1. Listen to your intuition.
Intuition tells me I’m going too fast for my limits.
Intuition tells me not to ride with certain people.
Intuition tells me not to venture down that unknown road.
Intuition tells me it’s not a good day to venture out on my motorcycle.
Among other things.
WRN contributor Tricia Szulewski says, “Every time I listen to that inner voice I am incredibly thankful I did. When tuned into my intuition, I know when there’s danger lurking in the woods or on the road ahead. Many times I’ve gotten the feeling that I should slow down or look to the side, and end up avoiding a potential disaster.”
2. Drink more water.
Keeping Mother Nature’s elixir flowing through our bodies is an easy way to prevent some of the most common ailments that can affect us on a motorcycle: dehydration, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues. “I rode through the Nevada desert in 100-plus-degree heat once and ended up sick, flat of my back on a bench in the convenience store trying to recover from fatigue and dehydration,” remembers Genevieve. “I was not drinking enough water and electrolytes all during my ride. It creeps up on you.”
3. Use more sunscreen.
“There’s a section on my forearms, between my wrist and just below my elbow, where my long sleeve white shirt didn’t cover when the wind blew it up my arm (what I wore for years in hot weather before I adopted ATTGAT all the gear all the time). The skin there is way more wrinkly and aged than the rest of my arm,” says Genevieve. “Clearly the sun and wind took its toll. I can’t imagine the damage to my face all those early years when I viewed putting on sunscreen as a nuisance.”
“I’ve always been a sun worshipper,” admits Tricia. “The effects of not using sunscreen now live on my face as dark blotches and red spots on my nose. Even if you wear a full face helmet, remember that your face and nose are exposed while riding.”
4. Test ride all kinds of motorcycles, even the ugly ones.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. So it goes with motorcycling. You might be pleasantly surprised by how a motorcycle rides and feels to you that isn’t the prettiest one in the showroom, or the style that you’re accustomed to. Tricia says, “Working for a motorcycle magazine requires me to review all kinds of bikes, not just the ones I think are good-looking. When I started out, all I was interested in were shiny, laid-back cruisers. But the first time I hopped on a sporty bike, with a sit-up seating position and torquey power, a whole new world of riding opened up to me. I’ve learned to ignore what a motorcycle looks like, and enjoy many different kinds of riding styles and machines.”
5. Don’t ride in a hurry.
Having an extra measure of patience while riding a motorcycle has the potential to save you in so many ways. Let’s just say road rage and motorcycles just don’t mix. If you need convincing, read our story called Never in a Hurry.
“I had a fender bender once on my bike—my front fender bashed into a car’s rear bumper in stop-and-go traffic because I was anxious to get to my destination,” Genevieve says embarrassed. “From that day forward I’ve always ridden with a generous amount of following distance, and I take my time.”
6. Stop caring about what other people think about your motorcycle or riding gear.
Ride your own ride. If you’re too busy looking around to see who’s noticing how cool you and your motorcycle look, you’re not paying attention to the road and potential hazards around you. Tricia says, “I used to feel like the hottest chick in town when I rode my Shadow wearing my super-long fringed leather jacket. One time, I was so busy collecting admiring looks from passing car drivers, I didn’t notice that traffic had stopped in front of me. Boy did I feel dumb (and not hot at all) when I had to slam on my breaks to avoid a collision.”
And if you’re dressing to impress, you might be sacrificing safety for style’s sake. “I discovered early on when I tried to look cute by wearing gear that’s not meant for riding, that I was more concerned about that belt or collar flapping in the wind, or the cute sunglasses flying off my face than I was focused on the road,” says Genevieve.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Such in life… so it goes on a motorcycle. Aren’t we riding to escape the constraints of life that make us sweat the small stuff? Leave the persnickety-ness at home. You’ll enjoy your ride more. “I wish I just nodded my head and smiled more at people instead of always giving my opinion,” says Genevieve. “One of my mentors, Joyce Meyer says, If you want to keep the peace, don’t offer your opinion unless you’re asked.”
8. Dont follow along. Be a leader.
“The cause of so much of my frustration in my early years of riding was following people who did not know what they’re doing,” says Genevieve. “I wish I stepped up more and took control of situations.” It’s OK to let others lead, but it’s important to question whether they know how to lead a group of riders, and know where they’re going.
9. Seek out some riding buddies who want to ride like you do.
You don’t have to be best buds with everyone you ride with. Sometimes it’s more fun to have a riding style in common and then become friends with the person later. “I thought that when I got my motorcycle license I’d go riding with my new friends, the women I met in my MSF Beginning Rider Course class. But it turned out that they liked to take a lot of smoke breaks and ride to bars, which wasn’t my idea of fun. I decided that riding alone worked better for me until I eventually met and rode with some more experienced riders who rode at a pace I enjoyed for a length of time that matched my style.”
10. Remember that you are a role model every time you get on your bike.
“I didn’t realize when I first started riding in the early 1990s that people are watching me, on the road, at gas stations, in parking lots, everywhere practically,” says Genevieve. “Whether you’re a woman or a man, motorcyclists are still a rare breed and most times someone is watching us from afar, someone who dreams of what we’re doing. So, Im now more conscious of my behavior while Im on my motorcycle in public. I want to be an ambassador for the sport.”
Now tell us what youve learned along the way, something youd tell your younger motorcyclist self, in the comments below.
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56 thoughts on 10 Things I Wish Id Known When I Was a Younger Rider
Great advice! Most I’ve also learned by riding trial an error! I’ve got close to 100,000 miles under my butt in five years now and l still learn new things! Never get too comfortable that you fail to pay attention. Ride your own ride. Respect the bike. It only goes in the direction you’re looking or taking it to; adjust your speed with your ability. Ride safe out there brothers/sisters of the wind and enjoy those miles of smiles.
What BJ said! [commented dated Tuesday, November 18, 2014]Don’t just ride your own ride, choose your own ride. I’ve seen more unhappy and discouraged female riders who let their husbands or boyfriends pick their first bike (read: his second bike) out for them, and it really inhibited their growth and enthusiasm. Half the time, the guy wants another bike to complement his, or in a few cases, doesn’t want his wife on a bike/girlfriend that’s better than his. Even if he’s a respectful dude who sincerely has your best interests at heart, he’s just one source of info. Sit on everything; take a few short parking lot test rides, and talk to other female riders at work or on the internet (like here). Men and women agree: shopping for a bike is fun.
I love your article and could relate to every point you made. There is that learning curve and evaluating as one’s riding skill advances. I too got to a point where I figured out how important it was to ride with people who had my style of riding. For me that became a priority and not having to ride out of my comfort zone. Thank you for sharing!
1. Don’t drink and drive.2. Double check everything, tire pressure, chain tension, oil.3. Don’t overload bike. There are Walmarts everywhere.4. Don’t leave helmet uncovered on bike. That 10 percent rain will fall5. Always wear protective gear.6. Leave too much room in front of you and next vehicle. No accident was ever caused by following too far behind.
I’ve ridden since the age of 16, the day I was old enough to take the permit test. Dad’s friend had a 350 I use to ride all over Boston and the city of Cambridge, Mass., where I got lots of my road experience dodging taxi cabs and buses. Through the years I had many different bikes. Triumph, Honda, Yamaha, Harley, and now I’m back to a Honda VTX 1300c that I love. I’ve belonged to a club and way back when and when I wasn’t on the road in the 18-wheeler, I’d come home and ride my Harley around Boston’s south shore area. Then I got out of it for a while as I was on the road trucking for what seemed like forever. But now at age 60, an artificial hip and another one in the future, I’m my own leader. I ride when I feel up to it, with whom I feel up to riding, and wear a helmet in a helmet-law-free state. I may be hard-headed but it’s not harder than the pavement!I love your article and couldn’t agree more with your 10 things posted. And if people I’m riding with are in an all-fired-up-hurry to get some place, power on to them. I’ll see ya when I get there. I ride for me and to impress no one! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Be safe out there brothers and sisters. The Old Buffalo, Me.
I got my license last October and haven’t really had the chance to practice before fall. Also I haven’t find a bike for my budget yet… but I’m determined to find it before spring and start riding in the new season! I read a lot of the articles here and they help me believe I made the right choice! I find them really interesting. I think it’s important to share comments and experiences so we can be aware that all they said during riding classes is really happening in the real world, haha. I wan’t to always keep safety in mind and reading these articles full of advice for beginners will surely help me keep the focus on that goal. Now who has a Sportster for sale?
Chantal,Thanks for the kind words about our articles. I’m glad they are helping you. As far as finding a Sportster, we have a section in our WRN Forum that allows registered users to post motorcycles for sale. You are welcome to sign as a user for free and browse that area of the forum. Plus, it’s a great place to connect with other women on a variety of topics. Several are very active and full of advice.
Absolutely. Instincts make a difference.
A good friend and long-time MSF Rider Coach told me once when stopping behind a car/truck leave plenty of room to maneuver. You’re invisible to 99 percent of the drivers out there, so when stopping, they are gauging the stopping distance to the rear bumper of that 4-wheeler. To prevent being hit, if you’ve left enough room, you have your escape route. He also recommended keeping an eye or both on a mirror so you see the car coming at you.
This is an amazing article. I think it’s a must-read for anyone getting into riding. I agree with the “look where you want to go.” It definitely makes tough, tight turns much more effortless. I would also add that bikes are capable of more than we think that they are – for example today I was out on a ride on my hubby’s FZ09 (which I ride occasionally for the challenge of riding it), and I was worried that I would have difficulty pulling out onto a main road because of the way the road was banked with its merge lane (it’s a steep bank – the road there really needs to be redone. To turn right on the road you have to get into the merge lane, then go up the banked part to the main lane). I’ve made that turn before, but I think I was worrying about gunning it too fast and bouncing over the bank. The FZ09 handled it like a champ and I had pretty much worried for nothing in the end. Bikes do have better traction and handling at times than we think they do – it’s our brains that can get us tripped up!
Looking forward to riding my late husband’s Road King. Bought a Honda Rebel to practice on needing more confidence. Seems I let too many people get in my head and telling me I can’t do it. Road King is too big for me, but I’m determined to prove them wrong. Teaching myself pretty much. And reading your articles makes it easier for me to keep trying! Thank you.
Pay attention! They are not looking for us so we have to watch for them!
Hello,What is the red and black bike above with the girl in the Dainese jacket? Thank you.
That motorcycle is the Yamaha FZ-07. A review is coming in July on WomenRidersNow.com
In response to being a role model and ambassador for the sport, I love it when I meet eyes with a youngster, especially young girls, and I wave and give them a “you can do this someday too” smile!
Don’t just buy the motorcycle, invest and buy stock in the company that made the motorcycle.
A new rider asked me what was the single most important bit of knowledge I could convey to them about riding.I said “look where you want to go.” It sounds simple but it’s particularly valuable in a panic situation. Your bike follows where your eyes are focused. The further you can see down the road the more time you have to adjust your position to control your machine.This rule has saved me from some dicey situations through my 40 years of riding.
Thank you. We have a whole article on mastering the head and eyes technique here on WRN.
I have always been careful about riding with people and most times ride alone for reasons started on this list. Yesterday I ride with a friend, bad decision. Every road I said I was scared of, everything I said made me nervous or upset, he did. He’d ride much faster, leaving me so far behind him cars didn’t know we were together. He took me on grooved pavement, took me on an extremely busy highway I told him I was scared of, in the middle of really bad traffic, which I told him made me nervous and switching lanes in the midst of all that traffic. I was alone, riding behind him the whole way because I refused to follow his riding habits. These are things you just don’t do with a newbie, especially after they tell you those very things make them nervous. Pick your riding partners, route and everything else very carefully or you’ll have a bad experience. ALWAYS RIDE YOUR OWN RIDE! Best advice I’ve ever gotten.
Great article. I’ve been riding my own for three years now. And I know plenty of friends who ride and most of them I do not wish to ride with because of the fact they are just riding to bar hop. I want to enjoy the wind and the ride and go to somewhere I haven’t been. I have found another woman rider who lives near me we go out a few times a week, her husband will join us on the weekends when he can and I have two other guy friends who ride with me and are very accommodating to letting me ride to my comfort level and not pushing me to theres because they have been riding their own for longer. I’d rather ride smarter than harder.
I enjoyed reading your article. Everything you said was so true. I have learned something new every season I ride. Getting older means not taking what you already know for granted. Thanks for sharing.
All of the advice and experiences in this article are so right on. Keeping well hydrated is so important! I found this out the hard way while riding through the Badlands. Not enough H2O resulted in frequent and severe leg cramps, as well as overall fatigue and minor confusion. I would also recommend sodium and potassium supplements when riding in such arid conditions.
Great article! I’m very glad I stopped by to read it because it brought to my attention how dependent I had become on my hubby (who is long gone ~ RIP DjH) always doing my safety check whenever we’d start out riding and who I still think is doing that check and all my bike maintenance too! That is very hard to admit and from now on I will take more time to actually do my safety checks before I head out and not when someone talks about doing their own! Thank you! Be safe out there.
I loved the article. You are giving such good advice. I agree we are role models and need to be aware of the examples we set for children and new riders. Fashion is also great advice. At the end of my best rides I was sweaty and dirty and did not care what I looked like anyway as I was more interested in the fun I was having. I also agree with test riding everything. I have had some great bikes over the years but the one I loved best was certainly not the best looking bike but it was best for me. Thanks for sharing.
Brilliant article! I’ve seen more of Australia in the past five years of riding than I have in the past 23 years of marriage! I ride mostly with “Bikie Chic Adventures”(now called WOW) and there is usually 30 to 40 of us on weekend trips. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to ride your own ride. Don’t feel compelled to keep up with the group if you don’t feel safe!
I really liked this article. Made me stop and remember that good riding skills takes practice and that we should never take it for granted. Things that we learn as we get going down that road of life we can share with the younger up and coming riders. There are more women riding every day feeling that freedom and excitement it gives them.There’s nothing like the wind on your face and you sitting saddle in that machine, that beauty, it’s become part of you and you don’t go by a day without looking at or touching her. It’s awesome to be able to be in control of her and get all the comfort and mind relaxation you get from riding.
Don’t be afraid to ride alone or to take long trips. Started back riding when I turned 50, more than six years ago. For several years I rode alone most of the time. Most of my friends who ride do not ride the same style as I do so we rarely ride together. Have a young friend who started riding and wanted me to mentor him. We’ve been riding together several years, about every month or so. His skill and distance levels have surpassed me know and I’m glad. However, I’ve taken several multi-state trips, usually about two weeks and always solo. Have met great people and being a single female has made it easier to meet new people. They aren’t intimidated by some “bad ass” biker with me so they feel like they can approach and ask me questions.Another thing I would tell myself and do tell others is keep learning. There are excellent advanced classes and even the most experienced rider can learn and improve. It helps to point out bad habits and learn good ones.
This is all great stuff! The article is right on and the comments were good too. One thing I would add is not to forget to practice good bike maintenance. That can save your butt.
Really good advice and so right because when you dress to ride it’s for your protection and of course style (oh, girls just want to have fun!) We also take the highway very seriously and a rule of thumb is to always respect the open road. And of course there are ones to ride with and those not to ride with. If it’s a party then park it for the the night or weekend. Be a smart and safe rider for that is true freedom.
I’ve been feeling down lately because I can’t seem to find anybody to ride with. I’ve tried, but cannot seem to find a happy medium of like-minded riders yet. However, your article has re-inspired me, especially reading the many comments about riding alone. I am a retired woman who has gotten back into riding a year ago (I used to ride in the early 1970s) and have for the past several weeks been thinking that I may have made a mistake and should sell my bike. I’m going to hold off on that decision because of your articles. I’m not giving up yet.
I’m glad that you’ve been inspired to hang in there, Alex. Just enjoy your ride, and when you least expect it, you will find like-minded riding partners. Or not. But as long as you’re enjoying the ride, that’s what it’s all about.Have you considered joining a riding club? We have a huge list of women’s clubs in our national and regional women’s motorcycle club directory.
Things I’d have said: The road is rougher outside the neighborhood. Get over it. The wind blows everyday in Central Texas. Learn to lean!Ride your own ride. If they want to do it faster, then let them go – you’ll arrive in your own way, safe. We should have done this sooner!
There’s no such thing as too much Chapstick!
Yes, yes, yes to all the 10 tips. My guidance, 1. Even if your friends and family think you are nuts to ride a motorcycle but it makes your heart skip a beat, don’t listen to them. 2. It’s OK to be scared. If I’m afraid to try something and then never do it, I just missed something important. Yes riding a motorcycle is scary, GOOD, keeps me alert. 3. Don’t wait for a “him” to come along and take you riding, get your own. Being single, I started riding when I was 50. It has changed my life more than anything else other than my son. I have seen more of the U.S. on a bike in the last 12 years than in the previous 49. 4. NEVER settle, how many times have I said that was “good enough.” I now wait for the perfect bike, accessory, friend, partner, job. If I had waited just a little longer when younger I would of had the perfect…5. It is OK to ride by yourself, you do not need to wait for anyone else. Be smart, be safe, be educated. I have traveled cross country many times by myself and have had some of the best experiences of my life.
Things I wish I knew when I was younger? That riding a motorcycle is fun at any age and I never should have given it up to raise a family. However, that was a personal choice I do not regret. What I do regret is walking out of the dealership at age 40 because I was afraid to ride alone. What did I learn getting back in the saddle in my 50s? Riding alone is actually peaceful rewarding and enjoyable, maybe even spiritual for me. Riding with like-minded women is all the above with added fun. Women who ride share a bond of the love of bikes but also an independent spirit. I’ve never met a woman rider who was not an inspiration. I met someone my age who rides that made me rethink my decision and say, why not? I have Tricia [Szulewski, WRN Contributor] as my BRC instructor and mentor, how lucky am I. As long as you have the desire and passion to ride nothing should get in your way. My advice to anyone out there pondering the thought, just do it.
Thank you all for this article and your comments. They have been extremely helpful to me. I am about to embark on “the great motorcycle journey” as a beginner rider. I’ve taken the MSF course and passed, now onward to the final written exam. Found a great bike that fits my body and riding level. It will keep me occupied until I’m ready for my dream bike, a Victory Vegas 8 Ball. I love the parts about not letting anyone tell me what bike/gear I should get and the “Never in a Hurry” article. Since I’ve made the decision to ride, when I’m driving my truck on the road, I’m really watching other bikers. When I see these folks weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, or threading the needle I think to myself, “I’m not going to be that biker.” It’s all an adventure and we’re all in this sport for our own reasons. This WRN site has been my rock for this new life adventure and I have been encouraging all my lady rider friends to check it out. Y’all ROCK! Thanks!
Great article and advice. Best one, listen to your intuition always.
Some things I’ve learned over the years:On long trips take rest breaks. Get a drink, have a snack. Don’t ride until you’re stupid. My resurrected photography hobby helps here.I learned the hard way to ride your own ride but it was a lesson well learned and not forgotten. Finding other riders who ride the way you do and keeping the group small makes a group ride much more enjoyable.Good thing I didn’t realize how expensive a hobby or how much of an addiction motorcycling would become. I currently own 13 motorcycles and scooters and I’m contemplating selling the one I don’t ride much so I can get something else. I have my eye on a new scooter or a new adventure bike. The story of my life. Downsize doesn’t seem to be in my vocabulary.It’s good to be a little crazy. That way people just shake their heads when another bike finds its way into your garage or you embark on a solo trip halfway across the US instead of telling you that you can’t do that (because you’re a girl).
Thought I was the only one who wasn’t into smoking breaks, bar stops and the like. Riding to new places, doing and learning new things is more fun. Great article.
Great reflections. I wanted to ride most of my life and knew I would enjoy it. When I first started to ride, my husband and riding partner told me don’t worry about what I’m doing. Ride your ride. This has played out many a time for both of us. Sometimes I need to ride my ride on my V-Rod and sometimes he rides his ride on his Road King. No stress, no pressure. Ride safe, ride comfortably.
When I started riding in 1956 I was really impressed with myself! I soon learned that I was master of my own domain. Had to ride with a lot of men and my husband in those days. There were no courses. I had to learn from the school of hard knocks literally. However my hubby was very considerate and was my private instructor and I think he’s the reason I’m still riding today. Love it.
Great article. Also found myself nodding my head. Especially identified with the role model comments. When I started riding in the 80s I remember the looks I received as I rode up onto the ambulance dock, removed my helmet, and punched in to work my shift as an ER RN. I’ve always been convinced that the perceptions I was able to influence with my co-workers changed how some of them addressed motorcycle crash victims who came to our ER. This was true for the RNs and the physicians! I always felt that this was my “calling” somehow… who knows? Maybe some of them even took up riding themselves!
Always ride your own ride. Don’t ever feel pressured to keep up with others if you are not comfortable. Pushing your personal limits from time to time helps you to learn and build confidence, but do so at your pace, not someone else’s. If the other riders aren’t willing to wait for you as you develop your skills, maybe you are not riding with the right group.I, too, discovered the hard way about keeping hydrated. Keep the fluids flowing, especially in hot weather, even if you do not feel thirsty. I also agree about going out and riding as many different motorcycles as possible. How do you know your perfect fit? It’s like shopping for clothes or shoes or riding gear. Try it on first. Challenge what challenges you. Take it on, slowly and safely at first, but take it on. Go out and ride your local roads on a rainy day. Sure is better to learn on familiar territory, instead of embarking on an adventure and finding yourself on unfamiliar roads for your first heavy rain experience. If starting on a steep grade intimidates you, go find a parking lot with a hill and practice starting and even making right hand turns on that steep grade. Gravel? Seek it out and practice. You will conquer your fears and be a better rider for it!I’ve been riding since the early 80s. It’s quite a different environment now, especially for women riders. Don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t do it. You CAN and you WILL! Take advantage of training courses. Pick more experienced riders brains. Ask questions. If they invite you to ride along, take them up on it. I enjoy sharing my experience and encouraging newer riders. It sure is fulfilling to see their successes! And when you meet someone who has less experience then you, remember to pay it forward.
Great advice that I found myself nodding to. Cheers and regards.
Things I like to pass on to a newer rider if I’m asked:Never buy into the idea that you have arrived at a place where you know all there is to know about riding. There is something to be learned every time you throw a leg over your bike, as well as about your bike, your environment or yourself. Keep in mind the huge difference there is between confidence and cockiness.I wish someone had told me how addicting riding was going to become…how life-changing it would be…how the confidence I gained from riding would spill over into other areas of my life…or how the feeling I get each time I accomplish something I didn’t think I could would be so, so powerful I’d crave it like nothing else.And lastly, while recognizing limitations is always a smart move, sometimes pushing the boundaries is how you learn what those limitations are, mentally, physically and spiritually. Most of the time I find my biggest challenge is me. It’s not that hill, or that road condition or even the bike. The mind is a very powerful thing and the fear of failure can paralyze you if you let it.
Great article. It will benefit all riders, women and men.
Another smart informative article. Thanks again
Never let anyone else tell you what bike you should be riding, especially as a beginner.
#10 is my favorite, and I would add… I make it a point to wave at children and especially little girls I encounter in my travels when I’m on my motorcycle, whether they are peering at me through a car window, or playing near the road in their yard. I love when they seem surprised I waved, and excitedly wave back. Perhaps their family isn’t familiar with motorcycle riding, and the kids have no role models letting them know it can be an amazing adventure, this motorcycle thing — and that women can ride their own bikes! I want them to remember the “friendly lady” who waved at them from her motorcycle.
Stop listening to what others are telling you and buy the motorcycle. If you don’t you will miss out on years of wind therapy and wonder why you waited till you were 66 to ride again.
Let the big guys win. Everybody is bigger than you on your bike. On the interstate, ride in the left most lane and stay with the traffic. If it is going faster than you’re comfortable with, get off the super slab. The left lane gives you an escape route should a bad thing happen around you. If you are in the middle or right lane, you will be cut off, cars just do not see us.Big trucks, they are the enemy. Keep them in your mirror, or leave super extra distance if you are following. When their tires blow up BANG. You do not want to be close at all.Oh yes, no beverage with the big . Save that for later.
Take the chance to do your dream ride when you have the opportunity. Plan carefully, leave lots of time for detours and weather, and you will have a trip of a lifetime. My husband and I just rode from Mass. to Calif. for our honeymoon, and it was easily the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Had we not done a year of planning, though, it could have gone very badly. Plan, dream, and plan some more.
Don’t go down an unknown road? Most of the times these unknown roads are the most awesome roads. Go outside of your comfort zone and venture where others are afraid to go!
Unknown roads are great, however if your intuition, that silent voice inside your head, is telling you not to, it’s best to heed that and not go down it. Intuition always knows best.
Excellent advice for everyone!
Never stop riding defensively, even around familiar areas. Be aware of what (people, vehicles, animals, etc.) is around you.