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How to Get Back Into Riding Motorcycles Again - Part 2

By Walter F. Kern

Part 2: Practice and become proficient riding a motorcycle

Before you venture out to get in some serious motorcycle riding practice, be sure to first buy protective apparel. Then you'll need to scout your buddies for a riding partner. Your goal now is to improve the skills you learned in the MSF course by actual street riding. As you become proficient, you may have the urge to begin helping other riders and even want to share your experiences with the world. Here's how.

  • Buy Protective Clothing

  • Clothing is for comfort, protection, and safety. The first thing you have to protect is your head. I recommend that you wear a helmet at least for the first year while you're bringing up your skill level.

    You should wear gloves specially made for riding. If you fall and hit the road, most likely, your hands will hit first. Let the road rash be on your gloves, not your hands.

    You should wear full-length motorcycle boots with rubber soles and heels. Boots limit foot and leg injuries should you fall. They also give you a bit more height to allow your feet to touch the ground when you're stopped.

    I prefer a leather jacket with vents. During the summer, I open the vents to allow air circulation. During the winter, I put in a liner to retain body heat. Riding in the summer in 90 degree heat without a jacket will dry your skin quickly. A jacket will retain skin moisture and cool you. If you go down, you will thank the day you decided to wear leather. Leather pants or chaps are great if you want further protection. Many riders like full riding suits either of leather or synthetic material.

    The reality is that riders will ride with almost anything on, sometimes offering practically no protection at all. It's your call but I hope you'll think about what I've recommended here and make an informed decision.

  • Get a Buddy and Practice

  • Find an experienced motorcyclist -- preferably one who has received MSF training -- to go out with you and act as your mentor for a couple of months. Ride around in your local area first avoiding busy roads and heavy traffic. Gradually ride on the country roads, the highways, and then the high-speed roads as you gain experience. Try to be aware of all you learned in your MSF training and put it into practice.

    After six months to a year, you'll be ready for a better bike, maybe a new one.

  • Be an Example

  • As a returning rider, you know the basics. However, since things have changed so much, you will find yourself learning lots of new things and ways of thinking. You'll find that safety is a much bigger thing than it used to be. You'll see that many more women are now riding motorcycles. Often, the MSF classes contain more women than men.

    As an older rider, you'll be an instant role model for others who have also been thinking about getting back into riding again. You may find yourself the local expert in how to do that. So prepare yourself to reenter motorcycling but be ready to start assisting others who see how much fun you're having.

  • Share Your Experiences

  • As you start checking off the steps outlined here, make yourself known to the members of the motorcycle forum where you feel most comfortable. Many of them have been where you are now and can help you. In addition, your problems will help others to anticipate potential problems they may have. The result is a sort of town meeting of motorcyclists all helping one another to become better and safer riders.

=> Back to Page 1: Getting ready

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