If you go to a gym, you know that the first few weeks in January always seem a little more packed than usual. By the end of the month things have died down to just about normal. Sure, it’s cliché, but this scenario serves as the perfect encapsulation of the durability of most people’s New Year’s resolutions. Fact is, most all of them don’t last.
Maybe it’s biting off more than one can chew, or picking some life-changing activity that is too dramatic a change from the norm to be sustainable. It could be a lot of things. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and I think that with some smaller goals and different time framing, sticking to the list we lay out on January 1 could actually be fun. Especially if the list is all about motorcycles.
I’m going to break the year down by months and suggest one resolution per month. That way things stay interesting and you get 12 different chances to do something you’ve always wanted or needed with your bike. If coming up with your own list isn’t on the docket for 2019, use this one and enjoy the ride more than ever this coming year.
We’re in the dead of winter in January in the States, and in most places, that means little to no riding. However, it is a perfect time to throw the switch on the space heater and get to wrenching. Regular maintenance should be done consistently throughout the year, but there’s got to be one thing that you’ve been neglecting that ought to be done. When’s the last time you changed your fork oil? Is it time for a new chain and sprockets? Maybe some new spark plugs or a carb clean if you’ve got a rig without fuel injection. Did someone say brake fluid change? Bonus points if you do something you’ve never done before. Learning a new skill is very resolution-y.
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February: Add an accessory.
So now the bike is in perfect working order, why not add a little doodad to sweeten the deal? This can be as simple as a phone mount or a set of saddlebags. Or you can go bigger and toss on some heated grips or even a new exhaust. There’s aesthetic ways to go too with items like fender eliminators, new caps and covers, or an aftermarket windscreen. Take some time to think about where you’ll be riding and what might make it more enjoyable, then grab that accessory and bolt it on!
March: Enhance your gear kit.
Like February, this is a treat-yourself kind of month. What’s your gear kit look like? Do you have the same lid you’ve had for four years? Is your jacket holding together by a thread? Pick something that you’d like to update in your gear kit and then go for it. A new article can make a huge difference in the joy level of a ride, especially if you haven’t had the proper weather functionality from your kit in the past. Or maybe you’re still riding around in Levi’s, in which case, get a pair of riding denim. Full stop.
April: Visit a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while.
By April, hopefully there’s enough sunny days to get a few days ride in, so why not reconnect with a friend or loved one you haven’t seen in a while? If you don’t have anyone close enough, just substitute with some location you think is cool and go visit it. A few hundred miles, with a stop and an overnight visit is a perfect way to shake off the cobwebs of winter and really get charged for the prime riding season.
May: Ride to and through a national park.
Grab a friend or fly solo, but pick a national park and go there. Take in the exquisite beauty of this country, whether you’re in Yellowstone, Zion, Badlands, the Great Smoky Mountains, or Hot Springs. And if a national park is too much of a haul, visit a state park closer to home you’ve never seen. There’s nothing like being alone in nature on a bike, and it’s worth setting aside time to make it happen.
Related: 8 National Parks For Motorcyclists
June: Ride to work more days than you don’t.
June is the month that Ride to Work Day happens, so why not make it a month and try to ride to work more days than you don’t? This one may be a little tough for some, especially if you’ve got family obligations before or after work, or need to pack along more goodies than you can carry in a top case. If that’s you, try and get a ride in every Saturday or Sunday of the month.
July: Find a way to ride something new.
This is the month to expand your boundaries a bit. Maybe you’ve ridden them all, but even you can get back on a bike or style you haven’t touched in years. If you’re a cruiser rider year-round, head to a nearby dealer that offers test rides and try out an ADV bike. If you’re a die-hard sportbike rider, go hop on a Harley. I know it can be hard to do, and that many dealers aren’t keen to let random people roll off on their machines, so if that’s the case, try to get to a nearby motorcycle event with demo rides. If there’s somewhere nearby to rent a bike, like an Eagle Rider shop, do that for an afternoon. Or see if a buddy will let you take his or her bike for a spin. Even if it’s in the same segment, it’s likely a little different. See what something else is all about.
August: Do a poker run.
Poker runs are hosted all across the country by organizations large and small. Some will be for charity, some will be just for fun or part of a larger gathering. Either way, sign up and take part. It’s fun to log a route that someone else has planned, especially with stops to chat and hang with other riders along the way. There’s typically some frivolity planned for the finish line too, so it’s a perfect opportunity to meet some new folks who have the same love of bikes as you. And if there’s nothing going on in June near you, why not consider organizing one yourself?
September: Ride with someone new.
By this point, you’ve been riding a lot and doing some things with people you might not have met before. Hopefully you got their number, because this month you should get ahold of a new riding buddy and spend an afternoon on the road. Take the precautions you would with anyone new, make a plan for what to do if you get separated if you’re not rocking communicators, establish a leader and follower, talk through your preferred pace, and all that. Then head out, grab lunch, and head home and see if that social network doesn’t expand by one.
October: Ride in the rain.
Now, we’re not suggesting you do anything dangerous, so if it’s a squall or you’re simply uncomfortable, pass this one for a resolution of your own design. But if you actively avoid the rain, pick a day with a light drizzle and do a few laps around the block. Go slow, be smooth, and watch out for hazards, but sometimes it’s healthy to conquer a fear. And if you are already mobbing around in the rain without a care in the world, kudos to you. With the right gear and experience, the riding season can be quite a bit longer than you would think.
November: Properly winterize your bike.
Many riders will have already done this if things are already gnarly outside, but for most of the country November is a time to store up the bike until next year. We give you all the details on how to properly winterize your machine in this installment of MC Garage. Keep your bike in top condition while it sits so you can be sure it’s safe and functional when you pull it out in 2020.
December: Share your love of riding.
December is a time of gift giving for hundreds of thousands in the States, so why not share your love of riding with someone who hasn’t yet been on a bike? Tell that person about the best ride of your life or how you came to love bikes. For some, it’s incomprehensible to even think about riding without some type of community support, and that can all start with a friend who already rides. And if you are only surrounded by the initiated, get a little motorcycle gift for a friend who wouldn’t expect it. Spread that cheer!