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Old 08-16-2007, 11:21 AM   #1
oldapeman
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When should we stop riding? -- perspectives of an older rider

The recent reports of casualties of experienced expert bikers, plus my own experiences on the highways, have led me to pondering when I should consider parking the bike permanently. I encourage responses of all levels and ages of riders -- those over 50, who might be having the same thoughts as me, and those much younger, because, like it or not, you will be old someday too if your luck does not run out sooner.

NOTE: I apologize for the length of this post -- I guess I needed to set the stage for all this.

I am nearing 59 years old. I learned to ride a Honda S90 when I was 15, then rode a dirtbike for a while, then spent years in the Navy riding a wide variety of street bikes owned by my shipmates (Triumphs, BSA, BMW, Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Puch(!) and many more I have forgotten I left motorcycles behind for a while when I was in my late 20's , switching to bicycling, and riding motorcycles only occassionally until about ten years ago. It was then that I sent my son to MSF training, and decided to go along and do the course with him just for fun. I remembered how much fun I was having and decided to get back into motorcycling.

I consider myself to be a very expert, experienced and safe rider. Despite riding for nearly 44 years, I have never once been in an accident, nor dropped a bike on the street.

I ride one of my vintage Kawasakis from Berkeley to SF nearly every weekday (although I avoid the rain). I am in generally decent physical shape, have good reflexes, and corrected vision. My balance is very good (something that usually deteriorates with age), probably because of my long term motorcycle and bicycle riding.

That said, I must be the first to acknowledge that I do not have the physical capabilities I had at my peak (which for me was in my mid to late 30's, when I was doing century rides and San Francisco hillclimbs on my Bianchi ). While motorcycling, I now make up for this with my knowledge and experience, knowing what is the right thing to do at all times, plus not riding like a foolish teenager who just discovered that sex and motorcycle riding are a lot alike. Without doubt, I am slower, with weaker senses (eyes and ears) than I once had, less than perfect balance, and losing a little bit of the physical edge every year.

I am a realist. Ageing is a one-way street, sloping downhill at an increasing rate. I know that doing this at age 75 is not realistic, unless someone finds the fountain of youth soon.

Combine the above with the madness that I see everyday on the freeways and the Bay Bridge, with weaving inattentive drivers during commute hours, and road racing intoxicated idiots later at night (since I sometimes work late). Then, around the urban streets, I see people pulling in front of me from all sides, even though I wear very bright yellow and black gear. I have had a few scary moments, but have never had what I would consider to be a "close call", yet.

I have no desire to go out in a flameball. I prefer to die in bed, at a very old age, making love to my wife.

I love motorcycling, which I believe energizes me and keeps me young at heart, and helps relieve the stress from my high pressure work (I am a lawyer). BUT, I truly want to live to see my children grow up and give me grandchildren, and to travel to far off places with my lovely wife, who has grudgingly induged my motorcycling thus far.

So, fellow riders, at what point do I leave this behind, accepting the physical limitations that come with age, that in turn make this an unsafe risk to myself and my family?

Last edited by oldapeman; 08-16-2007 at 01:35 PM..
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:24 AM   #2
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As long as you can continue to do so enjoyably. Once it stops being fun for you, what's the point?

P.S. Dying while making love to your wife at a very old age is WRONG! First, you should never make love to your wife once you become very old. Old people sex is disgusting! Second, what would possess you to want to die during this act? That'd be a funny story for the mortician.

Last edited by RhythmRider; 08-16-2007 at 11:27 AM..
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:51 PM   #3
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Old people sex is disgusting!
How would you know?
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Old 01-06-2009, 01:33 PM   #4
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First; a disclaimer: I will NEVER be as old, or rich, as AFM199.

Second; this age thing is SO subjective. And genetic biased.

Third; two other, good, old guy, stories:

A. My friend and step-father is 79. He road from Santa Barbara to Houston last year without stopping. He rode a ZX-11. He won't ride anything but sportbikes, unless he is in the dirt.

B. A guy that he and I have ridden with, Bob Lutz, (google for more), is that old, still rides the NEW sport BMW. AND pilots jets and P-52s.

So.... what does this tell you? Nothing. I just thought I would share old guy stories.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:16 AM   #5
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I started riding when I was 17, I'm almost 55 now. I've averaged 25,000 miles a year on bikes, and I've actually quit a few times.... but only once for a significant period of time. During that time I took up photography, beer making, and competitive handgun shooting.

They say,
"Motorcycles are dangerous."

I am not distracted by the depression of working a graveyard shift lately, I have no new hobby that I'm trying to master, and I enjoy a motorcycle NO LESS today than I EVER have ("...same as it ever was, same as it ever was..."!

But 'motorcycles....
they be say'n that they dang'rous!'

Yeah, I know.

I have no children, there is no wife, nobody is depending on me; but anytime ANYBODY with a wife, children.... dependents (of any kind) expresses to me their interest in riding motorcycles, I strongly discourage them. I can afford to be selfish, but I sooooo don't wanna get hurt and live the remainder of my life seriously/physically compromised.... either via the bike, guns, (tainted) beer, or falling off my roof.

I ride with gentlemen MUCH older than my 54 years, and they SCOOOOT! In MY case, I should quit motorcycles because they've kept me BROKE for 37+ years, and.......

it's being said that they're, well..... dangerous.

But motorcycles were far more dangerous the first two years we took up riding, than they will EVER be for the remainder of our lives. We shoulda quit bikes before we took 'em up, THAT woulda been the safer option.

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Old 12-16-2009, 09:53 PM   #6
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As long as you can continue to do so enjoyably. Once it stops being fun for you, what's the point?

P.S. Dying while making love to your wife at a very old age is WRONG! First, you should never make love to your wife once you become very old. Old people sex is disgusting! Second, what would possess you to want to die during this act? That'd be a funny story for the mortician.

I was thinking the same thing about making love to some old bag that just might happen to be my wife someday. No offense to anyone, including my wife but gravity is not pretty! My Dad couldn't stand the thought of making it with a lady his own age, it turned him off. "Old people sex is disgusting", hahahahaha, that was funny dude.

I agree with the fun part to statement, that applies to just about anything. I think I'm clearly the oldest rider in the region, but not too many fellow riders I know realize that. I really aged however when I got into a pretty bad crash almost 4 years ago. The multiple injuries, operations, meds has taken a toll on me physically. I'm missing some leg parts as well because of the accident so that limits my mobility and strength. I've asked myself that same question a few times and generally look around me to find out if others in my age group are hanging up their bike keys. I don't think it happens suddenly, like "I quit". I think its gradual and then suddenly you realize you haven't ridden the bike for 3 months. That is the danger of getting old as well, you stop moving as much as you used to. The secret to staying young is keep moving, that simple. At this time despite my health issues, I have no desire to quit riding. In fact I have a desire to ride more and that happened when I bought a new Buell 1125CR out of the blue. That bike has revitalized me in a big way because its a raw machine, a motorcycle as I used to remember them to be when I was a kid. Like the kind my Dad owned and he was no hell raiser, he just liked to ride Indians. The Buell purchase was like an encounter with a wild one, you know what I mean. I just got back from riding it to a bike presentation at a Ducati/BMW dealership. To be honest if I didn't have the Buell I would have likely driven my truck there, like some old geezer would do, or not go at all. Thanks Erik B. Us old dudes can't handle cold weather as well anymore, so the solution for me was heated gear, problem solved! I can't wait to take it on a couple multi day group rides in late Spring and early Summer of 2010. They are in the process of planning now on Ducati.ms and there is no way I'll be riding my 999R on something like that. The 1125CR with the good ergos will be lots of fun going over Monitor Pass to Tioga and laying over in Yosemite. The second event is in the making and it will be the big daddy of enrollment and engagement on motorcycles. It looks like close to 100 riders exploring the state of California on a multiple day run. Yah-Hooo!! Fortunately, I'm the "all in" personality, you need that element to get others off their asses and moving in the right direction. Isn't life too short? What do you have as a foothold to move forward, air? Meaning nothingness for most people who blur one day into the next and can't remember day to day because their lives have nothing to remember, no referance points.

Good thread. Makes me want to form another club on top of the one I started with Ducati. The whole goal of a new club would be to make riding more exciting/interesting and get old dudes revitalized like what happened to me recently. Maybe we will call it the "second wind" club because that is exactly the comparison that is appropriate.
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Last edited by John S.; 12-16-2009 at 09:55 PM..
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:52 AM   #7
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I agree with the fun part to statement, that applies to just about anything. I think I'm clearly the oldest rider in the region, but not too many fellow riders I know realize that.
Move to the Bay Area. I'm a year older than you. Fred willink is several years older than me and a contender in the Thruxton cup.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:15 AM   #8
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as long as you can still ride safely and foresee objects on the road to maintain a safe ride then do so till you cant. non of us young or old can predict everything when we ride and yes being younger helps us react faster but most of the time we are riding faster to so our time is probably the same. My dad is 67 and rides his harley like he's 25. Now in his case Ive tried to get him to calm down a bit due to the fact he is clumsy in his older age and has laid his bike down several times since buying it on 04. now it wasnt his first bike for sure because he grew up riding alot and even drag racing. but he is getting to the point where he really needs to stop and think about every action he does when he rides, a little more then he does right now. But never the less hes a stubborn "i refuse to grow up" guy and he will still spring back to riding after each of his mishaps. Granted it will be a slower and slower spring back but he loves to ride so i cant do much to pursuade him from being so reckless.

all in al ride till its painful or not fun. in the mean time ride till your hearts content!!
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:26 AM   #9
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:27 AM   #10
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:30 AM   #11
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I really don't worry about it.

I figure with Social Security headed down the shitter, the crooked bastards on Wall Street looting my 401K and the implosion of the mortgage bubble triggering the start of Great Depression II... once I'm too old to work my only "retirement option" will be to run the bike into a rock wall at 100 mph.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:30 AM   #12
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:31 AM   #13
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I would think that as you get older, you would adjust your riding accordingly (slower, more careful and cognizant of traffic around, or even riding when there is less traffic). Doesn't mean that you give it up entirely unless there is something that is definitely off like eyesight or sense of balance.

You shouldn't quit unless you feel it's time. As someone said, you'll know it because you don't enjoy it any longer.
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Old 08-16-2007, 11:33 AM   #14
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When BMW's start looking good
damn..it's time for me to hang it up too....

probably when the MILF's you lusted for when younger are now 20 years younger than you these days...

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Old 12-22-2009, 05:54 AM   #15
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damn..it's time for me to hang it up too....

probably when the MILF's you lusted for when younger are now 20 years younger than you these days...
Damn to late for me, I like my Beemers and them MILFs are 20 yrs younger! But riding is everything, so I'll keep do'in it. (Besides I might be able to bag one of them MILFs now?)
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