I've had a motorcycle license for a year. I went on my first long trip last summer. I went out on my little Suzuki cafe racer and came home on my new Yamaha FJR 1300 sport tour. From that day mid-June until this morning, I have put about 1500 miles on the bike.
So while I'm no expert in the ways of motorcycles, I'm certainly all in. I've learned many things the last year that pertain to more than just my time in the saddle.
Never brake in the turn
Ever. You will eventually need to do something other than go straight ahead. When that time comes, prepare yourself, take all the time you need before the turn. And when you decide to turn, fucking TURN. Now is not the time to be a chicken. The ride will be smoother and safer if you accelerate during the turn on any road. That's why race tracks have distance markers in the straight away for braking so you can haul ass once you commit to the turn.
Don't target fixate
Once you've committed to the turn, look where you want to go (the exit of the turn, ideally). Yes, there is a stray grocery bag in the road and a menacing guard rail. But if you spend all your energy staring at what you *don't* want to hit, it pretty much guarantees a crash.
Throttle will save your ass far more often than brake
If you are in a sticky situation, slowing down or stopping is rarely the solution. Sure, you may think you're being cautious, but you're actually just spending more time in a dangerous position. Get OUT of there. That Honda Civic can't merge into you if you're not there. Bikes want to move. They want to go fast. They are happier and more stable under speed than they are at 5 mph. This took me a long time to process in the beginning, but it's second nature now.
Nobody is looking at you
Everyone is far more preoccupied with their own shit than anything beyond the end of their nose. The dude in the longest text message fight of his life doesn't care that you want to turn left. That minivan doesn't see your turn signal, your extra bright brake lights, your neon yellow vest, your white helmet, or those little strips of reflective material on the back of your boots. You don't even exist to them. The world is paying far less attention to you than you think it is. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you're aware of it. Do your thing and don't expect anyone to make a space for you. Which brings me to my next point ...
Protect your space
You may be but one person, but you're entitled to your whole damn lane. You are IN HERE. Sitting on a motorcycle is not the time to be timid or accommodating. If you allow people to encroach on your space/time, it's as much your fault as it is theirs. As Brigit told me and I immediately put on my fridge, "What you allow will continue."
Sometimes you gotta make your own space
Need a parking space at the Oceanfront? This extra wide sidewalk looks good. Lane splitting, when done with a sound mind, makes things easier on everyone. Sometimes even though the sign says "LOT FULL" you gotta think outside the box.
Risk is analog
This is actually a Shrop-ism for many things in life, but we first talked about it pertaining to motorcycles. No two rides are the same. Whenever you take on something, access the possible risks logically, do your best to avoid them, correct as needed, and don't let the rest of the world's fear make you its bitch.
Rich once filed an insurance claim for a guy who was riding on a dry, empty highway when as far as he was concerned the hand of God came down and plucked him off of his bike into the bushes. The strap on his backpack was long and got caught in the rear axle, thereby launching him off the back of the bike. Backpacks aren't inherently evil. Neither are motorcycles or clean, dry roads. Sometimes shit just happens.
The get off is less important than the get back on
Even if you do everything right, bad things will happen to you. You can't protect yourself or your loved ones from harm. What you can do, though, is prepare yourself and your loved ones for what to do after the hand of God plucks you off that proverbial bike. The definition of a life well lived is not to get to the end with the fewest number of scars.
So the next time you lift your proverbial or literal kickstand, pay attention to how you handle the road in front of you.