Thursday, November 07, 2013

Comfort Zone Cages

So I wrote about being lucky to have a job where I can help people grow.  It's amazing how much harder this is to do than it sounds.  Some people are eager, some not so much.  Some flat out don't want to budge from where they are.  Others want to learn new skills or hone the ones they have but they just can't quite step out of their comfort zones.  Security becomes more precious than progress.

Think of Monkey Bars on a playground.  The contraption where you can hang by your arms and move along hand over hand.  Guess that's where the "Monkey" part of the name comes from.  So there you are, hanging onto a rung with both hands, knees bent so that your hands are your only support.  The only way to move forward is to let go with one hand and reach out.  It's amazing how many people won't let go!

Sometimes comfort zones can be good things and other times they can become cages.

In the course of writing this blog I've tried to be honest about my own humanity.  In that vein I have to admit that I've felt that feeling of not wanting to let go.  Here's an example.

I'm in a small upstairs gym at an athletic club.  One question is repeatedly bouncing around inside my head.

"How can a guy who's so graceful on a motorcycle be so freakin' ungainly on a dance floor?"

Yep, we were taking dance lessons.

Katie and I grew up as country kids.  Once upon a time we were pretty good at the Square Dance thing.  We knew a few simple steps for slow songs and waltzes.  Maybe it was something she saw on the television.  Perhaps it came up when she was visiting with her girlfriends.  You now those coffee circles where they compare notes on what they've been able to get their husbands to do?  It could even have been the fact that we're eligible for senior discounts and she felt we should learn something new together to help prevent Alzheimer's.  Who knows?  What I DO know is that one day Katie piped up and said she wanted to take Ballroom Dancing lessons.


You ever get that trapped feeling?  Katie was looking me right in the eyes and waiting for my reaction.  My gaze was locked on her face, as well.  I knew she could sense my reluctance.  I could also see the challenge in her eyes.  It was as if she was saying:

"Come on my Swashbuckling Hero (honest to God, that's what she calls me; she even has the Indiana Jones theme song as her ringer when I call her cell phone) what happened to 'I love a challenge'?

I knew whether I refused her request or agreed I'd probably end up looking like one of these. It's a nice looking mule, but still....

You've already had the teaser about which direction it went.  Being associated with a major university, I looked up their dance instructor.  As quickly as you can sign a check we were committed to eight weeks of something called the Night Club Two Step.

It was rough in the beginning.  I developed an instant rapport with the guy standing next to me on the first night.  When the instructor told us to start actually moving instead of standing in one spot I could hear him mutter under his breath.

"This is going to be ugly."

Truer words were never spoken. We were learning the two-step and I had two steps, all right.  My left foot went "Stomp!" and my right foot went "Clunk!"  If only I could have brought Elvira!  Then I'd show them graceful.

Things gradually got smoother.  I learned that the real trick to being graceful (Ok, at least not as klutzy) is to stay up on the balls of your feet.  I scored points with Katie.  Plus we've actually gone out dancing and looked pretty good, if I say so myself.   We actually have some new skills and are having fun in the process.  We may even go back for the intermediate lessons.

Part of my success was due to the fact that the instructor was not only good at imparting the skills but she was also a sort of  psychologist, too.  She had empathy for where us guys were coming from and that informed her approach.

More on that aspect to come.  Specifically on how it relates to gaining new riding skills.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I didn't see her!

Telephone pole to police officer:  "Honest, Officer, I didn't see her!"

Hmmm, perhaps a Hi-Viz cat would have helped.

Miles and smiles,


Sunday, November 03, 2013


Another year of the world being forced to deal with my existence has recently been marked off on the calendar.  Each year this event triggers a time of reflection upon that which has passed and that which is still to come.  The view backwards includes blessings I've experienced.  The view forward includes thoughts of worthiness.  Many of the blessings are really gifts from others.  How do I remain worthy of receiving such gifts?  Recently, the word "legacy" comes to mind in that context.  Ocean beaches are great places for contemplation.  Katie and I spent a few days there recently.  The small size of a human compared to the vastness of the ocean  helps put things back into perspective.

I apologize if you came here today looking for motorcycling instruction and didn't find it.  On the other hand, most of us are more than the sum of our riding.  In my life a motorcycle has been a vehicle for both transportation and personal growth.  A motorcycle is not "who we are".  Riding has certainly been a large part of my life.  Riding has built character that I've transferred to my life.  I've built character in my life that I've transferred to riding.  To think about riding without a thought to the deepness of the human experience is like looking at this old house. 

One could make an argument that my high contrast black and white photo is a thing of beauty.  (At least I would! )  Once you get past the exterior, though, it's empty and rotten inside from a lack of attention.

So I return to being worthy.

My life has been blessed by the love and loyalty of my beautiful companion of 36 years.  Katie has been nothing but supportive and a true friend.  She still treats me like a prince.  (whether I deserve it or not )  I try to deserve it by being worthy of her.

Katie may be a little perturbed by my putting in this photo of her in the sunset light.  We'd been out on the beach most of the day and she's windblown.  The light however, was too good to pass up.  The photo well illustrates the contemplative nature of our visit.  All I can say is that you're beautiful to me in any condition, Katie.  I see you with my heart more than my eyes these days.

Another blessing is the friends I've made in fellow riders.  Included in those are my fellow bloggers.  Having not posted in a looooong time, it was gratifying to see that folks still cared enough to comment when I finally put up a post.  I'm blessed to have friends who notice my absence. 

Who wouldn't feel the love when a guy like Bobskoot shows up at my office.  I was outside making a phone call and getting some fresh air when up pulls this loaded down BMW.  That fact that he took the time to come see me on his trip is another precious gift.

Earlier in the year I had the privilege of visiting Dom as he completed his epic sidecar trip.  These are a couple of many gifts from fellow bloggers.  Again, one has to ask themselves how they are to prove worthy. 

This idea colors my thoughts as I contemplate the view forward.  The question is where am I headed in the future?

I know one place that we're all eventually headed for.  I've spent time wondering graveyards, too.  Always in the search for perspective.

By the time we end up here it's too late to change how we've lived.  I see names on the headstones but don't really know anything about what they left behind.  I'm ok with that happening for me, as well.  My goal isn't to be remembered.  It's to leave something of value independent of my name.  As long there are others who've received something of value from my being here I'm content. Here's a scene on the beach I captured.

You can see the father crouched behind his son as they fly the kite.  By the way, it took a lot of tries to get the guys and the crazily moving kite in the same frame!

It's this photo that got me to thinking of the word "legacy".  The father is passing along a skill to his son as they share the time together.  I believe that my own legacy will be the proof of my worthiness.

That's the great news about my employment.  Passion and vocation reside together.  I've finally come to the point where I can be totally immersed in the world of motorcycles.  I'm also surrounded by people that are overflowing with heart and great character.  Wonderful gifts that, again, require worthiness.

If I had to describe my job the preferred description would be that it's to help people grow.  Helping folks to grow is a way to establish a legacy.  Unfortunately, human nature complicates the process.

Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


"There are two kinds of people... One kind, you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves.  It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it.  Whereas, the other kind keeps moving, changing.  With these people, you can never say 'X stops here', or 'Now I know all there is to know about Y.'  That doesn't mean they're unstable.  Ah, no, far from it.  They are FLUID.  They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young.  In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive."

From "The Finishing School" by Gail Godwin.

And you thought all I did was ride motorcycles and run around trying to look tough.  I can actually read and do so once in a while!

More to follow.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tense Gum Chewer!

Somebody mentioned that they chewed a lot of gum to ease tension while riding.  I think I found some!

Miles and smiles,


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Check the Tension Level

Well, I thought I had shook loose enough to have some more free time.  I headed out at a run and it looked like I was making good progress toward freedom.  Suddenly, like a dog reaching the end of its chain, I was jerked back into play.  Another BIG project was forced upon us.

Still desiring some time of my own, I dug a hole under the fence and wriggled partway out.  I'm getting this blog post in before somebody notices!

When last we met here I was talking about riding with Seriousness of Purpose and Lightness of Hands.

As a prelude, I'd like to suggest a pre-workshop assignment, if you will.

You can see a lot of tension in this rider's face as she's practicing to conquer the infamous offset cone weave. 

While the tension she's showing seems a bit extreme, I'm willing to be bet that most of us ride with more tension in our bodies than we're aware of.  Especially in our arms and hands.

So here's your assignment.  Monitor yourself as you're riding.  Check for whether your upper body is tensed or relaxed.  You may be amazed at what you find.  If you care to share your results here, please do.  I'll give you a few days and then we'll move on.

Miles and smiles,


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thank you to Andy Goldfine

I was slightly premature when I said I was finally going to have a little more time.  Once more I dove headfirst into rewriting a training program for our instructors.  These things tend to be a little consuming!  The Director simply looks at me with an evil grin on his face.  I ask him why he lets me bite off so much at once without giving me any sort of warning what I'm getting in to.  All he says in reply is "You know you like it."

Last weekend was the proof in the pudding for this project and I'm pleased to say it's both successful and behind me!

Before we delve into riding with seriousness of purpose but with a light touch I wanted to use this post to publicly thank Andy Goldfine, the mastermind behind Aerostich.   His riding gear is still the best I've ever used.  Andy has proven once more that their customer service is second to none, as well.

Somewhere around a year and a half ago I replaced my Roadcrafter.  The old one was getting pretty worn.  Sometime during the twelve years I was using it I sent the suit in for a spiffing up.  It was getting time to think about it again.  Instead, I opted for purchasing new riding gear.  There had been several updates over the years and it seemed a good time to make a purchase.

It was nice to have a new 'Stich.  Once the break-in process was over, of course!  There was a lingering problem with the inner liner of the pants, though.  Always at the worse moments the liner material would get caught in the zipper.  The frequency with which it happened increased.  I sent the pants back to Aerostich for repairs.  Turns out I was a month past the warranty period.  A pleasant fellow from the factory called me to say they would honor the warranty, anyway.  Great!

Only problem is that the situation remained the same when the pants came back.  The issue was at the left knee.  It got to the point where 9 times out of 10, no matter what I did, the liner would jam up the zipper.  I had reached the point where I wasn't going to wear them anymore. Katie told me in no uncertain terms that, as entertaining as it was watching me hop around on one leg, she was tired of hearing me turn the air blue.  I dug out the old ones again and Katie removed her ear plugs.

In the meantime I sent a note to Andy and explained the problem.  I know it was somewhat presumptious on my part to think he would take time to worry about my issue with the zipper.  Come to think of it, a lot of my life issues seem to have a zipper involved in them somewhere.  Oh well, those are stories for another venue.

A reply to my note showed up in my inbox.  Andy had taken time to personally respond.  We exchanged a couple of messages about the problem with the Roadcrafter pants.  As a result Andy sent an email to me and copied some of his folks instructing me to send the pants to his attention.  Andy told his crew to put the package on his desk when it showed up.  So I sent the pants in as directed.  There was silence for a week or two then I got a message telling me the pants were on their way back to me.

The zipper problem has been fully resolved.  There was a "no-charge" invoice with no explanation.  When I later asked Andy he replied that he saw right away that the pants had been assembled incorrectly.  Andy directed the crew to take them apart and replace the liner completely.  Like I say, things are great, now.

So I hearby offer a public thank you to Andy for taking care of me.  It is so impressive that the guy at the top of the food chain still cares enough about his customers to personally ensure that issues get resolved.  Things just happen in the manufacturing process.  This was a simply one of those things.  The real measure of a company is what they do about the glitches.  Andy Goldfine is at the top of the excellence list for taking care of customers.

Thank you so much, Sir!!

Miles and smiles,