I conducted a poll of women motorcycle riders and asked them what their biggest challenge was when learning to ride a motorcycle. Most people would think their answers would be something like slow-turn maneuvers or riding in the rain. However, while those were some of the answers I got, the overwhelming answer I received was FEAR of riding.
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The Fear Factor
Many beginner riders, not just women riders, experience fear when learning to ride. Everyone’s experience is different, but mostly it can be described as butterflies in your stomach, feeling uncomfortable or nervous, or they could have a full blown panic attack. Fear can make you doubt yourself and lose confidence in your abilities.
The good news, (sort of) is that you are not alone in feeling this way. I remember having to get myself “psyched” up to ride in the beginning. I would have a bad case of the butterflies whenever I even thought about getting my bike out to ride. Add to that the conflicting emotion of absolutely enjoying it once I got down the road, and I was a serious mess! On the one hand, I wanted to ride so bad! But on the other, it freaked me out too. I thought I was the only person who felt like this, though now I know better.
The worst part of it all is that when you are first learning to ride a motorcycle, it’s not much fun. You’re busy paying attention to all the things that don’t come naturally yet like remembering to “look where you want to go”, and the balance of the front and rear brakes. Add in fear and your ride may not be that enjoyable.
So Will It Get Better?
Yes! Absolutely yes! Every rider is different, but the biggest thing is practice. I know you probably hear it all the time, but it’s really true. The more you ride, the more your skills will improve, and then you will have more confidence as a rider. As you master each new experience like riding in the rain, getting on the interstate, and slow turns, your confidence will go up along with the enjoyment of riding. As your skills improve you gain muscle memory, and things like looking through turns and riding defensively become a habit. Now you are able to enjoy the ride, the beautiful landscape, and the feeling of freedom riding brings.
So, how long does it take to overcome this fear? Well, again, everyone is different. For me, it took a full two riding seasons. And each time I got my bike out, it got better. By the end of my second season, there were no butterflies at all.
When It’s More Than Just Butterflies
Like I said earlier, everyone has experienced some fear as a beginner rider at some point. But when the fear of riding becomes overwhelming, or it leads to real panic, that can be dangerous. If you dwell on the fear of what could happen during a ride, you won’t be enjoying yourself for sure, and it could cause you to make mistakes that can get you hurt. So with that being said, if you experience real panic, then think about if riding a motorcycle is really for you. And please don’t get on a bike if you are panicked. Reevaluate how much you really want to ride, and go from there. I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from riding. I believe there should be more motorcycles on the road! But part of riding a motorcycle is riding responsibly.
Steps To Overcome Fear Of Riding
- Take a Motorcycle Safety Course. The knowledge you get from taking a class is invaluable.
- Practice! A Lot! Find an empty parking lot or residential area without a lot of traffic.
- Ride at your own pace. Take it slow and don’t let yourself be challenged into doing something you’re not ready for.
- Get an experienced riding partner.
- Don’t give up!
If you are experiencing the fear of riding, just know that it WILL get better with practice. Also, you are not alone! We’ve all been there. If you haven’t taken a class, then that is your first step to improving your skills and confidence. The next step is to practice and then practice some more. You got this! The fear goes down and enjoyment of the ride goes up! So, have a safe ride and I’ll see you down the road!
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