The maximum age for riding a motorcycle is …

As with most things in life, as we grow older, we expect to stop doing some things or at least slow down and take it a bit easier. Our backs get sore fast, our knees groan at us as we ascend and descend even the smallest number of stairs, we can’t run as fast as we used to, and when we do try to run (keeping up with the grand kids) our lungs and heart stage a revolution in our chest. Each of these activities seem to do a tremendous job reminding us of the number of days that are stored in our life calendar.

So after a 30-year hiatus from riding bikes – the last time was in 1981 with a 1974 Honda CB350 – I rejoined the motorcycle riding community, buying a 2011 Triumph Bonneville SE. The fear was my skills may not be up to the task of keeping me safe on the road – especially because I commute 90 miles round trip (80 of them on highways) to and from work. So I took an introductory Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, then a second course and will complete the Advanced Riding Techniques course this weekend. This did wonders for beefing up the confidence level as did 7+ months of driving on the highway every day. Along the way I did research on the Web about counter steering techniques that revolutionized my cornering skills.

So, with the skills firmly in tune, I started to realize that motorcycling had the exact opposite effect on my 51-year-old body and mind than the above activities had. When riding the bike, I feel 20 years younger. I don’t see myself as a starting-to-wrinkle 51 year old. Rather my mind feels young, in control, brisk, agile — all those traits one normally associates with youth.

Then, last night I happened across a movie on Netflix that answered my question about the maximum age for riding a motorcycle. The movie, if you haven’t see it, is “The World’s Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins playing Burt Munro, who at 67 years old, set the world land speed record at the Bonneville Flats for motorcycles under 1,000 cc. At 67 years old Burt was careening down the Bonneville Flats in his Munro Special – Burt-modified Indian motorcycle – at 183+ MPH — say it again; 67 years old at 183+ MPH. So what is the oldest one can ride a motorcycle? Burt died in 1978 of natural causes – probably still riding his bike.

So what do you say? Is there an age at which we stop enjoying motorcycle riding? I’d be curious what you think.

As for me… it’s amazing to ride again after 30 years away. Here’s to hoping I can ride as long as Burt. Thanks Burt for the inspiration!


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