Is It Time To Stop Riding?

Hang Up Your Helmet by Miller Langhorne

Ride 'till I Die. It's the mantra for many riders. Unfortunately, that's how some people meet their demise. No decision necessary, fate has decided for them and detoured them to the Heavenly Highway. But what about riders who survive accidents? Does the trauma of an accident trigger the brain cells to question whether or not they should ride again? And what about riders who've been riding for years without any major incidents? Does there come a time when even the most enthusiastic rider looks in the mirror and says, “Maybe I need a new pastime.”

Lots of questions. And lots of reasons to give up riding. For some, it's the age factor. No matter how much we try to deny it, it's a fact that most humans don't age well. Eyesight (especially night vision), hearing, balance, and response time all erode over time. Aging also makes the bones more brittle, and that's why bikers over forty are three times as likely to be severely injured in a crash as younger riders. A spill that you walked, or limped, away from when you were in your twenties can result in fractures, dislocations, internal injuries, and brain damage when you go down later in life. Younger riders have more accidents but older riders have more serious ones.

Sometimes the decision to stop riding isn't accident-related. For some, family issues force the decision. For the younger riders, it can be a new baby. Being responsible for the welfare of an infant can give you a different perspective on life. Getting married to a non-rider? Prepare yourself for the inevitable battle over whether or not you should continue riding. Older riders can find themselves in the position of being the caregiver for elderly parents. If mom didn't want you riding before, she's going to be even more adamant now when she depends on you for her care and well-being.

For many riders, the decision to stop riding isn't made at the moment but develops slowly. Riding time is gradually replaced by other activities. For some, motorcycle riding is just a phase they go through before moving on to other interests. Or, you may still be riding, but the rides are shorter and in more familiar territory. No more long road trip adventures. Night riding may be out, but you can still see well enough to navigate during daylight hours. (Though it can be a bit embarrassing to tell your riding buds that you have to be home before dark.) Anyone taking medications for health reasons will tell you that some days the meds aren't working and they're better off not taking the bike out for a spin. And some of those people will have doctors who recommend they give up the sport. Some of us will stop packing a passenger because we recognize our skill level has diminished and we worry about their safety. And lastly, for some people, it's just not fun anymore. It might be increased traffic. It might be the weather being too hot, too cold, or too wet. But, the excitement you had when you first started riding has diminished for whatever the reason.

If you've been an avid rider for any length of time, the decision to stop riding is not going to be an easy one. It's hard to walk away from something you enjoy. The memories and camaraderie you've found through riding have been a big part of your life. It comes down to the risk versus the reward and every rider will have their own measuring stick.


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