The question tends to be ‘professionally’ oriented when it is being asked. How long until you can consider yourself an experienced…whatever it is you are? Bar tender? Manager, Leader, Teacher… The trigger for my comment today was raised by Katherine, in one of the motorcycle enthusiast groups I participate in.
How many years do you have to ride before you can legitimately consider yourself an experienced rider? The responses to Katherine’s question showed it is a very relative, subjective answer.
Mulling it over, I think you might consider yourself experienced, when you find yourself automatically responding in crisis situations without conscious thought. For instance, last week I had come to stop behind another car at a traffic light. A few moments later, I heard this squealing of tires approaching—directly—behind me.
I didn’t think. I found myself having brought the engine RPM up to about 3K RPM, slid the clutch out, having moved about 8′ toward the space between vehicles in front of me, looking in my mirror, ready to bolt. For a moment, I found myself sitting there, legs on the pegs, engine running fast…ready to bolt…but not moving any further. Ready. I saw the van behind me stop (I’d given him that extra ‘bit’ of room he needed). Crisis averted.
When you find yourself taking action, even in non-crises situations, as though it were a natural activity, just like walking, you are probably experienced.
When you can ride as subconsciously as you might walk, you’ve probably arrived. That’s not to say you’ve become ‘master of all.’
Your overall proficiency is driven from experience: a nice balance of diversity; time in seat; as well as frequency. I include frequency for a specific reason. You may have 300,000 miles or kilometers behind you, but if you’ve not ridden in 6 months, you may not be as well prepared for a crisis as the 20,000 mile rider who has ridden weekly for the past two months.
Experience, like respect, is something you never stop needing to develop.
It is easy at times to become complacent, and forget that. Whether you’re riding a motorcycle, managing or leading at work, or operate machinery of some type: Experience, respect, perhaps your very ability to survive, is based on diversity, practice (time in the seat), and frequency of the activity.
Season’s here: Have fun. Ride safe!