Some Thoughts on Riding After 50
About 15 years ago I gave away my leather riding jacket. At the time I was pretty confident I wasn’t going to start riding again. I actually owned the jacket since high school and it was pretty beat up by the time I gave it to my friend. Naturally, several years later I decided to buy another motorcycle. I have to admit, at 50 years old sometimes I feel as worn out as that old leather jacket.
Riding after 50 for me hasn’t really been much different than riding in my 20s. Sure my back aches a little more, my throttle hand is often aggravated by carpal tunnel, and the loud exhaust is making me grow deaf in one ear.
I think at 50 years old my reaction time might be a little slower, I ride a little more cautious, and I have to constantly remind myself that the ground probably feels a lot harder than it did when I was in my twenties.
For me, the biggest thing I try to remind myself is that I’m not 20 anymore and if I fall or crash, it’s going to hurt a lot more and take a lot longer to heal.
With that said, I think that’s a benefit of riding in your 50s. You tend to be a little more cautious and a little bit wiser. You think twice before doing half of the dumb stuff you did when you were 20 years younger. You ride slower, maybe a little more alert, and much less reckless both on-road and off.
It’s going to be interesting to see how my body reacts to serious distance riding. I’ve been trying to lose weight and I’m running a couple miles a day on the treadmill trying to get myself in better shape for next spring.
My biggest concern is my back, and fortunately, the DR650 hasn’t really bothered it at all. So far the longest ride I’ve taken has been about two hours without a real break. No back pain! I also spent close to 6 hours straight in the seat one day and I was fine
The Honda Shadow, however, is like a torture device after more than 30 minutes in the saddle. The right bike for the right job I guess. I’m told it’s because of body position and the difference in seating from an adventure bike to a cruiser. The forward controls of the cruiser put all the pressure right on my tailbone. On the DR you’re sitting a little more upright.
When I got back into motorcycles I told myself I’d keep riding as long as I still found it enjoyable. When I get to a point where I can’t lift my leg over the seat, pick the bike up when it drops, or I begin to lose my balance, I’ll stop riding. Till then it’s full steam ahead. I want to get in as much riding as I can between now and the day I realize it’s no longer prudent for me to ride.
As far as traveling by motorcycle I really couldn’t imagine traveling any other way. Although a nice van or camper is starting to sound better and better in my old age. Maybe when I get to the point where motorcycle riding isn’t a good idea, I’ll graduate to the camper or conversion van.
As far as distance riding is concerned, I want to get in as much as I can before I can’t. In many ways, I almost feel rushed to start making this happen. I’m not getting any younger and my body gives me constant reminders that time is running out. Travel now or regret it later.
How much time do I have left? 10 years? 20 years? I’m guessing you don’t see many guys on motorcycles in their 70s for good reason. Frankly, I’d like to get in as many rides as I can before my 60s. I think at that point, cross country trips by motorcycle will probably be out of the question.
With all that said, I’m reminded of that Charlie Brown meme.
Charlie Brown says, “We only live once”
Snoopy replies, “Wrong, we only die once, we live every day”
Riding after 50 has been good for me. I’m really happy I decided to get back into motorcycle riding. I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to ride for, but I’m thankful for every day I can continue! Safe travels my friends.