Back to Motorcycling Part 4 — 25,000 miles in 9 months

This is the final installment of the series of getting back into motorcycling.  For Part 3 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here, and Part 1 is here.

 

I’ve never done anything half-way.  When I started riding I really wanted to get proficient, safe and comfortable with it as soon as possible. As I began racking up miles under my bikes I found that it gave me pleasures and satisfaction that I had never received in any car.  The complete isolation from the outside world while being immediately in it presented a contrast that I never had driving a cage, where the radio was blaring, the air conditioning was on, the phone would ring, or my passengers would be talking to me.  

The bike gives me the sensations without insulation.  Riding through farmlands I can smell the onions ready for harvest.  The smell of brakes alert me to big trucks ahead on downhill grades.  The vibration of the engine and the road feedback tells me what my machine is doing at any given time.  Where a car is insulated, the forces of cornering, braking, etc., more violent, everything on the motorcycle is there, and movement is smooth and flows with the physics of your motions and body. Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 4 — 25,000 miles in 9 months

Back to Motorcycling Part 3 — Gear and Gear Shifting: Protection and Education

This is the third in a series of articles about getting back into riding after a long hiatus. Part 1 of the series can be found here. The second installment of the series can be found here.

Since I’ve got a wife and wonderful seven-year-old daughter, and since riding a motorcycle isn’t deemed by the people I know as the safest pastime I can indulge in, I decided early on to do everything that I can possibly do to prevent the separation of me from my motorcycle in an unwanted fashion. Even if this is to occur, I also want to make sure that I have more-than-adequate protection. Lastly and most importantly, I’ve committed myself to getting the best education and training I can, and to continue this training in an ongoing manner as long as I continue to ride.

Time to get some gear and get educated.

I looked into training schools sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and most said that they would provide helmets, but I would need to have gloves, a suitable jacket, pants and boots. I figured that with minimal effort I could cobble together an outfit that would “pass”, but that path didn’t feel right to me. I decided to purchase the equipment that I would begin riding with immediately. I would have plenty to do and think about during my first few thousand miles, and I wanted to have the equipment that I would be using initially. I felt the need for commitment to the process from the time I first threw a leg back over a seat.

Read the book

The first thing I did was purchase a bunch of Motorcycle magazines, and then after perusing the racks at the local Border’s Books, I bought The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles — Third Edition – by Darwin Holmstrom and Charles Everitt. Both of these writers are contributors to Motorcyclist Magazine (which I now subscribe to). I cannot say enough about this book. I have referred to it again and again for advice on gear, schools, riding technique and bike purchasing, and rarely ventured anywhere near the outside limits of their advice.

Continue reading Back to Motorcycling Part 3 — Gear and Gear Shifting: Protection and Education

Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1

So I’m 46 years old. I’ve been on hiatus from my “mechanical hobby”; restoring cars, for nearly three years. I’ve been doing this since I was 18, and sold off my last Citroen DS21, on January 18, 2005. On a self-enforced hiatus for two years, it’s been another year because the Ideal Ride that lurked in my head just never materialized.

Modern Triumph Bonneville

Enter “Test Pilot Bill” in Phoenix. I’ve known him for years through my wife, Sheila. He is possibly one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Last year by happenstance he showed me his newly acquired 2004 Triumph Bonneville that is absolutely perfect, low miles, and an H.G.-Welles-Time-Machine moment (I orginially attributed it to Orwell – forgive me!) with all the wonderful things about British bikes and none of their vices.

As I threw my leg over the Bonnie, something funny hit me. Kind of a “yeah… nice”. It fit not only my butt – it fit into my thoughts. Something deep inside me began eating away two of the four wheels that my Ideal Ride had always possessed. From that moment, I began to think of a motorcycle as The Thing to replace the Car Habit I had nurtured for more than 30 years.

I didn’t know if my search would result in a Triumph like Bill’s, but I knew that I would start on a journey of self-discovery and, as I write this, I couldn’t be more excited about anything I have ever undertaken.

Continue reading Getting back into Motorcycling: Embracing your Mid-Life Crisis — Part 1