A Lesson For A Novice Motorcyclist

Steve McAlphabet
4 min readJun 16, 2021

Although I was a motorcyclist in California for nearly two years nearly twenty years ago, this time around, I’ve only been riding for about two months and would still be considered a novice. When I first purchased a motorcycle in 2002, I bought it in Reno, Nevada and basically learned to ride as I headed over Donner Pass and made my way to the Pacific Coast Highway. This time, I have been blessed with a number of YouTube videos and the Basic Rider Course required by the state of Florida to get my endorsement, but I still have a lot to learn.

As I adjusted to the extra weight and susceptibility to wind my guitar and baggage provide on the first day of my journey, I dealt with the storms by puttering along at 50 mph in 65 mph zones, occasionally pulling to the side in order to let traffic pass. While I’ve gotten accustomed to the weight and adjusted my packing to be less like a sail, I’ve still been in no hurry, and have taken corners very slowly, usually taking 45 mph corners at 40 mph and not leaning too deeply into them.

Because Americans usually go at least ten miles over the recommended speed limit, I’ve been actively courteous about pulling over to let them pass when I’ve been able. After misjudging the amount of gravel at a recent pull off and taking my bike and myself to the ground, I am going to be less courteous in the future.

I was thoroughly enjoying my trip from Greer, South Carolina to Cullowhee, North Carolina, taking in the splendor of Appalachia and the wonderful winding roads. Shortly after crossing the eastern Continental Divide, I decided to be nice and pull to the side to let a car pass by me, since I do not like having cars behind me and do not like holding people up. Unfortunately, as I pulled to the side, the wheel slid into the gravel, and before I knew it, I was on the ground.

As gasoline leaked out of the gas tank, I struggled to get my leg out from under the 535 pound motorcycle and its extra 100 pounds of baggage to no avail. I muttered a few four letter words before expressing gratitude that the people I was trying to let pass had actually pulled over to help. They helped me get my leg free first, and then helped me get the bike back on two wheels.

Although my side hurt, my adrenaline was pumping, and I felt more embarrassment than…

Steve McAlphabet

I recently produced a documentary about my 73 day motorcycle tour to celebrate the legacy of Will Rogers and perform my show “Get The Bunk Out”.