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How or when to advise family or friend rider--long


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Apologies ahead of time for longer tale, but a recent close call prompts me to seek advice about grown kids who ride and parents who walk the tightrope between advisor and “let be.”


Father’s Day, sunny, a straight stretch on US 101 s/b approaching Newport, OR.


Six riders, late 30s to 59-ish, plus my 25-year old son on his Honda CBR 600 with sleeping bag bungeed onto his back seat, are riding along the Oregon Coast. We had just finished some spirited riding on the passing-lane sweepers of Cape Foulweather. Scott was following the lines of one of our better riders, a motor cop riding his own FJR. He did well. After this faster section, we settled into a short straight run into Newport.


Then it happened. Riders behind me began flashing lights: Scott no longer with our group. We U-turn and find him 1/2 mile back, parked upright on gravel shoulder at the end of a 110' skid mark. He's pulling something from the rear of his bike. He and the bike are unscathed, except the sleeping bag is now jammed between wheel and fender, shredded and half-melted from friction burns.


From material strewn on road, we conclude that his bag had a loose strap which dangled down, caught into wheel or chain, which in turn yanked it into space between tire and fender. Motor shut off, bike went into locked skid, with Scott riding it upright to gravel shoulder.


We extricate material and check for chain damage. All appears OK. We wait 10-15 minutes for nerves to settle. One of the riders lectures him good naturedly on safe tie-down procedures. I tell him how good it is that he’s not hurt. In retrospect, that conversation now seems so . . . empty.


We discuss how lucky he was that it didn’t happen 3-4 miles earlier when he was pitched over at 60-something in Cape Foulweather’s right sweepers, with oncoming traffic at 50-60 mph.


This thought later returns to me. It’s been with me since.


Scotty, the one who last night treated me to a Father's Day dinner, is subdued. Up to that moment, it had been a great 2-day ride and special time together. We had shared beers at day’s end and he laughed along with us older riders. We talked motorcycles and he test sat on their rides, and we took turns discussing who he’d follow on tomorrow’s ride to watch their lines in the twisties. He explained to one younger cop how he’ll apply to the local police department after some more college classes and after he completes buying the new house with his girlfriend. In sum, he’s a real pleasure to be around.


We resume our ride. Partly from principle and partly because Scott has been thoroughly embarrassed in front of all the older guys, I forego fatherly responses.


Except one. Minutes into our continued ride, tears well up. Thank You, God, for helmets, so no one can see. Thank You for letting me keep my son. I promise to remind him about things about which a 25-year old pays scant heed: foresight, double-checking gear and equipment, reading about riding hazards, taking advanced classes. And all the things one does to minimize risk and maximize chances of survival. After this close call, he’ll listen.


Will he? A 25-year old working overtime to buy a house, thinking of returning to school part time, which will further eat into his time. He rushes off to join in a ride after working all day. He owns a Ducati and a CBR 600 and his truck. At such a time in life, will he take time to read up, to study riding, or to listen to the maxims of the old guy?


Since that incident, I return to that place deep inside where I grapple with risk. Because it is not just about my life, or that my insurance covers my wife. Partly due to my example, three sons and their ladies all ride their own machines. So I must wrestle anew with the knowledge that my pursuit has become their pursuit and that it can be dangerous. It can kill them when they are young.


And because they are young, they’re more likely to be inattentive, impatient, inexperienced. They buy used machines, fast machines [his brothers have a CBR 1000 and Gixxer 1000], cheaper gear, bungee cords rather than saddle bags.


A whispering gallery of different voices urges me this way or that. In that deep recess with its welter of views, I have come to feel too much on my own. On a matter that is not just my own


OK, I’m done with recap and catharsis.


Now, my question is for fathers—or mothers, since my acquaintance Kathleen Dean Moore writes eloquently about the necessity of mothers letting adult children go when they are young-- especially when they embark on ventures fraught with risk.


What are some of your successful strategies with adult children riders?


A few of my usual approaches are below.


--We discuss 1-2 points per ride [cold tire, vanishing point, in-slow/ out-fast, etc]

--I enumerate factors contributing to this or that accident I read about, usually on this board

--I ask them what unnerved them about a ride, a maneuver, a moment. And then ask them

to dissect cause-effect-response.



I’m asking for advice on general matters, approaches that can become a habit of thought, a way of thinking about riding and reducing risk. What has worked for you with your son or daughter?



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You have a pretty good handle on it, IMHO.


One thing I preach to all and sundry. There is almost no good way to secure a compressable load. Elastic, ala bungee, I hate with an all consuming passion. A rider was killed down here about 2 years ago under the exact circumstance you desciribe. Problem is, compression straps tend to loosen with time under a compressable load like a sleeping bag or stuff sack with clothing inside, unless the load is checked and re-tightened on every stop/opportunity. I now preach and practice, a belt and suspenders approach, cargo net with a minimum of 4 attachement points to the bike and H2W strap system, ditto with one or the other looped through some permanent attachement point on the cargo in addition to some of those on the bike. Otherwise, ship the stuff.


I know it sounds extreme but, one dead here and somewhere in my ancient past, a severe laundry problem caused by the same issue. Experience is a great teacher, so long as we survive to learn.

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Well.....I don't know if this will help or not, but it is a look at it from the other prospective. When I was 26 (I'm only 28 now, so it wasn't that long ago) I did an 8500 miles coast to coast trip with my Dad. Me on my newly aquired RT, and my Dad on his trusty Golwing. Most of the trip was very enjoyable and drama free......except for one moment of fear that still has not left me.


We were staying with our group in Tompson Falls, MT. We were supposed to pick up my Mom and Danielle at the airport in Missoula earlier in the day, but their flight was canceled in Denver and could only find a flight to Spokane, WA. So after a 400+ mile day, my Dad and I headed off into the sunset and a driving rainstorm to pick them up. Everything was fine untill we ended up on 90 heading west towards spokane. The pavement was awefull, the rain was some of the worst I had ever seen, and the trucks were showing no mercy for us at all. We tried to keep moving a little faster than the rest of traffic so we wouldn't get blown around so much. That was easier for me than my Dad. I can see over my windshield easily, he cannot. Here is where things went bad. I was leading, we were going downhill on turn that was sweeping to the right. There was a Jeep Wrangler in the right lane, and we were coming up on it from behind. I went to change lanes, but when I hit the dividing line there must have been a gap or an elevation change or something because I completely lost control of the front of my bike. It felt like I was riding a dirtbike through heavy set of ruts. As soon as I got it under control, I tried to radio my Dad and tell him to stay where he was, but it was too late. He was already changing lanes......the exact same thing happened to him. I watched in horror as he stood straight up on his Goldwing and did everything he could to not rear end that Jeep Wrangler. Somehow, someway, he managed to get it under control and just stood on the brakes. We both swear to this day that his front tire had to have touched the Jeep's bumper, but who knows.


Once things settled down, we dicided that we would continue the journey in the slow lane, no matter how bad it was. We made it to Spokane just as the storm was leaving the area, and (we thought) just in time to run to the girls arrival gate. We sprinted to the gate only te realize we had passed through a time zone and had another hour to wait. We walked back out to the bikes and chatted about the earlier events. We kind of joked and laughed about it a little, but in all honesty......when we were in the moment, I thought he was done for. I can't even begin to explain the rush of emotions that happened. I'm so thankfull that nothing serious happened because I know I would feel responsible. He was just following my lead.


We ended up picking up the girls and listening to their "horrible" ordeal of dealing with airport inconviences. We just kind of made eye contact and chuckled a little.


I guess the moral of the story is......Your Son will learn his own lessons. My Dad insisted on me passing my safety course before he would cosign for my first bike. Other than that, he has just set a good example for me. I have to say that I ride his ass about ATGATT more than he ever did to me.......but just remember


We worry about Dad when he is riding too

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Why? Because my 30 something son is making noises about wanting to ride. He has 7 year old twin girls. I worry about the risk he would be taking commuting 70 miles each way on a bike.

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I have two responses to Bill's post...


The first is that almost exactly the same thing happened to me when I was new to riding. I tied a sleeping bag on with a flat nylon strap. The strap came off, fell down behind the rear wheel, was caught up by the rear wheel, wrapped around with it one or two revolutions and them locked up the rear wheel. Fortunately, I was going slowly when it happened and stopped without losing it.


My son rides vary occasionally. I worry about him far more than about myself. Part of this is because, fathers probably always worry more about their children than themselves. But also, I feel that he rides so little, his risk when he does ride is much higher. He doesn't have the experience or awareness of all the things you need to be aware of to ride safely. He has the good reactions and skill that come with youth, but not the wisdom that comes with experience. In some ways, I wish he would not ride at all if he is not going to do it often enough to gain experience. On the other hand, if he rode more, I would probably worry more.

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I'm not a father, but I am my father's son. smile.gif


My folks worry about me when I ride (I'm 32 now), but they realize I'm going to do it, regardless. They implore me to be safe, be careful, and keep my eyes open.


Is there more you can do as a parent? Having the freedom to make my own choices and have my own experiences were hallmarks of a great childhood. Barring outright stupid/illegal/dumb moves, my folks watched me grow up, learn, and decide on my own what I did and didn't like.


I rode dirt bikes as a kid, sans any gear. 250cc 2-strokes, 30 foot jumps, flat out. Sure, I got beat up, banged and bruised. I probably have more head injuries than I realize eek.gif, but I lived through it.


I rode street bikes all through high school and college. Mom feared my CBR600 badly, because it was a 'crotch rocket'. But I lived through it.


I got married, and my wife bought me another motorcycle and kick-started my bug again. Now my wife and my Mom worry, and Dad just says "Hey, Son, I'm glad you enjoy it." He's not a motorcycle rider, but he's a hot-rodder. Some of the same credo/spirit applies.


I'm not sure what advice you'd give, because as the son (and still young), I don't know what advice I'd take. I'm going to do it anyway, and I'll do it my way. If you show me, advise me, and explain it ... yeah.


But why put a negative spin on something that has given you so much joy in your life? Why is it OK for you (not just you, the collective "You" herethumbsup.gif) to ride, but that people say "oh, I worry so much."


So did your folks. They lived through it.


So will you.


Life isn't about making it through without damage or in a pristine package, untouched and unscathed. It's about growing past your boundaries, getting outside your comfort zone, and being challenged, afraid, and terrified.


It's riding that first wicked rainstorm, and then telling the story afterwards. You were challenged, and you triumphed.


You can't explain to somebody who doesn't ride about what the light looks like right before sunset as you're finding your perfect line, in a cavern of green trees, feeling like God himself gave you this road to discover.


You have to find these experiences for yourself.


I say let your children find these experiences, also.

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