Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Motorcyclists: An Exercise in Patience

Patience is the ability to idle your motor
when you feel like stripping your gears.
-Barbara Johnson

Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.
- Ambrose Bierce

As a motorcycle rider we can choose to be patient, or not, with many aspects of riding.  Should I head through that intersection on the very amber yellow?  Or not?  Should I speed up to pass this slow cager in front of me at the next available pass opportunity?  Or not?  Should I hang in this guys blind spot?  Or should I speed up?  Slow down?  Should I get on the throttle a little in these twisties that I know really well, but haven't ridden yet today?  Or not?

Answering any of those questions will result in either less waiting, quicker gratification, an adrenaline rush, delayed arrival time, relaxed sightseeing, depending on how "patient" you want to be.

However...there is ONE thing we motorcyclists have no choice over and we are forced to be patient...


What can we do if our foot itches?  Nothing.  Yeah, we can try moving our boot on the peg and see if we can satisfy the itch.  Similar to amputees scratching the phantom limb/itch.  Sometimes the psychosomatic scratch will work with that.

What can we do if our arm itches while we are properly attired?  (Meaning armored jacket and gloves.)  "Scratching" might actually work but can be unsatisfactory with gloves blunting and expanding our finger "footprints".  It might work, but nowhere near as satisfying as fingernails would be.

Same thing goes with torso or legs...if the spot can be reached.

But what about those of us wearing helmets?  (I am hoping that we all know the benefits of helmets and are wearing them.)  

Facial itches are annoying, but are usually OK.  Sure it's difficult stuffing sausage sized fingers through face shield space to scratch the tip of your nose.  But it does get the job done.  It's that itch on the top of your head that is not going to be satisfied!  Wearing a full face helmet I'm able to gab the chin bar and wiggle the helmet around in a limited fashion.  Unfortunately it rarely does any good.

It seems that our options are to "patiently" ignore the itch or patiently ignore the itch while safely finding a place to stop the bike, patiently remove gloves, patiently unthread the strap through the impossible D-hooks, patiently remove the helmet (and any scull caps or hair holders), then impatiently scratch the damn offending itch that has just disrupted your concentration!


  1. Hahaha - love it! Along the same lines,what about underwear which appears to have instantly ridden up and is causing extreme distraction at a time when it's not really feasible to stop and sort it out!

    If you can tell me how to sort out a running nose in cold weather, short of stopping or transferring the contents to your glove, I will be in your debt forever!

    The things we motorcyclists have to bear......

  2. I like the definitions at the beginning of your post. I think that "itches" may be a warm weather thing as once things cool off, it never seems to be an "issue".

    Interesting questions as well. I, for one, would be interested in the answers...

  3. This is why I mostly carry a pillion - Mrs N performs a great back scratch etc etc if required...

    I had a wasp in my helmet once whilst riding through Penge.

    loving the crocs(tm), N

  4. I love the Bierce quote!

    I'm not normally bothered by itches that often, but having read this post before leaving for my morning commute I suspect I will be today. Oh well.

    Good post. Thanks for the share.

  5. Ahhh head itches. I hate those. It never itches until I put my helmet on and I'm already out on the road. I think it is a Murphy's law thing.

    I had this happened on our ride last weekend and did the helmet wiggle. Tried lifting the visor and use my gloves, went back to the helmet wiggle. Argh.

  6. Simple but excellent post that a lot of us can relate to. I don’t get itches apart from on my head and the feeling you get when removing your helmet after a long ride and then to be able to go crazy scratching your head is.... just bliss.

  7. I read this, and then had an over powering to itch!!

    very net post Lori.

  8. Steel CupCake:

    It's not the itch so much as "adjustments", but not being a male you may not know what I am referring to.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  9. For an itch on your scalp just grab the helmet chinbar and move it vigorously! You're right, the things we put up with.

    This is a late comment on your last post. I commented here because I would be only one of 8 instead of 1 in 23 had I commented on the actual post.

    What was I saying? Oh, yeah, what a wonderfully written post.

  10. Like all other things motorcycles, it pays to plan ahead... Some will use talcum powder, others use Gold Bond cream, while others go for Prep-H (ouch!). My personal weapon to deal with highway itches? OTC allergy meds. They help prevent errant itches and are great for itchy eyes (another common motorcyclist ailment).

    My 2 cents worth ;-)


  11. Hi Geoff: TMI!! LOL. However...I would probably recommend not wearing tighty whities. You might want to try something along the lines of Boxer Shorts. Oilburner prefers something like these and they even have fewer seams for chafing.

    The nose in winter?? Absolutely no ideas. Unless we need to develop some type of "catch bowl". Ewww!!!


  12. Hi Richard: I always enjoy searching out quotes. Some wild ones out there. :) Glad that you enjoyed these.

    I hadn't recognized that I might have fewer itches in winter. You might be on to something there! LOL

  13. Hi Nikos: Lucky you getting a back scratch while riding. What does Mrs. N get in return? ;)

    How did the wasp incident turn out? Riding with someone a couple weeks ago that had a wasp inside her shield of a 3/4 helmet. She almost rear-ended Oilburner's bike when she stopped paying attention to the road. Hope your incident didn't result in anything bad.

    And happy to hear that crocs(tm) are alive and well in the UK. hehe

  14. Hi Circle Blue: I hate to admit that high summer and my head itches...mostly because of the long hair and perspiration. :(

    How did you ride go that day? Any pyschosomatic issues? ;)

  15. Hi Trobairitz: Exactly right!! It never itches until the helmet is on and tightened. And most of the times the gloves are on too, just getting on the road.

    Most of the time I just try to ignore it. Are you successful at that, or do you have the patience to stop?

  16. Hi Gary: You are so right! On these hot and humid days, when the helmet comes off and my head actually drops a degree or two. Just fluffing the hair scratching. AAahhhhh...


  17. Hi Raftnn: And did you scratch?? ;)


  18. Hi Bobskoot: are correct...I don't have to deal with uunnh hmm..."adjustments". Girls have their own difficulties, as do you guys. LOL.

    Glad you are terribly burdened by itches. ;)

  19. Hi Irondad: Sometimes that helmet wiggle works, and sometimes it doesn't. People just don't understand what we put up with, do they? LOL!!

    Thank You for the comment on my previous post. :) I'd bet you would get to see some interesting incidents.

  20. Hi Lucky: Oh bring up an entirely new genre of issues that I haven't thought of yet!

    Thanks for the tip on the allergy med. Would be a very worth-while item to add to the first aid kit. I hadn't thought of that.

    Thank you for adding your .02. Additions are always appreciated! :)

  21. Dear Steel Cupcake:

    I only seem to get an "itch" every seven years... And I always do scratch it.

    One sign of an intuitive writer is to take the commonplace and call it to the attention of the masses as if it was a new discovery. Nicely done.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

    PS: Now you have my pals inviting you to our breakfast runs.

  22. This is a problem. I have a harder time picking what's stuck in my nose out. I try not to do it, but I'm weak - especially in dusty desert ares. It's like someone planted carrots up there.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  23. It is because riding requires so much patience on my part that I find it one of my most favorite stress busting activity. Nice post.

  24. Ha ha, Did the itch thing this morning. Should have been simple really, it was only to the side of my chin...right where the chin bar goes. Tried coming in from beneath, tried over the top...nothing. Helmet wiggle didn't help. Had to ignore it.

    The other annoyment in my life...I cut my hair uber-short this summer, yet I have this one stray long hair stuck inside my helmet that insists on tickling my face. Dang it! If I'm going to sport uber-short hair I shouldn't have to put up with tickly wisps. (Yeah I've tried to find the errant wisp...nothing doin'.

    Oh, and I really hate the itch that feels suspiciously like a bug! or worse, is a bug!