Anatomy of Life Lessons in Fear, Community and Humility

Fear can do funny things. Even though I had the knowledge, skills, experience – and motorcycle to navigate the challenging driveway, fear got in the way and made me scared.  Fully loaded with all my camping gear, I made it up no problem, yet I was nervous about going down. Getting ready to head out with my friends for a ride in the Idaho mountains, I took a deep breath at the top, told myself I could do it, envisioned how to do it, and started out, standing on the pegs and following them on their cruisers. What I didn’t do was make fear get off the passenger seat.

Bike in Field 2 sm

This was the corner that got me. It’s a hairpin turn with loose gravel on a driveway that’s about 1/2 km/1/4 mile long – to the beautiful home where I was staying at the top of the hill. I left the road after the apex, just to the right of the pine tree partially visible on the left.

Fateful corner 4 sm

You can see the loose gravel in the corner here. I caught the edge of it, then remember looking ahead to my friends down the lane who had safely negotiated it, to focus my eyes where I wanted to go. I did almost everything right – except when my back wheel started to fishtail,  I looked at the edge.  The grass was tinder dry and offered absolutely no traction.

Gravel in Corner sm

And over I went. 
Bike in field front view 4 sm

Fortunately, I walked away with only a few bruises, including my ego. I was free of the bike immediately, shut off the kill switch, turned off the ignition and removed my jacket, helmet and gloves. Because I’d been giving myself space, it took a few minutes for the others to realize what had happened and huff up the hill to my rescue.

Aok best sm

The farmer whose mule-grazing field I landed in saw it all happen and ran towards me. Unimpressed, the mules kept grazing. Good Samaritan that he was, farmer Ron hoofed back down to his barn,returning on his Kubota tractor , followed by his wife on their ATV. He got the tow rope out while she went up the hill for more help. Here we’re trying to extricate the barbed wire fence which now resided between the rear tire and fender.

Towing  barbed wire 4 sm

Given the angle of the hill, the uneven rocky terrain, slippery grass and the way I landed, getting the bike up the slope was no easy feat. We did it but not before having it go over on its other side.

Over the other way 4 sm

With Greer Stewart and Joley Baker adding additional coaching, we got it upright again. This time it stayed that way.

Righting it again Joley sm

It took a whole team of people to get the job done.

Almost there 18 sm

But we did it!!  A HUGE thank you to everyone.  We needed each person and I’m immensely grateful and touched by your thoughtfulness.

Ta da Joley sm

Then it was time to survey the damage to the bike.

Checking for damage 2 sm

Fortunately all that needed fixing was popping a small plastic piece back into place and tightening both mirrors down. And a nice ding in each pannier.

Tightening mirrors sm

True to form, my bike started right up! What a relief. We were headed to Lolo Pass and had a couple of hundred miles of mountain riding.

Started right up sm 2

The life lessons in all of this?

  1. First is the power of fear to take up residence and undermine our confidence with false thoughts. No one is beyond it.
  2. Second is the touching power of community – so many people with different expertise, most of whom I hadn’t met 24 hours before, pitched in and lent unconditional help. I remember my own farmer dad towing many stuck vehicles with his Ford tractor,  (never my motorcycle) and always lending a hand – and his tractor to help out. Now farmer Ron was helping me out with his Kubota. Ready to rescue animals stuck in fences, he had his wire-cutters with him, tossed them to Bob who loosened the fence enough to free my bike. My gratitude goes out also to a second Bob who arrived with his Polaris ATV and winch, Dale, Kristy – all who came and lent muscle-power, Joley and Greer for their wisdom and advice, Kristine for capturing the images, and Tessie (Kristine’s dog) for waiting patiently and silently for her ride.
  3. Third is the lesson of humility. The rider with the bike most suited for that terrain (with a 70/30 rear tire) and the most riding experience slid off the road, when 3 bikes which were far less suited for that driveway got through. Fortunately, all riders are very skillful and deftly navigated it – slowly but safely. You can imagine the voices in my head telling me how foolish I was. It goes back to # 1 though and the power of our thoughts.

It’s said there are 2 plans for every day – our plans and Spirit’s plan for us. Sometimes they are the same; often they’re not. Setting out on that ride, none of us knew that we’d be way-laid for an hour or so by life lessons. School was in session for everyone there and while not everyone came away from that experience with the same lesson, it’s an event we’ll all remember.

 

Thank you.

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Life Lessons from Motorcycles, Liz's Stories Tagged with: ,
10 comments on “Anatomy of Life Lessons in Fear, Community and Humility
  1. Mary McGee says:

    Since you Liz, and your bike, were OK, after reading about your get-off I had a little giggle because you are such a ‘good sport ‘ about getting yourself and bike back together.
    I hope your readers can read into your story that having a get-off is just not the worst thing to ever happen.
    XO

    • lizjansen says:

      Well Mary – You’re not the first, or even the second to laugh at my folly. 🙂

      I hope so too – it can happen to any of us.

      Cheers,

      Liz

  2. Walt Fulton says:

    Liz, Sorry to hear and see your little tip over, but glad all is well. Sounds like the “fear” got the best of you. Focus, relax, smooth throttle, good clutch control and head and eyes looking where you want to go will do wonders.

    Nice seeing you in Minden and enjoy the ride.

    Ride well, Walt

    • lizjansen says:

      Thanks so much Walt. It was all due to the fear – I knew how to negotiate that corner. I was focused on fear instead of doing what I had to do. And then – so much for the smooth throttle when I started fishtailing and sliding down the slippery slope!

      Much appreciate your words of wisdom Walt. Very nice seeing you and Nancy in Minden as well. Only wish we could have had longer!

      Best,

      Liz

  3. Lorrie Wren says:

    Glad to hear that you and your bike only had minor damage. Carry on with the trip and have fun, consider the event just a little extra excitement!:)

    • lizjansen says:

      Good advice Lorrie. I don’t need any more excitement though! At least not that kind. I’m grateful I and bike are OK. Could have been much worse.

      Safe travels,

      Liz

  4. It happens to *everyone*. Any motorcycle traveler that says it doesn’t is a liar! Bad luck that you fell, amazing good luck that you weren’t hurt and your bike is okay and that there were so many people around to help. I’m mortified when I make a mistake when I ride – but, on the other hand, hey, I’M RIDING, and that’s awesome! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • lizjansen says:

      And thank you for sharing Jayne. I agree. I wouldn’t have fallen had my bike not slid out from under me! 🙂 I hate making mistakes too – but they only happen because we’re learning/growing. Love your energy and zest!!

      Safe travels.

      Liz

  5. Christine says:

    Liz,

    Thankful you were not hurt! Your riding scope is well beyond mine but when I encounter a hairpin or similar challenge, I immediately start a running commentary and talk my way through it. This keeps my mind and actions in sync. My bike and I both have a few miles on us as well as a few scrapes and dents – LOL!

    • lizjansen says:

      Christine – I’m very thankful I wasn’t hurt. I knew what I had to do, the problem was, the running irrational commentary from Fear was louder than that and won out. It was a big lessons for me – and one I’m thankful I can share. Fortunately, I had only a few bruises; my panniers got the dings. One on each side.

      Safe travels,

      Liz

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