Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Riding Like Downhill Skiing?

The other night I went to a gathering of folks and met some great people.  It was a Bible study that's been in existence for roughly 30 years.  I sat next to a gentleman who is in his 70's and is an avid downhill skier.  He's been skiing for over 50 years and he's now in an age bracket which puts him into the ski-for-free category.  I'm pretty sure there aren't too many 70+ downhill skiers.  When you reach that age you get to ski for free.  It seems like a just reward for still having supple muscles and joints.

Last year I wrote about we who ride on two wheels being in a subset of the population.  This man is in a subset too and judging by what he said and his smile while saying it he enjoys his sport very much.

When I mentioned to him that I ride a motorcycle and that there are some similarities with regard to danger but also a big fun-factor he got serious.  He talked about how dangerous motorcycles are and gave a few examples of accidents.  You know how that conversation goes.

We all know that riding is dangerous and we all hear these stories and deal with them in our own way, but I find that sometimes a conversation like this can hit something deep inside.  And there are times when the soul-searching thoughts can last a couple of days.  Am I crazy to be riding?  Is something going to happen to me soon and this is a warning?  Do I need more training?  Should I give up riding and take up downhill skiing?  Nah, I'm not in the free bracket yet.

I do some volunteer work at the county jail. I've ridden to and from the jail a lot but I don't take any of it for granted.  The ride home late this afternoon was one of the best.  It was an aha experience.

Within weeks of getting the Beemer I bought bar risers and a peg lowering kit.  I'm over 6' and needed more room in the cockpit.  I've never really leaned hard, thinking either the pegs or my boots will scrape but today I hit the corners harder and faster than usual.  I put the bike into a more aggressive lean.  I figured I'd try to find the limit.  I got the bike far over but didn't scrape.  I was surprised when the suspension dug in and held the bike firm and with more stability through the curves.  Is riding like downhill skiing?  Can a person schuss on a motorcycle?

I'm not boasting by any means. My chicken strips are big (big chicken strips = big chicken).  And I'm not suggesting for anyone to take corners faster than their level of experience. Let's face it, most motorcycle accidents happen on the curves so we should be good at cornering.

Then I had the thought that an advanced riding class might be in order. Maybe that's what the gentleman at the Bible study was saying.  Riding is dangerous and a healthy reminder of that fact every so often is good.  It helps keep things in perspective instead of slipping into a false sense of security.

Do you have any training classes in your plans this riding season?

God's speed.


  1. I'm pretty sure there will be some advanced classes in my future! Probably on the other side of the student/ teacher equation, though.

    Here's my take.

    Negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes. Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes.

    Being aware of the risks allows us to take positive measures to make sure our positive thoughts are the correct ones.

    In other words, I never talk to myself when I ride by saying things like "I hope I don't crash."

    I tell myself I will use my training and skills to ride safely and enjoy the journey. My record is pretty good so far.

  2. Irondad,

    You definitely have advanced classes in your future.

    How true, negative thoughts can effect what is input into the controls. Of course you know that, with all of your years of riding and your training, but I've experienced it as a relative newbie. Correct me if I'm wrong but riding within ones limits is important. Beyond that is where training is paramount.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I find these elder, active sorts very inspiring, and they tend to have a great perspective on things. Not that that would keep me off a bike. :)

    Take the class - 'tis much fun and a good way to whittle away at the chicken strips, and if you can keep the instructors from spending all their time playing on the track you even get to learn a thing or two - lol! Watch out for the one slightly odd fellow in a bright yellow jacket, always tearing up the track and taking photos...rather dodgy that one! ;)

    My original plans when learning to ride was to take a refresher class every other year or so. I thought I'd chicken out, but last year I took the ART. Great experience, but I was exhausted at the end of the day.

    Lovely scene in that last photo. I'm trying to decide, if that's one you stopped for before. Nice, these favorite spots we all find on our travels.

  4. Kari,
    I find older athletic people to be encouraging and they all seem to have some common traits such as a contageous positive outlook.

    I was kidding about giving up riding. I always tense up when I think about taking an advanced class. I remember your post on that ART class you took - sounded like fun!

    That last shot is a favorite spot near Jackson Bottom Slough south of Hillsboro(on Friday). You're very observant! Thank you for your comment!