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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With Greer Stewart and Joley Baker adding additional coaching, we got it upright again. This time it stayed that way.
It took a whole team of people to get the job done.
But we did it!! A HUGE thank you to everyone. We needed each person and I’m immensely grateful and touched by your thoughtfulness.
Then it was time to survey the damage to the bike.
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.
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.
The life lessons in all of this?
- First is the power of fear to take up residence and undermine our confidence with false thoughts. No one is beyond it.
- 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.
- 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.