A penny for your (riding) thoughts

by on May 18, 2011
in Commentary

Somewhere around the Internets the other day, the question popped up as to what one thinks about while riding. I think that for beginning riders, this is a tricky question – you are most likely thinking about the safe and proper operation of your bike, as well as simply trying not to panic. (Maybe that was just me…)

For me, now that I have almost ten years of riding under my belt (!), I can honestly say that I primarily think about three things: hazards, scenery, and my own cool factor.

I’m totally serious. The thing I think about most often is still identifying potential obstacles or hazards and how to compensate for them. When riding in traffic I’m dodging potholes, looking for that guy backing out or turning left, and watching that green light that I KNOW is gonna turn yellow just when I reach the point of having to make a snap decision on whether to stop or go.  When riding on the highway I’m looking for upcoming curves, road damage, and animals both alive and (as a TV reporter here once actually said) “others not so alive.”

Second most-commonly, I try to grab appreciative glimpses of the scenery around me. This is tough to do given how aware I try to be of the road and potential hazards, but every once in awhile I find myself going, “Wow, that’s pretty!” as I come around a curve or crest a hill. There’s also a point in South Dakota, just outside of Rapid City, where you can suddenly smell the pine very distinctively. And in Iowa, at this time of year, you can easily catch whiffs of lilacs and other flowering plants out on the two-lane highways. I try to have as many of these “awareness moments” as I can every time I ride.

The third most-common thing I think about is just how hotsy-totsy I really am. I definitely think it’s cool that I ride a bike… that I ride this bike… that I faced some riding challenges and overcame them… that I have friends who are happy to accompany me on my little adventures, or to invite me along for theirs. It’s a great feeling to have conquered the new-rider jitters, and to realize that at that moment I’m very lucky to be doing something I absolutely love to do.

So how about you – what do you think about most often while riding?

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7 Responses to “A penny for your (riding) thoughts”
  1. Thumper says:

    My riding time is spent on focusing…I tend to not “think” so much as I tend to defend. And I think that’s one of the things I enjoy about riding: it requires so much focus that all the garbage and static gets pushed out for a while. The things that go through my brain… “That Hyundai is riding a little close to the line, driver doesn’t see me, back off…There’s a car about 200 yards back coming up way too fast…slow down, there’s a spot ahead, can’t tell if it’s heat rising or if it’s slick…”

    It’s not even thinking in words so much as it is just trying to focus and ride clean…

  2. Corn Dog says:

    Thumper – YES I think that’s why you can feel really relaxed after a ride even though you know you’ve been concentrating really hard: you’ve only been concentrating on ONE thing! Thanks for reading and commenting here! – Janet

  3. Teresa says:

    I have been reading Biker Chick for a while now and have enjoyed your info, humor and honesty. I am not around the Des Moines area I am south of you in Platte City, Missouri. I have been riding since 2003 started out on a 1200 Sporty now I ride a Heritage. When I ride I like to take in all the beauty God has given us. I am in awe when the seasons change. The air and the physical feeling of freedom seem to make me ride a little longer and further. Being a seasoned woman I have found that enjoying the moment is better than being in fear of the road a head. I have bitten the dust and road rash does hurt but I jumped up and thanked God I was still alive and I road that horse home. The one thing that riding my bike has done more than anything is it has empowered me as a woman.

  4. Ohiobiker says:

    I am glad that someone else is thinking the same thing-I do pretty much those three but I was kinda embarrassed that I was thinking I was all that and a bag of chips just because I’m a woman on a bike, but by golly, it does feel good! It feels good that I went for it, that I own a motorcycle, that I have that little M endorsement on my driver’s license. Doing all that was on my Bucket List and I’m glad I did it! I still love the reaction I get when people know I have a motorcycle. I think I read, maybe here on your website or in a magazine, that about 13 or 18% of bikers are women. I am proud to be part of that minority! :)

  5. I just wrote about that! I don’t know why, but sometimes when I ride, my brain doesn’t record the places and scenes, and seeing the pictures or movies made during the ride actually helps me “realize” where I’ve been!

    I also believe there are rides and rides. If the ride is too short, the road is too crowded or plenty of hazards, I don’t think about much! If it’s longer, the weather just right I have time to analyze my feelings, like I said here: Some become monks, some just need a bike and a road

  6. Della says:

    Whew! I thought I was letting my ego get the best of me by thinking I am pretty damn cool! But to hell with that ego! I AM COOL! hee hee!
    This is my first year on my new bike. I had an 88 Honda Shadow before. And sure, I was cool, but you outta see me now! I’m in love with my “new” bike, a 2007 Road King Custom with the gold pearl white paint and lots o chrome. Now, this bike is gorgeous. However, I find myself not wanting to ride in certain conditions because I will have to clean her up after! : (
    I call my bike Bonerita. Bonita for the beautiful, boner, cuz if I were a dude I would definitely have one riding this beauty!!
    When I ride I am very careful, think of everything you all do as stated, but probably more because I’m an insurance geek and see every little thing that can go wrong. Even though I’m as safe as I can be, I still do stupid things and am very critical of myself when it comes to that.
    I call my bike seat my church pew, because I feel that’s when I’m closest to God. Sometimes I am so overcome by my happiness I get a little teary eyed (not good on the bike!). But I am so grateful that I took the chance to do something I did when I was a kid and got back in touch with it. (my brother raced motorcross and we had a track in our front yard-talk about redneck!)
    This year while riding the smell of the blooming trees would waft into my nostrils and I thought, “WOW! who would have ever thought of putting flowers on trees?! That’s just awesome, thanks God!”
    So mostly, I feel free and full of gratitude. I love the wind in my hair, I love to go over a bridge and feel the cool and smell the water. I love to smell someone’s laundry or supper cooking up. I love it all. I even love the challenge of being safe and out witting stupid drivers who look right into my eyes and then pull out in front of me.
    And I love that dudes look at me and hoot and holler. Go ahead boys! Take a good look! That’s right! I’m one hot biker momma!

  7. Ragamuffin says:

    Corn Dog, Amen to what you said. I do everything you said, and often I sing praises to God at the top of my lungs. Woo hoo!

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