Ever been on the road and thought “Wow, I really wish my love was here to see how beautiful this was.” Whether you are riding two-up, or you each have your own bike, nothing can be greater than riding with your loved one. But what if your significant other doesn’t ride?
What if they are interested but scared to try? Or have you tried, and everyone wound up mad? There are a lot of pitfalls and stumbling blocks when it learns to ride as a team, and if you’re not careful can end up in your partner quitting and some bad blood brewing between you. But, if you can get past the bumpy start, riding together can be the greatest adventure you’ll ever take together.
So, here are some tips to help encourage your partner’s wish to learn while keeping both of you sane and happy.
This is the number one rule! Why? Because every single person on this earth gets impatient, and it’s the number one reason why people want to quit. Because someone is yelling at them, pushing them to go too fast. Or it frustrates and angers the teacher because the new rider can’t understand a skill right away that comes so easily to them. Motorcycles can be very scary and intimidating, especially for people who have not grown up around them or maybe haven’t touched anything with two wheels. Take a breath and let your partner learn at their own pace and be patient enough to help them learn. Whether you are going two-up or your partner has their own bike, they will appreciate the patience.
Start Riding Two-Up slowly
Riding two-up can be a great way for couples to ride together. However, it’s not as easy as merely sitting on the back of the bike. The person behind cannot see what’s coming and must be able to relax and follow the pilot’s movements. To help them relax, take it slow. Make sure your bike is made to be two up (nothing is more unsettling than trying to balance on a rear fender not made for your weight). Take a ride down the street. Then around the block. Help your partner understand how to move with you and give them time to trust the movements of the bike. The more relaxed and confident you can make your partner, the better learning to ride will go and they’ll be ready for more.
Don’t start them on your bike
If your partner is ready to take the step to their own bike, don’t start them on your high-powered machine. Way too many people take a complete newbie and put them on a machine they are not ready to handle, and then when the inevitable whiskey throttle or crash happens, the newbie gets scared and refuses to try again. Take the time and money to buy a good starter bike. Sure, it may not be able to keep up with yours right now, but a little bit of sacrifice right now is better than scaring your partner or making the learning hard. Let them build confidence on a machine they can control and when they are ready, they’ll step up to a more compatible machine.
Get another teacher
Sometimes the best thing you can do is have someone else teach your partner. While we all want to believe we have great communication skills, one of the biggest roadblocks people say when they talk about trying to learn is an impatient partner. The teaching partner either can’t understand why you can’t pick up a skill faster or the learner feels rushed because there is so much to learn. This process for some can create a lot of stress and anger towards the other person. So, instead of getting frustrated and getting in a fight, why not enroll your partner in a motorcycle safety course? They can take the time to teach your partner the basics and get them on the road. Then once your partner has a basis for understanding what you are talking about, you can both teach and grow together as you ride.
West Virginia Department of Transportation offers two-rider courses; The Basic Rider Course (BRC) and Experienced Rider Course (ERC). Follow this link to learn more.
Have realistic expectations
It can be hard to throttle down your excitement when your partner says they want to ride together. But have realistic expectations. For the newbie rider, a ‘grand adventure’ may just be getting around the block without stalling or crashing the bike. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun together. Find little mini trips that you can go to that your partner feels comfortable riding to, like going for ice cream or maybe going to a zoo or to the park. Not only will you have more fun together, but your partner will get more and more comfortable on the bike and start growing towards that goal of a great adventure trip.
Take the time to communicate…and listen
People learn at different rates and deal with different things. What is easy for you (like stopping at a light and touching the ground) may be hard for a partner with shorter legs. If someone’s not mechanically inclined, they might not know what is good and what is a bad noise on the bike. Instead of letting things fester, having a misunderstanding, or fights because of bad assumptions, take the time to figure out how to communicate to each other and make a point to stop and listen! We are good at talking and hearing what we want to hear, but that might not be what our partner is saying.
These are just a few basics but by following them, you and your partner can set a great foundation. Remember time, patience, and understanding equal confidence and trust. The more of the first three you have, the more of the second two your newbie partner will have in the bike and in you. And soon you’ll be on the road having the adventure of a lifetime, together!
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