Motorcycling is a dance. Unlike driving a car which is much more passive, riding a motorcycle is an active, engaged experience. You learn the nuances of your bike. You use your entire body to move with her and embrace the landscape you’re riding through. You are part of it… the scenery, the smells, the weather. It’s immersive and rich.
There’s also a beauty to the minimalism and challenges of motorcycling. For me it’s a natural extension of my personality, not only in my travels, but being a former equestrian and cyclist. Apparently I like riding things, what can I say?
With horseback riding, the logistics became too cumbersome to continue as I headed off to college. I lost my nerve for bicycling after too many close calls and too much vitriol from auto drivers. The subtext of these examples, though, is I didn’t love those pursuits enough to be worth the effort of overcoming the obstacles. The truth is that all of our activities have obstacles but our passion fuels us to overcome them. If you aren’t passionate about it, it will fade away.
That’s why returning to motorcycling isn’t just about conquering the fear of a bad experience… getting back on the horse, so-to-speak. It’s about feeding a passion. It’s about doing something I love that brings me joy in spite of the obstacles.
For my loved ones who struggle with the idea of me riding again, this is not an idea that necessarily sets well. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to motorcycling from those who don’t ride; an automatic reflex that sends up red flags waving and sirens blaring about how dangerous it is. When people find out you ride a motorcycle, you are suddenly subject to hearing every horror story they know. Unfortunately, it’s not a constructive practice. Here’s some insight… an open letter to every person I meet who finds out I ride a motorcycle.
But life is inherently risky. We all have something to lose everyday when we set out in the world, whether it’s for work or pleasure. We can spout statistics at each other until we’re blue in the face about what activities are riskier than others… and still never gain an understanding. That’s because we simply have different comfort zones and criteria for what is a reasonable risk in our lives. And you know what? That’s the way it should be. We all get to decide for ourselves.
It’s certainly easy to be critical of something we don’t understand, the calculated risk others take that’s outside of our personal comfort zones. But we’re all taking those risks, big and small, every day whether we notice it or not because our comfort zones are exactly that… comfortable. And, to us, unremarkable.
Of course, it’s difficult to watch someone you love go through a traumatic experience or make decisions we might call a mistake. But it’s too heavy a load to bear the weight of our loved one’s fears or for them to bear ours. Instead I hope we can accept each other for who we are and trust each other as adults to run our lives on our own terms. Anything else is intrusive and controlling, even though it’s wrapped in well-meaning concern.
Back in the saddle…
While I have no doubts about returning to motorcycling, I know I have some mental obstacles to overcome when it’s go-time. I’m going to have to dig deep to rebuild and trust my skills again. It won’t be easy but I think fellow blogger Jen Charrette of Pedal Adventures expresses the idea of moving forward better than I can… Fear Steals but Courage Heals.
For me moving forward, I will be using passion, joy, and courage to come back from this. I hope my loved ones understand that this isn’t about being stubborn or idealistic, it’s about not letting the circumstances of life crush my dreams and who I am.
Adventure on, friends…
Jon elliott says
If I have to explain it to you ,you wouldn’t understand ……I smile when a non rider asks me why I ride and this sentence is replayed in my head….and then try to find if they are passionate about something in their life and relate motorcycling to that. And half the time it works…..lol !
In 1999 I broke my left leg. But after a few months , i couldn’t stand not riding so I held the clutch with my right hand shifted into second with my left hand and rode around the parking lot smiling like a dog with a bone !!!
Dumb? Maybe…Fun as Hell and good for the soul? Undoubtedly! !!!
Tough out the coming painful days and smile like a kid on Christmas during the better days…..and you will RIDE ON my friend.
Love it, Jon! I bet that was quite a sight.
I’m used to getting similar questions about why I hike and take long road trips, etc. It’s just about doing what you love.
Looking forward to getting back on the bike. Still a ways to go but making steady progress.
Karen Ung says
I hope your recovery is speedy so you can return to what you love! I was hit by a car cycling a few years ago (fortunately a very minor collision) and still cycle regularly. Do I take a little more care? Absolutely, but I’m not going to quit. (I do try to stay on paths more than road ride though).
Thanks, Karen. It’s tough trying to make reasonable accommodations for risk and still get out and enjoy what we do.
Glad you’re still out there pedaling. 🙂
D. Brent Miller says
Good for you Val. The best way to overcome that hesitation is to “get back on that horse.” Before long, the joy of riding will offset those trepidations. I have had three motorcycle accidents in my riding lifetime, and this year, 2015, I am enjoying my 50th Year of Motorcycling.
See you on the highway.
Thanks, Brent. I dream of holding the throttle again!
Candy Cook says
I never really had a doubt in my mind that I’d be reading this post. I was waiting for it 🙂 I’m behind you 100%. We gotta do what we gotta do. We can’t let ourselves get cheated out of our special existence on this planet because it doesn’t line up with someone else’s. Love it!
Well said, as always, Candy. Rock on, sister. 🙂
I agree that when you tell someone you ride a bike they have to tell you about their friend who got run over. I love the feeling of being on a quiet road, feet up on highway pegs, cruising down the road and soaking up the scenery.
You see everything, experience the journey instead of just pass time on the trip. Enjoy the journey Val, be safe.
Yep, it’s a unique experience. Looking forward to getting back to it. I had four moto trips planned between March and May that have been downgraded to car trips. They’ll still be good… just not the same.
Thanks for thoughts. Much appreciated. 🙂