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'08 Vulcan 900 Classic
77 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am about to reach my next milestone as a rider my odometer reading presently sits a 19870 miles. In a few days I will be reaching 20K.

I’ve only been riding a little over a year. I earned my MSF certificate in July last year and the next day I got my license. When I look back at those days it amazes me that I have come this far in so little time and I’ve managed to do it keeping the rubber side down.

If I were to look back over the last twenty thousand miles and isolate the one thing that made it all possible it would have to be permitting myself the time to grow accustomed to riding in different conditions and incrementally challenging myself based on my level of skill at the time.

It was six months before I took my first ride on a tollway or freeway. I first learned to ride in inner-city traffic where the maximum speed limit was 35 to 45 miles an hour, purposely took routes through school zones and streets where traffic congestion was generally low to moderate and in all weather conditions for the exception of ice. I doubt I will ever ride on ice at least not if I can help it.

Once I felt I had mastered riding on city streets, more importantly mastered controlling my bike in close quarters and stop and go situations and varied road surfaces it was time to take on the freeways. At first it was a bit intimidating, having to travel at the higher speeds, but ultimately the transition was seamless. All the skills I learned riding in close quarters and in stop and go traffic took on a whole new meaning when availed the awesome freedom of riding like the wind.

All the while I my have pressed gently to extend my riding skills when it was safe to do so, I always held back a little, keep my following distance just a notch further back than I know I could safely navigate, always made sure no matter where I was on the road I had an escape path mapped out should something suddenly arise. And arise they have, time and time again. From traffic coming to a complete stop at 70 miles and hour to vehicles pulling over and cutting me off. Keeping myself just an additional notch back from my existing abilities has spared me from injury time and again.

I’d like to say I still hold on to the intimidation I felt the first time I took control of my bike to remind me of the danger and risks of not only the road, but within myself and the cycle itself, but when I mount my bike, that’s not what goes through my mind. For me it’s clarity, and acute awareness of my abilities, road conditions, traffic conditions, and restraint from being over confident. Unknown dangers lurk and will challenge me on my ride and on every ride; it’s not a matter of if, but always when.

This is not to say I have not had a perfect ride, free of obstacles and threatening situations, but they are the exception, especially in Dallas / Fort Worth, and the surrounding areas. Incidentally while I am on the subject of the perfect ride, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was. The perfect ride can also be a perception. I’ve seen a many riders escape near death situations completely unaware the grim reaper almost had their number. Something I have witnessed countless times over the past year. So just because it feels like you had the prefect ride, doesn’t mean it was so.

Taking risks, riding aggressively and foolishly, darting between vehicles and pushing the limits and arriving safely at your destination is more dumb luck than anything else. Perhaps riders that do this sort of thing are acutely aware of close calls, and some are. There are some **** good stunt riders out there, and they’re quite amazing to watch, but then again there’s a time and place for it, and less than predictable traffic conditions isn’t one of them.

Which leads me to less than predictable traffic conditions; I can’t end this post without a contribution in the area of predictability. Predicting the future is not limited to fantasy, fiction and the stock market. I have found that by allowing myself a cushion to compensate for any margin of error on my part and riding with a temperament just under my level of skill, that it is possible to predict and avoid dangerous situations like a mind reader.

It’s not always the case, but it’s been my experience that just like stocks, drivers and traffic exhibit trends that can clearly identify potential changes in road conditions. For instance if taillights going off and on frequently in front of me. If its one driver, odds are it’s a tailgater and a driver likely to come into my lane somewhere down the road, so I make a mental note to keep track of and monitor that driver until he or she is no longer a part of the equation.

Riding with a discipline and solid temperament, remaining acutely aware of the terms of the road and giving myself a cushion to compensate for any unforeseeable mistakes has made it possible for me to get to this milestone.

Each and every time I mount my ride, I find I have increased the level of skill behind the handlebars. When I look back to the early days and the promise of my instructors that muscle memory would soon kick in, I never imagined it would be like this. I’ve been told you’re a newbie until you hit 50K and I’ve got 30K more to go. I imagine I’ll get there in much the same way I have so far, taking it one day at a time keeping it simple and safe.

I'll post a shot of my Vulcan 900 Classic as it looks today sometime this weekend.

Ninja tomato farmer
17,646 Posts
That's how you get to be an old biker. I have over 20 K on my ninja and some of my fellow sportbike riders have wrecked 2 or more times in the same time period. I've dropped it a few times, but no overcooked corners or collsions with cagers. My MSF training has been the key to me staying out of situations that cause the most bike accidents. So congratulations to you on your upcoming milestone!

Crazy Old Guy
1,189 Posts
Nice job on the 20K. I just completed that milestone and feel very comfortable in most all situations. I still have 30K road miles until my 'newbie' status disappears also, although I have been riding dirt bikes close to 40 years.

I love to cruise from town to town and am planning a trek to Sturgis next year. I just received my 'tourist package' from South Dakota and am looking through it mapping out what to see and what to miss . . . this time!

Enjoy the two-wheeled life!
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