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(Desiderata … You are a Child of the Universe … Wear Sunscreen)
by “Scott” <hey_load at hotmail dot com>

If I could offer you only one tip for improving your life, wearing leather would be it.

The long term benefits of leather have been proved by serious bikers over many highways and many years, whereas wearing something unreliable like shorts and flipflops means you will experience a trip to the emergency room. There, uncaring nurses will scrub gravel out of your wounds, and doctors will dispense ineffective painkillers and meaningless advice … like telling you to trade that “murdercycle” in for a Camry.

Bullshit. I will dispense some real advice right now:

Enjoy the power and beauty of your ride; if you don’t already, you can fully enjoy it by doing block-long smokey burnouts in the parking lot at the local drive-in. Pass slower bikers on the right inside of the uphill curve when they will not let you pass to the left.

Trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at the photos of you and your pals on your bikes and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much fun you had and how fabulous you really looked hauling ass down the highway dressed in leather.

Leather is as sexy as you imagine.

Don’t worry about what your Mom thinks; or worry about what others think. Know that worrying about what other people think is as effective as trying to scratch your nose in a blinding hailstorm at 80 m.p.h. with a full- face helmet and winter gloves on. The real troubles in your life are apt to be Volvo stationwagons, driven by some dipstick talking into his cell phone or doing her makeup; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some urban roadway and then claim you crashed into them.

Do one thing everyday that scares other drivers… Lanesplit.

Ladies, learn to ride and then ride often. Nothing is more of an equalizer than a woman, dressed in leather, astride her own machine. Gentlemen, respect the ladies who ride, for they could very well have been the rider that waxed your fanny in the mountian curves you just came through.

Sing into your helmet. Use mouthwash first. Keep mints handy.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s bikes, especially if you don’t have insurance. Don’t put up with people who mess with yours… in fact, beat them with a chain.

Ride Fast.

Don’t waste your money on chrome, or fancy paintjobs; spend it on racing or partying. Sometimes you’re fast, sometimes you’re slow. Sometimes you’re hungover. The ride is long, and in the end, a cold beer tastes pretty damn good.

Remember the good rides you’ve had, forget the cuts and bruises.

Watch cage drivers to not signal before pulling into your lane. Be alert for brainless cage drivers to pull an opposing left turn in front of you. May the fool on four wheels in front of you have working brake lights.

Try to wear out the sides of your tires before the middle… if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your oil changed, throw away old traffic citations.

Enjoy your bike, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument of pleasure you’ll ever own, not counting porn sites and a fast modem.

Take chances.

Don’t feel guilty if you ride faster than the posted limit …the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 how to ride conservatively, all the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of saddle time.

Be kind to your passengers, you’ll miss them if they fall off.

Maybe you’ll crash, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have surgery, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll ride a cruiser off a cliff doing 40, maybe you’ll get a new motocrosser for your 75th birthday …whatever you ride, don’t congratulate yourself too much—your choices are 90% foreign, 10% domestic; so are everyone else’s.

Wrench… even if you have nowhere to do it but in your hotel room.

Do not read American motorcycle magazines, they will only make you wish you’d bought a British one instead. Read British motorcycle magazines and laugh at how the brits laugh at americans. Stay away from German motorcycle magazines, they are too serious and difficult to read.

Read the owner’s manual, even though you won’t remember any of it.

Get to know your brake pads, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. Remember, brake pads let you stop. Be nice to your tires; they are your link to the pavement and the things most likely to save your butt from a nasty highside.

Understand that mechanics comes and mechanics go, but for a precious talented few you should pay them well and buy them sixpacks. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older your bike gets, the more you’ll need the mechanic who worked on it when it was young and still not paid off.

Ride in New York City once, but leave before you get killed; ride in Northern California whenever possible, but leave a plausible excuse when calling in sick for work. Ride in the Ozarks and learn the trick of the curve. Ride the Blue Ridge Parkway and learn to be smooth. Ride through Deals Gap and live to tell others about it. Stop and watch others ride through Deals Gap and applaud when others do it well.

Do lurid wheelies.

Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, traffic will get worse, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young, gasoline was cheap, the highway patrol couldn’t catch you, and Harley owners weren’t all yuppies.

Respect your rev-limiter.

Don’t expect anyone else to see your bike unless it has really loud pipes.

Maybe your bike has a big gas tank, maybe a smaller one; but remember, either way you’ll have to make bathroom stops.

Stop and offer help to the stranded motorcyclist along the open road, for the next you come along could very well be yourself.

Don’t mess too much with your carburetors, or by the time your done, you’ll be walking home and your pipes will be blue.

Be careful whose advice you buy, and save your receipts. Don’t take advice from those who supply it for free, especially if they own a Britbike.

Motorcycle restoration is a form of self-torture. Doing it is a way of pulling the past from the dustbin, degreasing it, painting over the rusty parts and dumping way more money into it than it’s worth. Indian restoration is a truely refined ailment that is only cured by death or an unlimited bank account.

But trust me on the leather…

—Scott

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