Jason Gilow, our Sales Account Executive has been in the insurance industry for over seven years. He enjoys interacting with clients and helping them understand their coverage needs while guiding them through the process. He is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and lights up when ever the topic arises. I had the pleasure of chatting with Jason about his experiences and passion of motorcycling riding.
What made you decide to get a motorcycle?
I feel like I was on the fringe of the motorcycle world for years but never took the leap. My first exposure to bikes came courtesy of my best friend’s dad. Brett and I go back to the first grade, and I always remember his dad riding and working on bikes. In fact, my first ride ever was on the back of his Harley. I was in elementary school, but I clearly remember that the ride lasted a mere few blocks and was at slow speeds. I was TERRIFIED. As I got older and thought back on that experience and said to myself “I’ll be back.” Keep in mind, I didn’t say it with a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger accent . . .
Fast forward to 2003. I was living in Milwaukee and was present for an all-time celebration of all things Harley. It was Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary, and I attended many of the events around the city. I met riders and saw bikes from all over the country and the world. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life to date, even though I didn’t ride at the time. In spite of not having my license, it solidified my desire to get a bike and join in such a celebration. This time, I said it to myself and anyone that would listen: “I’ll be back.”
Four years later, I moved to Massachusetts and was hired to be a part of the sales department at a Harley shop. It was my desire that made me take this job selling bikes, in spite of being woefully underqualified to do it. That desire was to leave the fringe of the motorcycle world and break through to be a part of the community. I had little product knowledge (I couldn’t have told you the difference between a Sportster and a Softail). I had little experience (that ride from my best friend’s dad was the only one I had ever been on). I had no chance . . . at least, you would think. To make a long story as short as possible, my coworkers helped me get up to speed pretty quickly. There was one other benefit that came from that time in my life: I needed to get my class M license to stay employed. In retrospect, learning to ride and getting a bike turned out to be one of the best things I ever did for myself.
Oh, remember how I said “I’ll be back” in 2003? That wasn’t just a line from a movie, it was a goal. I vowed to return to a future Harley anniversary celebration on a Hog of my own. In 2013, I fulfilled that desire, as I proudly rode to Milwaukee for Harley’s 110th anniversary celebration. It was a long, tough ride from Massachusetts to Milwaukee on my 2004 V-Rod, but it was worth it!
What do you think is the most important insurance coverage for a bike and why?
There are two that spring to mind. Obviously collision and comprehensive are incredibly important. After all, if your bike gets stolen or vandalized, comprehensive can be a life saver. Same for collision in the instance that your wheels are in motion and something unexpected happens. But those seem like obvious answers, so I’ll give you two others. Progressive offers accessory coverage. So if you have saddlebags that aren’t stock to the bike, you can get them replaced if there is a claim. A less common coverage is named value coverage. Let’s say you do a few performance improvements, add lots of chrome, and get a truly custom paint job that turns your stock bagger into a rolling museum piece. If something happens on the road and your beautiful bagger is totaled out, would you want the claim to be settled by giving you the “rolling museum piece” value of the bike or the value of the stock bike? We all know the answer to that question. How do get these additional coverages? Give me a call!
Are you a pack man or a lone wolf?
It’s a bit of an ironic answer. There is a group that I regularly ride with. They’re a group of experienced and skilled riders and I genuinely enjoy the experience of riding with them. Group riding is great, whether you’re with 6 or 7 friends or an organized ride with 250 bikes. That probably makes you think that I’m a pack man, but most of my rides are solo rides. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to worry about anyone else other than myself. It’s freeing and it allows me to just go where my bike takes me. So I’d probably say lone wolf.
What would you tell a beginner motorcycle rider?
Be patient with yourself and seek out experienced riders. When starting to ride, it’s normal to want to keep up with others and do what they do. As a new rider, there will be moments where it will be impossible to ride in the same way as others in a pack. Trying to do too much might even be dangerous. Stay within your limits and be safe. What if you don’t know your limits? Talk to an experienced rider and ask lots of questions. You’ll be amazed at how much an experienced rider will want to share with you. Many of us will want to help foster your enjoyment of riding. Then when you become an experienced rider, pay it forward to those with less experience.
Oh, and don’t shell out for a super expensive bike for your first motorcycle. Nobody wants to think about dropping their bike while at slow speeds or while parking, but it very well could happen. If you lose a peg because you dropped your brand-new bike, it’s heartbreaking. But if you have a smaller 20-year-old bike that has a couple of scratches on it, what’s one more scratch?
Do you ever get bugs in your face when riding?
A little less than I did when I was on my V-Rod because now I have a Softail with a windshield, but yes! I never thought I’d be so grateful for a big hunk of plastic in front of my face, but that makes such a difference, especially when riding all day. Believe it or not, it can be worse than plain old flies or mosquitos. Before I had a windshield, I always rode wearing a full-face helmet. One day I was riding around town with the visor open and a bee hit me somewhere in the face. As if that’s not bad enough, it fell into the lower part of my helmet and couldn’t get out! The good news is that I was able to pull over, remove my helmet and free the bee without getting stung.
What’s your favorite part of riding your bike?
There’s so much that I could say. Feeling the wind cooling you off on a hot day. Enjoying the social aspects of the ride. Twisting the throttle and feeling the bike respond. Those are just the first few things I could mention. But if I had to pick only one, it would be simply getting the opportunity to ride. Living in New England, we have only so many months out of the year where we can ride. Although I envy people that can ride year-round, having a limited riding season makes you appreciate just getting to ride. I would also consider myself to be a little late to the party when I first got on two wheels, too. That’s why it’s a pleasure to just be able to throw a leg and get out there, even if it’s just for a few miles. In life, there’s a finite number of rides that you’ll be able to enjoy. Be thankful for every one of them and make the most of every time you are able to get out with your two (or three) wheeled machine.
As always, keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up!