The one word that causes most bikers to stop listening

- Apr 19, 2015

As a new rider, one of the challenges was finding a supervisor to go riding with. The spontaneity of a ride becomes more difficult when you are legally obligated to find someone to "supervise" you. The whole notion of a supervisor has become a little strange to me. After all, the rules of the road are no different for motorcycles or cars or RVs and having a supervisor along isn’t likely going to prevent anything. If you run into trouble on your bike, what's the guy who's riding a hundred yards away from you actually going to be able to do about it?

The challenge, however, was not in finding a supervisor per se. The real challenge was overcoming the fear that I was being a pain in the neck. As a new rider I often felt like I was inconveniencing people by asking them to come out and ride with the newbie. What I've realized since is that after the word "ride" most people already have already stopped listening because they're already strapping their helmets on. I've learned not to hesitate before sending out a text when leaving work: "Ride tonight? 6:30ish?" Chances are that most anyone will happily hop on their bike unless they've got a wedding, a funeral or a birth to attend. Even so, if they don't actually know the new couple THAT well or if it isn't like it's their FIRST child you might find that they'll opt for the ride anyway.

Of course, nobody needs an excuse to go riding.   Does a bird need an excuse to fly? Does a fish need a reason to swim? Do you need an excuse to eat? A reason to breathe? But the nice thing about excuses (or even flimsy pretenses) is that they can quite easily become moral principles.

Consider the situation of the newbie. As a new rider, I really should be doing as much riding as I possibly can. There is a parking lot test as well as a road test that I need to pass before my learner's license expires, and it is fiscally prudent to pay for each test only once. Moreover, in order to become a safer rider I need to get as much road experience as possible. Naturally, then, the most responsible thing for me to do is go riding.

Experienced riders are under no less strict obligations to principles. "Yeah, honey, I've got to go riding again tonight…Well, Dave needs a supervisor and it's illegal and unsafe for him to be riding out there on his own." Clearly, in a case like this, the only moral option is to go for a ride. "No, we're not going far. Just to the Baja and back. We should be home by Labour Day." But only because the rookie needs a supervisor. Really, I don't know how anyone of conscience could do otherwise.

Moreover, note the implications for important matters of family welfare. If we run out of milk, for instance, I could hop in the van and drive to the corner store. However, as a man who loves his family and his world, I refuse to increase my carbon footprint by driving my gas guzzling van to the store in order to risk the health of my children by providing them with inferior, overpriced and mass-produced dairy products. For the sake of my children I'll make the journey to ride three towns away to support an independent organic dairy farmer and supply my family with high quality nutritional options. Sure, it might mean a day of riding through winding country roads in the south Okanagan, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. For my children. Obviously.

In any event, the bottom line is this: if you are a new rider, or thinking about becoming a new rider, don't allow yourself to be dissuaded by a nagging voice that whispers that you are bothering other riders by inviting them out for a ride. Yes, they'll be "supervising" you; nevertheless, once you're in the saddle "supervising" will be the last thing on anyone's mind.

Instead, you'll probably end up thinking about things that really matter—things that we thought about when we knew that a summer rain shower was meant for dancing in, and the sole purpose of raking leaves was so you could jump in the pile afterwards, and any day it snowed was clearly a play day, and springtime mud puddles were for losing your shoes in, and the stars came out at night just so we could make wishes. After a little time on road you'll find that all of the stresses of work, all the concerns about your relationships, and all those ever present fears for the future won't go away, but they'll settle out in the exhaust somewhere behind you leaving you time and space to remember the things that never should be forgotten.


David Balfour was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and has since lived in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as British Columbia’s Cariboo and Kootenay regions before settling in the Okanagan. David has had a variety of career tangents through the years: he was a roadie for a rock band in the 1990s, he worked on a mushroom farm, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, owned a small business and is currently completing his Education degree at the University of British Columbia.

David is new to the world of motorcycles in general and MotoVida in particular. However, a love found later in life is better than a love never found at all. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife, Lindsay and their four children, Emma, Annie, Aidan and Cordelia, and the Radian, his motorcycle.

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