Saturday, March 22, 2008

Slow Riders and Fast Riders

riding the twistiesSome friends and I did a ride out to the Rock Inn today, a popular biker hangout in Lake Hughes, CA. There were two of us from our riding club, along with three others that have ridden with our club before.

In addition, I organized the ride on my Temecula Motorcycle Riders Meetup Group. And through that group, we got six other riders whom we've never met before.

We went through several twisty roads. The riders we never met before started fading away. It wasn't because they were all slower, but it was because two of them were slow, and held up the rest of the riders.

At the conclusion of the ride, Brian, Danny, and myself sat inside a Yard House brew pub, talking about the other riders, which ones wanted to crank the throttle and which ones wanted to take it easy.

It's important to point out that riding slow is not necessarily a sign of inexperience. I know at least one guy who rides slower than most people, but has been riding for years. I don't think it's that he's never pushed himself to improve, I think it's just that this guy really likes slow riding.

Of the six riders that we never met before, it turned out to be the gal, Rebeca, riding her Sportster, who was the fastest among them. She told us that she absolutely loves riding fast. Well, God bless her. And I mean that literally; she's going to need it.

Danny said that while he prefers the company of faster riders, he likes to take it easy sometimes and enjoy the scenery. And that's my sentiments exactly. I like riding faster than the average guy, but not balls-to-the-wall fast like Brian.

I know that for Brian, riding fast is a disease. He's addicted to that "Oh Shit" feeling, where he hits a curve really hot and he thinks he's going to hit the guard rail, but somehow pulls it out. The feeling he gets when he's sure to meet his fate, is the feeling that he's addicted to. That's scary.

I don't like riding that fast, but I do like feeling a certain connection to my motorcycle. I can't get that feeling if I'm riding slow or at a moderate pace. I like to squeeze the motorcycle with my legs and lean into a turn and feel the g-forces pulling at me. If I'm riding any faster, I have to use more brain power on navigating the twisties, and I'm just not enjoying the ride anymore.

Some other guys in our club love jumping on a long stretch of straight road, and testing the upper limits of their bikes. They'll take them up to 130mph, and are practically racing each other. I never join in on it, and just hold my bike steady at 80-90mph until I catch up to them down the road. Going superfast down a straight road just doesn't do anything for me.

Among the slow riders, many of them will say that they're just not interested in going any faster, or that they're more concerned about safety. That's all fine and good, but then they must find a certain kind of satisfaction in riding that I'm not finding. I'm not trying to put them down, but I'm just not feeling the satisfaction that they're feeling.

I know that some Harley riders seem more interested in the social aspects of motorcycling than the riding itself. I find that many of these riders tend to fall behind on the twisties. It's not that they're inexperienced riders, or that they like riding slow, it's that they never really wanted to ride the twisties. They seem disinterested in the love of g-forces and moving air. They're interested in what comes after the ride, like sitting down, chatting, and whatever. I presume if they had their way, they'd take the freeway to the local hangout. The faster you get there, the more time you have to hangout.

Lanny, a rider in my area that rides a FJR 1300, has a reputation of being one of the fastest riders on the twisties around these parts. But I'll go on a ride with him, and he'll take a moderate pace. Then at a rest stop, he'll ask me if I saw that column of rock back there, or that deer standing by the side of the road. He's a very skilled rider, but he's just in awe of the scenery. He loves riding both slow and fast.

There's another slow rider I know of, with years of experience, and hundreds of thousands of miles to his credit, but he rides the twisties slow. I think what it is is that he's just a slow guy period. Everything he does is slow. He eats slow. He talks slow. He walks slow. He's just riding at the speed at which his brain processes information.

Sometimes I like riding slow with my wife on the back. We'll take the Electra Glide out on Highway 76, towards Lake Henshaw, and do a slow 55mph down most of the highway. She'll grab on to me and I'll feel the wind rush by, and I'll see the sunlight beaming through the trees, and I'll feel like we've just started dating again.


  1. Riding slow can me a choice. It is for me anyways. In most of the rest of my non-riding life there pressure to hurry is relentless. When I get on the Vespa I intentionally go slow, see things, take pictures, and reject anything that stinks of speed.

    I'm sure that won't work for everyone but for me it was an unexpected gift...

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  2. Steve, I know that feeling too, and there are times when I take it rather slow down a meandering highway, just to clean myself from the hurried mayhem.

  3. I enjoy riding moderately and safely, I sometimes though I do feel intimidated by other riders almost touching my back tyre as they wait impatiently to overtake ASAP....they can seem annoyed....I try to be a courteous and considerate rider.....I agree that riding slow or moderately does not necessarily mean inexperience or lacking in advanced riding ability.....its just different strokes for different folks I guess.......have a safe one.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)