Every now and then you will hear a piece of advice that sticks with you. Sometimes it’s a saying dreamed up by a celebrity or someone famous, sometimes it’s something your parents used to say to you growing up. Sayings like, “If ya want it done right, do it yourself!” or “Nothing worth having ever comes easy.” These are the types of sayings that stick in my mind and come to the surface when I am looking for answers. One of my fondest riding memories was the first time I ever jumped a big double-riding moto. On a Sunday at a local track, I made the decision to finally jump a series of doubles that I was never brave enough to attempt. I remember finally doing the jumps and showing up for work the next day. I was pretty excited about my experience and the word had gotten to Sane Watts that I was jumping some pretty big doubles at the local track. He asked me about my riding the previous day and then gave me another saying I haven’t forgotten. “Big doubles, big troubles!” I think that was his way of just telling me to be careful. I never forgot that moment. For myself, these are more than sayings. These are memories and anthems to live by and I find myself referring to them often.
When it comes to riding, there have been some sayings like this that has always stuck with me. I remember when I first started riding road bikes, a group of us were getting ready to go on an aggressive street ride. Most of the guys going with us were racers, and at the time, I hadn’t even been to a track day. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous when all the guys started gathering and we were getting ready to go. I had ridden with a few of these guys before and I remember thinking that it was going to be a real struggle just to keep up without killing myself. Some of these guys were really fast, and I knew once we got out on the open road we were going to be hammering through some corners. One of my buddies obviously saw the distress all over my face and came over to chat just before we headed out. In a brief two-minute conversation, he gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me through every riding adventure I have been on since that day. What was that gem you ask? What was this piece of wisdom that has more than once saved me from an early demise? Four little words…”Ride your own ride.” I remember reciting that saying a few times that day in my helmet when I was pushing my limits to stay with the group. In the end, I am sure it saved me from pushing it too far. I made it through that ride without any injuries and to my delight, I wasn’t the slowest guy that day.
Those four words have followed me through all my different riding adventures. When I first started riding off-road, certain types of riding came to me a lot easier than others. I remember going to a motocross track with some friends many years later. We went to a large riding facility and they had all kinds of different terrain to ride. Motocross came pretty naturally to me because it was on a track and much like the road racing I had done in the past, it was easy for me to adapt to that environment, but when we went into the woods, things got real in a hurry! I remember going into the woods on a beaten trail trying to keep up with some of my more experienced friends. Within minutes I found myself struggling to keep my stability. I hit some bare tree roots that had come through on the trail. The next thing I knew I was bouncing myself and my bike off of a few trees before I finally came off the bike and nearly knocked myself out cold. I remember lying there thinking to myself, “Wow! This is way harder than it looks!” When I got up to get my bike the second thought in my mind was, “Ride your own ride….idiot!”
This little statement is so important no matter what your skill level is. Many new motorcyclists make the mistake of going into motorcycling without taking the time to learn a little about what they are doing. I have seen so many people get new dirt bikes only to find themselves selling them after a few trips to the hospital. I have also seen tons of incidents on the street that simply could have been avoided with a little training. Simple things like not smashing your front brake on wet grass or gravel.
This sport isn’t something you want to jump into and just try to “Keep up” with your riding buddies. Sometimes that is the worst thing you can do. You have to pace yourself and increase your skillset. Avoid being pressured by others to do things you don’t think you are ready for. You should be the one that pushes yourself and your levels.
So whatever style of riding you enjoy please keep those four simple words in your memory bank. Hopefully, they will keep you from doing something silly…”HEY Y’ALL! WATCH THIS!”
(This article was originally published in Go FAR Magazine January 2016)