Safety Feature written for Countyline Publications and printed in Wisconsin and Illinois Biker Information Guide– fourth quarter 2011 Robert Shelton, Instructor Woodstock Harley Riding School, Woodstock, IL Well my friends, the riding season is now at its back end.   I enjoy riding in the fall because of the change in colors in scenery along with excellent weather and temperatures.  I also enjoy looking at the different motorcycles out on the road and their different personalities – very much like the riders themselves.  It is interesting to see how many individuals overdo their rides with accessories, paint and all sorts of things.   It’s like, whoa Nelly ease up on the bling, way more than enough already.  When is enough, enough?  Nothing stirs my heart as when I see a bike that shows personality without being overdone.  It has its own identity without any hint of being overdone.  Even something as subtle as an exhaust system, it is amazing how many will purchase on name only.   I wonder how many individuals really know the tone they are really looking for and how it can affect the overall comfort and pleasure of a ride – especially a long ride, not to mention of course how it looks or will look on their bike.  I know precisely what I like and don’t like regarding my motorcycle.   I know precisely what I will do and won’t do with my bike.  How about our riding?  Do you know precisely what type of riding you enjoy and do? And, most importantly how long you can ride before you need to stop and rest?  Make it a point to know. I enjoy 7-10 day rides that run 3k to 4k in length.  I absolutely enjoy these the most and consider them as a long trip.  Next, the overnight 2-3 day rides.  Then of course the all day ride.  These are what I strive for and do.  Nothing stirs my heart like a ride that I can drink in and ride through back roads out in the country and enjoy every facet of God’s creativity.   I work diligently at not letting things get in the way of my rides that bring about tremendous joy and satisfaction.  I have been able to cover a little over 64 thousand miles in 2.5 seasons including this year. I also know precisely what I like and don’t like in a ride when it comes to length, pace, comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment.  And what is very important is to know when enough is enough and it is time to rest.  It can be the difference of returning home or not.   I had the opportunity this summer to do a long distance challenge ride that covered roughly 8k miles in 14 days – Key West Florida to Homer Alaska – the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge – all done on secondary roads.  I went through some of the most beautiful scenery you could hope for.   I did not make it to Homer, Alaska.  I fell asleep while riding in Yukon, Canada and crashed just short of crossing into Alaska – roughly 6.2k miles into the run.  You ask how could I possibly do this?  Which brings me to the point, when is enough, enough?  Fatigue and being tired are very deceiving and are two very key areas to be aware of when you are riding.  Rest is a critical factor in riding safely.  I had been riding day after day long hours and daylight lasts all the way to midnight in Canada.  I had been riding for 9 hours straight with an average 45 degree temp and raining steady.  After, drying out all the wet clothes, I ate a large cheeseburger and fries and then started up the ride again.  The meal kicked in and I began to nod.  I should have stopped and rested but kept going thinking that it would go away.  I didn’t and I took a final deep nod and the rest is history.   My riding season was cut short but I am very thankful to be here to write this article.   No matter what type of riding you do – know when enough is enough.  If you are feeling tired, fatigued then pull over, rest, take a nap.  It will make a huge difference in your reaction time.    An hour or two of rest can make a huge difference in your safety, comfort, and enjoyment of your ride.   Never, ever take rest for granted.   Again, know precisely when enough is enough. Until next time, only you can determine how good you want to be.
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