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I am riding along and scanning for pot holes, traffic, critters and such. When I get into traffic I begin the what ifs.....what if my front tire blows and I get pancaked by the semi? Or.... what if this driver is texting and doesn't notice that he's crossing the middle line? Or, what if this guy is high and pulls out his gun just for kicks...or throws a beer can at me...and so on. At what point do you, the experienced rider, feel more relaxed and can actually enjoy riding? I see seasoned motorcyclists enjoying the ride but I can't help but wonder if it comes with experience after traveling x number of miles on their bike. Does it come after say, 10,000 miles? At what point did you feel relaxed and confident on the bike?
 

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Most of your what ifs are just head games with yourself. Stay alert on your bike, know where others are around you. Keep your bike in top shape with good tires and watch the road and trails for sharp objects like pointy rocks. Don't know how long you have been riding but just keep your mind on you and your road and you will relax a bit about your worries. The one thing I watch out more for is when people are merging into traffic that they don't seem to see bikes and the sign that says YEILD. They think the highway is supposed to slow down for them or they don't speed up to merge.

Have the confidence to know you can avoid most anything by giving yourself room and knowing what is around you.
 

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The only time you will potentially have a problem is when you become complacent and start to trust the rest of the world to know what they’re doing.

You see yourself as “un-sure” – I see you as “aware”

There’s a big difference between the two – sounds to me like you have it about right

Plumbstraight has it right too – do what you can – then it’s only everyone else you need to worry about ……
 

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Try riding with a high milage grey beard. One that has thousands of accident free miles under their belt and learn from them.
 

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Hey, I'm a gray beard on two wheels since 1977. I agree with Twilight in that you have to be
an active rider and I would go further in that you need to be the best rider you can. Being fearful or hesitant is the worst thing you can do IMHO. The only advantage you have over cars is your maneuverability. I highly advise taking MSF courses, I still do and actually they are a heck of fun. Riding where you can go balls out helps too wether it
be on the track or off road. Hard to know your limits 'till tested. Making sure your bike is the best it can be is also important. Things like tire pressure, chain adjustment, brakes, controls etc are your responsibility to your own safety. I believe in protective gear as well. Sometimes no matter what you do you just get whacked. My worst was when I was stopped at light behind a car and up from behind came the drunk going 40mph, he didn't even slow down. Totaled my bike, the car in front of me but I walked away thanks to leather did get some pretty bruises though. It's important to be hyper alert, I treat everyone out there as blind homicidal maniacs. Being hyper alert really stimulates me and it's one of the things I enjoy about riding in general. Makes me feel more alive.
 

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You go out to your bike. Throw a leg over and start it up. You say to yourself, "I have had a good life and if I die today It won't feel as if I were not fulfilled". Then ride off into traffic.
The American Indian version is "Hoka Hey", and ride off. Translation, "It is a good day to die".
SPOT...ON.

In 1986, I had a wreck. BAD. In the hospital a month.

I bought another bike but I was reacting like the OP describes. Exactly the same.

And my now-ex, wasn't wild about me riding anymore, either. She went from looking forward to getting on on back (she wasn't on when it happened) to making a face and hinting that she'd be really happy if I quit.

I did.

Life goes on. Six cities; three different careers; she is now gone so long I doubt we'd recognize each other if we met.

On my 50th birthday I had a crisis. I had just quit a good job that became a hellish sweatshop with a Wall Street merger. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy; gasoline prices were over $4.25 a gallon.

I needed to be out and about; but I didn't have the money for gas like that. I had it; but I had to budget, with nothing coming in.

I looked at myself, that day: I'd had a good life. I was on the downside. If, the next day, I stepped off the curb and got run over by a bus...it was still a long and wild ride. A hundred years ago I'd have beaten the odds and actuarial tables.

Did I really want to get old, be alone in a VA nursing home in dirty Depends? Because that was what I was saving my life for. That was what living safely would take me to. If I got out there and got squashed...been there; done that. Shock, physical shock, is a wonderful thing. If I had died on the pavement instead of getting to the ER...it would have been painless. Really...I didn't feel a thing for about three hours; then, the pain was such I thought I WOULD die.

So. I went out, and bought a learner's bike - a Virago 250. I was disappointed that Yamaha didn't have the SR series anymore; if they'd had the SR 400, which is nearlly identical to the SR 500 I wrecked on...I'd have been there with a check.

But I bought. And I learned. And, yup, I quickly got my skills back past what the Virago offered. 'Sides which, that thing was sized for a small woman or an Asian...so, I moved up; a GL500; a Burgman 650; a BMW R1200GS.

Yes, there are things that scare me. I've had the rear shoot out a couple of times. On the TW, on a dirt trail...that would have been almost fun. On the Honda, which weighs twice as much, on wet pavement...not so much.

But, if my number comes up tomorrow...it's been a good life; and I've done a lot of what not many people can do or have done.

Ride more. Worry less. Take reasonable cautions; the rest is out of your hands.
 

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All good points.
Know your limits and ride within them. Be aware of all that is going on around you.
If your holding up traffic, pull over.
I ride a bicycle to work every day and it is the same thing - be aware.
I have never felt unnerved on the road, but I grew up riding dirt.
I have had a can thrown at me while bicycling.
I have had a car come straight at me as it was passing another car - instinct takes over and I got out of his way and went over an embankment into an orchard and came to a stop. The car that almost hit never stopped, but the guy he was passing did.
My son has his license and I am currently working with my daughter to get hers.
Motorcycling is a way of life, go out and enjoy the ride.
 

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I've been riding 50 years... Logged 220,000+ miles, and I still think about all the if's out there.... I have two that really bug me.. Texting and animals..... I try and make eye contact with the drivers I see pulling up to at corner.. "WATCH" the front wheel to see if he's moving out.. If so either honk or flash your high/low/high beams on to grab his attention. Dogs or deer really scare me.... They are so --------------------pause---------------- NUTS.. Just look and use your head, and try to relax a little. OMM
 

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Wow, my riding experience is pretty tame compared to 50 years and 220,000 miles, but I'll chime in anyway.

I started riding in January of 2010, in Los Angeles -- the whole idea being to split lanes to get to and from work faster. That worked beautifully, but like you said, I was always nervous. Wondering if I would miss something that I should see... a car about to turn left in front of me, a car about to turn from my right, etc, etc. It was a little unnerving. Over time it got a little better. Nevertheless, I loved riding, and rode all the time; pretty much every day... whether commuting or just to get out and go someplace.

About 2-1/2 years later, I started yearning to listen to music while riding. Previously, I felt like it would be a distraction. I just didn't have the bandwidth to listen to music and pay proper attention. But then one day I did. Now, I usually have my phone playing Pandora through my helmet via Bluetooth.

It was around the same time that I noticed I was relaxing more during my rides. I instinctively was seeing the stuff I should see. It had become a sixth (and seventh, eighth, etc) sense just like when you're driving one of those four-wheeled contraptions... crap what are they called? Oh yeah, cars.

Now, 5-1/2 years and about 50,000 miles later (I added up the mileage I put on all my bikes to date to get that figure), it's all become second nature. In fact, being that alert is actually invigorating. It's almost like meditation in a way. It's difficult to explain. But on top of that, I really do expect every car to NOT see me and for them to try to kill me, intentionally or not. I pretty much wait for it, then just go, "huh, whaddaya know" when they don't.

The other thing, which I'm guessing you already do since you're on a TW200 forum, is ride in dirt. I learned more about riding on the street and controlling a motorcycle by learning to ride in dirt. On top of that, coming to Oregon and having to learn to ride in the rain as well. They have a saying up here.. In Oregon, if you don't ride in the rain, you don't ride.

I hope that helps.
 

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And I thought this was going to be about porting and polishing and valves and springs and combustion chambers. I guess that shows where my head is at.
 

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Texting and animals..... Dogs or deer really scare me....
Deer! those f*%#in' Deer. I've hit two of them. One bent the forks on my old DT125. One tried to jump me and tackled me right off the bike. Came down on top of me, then kicked me while jumping up and running off. I'm a pretty relaxed rider until I see a few of these big rats. Then the paranoia sets in.
 

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It's all about being alert , but not paranoid , enjoy the ride but be prepared......your fine , relax.
You have no control as to when your time comes....."like a thief in the night" .
 

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Yeah, great topic. Head games can really do you in, big time. "Everytime" I got hurt while racing, was 100% due to head game thoughts. I remember after turning pro from amature while racing motocross. The very first time I got the holeshot to first turn, and made 1 complete lap, not getting passed, and even pulled away from the pack. My mind started thinking bad thoughts, like wow, I'm doing good, somethings going to happen. I never rode this fast. I knew this was bad, and if I couldn't shake these thoughts, I was doomed. Sure enough, a few turns later, I got slamed by the guy running second, breaking my right ankle. Another time, same thoughts hit me as the start gate drops, being the first one to first turn, went down, getting pummled by the other 39 riders, breaking 4 ribs. Another time I was up high on a ladder, bad thoughts of falling got into my head, sure enough, fell breaking my wrist. Every time I got badly hurt, was due to bad thoughts. But, not every time I had bad thoughts, I got hurt. Thank god. Geez, I wouldn't be here. The mind is a powerful thing, so keep those thoughts away.
 

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At what point did you feel relaxed and confident on the bike?
Heh...after about 3 days when I was 17....now, never! ;) I've been riding for almost 50 years, with a considerable hiatus during which I flew a lot. If you want to learn how to play What-If games to immense advantage, just learn to fly! I still spend LOTS of time thinking about What-Ifs, but NOT usually when I'm actually riding. Then the experience kicks in, and I see things starting to happen well ahead of time (mostly), because I have spent SO much time in the armchair and at the computer reading and thinking about hundreds of possible scenarios.....it's a lifelong process, and has LITTLE to do with the number of miles ridden. Many riders NEVER learn to think about the hundreds of situations they may encounter until one of them actually happens to them, and then they only remember that particular one. The Internet has made gaining experience from other's mistakes SO much easier than it used to be. The problem remains WHICH mistakes of others might apply to your personal type of riding. For instance, I have never spent a minute worrying about a front flat, but I sure as hell can spot an inattentive driver in a hurry!

Read as much from the various safety sites as you can stand, but don't believe it all...pick out what makes sense to you, and check it against other sites....I like to have THREE independent places agree before I really put that thought into my personal database. And I STILL hate traffic and cities!:mad: I just don't go there, and the only time I'm really relaxed and able to enjoy the scenery is out in the country......where I spend most of my time worrying about deer!:p

In the dirt, the only thing I worry about is branches, deep water, and hidden rocks, because I'm going so slowly not much else can hurt me.....well, maybe a moose or an enraged bull!:D

So what you need to learn is to think through these scenarios in the safety of your armchair, reading as much "I learned about XX the hard way" experiences online as you can stand, and quit thinking much about them while riding, UNTIL you see one of the scenarios starting to happen in real time. Of course, intermittent practice in swerves, maximum effort stops, slow speed maneuvering and the like definitely helps build confidence....this occurs within a couple hundred hours and should be repeated every spring.

For me, discounting my early days when I was of course bulletproof, confidence and relaxation came when I had several thousand miles on whichever bike, felt that I knew its handling qualities, reactions, and switches well, had practiced the above considerably, AND was pretty familiar with the terrain I was riding in. The moment I go to some new strange place or encounter conditions I'm not familiar with, that disappears for a while.....AND I ride a LOT slower until it comes back! As far as strange cities go.....EEEEK! I stay in the truck until I'm through them! :eek::D

One thing I should emphasize is that when thinking about What-If scenarios, it is your response, real or imagined, to the scenario that is the most important part. It doesn't do much good to ride around worried that some clown might throw a beer can out his window or that a 2 x 4 might fall out the back of his truck if you don't have a plan to deal with exactly that. THIS is what builds up confidence that you will do the right thing almost unconsciously. So I would call it the IF/THEN idea. IF I see a loose 2 x 4 in the back of the truck ahead of me THEN I will: Fall back....move into another lane, pass him, etc. This is what reading on the safety sites is so good for: Assimilate the responses to a given threat by much more experienced riders into your OWN mindset.
 

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50 years of riding for me too and I still only wear a half helmet so I can hear the cars around me.
 
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Yeah, didn't really read OP. Although I have had bad thoughts while riding, I have thoughts like that with, and about everything from time to time. As far as feeling comfortable, safe, and content on a bike, I always do. And have so since a very young age. Got my first mini bike at age 6. Rode every day, all day during my Summer breaks from school. From 8:00 AM straight through until dark. Then weekends and after school during the school year. That's no lie. My Mom still talks about it. I'd only stop back at home to gas up, eat, or push it home when broken down. We had a lake house in PA in a private dirt road community, where all of us kids had mini bikes and dirt bikes. Well, not really dirt bikes back in the 60's, but CT 50, 70, 90's, and those types of bikes. We couldn't start a motor until 8:00 AM, and I was staring at the clock until it was time. You could hear the mountain side roar with all the kids starting to ride at exactly 8:00. All day long, about 10 to 15 of us kids, up and down, back and forth, sometimes sneaking onto parts of the golf course that was being built at the time on top of the mountain behind us. That being said, this is how much I rode. I never stopped unless the bikes were broke. My whole life was like this. I rode every second I could my whole life long. And I have never been without a bike in my life since I was 6. Maybe 5 or 6 days once or twice when selling one for another. Can't say how many miles, due to starting so young, and most of it being off road. I can say I'd avarage about 300 to 600 a week on most of my street bikes, while I only had street bikes without a dirt bike. I feel most comfortable, happy, and safe while riding. More than doing anything else. I just sometimes get these stupid, almost challenging bad thoughts in my head, and like I said, not while only riding, but doing anything. Could even be while lying in bed. And sometimes, I can't stop thinking this way. I always wonder why that is? Weird, but true. And never get them out of discomfort or fear, just for no reason.
 

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SIPDE - scan, interpret, PREDICT, decide, execute. Something I learned in motorcycle safety training. At first it takes effort to practice SIPDE consistently while riding, but once you internalize it, SIPDE keeps you from day-dreaming while riding.

Plan for the worst. Hope for the best.

But let's be pragmatic. There's two (2) kind of riders. Those who've been down & those who will go down. Being a member of the 1st group doesn't exclude membership in the 2nd group.

Enjoy life. If motorcycling brings you joy, so be it. If riding (or a specific type of riding (i.e., street riding)) makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. No shame in being true to yourself.
 

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If you get a chance to go on a group ride and see how the other riders ride.
36 years ago I would lean the bike in corners and could get the pegs to spark.
I ride mostly dirt and around town, but have started getting out for longer adventure rides (200 + miles) of twisty paved back roads, FSRs, single track and freeways. After talking and riding with an older rider (72, who out rides most of us), I am once again getting comfortable leaning the bike and improving my skills.
Each ride starts with a pep talk of ride within your limits as we have many newbie dualsport riders either getting back into the sport ot just starting out.
 

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I've heard it said that when you start to feel master of your machine, THAT'S when you have to look out. It's good to ride a little scared.
 
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