Motorcycling is an activity many Canadians enjoy. According to the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council, over 54,000 motorcycles and scooters were sold in 2013. Even more interesting is the fact that Baby Boomers represent the largest group of motorcycle owners, accounting for 79,600 of the total number. Unfortunately, time is rarely kind to the human body, and aging can have a deleterious effect on motorcycle riding skills which can lead to an increased risk of accidents and higher motorcycle insurance rates. Here are a few tips for staying safe as an older motorcyclist.
The old adage that things start going downhill after 40 is true when it comes to physical fitness. One study found a person's capacity for aerobic exercise declined up to 6 percent per decade for people in their twenties and thirties and up to a whopping 20 percent per decade after age 70. What this means for Boomer cyclists is their ability to physically control a motorcycle will also decline the older they get.
While you don't have to be as strong as a pro wrestler to ride safely, you should participate in strength training exercises on a regular basis to improve and maintain adequate muscle strength. Regular exercise may also lessen the impact of injuries you suffer if you get into an accident and improve your ability to recover.
Additionally, don't just focus on physical exercise. Look for ways to exercise your brain too. Playing puzzle and word games and participating in daily brain exercises can help improve mental capacity and stave off neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Get Regular Eye and Health Checkups
Another reality for older riders is that overall health and eyesight also declines with age. Seeing things in the distance become more difficult because of the onset of vision problems such as presbyopia and macular degeneration. The risk for certain diseases like heart disease and diabetes also increases significantly in middle age. These and other health conditions can alter your perceptions, mental capabilities, and reaction times and make it more likely than not that you'll get into an accident.
Getting regular eye and health checkups can help you stay on top of the changes in your body and take steps to fix or mitigate problems that may affect your ability to ride. Though you may not like it, monitoring your health will also help you determine when it may be time to hang up the helmet and pass your bike onto the next generation.
Adjust How You Ride
To compensate for the natural decline in riding ability, it's essential that you make an effort to adjust the way you ride. Habits can be hard to break, especially if you've been motorcycling for decades. However, riding habits you had in your twenties—such as staying two seconds behind other vehicles—may no longer be sufficient. This is particularly true for Boomers who stopped riding in their twenties to raise families and are now picking the hobby back up in their fifties.
A good way to relearn how to ride is to find a local driver's education company that offers motorcycling refresher courses for older riders. You may also be able to find these types of retraining classes by contacting local businesses that sell motorcycles.
Lastly, know your limits. It can be hard to recognize that you're not as young as you used to be, but doing so can help you make decisions that will keep you safe on the road. For instance, if you find you just don't have the physical strength to control your motorcycle, opt to downgrade to something lighter.
For more types on motorcycle safety or to ensure your policy provides enough coverage in case you get into an accident, contact an insurance broker at a place like Drayden Insurance Ltd.