I try to add the following at
the beginning of every year to remind myself the things I have learned over last
year. A lot of them are the same every year. I must not be a fast
learner. See if you have a few of these on your list.
As I start to get
excited about the upcoming great riding weather we are going to have, I also like to
start to think about things I have learned over the past few years and try to
not make those mistakes again. Here are my "Top 10" that come to mind that
you might have experienced yourself:
1. Putting on rain gear. If it
looks like rain, smells like rain, and there is rain on the pavement, it is
probably raining. It is now officially PAST time to put your rain gear on. Put rain gear on
PRIOR to all of the obvious signs.
Lesson: Error to putting on rain gear too soon.
It only takes a couple of times of getting drenched to learn this
2. Learn that "E"
on the gas gauge actually does mean empty. It does not stand for
"E-ternity of Gas". I sometimes tend to get those confused. Figuring out how far
past the "E" you can ride is useful in the game to see how
far you can go on a tank of gas. To win the game you are able to ride into
the gas station and actually put more gas in the tank than it holds. Losing the
game involves a call to AAA from the side of the road. My record is now 5.3
gallons in a 5 gallon tank.
Lesson: Walk 3 miles for gas in 100 degrees and
you won't make that mistake again.
3. Estimating time to ride to
destination. Getting it through my head that 350 miles of riding
through mountain passes and twisties is going to take considerably
longer than 350 miles on a Montana freeway. One of my more famous quotes on a
trip; "It is only 350 miles, we should be there by 3pm." I am reminded of this
quote at 5pm by Mrs. C. when we are still 100 miles
Lesson: Learn it. Over estimate how long it
sure bike is in neutral when starting. After 35 plus years
of riding, this one still tends to get me every once in a
while. Nothing much worse than going to your bike at a bike night,
thinking it is in neutral and pushing the start button to find out that you were
wrong. However, it is quite entertaining for all of the people that saw you
make this common rookie mistake. Pull in the clutch or make sure it is in
neutral before pushing the start button.
Lesson: Don't be the subject of the jokes for
the rest of the day.
5. Confirm that the kickstand is secure
before dismounting. I had this happen in
Ouray, Co. last year. I put the kickstand down on
the severely sloped main St. a little too straight up. The
wind was blowing pretty good and when I got about 4 steps away from the bike I
heard a big crash. It had blown over. Fortunately no serious damage to levers,
etc. and I was able to ride it.
Lesson: Make sure that bike is stable on
6. Directions. No matter how much I
like my GPS and no matter how many times it has saved me, road signs still trump
the GPS. If you know you are supposed to be on I-70 West and the sign
clearly says I-70 West, go with the sign.
Lesson: Know what you know.
7. Eating regularly. I am the kind
of guy that will eat a big breakfast and be good until we stop for dinner. My thought is that
stopping to eat is "Burning Daylight". Lesson: Not everyone is that way. Much
easier on everyone to stop and get your spouse some food when she is ready for
it. Generally the only source of real discussion on our
Lesson: Keep your wife well fed. Makes for a
more enjoyable ride.
8. Be aware of
under dressing. Realize that standing still in the
sun with a short sleeve
t-shirt on in 60 degree weather does not feel the same as riding 70
mph in the same temperature and attire. Over dressing will never be a
problem for me. Lesson: Learn how to "Layer" properly. It is easier to deal with
too many clothes on than it is to freeze for 100
Lesson: Error to over
9. Turn off alarm "Before" getting on
bike. I have a siren alarm attached my stock HD security system. It is an $80 add on
that helps me sleep better at night knowing that at least I could hear my
bike being wheeled away if someone tried to steal it. But there
have been many times that I have forgotten that I have set the alarm
and get on the bike to the sound of the wailing alarm. I always get "The
Look" from Mrs. C. for that one.
Lesson: No lesson here, just an irritating
10. Stop taking
off with kickstand down. Rookie mistake #1. It is embarrassing to have someone
point at your kickstand when you are riding to find that it is still down. It
also makes left turns much more challenging. Page 12 in the riders manual
advises against this activity. Never can figure out how I forget this.
Usually stems from being distracted just as you take you bike off of the side
Lesson: Dangerous. Stop doing