Clarksville, TN – I ride with a lot of bikers who are WAY more experienced than me. There’s a reason we refer to them as “experienced.” They’ve put the miles and miles in to make sure that their riding experience is safe and that their machine is in top working condition.
Things that are second nature to them, are not quite as routine with me… yet.
I don’t consider myself an “experienced” biker. I’m into my third year as a Harley owner and I’m still learning. Each time I ride with someone I learn something new.
Today was a situation that made me realize that I need to be better. I need to be more diligent in looking out for my safety. I learned that I might take too many things for granted, and I might have been to “lazy” about some things.
Tires are probably THE most important safety feature we have on our motorcycle. When I first started riding, I took the bike in for a service. I was at 15,000 miles and during the service, the tech showed me how worn my tires were, and I should probably get some new ones.
Here’s how stupid I was. I was under the impression that, like with a car, I wouldn’t need tires until about 30,000 miles.
Thankfully, I had no issues and have been pretty attentive to my rubber.
At least I thought I was.
I usually have a local mechanic up the street check my tire pressure when I go out. Because of my artificial hips, it’s difficult for me to get to the rear tire, so I take the lazy way out and have someone check them for me.
Obviously, that’s not a good idea. They’re not invested in my safety. And to be honest with you, I usually get a service every 5,000 miles and I expect them to bring my worn tires to my attention. I’m not blaming them, it’s my responsibility, I was just lazy about it.
So today, I stopped by the dealership to have them look at another minor problem, when my service guy looked at my rear tire and said, “I wouldn’t drive down the street on this.”
I put 19,000 miles on that tire. I just came back from the Gulf on that tire. I rode on it in the rain on Sunday. It could have been bad for me.
Now, I don’t mind calling myself out on this, because there are probably other bikers, who like me, aren’t as diligent as they should be and can learn from this.
If you know me, you know that I’m a perfectionist. I’m OCD, AD&D, ABC, BBC and whatever part of the alphabet you can come up with, so when I do something so blatantly stupid, or just plain lazy, it really pisses me off.
In 2001, I had a client at the radio station I owned. He was a flight instructor and wanted to promote his flight school. As part of his advertising contract, he wanted to teach me to fly. I said, “cool.”
I put in about 70 hours of flight time and was about to take my tests to get my license, when one day I was flying, and I got lost. I was not completely instrument trained, and there was a “haze” at about 1000 feet, and I realized that I was in a “situation.” I was about 3,000 feet and realized that I just couldn’t “pull over” and ask directions.
I found my way back to the airfield, and landed safely. Along with landing on the wrong runway one day, and damn near crashing during a cross wind landing, I finally realized, I DON’T NEED TO BE UP HERE!
So I walked away from it. Some people are just not meant to fly. I was that guy.
Fast forward to now.
I’ve discovered one of the greatest things ever in my life, and that’s the motorcycle. Yes, it’s dangerous, but at least I could be better at keeping up with my equipment. We ALL should pay more attention to our equipment.
So if my “rookie” mistake can help someone else, then so be it. I’m not ashamed at sharing this experience, because I know I’m not the only one who’s done this. I just can’t believe that I overlooked that situation, but I can ASSURE you, it won’t happen again.
Then maybe one day, I’ll be referred to as an “experienced biker.”
Thanks for following my journey.