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Dear Carolyn: I'm terrified about my boyfriend's hobby: riding motorcycles. We've been together two years and in that time he has crashed twice, the last time totaling his bike. Thankfully, both times he only had minor injuries.

However, he is now looking to buy ANOTHER bike, and every time I imagine him on a motorcycle I just see myself at his funeral. I want to be supportive because I know he loves it, but it causes me so much anxiety.

What can I do? I've talked to him about it, but he gets upset because he feels like I'm not supportive. He doesn't seem to see the risks. He thinks he's immortal. I don't know what to do.


— K.

K: Embrace mortality. That’s what you do.

Given your boyfriend’s hobby and history, I suggest soon.

I am not being facetious. At all. In fact, if I thought it would help, I’d close every answer with this: “And oh by the way, if you’re not comfortable yet with the idea of death, then I suggest you work on it.”

There is no permanence. If collecting kitten posters were your boyfriend’s hobby, then the odds would tilt more toward his achieving old age, and — this is the real thing, I believe — you’d be better able to trick yourself into a sense of certainty. Sun will rise, summer will come, boyfriend will return from a run to buy milk.

:wink
 

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I'm lucky. My wife doesn't ride and I'm glad because motorcycles are dangerous.


I'm my line of work and having been in some really serious situations my motorcycles are the least of her worries. Friends will often ask her if she is worried about me being on a motorcycle.....since I ride them wherever I can. Her response is "if I worried about everything dangerous he does, I'd do nothing else."
 

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My wife worries, but only when she isn't on the back. In her mind (I'm speculating here) if there's an accident, at least we would be together when it happened. My 7 mile trip to work is infinitely more dangerous than her and I riding 300 miles through unknown areas, terrible storms, etc. Go figure. :laugh
 

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My wife doesn't worry. I make a point of not telling her about all the a$$hole drivers that I encounter on every trip. Worst sober drivers in the world.
 

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Two accidents in two years, one in which he totaled the bike? Maybe he is not a good rider. She could be supportive in helping him be a better rider, through an MSF rider course and Ride-Like-a-Pro skills, get him the book Stayin’ Safe by Lawrence Grodsky (motorcycle safety expert who died in a motorcycle-vs-deer wreck). Maybe he will understand that she wants him to enjoy riding, but do it WELL. If he is lacking in good sense, certainly they would both benefit if she encourages him to be a smart and wise rider.
 

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If my wife worries, she doesn't let on to it. She knows what motorcycles and riding them means to me and is very supportive. Our relationship began with motorcycling, it was nurtured with long tours - she has @ 200K miles on her as a passenger - and it doesn't even bother her that I encourage my grandkids and great grandkids because she knows I take riding and driving VERY seriously. Driving is two hands on the wheel at 9 and 3 and riding is ATGATT; to give two examples.
One time, a friend, a riding buddy, asked her; if Ric said he's taking off on his bike for a couple weeks, what would you say? Without taking a breath, my wife replied; "I'll make him sandwiches."
 

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I would be curious as to what kind of bike he is riding.
 

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There are all variety of dangerous things in the world. If we spend our time worrying about what could happen, we'll never get to experience what IS happening.
 

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My first thing I thought of was maybe she should get him a present of a riding course. Thats not saying if you go to a course your not going to get in an accident, but 2 in the same span? Thats some bad luck if thats whats in play.
My mother always worried about my brother when he bought a Honda 750 back when they came out. She was sure he was going to get killed on it. 2 years later he died in a wreck, in his 69 LTD. So go figure.
 

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I've done the MSF Advanced rider, Ride Like a Pro and Prorider. RLaP and PR are definitely more advanced. Prorider is 8 hours RLaP is 4, same price. The prorider instructor ran us ragged. It was a busy day and covered everything.
 

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Trust... or 'reasonable confidence'...
I think this factors in heavily as to how much a spouse worries about the dangers of motorcycles.

Puss didn't ride with me very often. She bores easily and sitting behind me watching trees go by was boring to her.

However, after Craig's death last June, she wants to ride. If I am going, she wants to go with me. I think it's the whole "If we go, we go together". We have headsets so we can talk now too.



And now, a story....

I wake up early one Saturday morning (several years ago) and walk out to the shop. My bike goes up on the jack for some much needed maintenance. Not long thereafter the wheels, front fender, seat, and tank are off... airbox and carburetors are off... handlebars and top triple clamp are hanging from the ceiling on wires and the trees are off...the forks are upside down in a bucket draining with the springs laying on a towel... when my wife pokes her pretty head in the door.

"Been busy this morning?" she asks, giving me 'that look'. She tells me that she's going to work and will be home around 3:30. I tell her that I'll have the bike back together by then. She kisses me on the forehead and says "Sure you will" as she walks out shaking her head.

I throw the wheels, 2 new tires, and 5 new wheel bearings in my truck and run them down to a local independent, then I head back home and get right to it.

Clean air filter and change the plugs. Install new steering head bearings and fork oil -- reassemble the front end -- put the fender on. New brake pads front and rear. Make some minor jetting tweaks to the carbs -- reassemble/install. Airbox, fuel tank, and seat go back on...

...then I jump in the truck and go get the wheels. Wheels are done so I go home, set the tire pressure and pop the wheels back on. The brakes get pumped up and I go for a test ride... everything is bink and bink, just like new money. A few figure 8s in a big parking lot to scrub the new tires in and home I go.

I get home, change the oil and filter, change the oil in the final drive. The poor bike has greasy fingerprints all over it so I wash it real quick, blow it off, and finish with a towel. Then I walk in the house and take a shower. While I'm in the shower my wife walks in. I say, "Hey, Puss, change your clothes and we'll ride the bike up to Annapolis and get some dinner". We both get dressed and I walk out to warm the bike up and pull it up by the back door.

Out she comes, lookin' all cute. She slips her helmet on while I flip the passenger pegs down. She throws a leg over and gives me the 'good to go' pat on the shoulder... off we go on an 87-miles-each-way ride. Now, the last time she saw this bike (7 hours ago) it was a chassis and engine sitting on a bike jack.



....so I have to conclude that given our history together, my wife has trust or reasonable confidence that I can get this sort of thing right and that I ride well too. This spills over into when we have a conversation like this:
"I'm going for a ride".
When will you be back?
"Sunday or Monday, not sure."
Call me morning and evening so I know where you are. Are you going alone?
"I might meet up with Carl and maybe a couple of others, don't have specific plans."
OK, be careful.
 

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I've done the MSF Advanced rider, Ride Like a Pro and Prorider. RLaP and PR are definitely more advanced. Prorider is 8 hours RLaP is 4, same price. The prorider instructor ran us ragged. It was a busy day and covered everything.
I have been poking around down here in Central Fla where I am looking for an "experienced" rider or brush up course. Have not found one yet. The 2 places with in reasonable distance so far have dropped the course and only offer the beginners course.
 

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MY wife’s last words, as I roll out the bike are, “Take care of my things!” :wink
 
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The Wife does know more then we do. Maybe she is right and either he shouldn't ride or take a driving course. We all have had close calls but have 1000's of safe miles. I would do what the wife says
 

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I have been poking around down here in Central Fla where I am looking for an "experienced" rider or brush up course. Have not found one yet. The 2 places with in reasonable distance so far have dropped the course and only offer the beginners course.
Ride Like a Pro is based in FL. They have sites in Jacksonville, Miami and Palm Beach. http://www.ridelikeapro.com
 

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My wife says that if I die riding she will wake me from the dead and kill me personally.
I was already riding for many years prior to us getting married so she knew what she was getting into when she met me.
She never rides with me as it's not her thing.
 

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