How You CAN Learn to Ride a Motorcycle: Into the World of Motorcycling - Part 5
By Walter F. Kern
Part 5: Into the world of motorcycling
Clubs and support groups
Many motorcycle riders are solitary and shun groups. Other riders like to be around people who ride the same brand of motorcycle. Still others choose groups that welcome all brands of motorcycles. There are many groups, associations, and clubs to choose from. There are also many women's groups. Most of the women's clubs welcome male riders as well but emphasize support to new women riders.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you join the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). This group has over 260,000 members and monitors the rights of motorcyclists. There are also many ABATE groups (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) that offer training, fellowship, and support motorcyclists' rights.
After you have some experience riding, you will begin to hear about the various motorcycle rallies. You should get a buddy and go to one that's not too far away. Most new riders will start out by taking a day-trip to a rally. Then maybe, they'll try one with an overnight stay. Riders may then want to spend several days at a large rally and opt to reserve a motel room or a campsite for the duration.
You may find one that you want to visit every year. The Americade Rally is an example. The Sturgis Rally held in early August each year in Sturgis, SD, is a mecca for motorcyclists. The attendance at Sturgis has exceeded 400,000 in some years. Other large rallies are the Daytona Bike Week and Laconia Bike Week in New Hampshire. Many riders prefer the smaller rallies where anywhere from 200 to 1000 show up. There is a rally for you.
The second bike
You'll get the urge for a second bike very soon after you've been riding. You will find that you see motorcycles everywhere. You'll begin to recognize them. Your friends will ride in with new bikes and you'll long to have something new yourself. The bug is biting even stronger now. As I mentioned before, you will probably be able to sell your first bike for what you paid for it.
At any rate, you will be buying a second bike and you'll probably start to assess how you ride before you buy it. If you like the more aggressive riding style, you may want a sportbike. You may want something to commute on and choose a standard bike. You may like to just be seen around town and go for a cruiser. Others may have been out on some long rides to rallies and want a sport-tourer or a touring motorcycle. You may want to look at a list of motorcycle seat heights to find the bike that is just right for you. You have more decisions to make.
Venturing out into the world
After you've had a year or two of riding, you may start to venture out more into the world. You may plan to take a cross-country tour or ride to a far-off place like Alaska. You may become a member of the touring community. Some can't get enough of riding and think nothing of riding from New York to Chicago for a good cup of coffee at a favorite café. Some have ridden around the world. Others participate in individual tests of personal endurance such as the Iron Butt Rally or the Four-Corners run. There is no limit to the distance you may be compelled to go.
Also, riding long distances does not mean you have to be on a Honda Gold Wing, a Harley-Davidson dresser, a BMW touring bike, or other heavyweight tourer. Anyone can tour on any size bike and it's done all the time. Again, you have to make the decision what you want to do and what kind of a rider you want to be.
I hope I've been able to give you a flavor for what you are in for once you make that decision to ride a motorcycle. You may never be the same again. Hopefully, you will grow with the new experiences you gain and be safe while you're riding. Whatever you do, continue to learn how to be a better rider and enjoy yourself. You CAN ride a motorcycle. More importantly, you WILL become a motorcyclist.
Don't forget to come visit us in the Motorcycle Views Forum associated with this site (just click Forum on the left side of every page on the site). You just may find it the best motorcycle community around. To see what an average forum rider looks like, check out my article, Joe Motorcycle - Just an Average Guy.
=> Back to Part 4: What bike do I get and what do I wear?