When you’re a motorcycle pillion passenger, EVERYONE has advice…
Don’t lean too much in corners.
Don’t wear a miniskirt on the bike.
Don’t cling onto the rider screaming like a demented monkey.
All valid suggestions, for sure.
But let’s try a new source of advice.
What about getting some pillion passenger tips from cats?
Because cats know everything, right?
A pillion passenger can learn a lot from cats, and their attitude. From the importance of grooming, to keeping your gear clean, howling when you need something, getting in a good 22 hours of sleep, and never leaving the house on an empty stomach – there’s a lot of good advice here.
Now, our cats definitely know everything.
We have a little tribe of three cats.
We think of them as biker cats because they’ve totally embraced our motorcycle lifestyle.
Our bright orange Head of Security, Hector, sleeps faithfully by the motorcycle in the living room.
We’re pretty sure no bike thieves are getting past him (if he wakes up in time to scare them off).
All the cats are used to motorcycles roaring in and out of the driveway on a daily basis.
Pat’s favorite, Snorty, trots out to the garage to meet him when he comes home from work on his motorcycle, all excited, just like a puppy.
You just have to admire the cats’ laid-back, can-do attitude to our motorcycles.
And to life in general.
I wonder if their behaviour can be applied to riding on the back of a motorcycle?
Well, let’s see…
10 Lessons From Cats For Motorcycle Pillion Passengers
1. Take some pride in your appearance
As we know, there are challenges when it comes to looking good on a motorcycle.
Especially for women.
Many of us care about this a LOT more than male bikers.
It’s hard to look feminine when:
- You’re wearing 35 layers of motorcycle safety gear
- Your hair’s gone all flat under your motorcycle helmet
- Your mascara’s running down your cheeks, and (yay)
- You don’t realize that you have a squished bug on your cheek.
Like some of us ladies, cats feel very strongly that appearance matters.
You need to know how to fix any glitches, and get back to being your gorgeous self.
Don’t worry, I have some quick tips on all these issues.
Try this practical advice:
- How to Look Good on a Motorcycle
- How to Fix Motorcycle Helmet Hair
- Motorcycle Helmet Makeup
- Skin Care for Motorcycle Riders
2. Stretching feels good
Before you spring up and onto the motorcycle, take a minute to do some gentle stretching.
Our cats are always stretching luxuriously, their eyes closed in bliss as they arch their backs.
Usually right in the doorway while you’re trying to get past.
And of course, they’re preparing to sink into an 8 hour coma on the couch, rather than head out on a 2 hour motorcycle ride.
But the principle is still valid.
If you’re a little more loose and limber, you’ll have less cramping and stiffness on the motorcycle and afterwards.
3. Washing is a sacred ritual
Our biker cats are obsessed with being clean.
Their white bits are blindingly white.
Their splotches of color are bright and vivid.
They always wash furiously after taking a nap in a pile of rags in the garage.
There are some pretty weird smells out there, that’s for sure.
But they don’t need a reason for a spontaneous washing frenzy.
They’re just very fussy about their personal hygiene.
Now, this mania for washing offers another useful lesson for pillion passengers.
I’m not suggesting you have to launch a full motorcycle wash in the driveway after every ride.
But it’s a good idea to:
- Always wipe your motorcycle helmet before you put it away
- Clean the bugs off your leather jacket before hanging it up, and
- Shake the mud off your motorcycle boots before you put them in the rack.
It makes for a much more pleasant experience the next time you reach for all your gear and it’s not dirty, wet, or smelling like a men’s locker room.
4. Never leave the house on an empty stomach
I have to laugh when I see our ginger biker cat Hector heading out on one of his security patrols.
Sure, he has urgent business to attend to in the garage.
There’s a lot to supervise out there.
And a lot of napping chores waiting for him.
But he would never DREAM of starting his busy working day without a snack.
It’s a good rule to live by.
I hate heading out on a motorcycle trip on an empty stomach.
What if we break down in the middle of nowhere, and I have to gnaw on a passing motorist’s arm?
And – even more likely here in New Zealand – what if we bump into someone we know out on the road and get to chatting … even though it’s clearly lunchtime?
So I always have a quick bite before Pat starts up the motorcycle.
He smiles, and waits.
He knows the consequences of taking me out hungry, and he doesn’t want to have to go through that if he doesn’t have to.
5. Howl if you need something
All of our biker cats are particularly vocal.
They meow, yip, purr louder than the bikes, and howl when necessary.
If they want something, you’ll know about it.
I know exactly where they’re coming from.
I’m not really the sit-quietly-and-say-nothing type either.
So if we’re out on the motorcycle and I need a bathroom break, I’ll meow until I get it.
If I want to stop and take a photo of some amazing scenery, again, I’ll howl gently until it happens.
Sure, sometimes that’s not convenient.
But, as our biker cats have shown me, that’s hardly my problem, is it?
6. Take regular breaks
For our biker cats, taking a break means waking up from a day-long snooze, and wandering out in the sunshine to see which birds might be hanging out in the garden.
On a motorcycle ride, it means stopping regularly when you need a rest or a stretch.
Same idea – different context.
But definitely good advice.
A motorcycle ride shouldn’t be an endless, painful endurance test.
You’re supposed to enjoy it.
It’s OK to take a break.
Stop, and drink some water.
Even better, bring a picnic and break out the sandwiches in the sunshine.
7. You can’t go on adventures if you’re tired
How many times have I seen our biker cats make sleep their number one priority?
They’re deeply committed to staying rested.
I can relate to that.
How about you?
After a week of dealing with the workplace and the various demands of everyday life, by the weekend you need to recharge and recover. Especially if a motorcycle ride features in your weekend plans.
So before a long motorcycle ride (or even a short one) I make sure I get a good night’s sleep.
Of course, unlike the biker cats, I don’t need 22 hours.
But I’ve tried riding on the back of a motorcycle when I’m already tired, and it’s way less fun.
And so am I.
I’m cranky and impatient, and it’s kind of rude to yawn openly when you’re in the middle of a motorcycle adventure.
So make sure you get a proper sleep before you do any motorcycle riding.
8. Comfort matters
Our biker cats may be rough and tough enough to hang out all day in the garage, and clamber bravely over the motorcycle in our living room.
Oh yeah, they talk a pretty big game.
But I notice when it comes to comfort, they never compromise.
If Hector suddenly needs a nap when he’s apparently on high alert in the garage, he’ll do it on the biggest, softest pile of rags he can find.
And if he’s been out on night patrol, checking the perimeter for any security breaches, he’ll soon burst back in through the cat door to stretch full length in front of our roaring fire to get warm again.
What a great example to follow.
You won’t catch me getting on a motorcycle without the full safety gear – AND a few comfort-enhancing details.
- A sheepskin on the pillion passenger seat
- My softest wool scarf tucked into the front of my leather jacket
- Thermal underwear that DOESN’T scratch, and
- Ear plugs that stop the wind roaring in my ears like all the demons of Hell.
Comfort is important, remember.
If it’s good enough for the cats, it’s good enough for you.
9. If you don’t wanna do something, don’t.
If you’re not in the mood for riding on the back of a motorcycle, then don’t.
You don’t have to be rude about it.
Just be clear.
If you’re just not feeling the biker chick vibe, or have something else you need to do, simply say, “Honey, I can’t do it today, but I’d love to next time”.
Because think about it.
Have you ever seen a cat do something she doesn’t want to do?
Our cats will NEVER:
- Come in through the back door while you hold it open in the middle of a snowstorm
- Get into the cat cage when it’s time to visit the vet, or even
- Go outside to vomit rather than doing it on the living room floor.
It’s just not gonna happen.
Cats do what they want to do.
There’s no reason motorcycle passengers can’t follow that lead (maybe don’t vomit in the living room, though).
10. Show some love
Our biker cats are not ONLY about making outrageous demands.
They’re also great company, and super affectionate.
That’s another great idea motorcycle pillion passengers can run with.
There’s no advantage to being a spoiled brat who wants everything her own way, or else.
If I’m not good company, what’s the point of inviting me out on the motorcycle?
So, yes, I make an effort.
I try to be nice.
I say thank you for an amazing ride.
I snuggle my man as we gallop along on our beautiful metal beast.
By the end of a ride, everyone should be purring, right?
So what can pillion passengers learn from cats?
Well, basically, it comes down to three things:
- Be aware of what you need for a safe, comfortable ride
- Take steps to make sure those needs can be met, and
- Be charming about it whenever you can.
Yep, once again cats have shown us the way.
And now you have some fresh insight into the art of being a motorcycle pillion passenger.
Meow meow (you’re welcome).
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