What is so special about riding a motorcycle?
This is a question that I have been asked many times over my riding career. To be honest it has been one that is hard to put into words that those who have never ridden on a motorcycle can understand. It is about the feeling you get.
The Beginning of a dream:
I can still remember the first time that I saw a motorcycle up close and personal. I was about six or seven years old at the time and I can remember the feeling of excitement, wonder and a little trepidation as I stood there staring, mouth agape, at the shiny machine parked less than five feet away from me. I had seen motorcycles before, but never at this close distance. I must have stood there for an eternity examining every inch it. How did the controls work? How fast did it go? How much did it cost? There we so many questions……. As I stood there frozen in a trance-like state, the owner of the machine arrived swung a leg over, put on his helmet and awoke the slumbering beast. The sound was somewhat frightening and exciting at the same time! Just before riding off he smiled and waved at me. He was the coolest person I had ever seen! Standing there long after the rider had disappeared; I decided right then and there I would one day ride a motorcycle. As I rode my bicycle home I imagined I was on my a motorcycle speeding down the road.
For the next decade or so I dreamt of the day I would be old enough to buy my own motorcycle. When I turned 19 I had saved up enough money to put a down payment on a brand new Yamaha FZR600 after seeing it at the motorcycle show; Finally I was about to realize my boy-hood dream, or so I thought. The bike was scheduled to be delivered on the first of April, I could hardly wait! Things however, have a way of not working out the way we planned, I waited …….and waited……… It turned out the dealer could not get enough motorcycles to fill the demand. In July I received my deposit back from the dealer, a week before they went out of business.
Dejected by the fact I would not get my dream motorcycle, I bought a car. My dream of becoming a motorcyclist would have to wait yet again! Looking back with maturity I am actually happy that I did not get a motorcycle at that time. I realize I was totally unprepared, both physically and mentally, to handle such a motorcycle. In the excitement of getting a motorcycle, I neglected to inquire about proper training (a safety course) or check out insurance rates. Trying to learn on my own would have more than likely made me a statistic, instead of a longtime rider.
The Coming of Age:
A few years later the desire to ride was still beckoning me, a little older and a little wiser I decided to take a motorcycle safety course. After completing my course and reading books/ magazines on motorcycle safety I realized that I knew very little about operating a motorcycle safely on the road. I had ridden friend’s bikes on and off road, but in terms of real world riding experience in traffic, I had very little.
A few months later I purchased my first motorcycle. A used 1988 Yamaha FZR 400; it wasn’t my dream bike but it was a perfect first motorcycle. In the five years that I had it, I learned a lot. More than I probably would have been able to learn on the bigger and more powerful FZR600. Looking back I regret selling the FZR400, it was by far the easiest and most fun to ride of any other motorcycle that I have ridden.
I took another safety course; again I learned a lot more about riding safely in traffic and got rid of some bad habits to boot. At about this time I knew that I wanted help other riders learn to ride safely. A year later I became a Motorcycle Instructor with the Rider Training Institute (RTI), the same company where I took my course. I have been instructing for close to a decade and I still enjoy being able to help others realize their dream of riding a motorcycle safely. I am also lucky to be able to work for both Honda and Yamaha doing demo rides.
I now ride a custom built Yamaha YZF 750, which I have ridden over 90 000KMS + exploring most of Ontario and parts of the U.S.
It has been some three decades+ since that little boy caught the bug to ride motorcycles and even though I have grown up a little the awe, wonder and respect for motorcycles has only gotten stronger. Every time I see a child staring as I ride by, it brings me back to when I was that little boy. Going out for a ride on a nice sunny day is better than anything I can think of. As I said at the beginning, riding is about the feeling you get from being on the open road. It is about experiencing your surroundings instead of looking at it through glass as you are riding in a car, van or truck. It is about freedom, but it is also about taking responsibility for your own actions and safety. It doesn’t matter whether you ride a cruiser, sport-bike, dirt-bike or scooter…., two wheels are two wheels. So the next time you pass someone on the road, give them a wave; no matter what they are riding. You never know, you might make a new friend!
Once you get the bug to ride however, it is hard thing to get rid of, but why would you want to anyway!
Ride Smart Ride On!