Why be dogging on middle-aged and older riders? Could be that they are the most prolific posters on the web. Could be that they are more likely to be wagging a finger in your face. Could be that they are the most set in their ways (both good and bad).
Could be I’m one of them. I am 49.5 years old. That’s over 300 dog years. Amazing. Could not ever imagine being this old when I was 18. In fact 18 year olds cannot even picture life 30 days in advance. Their active yet puny brains aren’t fully formed yet. It rewards risk taking and gets tired easily. All that stuff you’d expect teens to do.
When does your brain grow up? About 25 to 27 years old–right when you get that big break in your insurance costs. Yup, you can model being in the hospital, not getting paid, having surgery and rehab, lawyers bills and the simple fact you are balled up for a long time, this creates a situation where you start getting risk adverse.
Your brain ain’t going backwards. It is mature. You and your ability to tolerate risk aren’t going to do anything but continue to be aware of the future. That’s why at 25, or 27, or 30 you start putting dough into the IRA, you start worrying about healthcare and taxes.
I worry about all those things too. Yet, I’m much more willing to take risks than the average 50 year old–OR am I just more comfortable with my skill set and know it’s boundaries better and am more willing to approach those bounds?
To be clear: any time you pull off a ‘Stunt’ you’re taking part in an intense physical event. You have to manipulate the bike, sometimes with real aggression. I’m known for having excellent braking skills. I’ve been invited to be part of data collection and talked curriculum with some serious and intelligent people.
I brake good. Good enough that guys like James Davis say, “Woof. You can brake.”
So why can’t other riders do that? I find that the younger the rider the better the braking. Yup, they aren’t as afraid of crashing so they are willing to squeeze sooner and harder. Extreme braking is an intense event. You squeeze and build on it. The nose gets buried. The rear gets light. You better clinch them knees on the tank or (depending on bike) you could ‘nad yourself and sing a higher register.
Imagine the paradox in the 50 year old mind. Squeeze hard or crash…squeeze too hard and crash.
Story–I was coaching a class of experienced riders a few years ago. Had some Beemers with anti-lock brakes. You need to know this: When an anti-lock system starts to work you will HEAR it doing it’s thing. They make a clicking sound as the system cycles on and off. I had a gentleman who was braking like crap. I asked him, “Is this think anti-lock?” And he looked at me and said, “Yup! Ain’t it stopping good?” At which point I didn’t dare tell him he was braking well enough to lose every single dang point he could on the evaluation. He was braking as hard as he thought he could. The front wasn’t compressing, The rear wasn’t getting light and the ABS wasn’t clicking.
It took a while but we managed to get him to squeeze like hell and get the ABS on line. He was shocked. The idea that braking could be so physical and so impressive had never occurred to him. Most riders have the same problem–they brake as hard as they think they can, not as hard as they really can.
Middle aged, returning riders are the worst. This may be because they grew up with really, really crappy drum brakes….or it could be because they’re frightened because they can see the future–the worst possible one.