When it comes to winter preparation, we have to prepare both our motorcycles and our minds for the cold months ahead.
If you live north of the 37th parallel, you’ll soon be getting your bike put away for winter. Hopefully, you’re schooled on that, as we have already covered it. Every conscientious biker takes a few sensible steps to prevent corrosion and make sure their ride is hearty and ready to roll in the spring. Biker 101, right?
When I took the AMA Safe Rider course, the instructor told us, “The most important piece of equipment is between your ears.” Let me tell you, that brain equipment needs maintenance and will corrode quickly if left unattended.
Just like your bike, your brain is a complex set of different systems that work together to move you forward.
Unlike your bike, your brain was not designed by a team of brilliant engineers, but by the haphazard process of natural selection. That’s why one part of your brain will say, “I can take that guy at the other end of the bar,” while another part says, “Just a couple more glasses of whiskey first.” Not optimal.
So if you’re going to put your biker brain on the shelf for the winter, take some preventive maintenance measures. There are many systems within your skull housing assembly, but for our purposes, we’re going to focus on just two: the prefrontal cortex and the medulla. The prefrontal cortex is the most advanced, most recently evolved part of the human brain. It’s right above your eyes. It’s the part they scrambled in R. P. McMurphy. It’s responsible for “executive functions,” so you know it’s fancy. It’s what neuroscientists call “Mr. Thinky.” The medulla is the opposite. It is the most lizard-like part of the lizard mind. It is ancient and is responsible for the most basic functions of breathing, heartbeat, and watching network TV.
Since you need both the calculating forebrain and the gut-reacting hindbrain to ride, here are some winter maintenance tips for both.
The prefrontal cortex needs challenges in spatial, mechanical, and logical reasoning. Your old bike breaking down is keeping your brain in shape; it’s a constant challenge. In the winter, I believe that you need to break stuff in order to put it back together to keep your biker brain moving in the right direction. Take apart your refrigerator. Rebuild your stairs for no good reason. Look around you. There’s bound to be something that needs breaking.
The medulla seeks a thrill. It needs a jolt to juice out some dopamine. If you can’t go snowmobiling or (like me) death-hiking on a partially frozen Lake Erie, then get it vicariously. You need awesome bike images to stimulate your brain. Get the BikeEXIF calendar, or the Isle of Man calendar, or something similar. Something to keep the ape alive. This winter preparation is a medical expense folks.
What do you do to keep your moto brain sharp in the depths of winter? Let us know in the comments.
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Carter A. Edman teaches “Motorcycles and American Culture” at Case Western Reserve University and has taught a variety of courses on creative culture. He rides a modified 2008 Triumph Bonneville and is restoring a 1970 BSA. As the founder of Moto Sapiens he explores the constant evolution of motorcycle culture that is unapologetic, unpredictable and sometimes strange.
Follow Carter on Twitter: @Moto_Sapiens