Episode 25: Motorcycling on the Dirt and the Art of Balance

I think I can speak for many of us.  We spend a great deal of our time in a constant battle against the stresses of life that wear us down. At least during the work week.  Is riding our motorcycles the only way to find relief, to find that peace of mind we keep talking about? Let's discuss that in a minute. But first, this...

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to ride my motorcycle again.  It’s been 4 months and it’s so great to be back riding again.  For those who don’t know, it was this past February when I had an accident at home and injured my right hand pretty badly.  Two surgeries were required to recover most of the movement in my injured finger. Four months of physical therapy about 36 sessions in all. Yeah, brutal.  I am just so excited to be back in the saddle again, riding the range, the canyons and over the mountain tops.  

I am one happy motorcycle rider!  Thank you for joining me today!

In today’s episode, we’ll talk about balance, both on the bike and in life.  As any experienced motorcyclist will tell you, staying loose and relaxed on the bike makes you a better rider and it keeps you more safe than being all tensed up.  Yeah I get that.  But, what’s it mean to stay loose in life?  

Well, let’s start with the bike.  How’s your balance?  Oh sure, we know that to ride a motorcycle, you have to be able to first balance on two wheels, then manage the power of an engine which certainly requires skills and gain experience with braking and cornering.  Not to mention, we’re balancing 4,5, or even 800 pounds of motorcycle.  And, by the way, all this you should be able to do without having to think about it, acting in a fraction of a second to stay alive.

Most will agree that those who have experience motorcycling on the dirt are the best at balance.  Unlike riding on the street where the feeling under your tires is mostly predictable, like when we hit the brakes hard or lean deep into a corner.  Yeah, with good tires, it’s amazing how well we can stick to the road.  But when we ride on the dirt, that’s a whole different experience requiring a whole different mindset.  No matter how “off road oriented” your tires may be, there will be unpredictable movements.  The trick to staying upright on the dirt is to recognize that this ride is about constant change, make continuous little changes, again, without even thinking about it.

So here’s my little analogy.  Maybe we should live our lives in the same way we ride motorcycles, not on the street, but on the dirt.  On the dirt, we don’t always know how the bike is to respond.  Add a little rain to the dirt road that you’ve ridden for years, and it’s a whole new ball game.  Totally different than dry ground.  

The key to success in any of these situations though is to remain loose, never panicking if the bikes moves a little or even a lot underneath us.  Instead, through experience and associated muscle memory, we learn to adapt quickly.  

In life too, when changes happen, we adapt.  We have to.  If we can’t adapt, then I’m convinced we’ll become paralyzed with either fear, anger, or disappointment, or all of the above.  During my injury ordeal, I experienced all of those.  So, here are some things I continually work on both on the bike and in life:

Be flexible. Be willing to adapt to changing circumstances and be prepared to change your plans if necessary.  That kinda goes hand in hand with being prepared.  One of my favorite solo rides was through Monument Valley which I spoke about in a previous episode.  What I didn’t mention in that episode was the massive hail storm that I rode through.  I have on a full face helmet and a full riding suit including weather protection.  Yep, I slowed down for the hail, but I kept going because out there, there is nowhere to stop!

Be grateful. Appreciate what you have.  You’ve probably got a motorcycle in the garage, what I called the “Gift in the Garage” in an earlier episode.  Very few people can afford a nice motorcycle, keep up with the maintenance and insurance costs, and have good enough health to be able to ride.  

Take care of yourself. Over and over in this podcast I speak of caring for yourself so that in turn, you can fully love and appreciate others, which is directly associated with connecting with others. Meet other riders and hang out with those who support you and make you feel good about yourself. This will help you stay positive and motivated.

And finally, have fun! I use the expression a lot, “Life is short!”  And that can be true.  Life is too short to take everything so seriously. Again, it’s all about balance, right?  We’ve got to make time to do what makes you happy. When the day finally came, the day when they gave me the OK to ride my motorcycle again, I was just exstatic.  On one of my first rides, I rode out to the base of one of my favorite mountain vistas about 70 miles from my home.  Here is the recording that I made at that spot in the road as I looked up toward those snowcapped mountains.

RECORDING from iPhone

So, I’m not sure if my little analogy comparing motorcycling on the dirt with being flexible in life makes any sense.  After I record this, I’ll probably question myself as to what did I really mean?  

All that I know is that when I learned a long time ago to be loose and flexible when I ride on the dirt, it made me a better motorcycle rider.  I learned from this recent injury and the long recovery process and finally being able to ride again that life has lots of turns.  As I’m still learning, maybe if I’m a bit more loose and flexible in life, maybe I’ll be a better rider and a person.  How’s that for a wrap-up?  Ha ha.

As always, thank you for listening.  I wish you peace.  I wish you love.