Fear can kill you – it leads to riders freezing at their controls in an emergency and taking no corrective action whatever. It leads to doubts that are self-fulfilling. “I can’t make that turn!” Finally, it leads to dangerous reactions such as ‘grabbing a handful of brake lever’ instead of doing a CONTROLLED panic stop.
But we, ALL OF US, were afraid to begin with. How to get over it should be the question you answer because by observation you know that virtually all of us did just that.
My suggestions are simple:
- Convert fear into respect. Understand and acknowledge that the sport is dangerous and that what you must do to survive it is UNDERSTAND everything you can about it. Ignorance is the cause of a great deal of fear.
- Make sure that the motorcycle is ALWAYS mechanically sound. Your life depends on just two wheels, it only makes sense to insure that they are well maintained.
- Practice and then practice some more. Practice in all kinds of environments, not just a parking lot. Practice in the rain. Practice on gravel. Practice on dirt. Practice stopping and starting on a hill. Practice stopping quickly (in a parking lot!) Practice going fast (speed limited by law.) Practice going SLOW – this IS important!
- Be prepared. You cannot practice enough to have experienced everything – the car that moves into your lane at freeway speeds should be an event that is new to you. The unexpected does happen – often. Sometimes, unfortunately, things break – even if properly maintained. In other words, you should assume that sooner or later you will find yourself getting off your motorcycle unintentionally (it falls over in a parking lot with ten of your friends watching you.) You should be dressed to not only survive that experience, but so that you will be uninjured or minimally affected by that dismount.
Now, to go back … your objective should be to convert fear into respect. I do not mean respect merely of the dangers or of your motorcycle – those are the least of it. You need to develop a respect of YOURSELF – an absolute regard for your ability to CONTROL the motorcycle at all times. An immense pride in YOUR ability to make it – that is, that 100 horsepower machine – do exactly what YOU want it to do.
When that happens, you have won.
It is not for no reason that we ride our motorcycles with grins on our faces.