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You want a WHAT????!


  • You want a WHAT????!

    You want a WHAT????!

    By Christy
    with additional material by Jeff (aka Ranger)

    Once you've decided to take up riding you will face what may be the most challenging part of your entire motorcycling experience - explaining your desire to ride to your loved ones. Riding entails undeniable risks. Through proper training, safety gear, wise motorcycle choices, and practicing skilled riding techniques those risks can be mitigated. Still, for many of us, our choice to ride means we are asking our loved ones to understand and, to a varying degree, accept those risks, too. What follows is an article written by my wife about our experience as I went from non-rider to rider. -Jeff

    Dilemma: Wife strongly resistant to husband's purchase of motorcycle

    "Whoa ...That's amazing... Boy, I tell ya, I'm just blown away, I mean... Hey, are you awake?" And, without a genuine pause for confirmation, my husband launched into motorcycle-safety-statistic #1,253...

    "Did you know that people who teach themselves to ride are over 80% more likely to crash than someone who's taken a motorcycle class? And that people who have a friend teach them are about 50% more likely to crash than someone who's taken a class?" 1

    "No, Babe, no. I didn't realize that. I'll file it away with the lower fatality rates when alcohol isn't being consumed and that riders shouldn't be out driving after 2 a.m. and that a $20 helmet equals a $20 head. Honest, I will. Could you turn off the Itty-Bitty Nite Lite now?" I pleaded, and not for the first time.

    "OK, OK, I'm just going to finish this chapter. Did you know that Jay Leno is a motorcycle enthusiast? ... OK, quietly, I know..."

    Three minutes pass, at most. Probably two.

    "Incredible ...This is just so ...who would have guessed? I mean, not me. Hey, are you awake?"

    Statistic #1,254, and the saga continued.

    Husband's strategy: Overwhelm her with data

    Month after month, I suffered under the illusion of sleep while my husband regaled me with motorcycle safety statistics late into the night. He was determined to prove his case -- motorcycles aren't donor-cycles, and hospital emergency room doctors should not label them that. When ridden with the proper care and planning, one could complete a motorcycle ride unscathed. Possibly more than once!

    If you were to believe my husband's argument, riding a motorcycle is as safe as simply walking down the street2. Of course, that was an argument made during one of his midnight reading binges which explains why he failed to take into consideration the historical significance of my running over a man who was simply walking down the street (or the more vivid point that he, "Mr. Motorcycle Safety," was once run over BY A MOTORCYCLE while simply walking down the street.) But, I digress.

    In the end, his vast array of data did overwhelm me, and I was hard pressed to debate the point any longer. His statistics seemed valid and he had a solid retort for anything I threw back at him. Besides, a gal's got to have her sleep.

    So, for sanity purposes, the debate at home ended, and I began my strategy. Let's call that strategy the Rider's Compact. (Noteworthy: Up to this point, my husband thought a "compact" was something with powder and a mirror, stowed away in the bowels of a woman's purse. Here, however, it refers to an agreement between parties involving an important exchange.)

    Wife's strategy: The Rider's Compact

    The Rider's Compact was our version of a compromise. The Compact allowed my husband to purchase the motorcycle that he had extensively researched, persistently interviewing dealers across town and engaging in ongoing chats with online riders who offered nothing but support for his "wife dilemma."

    The bike he purchased is a gray/white 2005 Honda Shadow Aero 750. To be fair, it is very pretty for a motorcycle. He had had his eye on it for months and was simply waiting for the loving approval of his wife -- primarily, I believe, because he had exhausted all possible ways to hide the purchase from said wife. And, besides, he looks so darned cute in his riding gear, dubbed by anyone who sees it as his red Power Ranger outfit.

    So, for those of you out there who have wives (or husbands or other loved ones) who just need to get a good night's sleep, I implore you to consider the Rider's Compact .You have our permission to copy this version in all its glory, modify it, revise it, whatever suits your needs And it would be swell to ride with you across Spain and Portugal -- which will make a great deal more sense after you read item number "8" in the Compact itself.

    So, with your domestic debate, I wish you much luck. And, be safe. And, if you see my husband walking down the street in his red Power Ranger suit, don't run over him. And, for pity's sake, let your wife get some sleep!

    The Rider's Compact
    Recorded by Jeff

    We drew this compact up together looking for a "win-win" solution. It took time and earnest effort on both parts and was not particularly easy. However, we eventually did find that solution, recorded it, and signed it with the understanding that violation of any of the terms meant no more bike (…shudder…). Below is what worked for us, some or none of which may work for you. In any case we hope you can find your own "win-win" solution. We urge you to pay particular attention to item "7" which for us is the most important part of this compact. Good luck and ride safe! Numbers in parenthesis refer to 'Notes for "The Rider's Compact"' below.

    No crash or injury clause (1)
    I will be involved in no crashes outside of a controlled practice environment.
    Neither Christy or I will receive any injury requiring emergency medical attention. Controlled practice environments are exempt from this stipulation.
    I must wear All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT). Gear consists of: full-face (or flip-up) helmet and motorcycle-specific jacket, pants, boots and gloves. (2)
    Pre-ride checklist. I will not ride unless all the following checks pass:
    Head check: attitude and emotions, concentration and focus, no impairments whatsoever (fatigue, illness, medicines, alcohol, etc.)
    Weather check: road conditions, current weather and visibility, forecast weather and visibility
    Equipment check: motorcycle and gear
    I will actively work to continually improve my riding skills by taking formal classes, regular practice in a controlled environment, reading, and consulting qualified peers. (3)
    Required insurance coverage clause
    I will maintain medical insurance coverage that covers motorcycle-sustained injuries (4)
    I will maintain sufficient life insurance coverage (5)
    I will sing one song per ride. Christy can bank songs with no expiration and withdraw them on demand. (6)
    We value our relationship over all else clause: If, after earnest effort, Christy is still too uncomfortable every time I go out, I will quit riding. "Earnest effort" includes, but is not limited too, a significant and reasonable passage of time with me riding; professional counseling; motorcycle-specific education, training, and reading
    Portugal trip clause: Christy and I will go on a motorcycle trip through Portugal (or another domestic or European location of her choice) subject to availability and appropriate rider and passenger skill. (7)

    Original signed and dated 8/14/2004.

    Notes for "The Rider's Compact"
    (1) This fundamentally affects my approach to every ride: if I crash and walk away unscathed, it will still be my last ride. I don't believe that everyone will eventually crash; I do believe if you think you will eventually crash you are undoubtedly right. True, you can't control "the other guy", but you can ride like you are the only one out there responsible for your safety, because you are. That starts before you through a leg over the bike: making sure your head is in the ride, honestly assessing if your skills are up to the conditions, doing a preflight check (T-CLOCS) of your bike and your gear. And practice, practice, practice safe riding strategies (SEEing) and riding skills (emergency stops, swerves, etc). All that requires a great deal of dedication, comitment, and focus on every single ride. For me, this clause is what gives me that focus.
    (2) Note that ATGATT also applies to any passengers on the motorcycle.
    (3) A "qualified peer" is simply a fellow rider that is safety-conscious (i.e. not a "squid").
    (4) This includes disability insurance as well.
    (5) Christy got to decide what a "sufficient" life insurance amount was.
    (6) This was a very important point for Christy. I know it may sound somewhat silly. But, since I really don't like singing and she likes to hear me sing, the fact that I was willing to concede this point showed her how serious I was about riding! For me, this point was actually tougher to agree to than the "No crash or injury" clause!
    (7) Coming up with this was a major turning point for us. It wasn't the trip itself that made the difference, but it was the point at which Christy started to understand why a motorcycle might be fun. She had already come to understand that they could actually be ridden safely, but couldn't understand why anyone would want to ride one. However, to her the idea of riding along the Portuguese coast on the back of a motorcycle sounded like much more fun than being confined in a car or tour bus.

    1 Based on statistics from the Hurt Report as discussed in Proficient Motorcycling - The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough.
    2 If you surf the motorcycle-related forums long enough you will encounter an often quoted statistic that basically says "you are more likely to be injured as a pedestrian then in a motorcycle crash". The problem with this statistic (and one that will undoubtedly be pointed out by a follow-up post) is that a whole lot more people walk than ride motorcycles! If you don't ride a motorcycle, your actual chances of being injured in a motorcycle accident are effectively pretty close to 0. So the statistic, while possibly accurate, is essentially meaningless.
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