HOWARD (NBC 26) — Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, motorcycles have been in high demand.
"Life is too short," said Dixie Kinnard, owner of Vandervest Harley-Davidson. "People who've had a dream or goal, they're just doing it. There's never been a better time."
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and before new riders hop on a bike, it's a good idea to take a course, she said.
"We have a lot of people that even have their license, or just have been riding for a long time unlicensed, and if they do come and take our course, they often say that they learn that they have bad habits, and that they learn the correct way to ride the motorcycle," said Kinnard.
In the state of Wisconsin, it’s not a law to wear a helmet while you’re riding, but a lot of instructors suggest that you do wear one. Most helmets last about three to five years, or have to be replaced after a collision, which could even include just dropping it on the ground. For veteran riders, Cy Martz, service consultant at Vandervest Harley-Davidson, recommends bringing bikes in to an expert for a full-service every spring.
"They know," he said. "And you don't want to be taking your chance when you only have two wheels."
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month isn't just meant for riders; it's also about reminding those operating vehicles with four wheels or more.
"During the winter, you're not used to seeing the motorcycles out," said Kinnard. "And we are smaller, so people aren't used to seeing us. You have to check your blind spots. Be aware that we're out there and be watching and listening for us."
Martz always gives riders the same advice: ride like you're invisible. And with safety in mind, riders can enjoy the open road.
"I've been doing this for 40 years," he said. "I've got almost 400,000 miles on motorcycles, and I love it just for the freedom and getting rid of the stress. I work all week, and then when I have my days off, I just go out in the country and relax and just listen to the motorcycle and enjoy the scenery."
"There's nothing like it," said Kinnard. "You lose all your stresses, you're just free spirited, one with the bike. Out on the road, a lot of times people have no destination; they're just enjoying being out with nature. It's awesome."
You can sign up for the New Rider Course here.