Letter of the Month
The spread of the novel coronavirus and our subsequent sheltering at home has produced a wealth of observations about how all of this happened and what should be done to avoid the problem in the future. There has also been guidance from many different quarters about how we might best manage our growing fears and losses; escaping on our bikes is a ready solution that many of us immediately seize upon. This led me to wonder what exactly it is about riding that soothes us.
On April 12th, 2020, the Los Angeles Times had an article on strategies for coping with the social side effects of COVID-19. Knitting was one strategy that a British medical journal showed had proven effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation—its repetitive nature is thought to be key to its effectiveness. A psychologist, Mihaly Cisikszentmihalyi, was cited in the article saying that knitting and other crafts can “…create a ‘flow’ state, a perfect balance between skill and challenge.” Extrapolating from this observation, perhaps motorcyclists enter a “flow state” while riding. Think back to your last ride through a stretch of perfectly paved twists and turns and how you entered a zone of quiet confidence, competently applying your riding skills in the face of the road’s challenges. Our instinct is to ride in these times, but perhaps we now have a scientific explanation for why it such a useful antidote.
Todd Collart, Ventura, California
Hi Todd, we think you’re onto something here. We bet most if not all of our readers would agree, entering that “flow state” is one of the most cathartic aspects of motorcycling. As a thank you for sharing your thoughts, we’d like to send you a Diablo jacket from Motonation. Congratulations!
Thank you for the digital versions of Rider. We can only imagine the difficulties you’ve been working under to produce these issues under the current circumstances. As usual, they look sensational and will provide many hours of remarkably good reading. You are in our thoughts. We extend all best wishes and good luck for your continued safety and well being, and a return to normalcy as soon as possible. Take care and be safe.
Marshall Swanson, Columbia, South Carolina
I am a paper-in-hand kind of guy. With that said, I heartily thank those at Rider who made the decision to issue electronic editions, especially with the ability to download. Having recently taken a job in Italy, I eagerly await my wife mailing my print edition to me. But restrictions on travel over here are much greater than anywhere in the States and the delivery of mail and packages has also been impacted. Being able to read the issues online has made my isolation more bearable.
Richard Wells, via email
I’ve been a subscriber of Rider since February 1993, and have every issue from that month through March 2020. By my calculation that’s a library of 325 issues. I’ve come to think of Mark Tuttle, Clement Salvadori, Eric Trow, Greg Drevenstedt, Jenny Smith and all the additional contributors as a group of friends I see once a month and always have available for reference. Now with the advent of COVID-19, the issues are only available online. It’s fully understandable with the restrictions, social distancing and business closures in place.
Unfortunately, after comparing the two modes, the digital presentation doesn’t come close to the printed magazine. Having a magazine that one can hold in one’s hands, flip the pages, physically compare one issue to another and catalog for future reference is just not the same as a digital copy. Here’s hoping you return to a printed version as soon as possible.
Marc Frazier, Hampstead, Maryland
Stay at Home Stuck at Home Orders
I appreciate that Rider magazine is continuing to publish in this time of “stay at home” orders. I understand the need for digital publication, but have every hope that print publication will return when that again becomes possible. Online just is not the same as sitting down in an E-Z chair and enjoying a magazine.
Ralph Noble, Poulsbo, Washington
Your article on tire repair brought fond (not really) memories (Tips, Tricks & Answers, April 2020). I had punctures in six rear tires in two years. It got so bad that Michelin gave me a free tire out of pity. My luck may be turning again as I just got another puncture last week. On the bright side (sort of), I got really good at repairing them. I found the plugs work really well for a very clean, small hole such as a nail or a screw you can back out. The worms also work for small holes, but they’re more versatile, useful for any hole that is unclean or larger than a nail. As you noted, glue helps a lot with the worms and red ones are the best. Just like Ralphie is a connoisseur of soap, I have become a connoisseur of tire repair kits.
Jeff Snook, Charlottesville, Virginia
Great River Road
I was wondering when someone would finally write up this wonderful chunk of asphalt and scenery known as the Great River Road (Favorite Ride, May 2020). Phil Holbo did a great job describing this gem hidden away in Minnesota. We have been to Lake Itasca three times on our late spring trips to Minnesota from Florida and it is still mind boggling to consider what a small beginning the mighty Mississippi River starts from. One word of caution, though. Watch for wildlife, as we had a deer run between our bikes last year as we were leaving the park.
The section just south of where the author stopped that runs down through Wisconsin is excellent as well. I never tire of riding along those river bluffs. Thanks for the great article and the great magazine!
Rick Braun, Panama City, Florida
I want to thank you for the Retrospective article on the late ’70s Yamaha XS Eleven (May 2020). Even in those days I read Rider magazine, including the bike reviews. The XS Eleven was my trade-up bike from the Yamaha 750 triple. Got the XS Eleven in March of 1978. As I remember, at the time it was supposedly the fastest production bike. I also believe that later that summer it was detuned to comply with California standards. My then-husband, a roommate and I each bought one on the same day from a local dealer. He graciously gave each of us a helmet! I think the dealer was shocked that a woman had brought these guys in to buy that specific model. I loved that bike! It did everything I needed, and as a 20-something, what did I know about handling and all that stuff? I just knew that it was the “fastest” production bike. At lights I knew that I could smoke anyone who wanted to try to take me off the line. Never had to do it, but was smug in the knowledge that I could! Thanks for a trip down memory lane.
Elsie Smith, York, Pennsylvania
Yaaaaaaay! I love these bikes (“Return of the UJMs,” May 2020). Canyon carver, commuter, camping bike, two-up tourer! But wait…. No windscreen or fairing? No backrest or luggage rack? No option for hard bags, or even soft saddlebags? The true UJM was a bike that could carve canyons, then mount up luggage and take a passenger for the weekend, or just grab your camping gear and hit the road. Did any of these manufacturers think of customizing these bikes? Or work with an aftermarket supplier to develop luggage or wind protection options? If these companies really want to sell these wonderful motorcycles, they need to make available all the goodies that make them really fun to ride and functional.
Tony Clements, Campbell, California
Size Matters (Not)
Thank you for including articles and reviews of average size bikes. Whenever I see an article of someone touring on a V-Strom 650 or another bike that does not weigh 800 pounds, I go straight to those stories first. People should remember that you do not need a Gold Wing, large BMW, Harley or other big, heavy bike to go on a trip. I rode from Nova Scotia through Montreal and Toronto, into Detroit, then home again in 1975 on a Suzuki GT380 triple. Two years later I took my GT550 to Speed Week in Daytona—I loved that bike. It had a Vetter fairing and fiberglass bags. It took my ex and I there and then we went down to Key West for a few days. Largest bike I ever owned was a ’76 Suzuki GS750B. Took it everywhere from Sturgis to LA and Baja. Still have it, but the crank is going bad so I will be looking for a smaller replacement. Just wanted to say from a rider with more than 50 years on the road, you do not need a huge bike to travel the world. It’s more important that you enjoy the trip and some of the best times I have had were the stops along the way.
Brent Murray, Westampton, New Jersey
I enjoyed your Misconceptions editorial (One-Track Mind, March 2020). Been riding for 43 years. Started out on a new ’78 Bonneville 750. Now I’m enjoying a ’17 Gold Wing. Over my four decades of riding, I’ve experienced my share of NRPs (non-riding persons). I do have to admit you have to be patient with them. When I’m traveling or stopping for a bite to eat, it never fails: a story comes up about a couple they know that’s been in a bad accident. Three subjects are always brought to my attention: no helmets, alcohol and, for some reason, “they were wearing flip-flops.” Go figure.
I work at a multi-brand dealership. When I’m explaining the features to a customer, sometimes they ask me what is the most neglected part on a motorcycle. I tell them the owner’s manual…nobody ever reads them. Keep up the good work.
Danny Peevey, New Albany, Indiana