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Returning to riding after some time off


Green RT

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I am interested in the experiences and advice of others about returning to riding after a layoff. I started riding powered two-wheeled vehicles with a moped when I was 13. Since then I have had a series of motorcycles (see signature) and covered maybe half a million miles on two wheels. Most of my life, I lived in the US where some form of transportation was necessary to live conveniently. Motorcycles were always my choice for transportation. Almost all the miles I put on motorcycles were to get somewhere I needed to go: work, the store, a business trip. I almost never got on the bike to ride just for the hell of it.

 

About 9 years ago, I moved to Mexico and my life style changed dramatically. I now live in a country and environment with really good public transit. I no longer need wheels to get anywhere I might want to go. Between local buses, cheap taxis, luxurious intercity buses, and hitch hiking I can inexpensively get where ever I want. I sold an RT before moving here nearly 10 years ago and have been bikeless since.

 

But I never lost the love of riding. I vacillated for years about getting another motorcycle, wondering what I would use it for since it wasn't needed and I don't have a lot of free time in my life for another recreation. Recently, I decided it was ridiculous to continue vacillating. If I was still thinking about after all this time, I should just do it. So I did.

 

All of this brings me to the point of this post. My first real experience back on a bike was a 6000 km trip through Northern Mexico and Southern California. After the first couple of days, I felt very comfortable on the bike. I don't feel like I have lost any of my defensive driving skills or awareness of the unique hazards the roads provide for motorcyclists. I know a lot of people take an annual safety/skills class. I don't think that is an option in my area.

 

I am finding there are lots of differences from the riding I did before the break. There are lots of empty two lane roads in the countryside here in Mexico. The rate of car ownership is just a lot lower, so the highways are not as crowded. Most of the vehicles on the major highways are trucks and buses, not cars. Smaller roads are mostly empty except for an occasional pickup. Some roads are in bad shape and all secondary roads have occasional topes (speed bumps). I live in a big city with terrible traffic. Surprisingly, I don't find the cars as much of a hazard as the scooter and motorcycle riders. Little bikes, mostly 125 cc Honda Cargos and similar, are everywhere. The riders run red lights, ride on sidewalks, ride the wrong way on one way streets, and generally show up where you don't expect to see them. I would not use the bike in the city much except I have to to get from my house to the perimeter. Given that I live in the middle of a the city, that turns out to be a fair amount.

 

For what it's worth, I am 71 and rode for about 50 years before taking a break of 9 years. Any comments from others who have an opinion on riding after an absence?

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I had my first moped when I was 9. I rode that thing every day after school for hours and hours. I had a few bikes from age 9 through 2nd year of college. I had to sell my beloved Honda 350CL in college to pay for school. I was bikeless for many reasons until I was 46. On a whim I bought an R90. Since getting on that R90 I've had a Hyabusa, R100RT, R1150RT, and now my R1200RTLC. I can't wait to buy the next bike. Fast forward 15 years and now several more bikes. I've ridden over 200,000 miles in the last 15 years mostly on weekends and once or twice a year a long trip with friends. I really enjoy the bikes, the tinkering, the comradery, etc. I would like to think my skills are as good as they were when I was younger, but they probably aren't. Birthdays have that effect, however what I can say is my judgment is wayyyyyy better. I no longer think I'm bullet proof and invincible like I did when I was 16. I truly don't feel lacking in motor skills as my reactions times seem as good as always and I can still ride a wheelie on the Penton as far as I care to.

 

I'm very careful in traffic in Houston which has some of the worst in the US. I head to the country as fast as I can. My young friends (30 ish), can't run away from me. In fact they have a hard time keeping up on their FJR even though it is a faster bike than my RT.

 

So....there you go. Rode tons as a kid, didn't ride for 25 years, been riding every time I can for the last 15. I average over 12,000 miles a year.

 

Go for it...but be careful and ATGATT....

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hey, GreenRT!!

 

Was wondering the same thing about others with an absence from "the addiction". Had not been on a bike since the early '80's, but always looked longingly at every bike I saw. Still have the old True Love, a '77 CB750F2 sitting in the garage; just could not bring myself to part with her.

 

My brother, who has always been involved in bikes, got me thinking back in Feb and next thing I knew, there was a orange '99 R1100S in my name!! In another city!! In another state!!

 

Naturally, I blamed the Brother an' told him he HAD to help me get it here. Was TERRIFIED at the thought of driving it 10 feet.

 

We got it, tag teamed it back on rural roads one weekend. I'm 69, but found the reflexes rusty but there. Wasn't as bad as I thought, but the "ADDICTION" was back immediately, in FULL FORCE. I literally can't get enough. It's terrible. I grieve for the time lost not riding.

 

It's been 2,000 miles on weekend rides since March, which seems like last week. I found it best to always ride behind my brother. He is a very experienced rider, very smoothe style. Keeps me out of trouble. Helmet, gear, tools, maintenance, tires, all researched, purchased, installed, and in between the forums keep me focused.

 

I do hope you are having an easier time of it. So, how is it in old Mexico for a gringo??

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It sounds like you are based in Mexico, but not too far from California. If so, sign up for a MSF Experienced Rider course. They will give you a lot of tips and, maybe, help break some old habits.

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Birthdays have that effect, however what I can say is my judgment is wayyyyyy better

Can't disagree with Dave on that one! On a good day on a good road I'm still on my game. When I was a bit faster & younger, see above!

 

Will.............. I started riding at age 16 with a 50cc Suzuki and never stopped in my case. I'm fairly confident (nothing's 100% certain) that I can reach my 50 years of riding bench mark in about a year and a half. And every one of those years is an expendable gift, use it or loose it. So ride safe and enjoy! :thumbsup:

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No matter what, your reflexes are slower. It is just a natural part of aging.

 

So you have to be more pro-active when riding and always be at the top of your mental game.

 

I hope to ride till I'm as old as Marty Hill! :wave:

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One more thing: I have noticed that as I get older I have to ride more frequently than I did when I was younger, stronger, and had faster reflexes. If I am off the bike for a few days (let alone weeks), I notice the difference, especially at slow speeds.

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No matter what, your reflexes are slower. It is just a natural part of aging.

 

So you have to be more pro-active when riding and always be at the top of your mental game.

 

I hope to ride till I'm as old as Marty Hill! :wave:

 

OK Stan and Bud, your making me think I'm old.

Remember almost all of you guys had a large head start. First time I sat on a moto I was 59. :grin:

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Marty,

 

You are my role model. Most of us won't be riding when, or if, we attain your age. Not telling how many more miles you have left ahead of you. :thumbsup:

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It sounds like you are based in Mexico, but not too far from California. If so, sign up for a MSF Experienced Rider course. They will give you a lot of tips and, maybe, help break some old habits.
I am in Guadalajara. I was in LA in June. It is a three day ride. Is that "not too far from California"? I guess it depends on your perspective. I would like to take an MSF Experienced Rider Course, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.
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Marty,

 

You are my role model. Most of us won't be riding when, or if, we attain your age. Not telling how many more miles you have left ahead of you. :thumbsup:

That seems like negative thinking. I think Marty has about 10 years on me, but I plan to be riding 10 years from now. :)
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Marty,

 

You are my role model. Most of us won't be riding when, or if, we attain your age. Not telling how many more miles you have left ahead of you. :thumbsup:

That seems like negative thinking. I think Marty has about 10 years on me, but I plan to be riding 10 years from now. :)

 

 

That's why Marty is a role model. We all hope to be riding then, reality is most of us will not. :grin:

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