We all love to ride, but sometimes simply wanting to go for a ride just isn’t enough to get us moving. So, on those times when you need that little extra push to get out the door and onto two wheels (or when you need a way to get past the spouse’s radar), we’ve assembled some ruses that just might work for you. While these excuses range from the painfully obvious to somewhat obscure, we think that any rider should be able to crank out an endless list on demand once the pump is primed. Consider this an essential survival skill for motorcyclists to master.
10. Running Errands
While this excuse is fairly obvious, it’s all too frequently overlooked. Anything that’s small enough to be dropped off or picked up via motorcycle is fair game. This past weekend – on a gloriously sunny day – after several hours of household chores, I heard my wife complain about having to drop off Girl Scout cookies at a friend’s house. Making the supreme sacrifice of performing this chore on a bike (to get through the traffic quicker) netted me a nice 45-minute ride and a few extra Brownie Points with my wife.
The same thing goes for paperwork that needs to be dropped off or kid clothes that were left after a sleepover. Need new bits for the screw gun so you can hang that drywall your spouse has been requesting? Laundry detergent? Pick up a dinner at the restaurant? Go ahead. Be creative. Just be sure they know you’re doing it for them.
9. Scuffing in New Tires
Simply put, this is a safety measure that must be addressed, without fail, by making sure a tire’s releasing compound has been scrubbed off. Really. You don’t want to – literally – hit the entrance ramp on your way to work only to find you left your traction at home. If you haven’t already done so, immediately go out for a ride that gradually builds up the lean angle on your shiny, new tires. Riding on your favorite twisty roads is vital to be certain that you scuff the tread all the way through your normal usage range.
This is a gesture of love towards those who care about you. Don’t be selfish. Go scuff those tires, now.
While this might not make sense at first, with a little thought the logic becomes clear. Most non-riders don’t notice motorcycles unless they’re doing something that attracts negative attention. So, even though they may pass dozens of motorcyclists on a typical urban commute, they only remember the one or two obnoxiously loud pipes – or the guy who overly aggressively weaves his way through traffic – and wonder why all riders behave that way.
By showing up at your local voting precinct, wearing proper protective gear, you’re sending a message to your neighbors that motorcyclists are active contributors to our society. If you have kids, bring one along (again, in proper riding gear) to remind them that we reproduce, are responsible adults, and are teaching the next generation the importance of performing our civic duty as part of a vital democracy. Finally, make sure your ride to the precinct is long enough to mull over all the important issues you are about to decide.
7. Warming Up A Chain For Lubrication
Nothing looks worse than a worn and droopy drive chain. We all know that proper lubrication will extend the life of chains, but let’s be honest, we frequently forget to lube our chain post-ride. That’s OK. There’s an easy solution.
Go for a ride that’s sole purpose is warming the chain for lubrication. In fact, why not clean the chain with a rag and some WD-40 before the ride? Since the heat in the chain helps the chain lube to penetrate into the rollers, it’s best to err on the side of getting your chain nice and hot. So, the longer the warm-up ride, the better. When you get home, pop your bike up on a rear stand and have at it. Of course, if you don’t get the chain lubed while it’s still warm, you’ll have to take another ride.
While Zen masters will insist “Meditation is meditation, and riding a motorcycle is riding a motorcycle,” riding your bike is a great way to bring yourself totally into the present – which is one of the primary benefits of meditation. Motorcycling requires a single-minded focus without the other distractions of modern life. Most meditation instructors emphasize that in order to get the best results, it must be practiced daily – at the same time of day if possible.
Motorcycling is no different. The neural pathways involved in the operation of a motorcycle strengthen with repetition. Motorcycling, itself, becomes a practice: “cultivating is what we mean when we speak of practice. The key role in any cultivation is tending that which has been planted … Tending means attending, which comes from attention. These words all carry in them the quality of being present, wakeful, stretched toward, in readiness, conscious.” (from Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn) With practice, I’ve noticed that, as when I sit down to meditate, my pulse rate drop and my tension lessens just by putting on my riding gear.
5. Finding New Routes Home
We’ve all experienced the frustration of running into unexpected traffic on our commutes. Well, perhaps you need to go for a ride, right now, to come up with some alternate routes home from your most common departure points. In fact, you should try riding each route at different times of day to see which ones are better at which times.
Remember, sometimes the best way home in these situations isn’t the most direct route. It’s possible for the longer, more fun route to get you home before the shorter but stop-and-go one. (Keep that one in your back pocket, in case you’re questioned on why you rode the long way home.) Even if it isn’t quicker, time-wise, it’ll feel quicker because you didn’t stop moving.
4. Drying Off After a Wash
A clean motorcycle is a happy motorcycle – unless it’s out on the road actively collecting bugs. So, washing is an essential part of owning a bike. Not only does a shiny ride attract the attention of the gender with whom you hope to have future interpersonal relations, but getting intimate with your bike helps you spot small maintenance items before they turn into major repairs.
However, once you’ve washed your pride and joy, you need to make sure that it has been thoroughly dried. Water is corrosive, and in order to prevent premature aging of the metal components, your motorcycle should be completely dried. You certainly don’t want to use compressed air which can drive the water into crevices where it can do the most harm. Instead, take your bike for a ride. The heat from the engine combined with the breeze created by the motorcycle’s movement through the air will help its components remain corrosion-free.
3. Topping Off The Tank To Prevent Fuel Separation
The increased use of ethanol in gasoline has made keeping your tank full when your bike is parked for any length of time a vital necessity – particularly for those in humid climates. The extra air in a partially full tank contains moisture that will be absorbed into the gas. Once the ethanol in the gas has sucked up as much moisture as it can hold, the fuel can separate, leaving a thick, gummy layer in the bottom of the tank that can clog fuel injectors.
Of course, the best remedy is to never park your bike. Just keep fuel flowing through the system as you ride through tankful after tankful. Since we have to eat and sleep sometime, our bikes do get parked on occasion. If you realize at one of those times that your tank is not completely full, immediately ride your bike to the nearest gas station to top it off – or better yet, go for a tank draining ride to make sure you have the absolutely freshest fuel you can in your tank before re-parking your bike.
There’s an old saying that applies to all learned skills: Use it or lose it. The same can be said of your riding ability. Without proper maintenance, the finely honed edge that is the hallmark of an experienced rider begins to dull. Commuting on your motorcycle prevents creeping technique rot.
The other truism is that, while most people enjoy the benefits of employment (you know, housing, food, clothes, and motorcycles), the time spent working is time that we don’t spend riding. So, why not find a way that you’re guaranteed to ride ten times a week? Studies have shown that people who ride motorcycles to work, daily, are happier, more relaxed yet more productive, better focused, more intelligent, funnier, better looking, more interesting, and far kinder. So, for the good of your employer, your fellow employees, your family, and humanity, ride yer dang motorcycle to work!
1. “Testing” Motorcycles
Yes, this excuse is a little self-serving, but it also happens to be true. As cool as it is to work for a motorcycle publication, we spend the majority of our work days strapped to our computers … typing. With no MO central office where we park our butts during the business day, we all work at home which removes commuting from our arsenal of riding excuses. Consequently, we’ve had to develop a reasonable sounding alternative.
“Testing” is a great catch-all, but if used too frequently, it loses its magic. When the bean counters inquire as to how we plan to spend our time during a particular week, we use certain code words to justify our riding to Those Who Sign Our Paychecks. So, our calendars will frequently have listings like: photo/video shoot, dyno run, swap bikes (meaning one of us rides a bike to another editor’s pad, switches bikes and rides back home), checking range, or meet with a moto industry liaison. We hate to resort to this kind of subterfuge. Really, we do. However, there’s a reason we joined this profession, and it ain’t because we love to type.