So, after months of nothing but Ramen Noodles, you’ve saved up enough loose change to put down a deposit on your first motorcycle. An exciting new world with leather jackets and without traffic, right? Sure, but there some other…stuff, too. Stuff no one else has told you about becoming a biker.
Photo: Kynan Tait
1. Bees & Animals
Bees are a pretty innocuous creature, so long as they’re in the backyard. Sure, if you hassle them, you might get stung, but in general, they leave you alone if you leave them alone. Get on a motorcycle, though, and the humble bee is transformed into a weapon of mass destruction.
At anything over 10mph, a bee in the face/neck/any exposed body part will feel — and this isn’t an exaggeration at all — like you’ve just been shot with a rubber bullet. And, in its final throes, the bee will sting you. Probably in the face, because it’s trapped inside your helmet.
All of that takes place while you’re attempting to operate a relatively complex machine in busy traffic with absolutely nowhere to pull over safely.
Bees have also evolved the extraordinary ability to find gaps in your waterproof, hermetically sealed riding suit that nothing else, not even a drop of water, can penetrate. The bee will always find a way. Normally, it’s around your neck, plunging down your chest and stinging you as many times as possible before your frantic self flagellation manages to squash it. But sometimes, it’ll find its way in around your waistband, then proceed to sting you on the genitalia. Really, this does happen and likely will happen at some point in your riding career. Car drivers will pass by flummoxed by the odd, leather-clad man frantically stripping on the roadside while hopping around with a swollen face.
Animals, too, have been put on this planet for the specific purpose of performing Kamikaze missions on passing motorcyclists. In rural areas, deer will wait in the roadside undergrowth, listening for the approach of a bike. At the very last second, when it’s far too late for you to take evasive action, they’ll fling themselves into your path, or maybe just leap straight for your head.
Even domestic animals like to get in on the act. Cats will test your reflexes by bolting from underneath cars to underneath your wheels. Dogs will feel it’s their duty to hunt you down.
2. You’re Now An Expert Meteorologist
Forget the TV weatherman, you’re going to develop a better ability to read weather radar maps, cloud formations and wind patterns than anyone with an actual degree in the field. And that’s because the weather is now absolutely critical to your day-to-day life.
Can you make it home from work before the storm hits? If so, what’s your latest time of departure, chosen route and necessary average speed to make that possible?
Will it dip below freezing on your commute tonight? If so, should you pack your heated gloves or is the ride short enough for simply your heavy duty winter ones?
Is the rain today going to be light, meaning you can get away with leather or heavy, meaning you need that Bibendum suit?
Slicks, road tires, intermediates or full wets at the track day next week? You’d better know for sure, because that deposit is non refundable and it takes four days for tires to arrive.
3. Say Goodbye To A and B
Before you had a motorcycle, you always tried to find the quickest and most direct way to get around. In a car or truck, it was efficient and practical to do so. Now that you have a bike, you’ll be willing to go 100 miles out of your way to visit a store or restaurant that has the same stuff as the one in your neighborhood. You’ll find yourself with entire States between you and home, amongst strangers and in strange places that you never knew existed, just because. You’ll tell your family you’re just going out for a quick ride, then return hours, sometimes days later, not entirely sure where you have been. And it won’t matter, because you were riding.
4. Manholes, Paint and Tar Snakes
Utility companies go around placing large, slick metal plates in the road, precisely where motorcyclists need to ride or, in intersections, put their foot down. In the dry, that’s no big deal. But, in the rain? A wet manhole (no sniggering, please) becomes a deadly skating rink. Put a foot on one and your boot instantly slips, meaning you’ll drop your bike. Hit one while turning and you’ll be laying on the ground.
Road markings take on a new life in the wet, too. Nearly as slippery as manhole covers, they can make the back end of your bike weave around as the tire hunts for traction. Even under the gentlest of acceleration.
And then there are tar snakes: cracks in the road filled with liquid tar. In the winter, that tar freezes and becomes strips of black ice. In the summer, it melts and feels pretty much the same. The cracks they’re installed to patch tend to be in the heaviest sections of wear on the road. You know, like the apex of a corner or downhill, approaching a corner, where you want to be braking. They couldn’t have been designed to catch you by surprise any better.
5. Friends & Strangers
So scrimped and saved to buy your first bike, and now your friends are going to want in on the action too. No, not by going out and buying their own, but using your new pride and joy. Most are just going to want to pose for a new Facebook profile picture on it, but some are going to swear riding competency and want to take it around the block. Don’t let them, they’ll inevitably return holding only a par of (now detached) handlebars and a story about how it’s not their fault.
Complete strangers will start approaching you, too. Normally old men, who will want to recount stories of the old Triumph or Norton they once rode. They’ll tell how your bike reminds them of it. Well, until they realize your bike is Japanese, at which point they’ll look shocked and walk away. Continue Reading: Things They Never Told You About Becoming a Biker >>