This list will grow, for sure. If you think you know something other riders should know, send me an email and maybe I'll put it on the list. Items relating to sex, drugs, booze, and rock 'n roll won't make the cut. That's another list entirely.
Oh yeah, this is copyrighted too. Pilgrim, 1999.

Rules & Tips to Ride By
Mechanical Tips & Explanations
Loading your scooter
- how to pack it.
Rules to Live by
Miscellaneous Rules & Tips
Rules Men Want
Women to Know


  • Never eat at a place called "MOM'S".

  • Never play cards for money with a guy named "Slick".

  • Always keep an eye on the door.


    • GO TAKE A RIDER SAFETY COURSE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT!!! It will teach things about controlling your bike that will take you years to learn otherwise. If you can't control your bike you are bumper bait. If you are an old rider, it will give you a brush up on skills you may have forgotten

    • Kiss Your Mirrors! Too many riders crash their bikes going around curves and it's because they don't understand how to manage the physics of the process (see the next bullet.) Countersteering is a process pretty widely known, but there is also a more advanced but simple technique that all should eventually learn, called "kissing the mirrors." Learn this and you will become a better, safer rider, far less likely to dump your bike or go off the side of the road in a turn.

    • An accident is a moving violation of the laws of physics. Hell yes, it hurts!

    • Two things are universal: gravity, and stupidity. Both will kill you quick.

    • Keep the shiny side up.

    • If you can't keep the shiny side up, at least try to fall down under control and pick the softest spot you can get to.

    • Don't carry potato chips in your pocket. (Just wanted to see if you're paying attention, 'cause we're getting to the hard part.>

    • Never, ever, ever assume someone sees you! The eye sees but the brain often does not perceive, so act as though you are absolutely invisible, 'cause some people just aren't looking and others just don't care.
      Assume that if they could see you, they'd try to kill you. Then, anyway, use whatever tricks you can to make yourself visible. Ride with headlight on and don't be shy about flicking the high beam at someone as you approach an intersection. Animals (including humans) see motion best, before they even see color, shape or size. A rider coming straight at a car shows no apparent motion to the driver, so shift from one track in your lane to the other, or even shift lanes to show him some lateral motion.

    • Be aware of blind spots; they come in all shapes and sizes. If you can't see the other driver's eyes, he can't see you. Even if he is cycle-aware, he may only see a piece of you, and that may not register in his mind as a bike.

    • On a road that has multiple lanes, more than 2 going one way, never try to move into a hole in the center lane in the blind spot of a car in the far lane. Even if he checks his mirrors and glances over his shoulder he will likely not see you. He'll move into that hole just as you do, never even knowing you are there.

    • Always be ready to evade, because no matter who's at fault you're the one who'll break and bleed the worst.

    • If you don't look where you're going, you're gonna wind up where you're headed. (Also applies as a rule to live by.)

    • Always look where you want to be; the bike will follow.

    • Never go around a blind curve faster than you are willing fall down or run into something.

    • Ride like everybody really is out to get you. They may not be, but it's the way the smart money bets.

    • Any time you approach an intersection you've got more potential trouble on your hands than Custer at the Little Big Horn. You are approaching one of the statistically most dangerous places in the United States. Someday, when you least expect it, the guy in the oncoming lane who wants to turn left in front of you will. And if he doesn't, while you are watching him, the OTHER guy waiting to pull out from the right will. WATCH EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME!

    • Make sure you always have someplace picked out to go when the idiot does it.

    • Don't stay behind anybody longer than you have to, there's lots of bad stuff going on there.
         - It makes you blind - you can't see what's ahead worth a damn, not traffic, and not the road surface.
         - It hides you from oncoming traffic
         - Stuff falls off or out of vehicles
         - Stuff gets thrown up off the road
         - Tires blow and shed chunks of rubber in your face
         - People throw crap out the car window (including one time, no joke, a cup full of piss!)
         - Drivers lose control
         - Wake turbulence bats you around

      Get out and get around! There's about eight things that can happen to you while you're following someone. Only one of them is good, and that's if the Swedish Bikini Team decides to moon you out the back of a motor home. It ain't likely; don't stay back there. And staying behind big trucks is REALLY stupid.

    • When you start seeing little chunks of rubber in the road, big chunks aren't far ahead even if you can't see 'em yet.

    • If you are behind a semi and smell hot rubber, or hear a tire singing, look out! He's about to create BIG chunks of rubber. You haven't had a thrill until he throws a 5 foot chunk of his outside left rear dual up over your head. Or into your lap. I've had the first and been close to the second - it has a way of raising your consciousness about trucks.

    • Watch the road surface like a hawk - you live (or die) by your eyes. There are obstructions there, from runaway missiles (yeah, I saw it in the paper one day; a truck dumped a small load of Sidewinder missiles somewhere in Colorado) to dead skunks. All will complicate the shit out of your life if you hit 'em.

    • Don't ever run over anything you can avoid, even if you think you know what it is. And don't, for cryin' out loud, try to kick stuff like empty beer can or rags. Even an aluminum beer can hurts like a sonofabitch when you kick it at 60 mph, and that "empty" box or rag might have a small anvil or some other surprise in it.

    • Some day you're gonna hit a bump, a big one. It might be a hole in the road, or a construction lip, or a 4x4 that fell outta somebody's truck. Doesn't matter what it is, there's one major thing you want very much NOT to do, and it will be your immediate reaction to do exactly that. DO NOT SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES, especially not the front. There are a couple reasons for that.
      Click here to read more about handling bumps.

    • Cut your speed by 20 - 30% in the rain or on a wet road. You lose traction because water is a lubricant. Look at all the things you have to contend with: basic surface, asphalt, tar, rock chips, water oil loose gravel steel plates and grates stripes and markings wet leaves missing manhole covers mung shape crown camber. It's a wonder anybody wants to ride even when it's dry.

      You can go 100+ mph on a wet road in straight line with no problem. You will have a big problem if you have to stop or turn quickly at any normal highway speed. Traction loss on wet pavement is right now with very little warning. Puddles can make you hydroplane, and they show up frequently in heavy rain. You lose initial braking effectiveness due to wet disks and pads. You first think they aren't working and squeeze harder. Then the water will scrub off; the brakes will grab normally and will override the wheel's traction. Slow is better: slowly and gently are best. You lose vision, lots of it. Rain and mist in the air. Drops on windshields and glasses or goggles. Fog on inside of face shields (especially full-coverage helmets.) In a heavy rain on a crowded freeway you may not be able to see anything useful.

      Yeah, I know, you're not some newby just started riding, and you can ride fast and safe on a wet road when you can't hardly see because of the water and fog on the inside of your glasses or goggles, and even if the cages and trucks are throwing up such a slurry that Superman himself couldn't see through it with x-ray vision.. Sure you can, for while, but gravity works even in the rain, only quicker. Some day you'll have to perform an evasive maneuver and you'll wonder where the traction went as your wheels slide out from under you and the road rises up to smite you, and some car's bumper is the last thing you see as you go under it. Slow down, give yourself a little margin for mistakes, yours and other's.

    • "Own" your lane. When you ride alone keep to the left-hand track in your lane. If you keep to the right people behind you, and some oncoming, will try to use the left track...

    • Watch where your head is. In a hard left curve, if you are on the left edge of your "track", your head will be over the center stripe. Crowd the stripe hard and it will be in the other lane. You can lose it on some guy's mirror if he's crowding the centerline too.

    • On mountain roads going downhill, don't pass trucks on the outside of a curve, even on four-lane roads. They have both gravity and centrifugal force working against them, and if the driver has misjudged the curve, or if his load is shakey and slips loose, anything bad that happens is gonna happen on the outside of the curve. The driver may be muttering "Awww shit, I'm sorry guy" to himself as he looks at you in his mirror as he drifts helplessly into your lane, but all you'll be saying is "Awww shit!"

    • Stay out of sucker holes. A sucker hole is any place you ride where you are inviting disaster and have no options. For instance, approaching an intersection in the slot between two cars going your way (or behind a truck) while someone in the oncoming lane is waiting to turn left. Or riding the freeway while boxed in on all sides, or riding in the outside lane beside a semi going around a curve. You'll discover others; if you're lucky, you'll survive.

    • Think and ride like a biker, not a driver. You are far more vulnerable than in a car. Exploit your advantages, which are small size, acceleration, and speed, but don't take them for granted. And oh yeah, no matter what you may think, you probably can't stop much quicker than a modern car, or even maneuver better than many of them.

    • Take a risk?There's a difference between taking risks, and taking chances. A miscalculation in a car may dent a fender. It can break your back on a bike. Evaluate risks accordingly.

    • Don't piss people off gratuitously. You are a soft target, so think carefully before you flip somebody off or whatever.

    • The next time you're standing beside the road with your scoot broke down, or somebody elses', look around at the tire tracks running right through your space. Somebody drove through there once, and will again. GET OFF THE SHOULDER! Don't hang around. And if you're gonna hang around (and I know you will) get somebody to go flag traffic. It's terrifying how many drunks and idiots enter the national demolition derby and ditch driving contest on America's roads. People will run right over you while they're looking to see what you're doing.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • People make some terrible mistakes when they load up for a trip. Some of these mistakes can result in inconvenience, such as a wet bed that night, while others can have dire consequences, such as an unexpected high-speed crash. Click here to read a few tips on safe, sane loading.

  • Have you ever had your map get soaked when you hauled it to have a look and the weather gods have cursed you with a rainstorm you can't get out of? Or drenched it when you drove into a river on a dark night, and want a look at it to see where you went wrong? But it's useless 'cause it's all wet? Then before you take off on your ill-fated trip buy a can of Thompson's water seal and, using a wide sponge brush, coat both sides of the map with the TWS. Do one side and let it dry, then do the other. Let it dry thoroughly before folding again.

  • Do you live in an urban area and have to ride a lot at night, with everybody's headlights in your mirror? Next time time your principal other (or you; shoot, I don't know what your personal hangups are!) gets ready to throw away a pair of panty hose or nylons, cut the foot and a few inches of leg off and stuff 'em in your pocket or saddlebag. When it gets dark, pull 'em over the mirror. You'll still be able to see traffic behind you through the stocking, but it cuts the glare real nice.

  • If you ride where or when it's hot, I mean REAL HOT, like you were standing just outside hell's back door, this might help

    Carry along or buy a lightweight windbreaker, as close to windproof as you can get (one of the ten dollar nylon ones from K-Mart works ok), and a sweatshirt. When it gets too hot, soak the sweatshirt, I mean dripping wet, and put it on, with the windbreaker on top. The windbreaker will keep the breeze from drying the sweatshirt too quick. It'll stay wet, and you'll stay cool until the next gas stop, unless you've got a way bigger tank than me.

  • Don't get wet at all if you can help it, but especially not when it's below 75 or so. If your leathers get wet, you're gonna be cold for a long time after the sun comes out. The wind chill from the water evaporating out of your clothes (or leathers) will sneak up on you, and once you get chillled your judgment goes to hell. You will make all sorts of mistakes that wouldn't occur to you if your core temperature was normal. I did it in a Georgia rainshower in April once; the temp was about 65, but I rode 60 miles in soggy leather after the rain quit. When I finally pulled off for gas and stopped beside the pump I discovered that my legs didn't work, I couldn't lift 'em off the pegs to put 'em on the ground, and damned near fell over.

    Shivering is your warning that your body can't turn out enough heat sitting still; it's got to exercise to get warm. Shivering is your muscles working out to warm up. That's OK. Shivering may not be fun, but it's normal. You're still all right, but it's the start of a downhill process.

    It's a bad, bad sign if you stop shivering. You are not getting warmer; your system is shutting down. Get off the road RIGHT NOW and find some way to warm up, and a thorough warmup will take hours, not minutes. It may even call for a source of external heat, since your body is probably not producing enough to keep going. A few minutes in Denny's and a cup of coffee won't do the trick. Preferably, you should find a blonde to wrap around yourself by a fire, but if you can't do that, get into a shower or someplace else warm. You are in danger of dying: take it seriously.

  •   If you don't carry a rainsuit (and I usually don't during the summer, anyway) and it looks like you're gonna have to ride in the rain a while, you can get good service out of a cheapo plastic rainsuit.

    What kills 'em is flapping in the wind, so eliminate it. What you do is buy one the first chance you get (see next tip), and a small roll of duct tape. Run a piece of tape around the cuff of each arm and leg, and the bottom of the jacket. I don't mean tape 'em to you, just put the tape along the edge of the cuff and bottom so that it will reinforce 'em and keep 'em from flapping. Then cover the zipper from the bottom to close enough to the top that you can just slip it over your head. Put a rubber band around each wrist and a bungee cord around your waist and you're good to go. It'll last a couple days unless you burn a hole in it on your pipes or tear it on something. Toss it when you're done.

  • As for duct tape; buy a small roll and stand it up so that it would roll if you let it. Then stomp on it and flatten it out. Much easier to store that way.

  • Another tip for you rain riders: Do you know what a "lap shield" is? If not, email me and I'll tell you. (Yes, this is a transparent ploy to see if anyone reads this thing, but it's not a sales trick.)

  • For good 3-season riding gloves in wet weather, go to your local diver's store and buy a set of diver's gloves. Let it rain, let 'em get soaked. Your hands may get wet inside 'em, but they'll stay warm, and they grip good too.

  • When you pack, first cover your load for water, then for wind over that. Don't even mess with using trash bags as an outer cover; they'll flap themselves to death right away, and no matter how hard you wish, your bed will be wet that night if it rains that day. So, first get a good layer of waterproof stuff wrapped around anything that matters. I like rubber-coated nylon tarps. Then put the object inside a duffel bag, or wrap it with a cotton tarp. Personally, I like duffel bags because they don't wind up with loose corners and edges flapping in the wind.

  • If you ride in hot weather put a sheepskin on your scooter seat - use a full hide (see next tip for why) It's way more comfortable than bare vinyl, especially when you come out after lunch and it's been sitting in the sun.

  • When I ride long I like to camp out. Here's how I make my bed. First, I unzip my chaps and lay 'em out flat, one wing on top of the other where my hips will go. (Yes dummy! Take the change, Leatherman tool, knives, guns, bongs, dead dwarves and all other shit out of the pockets FIRST) That softens the sharp corners on sticks and pebbles I missed when I set up the tent. Then my self-inflating backpacker's mattress goes down. My sheepskin goes on top of that, covering the area from hips to shoulders. It all adds up to a damned comfortable bed.
  • Along the camping line, you need to look out for local wildlife, from mosquitoes to bears. The state of Montana offers some useful information to outdoors people about bears.