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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them









10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was a Younger Rider

Motorcycling life advice in the rearview mirror

By Genevieve Schmitt, Editor, and Tricia Szulewski, Assistant Editor

1. Listen to your intuition.
Intuition tells me I’m going too fast for my limits.
Intuition tells me not to ride with certain people.
Intuition tells me not to venture down that unknown road.
Intuition tells me it’s not a good day to venture out on my motorcycle. 
Among other things. 

WRN contributor Tricia Szulewski says, “Every time I listen to that inner voice I am incredibly thankful I did. When tuned into my intuition, I know when there’s danger lurking in the woods or on the road ahead. Many times I’ve gotten the feeling that I should slow down or look to the side, and end up avoiding a potential disaster."

10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was Younger Genevieve Schmitt
"I’ve learned all of this hard way," says Genevieve Schmitt, editor of WRN.
"I now heed my intuition, rather than argue with it."

2. Drink more water.
Keeping Mother Nature’s elixir flowing through our bodies is an easy way to prevent some of the most common ailments that can affect us on a motorcycle: dehydration, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues. “I rode through the Nevada desert in 100-plus-degree heat once and ended up sick, flat of my back on a bench in the convenience store trying to recover from fatigue and dehydration," remembers Genevieve. "I was not drinking enough water and electrolytes all during my ride. It creeps up on you.”

10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was Younger hydration
Make hydrating easy by having a cup holder with a straw on your motorcycle, riding with a Camelback-type bladder on your back, or simply stopping more often to "water" yourself on a motorcycle. We recommend cup holders by Leader Motorcycle, shown here.

3. Use more sunscreen.
“There’s a section on my forearms, between my wrist and just below my elbow, where my long sleeve white shirt didn’t cover when the wind blew it up my arm (what I wore for years in hot weather before I adopted ATTGAT 'all the gear all the time'). The skin there is way more wrinkly and aged than the rest of my arm,” says Genevieve. “Clearly the sun and wind took its toll. I can’t imagine the damage to my face all those early years when I viewed putting on sunscreen as a nuisance.”

“I’ve always been a sun worshipper,” admits Tricia. “The effects of not using sunscreen now live on my face as dark blotches and red spots on my nose. Even if you wear a full face helmet, remember that your face and nose are exposed while riding.”

4. Test ride all kinds of motorcycles, even the ugly ones.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. So it goes with motorcycling. You might be pleasantly surprised by how a motorcycle rides and feels to you that isn’t the prettiest one in the showroom, or the style that you’re accustomed to. Tricia says, “Working for a motorcycle magazine requires me to review all kinds of bikes, not just the ones I think are good-looking. When I started out, all I was interested in were shiny, laid-back cruisers. But the first time I hopped on a sporty bike, with a sit-up seating position and torquey power, a whole new world of riding opened up to me. I’ve learned to ignore what a motorcycle looks like, and enjoy many different kinds of riding styles and machines.”

5. Don’t ride in a hurry. 
Having an extra measure of patience while riding a motorcycle has the potential to save you in so many ways. Let’s just say road rage and motorcycles just don’t mix. If you need convincing, read our story called Never in a Hurry.

“I had a fender bender once on my bike—my front fender bashed into a car’s rear bumper in stop-and-go traffic because I was anxious to get to my destination,” Genevieve says embarrassed. “From that day forward I’ve always ridden with a generous amount of following distance, and I take my time.”

6. Stop caring about what other people think about your motorcycle or riding gear.
Ride your own ride. If you’re too busy looking around to see who’s noticing how cool you and your motorcycle look, you’re not paying attention to the road and potential hazards around you. Tricia says, "I used to feel like the hottest chick in town when I rode my Shadow wearing my super-long fringed leather jacket. One time, I was so busy collecting admiring looks from passing car drivers, I didn’t notice that traffic had stopped in front of me. Boy did I feel dumb (and not hot at all) when I had to slam on my breaks to avoid a collision."

And if you’re dressing to impress, you might be sacrificing safety for style’s sake. "I discovered early on when I tried to look cute by wearing gear that’s not meant for riding, that I was more concerned about that belt or collar flapping in the wind, or the cute sunglasses flying off my face than I was focused on the road,” says Genevieve. 

10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was Younger high heeled boots
Genevieve adds, "One time I wore these 4-inch heeled boots—from Harley-Davidson no less!—and I had to be so careful where I put my feet down because the heels were so shaky. What was I thinking?! Who was I trying to impress? I never wore those again on my motorcycle.”

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Such in life… so it goes on a motorcycle. Aren’t we riding to escape the constraints of life that make us sweat the small stuff? Leave the persnickety-ness at home. You’ll enjoy your ride more. "I wish I just nodded my head and smiled more at people instead of always giving my opinion," says Genevieve. "One of my mentors, Joyce Meyer says, 'If you want to keep the peace, don’t offer your opinion unless you’re asked.'"

8. Don't follow along. Be a leader. 
“The cause of so much of my frustration in my early years of riding was following people who did not know what they’re doing,” says Genevieve. “I wish I stepped up more and took control of situations.” It’s OK to let others lead, but it’s important to question whether they know how to lead a group of riders, and know where they’re going. 

9. Seek out some riding buddies who want to ride like you do.
You don’t have to be best buds with everyone you ride with. Sometimes it’s more fun to have a riding style in common and then become friends with the person later. “I thought that when I got my motorcycle license I’d go riding with my new friends, the women I met in my MSF Beginning Rider Course class.  But it turned out that they liked to take a lot of smoke breaks and ride to bars, which wasn’t my idea of fun. I decided that riding alone worked better for me until I eventually met and rode with some more experienced riders who rode at a pace I enjoyed for a length of time that matched my style.”  

10. Remember that you are a role model every time you get on your bike.
“I didn’t realize when I first started riding in the early 1990s that people are watching me, on the road, at gas stations, in parking lots, everywhere practically,” says Genevieve. "Whether you’re a woman or a man, motorcyclists are still a rare breed and most times someone is watching us from afar, someone who dreams of what we’re doing. So, I'm now more conscious of my behavior while I'm on my motorcycle in public. I want to be an ambassador for the sport."

10 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Was Younger role model
You never know who's watching you!



Now tell us what you've learned along the way, something you'd tell your younger motorcyclist self, in the comments below. 

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