Following up on my last post: I’ve now learned to ride a motorcycle. First a manual transmission in Vietnam, then a semi-automatic in Thailand, and finally my friend Chris and I took a road trip from Chiang Mai to Pai and back on fully automatic 135cc scooters (130km each way).
Riding a motorcycle is not as hard as I initially thought. Braking takes practice to do right, and it takes a while to become comfortable that the bike isn’t just going to fall over when turning, but after a few hours of driving this is something I stopped thinking about.
As with any new skill I went from full willingness into blinding fear that I’d never be able to figure it out. It didn’t help that my second time riding a bike led to an accident in Vietnam. Only after pushing through the fear and riding the bike around for several hours did I start to feel comfortable.
For me this is the same with every new skill: it scares me for a while until I practice it and realize that the most important thing is to stay calm and take it one piece at a time.
If you do ride a motorcycle I recommend Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well for a clear and statistics based approach to motorbike safety. The biggest thing it taught me was not to drive faster than a speed where you’ve practiced an emergency stop, to never over-drive how far you can see, and to constantly scan the horizon for risks. Accidents happen but maybe 40-50% of them can be avoided by driving carefully and not drinking and driving.
Below are some pictures from our trip:
View of Chiang Mai from a nearby hill.
Water buffalo in the middle of the road. Why you don’t speed too much through the mountains. We also saw cattle sleeping in the middle of the road at night and during the day.
Farmland in the valety outside Pai.
Breahtaking clouds outside Pai, Thailand.