RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Teach Your Children Well

Feb 26, 2012 View Comments by

I make lists of post ideas while I’m riding, but I have a terrible memory so I keep a tablet and pen in my tankbag. I can often be seen at gas stations sipping coffee and scribbling furiously before the ideas get away from me. Recently my daughter came home from college for a long weekend. The visit reminded me of the rides we used to take when she was younger.

I took up riding relatively late in life, I was 34 and Devon was 6. I spent a few years riding before taking her for her first ride. She got used to seeing me suit up, maintain the bike, talk about the weather, road conditions, and the deer population in our area. When she was 9 we went shopping for her first helmet, an all white HJC that still sits above the fireplace at my house. She bought a sticker at a show that read – “Yes It Goes Fast, No You Can’t Ride It”.

We would ride to get ice cream and run errands, and she always wanted to carry her helmet inside. She beamed with pride; there weren’t many motorcycles in town so we were unique.

We had a helmet-to-helmet intercom system, and looking back now, it was one of the few occasions when I had her complete attention. It was also a time when being safe was the only option. Nothing sharpens your focus like riding with your child. My riding days would quickly have come to an end had anything happened so my pre-ride checks were more thorough – we only rode in perfect weather, and never at night or during deer mating season. I taught her to wait to mount up until I was ready, to tap my shoulder when she was ready, to be careful not to back into traffic when dismounting, and a thousand other small details. She knew to wear full riding gear, boots, gloves, and of course her helmet.

Because she was so young and impressionable, it was that much more important to impart the seriousness of riding intelligently and safely while on the road. I imagined her one day in her teens meeting a young man with a motorcycle, maybe one a little inexperienced, and having the forethought to either decide not to ride if something seemed unsafe or, if she did, to at least wear a helmet and see that he did too.

Devon never took up riding. She’s in college in Manhattan now; but I occasionally think back to those days when we rode together and feel fortunate to have shared something I love so much with her. My hope is that whatever lessons she learned while riding with me grew roots, and as a result, she’ll be more likely to approach potentially dangerous or difficult situations safely and seriously. Hopefully our rides together in her younger days are a small part of that.

Ride Safe,


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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.