I want to leave you with three thoughts as 2018 ends and 2019 begins:
This saying speaks to financial balance certainly, but it has meaning to riders too. In the past year this column has encouraged you to go racing through the eyes of 65-and-older racers, Ralph Staropoli’s exploits, my time on the Spondon TZ750, and the pieces that Brian Smith, Rob Cichielo, and AJ Ciampa wrote about their AHRMA fun. That’s the “live for today” part because racing motorcycles is about as alive as life gets. But you will notice that each racer in the Seniors piece wrote about crashing, the sometimes-severe downside of motorcycle riding and racing. I followed up with a piece about how advanced rider training reduces crashes and extends riding careers to grow our industry as healthy riders spread the word; that story was surrounded by riding technique pieces sprinkled throughout 2018.
Real smiles after a successful, crash-free AHRMA weekend at NJMP 2018. Left to right: AJ Ciampa, me, Rob Cichielo, Robby Cichielo, Brian Smith. Roadracing well creates smiles that last for weeks and memories that will never be forgotten.
So riding motorcycles is “Live for today” and it is best when backstopped with the “Save for tomorrow” idea of getting as much expert training as possible. In financial terms you are spending a bit of money on a frivolous pleasure but socking away dollars for your emergency fund and retirement. As a rider, you are taking part in one of the coolest enterprises on our planet but are guarding yourself against disaster with the best training you can find.
We all know ex-riders who “lived for today” and bought a bike and pursued the dream of motorcycle riding but are not riding today. I know riders from all walks of life who will never stop riding due to their understanding of the sport brought to them via advanced rider training.
Ride With Joy
The point here is the spirit of riding my dad always had: motorcycles are fun! I can remember him leaving my (flat-out in fifth gear) Yamaha XT500 in a cloud of dust on his brand-new 1980 Suzuki GS1100. We never went on a ride without him twisting that throttle WFO at some point to blow the cobwebs out of his bike and brain. He would pick his spots carefully and then enjoy the “motor” in motorcycle.
Mom and dad aboard Kawasaki’s 500. Mom got her license at the age of 56 and bought a Hawk GT. Dad used to wheelie this H2 in the Skyline High School parking lot as my brother and I cheered from the sidewalk. Dad says, “Git it.”
Earlier this year an old friend who worked at Salt Lake City’s Plaza Cycle when my dad was riding his Ducati 916 all over creation grabbed me and told me about my dad coming in for a new front tire. “The middle was perfect, the sides were bald…completely worn out…no tread left,” he told me. There wasn’t a canyon my dad didn’t love. He began his roadracing career at the age of 53 on an RZ350 and that really sent a message to me and my friends.
In this increasingly mandated PC world, keep my dad’s message in mind: Let that thing eat occasionally. Remind yourself why you fell in love with riding by taking a quick run down the river road or a blast up the freeway onramp. Get to a trackday to let your bike run free, go to a Friday night drag race and run it down the quarter a few times. If you see me racing at AHRMA, know that the Spondon and I will pull big honkin’ wheelies wherever possible to “ride with joy.” Dad showed me why.
Dr. Klein Says Ride!
Gary Klein and I have teamed up for a few articles on the psychological benefits of riding motorcycles, or “helmet therapy” as Keith Culver calls it. Klein is a clinical psychologist who told me, “The best therapy I could give my clients is to take them out on my motorcycle.”
This is the view from the therapy couch Gary Klein would like to use.
Klein returned to riding seven years ago and we hooked up for a canyon ride when I took the Yamaha Tracer GT long-term bike up to see my mom. Klein’s message of how riding effects moods and brain chemistry is the black-and-white evidence of what we have felt, what we are hooked on.
YCRS is now working with VETMotorsports to bring this “therapy” to military veterans who struggle with PTSD and other issues. My hope is that 2019 is your happiest year yet because you ride more! Dr. Klein says ride. Want more news like this?
A Bonus: Shop Talk
I can’t end this year without mentioning the joy available in your shop or garage. I began working at State Sports Suzuki in Salt Lake City at the age of 20 and wrenching on bikes continues to enthrall 37 years later. For years, every Utah winter was tear-down time and all our bikes (Sean Sorensen, Mitch Boehm, Gene Prunty, and more) wore blue or red frames, ported heads, aftermarket carburetors…all done during the cold of winter.
Happening this winter: Cold and snow outside, fascinating fun inside.
The pleasure of flipping on the lights and stereo and tearing things down and rebuilding them better is almost indescribable. In the next few weeks I’ll update all the projects going on in my life: a GPz550 with Chris Carr and Carry Andrew, a GSX-R750 with Carry Andrew, an FZ750 and R1 with Louis Ferrari and Chris Geiter, a R100RS on my bench, a GSX-R1100 with Sean Hamlin, another Spondon TZ750, and an ex-Wayne Rainey TZ250 with Rusty Bigley and Kurt Lentz. Plus I’ll have some Yamaha Tracer GT updates. Each bike brings great pleasure and anticipation along with joy, smiles, dreams, and accomplishment.
No matter what your background, I encourage you to buy something beat up and then return it to the glory you perceive. Between workshop manuals and YouTube (armed with tools that include a torque wrench) you will be guided along the adventure. Working on bikes might not be quite as good as riding bikes, but it’s damn close and a great way to fill your non-riding hours. Dr. Klein approves.
Let motorcycles contribute to making 2019 a terrific year.