned to keep my naked ankles away from the exhaust.

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