Motorcycle News You Can Use: Aug. 29-Sept. 4

by Liz Jansen

motorcycle news you can use

This week’s News You Can Use provides practical tips for getting out of a mechanical bind, whether it’s going through the checklist of Top 10 things to do when your bike won’t start, or dealing with being stranded at the side of the road—and enjoying it!

Mechanical failure brings with it all sorts of positive possibilities, even for the solo traveler. It forces you to engage with other people, who are almost always glad to help—and often invite you for in for a meal. Whenever I hear someone talk about being afraid of being stranded in the middle of nowhere, I think of Carla King. She’s traveled the globe on unreliable motorcycles and welcomes it. Read her book American Borders and you’ll see how to handle them!

It’s not enough to trust your body to anyone. Body Armor Comparison is a great resource that allows you to make an informed decision on the protection you’re actually getting when you purchase gear. I have super armor to thank for minimizing the extent of my injuries.

Lastly, the No Brakes Exercise will change your perspective on the relationship between speed and braking. It’s not as clear as it seems.

Enjoy!


The Perfect Motorcycle: Know  Yourself to Know your Bike

John L. Stein, Cycle World

“The Japanese have a term, “jinba ittai,” which translates to, “the rider and horse as one.” Some years ago, Mazda picked this up to describe how it wanted the MX-5 Miata driving experience to feel. But the concept really is more suited to motorcyclists, who should absolutely choose the correct “horse” for their type of riding. Imagine André the Giant flogging a race-kitted Vespa LX 50 through the Carousel at Sonoma Raceway. That obviously doesn’t make much sense, nor does the vision of 4-foot-8 Snooki caning a Triumph Rocket III along the Tail of the Dragon. Borrowing from Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, “To be one with the horse, you must be the horse, Danny.””


Top 10 Things To Do When Your Bike Won’t Start

Evans Brasfield, Motorcycle.com

“You know the old saying: There are motorcyclists who have gone down, motorcyclists who are going down, and motorcyclists who are going to go down again – down to their garage only to find that their bike won’t start. Even with today’s improved batteries, if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. So, before you pull out your phone and call Uber or your buddy with a pickup truck (You have one of those, don’t you? Every rider should have a buddy with a pickup truck.), check these 10 common causes to assist you in troubleshooting your no-go woes.”


Because Breaking Down With Your Riding Buddies Can be Fun Too! | Megaphone

Aaron Frank, Motorcyclist

“Even though we spent as much time on the side of the road turning wrenches as in the saddle twisting wrists, it proved one of the most memorable weekends any of us had ever spent on two wheels.”


Body Armor Comparison: Just Between You and the Road

Gary Illminen, RideApart

“Not so long ago, motorcycle riding gear only had leather as the main material for body armor. Occasionally, there was leather in layers, or a little padding here and there to provide impact and abrasion protection for key areas like the joints.

Now, there are way more options and not only are they affordable, but they are also tested for effectiveness against an international standard. But even though their performance is tested against a common standard—CE EN1621-1: 2012—their designs are not standardized. There are some important differences.”


The No Brakes Exercise | Code Break

Keith Code, Motorcyclist

“It sounds counterintuitive, but experiments with pro racer Joe Roberts showed that you can learn a lot about proper braking technique by riding without using brakes.”

Liz’s note: This exercise is done only at a qualified track day or race school. As an every day road rider, what I liked about this article was the insights it gave me on understanding the relationship between proper braking and speed judgement. Read the article. You’ll see what I mean. 

photo credit: Skull Keychain via photopin (license)


I’d love to hear from you. What were your favorite articles of the week? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I help you see that by mastering motorcycling, you can master anything. To receive my weekly newsletter with updates, tips, and resources, Subscribe Here.

Posted in Motorcycle Tips

7 Pros and Cons of Independence

by Liz Jansen

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Last summer I was a 60-year-old woman, traveling solo by motorcycle across the continent, camping, exploring, and meeting many wonderful friends. This spring, I was back where I started geographically, confined to a small apartment—the same woman, but in a wheelchair recovering from a smashed shoulder from a crash, and a broken ankle, the result of a slip while walking on wet grass.

It was a hard lesson on learning the pros and cons of independence. With much time for reflection, here’s what I’ve learned—so far.

Pros of Independence

  1. Self-confidence. It’s very empowering to have the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wherewithal to look after yourself. It allows you to take on challenges you’d otherwise pass by.
  2. Financial. Possessing a few fix-it and maintenance skills is liberating and cost-effective. Recognizing signs of trouble, whether it’s on your motorcycle or a leaky faucet, allows you to take action before irreversible damage occurs. Calling a tradesperson or mechanic every time you need to fix something costs time and money.
  3. Freedom. When you feel independent, you feel like you can do anything. And you can! But freedom always needs to be exercised wisely.
  4. Flexibility. Independence gives you greater choice in selecting alternatives. If a road is closed for construction, you can go the long way around. But if you don’t have enough gas, you’re in trouble.
  5. Convenience. It’s often a lot quicker, less expensive, and less frustrating to be able to correct a problem, rather than wait for help to arrive on their schedule.
  6. Resilience. Crap happens to everyone. When you know you can sort something out, even if it’s messy or takes a while, you bounce back from adversity more quickly.
  7. Resourcefulness. When you’re on your own and things go wrong, there’s no one around besides you to figure out a solution. Sure we can call for help, but learning how to get out of a predicament teaches us a lot more about what we’re capable of and adds skills to our repertoire that we may need down the road, when help isn’t available.

Cons of Independence.

  1. The Ask. It is very hard to ask for help. It can even feel demeaning. Most of us would much sooner give help than receive it. Yet we know how fulfilling it can be to help someone in need. Asking for and accepting help from someone is a gift to them, as well as to you.
  2. Disconnection. There’s a danger of getting caught up in your own world, failing to see how your actions influence those around you. On a larger scale, we can lose sight of how we affect our natural environment.
  3. Blindness. Being independent takes work and it also comes with luck. Circumstances beyond our control can make us dependent on others. When we feel independent, we see the world through the eyes of someone without constraints, forgetting there are others—whether through illness, divorce, or job loss—who need help to get by.
  4. Complacency. I’ve felt independent—able to care for myself and do whatever I choose—my whole life. It’s a shock when that gets taken away, even when you know it’s temporary. It turns your world upside down.
  5. Loneliness. People make assumptions about someone who’s self-sufficient, and won’t offer help as readily or invite involvement because they think you don’t want or need it. Then you have to ASK.
  6. Financial. It costs more to live alone, travel alone, and work independently. Cooperatives exist for a very good reason. Aside from facilitating economies of scale, they make you less vulnerable to fluctuations from prices, health, or ability, depending on the type of coop.
  7. Effectiveness. One person can accomplish a lot in life, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to leveraging the power of community. We need each other to thrive.

Independence is a gift. But like everything else in life, going to the extreme is counter effective. You don’t realize the value of independence, until you lose it, nor do you realize the gifts that come from engaging with others more and asking for help. Our culture values independence. We all gain when we shift our value to interdependence.

Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

photo credit: KVB Excursion via photopin (license)

LL_PowerTo learn more about how you can be more effective in your life, read 75 Tips on Unleashing Your Power. Available as an ebook for any ereader. Enter Coupon Code KT64C to get it from Smashwords for $0.99 until September 4th.

Posted in Personal Growth, Personal Power Tagged with: ,

Motorcycle News You Can Use: Aug. 22 – 28

by Liz Jansen

 

motorcycle news you can use

This week’s Motorcycle News You Can Use blog posts focus on the common hazards we face every day and show us how to deal with them. They include making safe left turns in passing zones, smooth cornering clues, and ending the struggle with left or right turns, whichever is harder for you.

Safety begins even before you get on the bike so that’s why articles about how to select the right motorcycle for you are SO important. Everybody’s got an opinion, but ultimately, your intuition will steer you to the right one. Don’t be talked into something you don’t feel is right for you. There’s too much at stake.

Enjoy!


Passing Zones and Left Hand Turns: Be Aware of Tricky Situation

Genevieve Schmitt, Women Riders Now

“This is one of the most important articles I’ve ever written as it could save a life. I wish it could have saved two lives I know that were lost as a result of this tricky traffic pattern that happens in mostly rural areas.
Often we feel the urge on our motorcycles to keep up with the group or maybe just the rider in front of us. This can get us into trouble. We’re so focused on staying together that we momentarily get distracted from the road and our defensive driving skills disappear. This happens a lot when in a passing zone, when one rider decides to pass on a rural two-lane road. If you find yourself in a rural area while riding, with a group, or without, please heed this advice.”

Left Turn or Right Turn: Which is Your Bad Side? | Code Break

Keith Code, Motorcyclist Mag

“Scores of riders have sheepishly questioned me about a particularly perplexing problem: why they struggle more making either right or left turns. It turns out that many riders have this fear, and it’s frustrating. Imagine that half your turns are hampered by an unknown, seemingly unapproachable anxiety having no apparent source and no apparent reasoning behind it. Imagine you feared right turns and you lived in Nebraska where the only curves were highway cloverleafs? Or you were a dirt-track racer who couldn’t turn left?”


5 Common Mistakes When Buying a New Motorcycle

Amos, Ride Apart

“Upgrading to a new bike or adding one to your growing stable is enough to keep you up at night (in a good way, of course), and if you’re anything like us, you put together spreadsheets, put stacks of brochures on the kitchen table, join even more motorcycling forums for advice and change your wallpaper to show your dream bike. But … it’s wise to approach your new potential purchase with patience, wisdom and copious amounts of research. Here are five common mistakes made when purchasing a new motorcycle. Learn from our collective blunders here at RA and go into your next purchase like a two-wheelin’ Yoda.


Why I Bought a Kawasaki Ninja 650—My Second Bike

Sasha Rojas, RideApart

“From the time I started riding—learning on a borrowed Yamaha TT-R—the couple mentoring me had asked when I’d be getting a larger bike. I hadn’t ridden 50 miles on my Ninja 250R before suggestions of a Harley Sportster, Ducati Monster, or some Japanese crotch rocket became their routine conversation-opener.

On group rides, people would often mistake my late model 250 for something larger, then try to persuade me that I needed a R6, Hayabusa, or some other “real bike.” My university ride club was aghast when I told them I was doing my 100 mile commute on the little guy. As a daily rider who frequents the freeways of southern California, I’ve been urged by all my more experienced riding buddies to get something with better brakes and a bigger engine.”


Smooth Cornering Clues | Street Savvy

Ken Condon, Motorcyclist Mag

“Not much matches the thrill of acing a complicated series of corners. Part of the satisfaction comes from seamlessly executing the cornering process: setting perfect entry speed, establishing precise lean angle, and accelerating confidently toward the next bend. The perfect sequence of curves takes sharp cornering skills but also the ability to identify clues that uncover critical corner characteristics, including radius, camber, and pavement condition.”


photo credit: Niseko (local route 66) via photopin (license)


I’d love to hear from you. What were your favorite articles of the week? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I help you see that by mastering motorcycling, you can master anything.

Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: ,

10 Ways to Avoid Getting Burned

by Liz Jansen

avoid getting burnedBurning a candle while journaling in the morning is part of my daily routine. It reminds me of my intent to allow the flame or spirit in me to lead the way.

Although the tea light sits right in my line of vision, I didn’t notice my headphone cord sitting in the hot wax last week while I wrote. Absorbed in thought, I must have pushed it there when I moved my book.

Focused on how best I best contribute to the world, I couldn’t help but recognize this visual lesson. After checking to make sure it still worked, I came up with the following advice to myself:

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your life you miss noticing when the leaves on the maple tree in the front yard began to turn. Or the last time you called an ill friend. Or walked in nature.
  2. Take a break when it gets too hot. Being busy is valued in our culture, but it makes us lose sight of other areas of life that need tending. Even if we love what we do, we still need time for physical exercise, our spirit, friends, family, and rest.
  3. Don’t be a victim. When hardships occur, rather than bemoaning that it happened to you, ask, “What lesson am I to learn from this that will enable me to serve better?”
  4. Value who you are. It’s what’s inside that counts. I’ll repair the cord with electrical tape and it may look hokey, but the wiring will be protected and still work. I have a few scars too.
  5. Stay true to yourself. External circumstances—like titles, appearance, the economy, other people’s opinions, status, and the kind of motorcycle we ride— can change how we view ourselves, but only if we let them. They’re merely perceptions and have no bearing on who we are.
  6. Look inside. We all build barriers to protect that little person inside from hurt, but the danger is we lose ourselves in the process. Peeling back the layers is scary because it makes us feel vulnerable. Yet it unearths gifts and resources that have been buried for too long—attributes that can enrich our life.
  7. Stay connected. The wiring is a vital connection between source, in this case the iPhone, and me. Lose the link and I won’t get messages. Lose or ignore the connection to Spirit and we lose sight of who we are, our role, and how we affect others.
  8. Listen to your body. Trust that your body knows everything. The mind-body connection is powerful, vital, and symbiotic. Your body is continuously sending messages to tell you when it’s anxious, stressed, or unhappy, via physical sensations, emotional feelings, or even illnesses. Pay attention.
  9. Protect the light within you. Nurture yourself with healthy foods, positive relationships, and nurturing environments.
  10. Trust the message. I don’t know how electricity works or how the message gets transferred from the phone to my auditory system, yet it does so with unfailing accuracy and lightening speed. I don’t question the message. Why question my intuition? It’s also unfailingly right.

Now, tell me a surprising lesson you’ve had lately. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I help you see that by mastering motorcycling, you can master anything.

Posted in Personal Growth

5 Secrets Most People Don’t Know About Me

by Liz Jansen

Even though most of you know me as an author and seasoned rider, it’s time for me to share secrets you might not have known. These things will not appear in my author bio.

As I dig deeper into my past to understand the culture I was born into, I’ll find other fun facts I’ll share from time to time.  You’ll catch the theme here very quickly but I thought I’d get the most embarrassing moments out of the way.

  1. At 17, I dropped a motorcycle with my 5-year old sister Mary Barry on it. She was one of my first passengers and you can imagine that we had great fun flying around the family farm on my brothers’ Honda Cub. She received an exhaust burn when we fell over coming up the treed ravine at the back of the farm. The little angel wore knee socks and never said a word. Undeterred, once her boys were born she went on to get her own bike. Mom and dad would never have known had she not told inadvertently them about the story as she related it at a Dale Carnegie course thirty years later.

    secrets about me

    The same ravine; different times.

  2. At 24, I dropped my friend Debra Holmes off the back of my 650 Yamaha. She remembers it better than I but apparently we pulled into the parking lot at a local convenience store and I lost my balance, couldn’t hold us up and we toppled to the ground. She’s still not over it and hasn’t been a passenger since. We are still best friends however.
  3. Newly separated and eager to demonstrate my independence, I pulled into a gas station to fuel up my then-new FZ1 before meeting friends for a ride. For some reason, I decided that was also a good time to check the oil level. Never having done it before, I heaved the bike up on the center stand. The oil was fine, but I couldn’t get it off the stand. Finally, I stood beside it, and intending to pull it towards me, put the side stand down. I gave it a mighty heave, unfortunately pushing too hard away from me, onto its side. Two burly guys stood staring but not for long. I composed myself and took charge, commanding them, “Don’t just stand there. Come over here and pick it up!” And that’s exactly what happened.
  4. Sometime around age 50, I took my niece Andrea Jansen for a ride on the back of the FZ1. The curb cut coming at the end of their driveway is very high so I was cautious—too cautious—and used the front brake as I was leaving the driveway and turning. The bike hit the pavement as we jumped clear. Her story is she flew 10′ and nailed the landing. Her dad, my brother, watched the whole thing and helped me pick it up. Unfazed, she got back on and away we went, after she put her gloves back on.A&E
  5. This one’s actually appeared in previous posts but it bears repeating here. Finishing up a day of photo shoots, I decided to stop at the Morningstar Mill at Decew Falls in St. Catharines. My Super Ténéré was still new and unblemished. Riding in the loose gravel banked driveway I suspected I might have trouble getting it out. I’d parked on a grade with the front wheel lower than the rear. I’d have to pull it back up against gravity, on gravel. I managed to move it about a foot and then decided to find help. Thinking I had the sidestand down, I began walking away and you can see the outcome. There was no one around to help and I couldn’t pull off an uphill lift. So I went out the road and hailed down these two guys and watched the taller one pick it up as if it was a toy.

Decew-Falls-Bike-300x200
Decew-Men-300x200

 

Now, tell me a fun fact (or two) that I didn’t know about you. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I help you see that by mastering motorcycling, you can master anything.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll love reading more from me and other women riders in Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment. Available as print or ebook through Amazon or any retailer.

Related Post: 10 Things to do with a Dropped Motorcycle

Posted in Liz's Stories Tagged with: , ,

The Week in Motorcycle Blogs: Aug. 14 – 21

by Liz Jansen 

motorcycle blogsThe motorcycle blogs I’m most attracted to and love to share with you are those dealing with safety and the riding lifestyle. Not the ‘biker lifestyle’ image that pops to mind, but rather blogs that talk about travel, how to manage on the road, and generally how to get the most from our riding experience.

Thus this week’s blogs include a great video on how to do a meaningful pre-ride safety check, things to do before calling a tow truck (this can save you a load of dough), and a quick remedy for sun glare. I also love to hear stories from others who are out there doing it! Pushing their comfort zone and embracing an active and vibrant life. That’s why I’ve included Reg Kittrelle’s new book about his next 50 years of riding. It’s also why I’ve included the whimsical travels of Rachael, aka Fuzzy Galore. Count on her to have interesting ride themes and a wonderful way of relaying them—in words and photos.

Enjoy!


Pre-Ride Safety Check

MC Garage Video

“Is your bike ready to ride? You probably think so, but when was the last time you gave it a safety check? Performing a quick preflight bike inspection is an easy way to avoid frustration out on the road. In this video from the MC Garage, Motorcyclist magazine Road Test Editor Ari Henning will show you the steps to take to help stay trouble-free on your next ride. And all you need is a tire gauge and a few minutes time.”


5 Things to Check Before Calling a Towtruck

Panhead Jim, RideApart

“Let’s face it, if you ride a motorcycle, sooner or later you are going to find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Perhaps the only thing worse is watching your bike ride off on the back of a tow truck. So before you whip out your cell phone and make that expensive call for a wrecker, it’s worthwhile to take a few minutes to make sure there is not an easy fix that will have you back on the road for free. This easy five item checklist will at least allow you to make a more informed decision before you have to make that dreaded call and if you’ve found yourself broken down without a phone, it may save you from a long walk.”


New Book: “Motorcycles and our 2nd 50 Years”—by Reg Kittrelle

John Burns, Motorcycle.com

“Reg Kittrelle’s done it all in his first 50 years of riding motorcycles, and he’s here to tell you that he’s far from over. Riding strong at 72, Reg says, “Riding a motorcycle has nothing to do with how old you are, and everything to do with how old you think you are.”


A Slick, Shady Helmet Sun Visor on the Cheap

Gary Illminen

“Not so many years ago, a lot of helmets had snaps over the eye port to allow for the attachment of various types of shields and/or a snap-on sun visor.

There are still some helmets available with the old snaps—but I’m not so sure about snap-on duck-bill sun visors that were available.

So, we thought we’d share our technique to create cheap, durable and easily replaced sun visor for modern helmets that is even better than the old snap-on visors, since it does the job without blocking your vision and can’t cause any wind noise.”

Liz’s note: I’ve tried this, only with electrical tape and it really works!


Road Tripping: A Fabulous Pennsylvania Roadside Animal Menagerie

Rachael aka Fuzzy Galore

“Sometimes I will pull up a favorite in my GPS and follow it on a whim.

That isn’t to say that occasionally before I arrive at whatever place I’m going to that I don’t think to myself, “what the hell are you doing?

Shortly before ending up at Tim’s Secret Treasures in Charleroi, Pennsylvania I asked myself just that. But upon arrival I quickly remembered why I’d saved the place in my favorites to begin with.”


photo credit: via photopin (license)


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Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: , ,

10 Reasons to Ride Manitoulin Island

by Liz Jansen

Legend has it that when the Creator made Manitoulin Island it was so beautiful, He called it home. First Nations peoples have lived and traveled through here for thousands of years. It’s such a special land, in the Ojibway language it’s referred to as Spirit Island. That in itself is a reason to plan a few days to truly experience and ride Manitoulin.

Ride Manitoulin Ice Lake

Geologically, its part of the Niagara Escarpment, formed from a process that began 400 million years ago. The escarpment begins at Niagara Falls, extending north to the Bruce Peninsula where it then drops under the waters of Georgian Bay, rising again to form Manitoulin Island before arching down the western shore of Lake Michigan.

This geography and location made it a very strategic important trading point on based on an ancient trade system. It was also a haven and a stop off point on the way to the west, not just for aboriginal people but also for people who came after.

Although I’ve vacationed there several times, I’ve crossed it even more. In July I was back to better understand, experience, and write about its spirit and culture. Read: Experience Spirit Island.

Here are 10 reasons why I’ll be back to ride Manitoulin:

  1. The People. The total population of 12,000 swells exponentially in the summer. Little Current (Pop. 2,706) is the largest town, which means charming villages are scattered across the island. There are seven First Nations communities comprised of Odawa, Ojibwe and and Pottawatami, who form the Three Fires Confederacy and are known as Anishinaabeg—the people. The largest is Wikwemikong on the eastern shore (pop 2,592). Wherever you go, you’ll be warmly welcomed. They love it when you stop and ask questions about their history and culture.
  2. The Land. It’s breathtaking. There’s scarcely anywhere you can ride without seeing water. The elevation is constantly changing, seemingly subtly but all of a sudden you’ll come over a rise which opens up to a panoramic vista. Above that it’s hard not to its spirit, often as tranquility, joy, and connectedness.IMG_3583 Manitoulin sm
  3. The Rocks. Formed from layers of rock that were heaved from the depths of the earth, they jut out to form outcrops and fascinating formations. Heading north from Little Current to Espanola, Highway 6 undulates and twists between waterways as it cuts through ancient bedrock.
  4. Ojibway Cultural Foundation (OCF). Located in M’Chigeeng, the modern complex has grown substantially since its start in a trailer in 1974. Stop by the OCF to browse through the art gallery, listen to teachings, and if you’re lucky as I was, watch traditional dancing.IMG_3515 Liz and dancers sm
  5. Pow-Wows. Festivals abound throughout the summer. Here’s a real chance to observe the culture in action. See the calendar here.
  6. Island time. There are only two ways onto Manitoulin: the swing bridge at Little Current, or the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry into South Baymouth. You’ll find you’ve left worries and cares on the mainland and entered a magical time. You certainly won’t find any traffic jams, and the traffic light for the swing bridge is the only one you’ll see.
  7. Legends. With its strong First Nation’s history, the land is rife with legends explaining not only it’s creation, but the history behind land forms such as Old Woman Island in Mindemoya Lake and the Cup and Saucer.
  8. ChiCheemaun Ferry—which means Big Canoe in Ojibway. It sails four times daily on the two-hour cruise between Tobermory and South Baymouth during the high season and your wise to have reservations. Motorcycles get on and off first and there are plenty of tie-downs to secure your bike. Besides that, it’s relaxing to sit back and enjoy the scenery and even dine. You never know who you’re going to meet!IMG_3595 Chi Cheemaun sm
  9. Artists. Drawn by the scenic and eclectic setting, a growing number of artists, working in a variety of media are making the island home. Enjoy their work displayed in small galleries, museums, and at art shows.
  10. Weather. Surrounded by water, hot humid temperatures felt by the rest of southern Ontario are moderated into much more comfortable climes. And there are always lovely breezes.

Plan to visit Manitoulin as a destination. To skim across the surface is to deny your self a precious gift.


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Posted in Travel Tagged with: , ,

Meditation Ideas and Tips

by Liz Jansen

meditation ideasMeditation has been part of my daily practice for ages, however this year I’ve ramped it up. I’m often asked for meditation ideas—how to get started and what to do when you meditate. The short answer is just to start and focus on breathing. Even five minutes a day will make a noticeable difference over time. I’ve shared my routine below.

Engaging in a deeper practice arose from recognizing the need to establish a more balanced life,  devoting more attention to mind and spirit. It’s made a huge difference for me, helping with focus, clarity, patience, and decision-making—for starters. Read more benefits of meditation here. I picture it like plugging an electric vehicle into the charging station. Meditation plugs you into the universal collective spirit and recharges you for the day. Click to Tweet.

Meditation is basically inhaling cleansing breaths, exhaling detritus and a simple practice, with no apps, can be very effective. That’s how I started. My practice has evolved to what I’ve described below, focusing on breathing while systematically working my way through each chakra. If you’re not familiar with chakras, here’s a primer.

Materials:

  1. Pillow for head, cushion under knees, blanket. Or comfortable straight-backed chair.
  2. Smart phone and headset.
  3. Meditation App. I use Michael Stone’s Meditation App, available for a variety of devices. It comes with Guided Meditations, Silent Meditations with bells (to help with timing) and an ability to personalize how you use it.

Preparation:

  1. Choose a convenient time.
  2. Choose a quiet place.
  3. Get into a routine, even when you don’t feel like it. Meditate at the same time in the same place every day. I do it as soon as I get up, before checking email, Facebook, Twitter, or the news. It sets the stage for the day by clearing and opening my mind.
  4. Sit up or lie down, keeping your spine straight. Go with whatever works best for you. I used to sit, but when I broke my ankle that became too uncomfortable so I began lying on the floor. It works well for me, especially now that my meditations are almost an hour long. Very occasionally I’ll doze off, but when that happens, I acknowledge I needed sleep more than the meditation.
  5. Put on headset, close your eyes, and start the app (if using).

Process:

  1. I start with one of the guided meditations. Lately I’ve been listening to Working with Thoughts. It clears my mind and gets me into meditative breathing.
  2. You can make the meditation as simple as you want. At the most basic level use a silent meditation, set the timer, and focus on your breath. Simple is best, especially when you’re starting. If that’s the case, you need read no further.
  3. Select the program you’d like to use. I’ve personalized a 40 minute Silence with a bell every five minutes—equal time for each chakra. The Tibetan meditation chime enhances rather than detracts from my concentration.
  4. Focus always on the breath. I count breaths to help me. If I lose track, I just pick up anywhere. At the same time I’m visualizing the inhale bringing in pure, crystal clear energy and the exhale carrying out debris—the thoughts and feelings that are working against rather than with me—that is vaporized before it leaves my energy field.
  5. Systematically visualize this working through each of eight chakras beginning at the base.
  6. Visualize the chakra color, while staying focused on your breath. I intentionally visualize a word and image I associate with each chakra. Use the word or image that comes to your mind, and don’t be concerned if it changes.
  7. Open your eyes slowly and gently. Begin moving, giving yourself time to get used to your surroundings.

Here are the specific colors, words, and images I use. Feel free to adopt, or use your own.

  1. Root: Red, blood, community and tribe
  2. Sacral: Orange, creativity and abundance; fiery energy coming in through the left side and being shared out through the right.
  3. Solar Plexus: Yellow, Power. Sun. Sometimes sunflowers.
  4. Heart: Green, Love. Old growth cedar forest. Primordial.
  5. Throat: Blue, Voice. Walking along the beach with ocean breezes, blue ocean, blue sky.
  6. Third Eye: Indigo. Intuition. Outer space, stars, planets, endlessness.
  7. Crown: Violet. Joy. Infusing joy, peace, contentment.
  8. Spirit: Grace. White and gold. Formless energy, connected to Spirit. This chakra is above the seven chakras usually referred to.

Is meditation part of your daily practice? What works best for you? We’d love to hear about it.


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Posted in Personal Growth

Motorcycle Blog Posts You Don’t Want to Miss

motorcycle blogThat Tricia Szulewski’s article about How to Ride Your Street Motorcycle in Gravel appears in this week’s five favorite blogs is no coincidence. Since returning to riding, it’s one of my greatest fears when riding. I wrote about my experience this week in Managing Gravel and Crushing Fear.

New and experienced riders alike can take lessons from the safety articles below, including not riding off-road alone. Our sport is exhilarating, but it comes with risks. They’re readily managed with skill, practice, and making wise choices—something that arises from the first two.

As the owner of a new Triumph Tiger XRx, I could resist adding the article on things motorcyclists can’t do without. It’s amazing how far technology has come – and what a difference it makes.

Enjoy!


How to Ride Your Street Motorcycle in Gravel

Tricia Szulewski Women Riders Now

“At some point in your street motorcycling life you’ll find yourself faced with riding in gravel. Roadside pullouts that are not paved and road construction are the two most common scenarios where you’ll encounter loose rocks and/or dirt and sand.

Another common gravel scenario (one where you could kick yourself for not asking about ahead of time) happens when you’ve arrived at that cute B&B or lodge where you had planned to stay only to be faced with a long, deep gravel driveway!”


Use Your Imagination: Predict Hazards and Create a Plan to Avoid Them

Nick Ientsch, Cycleworld

“Each moment of every ride calls for a recalibration of the five priorities we will list in this series of articles. These “Top Priority” Ride Crafts aim to get street riders aware of the most important aspects of surviving and enjoying street riding.

Each of the five priorities will rotate in importance during every ride. In the following few paragraphs, we’ll discuss your imagination and place it third on the list of street-riding priorities. Or maybe it’s first?”


Mistakes New Riders Make in the First Six Months

By Amos, RideApart

“Your newfound fascination with motorcycling has you chomping at the bit to get out and ride until your glutes can’t take it anymore. And then you want to go out and do it again. Nothing can come between you and the open road, or any road for that matter. You’re a beginner motorcyclist, and you’ll never grow tired of this two-wheeled passion. But heading out for a ride without really thinking about what you’re getting yourself into is asking for trouble, or worse, a trip to the hospital or a permanent dirt nap. There are a bevy of stupid mistakes new riders make in their first six months, and they’re not nearly as obscure as you might think. We’ve compiled a list of the most egregious and detrimental mistakes, and it’s not a terrible idea for you seasoned riders to review it too.”


A Hard Lesson about Riding Off-Road Alone

Sasha Pave, RideApart

“RideApart recently lost a friend—school teacher Ed Cavanaugh. Sasha Pave sent us this short story after first learning of Ed’s disappearance and told us how riders came together for the search. It was sad news, but there’s something to be learned from the experience. Here’s Sasha’s story:”


Ten Things Motorcyclists Can’t Do Without

Blake Conner, Cycle World

“Motorcycling is changing at a breakneck pace. Technology is the driver and we are the lucky recipients. Unless your motorcycle and gear is relatively new, less than , say, five years old, you’re missing out on this wave of advanced features and apparel. Here are 10 things that we’ve been spoiled by and can no longer live without. What’s next? We can’t wait to see what the future brings.”


photo credit: Darlene gears up before her ride via photopin (license)


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Posted in Motorcycle Tips Tagged with: ,

Managing Gravel and Crushing Fear

by Liz Jansen

managing fearThe long gravel driveway wasn’t part of my plan for getting back on the road. In fact, I wanted to avoid the stuff until I’d built up some confidence riding on tarmac.

I’d laid out a well thought out strategy in How to Start Riding After a Motorcycle Accident. I got off to a good start listening to my own advice on the first three points. It was the fourth point, ‘Start Slowly’, where I collided with reality.

Other than a few laps around the parking lot with a demo bike, I hadn’t ridden since my motorcycle crash 10 months earlier. The shaky parking lot ride reassured me I could ride so I’d committed to writing a touring article about Prince Edward County in June.

I was provided with a press bike, the new Yamaha FJ-09, light, easily manageable and perfect for what I was looking for, I just hadn’t considered that the pick up location was at the other end of a gravel driveway. My anxiety level ratcheted up significantly but I knew I had to do it. More importantly, I knew I could do it.

A laugh still escapes when I think of how I must have looked, asking my friend to line the bike up for the straightest approach and awkwardly getting on. Fixing my eyes way ahead, I took a few deep breaths and tentatively and slowly started down the lane, trying to quiet the ruckus in my head. I hoped with all my being there was no traffic coming so I didn’t have to stop fully at the gravel berm at the edge of the paved road—which incidentally was now wet because it was raining.

I’m sure it was as stressful for the friend following me to watch as it was for me to ride, but I soon settled down for the rest of the 150 km/100 mile ride home. The next day I was off to Prince Edward County and other than 10 miles of stop and go traffic backed up because of line painting on the highway, it was smooth sailing.

A couple of weeks later, I set off on my own bike, a new Triumph Tiger XRx, this time to spend 10 days touring in Northern Ontario. Summer road construction is a necessity in northern climates and Construction Ahead signs, which never used to bother me, became an anxiety trigger. You never knew what exactly that meant so each sign would ring alarm bells and I’d tighten my grip on the handlebars momentarily, until I took a deep breath, thanked my scared little ego for trying to protect me, took charge of the situation, and knocked that irrational fear off the passenger seat—and kept my eyes fixed far ahead.

Most of the time it was quite minor, but I had to contend with rough surfaces, more gravel, and grooved pavement—the worst. Although I knew I could do it, the response of the front wheel reminded me of how it felt leading into the crash, albeit nowhere near as dramatic. But try and tell my mind that. I’d see bikes coming towards me and tell myself if they could do it, then I certainly could.

Through a series of coincidences, I was invited to join Esther Osche, Lands Manager for the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Whitefish Lake First Nation), Community Historian, Traditional Storyteller, and Harley Rider around the campfire at the foot of Dreamer’s Rock. Dreamer’s Rock is an Anishinaabe sacred site, approximately 500 meters/300 yards in from the road, via an undulating, curving gravel lane. Another deep breath, and I reminded myself I was at a sacred site and if I was safe anywhere, it was here. Proceeding slowly, I got in, and listened with rapt attention as Esther relayed the Legend of Dreamer’s Rock to a group of community children, in the same manner it’s been passed down to her through the grandparents. Fascinated, I pushed away the intrusive thoughts that reminded me I had to go back out the same way.

There was never a question that I’d be riding again so I knew I had to get past this crisis of confidence. I have the skills, a beautiful new motorcycle—the perfect choice for me, and love being back on the road. There’s nothing unreasonable with what I’m doing, as long as I keep fear and flashbacks in check. I’m much more comfortable and that will only increase with more time on the road.

Life throws all kinds of challenges our way, often without the benefit of a Construction Ahead sign to help us prepare. How we respond is up to us. Now, I’m focusing on the last step in How to Start Riding After a Motorcycle Accident: Be kind to yourself.

There’s lots of Road ahead!

Related articles:


photo credit: beacon via photopin (license)


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Posted in Adventure, Personal Growth Tagged with: ,

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