Hybrid Easter Celebrations

by Liz Jansen

Growing up in a Mennonite tradition, Easter was one of the holiest celebrations of the year. We’d be at church on Good Friday to honor the crucifixion, and back on Easter Sunday, often for a sunrise service to celebrate the resurrection. I’d have a new dress and a few times, a matching hat or headband with silk flowers. I thought it was quite pretty.

Hunting for eggs was never part of our family tradition but there was always a basket of multicoloured foil-wrapped chocolate eggs in a basket on the table. We had great fun decorating eggs a few days before the weekend. The house would fill with the pungent aroma of mom’s vinegar and hot water mix. She’d place a few pots on the table and we’d drop in food coloring to come up with an array of colors. Most were lovely but sometimes one could take your appetite away. On Easter morning, all six of us children would have a milk chocolate bunny on our breakfast plate which we’d stow away for later, usually after biting an ear off.

Both grandmothers baked paska, (Easter bread), a tradition they brought with them from Russia. Made from milk, butter, eggs, and sugar, it looked good but was rather tasteless. Until you drizzled a thin layer of icing sugar over it, added colorful sprinkles, and buttered it.

Hot cross buns became an accidental tradition. We were registered with a local bakery who would discount their leftovers at the end of the day by 50 percent. They’d go through their list of clients and when it was our turn, they’d call and see if we wanted the order. Around Easter, it invariably included hot cross buns.

As children, we knew Easter solely as a Christian tradition based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. We didn’t know that the practice of decorating eggshells as a spring ritual is ancient. Engraved ostrich eggs have been found in Africa which are 60,000 years old.

We hadn’t heard that Easter came from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring who legend has it, consorted with a rabbit. Rabbits have long been associated with fertility and spring and both rabbits and eggs are ancient symbols of new life.

Nor did we know that the phases of the moon determine when Easter is held—it always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 within about seven days after the full moon.

Many cultures celebrate spring festivals as a time of rebirth, whether it’s the equinox, Easter, or Passover. Sadly, we’re no longer as connected to nature and the reason for the season’s celebrations as our ancestors were. American candy makers produce about 90,000 chocolate bunnies and 16 billion jelly beans for Easter each year, selling more candy than any other holiday except Halloween. More than 88 percent of American parents prepare Easter baskets for their children.

Our family Easter celebrations were a hybrid of Christian teachings, nature-based spirituality, Mennonite cultural traditions, and other ancient rituals. As we got older, we’d incorporate a hike in a nearby forest. Symbolically, all our activities were a celebration of life and renewal.

Spring comes every year and with it new life and the energy of growth. As motorcycle riders, we know that feeling well! In any case, no matter what your beliefs or practices, the cycles of nature are unstoppable. This year, even if it’s in a city park, may you find time to connect with the energy and vitality of the season.

I’ve already celebrated the advent of spring with friends during the equinox. I traded my Easter bonnet for a motorcycle helmet long ago and will be wearing it this weekend—teaching experienced riders Saturday and Sunday and then traveling to family dinners. Those are rites of spring that are sure to energize me.

I’d love to hear how you celebrate the arrival of the season. Add your comment below.


photo credit: KLMircea Oua Incondeiate via photopin (license)

Posted in Liz's Stories

First Motorcycle Ride—Some Things Never Get Old

by Liz Jansen

first motorcycle ride

Al Dzieciol ready to ride. Photo Credit: George Reichert

In a month, I’ll be celebrating another birthday. The calendar doesn’t stop and every year that age number increases by one. In fact those ‘ones’ seem to come around faster than before. But there’s one thing that never gets old—the first motorcycle ride of the season. Even if it is on a 125cc Honda CBR.

Last weekend was the first teaching weekend of the year at Humber College and I was lucky enough to be working. The temperature was barely above freezing but that didn’t matter. The sun was shining, I was dressed for it, and working with a great team of instructors.

The first order of instructor business is to shuttle the fleet of motorcycles from their storage container to the parking lot where we teach. It’s essential to ride them a bit to make sure they’re fit for students. Someone has to do it!

Back at home, Trudy, my Triumph Tiger is still sitting under cover in the garage. She’s been there since the end of November, attached to the trickle charger and patiently waiting for the right day to emerge. I’ve checked her over, lubed the chain, and even taken her off the center stand. All she needs is air in the tires and we’re ready to go. Our first trip will also be to a parking lot where I’ll practice slow speed control, turns, and emergency maneuvers.

Mark Faulkner putting the CBR through its paces. Photo Credit: George Reichert

Winter is a time for hibernation and although we know what an incredible experience it is to ride, like our batteries, that memory dulls just a little when we’re not charging it.

This is my 48th year of riding. I’ve ridden hundreds of thousands of miles. Every year there’s a first ride of the season and without exception, the feeling catches me off guard. The ride on the CBR brought it all back to life again and awakened those feelings. That energy. I’m so grateful motorcycling has been part of my life for so many years and we’re still going strong.

As soon as the snow forecast for tomorrow has passed, it will be time bring Trudy out of the garage and go for another first motorcycle ride of the season. There’s nothing like it.

Although I didn’t think to take a photo of that CBR ride, my wonderful colleagues came to the rescue. Thanks to George Reichert for opening his photo vault and Mark Faulkner and Al Dzieciol for modeling. 

 

Posted in Adventure Tagged with: , ,

9 Motorcycle Rites of Spring

by Liz Jansen

rites of springWhile Trudy, my motorcycle, is still in hibernation, the calendar has transitioned to spring. While many of you are already riding, it’s still a little early in some areas.

I’m in no rush. Rather, I’m savoring this time of anticipation, preparing, planning, and dreaming of where the road may lead this year. I’d be selling myself short to pin too much on the future rather than immersing myself in the present.

Nonetheless, the immovable and unstoppable cycles of nature are in motion. These rites of spring either alert us to prepare for riding or guide us into a safe and enjoyable season.

9 Motorcycle Rites of Spring

  1. Instructor Recertification. One of the first sure signs of spring is preparing for this season’s students. Every March we get put through the paces to make sure our teaching, coaching, and riding skills are sharp.
  2. First Teaching Weekend. Close on the heels of recertification is being out on the range on this Saturday and Sunday with the first eager group at Humber College. I’ll also get my first ride of the season, albeit on the course bikes!
  3. Motorcycle Inspection. Even if you were meticulous in winterizing it, corrosion, condensation, and critters may have caused damage during storage. A thorough and methodical check can alert you to areas that need attention and reassure you that it’s safe to ride. 10 Steps for a Spring Motorcycle Checkup
  4. Gear Inspection. If you’re like me, I squeeze as much season as possible out of autumn. By the time I’m stopped, daylight is short and the temperatures quite chilly. I’m pretty good at winterizing my motorcycle; less so at cleaning my gear before it’s put away. When spring arrives, we want to get out there riding. It’s important to give our gear a good examination before we do. We only intend to look good in it, never to test it, but you want it to protect you if the need arises. 8 Steps to Get your Motorcycle Gear Ready for Spring
  5. Personal Assessment. More than half the riders killed on Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) patrolled roads in 2015 died through no fault of their own. It’s a staggering number and one we can change. We can’t control the actions of others with whom we share the road. However, we can do everything in our power to make sure we’re alert, skilled, visible, and in control of our motorcycles. 7 Checks to Make Sure You’re Ready to Ride
  6. Skills Refresher. The longer the hiatus from riding, the greater the rust buildup on our skills. An annual refresher course is the ideal way to sharpen them, whether it’s a professional off-road course (ideal for road riders to learn how to deal with the unexpected), like SMART AdventuresRawhyde Adventure Motorcycle Training or a road based course like Total Control Advanced Rider Training,  Streetmasters,  or Riding in the Zone, which offers both. This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive, but a good starting point and a great benchmark to calibrate other courses against. If you can’t get to a course, at a minimum, visit an empty parking lot with a buddy and practice skills like slow speed maneuvers and quick stops, increasingly challenging yourself.
  7. Ride Dreaming. Since my priority is completing my next book, long distance riding is taking a back seat this season. I’d expected more progress but these things always take longer than you think, even when there’s a buffer added in. Books have a life of their own and the words and message come in their time. Having said that, I’m still dreaming of attending the Horizons Unlimited event in California in September.
  8. Local Event Planning. Even if you can’t ride far, there are many local gatherings which make a great destination. A few new innovative events around me include Motorcycle Film Fest in the County,  Toronto Motorcycle Film FestivalLobo Loco Rallies – a series of four long-distance scavenger hunts, and Poker Run for Ovarian Cancer, in support of my cousin Bonnie Caruso, Event Coordinator.
  9. Offering Gratitude. My pre-ride preparation includes a quick prayer to ask for protection, mental clarity, and to offer gratitude for a safe and fun ride. That first spring ride though gets its own special offering of gratitude, like laying down tobacco or even placing a special talisman on your bike. It’s a real gift to have the physical, mental, and financial wherewithal to ride a motorcycle, be part of an incredible community, and ride in lands of peace and freedom.

What other rites of passage do you recognize in spring?


photo credit: R. Drozda Mt. Rainier via photopin (license)

Posted in Adventure Tagged with: , ,

How to Maneuver Around the What If Obstacles

by Liz Jansen 

What ifRecently I wrote an article about ‘meeting’ my paternal grandfather for the first time during last year’s motorcycle trip to northern Alberta. “Isn’t that the trip you crashed on,” asked my editor? “You didn’t mention it.”

He was remembering back to when I’d initially set out to explore the lives of my ancestors and how their experiences lived in me. That crash had changed my plans and injected a two-year hiatus into my journey. His question, however, raised the question. What if that hadn’t happened? Would I have met my grandfather?

Whether things happen for a reason is not up for debate. They happen. I crashed. I can never know for certain whether I would have met my grandfather had that event not happened. I only know how life has gone since then and not the infinite number of outcomes that could have materialized if I’d made other choices, either before or after.

To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking when I started out in 2014. I’d planned to visit the area in southern Alberta where my dad lived between ages 4 and 11, but only for a day, and then I was moving on. I figured I’d fill in the stories by speaking to relatives and going through old photos.

I had no intentions of making the trek up to Beaverlodge in Peace River country where dad’s parents, my grandparents Johann and Liese Klassen, first tried to settle and where dad spent his first two years. He has no memory of his father who died there in 1928 just before his 29th birthday, leaving a widow with an infant.

For a few months, Liese took in laundry from the railway workers to make ends meet, hauling water from a well and heating it in a cauldron over a wood fire. Then she and dad moved south, where she met and married Peter Jansen, whose name I carry. Stories from that time are much more prevalent. It was here that I crashed.

Bypassing Beaverlodge, I would have missed a very formative time for my ancestors, and me. I would have missed walking the land they lived on, getting to know their early life in Canada, and visiting the overgrown, derelict rural cemetery where the man whose blood runs through me is buried. On land he tried to tame. The man who, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, got his family to a land of freedom.

I would have missed gaining a glimpse into the strength, courage, resilience, and gratitude that propelled my grandparents’ start in a new life. My visit gave me an opportunity to honor Johann and express my gratitude for the sacrifices he made so I could live the life I have today.

Had things gone differently on August 27, 2014, I may have eventually realized my omission and circled back, maybe after my trip to South America. I’ll never know.

What I do know is that my life is forever and deeply enriched for choosing to make that trip last year.

Every day we make many decisions. Even the small ones can have far reaching consequences beyond our imagination and knowledge. For better or worse, once they’re made, there’s no point in second guessing them. It doesn’t mean that in the light of new information, we can’t change our mind.

Rather than brooding on potential missed opportunities, it’s more important to maneuver around the “what-if” obstacles. They’re traps that can prevent us from moving forward.

Instead, recognize they may have served a purpose at one time and let them go with gratitude. Then make the best decision on how to move forward from where you are.

Posted in Liz's Stories Tagged with: , ,

Finding Happiness in the Dark

by Liz Jansen

finding happinessFinding happiness and peace of mind is easy when things are going well. Or when we’re riding our motorcycles. We feel joy, freedom, and even euphoria. A spiritual connection. Riding makes you feel better physically. Paul Pelland, a.k.a. Long Haul Paul, an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), who’s riding one million miles with MS for MS, once told me when he rides, he doesn’t have MS.

When life takes a turn, as it invariably does, it’s not so straightforward. Two weeks ago, I voiced my role as a healer in the post I’ve Been Keeping a Secret. Healing work is something I’ve been doing for most of my life but am now just giving it a name.

It was as if I sent out a signal saying I was stepping up for a new set of lessons. For at least a decade, I’ve dealt with a chronic condition that has been managed with medication, lifestyle changes, and holistic care. Early and prompt intervention addresses flare-ups. Somehow I missed the early signs and by the time I sought medical care last week, it had progressed to the point where I needed more aggressive intravenous treatment.

When you’re in pain and there’s a battle for control raging in your body, happiness fades into the shadows. That leaves fertile ground for fear to muscle in and gain the upper hand. Fear tries to distract you by creating anxiety and incessant chatter in your mind about all the things that can go wrong. For me, this struck right at my heart, wondering amongst other things, if this might temporarily curtail long-distance and out of country motorcycle travel.

Everything looks dark. I question whether I’m on the right path, yet intuitively I know for certain I am. My life looks so different than it did less than three years ago when I was hurtling across the prairies on a big dual-sport bike, headed (or so I thought) for South America. Although it’s a very different journey than I anticipated, it’s still my journey.

The dark thoughts recede once you begin to feel better, as I do now. Recognizing they’re only giving you one distorted side of the story helps put things in perspective. Preventing them from gaining the upper hand is an essential step in the healing process.

The only way for me to do that is by staying in the present, reminding myself life has its rough spots, and remaining consciously connected to my Higher Power. It creates the space for my body, with medical and spiritual intervention, to do its job. Expressing gratitude, silently or aloud, for gifts like the support of loved ones, readily available diagnostic tools, and outstanding medical care also helps heal. Not necessarily cure.

Finding happiness and peace of mind is harder when it’s dark. The reality doesn’t change but the stories you tell yourself about it, and thus the outcome, can.

What stories are you telling yourself?

 


photo credit: IamNotUnique Moonlight via photopin (license)

Posted in Freedom Friday, Liz's Stories Tagged with: ,

I’ve Been Keeping a Secret

by Liz Jansen

For years I’ve been keeping a secret from myself. Only now do I have the courage to bring it into the open.

I started my professional life as a Registered Nurse, working in hospitals for five years before moving into Occupational Health. From there, I migrated into Corporate Human Resources and Training and Development. I enjoyed it and worked for a great company.

Somewhere I realized I’d followed a fork in the road that although scenic, wasn’t getting me to my destination. My work was no longer meaningful and my spirit needed to be doing something that was.

You can’t go backwards in life, not that I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure how to get back to the path I wanted. The first thing is to stop going in the wrong direction so I left my job. Since I didn’t have anything else to do, like work, I went on a two-month motorcycle trip around Canada and the United States, always a good option when a motorcyclist needs to think.

While on that trip, I began the second step—coming up with the things I really enjoy doing. The things that make my heart soar. Topping the list, of course, was riding a motorcycle. But how do you turn that into meaningful work that pays the bills?

Having experienced and seen in others how transformative riding can be, I realized what I really wanted to do was create the opportunity for others to share that experience. So in 2004 I started a company that offered tours, organized events, and held workshops and retreats.

You can’t experience the Zen if you don’t have the skills to operate a motorcycle proficiently so I became a certified motorcycle instructor, teaching others to ride through Humber College in Toronto.

A budding interest in writing led to freelance work and authoring books about motorcycles and empowerment. Most of my inspiration came from motorcycle experiences and the inner and outer journeys they take you on.

In 2013, a six-week trip took me through Utah to where, coincidently, a course on shamanic energy medicine was being offered. I’d been exploring this for years but expected to take just the one medicine wheel course, for interest. Once I got there, I knew I would complete the full practitioner program. I received my certificate last month.

So here’s the secret. I’m a healer. It’s at the root of everything I do. I’ve come full circle from my start in nursing. The gifts, or medicines I use for healing, are my motorcycle (which precedes the nursing), words—in books, articles, stories, blogs, and presentations, and my training, wisdom, and experience in counseling others. Now I’m integrating energy medicine practices into that medicine bag.

I’ve hesitated to use the term ‘healer’ because the voices in my head tell me it sounds too gimmicky. Or, “Who do you think you are to call yourself a healer?” Or, “People will think you’re a flake.”

So be it. I make a difference through my medicines. What’s that called, if not a healer? That’s what has heart and meaning for me and always has. My gifts are too valuable and too needed to keep them to myself. They are for sharing.

The truth is, as soon as you try and define yourself by a role or title, it’s confining, so I hesitate to list anything. But I have to put something on my LinkedIn profile and business cards. Now I’ll add “Healer” to the roster.

It may seem like a small thing, but hiding something, especially from yourself, blocks creativity and overall energy. Letting it out is liberating.

My secret’s out. We’ve all got secrets that are holding us back. Are you up to sharing yours? Write them in the comments below.


photo credit: JeremyOK eagles via photopin (license)

Posted in Personal Growth Tagged with: ,

Crash Recovery a.k.a. Change Management 101

by Liz Jansen

Recently I was interviewed by Adventure Rider Radio about Crash Recovery. It’s not something I’d expected to be known for. We were talking motorcycles but what impressed me yet again as I listened to my conversation with Jim Martin, is that crash recovery is really about change management. Have a listen. My segment begins around 1:24 minutes.

crash recoveryWhether we’ve had a tip over or a get-off, losing control of our motorcycle and greeting the road are not activities any rider aspires to. Both can rattle our confidence and make us question ourselves. No one expects either one to happen to them.

When we can prepare for change, it’s easier to manage than when we don’t see it coming. But once the event happens, it’s done. You can’t change it.

What we can control, however, is how we move forward. Depending on the severity, our plans can change dramatically in seconds, and they change the lives of those around us as well.

The process by which we respond is no different to other life crashes—serious illness, illness of a friend or family member, job loss, divorce, family conflict, financial changes, or death of a loved one.

Whatever the crash, we’re now at a new baseline. We can choose to stay there and wallow in self-pity, or we can decide how we’re going to rebuild our life.

It may take time, it can be arduous, and we may need help to get back on our feet, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But no one else can do it for us.

We can’t control many events that affect us and initiate change in our lives. What we can do is choose how we respond. All it takes to get going is that first wobbly step. And then the next. And the next.

Although there may be setbacks in our crash recovery, each step makes us stronger, in ways we couldn’t have imagined.


photo credit: Theo Crazzolara Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area via photopin (license)

Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles Tagged with: , ,

Celebrate One Family Day

by Liz Jansen

one family dayThis weekend, Family Day is celebrated in three Canadian provinces. (British Columbia celebrated last weekend.) Introduced in Ontario, where I live, in 2008, it still catches me by surprise. The government in power at the time decided the three-month stretch from Christmas to Easter was too long to go without a long weekend, so they created one midway, and with no better excuse, called it Family Day.

As someone who’s self employed, it’s of little significance as a designated holiday. As a matter of fact, I’m meeting with a client on Monday, and I don’t get premium pay for working. I see my family on a regular basis so it’s not necessary for an obligatory visit.

However, that doesn’t take away from the value of setting aside time to honor not just our families but our communities and our connection to each other. More than ever, it matters that we’re mindful of being part of one family. One humanity.

Even the day pays homage to diverse interests depending on where you live– from families (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario), to Louis Riel (Manitoba), Islanders (Prince Edward Island), and George Washington (U.S.). And that’s just in two countries.

We can think differently, have different feelings, and different beliefs. But this earth is home for all of us.

Embodying a life where family is not limited to the people we look like or who believe like us honors the truth that we’re connected. And it begins with honoring our self.

It just so happens that I’ll be immersed with DNA family, friends, and the Toronto Motorcycle Show— favorite communities with lots of overlap!

We don’t need a statutory holiday for an excuse to be with family whoever they are. This weekend, take the time, even in some small way, to offer gratitude to our eclectic family. Thank you for the beauty and strength you add to my mine!

All my relations.


photo credit: thor_mark  The Road to Zion… via photopin (license)

Posted in Leadership

5 Moto Secrets Revealed

by Liz Jansen

Recently I was interviewed by Adventure Rider Radio for a story on Crash Recovery. During the course of the conversation I found myself admitting one of the shadows that had crossed my mind, albeit briefly, was that people would fault me for riding a bike that was too big for me. That’s a topic for another article, but reflection brought to mind a few other memorable events over 47 years of riding,

There’s enough serious stuff making the rounds these days so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. Here are 5 moto secrets revealed, events you might not have known about my riding history.

  1. At 17, I dropped a motorcycle with my 5-year old sister Mary 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. 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 fifteen years later. Undeterred, she went on to get her own bike.
  2. At 24, I dropped my friend Debra 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 over we went. She’s still not over it and hasn’t been a passenger since. We are still best friends however.
  3. Newly separated in 2003 and eager to demonstrate my independence, I pulled into an Esso 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 it up on the center stand, then filled the tank. The oil level was fine, but I couldn’t get it off the stand. My feet dangled inches above the ground when I sat on the seat. Finally, standing beside it, I put the side stand down, and gave it a mighty heave, intending to pull it towards me. Unfortunately I pushed it too hard away from me and it fell on its right 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, age 10, for a ride on the back of my FZ1. The curb cut at the end of their driveway was very high and I had precious cargo so I was cautious. Too cautious and made an amateur mistake, using the front brake as I turned out of the driveway. Over we went. She too was a real sport and not fazed. Her dad, my brother, who’d been watching, helped me pick it up. She got back on, put on her gloves, and we continued our ride.
  5. Finishing up a day of photo shoots in 2013, I stopped at the nearby Morningstar Mill at Decew Falls in St. Catharines to unwind a bit before heading home. My Super Ténéré was still new and unblemished. Riding in the loose gravel driveway I
    suspected I might have trouble getting it out. I’d parked on a grade with the front wheel lower than the rear, and a slight drop to the right. 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 side stand down, I began walking away, turning around with horror when I heard the crash. There was no one around to help and I couldn’t lift it uphill on gravel. I went out the road and waited for the right vehicle to flag down. The taller of the two guys who jumped out of the white utility van picked it up as if it was a toy.

Motorcycle safety is always serious business and I don’t take it lightly. However, with these barely moving incidents, there’s usually a lighter side, as well as lessons.

What secrets do you have about your motorcycle experiences?

Posted in Adventure

What Riding a Motorcycle Says About You

by Liz Jansen

What riding a motorcycle says about youHave you ever considered what riding a motorcycle says about you? Not to others, but to yourself. We know they can empower, build confidence, and create unbelievable exhilaration. But there’s more to their teachings.

Ask yourself these five questions to learn about yourself from your ride.

Why do you ride?

As an instructor, it’s normal to see students nervous about learning to ride, unless they’re still in their teens. No one, however, is more anxious than the person that doesn’t want to be there and is doing it only to please someone else. Invariably, they don’t pass the course, they crash, or they pass and their motorcycle sits in the garage.

Healthy relationships depend on considering the needs, wants, and interests of others and often that means mutual compromises. Learning to ride a motorcycle isn’t negotiable. There’s too much at stake.

As much as your partner is totally passionate about riding, it doesn’t mean you are, and acquiescing puts you at risk. Have that conversation before you sign up for the course or, as an experienced rider, when you decide you’re no longer interested.

But if you do want to ride, then pull out all the stops to make it happen.

What do you do when your intuition and opinions of others differ?

What input did you have in the selection of your motorcycle?

It’s just like any other personal or professional relationship—you’re the only one that can decide who, or which motorcycle, is right for you. Arranged partnerships don’t work well in our culture.

It’s still wise to seek advice so you can make an informed choice. When I was first married, I purchased a motorcycle for my husband while he was away on the one we shared. We were both experienced riders and I knew what he was interested in. Besides it was time to each have our own bike again. When you’re just starting to ride, it’s hard to know what you’re going to like, and even harder for someone else to predict. Your first motorcycle may only be suitable for your learning period as you get comfortable with your skills and know what kind of riding you enjoy.

How do you make important life choices?

Do you trade safety for group approval?

Motorcycling is both solitary and social. Not everyone enjoys solo riding and most people ride in groups, i.e. with at least one other person, some times. The safest groups have a protocol they communicate and adhere to. Even then, you may feel pressured to ride faster than you’re comfortable with, for longer intervals than you want, or through conditions you’re not ready for.

In the end, you’re at the controls and making your riding decisions. While you can get lucky, riding mistakes, either your own or someone else’s, can have devastating consequences.

What are you potentially forfeiting to gain peer approval? And why do you feel it’s necessary?

How do you care for your motorcycle?

Aside from your riding skills, the condition of your motorcycle plays an essential role in keeping you safe on the road. Improperly inflated or worn tires, slack drive chains, burned out bulbs, loose parts, worn brakes, and inadequate levels of engine oil can put your bike, and you, in peril.

While I like to do my own checks, you don’t have to. Just make sure somebody does them on a regular basis. It’s no different from taking control of your health.

How well do you care for the body you depend on to take you through life?

Do you push your comfort zone while riding?

Different than bowing to peer pressure, this speaks to learning new skills from qualified instructors, riding somewhere you’ve never been before, meeting new riding friends, or perhaps taking your first solo overnight ride. If we don’t push our comfort zones, we don’t grow as riders or individuals.

As the saying goes, literally and symbolically, there are so many roads, so little time.

What are you waiting for?

It doesn’t matter what you ride, how far you ride, where you ride, or how long you’ve ridden. Motorcycles are our teachers.

What is yours trying to tell you?


photo credit: RaidersLight Easy Rider via photopin (license)

Posted in Personal Growth

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