Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure


Motorcycle TourMagazine

About Whatchathinkin'

Backroads’ fairer half, Shira Kamil, has an interesting perspective on the day-to-day things riders run into which is both extremely well written and informative. She adds a new polish to the editorial team here at Backroads.

Name: Shira Kamil

Current Rides: Honda 919, Suzuki V-Strom 650

Favorite quote:

If it all falls down, falls down, falls down; If they solve my life, if they find me out; Never thought to keep all I have found; I have had my fun, if it all falls down.

- Jimmy Buffett • If It All Falls Down - Floridays

The Struggle to Survive

Starting in early spring and continuing through the summer, we are always on the lookout for those hard shelled creatures making their way from home to their nesting spots and back. Being a huge proponent for turtle safety, I will, when it is safe and prudent for the turtle and me, stop and move them out of harm’s way and along their intended path.

WhatchathinkinSea turtles have an even more difficult path. They are plopped in a big hole in the sand with hundreds of other soon-to-be hatchlings and have to make their way – if they survive the struggle of getting out of the shell and not being eaten by a myriad of creatures – across the vast empty space from nest to water. Everything from a simple footstep to driftwood to crabs and birds are their enemy and, according to statistics, only one in a thousand actually survive to adulthood under natural conditions.

On a particular turtle rescue, I began to think about the similarities of beginning riders and the turtle’s struggle to advance along their path. Much like the hatchling, new riders are thrust into this world relatively unprotected and with little knowledge of the dangers facing them. If they are smart, they will begin their journey with a foundation from an accredited school, hopefully giving them the basics of operating this potentially dangerous machine and information on how best to prepare themselves for the big world that awaits.

From there they are faced with the huge palette of choice regarding the motorcycle on which they will begin their travels. Should they have a level head and practical sights, they will choose one that, as Goldilocks once put it, is not too big, not too small but just right. This choice often makes or breaks the continuance of their motorcycling lives. If they are influenced by others into a bike that is too large for their small shell, the effort and difficulties they face to learn to ride properly will be made more so and, ultimately, the hatchling may give up its struggle. If, however, they start smartly and, like the turtle, grow into their shell, the progression will be enjoyable, seamless and fruitful and they will move on to many more motorcycles and happy miles and adventures.

While the turtle has no options as far as their protection, the new rider is open to a countless amount. Good riding gear, after good riding experience, may be the best form of protection. On a warm summer day, with the sun brightly shining, the unknowing and unprotected new rider traveling along in t-shirt, shorts and sneakers is akin to the hatchling that stupidly begins its escape from the nest to the water under the noontime sun. Dehydration will stop the turtle literally dead in its tracks. Similarly, the underdressed rider, though thinking he/she is comfortable, will be both burning and dehydrating, which will lead to exhaustion and ‘brain fuzz’, making them more susceptible to bad judgment and bad riding. Choosing good and protective riding gear from the start gives the rider an added advantage should things go awry, thus making their struggle to survive on the roads and trails a little easier.

If the rider can make it past the learning stages, continues in their riding skills knowledge and accepts that wearing proper gear will enable them to continue on safely, they have made it into the open waters and will be faced with the challenges just as the adult turtle faces. In the water shark and whale will hound a turtle, while on land the enemy moves on wheels. It truly amazes me that a large snapping turtle, making its way across a road, can go unseen by a motorist. It’s not like they are moving at light speed. These days, the dangers for riders are astounding: elderly drivers, teenage drivers, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, unaware left-turning drivers, etc. And that’s not even taking into account the four-legged wildlife. The dangers that face a new rider may seem overwhelming, but are not insurmountable. The best defense against them is continued education and ever-vigilant awareness. Whether you choose to stick to the paved roads or include the unpaved roads less travelled, taking all manner of skills classes and practicing those newly learned skills will give you such a great advantage over the idiots and critters that will always be out to get you.

Don’t give up in the struggle to survive in this wonderful world of motorcycling – the adventures keep getting better.