Well WADR to the others that have posted I wouldn't let the opinions or pictures sway you away from riding nor to it. It really has to be something that's within you. You're friend is right in saying that you need to be assertive. You also need to be extremely observant. But more than anything you have to be willing to accept that fact that your hobby could have fatal consequences.
I ride 7 days a week rain or shine. On average I will ride just over 14,000 miles a year on my bike. I ride with the local BMW club, HOG chapter, Goldwing riders, crotch rockets, church folks, ex cons, doctors and a few Outlaws
I rode just over 100 straight days last year until I missed a day. Oddly enough the day I missed was to attend a funeral of a buddy who died on his bike.
I've lived in Florida just over 3 years and I've attended 7 funerals of people I've known personally who have died on their bikes. Some through their own fault and others not. None of that has swayed me away from riding and it never would. Ever.
I ride every day, everywhere. I ride to sales appointments in a shirt and tie, to church 2-4 times a week and to places like Daytona for Bike Week. I very seldom if ever wear a helmet and every day I ride I accept my fate. I'm completely comfortable with dying on my bike and to be honest I would prefer it. Not in a reckless, suicidal way but when I go I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing then riding my motorcycle.
For me riding is spiritual. I never feel closer to Christ than when I'm on my bike. It's my time. Just me and Him. Sometimes I put Praise and Worship on my MP3 player and other times I just enjoy my V&H Longshots. When I ride my stress leaves me. Every time.
Riding is no joke though. Nobody sees you on the road. I see people texting, playing with the radio, doing their nails, reading a book, you name it I've seen it. I've locked eyes with drivers and watched them pull right out in front of me. I would say I avoid a crash at least 4-5 times a week. Take note.. I said I avoid.
If you don't pay attention you'll go down. I guarantee it. And the sad truth is no matter what you do, no matter how careful you are, sooner or later you'll go down on your bike.
If you can accept that then I say go take a safety course, get a bike and ride it like ya stole it!!
For me, there is simply nothing else like it. The juice IS worth the squeeze.