If you have been following my column at all you know I have been preaching about sharing your stories from the road to get potential new riders interested. But our job has just begun once we arouse curiosity. So now your niece or nephew actually went out and bought a bike, with your help of course, and tells you about the trip they have planned with their friends. You can say great, have a good time, but you would be remiss in your advocate duties. If at all possible, their first long trip should be with you and whatever friends they want to come along—their friends and/or yours. An idea that is gaining more popularity at this stage of enthusiast development is what I like to call the Prep Party. There is a lot to be said about learning by doing but a few helpful hints can make the difference between a bad experience and an exciting adventure that makes you start planning your next trip before you even get home. Besides the good advice you can share, there also might be a couple of small items you have used over the years that could come in handy, reduce stress and just make time on the road more enjoyable. So, dial up a few biker friends, have your niece or nephew get their friends together and throw a party.
Like I have said in the past, it is our duty to pass along motorcycle traditions and stories to get young people interested in motorcycles until they are asking us to guide them to the next step of actually owning a motorcycle. Whether it be racing, building or just street riding, it is irrelevant because once you are involved it is all interconnected in one fashion or another. The trick is to grab their interest when they are young before tech and video games take over. The wind in your face just cruising down a country road is much more sensuous than sitting in front of a fan playing a two-wheel action video game. When you really love motorcycles, working on them can be as much fun as riding them. As long as safety is always your main concern, a minor issue on the road can be a challenge to overcome while adding to your repertoire of road stories. A rainy day on the road is nothing more than that when you have a good rain suit, not one of those cheap vinyl deals that rips apart 500 feet down the road. Remember, a bad day on the road with your motorcycle is always better than a good day at work.
I tend to go to extremes when motorcycles are involved, but it is the only way I know. My younger brother passed away a few years ago and he and his son were best buds. I could never replace his dad but I could finish off some of the plans they had. I picked up an old Evo bagger that had been ridden hard and put away wet. I went through it and surprised him with it as a special gift from his father. We put a thousand miles on it that first weekend checking out the rally then cruising most of New England. The only thing that would have been better is if we lived closer and could have worked on it together. Last year he flew into Fort Worth and we rode up to Sturgis together. He will never forget either one of those rides and he has some great stories to now tell. Yes, there were a few exciting times, a story for another time, but I was there for him and with the years of experience I have behind me on the road, they were handled and the adventure continued. You may not be able to assist your niece or nephew like I did, but my advice would be to make every effort if it is at all possible to join them on their inaugural trip. You will never regret it and a special bond will tie you together for life. If circumstances just don’t allow you to travel together make sure you set aside a couple nights to at least share your wisdom.
I recently became a grandpa for the first time. My wife was spending time one day preparing for a baby shower and she wanted to know if I wanted to invite my buddies and their wives. At first, I said no, but then I thought I could have each of my buddies bring over a piece from their collection of parts for a future build for my new grandson, Jackson. Well, I never quite pulled it off but recently Shadow mentioned a friend of hers was thinking about having a first-time “ride shower” for a friend about to venture out on the road. Harley has had Garage Nights for first-time women riders to share knowledge, tell stories and recommend gear. Shadow made me realize Garage Nights or Biker Showers don’t have to be limited to women. I know many guys that have ridden for years but never took a long road trip on their bike, not to mention any new rider. Let’s drop the gender nomenclature and call them Prep Parties or whatever fits your lifestyle and start throwing parties for new riders about to embark on a long road trip. Gifts or no gifts, the big takeaway is the sharing of knowledge. Any excuse for a party, right? Most shops would love to sponsor such events; I know we would at A Bikers Garage. A shop, a bar, your garage or just about anywhere. Concepts like necessary pre-trip maintenance, writing your route on your windshield with a dry erase marker, what spares and tools you really need, how many miles to cover in a day, using booking.com as you travel and a million other ideas newbies would never think of are not only helpful, but I bet even the most seasoned rider might pick up a few new tricks.
Trip tips change with different bike models and technological changes. I remember back in the ‘80s I would always carry a spare points plate assembly because early electronic ignitions were always failing. When crank sensors came out they were a common failure point after not a lot of miles, so I would always carry a crank sensor. We would love to hear from you what your favorite trip tips are so we can share them with our readers. We would especially like your thoughts on helping new riders start their biker lifestyle and trips with positive reinforcement from your group of rider friends. If we can help a few new riders have a smoother transition into the biker lifestyle and life on the road, we will probably grow our biker population faster. Remember sharin’ is carin’ and we need more riders concerned about the many miles to cover with so little time to do it.