Take a drive by the local Planet Fitness about, say, January 3rd. What would you expect to see? Literally hundreds of folks treadmilling, biking, spinning, lifting and planking their way to new found fitness for 2013. Right? Now imagine you’ve returned but it’s no longer just after New Year’s Day. It’s now the end of February. Hey, where did all the peeps go? Not to be judgemental, mind you, but they likely went the way of literally millions of “resolution makers” before them. Failed New Year’s resolutions are a rich tradition in America. That’s not to say, however, that there is no value in making those resolutions. There is. And we, as motorcyclists, owe it to ourselves to make a few that relate to our passion. Here are a handful of 2013 “Rider Resolutions” that we like.
1. Get out and ride more.
There is some sketchy statistical information out there suggesting that the average motorcycle is ridden but 2000 miles in any given year. Or less. That’s sad. 2000 miles represents less than a single trip to Daytona and back for those of us here in Southeast Pennsylvania. Viewed another way, it’s a monthly ride to Harrisburg and back. Or maybe 30 some miles a week. Yeah, we probably can’t ride every day of the year (it’s snowing as I write this) but we can surely ride more. Especially on a vehicle that’s invariably cheaper to operate (not to mention WAYYYYYY more fun) than your “cage.” Resolve to ride more in 2013! If you rode 2000 miles in 2012, then ride 3000 in 2013. Take a long anticipated road trip (and do the planning right now while it’s snowing!) Commute to work (National Ride To Work Day is June 17th in 2013) Hook up with a club or Riders’ Group. Be a Harley HOG or a Triumph RAT and join in on their regular rides. Attend a local Bike Night. Then do it again! Take a trip to a bike museum – The Barber Museum in Birmingham , Alabama is highly recommended. Around here you could also attend motorcycle races at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the Flat Track at Hagerstown, MD, drag racing at Atco, NJ, or motocross at Budds Creek, MD. Any excuse to ride can work. I repeat. Resolve to ride more in 2013!
2. Catch up on those long overdue bike maintenance chores.
Most riders are fairly good about keeping up with the standard bike maintenance requirements. We generally change our oil and filters regularly and lube our chains. Tire pressure and tread wear get their own fair share of attention (especially here in Pennsylvania where the mandated State Inspection ensures at least a minimal look-see on an annual basis.) However, the owner who takes the time to look carefully at his/her operators manual will find recommendations for a number of other periodic procedures designed to ensure long service life. These are the ones that get done considerably less often. An example might be the requirement to change the brake fluid now and again. Brake fluid is this amazing, highly engineered stuff that’s commissioned to do a difficult but vital job. It’s two redeeming characteristics are that it is essentially incompressible and it’s properties change virtually not at all in the face of high temperatures. These attributes are vital if the fluid is to do it’s job. Unfortunately it doesn’t work nearly as well when contaminated, especially by water. Aye there’s the rub…since the fluids, by their very nature are prone to absorb water and water vapor from the atmosphere. Engineers call such fluids hygroscopic. This is the main reason that the bike manufacturers want us to change the stuff periodically – either based on time or miles. Most suggest this work be done at least every couple of years. Few bikes get the service. In 2013 why not bring your bike up to date by doing a brake fluid flush and fill or any of a number of the other recommended procedures. Check your bike’s maintenance instructions for a list of the work you might want to consider doing.
There it sits in the corner of your garage. Old , tired, and forlorn. Maybe the carburetors are simply in need of a rebuild and the tires are flat or dry rotted. Or both. Maybe it’s worse than that. Yet, that old bike was once somebody’s favorite ride (perhaps yours) and the object of inestimable pride. Now it is, at best, a “project.” Why not take the time and make the effort to bring that old soldier back to life. After all, it ran when it was parked and it can run once again. The advent of the internet and especially eBay have made old bike restoration a monumentally simpler undertaking than in days gone by. And many parts (not to mention information) for 60s and later bikes are surprisingly easy to source. In restoring an old bike you’ll learn a lot, meet some fascinating people, and have the satisfaction that only craftsmen know from (re)creating something with your own hands. Get started now! Ride it this season!
As smart and clever as we think we may be, every one of us of us can stand to continue the learning process. Continuing the lifelong learning process around the subject of motorcycling might be the best of all worlds. Since 1973 the folks at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation have been the gold standard for rider education and training. Their basic rider course serves as the foundation for motorcycle licensing in most states and their Advanced Rider Course is a staple for riders already holding motorcycle endorsements. Amazingly, in our home state of Pennsylvania both these courses are offered free of charge. Check out schedule and availability at the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program and sign yourself up. A weekend day or two well spent. It could save your hide. Literally!
Consider this. Bikes are essentially the highest performance motor vehicles available for sale to the general public. The average motorcycle can leave most cars in the dust. Even Kawasaki’s “beginner bike” Ninja 300 can leave a Toyota Camry for dead in a 0-60 contest and the situation only gets better as we move up the motorcycle food chain. Suffice to say, it is virtually impossible to exercise any modern sportbike near its limits of performance on the public highways. This leaves us with the (very appealing) option of closed course riding as the best way to satisfy the need to “wring out” these amazing two wheeled projectiles. Fortunately plenty of race circuits and track day operators are ready and waiting to accommodate you. At the typical track day you’ll get plenty of track time, access to experienced and knowledgeable teachers, and a tasty boxed lunch. You’ll be on course with a group of riders who have been matched to your own skill and experience level, corner workers and safety equipment will be on site, and not even one Chevy Equinox with a texting teenager at the helm will be anywhere nearby. Go for it!
Certainly there are lots of other potential New Year’s Resolutions up for consideration. Feel free to adopt or modify this list as you please. But remember to select a modest number of achievable goals. Otherwise you may eventually find yourself sitting around at Starbucks with your friends from Planet Fitness discussing all that you had wished that you had done. Whatever. It starts now!
What’s on your list of Motorcycling Resolutions for 2013?