Decision-Making for a Motorcycle Ride

As my regular blog followers know, I ride a Harley. One may think that given the opportunity, I would be out there riding all day, every day.

Well, not quite. While I ride during the week to commute to work, that’s about all the riding I can do during the week due to time constraints. During the summer after work, I may ride my Harley to get to a meeting, but if I do not have a specific place to go, then the Harley remains in the garage and I stay home.

That leaves weekends. My motorcycle club offers a lot of rides from which to choose every weekend. But then again, my partner “offers” a number of activities that also have to be done to maintain our home and the rental properties that I own. My senior pals need some attention, too. Such is life with competing demands on one’s time.

Fortunately, the rides that my club offers are scheduled far in advance, so if there is a ride that I want to go on, I can negotiate the time for the ride and get time off from my partner’s never-ending list of “honey-do” projects when I know a date certain.

As I consider rides to go on, I think about the following factors:

* Where is the ride going? — I enjoy discovering new places that I have not visited before, or riding on new-to-me roads.

* How long will the ride be? — an estimate of the distance and time of the rides from which I have to choose is provided. If the ride is scheduled for the whole day, then I usually cannot go. I have a lot of things that have to be done crammed into a tight weekend and cannot spare a whole day and leave my partner at home (who will do lots of work while I’m away, making me feel guilty that I was not there to help him.)

* Is it an overnight ride? — as I have mentioned before, I do not go on overnight rides. The guys like to sit around and drink after dinner. I don’t drink alcohol, and though I don’t mind if others do, what I do mind is that their tongues get loose when they get intoxicated, and they say things about gay people or about women that I just don’t want to be subjected to hearing. So I avoid being in such a situation.

* What distance will the ride cover? — distance is a major issue for me. Rides over about 200 miles are out. I have a physical condition that tires me faster than the average bear. Riding when tired is unsafe. I will not put myself in that situation.

* What is the purpose of the ride? — is it a casual ride on back roads and byways, a ride to support a police or fire charity or memorial, or is it a poker run sponsored by another club? I like the casual back roads rides, and have supported more than my share of memorial and charity events. But I don’t like poker runs and will not go on them.

* Who is leading the ride? — every ride leader brings his or her personality to the ride. A ride leader known to “ride aggressively” is not someone who I want to ride with. I don’t have any fun trying to keep up all the time. I realize that my riding skills are not the same as others, so I want to “ride my own ride” — relaxed, casual, and unhurried. I will not go on a ride with someone who I know to ride too fast for my liking.

* What roads may be involved? — I have learned my lesson. I will not (deliberately) ride on roads that are unpaved, covered with gravel, or that involve stream crossings over fords. I also will not go on rides where I know there will be turns that are too tight and impossible for me to handle. (Believe me, I know my limits!)

* Safety factor — implied in the above considerations is how safe I think I will be on a ride. That’s based on my health, the road conditions, and what I know about the ride leader’s attention to safety.

* What’s the weather? — always a last-minute decision, but if I want to enjoy a nice, casual ride, I want to do it when the roads are dry and preferably when it is sunny. I won’t go if the roads are wet or if it is raining or rain is predicted. I also have my low-temperature threshold. I will not ride when it is lower than about 40°F (4.5°C). That’s about as cold as I can take it, despite all my leathers and gear.

So there you have it — how I, personally, choose to go on an organized motorcycle ride (or not.) Every biker is different. Some have more time, some have better skills, some don’t have a non-riding other-half with a long honey-do list. Most of all, the motto is, “ride and have fun.” If I think the fun would be limited for me on a ride due to its purpose, destination, choice of roads, ride leader, or the weather, then I may go for a short ride by myself, or stay home and tackle the honey-do list.

Life is short: make your choices.