"We must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation." — Warren G. Harding
Politics are far beyond the scope of a rag like Common Tread, but Harding’s sentiment is a good one. When people put more into something than they take out, what is left behind is generally a Very Good Thing. If you’re anything like I am, you probably have gotten a hell of a lot out of motorcycling.
Putting effort back into the community isn’t for everyone, and this piece sure ain’t meant to be a guilt trip. If you just want to ride to the grocery store every now and again, I don’t judge.
For those of you who want to immerse yourself more fully in motorcycling’s social side, your effort can range from a few minutes to a lifetime of commitment. Here are a few ways to get more involved. Some of them have brought me great personal joy, and I bet I’m not a special snowflake — you’d probably like some of them, too.
Take someone for a ride
Giving someone a first ride is a great way to introduce a person to motorcycling. A pleasant first interaction with motorcycling may bring someone else into this activity we love. Just remember: Be responsible! (See Tip Number Six in this article). The goal is delight, not shock and awe.
Go on an organized ride/run
This is a big winner if you’re a social butterfly. Worldwide, there are runs and rides ranging in length, difficulty, duration, size, and terrain. You can ride with groups whose members are united by all kinds of common interests — or maybe by nothing at all except wanting to go ride. If you see a gaping hole in the organization, you can fill it, too. Flyers, message boards, and Instagram have all made creating, sharing, or finding a fun run easier than ever and volunteering to do some of the grunt work for prep and logistics is just Level Two of this experience.
Build, rebuild, or modify a bike
If you have a box-stock bike and like it that way, that’s fine, but if you ever wanted to have a custom something-or-other, put one together. Trying to learn every mechanical and fab skill you’d want to build a bike is a daunting task, and finding parts, tools, and model-specific info can be all but impossible. If you want to meet like-minded folks and learn, jumping into the community supporting choppers, racebikes, antiques, or whatever sub-genre tickles you is a surefire way to learn. And once you learn what you’re doing, you’ll find yourself helping someone else — and that’s how the community gets better.
Pull over for a broken-down rider
Lance wrote a pretty interesting article on this very issue. Perhaps I am a dinosaur, but it seems as though passing a rider on the side of the road is now the norm. The number-one excuse I hear (anecdotal, I know) for not pulling over to help a rider is, “I don’t know how to fix anything!” My suggestion is to pull over anyway. Even if you don’t have a clue how to help, you might have a tool in your factory tool roll that would get the other rider up and running. Most people have cash, cards, and a cell phone. Sometimes all that’s needed is a phone call, especially in cases of medical maladies. Help out, make a friend. Everyone wins.
Do a track day or riding class
Maybe riding with others of varying skill levels scares you a bit. Why not go learn the limits of your bike and your skill in a controlled environment, perhaps with some professional instruction? When people are pouring sweat to learn more about the thing they love, they’re generally involved and active. You can be involved and active, too!
Join a club
Patriot Guard. Messengers MC. AMCA. Leathernecks. Empire City MC. AHRMA. HOG. AMA. The range of clubs, interests, and activities is as broad and varied as the people who ride. Why not spend your free time with people you know like at least a few of the same things you do?
Show someone how to fix something
Gearheads, get out there and do yo’ thang. Why not host a local shop night? Have everyone over and attack a few minor projects. Or you could take a rookie under your wing and show him how to change oil or lubricate and tension a chain. Of course, there’s no reason at all you can’t set up an action camera and show the world how to perform a maintenance or repair task by posting it on YouTube or Vimeo.
Moderate a forum
If organization and IT are your strong suits, forum moderation may be an appealing way to serve your fellow riders. Whether it’s vintage bikes, riders from a certain area, a forum for a particular model, or just a place where riders go to post ride reports, there is no shortage of forums covering a variety of motorcycle-related topics. Join! If it’s to your liking, helping moderate can be a way to provide a friendly and inviting interwebz home for motorcyclists.
And now, Esteemed Readers, I part with a question. What else did I miss?