By Arthur Webb from the April 2012 Edition
Years of trying not to think about having to put my motorcycle away for the winter are far behind me. Now I am able to ride every day if I so desire and believe me, I do.
I was asked to write for the Manzanillo Sun and share my views of what it means to be able to spend my retirement years living full time in Mexico and being able to travel by motorcycle throughout most of Mexico safely.
For your information, I am a retired educator from the Toronto area in Ontario Canada. I was extremely fortunate to have entered the profession when I was barely twenty one. Retirement for me occurred at the age of fifty three. I decided to move to Mexico and try living here full time. That was eight years ago and I have never looked back.
Riding a motorcycle has been a passion for the last forty five years. Growing up in Northern Ontario, the riding season is short at best. May to September was pretty much the season and then running a snow blower replaced my time in the saddle for the next seven months.
That has all changed. My wife and best friend, Karyn and I enjoy riding as often as we are able. For several years we lived in Nayarit and then discovered Manzanillo when we were invited to visit here for a local club sponsored motorcycle event. That did it for us. We found that Manzanillo was where we really wanted to live.
People have asked why not Puerto Vallarta and we always reply that there is no comparison.
Although some folks hate the sound of the rumbling roar of a big V twin Harley, the majority have an appreciation for what it is really all about. Sadly, many folks are under the impression that if you ride you must be a gang member looking to terrorize all who may cross your path. This is a misconception.
Motorcycling is a lifestyle choice. It is not for everyone. Mexico has a large number of motorcycle clubs and none of them that we have encountered are looking for problems. Instead it is the freedom of the open road that beckons one and all to travel all over Mexico to attend “moto-fiestas.” The camaraderie of like- minded people who ride motorcycles is clearly evident at motorcycle rallies. If you attend on a regular basis, you end up with friends located in different cities. We have attended several and not a weekend passes that there is not an event to attend somewhere in Mexico.
Many friends back home ask if we are not fearful to be sharing the roads with Mexicans. We smile and say that we feel safer here than in Toronto or many other parts of Canada. Mexican drivers for the most part are respectful and courteous and in addition are used to seeing motorcycles year round.
Some of the key elements to enjoying the motorcycle riding experience in Mexico are: wearing proper clothing while riding. I cringe when I see people flying down the highway or around city streets without a helmet or protective clothing.
Riding in shorts and sandals is a disaster waiting to happen. If you are travelling on the highway the most common type of protective material is leather. Leather jacket, chaps, boots, gloves, a DOT approved helmet and protective eyewear are a must. It also serves to protect you from dehydration. Many who ride are not aware of this and when the heat induced fatigue sets in, it is time to get off the saddle and cool down. Wearing full leathers will significantly reduce this from occurring. You may be hot when stopped but on the highway you will feel cooler and confident.
When we ride, it is usually alone or with carefully selected friends who are also experienced riders and share the same attitude about road safety.
The biggest issue for us when it comes to road safety is to avoid any riders who want to stop along the way and hoist a few. I do not think that there is anything more dangerous and life threatening than riding with other bikers who are in varying states of intoxication. Not only are they a danger to themselves but also anyone who may be riding with them.
If you cannot drink water en route and wait until you safely arrive at your destination to have a few, then you should not be riding. Unfortunately, we have seen experienced this on more than one occasion. We choose to not be a part of that mentality. In addition we never ride at night.
With all my years of motorcycling experience, I have become a confident rider but never over confident in my abilities to handle a powerful machine that can easily end my life.
Respect for the machine and your own life are tantamount to be becoming a seasoned rider with the right attitude. If you carry a passenger, you are responsible not only for your own safety but also that of your passenger.
My wife is my life partner as well as my ride guide. In this case being a back seat driver is acceptable. She watches for things that I may not see and with hand taps and signals we travel without incident.
Retirement in Mexico is a wonderful, enjoyable experience. For some it is golf and riding around in those zany golf carts while for us the freedom of the open road is what it is all about. For us it is the sound of the big V twin Harley Davidson on the open road.
If you are a cage driver, be sure to look once and then twice to avoid not seeing a biker.
Ride to live, live to ride !