Will you know when it’s time to stop riding?

To some the following will be a taboo subject for discussion or even thinking about – I get that, however I have been giving this a lot of thought and considering my age and the average age of my Club riding mates I think we owe it to ourselves to face reality and be prepared at some stage for the harsh reality that we are no longer safe to pilot a motorcycle.

I started riding on the road at the age of 16 and this year I turn 67, hence a riding career so far spanning 51 years. How many riding years do I have left? I don’t know the answer to that question, I’m not even sure if I will be conscious of the right time to hang up my boots. In other words, is it like losing your hair, because it happens over a period of time you adjust to it without really realising it’s happening.

Because motorcycling is such a huge part of my life and I’m aware that one day I won’t be safe to ride any more I have for some time asked myself as I arrive home at my front gate after a ride “how many ‘moments’ did I have on the ride today?” Thankfully at this stage the answer is almost always – none.

As I continue to age and my reaction time slows and my strength wanes I assume that my present usual clean slate of moments will start to become “woops, a moment or two today”, “a close call” or a “sh*t I didn’t see that car I pulled out in front of today that had to take evasive action from cleaning me up”. Will these increased riding moments become a regular pattern some time down the track?

Will I be aware of what’s happening as I lose my ride craft and self-evaluate rather than become an unsafe rider, or will I choose the path of denial?

Can I rely on my mates to take me aside and have a frank discussion with me about the need to think about giving it away and if they do will I be prepared to listen to them?

Like you guys I hope I have many more years yet of enjoying my motorcycling, but I think we need to start having open discussion about this subject. We now talk about men’s health, depression etc, I can’t see why this is any different.

Unlike a car licence that can be vetoed by our family because they may have had the opportunity to drive with their ageing parent and gain first hand from that experience (or nightmare) that the time is nigh to force the hand of their loved ones to surrender their licence. Motorcycling is more often than not an individual pursuit that cannot so easily be monitored by family, making a family-based decision more difficult.

Should the Club intervene? Does it fall under the Club’s Duty of Care? Possibly, but who wants to go there. How to make enemies in one easy lesson even if the intent is for all the right reasons i.e. trying to safe lives, both the member and or fellow road users.

I don’t know the answer to the above but I’m sure as hell aware that the subject won’t go away but will only become more and more relevant as each and every one of us continue down the path of the ageing process. (Before someone points out that there are very capable motorcyclists out there at the ripe old age of 90, yes, I’m sure there are, but being realistic, they are very much a minority).

If you would like to be involved in a discussion group re the above, please contact me and if we have enough interested people, I will organise an informal get together to seek your valued input and opinion and maybe clarify a plan of action that may help us all face reality when the time is right and before disaster strikes.

Ian Snadden

President