Anyone Else Scared?
May 19, 2009 at 12:14 am #2849
I understand that a healthy dose of fear will keep you alert and cautious while in the saddle. But do all those images of obliterated bikes and bad fatal accidents that are burned into your mind (that we have all seen) ever bother you while riding? Has it ever influenced you enough to make you want to take your cage to work that day instead?
A friend of mine has a CBR 600 F4i and an R1. They are sitting in his garage. He’s put plenty of time on both bikes but I haven’t seen him ride in over a year. I asked him why he doesn’t ride anymore, and he said “Too many close calls.” He’s one of the most cautious people I know, and he’s had too many close calls. He also says he won’t sell his bikes because he doesn’t want to feel the blame of putting someone else’s life in jeopardy. Is this paranoia or a communal feeling? He also tells me that if I am determined to get a bike, now (23 years old) is the time to do it- before I have people that depend on me (i.e. family).
Well, it scared me! Obviously riders commit to the thrill being worth the risk. But do you ever second guess yourself?May 19, 2009 at 1:31 am #18670MunchParticipant
I second guess every time I ride. I have 2 little girls I still very much intend on raising. However I just use that to keep my mind in the ride and everything around me. I do not kid myself about the risk I am taking. I ride with every ounce of safety I can muster. However there is one phrase I heard that many likely have that keeps me from living in fear:
Well since I cannot find it or remember it I will have my own spin on it.
I choose to live and experience life, rather to wait in fear to arrive safely at deaths door.
I have everything to live for and choose to do so. Next time you find yourself at the zoo… look into the eyes of the animals we keep behind bars and caged. Notice the dim that had befallen their spirits.May 19, 2009 at 2:04 am #18674cyclenoviceParticipant
Fate. I wonder about it every time I ride. I’d never set foot in a dealership in my life to look at bikes, until one fateful evening at my son’s school at a fundraiser auction in Feb. 2009, I bid on and won a $10,000 Kawasaki ZZR600 that is less than a year old. I got it for $3,000. Good deal, right? Only if I never get in an accident. If I do, I’ll sell the bike in an instant, and never ride again. I’ll tell myself that although God wanted me to buy that motorcycle, He obviously didn’t want me to ride it anymore. Were the good times I had on the motorcycle worth the accident? No.May 19, 2009 at 2:07 am #18675briderdtParticipant
“It’s okay to be afraid, but it’s NOT okay to let that fear stop you from moving forward.”
Courage isn’t lack of fear (in most situations, that’s just lunacy), but going forward IN SPITE of the fear. That’s not to say that I fly headlong into dangerous situations. I raced bicycles for many years, and I crashed many times in those years (though I never did because of a car, even when there were close calls). But I never let any of those crashes stop me from showing up at the start line as soon as I was again able to do so.
So many of those wrecked bikes and videos of crashed have one thing in common — a loose nut between the handlebars and the seat. THe ones that don’t have that cause generally would have happened whether on a bike or in a car.May 19, 2009 at 3:49 am #18677SantaCruzRiderParticipant
If nothing about owning and riding bikes makes you at least a little scared, you’re probably delusional. I think it’s normal and natural to have fear. But at a certain point, while you may still be afraid to crash, you should not be afraid to ride. Real fear can be debilitating and will color your perception of situations — and that’s not good when you need your wits about you.
Personally, I gave up riding for 10 years and a good part of the reason was because I was afraid that I might get hurt and be unable to provide for my young family. I also had just moved to an island with very slick roads made from crushed coral and with tons of horrifically bad drivers. You might call it fear or sanity, but the feeling that a big crash was coming became overwhelming and it just wasn’t fun. So I took a break.
Don’t be freaked that you’re afraid. Skill and experience will likely overcome it. And if it doesn’t, find something else to do with your time and cash.May 19, 2009 at 5:57 am #18683eternal05Participant
I’ve definitely had days where I get in the car instead. If the mood’s not right, it’s not right to be on two wheels, and your feelings are evidence in that direction. There was a string of moto/bicyclist killings about a month ago that had me skirting the bike for a while. I, personally, didn’t feel comfortable on a motorcycle after reading about one more cyclist killed by a wayward driver, day after day. After all, we ride for transportation, for excitement, for fun, but not to die.
Like briderdt, courage in my book is perseverance in the face of fear, not the absence of fear. That said, you have to remember that pushing forth to your goal in the face of your fear should only be done when the goal is one you care deeply about. I would say that riding so as not to be overcome with fear is potentially misguided if riding a motorcycle is not an important part of who you are.
The fact: riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, but not because lots of motorcyclists die every year. As briderdt said, that’s largely a function of idiots behind the bars of bikes they can’t handle. It’s dangerous because in the event of an accident, your life is entirely out of your hands. If you’re in a safe car and you’re as vigilant as we motorcyclists have to be, your chances of dying by freak accident are very small. You might get in plenty of accidents, but the cage will protect you. Hell, I was rear-ended at a stop light by a retard going 50mph, and I stepped out of my car without a scratch.
I, personally, would also agree with the sentiment that now (I’m about your age) is the time to do your motorcycling. I don’t pass judgment on those who raise families while carrying on their riding careers, but I personally couldn’t bear the thought of taking any more risks than I had to while a new mother and young kids were waiting at home. Again, I know plenty of responsible individuals who have done so, but I’m not inclined to press my luck, and I think it’s reasonable of you to feel that way if you do.
That said, I ride a motorcycle. A lot. So despite all the semi-gloomy things I’ve said, it’s really all in the spirit not kidding myself. As cheesy as it sounds, you need to figure out what you really want, figure out how much that’s worth to you, and act accordingly. All of us here chose to keep riding in the face of any uncomfortable feelings. But that was our choice. Make your own.
Finally, as SantaCruz pointed out, experience, practice, and development of skills will likely allay many of your fears.May 19, 2009 at 6:11 am #18686jmango95Participant
when i lay in bed about to fall asleep do i stare up at my ceiling thinking if it was right for me to have gotten a motorcycle. i often imagine all that things that could happen to me and all the things that would happen to everyone who i love. scares the shit out of me (pardon the language) but i love to ride and nothing is going to stop me. you just need to understand the risk that is involved and also RESPECT YOUR MACHINE!!! i know some of my own good friends who are complete squids who ride in flip flops and a tank top and i tell them everytime i see them “dont you know what could happen to you?” and they just say well if anything does happen to me id rather be dead then a vegetable. youre more likely to be a vegetable without a helmet than with. whenever i ride its fully geared up. it could be 110 out and i’d still put on my jacket helmet gloves pants boots. i dont go riding without any of it because i want to reduce the chances of something fatal if a crash were to happen. all you can do is make sure to protect yourself and again show RESPECT TO YOUR MACHINE. and that goes also for the situation around you. just be aware and be confident if your skills. fear can get the best of anyone its how you manage that fear that truly shows a persons character.May 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm #18688CandiceParticipant
I have definitely opted to take the cage over the moto because I didn’t feel I would enjoy my ride due to being spooked. Better to take a break than force myself to ride and not enjoy it. I know my brother does the same thing. He’s had quite a few scares over the last couple of weeks, fishtailing due to slamming on breaks on the highway for one situation or another and a pipe falling off a truck and heading straight for him, that shit will scare you, and it should. I wasn’t on my moto but a front wheel fell off an on coming SUV and headed straight for me, that spooked me enough for a couple of days that I didn’t ride my moto and I wasn’t even on my moto at the time of the incident! So, take a break, nothing to be ashamed of.
All I see now are HAZARDS, EVERYWHERE.
OH and my husband doesn’t ride because in college he crashed, got real bad road rash and when he took it out after that he was scared all the time so he didn’t enjoy it anymore and he got rid of his bike and he has no desire to ride a motorcycle.
So, there you go.May 19, 2009 at 3:00 pm #18690megaspazParticipant
It just depends on the kind of person you are and what you see as acceptable risk. Your risk of crashing isn’t any greater on a motorcycle than it is in a car. Your risk for suffering major injury in a crash is though. I’ve been in a single vehicle accident already on my moto and the only thing i could think about in the month i couldn’t ride from broken bones was getting the bike fixed and going back out on the road. There’s a big difference between fear and caution. Caution makes you alert and in tune to everything around you. Fear narrows your perception and paralyzes you. If you’re feeling fear, as others have stated, don’t get on your bike. Take the cage and see what happens tomorrow. If you’re taking the cage more and more often because you just can’t get into taking the bike out, then motorcycling isn’t for you, probably never was for you. There’s no shame in quitting if it’s no longer fun for you.May 19, 2009 at 3:07 pm #18692Clay DowlingParticipant
My wife had cancer back when we were just dating. That showed me what fear is. The motorcycle does not scare me. The motorcycle requires preparation, vigilance and caution, but provided those are observed it’s a fairly safe machine. I wear all the gear. I took the class. I keep the bike well maintained. I work on the default assumption that everyone else on the road is not paying attention, for which I have ample evidence, and I treat them accordingly. I stay off the bike when road or personal conditions are averse (e.g. never if I’ve been drinking, or in the morning when there’s been a frost). I don’t ride during the peak activity hours for deer (sunrise, sunset), because they’re thicker than flies here and dart into traffic all the time (and the bike is parked during the fall rut, because they roam the roads in herds then).
But not fear. If it really scared me I wouldn’t do it.May 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm #18703eonParticipant
I have had several close calls and they do spook you. But I try and learn from each of them so that that situation does not happen again. I post my experience on forums like these and try to learn from the experience of others. Each time I have done that I have ended up changing the way I ride. Each time I have taken a situation that could have scared me off the bike and turned it into an opportunity to make me a better/safer rider. It may only be a small improvement but it works wonders in restoring your confidence and removing that fear.May 19, 2009 at 4:11 pm #18706CandiceParticipant
I second what Eon said, EXACTLY.May 19, 2009 at 6:28 pm #18712
I hear this term a lot: “Close Calls.” When I ask people to be more specific about what their close calls were, they say things like getting cut off, people coming into their lane, cagers running stop signs and lights, and other things that cagers do all the time (at least in Phx). These things happen to me on a daily basis, making me somewhat adverse to calling them close calls, because it’s just how the crazies in Phx drive. I feel that a “close call” is reliant on a person’s experience on the road and what they are used to in their environment. If cars are constantly cutting you off, it’s going to be more like routine than close calls. Granted, before I get called out on it, I don’t have a bike yet and these things happen to me everyday in my cage. But imagine how I feel knowing that my big 4 door extended bed pickup truck is blind to other cagers. And yes, before I get reemed, I will point out that close calls on bikes can be very different than in cages. Not only is there more chance of injury in an accident, but there are always oil/sand patches, objects on the road, and braking in turns. I’m simply pointing out that usually when I hear a rider talk about a close call, it’s about a cager on the road entering a collision course with the bike, or coming close to contact, which is something I wouldn’t designate as a close call as per my wonderful city and it’s impatient (and air-headed) drivers.
Eon, I agree with everything you are saying. I do the same thing: learn from my mistakes and ask others what their mistakes have been. Glad to hear it will help me in the long run!May 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm #18713
Well at least I don’t have to worry about deer down here! I’ve had some encounters with animals up north and they scare me enough in a cage. Always chilling on the side of the road at night, or taking their sweet time crossing the road on a corner. Good advice about not riding during sunset and sunrise if wild animals are present. I’ll just keep my focus on looking out for the darting J-walkersMay 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm #18715
Thank you all for the comments. It’s relieving to know that this feeling is somewhat common. “This feeling” is referring to the sensation felt when swallowing the sobering fear of how dangerous motorcycle crashes are in order to enjoy a safe ride. Some of you recommended that if you are scared of riding, then you shouldn’t ride. But I’m a beginner, and what beginner isn’t going to be scared the first time on the street? I don’t tell myself things that will make me feel better about how dangerous riding is. In fact, I’m going to constantly remind myself how dangerous it is. And in doing this, I hope that I have some fear to sober me up (figuratively, not literally) and put my head in the game (sorry Munch, I know riding is not a sport). I am not afraid of the bike at all, I’m just aware of what can happen if I choose to ride it, and that is where the fear comes from.
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