RIDING TIP: Knowing When to Say When

June 30, 2020 Tags: ,
Rider Overlooking Columbia River

Knowing When to Say When

I was on a hike the other day with a friend.  He’s a long time rider and advocate for rider training.  He made it a point to attend several training sessions with us over the years and he’s never made any excuses for his riding ability; he owns his strengths and weaknesses.  Knowing his strong self awareness, I was simultaneously surprised and not surprised when he uttered the words, “I think I’m done riding.”


Recently, multiple friends in the past six months have come to me stating they will be adjusting how they ride, when they ride, and if they’ll ride.  These friends are jovial by nature but I knew they were serious when they confessed to me their struggles with riding.  One element was a consistent strain in all of their confessions:  the aging process was affecting their riding.

As an aging rider myself, I find I’m not as agile on the bike, and that my desire to ride in extreme weather has lessened greatly, and I’m less apt to go on dirt bike rides where I’m sure the ground will be on the menu.  I sometimes find it challenging to come to grips with that understanding of myself.  I was never a talented rider or an exceptional rider; however, I’ve worked diligently to become the best rider I can be over the years.  I have plenty to learn and more experiences ahead of me.

I guess it just feels differently when my friends tell me they are making adjustments or stopping riding altogether.  I want to proffer a different narrative to sway their decision-making.  I want to help them hang on for just a bit longer.  But I realize that I’m projecting.  Maybe I’m preparing these words for myself and not for them.  Someday.

Or maybe I’m channeling Peter Egan at this moment of melancholy.



Sure, aging isn’t the only reason to stop riding or to make adjustments to how we ride.  There are multiple elements that we may want to consider:

  • PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENT- If we are challenged by a personal impairment to the point we are endangering ourselves and/or others, then we need to consider having a conversation with ourselves about riding.  Heart conditions, blood pressure, eyesight challenges, and more can all be factors to changing our riding.
  • COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT- Are we easily confused?  Do we find ourselves needing to take multiple breaks to gather ourselves mentally while on a motorcycle?  Are having close calls due to poor reaction time?
  • FUN – Has the joy to riding escaped you?  Maybe it is time for a temporary break.  If it doesn’t come back after the temporary break…maybe a more permanent one is in your future.  A tough reality but one we may have to face.

There are myriad reasons for why we may need to adjust our riding behaviors.  The key is to be aware of them and know when…to say when.

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Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com


  1. Daryl Zimmerman 3 months Reply

    I think I’m there. Just turned 80, and have riding since 1958. Am not as steady as I used to be. Took an advanced riders course a few years ago, and aced it. To satisfy my insurance on the bike. My back issues are getting worse and I will have to make my dreaded decision to hang it up. All good things come an end, rats……

    • Bill Seltzer 3 months Reply

      True, Daryl, in the words of a famous movie quote, “A man has gotta know his limitations.” It reads like you’ve had an outstanding riding career. Maybe a Spyder or Trike may be i your future?