Riding is tough - it's just breathe, breathe, breathe!

Tips and advice to all riders from our H.O.G. Training Officers.

Your brand new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle is parked nose pointed to the door, ready  to ride from the dealer floor. The congratulation bells clanging loudly and all eyes are focused on you - the proud, nervous new owner.

What is the first thing riders tend to do when they aim for the exit? Hold their breath and pray they don't drop their new chrome in front of all the smiling faces.

It is really difficult to keep breathing evenly during stressful riding situations. Even experienced riders find themselves in situations where they tense up and breathe shallowly - it's a natural response to threat and anxiety or even anticipation. 

By holding your breath you reduce your oxygen intake due to increased tension in your muscles that could even cause you to lose consciousness.  Other symptoms of a panic attack include fast breathing, hyper-focus, hyper-alertness and a rapid or fluttering heart rate.  

Tips to reduce anxiety

  • Eat something small prior to your ride, stay well hydrated and wear comfortable non-restrictive riding gear. 
  • Breathe and relax - don’t ride faster than your comfort zone. Own the road - you have as much right to be there as cars and trucks.
  • Loosen your grip on the handlebars, relax and lower your shoulders.
  • Keep your mind on your motorcycle, the road, other motorists and your surroundings.  Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.
  • If you feel dizzy, briefly tense and release your upper leg muscles to increase blood flow. Pull over somewhere safe and walk around.
  • Find your riding pace and don’t get pushed by impatient motorists to ride on the rough shoulder of the road.

Leave daily stresses behind and if you find yourself in a situation where you are anxious, remind yourself to take steady breaths to keep your head clear and your body ready to respond appropriately. 

If you are a new rider and still uncertain about your riding skills, be aware that being comfortable with your motorcycle comes after spending a lot of time in the saddle.  Join in weekly breakfast rides experiencing new venues, on rides that are well planned and marshalled with trained Safety Officers and Biker Buddies.

Take advantage of new member training sessions. We recommend Safe Rider Skills Training to boost your confidence in your ability to handle your bike and improve your instinctive reactions in unexpected situations.