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8 things I have learned in 8 years of riding

Over the last few months I have been working with noticeably more and more new riders in our female riding group. Not only is that a celebration of growth in general, but a celebration and recognition of the number of female’s stepping into the wonderful world of riding.  

Watching our new ladies move through the start of their riding careers has been such a joy. It has also reminded me of what a hefty learning curve there is at the start. It’s not just the part where you learn to ride a motorbike. It’s learning about gear. It’s learning about maintenance. It’s learning how to ride in a group. How to ride in the rain. How to ride at night. How to back into a parking spot without dropping the bike. How to do a U-Turn! The list is pretty extensive and continues for quite some time. 

Shortly I will be rounding out my eighth year of riding. When I think back to the start, and all the things I have learned in that time, I could easily create a triple digit list. But whose got time for that? Instead, I have selected eight things I have learned in my first eight years of riding. 

1. What gets un-zipped must get re-zipped

Whether it be the tail bag, the backpack or the jacket, there is nothing more annoying than riding off when one of the zippers has been left undone. 

I have managed to ride off with the jacket undone plenty of times. Thankfully I have become masterful at the one-handed zip-up. Tip: it involves tucking the front of your jacket down to your crotch then holding it there by leaning into the tank whilst your free (if you can call it that) hand pulls the zip up.

No, the unzipped jacket is not the concerning zip. It’s the unzipped tail bag or backpack situation that you want to avoid. 

Unfortunately, I was a zipper victim only in the last few weeks. I was having a drink from my water bottle before our group took off for home. The water bottle made it back into the tail bag, but someone forgot to zip up the bag. I wonder who? 

Should this happen to you, here’s my tip: You need a Chiz. 

What’s a Chiz you ask?

Chiz is not a what but a who. 

Chizuko was part of my riding tribe that day. She was riding immediately behind me and noticed the top of my tail bag flapping about once we hit some speed.  Thankfully she came to my rescue. Maybe because she’s a helpful Samaritan. More likely it’s because I am sure she wanted to avoid the cocktail of projectiles that were about to start hurling themselves at her from the back of my bike.

Now a word of advice… your Chiz can’t be just any old Chiz. She or he needs to be like my Chiz. Thankfully Chiz threw her whopper of an FJR into action and shot out in front of me. She got herself into my line of vision then proceeded to pat her FJR’s bum. 

If you didn’t know, this was code for telling me something was wrong with my bum.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t manage to decode her message, but her charade skills were good enough that she managed to get me to pull over. As ride leader, that meant our whole group had to pull over too! I saved the contents of my bag and Chiz got to complete the ride sans projectiles.

Thanks Chiz!

2. Nothing compares to that shower after that long, cold, wet ride

You know that ride. I don’t even need to describe it right? It’s the one where you got caught out. You went a bit longer than expected. You got home after the sun dipped away and the temperature dropped off… fast! Those pesky rain clouds rolled in when you weren’t expecting it. You end up spending the last part of the ride trying to control a motorcycle in a state of rigor mortis. The jaw locks tight and every muscle in your body goes stiff and shivers with such force it feels like a convulsion. Yuck!

But how good is that shower when you get home? The one where the temperature is just a little bit hotter than it should be. There’s no saving the hair for work tomorrow because everything is going under that glorious hot water. My favourite part is rocking back and forth, letting the water hit the back of my neck and from one shoulder across to the other. Bliss!

3. Never clock back on after a long ride

If you’re a rider who has responsibilities and a life (umm hello) then here is one of the best tips I have learned first hand:

If you know you’re heading out for a big day of riding, never ever leave the chores to do when you get back. Whether it’s packing the lunches for the next day, doing the washing, or mowing the lawn, you will always regret leaving them on the list to do after your big ride.

There’s something about that “spent” feeling after a full day of riding. I personally think it’s an awesome version of shattered. For me, packing the bike and helmet away, having that amazing post-ride shower, then getting to curl up with a cuppa, a wine or any other comfort drink, is an extension of the enjoyment gained from the ride itself.

What is never enjoyable, is having to pull out of that blissful state to adult. Trust me, making the extra effort to get the chores done before the ride, or finding a way to reschedule them for another time, will never be regretted when you’re sitting there with a wine and an episode of reality TV, flicking through photos of the awesome places you’ve been for the day.

4. You’ll only think wet weather gear is a wasted investment until you get caught out

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about investing in wet weather gear, stop wondering. It’s definitely worth it. Even if you use it twice a year, that’s two times you won’t regret the investment. 

Riding is about fun. Riding is about creating enjoyable memories. The key to enjoyable rides, even when the weather is against you, is comfort. What creates comfort? Good gear, hands down. 

If you are a new rider, something you may not know is that wet weather gear has a dual purpose. Of course, it stops you getting soaked when the water falls from the sky. Where you will really be thanking yourself for your wise gear investment is when it comes to riding in the cold. Wet weather gear is great at blocking that piercing wind that cuts to the core. On those cold, crisp mornings, even if the sun is out, sometimes my wet weather gear will come out too.

Here’s one more thing that I want you to remember. If you don’t take my advice and invest in your wet weather gear now, I can tell you, it will only take one time! One time when you get caught in torrential rain. After that first time, you will be sprinting to the moto store to buy wet weather gear. Because one wet experience is all it takes, and you will make a deal with yourself to never get caught again.

5. The smell of freshly washed helmet inners will keep you smiling for hours

Can you imagine how much yuckiness ends up on and in your helmet inners? Sweat. Makeup. Sunscreen. Dirt. Dead bugs. Tears (see point 8). You get the picture.

Thankfully they come out nice and easy. About once a month I like to throw mine into a lingerie bag and pop them through the wash. I then let them dry for a day sitting on a table or chair outside.

My favourite ride is that first ride after the inners have been washed and returned to the helmet. Big inhale through the nose. It smells so good in there. It literally brings a smile to my face.

6. Being trapped in a full-face helmet with a sneeze is not a pleasant experience

We all know the feeling. The build-up. It’s on its way! There’s no way to stop it because your hands are on the bars and your face is trapped in a helmet. The power blow is leaving your face orifices whether you like it or not. Ahhhhhh chew!

Some might say sneezing inside a full-face helmet is the most unpleasant experience. I do agree it’s gross, but I am going to make a 6.1 to this section. In my opinion, closely following behind the helmet sneeze is the helmet burp. 

We all love a good brunch ride. But IMHO, the eggs benedict making its way out on the ride back home is a pretty unpleasant experience too. 

7. Finding a great mechanic adds to the riding experience

I am usually the sort of person who likes to give things a go. I feel confident putting my bike up on the paddock stand. I can clean and lube my bike chain like a boss. But I’ll be honest, that’s about the extent of the mechanical contribution that I make to my bike. The rest kinda scares me a little.

For that reason, finding a mechanic that is local, trustworthy, and reasonably priced was important to me from day one of riding. It was a relief to find one who communicates well, is willing to explain their work respectfully, and provides a welcoming workshop environment.

I have also been lucky enough to find one who is super meticulous and gives my bike back washed and silicone sprayed with a sparkling chain! Winning!

8. The helmet cry is the best free therapy

According to an article on Harvard Health “Crying is an important safety valve, largely because keeping difficult feelings inside — what psychologists call repressive coping — can be bad for our health. Studies have linked repressive coping with a less resilient immune system, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, as well as with mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety, and depression”. 

For one reason or another, there are times when I love a good cry. But it’s not something I necessarily want to do with people around. To really let it out, sometimes I want total solitude with no chance of getting sprung.

I have discovered the helmet cry. 

There’s something about embracing the complete privacy of being inside that helmet. Blissfully alone, with no possibility of interruption. With some slow tunes playing, and a long open road ahead of me, I have benefited from a quality, deep cleansing howl inside my helmet on more than one occasion.

I wonder what I’ll learn in my next eight years of riding?

No doubt I still have lots of learning to do. Both expected and unexpected, I love the constant growth that comes with motorcycle life.

What are some of the things you have learned through your riding career? Comment below, I would love to read your experiences too.

Loren
Lorenhttp://www.girlmoto.com.au
Loren is our Girl Moto founder and editor. Several years into her leadership role with East Coast Female Rides (ECFR), Loren felt a desire to bring a female-focussed publication to life. One that would serve to unite Girl Moto's around the world. With a background in business finance, marketing and copywriting, Loren actually creates Girl Moto content as an excuse to call riding motorcycles "work". When not being Girl Moto, you will find Loren enjoying downtime with her family, riding with her ECFR tribe or feeding her obsession for travel and good food, with a healthy side-serve of beach vibes, whenever possible.
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