Mind over Matter

“And tho,

We are not that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”

– Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses

If we are fortunate we get to age, but like all things it’s not always equal in it’s effect on an individual’s riding career. Being ‘bike fit’ is more a case of riding regularly and keeping  muscle memory refreshed than anything else. Certainly an active lifestyle will help you push that 300kg cruiser in and out of the shed but there comes a time when the deadweight causes you to fear over-toppling your pride and joy with all the resultant embarrassment and expense. Apart from core strength we simply don’t bounce as well as younger riders. After 50 or so our medical history can start to work against us as bone strength, vision, reaction time, concentration and sense of balance inevitably decline. If that all sounds terrible, our riding experience and roadcraft survival techniques are all working in our favour.

Consider the progression of choice of machine throughout your riding history. The chances are you started on something lightweight and relatively basic before progressively moving through a range of faster and heavier machinery. One of the reasons Royal Enfield is currently doing so well is that it sells bikes which appeal to both LAMS riders and retirees, and that is not meant as a slight on the RE product. Ride something that physically fits you, spending 10%+ of your brainpower on worrying about dropping a bike does not a pleasant riding experience make.

There are ways and means not to give up riding and logical alternatives you can put to partners and family if they start to get insistent. The bike you ride, where you ride, whether you ride alone or in a group. Consider also when you ride, time of day, conditions. Maybe shorter distances before breaks, especially on hot days or really inclement weather. Maybe track days as an alternative/replacement for licence busting highspeed country runs?

If you start to feel sleepy after a pint and a pub lunch as your metabolism kicks in, find a comfy spot and have that nanna-nap there rather than fall asleep on the way home.  Alternatively, next time eat less and keep off the booze! What medication are you on – and what are the side effects?

As a bare minimum get your eyesight checked once a year whether you wear glasses or not. Consider doing some rider training or private lessons with an instructor whether you have had them before or not. How old is your riding gear? Old boots and gloves probably won’t do a very good job dealing with abrasion and an old helmet with a scratched visor is a disaster waiting to happen. You are worth it, update your gear, the new stuff is lightyears ahead of last century’s stuff, it’s functional, comfortable and up to standard with built in back-protectors, elbow and shoulder pads and seams that are crash rated. Yes, it may be expensive and you love your 40 year old sun faded jacket and decade old helmet that you have had lots of adventures in but accept the fact that they have gone well past their use by date and are functionally useless, stop the denial and hang them in the Pool Room! Old rider, new gear – schmicko!

Load the dice in your favour,  it will help keep up your enjoyment and passion and keep you young. Go and explore new roads and destinations, it will stop you getting stale and complacent in your riding and reduce the inevitable “autopilot” of riding the same route over and over. Finally, whatever decision you take, be it to retire from riding or to continue, it is the right decision for you at the time, live your best life.

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Retro Moto

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