Embracing the Adventuress Lifestyle

by Liz Jansen

AdventuressIt was my honor to be interviewed recently by Carolyn Hamilton, Editor & Chief Adventuress for Adventuress Travel Magazine, an e-zine for active women over 50 doing all sorts of fun things. The site’s a dynamic travel source, offering true experiences, sound travel tips, and stories of adventuresses in history, books and film.

Carolyn asked me about my riding experience, why I recommend motorcycling for women (I don’t), and how women can find a supportive motorcycle community. You may be surprised at some of my answers. In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Read the article here.

There’s a ton of engaging and inspiring material on this site. Two of my favorite pages were Adventuress Travel Tales and Profiles—stories of women living meaningful lives to the fullest.

And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s there.

There’s also a fabulous opportunity to discover South America while learning how to write and sell articles and photos to travel magazines. Imagine having a pro teach you how to do this and then using your new skills to travel the world.

Set aside time to browse this site. As a fellow adventuress, I trust you’ll find it as engaging as I did. But beware. It may well ignite creative interests that have been in hibernation. There’s no time like the present to wake them up!

 

Photo credit: Rodney Barnes

Posted in Adventure

A Grandmother’s Quilt

by Liz Jansen

grandmother's quiltIt’s close to 40 years ago that Oma gifted me with a finely hand-stitched quilt. Lime green on one side, tiny orange and pink flowers against a white background on the other, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. My grandmother’s quilt matched nothing in my home. Now I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Few women I’ve known can match Oma’s resilience or resolute strength of character. Surviving a twin birth which killed her mother, she knew innate courage and unwavering values. At age 26, she was a penniless refugee, steaming across the North Atlantic on the SS Minnedosa with her husband, having left her homeland days after burying their first baby. Heartsick and seasick, she spent the voyage below deck, crying and heaving as the seas roiled and heaved around her.

After many tough years of menial labor to get established in a strange new land, my grandparents settled on a grape farm near Beamsville, Ontario. The large red brick house, which is still in the family, was the scene of many wonderful childhood memories. Even the outhouses.

Worship was very important to my grandparents and they were stalwart members of the Mennonite church in nearby Vineland. Aside from Sunday services and midweek meetings, a core group of women would get together once a week to quilt. For decades, Oma packed her lunch and walked the 7 km/4.5 miles each way to spend the day with friends, creating bedding that provided warmth and comfort to the less fortunate.

Everyone had their specialty and there’d be many quilts in production at the same time. Some women were expert “pinners”, others coordinated colors, pieced the patterns together and sewed them into squares, while a few were fine stitchers.

Oma on the right, quilting in her Beamsville home with her friend. Photo courtesy of Glenna Cairnie

Oma on the right, quilting in her Beamsville home with her friend. Photo courtesy of Glenna Cairnie.

Most of the quilts were best described as utilitarian; with tops pieced together from donated scraps and clothing that had outlived its usefulness. At times there were cupboards full of tops waiting to be matched up to a solid-colored bottom which had to be purchased. Once finished, they were donated to the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and could make their way to a refugee camp anywhere in the world.

To raise the funds needed to purchase bottom fabrics, the women made “fancy” quilts on consignment. These were done in plain colors with intricate patterns stitched into them. From time to time, they’d make one that someone in the group would win in a draw. That’s how I got mine. Oma won the lime green quilt and passed it along to me.

One of the things with a broken shoulder, is that it’s quite painful to lie flat in bed. The only way to get relief and some semblance of sleep is to spend the night in a recliner, bolstered by strategically positioned pillows. It’s times like this that the green quilt comes out. She’s with me in the small hours of the night when sleep won’t come. I think of the life she lived, how she lived it and what she’s passed on to me, the rest of her family—anyone who knew her, and many who didn’t. I think of the camaraderie which held those women together, often during trying times. That energy is in the thousands of tiny stitches and can’t be laundered out.

Oma was not one to speak her feelings, yet I know she gave me that quilt out of deep love. She, who rode a motorcycle when she was young but never drove a car, had no idea the quilt would encourage and inspire her granddaughter while she recovered from a motorcycle accident many years later. She probably thought it was merely a beautiful piece of bedding for warmth on cold nights.

Little did she know that a grandmother’s quilt went far beyond the physical warmth it provides. It grounds me, puts things in perspective and touches my spirit every time I use it. There’s no more precious a gift than that. Thank you Oma. I love you.

 

 

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Posted in Ancestry, Liz's Stories

5 Tactics to Turning a Corner

by Liz Jansen

tuning-a-cornerTurning the corner on a motorcycle is a skill many riders struggle with, often because they don’t understand how to properly complete the maneuver. Getting prepared and set up for a successful outcome makes a huge difference in getting around that corner successfully.

One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with life changes, especially when they’re significant and abrupt, is turning the corner on how you see yourself and shifting your perspective to your new role. You identify with the roles you play, forgetting that this shifts constantly throughout life. When you realize that the core of your spirit does not change, you can reframe external events and how they affect your Road. Embracing new roles gives you a fresh perspective and a greater understanding of others. Read: Changing Roles

This has certainly been the case for me. After all the preparation for living and working from the road on an extended motorcycle quest through the Americas, I find myself back in Orangeville, Ontario where I started, now without a motorcycle or car, healing a broken body, moving into a new place to live and settling in for another Canadian winter.

As with getting around a corner on a motorcycle, the same principles help you get around corners in life. Learn to manage these hazards:

  1. Anxiety∫ It’s easy to focus on an upcoming curve so much, that you don’t set up properly for it, entering the corner at the improper speed. Worry, which often doesn’t materialize, sets you up for failure.
  2. Tension. When you’re tense, you hang on to the handlebars and try to manage the bike, rather than letting it do what it does naturally. This uses energy unnecessarily, alters your focus, prevents you from enjoying the moment, and puts you at risk.
  3. Speed. Excess anxiety can make you slow down too much for the corner. It jeopardizes your safety, as well as those following you. Being oblivious to signs of change, there’s a tendency to enter the corner too quickly.
  4. Getting spooked. You fear the actions of others more than is reasonable, and end up being reactive and impulsive, making poor choices for managing the situation and not in control of your machines. Look after yourself first, and let others do the same. Only then can you be of service.
  5. Eyes. Keeping your visual attention through the turn and toward the exit, helps your mind manage the corner. The landscape slows down when you look ahead, reducing anxiety and helping complete the cornering process. Keep an eye on the big picture. It diffuses the influence of the day-to-day.

When you fall going around a corner, there’s no point sitting at the side of the road, wounded in body and spirit. That corner is part of your journey and it’s important to continue it, even if the road doesn’t look like you expected.

My corner mishap occurred on my Wheels to Wisdom quest. That quest isn’t over just because I ran into some difficulty. What would that say about me and my commitment to my goal? It’s all part of a journey which will continue, even if the road to get there looks different from what I envisioned.

Turning a corner isn’t easy. If it was, anyone could do it. Understand how to navigate corners properly, practice, and when you fall, get back up, learn the lessons, and move on.
photo credit: dead elvis via photopin cc

Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles

Gaila Gutierrez & Tad Haas | MotoStays

MotoStays banner

Gaila Gutierrez and Tad Haas are two ordinary people who had big dreams of living a life out of the ordinary. They currently reside in the Seattle area and hope to begin planning their next big adventure.

Burned out on corporate America, routine and predictability, they decided to stop dreaming and set their adventurous souls adrift, embarking on a journey of a lifetime in 2012/2013. They quit their jobs, rented the house and took off on their motorcycles for 14 months. Their trek took them over 40K miles through 10 countries with countless escapades, adventures and unpredictable encounters.

That trip was the inspiration for the creation of MotoStays: a growing motorcycle community that promotes and provides access to home-sharing opportunities throughout the world.

Their network provides a convenient alternative to camping and hotels by connecting you with local hosts along your route. Simple & fun.

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In this episode you’ll learn how to:

  • Enrich your life experience by meeting like-minded others
  • Create a safety network while traveling in foreign cultures
  • Benefit from MotoStays for travel as short as a weekend
  • Register as a traveler or host—for free
  • Benefit from a growing motorcycle travel network
  • Participate in the sharing economy and make travel affordable

Touratech rallyRiding motorcycles and working in the software business are two of Tad’s favorite things – starting at the age of 19 for the bikes and 1984 in the tech world. Stints with large corporations and start-ups alike have given him understanding and success in both. Business development/sales, marketing and leadership are key strengths. Product and partner management roles at Microsoft helped Tad gain a very global perspective and understanding of scale. He likes to help others learn to ride/guide and does so through Puget Sound Safety Off-Road (PSSOR) when not out on his own adventures.

Gaila is a life-long Seattleite, with a big heart and loads of wanderlust!  She rides a Yamaha V-Star Classic, and also a BMW F650GS. After spending most of her career in City government; she quit her job 2012 to travel and nourish her soul, which she claims was one of the best moves she’s ever made. She now firmly believes that material things are not important, and instead it’s the experiences in life that are priceless.  She loves connecting with people, and is excited to continue growing the MotoStays community for the benefit of all motorcyclists!

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“Motorcyclists around the globe are not strangers, just friends who haven’t met yet.” – Tad Haas, MotoStays

“MotoStays creates a safety net of people who can help with language and local culture.” – Gaila Gutierrez, MotoStays

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Posted in Adventure, Travel

7 Reasons to Celebrate Abundance Anytime

by Liz Jansen

celebrate abundanceWhile every day is one to express gratitude, Thanksgiving Weekend is a special time to celebrate abundance. It’s traditionally a time of giving thanks for the harvest and the blessings of the preceding year. Today marks the beginning of Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate our bounty.

The subject of our gratitude need not be grandiose—our circumstances are all different. Expressing gratitude for even the simplest things amplifies positive energy and spreads goodwill.

Here’s my list for this year:

  1. Support network. I’ve always known that the world is full of wonderful people, but never has it hit home as much as in the past six weeks. The outpouring of support, offers of help, places to stay, meals, transportation, and healing energy has been humbling. So many people have been paying it forward, I’m going to need a lot of time to do my share.
  2. Health care. We gripe about health care on both sides of the border, and granted there’s much room for improvement with both systems, but we’re far better off than most of the world. I’ve been tended to by expert practitioners, from surgeons and nurses to rehabilitation specialists. Can’t imagine where we’d be without them.
  3. Seasons. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. (The others are winter, spring, and summer.) This year I’ve had the opportunity to experience the changing prairie landscape and brilliant, showy colors from the boreal forests that flank Lake Superior’s northern and eastern shorelines. As the season has progressed, the colors have moved south to my neighborhood in southern Ontario. Beautiful!
  4. Mobility. I may not have much use of my left arm yet and still have limitations with my right hand, but both legs work just fine. I can get around pretty easily. It’s allowed me to make a choice to go carless, and gain a whole new perspective on transportation choices and simplifying in all areas of life.
  5. Living quarters. Having to search for new living space at this time was one of the furthest things from my mind. Within two weeks of arriving back in town, I found a lovely new place and have already moved in. Piles of boxes are still stacked in hallways and corners, but it’s organized enough that I can bring Measha to her new home on Monday.
  6. Health. I’m tremendously grateful for a vibrant and healthy body, mind, and spirit. They’ve taken a hit to be sure, but were it not for my otherwise robust state of health, recovery would be a more difficult and prolonged process. I’m doing everything in my power to care for myself, so that I can return to my previous level of activities—and more—that much sooner.
  7. Time. I expected to be on the road at this time, somewhere in the US southwest, traveling, exploring, and learning. Even before my accident, it was obvious that I’d set too aggressive a timeline for what I’d envisioned accomplishing. Scaling back on writing didn’t leave enough time. Now I’ve got the winter to recover, reassess my strategy, plans, resources, and timelines and figure out how I best fulfill my goals. And be open to destiny.

As I review my list, I realize that although the context is different this year from any other, there are always reasons to celebrate abundance. Apply this list to your situation and watch it work for you.
photo credit: Puzzler4879 via photopin cc

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Posted in Adventure, Personal Growth

10 Hazards of Autumn Motorcycle Riding

by Liz Jansen

With autumn and autumn motorcycle riding officially here, the realization that the riding season is drawing to a close shifts the focus of riders from lavishing the dog days of summer to catching the final riding days before storing our bikes.

Autumn-Motorcycle-300x188The predictable and cyclical changes in nature occurring at this time of year, create unique hazards for motorcyclists.

Even though we can be temporarily teased by unseasonably warm weather and sunny skies, the unstoppable reality is that leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping and daylight is diminishing.

Here are ten conditions to prepare for.

  1. Leaves on roads. Dry leaves can camouflage potholes and other road irregularities. Wet leaves are slippery and can appear unexpectedly in shaded areas. Use caution particularly during those scenic autumn rides as conditions can change.
  2. Shorter days. If you do much riding at all, you’re likely going to be riding in the dark. Take extra care to make sure bulbs in headlights, brake lights and turn signals are working and lens are clean. Wear high-visibility and reflective gear to make yourself as obvious as possible. Read: Riding Right: Night Riding | How to be Safer in the Dark
  3. Sunlight glare. The sun is lower in the sky and glare can be an issue for much of the day, unless you’re facing north. Along with this, as trees become barren of leaves, the patterns of light and shade can be like riding in a strobe light and very distracting.
  4. Deer migration and mating season. More collisions with deer occur now than at any other time of the year as a result of the dramatic increase in their movement. Be especially vigilant at dusk and dawn.
  5. Cold tires. While touring tires with their harder rubber compound are generally more suitable for cold weather, sportier tires are not. The sportier the tires, the softer the rubber. This is fantastic in hot weather and gives them their grippy characteristics which aid traction. In the cold, they’re hard and that traction is gone.
  6. Cold riders. Cold is fatiguing and in turn can cause greater impairment than moderate alcohol intake. Even when you’re wearing good gear and staying warm, the ambient temperature takes its toll. You don’t notice when you’re riding, especially over long distances and it can be startling when you stop to realize how tired you really are. Staying hydrated and taking regular rest stops help with this.
  7. Improper gear. Bundling up with lots of layers can be a great strategy for dealing with fluctuating temperatures during the day. However, too much bulk is not only fatiguing, it can impede your ability to react. Heated gear is a fabulous invention. You need fewer layers and it effectively – and comfortably – extends the riding season.
  8. Icy road surfaces. Frosty mornings mean that pavement can have a thin layer of ice and you can lose traction. As the temperature drops in the evening, be particularly cognizant crossing bridges and shaded areas as they’ll ice up first. Be prepared for changing conditions even during the day if you’re travelling through mountains and changing elevations.
  9. Fewer riders out. This means that car drivers, who don’t see us at the best of times, are now expecting to see motorcycle riders even less often. Be more cautious and alert. Make yourself as conspicuous as possible and assume the don’t see you.
  10. Isolation. Scenic back roads which weave through quaint small towns, particularly in tourist areas have a whole different feel to them. Seasonal businesses close and rest stops and favorite watering holes may not be available. Plan accordingly for gas, food, lodging and emergency contacts.

Autumn is a beautiful time to ride. There is less traffic on back roads, the fall colors are spectacular and the air is clear and crisp. Once the leaves have fallen, the underlying rocks and terrain become visible. You can see much further and you note things that were always there but covered.

The hazards aren’t necessarily greater than during other seasons—only different. The challenge is being prepared, not complacent. The rewards are immeasurable.

photo credit: Neticola via photo pin cc

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Posted in Motorcycle Tips

Going Carless

by Liz Jansen

carless

Winter in small-town Ontario isn’t typically the time to experiment with going carless. Not when motorcycle transportation is generally out of the question for at least a few months. But I’ve decided to try it.

Now that I’m back in Orangeville, the second order of business after healing, has been to find another place to live, and location has been a key factor. I’ve been fortunate to stay with friends while I search and reacclimatize to life without wheels.

It’s been quite a change in mindset to go from an open-ended motorcycle adventure and living and working from the road, to being grounded. Literally. I’ve gone from feeling free, independent, and mobile, to being much more dependent and sedentary, with a whole new set of priorities. I sold my car in anticipation of an extended absence, and now am without either a car or a motorcycle—traditional symbols of independence. For that matter, I’ve also had to find a place to live.

Given that things are in a state of flux anyways, I’ve decided to add a bit to the mix and experiment with going carless. It’s an opportunity to go one big step further in living simply. I’ll be getting another motorcycle in the spring, and I’d like to see if I can get through the winter using alternate transportation.

I’m pleased to say that with a minimal amount of angst, I’ve found a place that may allow it. Rather than being in the country where I’ve lived for the last 25 years, another change, I’m now in town. I’m within easy walking distance of downtown, restaurants, a grocery store, a health foods store—and physiotherapy. There’s both a local bus stop and a GO stop, which connects me with Toronto and area’s massive rapid transportation network. Less than two blocks away, is a car rental agency with extremely reasonable weekend rates. And there are always cabs.

Most importantly, I love my new place which I’ll move into on Monday. It’s a completely modernized unit within a refurbished redbrick Victorian home on a lovely lot with huge old maples. It’s got the ambiance of simpler times, with the convenience of today. The big windows allow in lots of light and the energy is wonderful. It’s a delightful place to restore body, mind, and spirit, and nurture creativity.

Living out of dry bags and motorcycle luggage is fine when you’re on a motorcycle journey, but it wears thin when you’re not. I’m looking forward settling into the new digs, of course getting Measha back with me, and seeing what this Road of a different kind brings me. One certain thing is that with all the walking I’ll be doing, I’ll be fit to ride that new motorcycle come spring!

Posted in Adventure, Expedition

Looping Back to Ontario

by Liz Jansen

This week I arrived back in Orangeville, Ontario, after a four-day road trip across much of Canada, from Calgary, Alberta. I’ve settled into temporary quarters in a cozy cabin while I search for somewhere to overwinter and heal. This wasn’t in my plans when I set out on August 4th and the large-scale changes which have taken place in the last few months are a challenge to wrap my mind around.

In times like these, my best strategy is to retrench, prioritize, and focus only on the immediate. Just as the muscles and soft tissue in my injured arm will not allow me to move beyond a certain range, so too my mind will only allow me to think about the present. I need that energy to get better and back on the road—and be open to the gifts o this time.

Many have asked about my plans to continue my Wheels to Wisdom quest. Realistically, I can’t even think about it just yet, although I know that they’ll become clear when the time is right. This is merely a detour during which I can grow and gain strength in body and spirit, and prepare for what lies ahead. And figure out my what my next bike will be.

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Just because my bike is gone doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to continue my quest. While in Calgary, I visited Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump near Fort MacLeod. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it has been used continuously by aboriginal peoples of the plains nearly 6,000 years. Not only does it typify a method of hunting practiced, it holds a wealth of indigenous wisdom that is still relevant.

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There was also an opportunity to visit with fellow adventurers John Colyer, Jeremy Kroeker, Nevil and Michelle Stow. Jeremy’s traveled through Central America and the Middle East; nine months after suffering a stroke in 2009, Nevil rode to Alaska, followed the next year by a trip around-the-world.

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Before leaving Alberta, I had to return to the accident site. Everything happened so quickly on that day, I wanted to see if it was as I remembered, and understand how I could avoid a repeat. More importantly, it was paramount that I leave an offering of gratitude for protection from more severe injury, and seek understanding of my path forward. These grain elevators were nearby, symbolic of the bucolic surroundings, harvest and thanksgiving.

Outstanding kindness and friendship have characterized the path to this point. Special gratitude goes to Barbara Wynd who drove all the way from Ontario to Calgary and then turned around the next day and drove home. The road trip across the plains and through northern Ontario was filled with sunshine, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and warm temperatures. Bald eagles graced us with their presence throughout the journey—a good omen to be sure.

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Now it’s time now to wait, heal that broken wing and let the revised route unfold. Photo shows a beautiful Lake Superior morning yesterday on the last leg of the trip back to Ontario.

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Posted in Adventure, Expedition

ATGATT: Merely A Starting Point

by Liz Jansen

Anyone who rides a motorcycle has heard of the importance of ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time). Whether you adopt it into practice is a personal choice. While I’ve always been an ATGATT rider and advocate, my recent accident has reinforced the importance of suiting up with high quality, properly fitted gear. While covering up when riding is a wise decision, all gear is not created equal, and your choice in gear can make a significant decision on how well you’re protected.

In preparing for my travels to South America, my strategy was to have the best possible gear with the highest functional value, in the fewest number of pieces. After all, space is at a premium. That strategy paid off in spades.

Here’s what I was wearing from head to toe, and how it performed.

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IMG_3221 helmet back sm

  1. Schuberth C3W helmet. In reality, I don’t know how many bangs my helmet took. I know that I bounced and slid on gravel before coming to an abrupt stop, but you’d never know it to look at my helmet. There’s barely a mark on it and I did not suffer a head injury. Because it was properly fitted, it held my head firm so there was no bloody nose, cut lips or loose teeth. I wanted to get it off as quickly as possible but with a broken left shoulder and a dislocated right thumb I couldn’t do it by myself. It’s so easy to get on and off, I was able to give brief instructions to the Good Samaritan who stopped to help and remove it in no time. I will however replace the helmet. Schuberth has an excellent Mobility program whereby if the helmet is damaged in an accident within a certain time frame, you can replace it for just $300USD.   
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    IMG_3216 jacket left sm
    IMG_3225 pants sm
  2. BMW TourShell jacket and pants. I selected this riding suit for it’s combination of function, fit, versatility, and looks. I’ve been super impressed with how it performed under regular riding conditions (Read my review on Women Riders Now) and astounded at how it performed under duress. Of course pants and jacket picked up scuffs and dirt, but there are no tears or abrasions in the fabric. A minor abrasion on my left hip resulted from skin rubbing against my base layer, not the road. The exterior’s abrasion resistance, the high quality, well designed and strategically placed armor took most of the impact. Obviously no amount of padding can provide 100% protection when you take all your weight on one shoulder.IMG_3227 gloves sm
  3. BMW gloves. It was a cold start to the morning so I was wearing the ProWinter gloves. There’s a superficial mark where my thumb hung onto the throttle, but otherwise, they’re like new, with lots of function left in them.IMG_3226 boots sm
  4. BMW boots. The ProTouring 2 Ladies Boots offer significant foot and shin protection without sacrificing comfort or movement. My feet were completely unharmed—no bruises, strains or sprains. (Read my review on Women Riders Now.)
  5. AltRider crash bars. Although I’ve had my bike for three years, I only put the engine guards and skid plate on just prior to departing for my trip to South America. No one plans to crash, but I thought it prudent to protect from tip-overs, given the unknown terrain I’d be navigating. I won’t be without them again. This happened in my home country and I’m told that they saved my legs. Because I was riding on deep, loose gravel, I was standing the whole way on that road. I stayed with the bike until it stopped, when I was easily able to scramble out from under it and climb out of the ditch to hail a passerby. Bars on both sides of my bike sustained significant damage but they did their job in protecting me and my bike’s engine.
  6. Touratech panniers. Although not officially protective gear and fabricated from aluminum, they stopped the bike from going over completely on its sides. The mounting frame was bent and one pannier was completely pulled off and thrown away from the bike, but along with the engine guards, they provided secondary line of defense.

Budget is always a constraint when purchasing gear and accessories. I prefer to have fewer, higher quality than a wardrobe of gear with token protection. There are many brands other than those listed that go above and beyond the minimum requirements. Making sure they fit properly can be even more important than their protective qualities.

Riding a motorcycle can be risky business, but there are a multitude of ways to mitigate that risk. Allocate your purchases wisely and go above ATGATT. Hopefully you never have to test it, but if you do, you and your family will be thankful for that decision.

 

 

 

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Posted in Gear, Motorcycle Tips

10 Gifts for Healing

by Liz Jansen

medium_7350398822Two weeks and two days ago, while riding through rural Alberta on a lovely late summer day, my plans changed. I was headed for Blackfoot Crossing and Namaka, the farming community where my dad spent most of his childhood, and where his heart still resides. Although you can’t find it on a map and there’s very little evidence of what was once a bustling railroad stop, the locals still know it as Namaka.

Not only did a motorcycle accident prevent me from getting there that day, three weeks into what was to be a minimum year long to South America, it turned those plans upside down and altered the course of my journey.

While the exact implications for my quest have yet to unfold, there was an immediate knowing that this was a life-changing moment. There was no question my left shoulder was severely injured, and I wouldn’t be able to ride for a while.

With bike and body debilitated, it was an unfortunate turn of events, yet much good fortune was already headed my way. My heart is filled with gratitude for these people and events.

  1. Jim C.—the ultimate Good Samaritan. Driving to a renovation project, his day was changed too when I climbed out of the ditch and flagged him and his white pick up down for help. Doctor’s told me his willingness to drive me 90 minutes to a Calgary hospital, far out of his way, was instrumental in containing my injury and preventing complications.
  2. John Colyer. I initially contacted this Calgarian in mid June for an article I was writing for a client. As it turned out, John and I were both headed to the Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Nakusp, BC, so we made arrangements to meet. The interview didn’t get done (and still hasn’t) but when I needed help in Calgary, it was John I called.  He and his mother Beryl have been exceptionally kind and accommodating. He looked after my bike when I couldn’t, and drove 20+ miles to where I was camped, packed up my tent and belongings and brought them back to his place.  After surgery and a six-day hospital stay, it was wonderful to have a place to receive care, recuperate and tend to administrative matters before heading back to Ontario.
  3. Positive energy. I’ve been blown away and buoyed by the flood of messages with support, encouragement, and healing energy. One has no idea how much this means until you need it. To a one, you’ve touched my spirit, reinforced the importance of this quest, and understood that there’s no question it will continue in some manner. I’m surrounded by an amazing circle of wonderful friends.
  4. Motorcycle insurance. Two business days before I was to leave, I called my motorcycle insurer about a question regarding out of country coverage. That’s when I discovered that when I’d sold my car, we’d inadvertently cancelled my motorcycle insurance. Bad enough that I’d been riding around for three weeks uninsured, but I was close to setting off indefinitely without any insurance. Fortunately we got a new policy in place immediately.
  5. Medical care. I received excellent care at South Health Campus in Calgary, and was able to have surgery the day following my accident. A private room with a view of the Rocky Mountains, expertise, professionalism and compassion from all staff is my indelible recollection of that hospital stay. All of that contributed to setting me well on the road to recovery. And how synchronous to have a nurse called Tenari—pretty close to my bike’s Ténéré.
  6. Location. This event took place on what I thought was my last day in Alberta, where my Ontario provincial health care benefits were accepted seamlessly. Had this happened in British Columbia, Washington, or in Central or South America, it would have been much more complex and costly, notwithstanding comprehensive out of country coverage.
  7. Health care benefits. Until now, I hadn’t considered the Medical Rehabilitation Benefits available through my motorcycle insurance policy with TD Meloche Monnex. I certainly didn’t expect to need them and when comparison shopping, my focus was on premiums, liability coverage and provisions for getting my bike back on its feet, should the need arise. Not only have I received outstanding customer service, this provision has provided considerable cost relief and alleviated a significant financial burden for benefits not otherwise covered.
  8. Justin Swanson. Customer service representative at Blackfoot Motosports in Calgary, Justin has professionally and compassionately tended to my questions and my motorcycle, and liaised with my insurance company. While I’ve been familiar with Blackfoot’s stellar reputation for years, I was super impressed after a walk through their enormous shop. Blackfoot is worth a side trip, even if you don’t live in the area.
  9. Physiotherapy. My first follow up appointment with the surgeon was September 8th and I was able to start physio on September 9th, less than two weeks after my accident. Experience had prepared me for far greater wait times to start treatment, which delay recovery. My physiotherapist spent five years with Cirque du Soleil and three years with the Canadian Luge Team before his current position working with elite athletes so I was absolutely confident in his assessment and treatment skills.
  10. Gear. I’ll address this in a subsequent post but it needs to be mentioned here. My choices in protective gear for my self and my bike were invaluable in protecting me from far greater harm. My bike was badly damaged and will almost certainly be written off. While my injuries were significant, I’m not being written off.

There’s no getting around that I suffered a significant physical injury that’s been been very painful, uncomfortable, and limiting. Aside from this, these injuries could have been much worse, and many people deal with far worse life traumas. Focusing on them however, only creates a spiral into a funk, and prolongs healing time and recovery. And I’d miss the extraordinary benefits of these gifts.

None of us knows what’s around the next corner. As VP of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles and multiple land speed record holder Laura Klock maintains, the blessings are in the detours. That’s where you’ll find the gifts for healing and growth. We don’t choose them, but they happen. How we respond is up to us.

photo credit: Mara ~earth light~ via photopin cc

Posted in Expedition, Liz's Stories
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