Those who are closest to me know that I am as passionate about motorcycles as I am about my fitness.
This past weekend I coerced some of my non-riding friends into a trip to Myrtle Beach to experience Harley Week. My friends likened my reaction to the sights and sounds to a kid at Disney World — and they were spot on. I loved every single minute of it.
My passion for motorcycles started at the young age of 8, riding dirt bikes with my two brothers back in my hometown of Brewster, Ohio. My first bike was a burnt orange Honda 50. It had a top speed of 35 mph but I felt like I was flying. On and off through the years I kept my “ride on” with road bikes.
Most recently, I invested in a 2017 Harley Davidson Softail Slim. My ride, aka Matthew McConaughey, is my favorite new obsession. I ride as often as I can, and after a long day of riding, I am sometimes as worn out as after a CrossFit workout. You would think that riding a motorcycle would not be all that physically demanding but in reality it very much is.
There are three main areas you need to address to improve your riding: strength, mobility, and endurance. Any time you ride, your body needs to be ready to react to anything and everything that can happen in a split second. Changing directions, braking, leaning into turns, etc., all take some elements of physical fitness. Being in shape can make your riding more enjoyable, safer and leave you some energy to spend when you reach your destination. It also can make the difference in recovery if you become injured. So for all my biker friends, particularly the members of RRJ Chapter No. 117, here is the scoop on keeping motorcycle fit:
— Strength training: Strength training for riders should focus on legs, back, shoulders and core (abdominals). All of these muscle groups are essential for holding a bike upright when stopped, turning, balancing and leaning.
— Mobility: Riding a motorcycle takes tons of flexibility. Getting on and off the bike, turning to check for traffic, etc. is much easier when you are flexible. Performing stretching exercises before you hop on your bike and at stops can make a big difference. Also, adding daily flexibility exercises or even Yoga into your fitness routine can impact your riding in a positive way.
— Cardiovascular fitness: Believe it or not, riding gets your heart racing much like any other type of cardiovascular exercise. The more cardiovascular fitness you have, the easier it is on your heart and lungs. Riders, like everyone else, should get four to five days of walking, running, or pedaling a bike to keep their heart in shape. If you keep your cardio up, you will feel and perform much better on long rides.
So there you have it, motorcycle riding takes fitness, and being in shape can make your ride safer and more enjoyable. So what are you waiting for? Throw on your helmet, crank up your bike, head to the nearest gym and get a fitness plan. Besides the health benefit, it will make you look even better in the saddle.
Kathy Hansen has over 30 years of experience in the health and fitness field and 47 years as a biker chick. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]