Are you a 'true' rider? Surely that's nonsense.
Do you discriminate against fair-weather riders?
A biker. What exactly does it mean to be a biker? I urge you to have a think about this for a second, whether you possess a motorcycle licence or not. Personally, I think it’s anyone on motorised two-wheels, but it seems the biking community is somewhat split when it comes to being a ‘true’ rider.
As our UK weather seemingly gets worse and seasons such as Winter and (judging by this year) Summer get longer, the more I seem to have noticed dedicated motorcycle enthusiast forums receiving posts such as “are fair-weather riders fairies” and “do fair-weather riders deserve the same respect as the rest of us”.
My answer would, of course, be that all bikers are equal. And that’s not because I’m on this new wave of equality and I do not support the change in name of Mothercare to Parentcare *insert eye roll emoji here*. Don’t get me wrong, it takes some mighty large cahonas to go out in the snow and ice on a motorbike – where even your average grid may as well be an ice rink – but at what point does this air on the side of stupidity simply because all-weather riders seemingly have a point to prove or an image to uphold?
I come from a biking background. My mother’s friend group were all keen riders. You know, the kind that wear leather waistcoats and hang around with the likes of The Hells Angels and The Outlaws completing charity rides etc. All very nice people might I add, despite some of the reputations that fly around about them. And each one I met was always very respectful of another fellow rider; nodding their heads when passing one in all weathers and whether they’ve got L plates on or not. Despite coming from a biking background, though, I am (unfortunately) not (yet) a rider myself. I passed my car test when I was 18 – around about the same time I broke my back (L5 vertebra to be precise). To be told I’d never be able to ride a bike was a bit of a shitter, having grown up with them. I decided to do my CBT back in 2014. Everything went fine – it’s training, after all, not an exam, but I just couldn’t muster the courage to buy a bike. I did, however, end up borrowing a CBR 125 from Honda – which required collection from Kettering. I lived in Ware, Hertfordshire, at the time so that meant a 70+ mile journey on A-roads such as the A6 as my first true riding experience without an instructor. Scary shit. It did, however, go surprisingly well. I made it home anyway. I remember my hands being numb when I got home, not so much from the weather but how tightly I was holding onto the handlebars. I then had a bit of an issue, due to the strength in my back (or lack thereof) where a fellow biker stopped to help me get the bike back to a vertical positioning. I’d stopped at a junction ready to turn right and lost grip of the bike – not dropping it completely – but it was at the most awkward of angles that no matter what I did I couldn’t get it back upright so the idea of passing my motorcycle test was put on the back burner.
So what is with this new critical age we seemingly live in and what is this new age of fair-weather rider bashers? I hate the term ‘fair-weather rider’, by the way, but it is the term so widely used and I’ll stick with it for the purposes of this feature. Urban dictionary’s definition, for example, is: ‘Fair Weather Biker – A person that has a motorcycle and rides it only when he knows, absolutely, that the weather is going to be perfect’.
Typically, a fair-weather rider may tend not to own any extreme winter protective riding clothing and may either tuck their bike up completely during the winter months or tinker with their pride and joy while yearning for the snow, sleet and rain to go away. They may also own another mode of transport such as a car and not actually need to ride a motorbike in bad weather. An all-weather rider, however, is a different cattle of fish – so these trolls would have you believe, anyway. You get the ones that do it because they’re a hardcore ‘rider’ and don’t want their reputations as such affected and you get the ones that simply have to ride in all weathers because they don’t have a secondary mode of transportation.
Despite my accident and failings in trying to get on two-wheels, I’m now very active in the gym, doing specific strength exercises every week to gain more balance and stability in my back and core so that one day I’ll be able to call myself a biker. On the face of it, the fair-weather rider and the all-weather rider are two very different types of enthusiast, right? Well, yes and no. The important thing to remember here is that these people are riders all the same. They share exactly the same passion as you do; to ride on two wheels and gain the level of freedom only a motorbike can provide. If you feel any negativity when it comes to your passion, whether it’s motorbikes or cars or anything else for that matter, take a step back for a second and remember why you have that passion. The chances are you’ll share exactly that with that person.
No matter what weather you decide to go out for a ride in, gaining that sense of freedom that you only get when riding a motorbike is (more often than not) why you do it and it’s the sole reason I’m so determined to get my licence. My motorbike licence will come in addition to my car licence, but that won’t mean I’m any less of a rider. Being on two wheels, on the open road, is unlike any other feeling I’ve experienced and one I can’t not have in my life.
Upmost respect to all the riders out there, whatever the weather – see you out there!
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