By Scot Harden
I launched the Plus 1 Rider initiative a little over two years ago to remind everyone that the most effective advocates for bringing new riders into our sport are existing riders. No better resource than the millions of current riders to help us reach out and inspire the next generation of motorcycle enthusiasts to give the sport a try. It’s a simple premise but one that works especially when actively promoted. And at its foundation its important to note that the Plus 1 Rider premise starts with your own family. No need to look any further than your current sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, nieces, nephews and assorted family members to secure the next round of future motorcycle prospects. Why pass up a great opportunity to bring your own family along for the ride? It may sound silly but many riders overlook the low hanging fruit sometimes living under their own roof to bring that next new rider into the fold.
I never overlooked this fact and am proud to say both my sons, Brent and Brock, are not only avid motorcycle riders but both work inside the motorcycle industry. Both have raced professionally in off-road and motocross but now ride for recreation purposes only, occasionally even with the old man. More recently, I have had an opportunity to expose my nephews and nieces to the sport during visits to my house by teaching them how to ride my wife’s Yamaha TTR 125. To see the enthusiasm and joy they get from learning how to ride, to operate the throttle and clutch, to shift, feel the acceleration, sense of freedom and control is a beautiful thing to witness. To top it off, another great gift has been watching my three-year-old grandson come along on his journey as a new rider, watch him take his first tentative steps into a two wheeled motorized world and to share some of the truly great experiences it all provides. Jensen has been riding since he was two years old starting out on his new STACYC. Coincidentally it helps that his Uncle Brock was one of STACYC’s original employees and developed their youth demo ride program and that his dad was Answer’s Brand Manager for the last five years. Not only did he have one of the coolest new kids motorcycles to come along in quite a while he also had all the protective gear he could ever need.
Watching Jensen develop as a rider has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. His unbridled joy and excitement for the act of riding with his dad and his papa taps into a part of my soul that few other things can reach. Over the recent Memorial Day Weekend we took him riding and camping in the Mojave Preserve. We built a small course around our motorhome for his STACYC and he spent the better part of two days pounding laps, doing donuts and burnouts and if you don’t believe me just ask him. He’ll tell you so. In fact, he has developed quite a vocabulary all based around riding his motorcycle (notice I didn’t say mini-bike; he won’t let you call it that). In between I took him exploring on my KTM 790 ADV R on adventure rides to old mine and homestead sites sprinkled through the Ivanpah range. We searched for gold with metal detectors, explored old mining cabins and vehicles, took hikes in the surrounding desert. His eagerness and curiosity about the places and things we saw was contagious. Everything from questions about the old mines, the animals we saw, lizards, squirrels, snakes, the unbelievably vibrant night sky loaded with more stars than you could count. All this was possible because of our shared love of motorcycling. Even at just three years old you can see the positive impact it is having on his development.
Yes, the Plus 1 Rider Initiative is about encouraging existing riders to become better advocates for our sport and way of life but never forget that charity begins at home. Start there. The rewards are, well, countless.