How to Ride a Motorcycle Across the Country in One Step

by Liz Jansen

ride a motorcycleIn 2003, at age 49, I walked away from a 25-year marriage and a long-term corporate career. What’s a motorcycle rider to do when faced with open-ended time off during the summer? Go for an extended ride, of course.

I closed the office door behind me on August 1. Three days later, I was heading west for two months on the road. There were a few places I wanted to see and people to visit, but within that was lots of leeway. My route would take me generally across Canada to Vancouver Island, south along the Pacific coast to San Louis Obispo, California, and then wind back to Ontario.

“Aren’t you scared?” people routinely asked, referring to riding across the country by myself.

It hadn’t occurred to me to be frightened. “Of what?” I wondered.

They’d offer a number of reasons, the main ones being personal safety and security, rain, breaking down in the middle of nowhere, and being alone for so long.

Certainly those are factors to consider and prepare for, but they’re not showstoppers. I was an experienced and skilled rider, had a new and reliable motorcycle, and was sticking to paved or hard-packed gravel roads. My riding gear, including rainwear, was in good condition. I was riding in countries where English is the primary language so communication was straightforward. I knew how to look after my motorcycle and how to ask for help if I needed more expertise.

Most of all, my heart was asking me to go. The trip was something I wanted and needed to do. There was no reason not to go. Furthermore, I’d have been disappointed in myself had I stayed home.

These prerequisites were no different than what were needed to ride the roads around my home. I had them all. I just had to go.

Rather than being overwhelmed with the thought of two months on the road and all the things that could possibly go wrong, I focused on one day at a time. Dealing with situations as they arose consisted of realistically evaluating the circumstance based on facts, the likelihood it would materialize, and assessing the potential severity. Based on that, I made my best decision.

Before I knew it, I was across the plains, through the mountains and at the Pacific coast, and ready to head south—having the time of my life!

Anything you’re called to do will bring opportunities and trials. You won’t know the details of either until they happen, and then you draw from within to meet the challenge. That’s how we grow.

Here’s the key. All we ever need to do is take one step—the next one.

Then it’s just like being able to ride a motorcycle across the country to the Pacific. You’ll look back from a new place of strength and wisdom and wonder what all the fuss was about.

How do you deal with self-doubt? Tell us in the comments.

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photo credit: sniggie Riding redbud road via photopin (license)


Author, writer, and student Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery.

12 Comments on “How to Ride a Motorcycle Across the Country in One Step

  1. Perfect timing for me to read this post. I’ve been riding for a year, and still very much a fair-weather rider. I am a pedal-bike cyclist and have commuted year-round to work for the past five years and have to remind myself that in the beginning I was a nervous cyclist whereas now I ride with confidence and joy.

    My hope is to get to that place on my motorcycle. This weekend I am in an experienced rider course (Vancouver Island Safety Council) and tonight is the theory class. I had planned to drive to the class tonight, in my daughter’s car, rather than ride my motorcycle, as was saving up my confidence for the weekend of riding.
    Reading this post, about one step at a time, makes me rethink me plan to drive rather than ride tonight!

    • Hi Virginia,

      Love your email! Thank you. Congratulations on learning to ride. Just keep riding – you’ll get there. And if you ride to your course, you’ll have built up that much more confidence to use in your course. It’s not rationed, but you can build more. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

      • Weekend course all done, 340 km total riding that included racetrack, freeway, and winding country roads. Saturday was riding in the rain with hail, and Sunday was sunshine. So much fun!

        I switched to a Honda Rebel recently, trading in my Honda CB300F for it, and I very much enjoyed riding a bike in this course that I felt comfortable on.

        I also shared your blog, Liz, with a fellow female rider. Sharing the love 🙂

        • Congratulations Virginia!!! Seems you got all your bases covered with all kinds of riding!! Great to get that training under professional guidance. Just imagine where you’ll go now! Safe travels. And thanks for sharing.


  2. Hi Liz,

    Love your weekly newsletters!

    Usually, when I’m afraid to do something, its a self-confidence issue. I hate when its so strong that I chose not to participate. As I get older (and time is no longer on my side), I remind myself of a book title from a number of years ago… “Feel Your Fear and Do It Anyway” The more I persevere, the less I feel this way… and the happier I am.

    • Hi Mary – So well said! Fear is always going to be there, but it’s how we manage it that makes the difference. Sounds like you’ve got it under control! Safe riding. Thank you.

  3. I am not great at listening, but I tell myself, “If it was impossible, nobody else would be doing it.”

    A work in process, like life!

  4. Like you, Liz, I take it one day at a time, even one moment at a time. For me that’s a major key.

  5. I like the quote from Eleanor Roosevelt ” you must do the things you think you cannot” it is difficult to step out of my comfort zone, but most of the time it is rewarding.