Episode 37:  Stay Healthy and Think like a Hippie:  Motorcycling may be what you need.

Before we begin today, I want to first say thank you for listening.  Those who ride motorcycles and those who don’t have let me know that the podcast is meaningful and that’s been my hope all along.  

In an interview with Rob Hamilton, the very popular YouTuber out of Australia, he shared how his moto camping videos were being watched by someone who works on a ship, spending most of his life at sea.  That sailor told Rob that it was meaningful to him to take a break from life on the water and to virtually ride with Rob on his motorcycle into the forest for a night out under the stars.  

So it’s my hope too, that at least one person enjoys or maybe even learns something from this Peace Love Moto podcast.  Maybe one person will learn to better appreciate that bike in the garage and the opportunity to ride it.  Maybe one person come to understand that random acts of kindness are important, and they’ll will show a stranger that they care, whether it’s a smile to a kid who’s looking at the motorcycle, or it’s an over the top tip for a waiter and waitress at a coffee shop.

I love the feedback and want to hear from you!  Here’s my request.  Send me an email:  It’s ron@peacelovemoto.com, that’s ron@peacelovemoto.com.  I promise not to share your email with anyone and I won’t SPAM you.  Tell me what you like and any suggestions on how I can improve the content.  Typically, I’ve kept the episodes short, like under 15 minutes.  Episodes with interviews have been about 30 minutes.  What do you think about the length?  That’s just one example of feedback that I would really appreciate.  I’d love to know who you are, where you’re from, what you ride, and most importantly, why you ride!  So thanks in advance for getting in touch!  Again that’s ron@peacelovemoto.com!  Thank you!  Let’s get started.

Keanu Reeves the actor said “For me it’s the visceral quality of it, the vibration, the wind, the sound.   It’s just really a great place to think, to feel, to get away.  Ya know when I don’t ride a motorcycle, I go through withdrawal. It’s not good for my health.” 

That's a serious statement.  I would recommend that you go out on Youtube and watch the video of Keanu saying those words.  He really means it.  That is a heavy statement. 

There are a lot of reasons to stay healthy as best we can.  When our health is in peril, we can’t ride our motorcycles, not to mention the impact on our livelihoods and our loved ones.  Simply to say, if we lose our health, life can take an unpleasant turn.

Granted it’s not always our choice when accidents or disease catch us by surprise.  The relatively minor injury that I had at home kept me off of the bike for four months, but that’s nothing compared to the impact others have experienced. 

I was on a solo motorcycle trip across British Columbia, in line to load my bike onto a ferry from Vancouver to Victoria Island.  They had all of us on motorcycles to line up in front of the cars.  That alone felt pretty good!  Felt like the elite group of travelers.  We’re special!  Then on their signal, we started up the bikes and drove them onto a large boat.  It was BCFerries if I’m not mistaken.  Anyway, they guided us to the front of the boat where they had a special section for motorcycles.  

It was then, that the fellow next to me, who I didn’t know, pulled off his jacket to reveal a t-shirt that not only caught me by surprise, but made me laugh.  We struck up a conversation right away.  His black t-shirt had a simple slogan on it that said “Go Fast, Don’t Die”.  Oh, now that’s genius!  I get it!  I’m sure that statement could be interpreted in many ways, but for me it means, do what you can, while you can.  I guess, live life to the fullest.  Do what makes you happy.

Throughout this podcast, even if you’ve just listened to one or two episodes, you’re hearing the same thing.  For some of us, motorcycling just makes us happy.  Thus far we’ve managed to discuss this topic in various ways for 36 episodes, but it’s true.  While I’m saying this, today, I’m watching our first snowfall of the season out the window.  It’s really pretty, but I’m certainly not riding today, or tomorrow.  I was able to get in a short ride yesterday evening before the temperature really started to drop, but as for today and probably the next few days, I’ll have to be inside reading my magazines, watching Rob Hamilton’s moto camping videos and planning for future episodes.

Now, I understand that motorcycling is not for everyone. This is evident if you have looked through CycleTrader and found 5-year-old motorcycles for sale with only 500 miles on them. This is because some people see someone riding a motorcycle and think, "That looks like fun," so they spend 10 or $20,000 on a new bike only to find out that it is not for me.

But, for some of us, I don’t know how to describe it.  Just ask my neighbors.  They see me time and time again, backing a motorcycle out of the garage and heading off for a ride.  I think it was in the 30’s yesterday when I headed out for my short ride.  I was on my BMW GS Adventure which I had just attached the controls for my heated jacket liner which runs off of the motorcycle battery.  It’s one thing to go riding on a nice day, but it’s another to go out when it’s raining, or really cold or windy.  Hey, that’s just me. Besides, I cranked up the temperature on that heated liner along with heated grips, and all was well in the world!  

It’s like, for many of us, something clicks when we’re riding a motorcycle. It’s an acceptance of the dangers of course, minimizing those as best we can by always wearing a helmet and full protective gear, but also it’s accepting the fact that sometimes the wind blows hard, sometimes it feels really cold or hot, sometimes people in cars follow too close, sometimes your back, your hands or butt hurts from riding all day.  But for many of us, it’s cost and reward.  Many of us accept all that as a price to pay for an amazing joy that gets us back out there day after day, year after year.  

To keep riding, we’ve got to keep healthy, both physically and mentally.  Let’s talk first about the physical side.

Riding a motorcycle is physical.  Those who don’t ride may not understand that because they see us just sitting there, occasionally putting one foot on the ground when we need to come to a stop.  What most people are not aware of, and honestly, we experienced riders hardly even think about anymore, is balance.  

We are in a constant state of keeping our bike balanced whether that’s maintaining a straight line, constantly correcting for the wind or changes in the road surface, or balancing into curves, or remaining safe and steady as we accelerate or apply the brakes.  And as we riders know, braking is an art all to itself, knowing that there is a balance between using the front brake and rear brake for most effective and safest slowing or stopping without losing traction.  You certainly learn that out here on mountain roads in Colorado.

Physical endurance is certainly a necessity too, right?  The more you ride, the better you get, and the better you get, the more often you get invited to ride with other skilled riders.  Skilled riders seldom go on short rides.  Usually it’s an all day thing, maybe hundreds of miles and many hours in the saddle, doing that balancing thing we were just talking about.  And it’s not about being able to hold on tight to the handle bars all day.  It’s about teaching your body how to apply just enough pressure, staying light on the grips but fully in the control, all the while, being ready for an emergency maneuver in the blink of an eye.  Always using your eyes to scan for any possible threat like a car who may not see you, something on the road, an animal.  It’s a state of being relaxed, yet constantly ready for anything.

Riding a motorcycle requires mental fitness too.

Ever heard of Mindfulness?  Sometimes folks hear the words Mindfulness or Meditation and think “Oh that’s some kind of hippie thing”.  Well, have you noticed the latest update that I made to the podcast logo, this tie-dye background?  Ha ha, well you’re at the right place for Mindfulness and Meditation.  I would argue that it’s not just a hippie thing, it’s important, and really needed today probably more than ever.  

I work in a large International company.  Corporate America as some call it.  I get to work with people from all over the world.  I meet new people just about every day.  I love it.  One of things I especially appreciate about our company is their focus on mental health.  One of the executive sponsored programs is Mindfulness.  Literally taking time during our working hours to take care of our mental health.  I so appreciate that!

As I learned over the past couple of years, Mindfulness (which is often spelled with a capital M, by the way) is about living in the present moment. Becoming completely aware of what’s happening with you, right now.  They use the expression, “Breath and know you are breathing”.  That’s actually part of the content of a previous episode that I called “Think like your dog”.  

Essentially, Mindfulness means being (intentionally) more aware and awake to each moment and being fully engaged in what is happening within yourself and all around you.  So once a week, I attend one of the live group Mindfulness sessions that’s made available to us, and together, often times with people I’ve never met, we experience what they call a practice of being present in the moment and aware of our breath, our thoughts, our surroundings. As I experienced personally, these practices have helped me to reduce stress and improve my focus.  I usually get back to work with fresh, new ideas.  Business challenges that I was previously stuck on, suddenly are getting resolved.  It’s awesome.

In a Mindfulness discussion, I shared with the group that for me, Mindfulness is not always about being still, but rather, sometimes, I’d say even oftentimes, I’m in that state of Mindfulness while flying down a road on my motorcycle.  In those moments, I’m fully engaged with the bike, with the road conditions, with the weather, with what’s ahead or even behind me.  I’m fully aware.  Fully present.

I quoted from Keanu Reeves before, but I also ran across another quote which seems very applicable.   This quote from William Londen, from the 1600’s.  He said:

“To ensure good health: eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.” -William Londen

I certainly agree with what Mr. Londen said all those years ago, but if I may, I’d like to add one more thing to ensure good health.  Find what you like to do, and do it.  I ride my motorcycle for one simple reason.  It makes me happy.  It just does.  

So, to wrap up today’s episode, I’ll let you know that my own “Go Fast, Don’t Die” t-shirt arrived just today.  On the front it has that slogan, and on the back it says “Good things come to those who ride”.  I’ve got it on right now as an inspiration as I record this and I’m looking forward to someone striking up a conversation with me sometime soon!  Maybe I’ll head over to the local coffee shop right now and see what happens.  

But I must say, good things have come to me since I was a little kid, by riding my motorcycle, and now, by hosting this podcast.  It’s you, the listeners, those I know and those I hope to know when you send me that email.  You are that good thing that has happened to me!  And I thank you for that!

Until we visit again, I wish you peace, I wish you love.