Thursday, April 24, 2008

You can do this!

Everything I needed to know in life I learned from a Starbucks cup. Well, not exactly. Once in a while, though, I come across one that seems worth passing along. The quote on this cup makes a good guide for a lot of things in life. I also see an application to what this blog is about.

First and foremost I'm a disciple of using a bike for transportation instead of a car. I've been told I live on a bike. Which means that there's a lot of variety here in the blog. Interesting things happen in life. Life swirls around riding. Hence the diversity here in a blog about riding. The foundation, though, is riding. To work, for work, moving about as required by life, and trying to ride for fun whenever I can. Every so often I like to come back to the roots. That's what this post is about.

I'm a hardcore rider. I'm committed to two wheels. I have a reputation among my peers and acquaintances. Hardcore and borderline crazy.

There's this interesting quirk in human behaviour. You'd think that people would be happy to see someone else succeed at something. It's true if there's no perceived threat. You know what I mean? If you're trying to master something, and I'm trying to accomplish the same thing, your success can be a threat to me. Once I'm there myself it's not a problem. However, if you get there before me, I'm just as likely to feel a division as a bond. The sad part is that it can keep me from attaining what I want to. That happens to me a lot when it comes to riding. Not the attaining part. I'm afraid I sometimes help create the gulf.

My riding students don't care much. They're thrilled to be taught by someone they can have confidence in. Those few friends and teammates who are at my level feel a bond. It's the riders in between who seem to have difficulties. I try to be as approachable as possible. After all, it's just me, you know? If someone tells me they'd like to ride to work more, for instance, I take them at their word. So I offer some friendly advice. Things like how to deal with wet and cold weather. Having been there and done that, who better to use as a resource? Especially an experienced rider who's willing to share.

It doesn't always work that way, it seems. When the contrast between the current levels is too great, people are put off. Not by me, but the situation. I think they reason that they'll never be like me, or they're not like me now, so why bother? We live in a world that wants instant gratification. That attitude can rub off on us without our realizing it. Listen, nobody starts out riding as hardcore and hugely experienced. It's okay to be a beginner, an intermediate, or recreational rider. If you want to expand what you use the bike for, just keep working at it. Little by little and baby steps are perfectly fine. Who cares if you're not hardcore and crazy like me? At least not yet! Just keep working at it. One day you, too, can join the ranks of the proudly insane! That's why the quote from Mr. Karnazes is so powerful here. Sometimes we run, sometimes we walk, and sometimes we crawl. It's all forward progress.

Do you want to expand your use of a bike? You can do it. It doesn't have to a night and day accomplishment. Did you ride to work once this week? Good for you! Is it possible to ride two days next week? Are there a few things from a store that you need? Could you wear a backpack and carry them home that way? Every trip will provide you with valuable experience besides being fun. With the skyrocketing price of fuel there's a practical, as well as fun side, to it all. I know a lot of you who read here would like to ride more. Share your forward progress with us. We'll all celebrate together! Learn from, instead of being intimidated by, more experienced riders. We want to help. Our passion is to see a lot more of motorcycles and a lot less of four wheels. Especially those huge SUV's!

Speaking of people with passion, did you see the tips from Andy Goldfine in the April issue of American Motorcylist Magazine? In case you're not sure who he is, Andy's the force behind Aerostich. He's also the founder of the Ride to Work Day. By the way, the day this year is Wednesday, July 16. Andy's one of those I look up to. No Andy, I'm not kissing up. Unless you'll give me a huge discount on a new Roadcrafter, of course!

Andy's one who walks the talk. He's busy adding value to fellow motorcyclists through his company. Andy rides to work. Before I started this blog I was a nobody. Still am, actually, but back then Andy had never even heard of me. He might have by now since somebody using his name posted a comment here not long ago! There was a little mixup with shipping back a jacket I'd sent in for repairs. I received a call from Green Bay. Yeah, that one. Somehow my jacket went to an equipment manager for the Packers. Andy personally followed up to make sure I got my jacket back. What I'm trying to say is that, like those of us with a passion, he's down to earth and ready to share.

Here's a couple of things from the article in AM. I don't have express permission but at least it's attributed!

A routine is important. Put gear and accessories where they're readily accessible. A rider should pick the right bike for their circumstances. Both for riding to work and riding on the weekends.

This part is an exact quote from the magazine. If they quoted you correctly, Andy, then I'm quoting you correctly.

"Remember the upsides. The tangible environmental and economic benefits are obvious. You're only moving 300 pounds of metal and processed materials across the planet. The mental benefits are that when you use a motorcycle, you're actively engaging in the management of risk. It's not just the wind and the cold air in your face that's refreshing. All of your senses have been engaged, and that helps you feel better about yourself and gets you energized for the day"

( end of quotation )

I don't know about you, but that sounds like something I can get excited about. Oh wait, I already do! Don't you want to be a part of it? I joked earlier about joining the ranks of the insane. In actuality, treading more lightly upon the planet is one of the sanest options open to us in this day and age. In other words, it's a fine, smart, thing to strive for. If we can accomplish this while adding tremendous value to our lives, bonus! A lot of you are already enjoying it to the full. Some of you are sort of on the brink of discovery. Take a couple of steps forward. You'll like it so much you'll want to take a couple of more. After a while, you'll be amazed how much distance those small steps have covered. What are you waiting for? You can do this!!

Miles and smiles,



Anonymous said...


I suppose I can count myself as one of those insane riders. I still commute from work and 120 miles I may add. Between the 3 bikes that I have, which I alternate riding so one is not jeolous of the other, I'm elated to say I amass 80,000 miles since I started riding 3 years ago. It gets lonely during those cold, windy, wet, and dreary days commuting back and forth by myself and yet as the weather gets better, and when many of these riders begin to resurface from hiatus, I find myself reflecting back to those days. But then again, I also miss waving back to other riders, so it's all fair.


Art from Camano Island, WA

Conchscooter said...

I'd be pathetic if I used weather as an excuse whether or not to commute. But there again a friend of mine sometimes complains it's too hot to pull his 20 year old BMW R100T out. Pathetic is as pathetic does; but i'm not a trainer, I'm judgemental.

Earl Thomas said...

I guess that I would have to compare adapting to riding in the elements as a lot like beginning to work out. Don't over do it when you begin, make intelligent decisions regarding your progress, and keep at it! Like working out, the more you do it, the stronger you're bound to get. An excellent example of this is perhaps in "Cecilie's moto journal." When she started riding at the age of 45, she was afraid to make left hand turns in traffic. Now look at her, riding long distance trips as far the East coast and north up to Alaska; now it sounds like she's planning her dream trip to travel the Silk road, I believe she'll do it too, why? Simple, she take's things step by step and most important, she doesn't quit!

Doug C said...

Three months ago Steve Williams posted a comment to me about something I wrote and I soon discovered this online community.

Now I find myself in the midst of incredibly wise, intelligent, and insanely passionate crazy people. How wonderful!

Forward. Always forward.

Charlie6 said...

I will ride to work whenever I can...during winter I sometimes I have to snow-blow my way out of the neighborhood to get to the dry main roads...but unless there's ice/snow on the main roads, I'll ride.

The fact that my cage gets 11 mpg in the city is a big motivator too these days. Poor thing has accumulated less than 750 miles on her since July of 07.

Redleg's Rides

irondad said...

I wondered if you were still riding and reading. Haven't heard from you in a while. Great to see you comment, again! Wow! That's a lot of miles, especially for the new rider I met online here in the beginning. I take it riding suits you, eh?

Maybe we're pathetic because we feel like we need to ride so much. No, that can't be true. Can it? You haven't been watching Forrest Gump lately have you?

You got my drift exactly. I could have saved a lot of writing by just saying what you said!

Doug C,
Be careful. They say you become like those you hang out with.

Man, I can't tell if that's just a comment or borderline bragging. Go ahead and brag a little, you've certainly earned it by blowing snow and riding on sidewalks!

Take care,

Steve Williams said...

I can't agree more about building a routine if you want to ride more. A routine made it easier to head out in sub-freezing weather, in rain, or whenever I didn't feel like it.

I actually drive more in warm weather because I turn into a lazy sloppy idiot. I strip off my gear and leave it laying all around. Get up in the morning and it is such a pain to find stuff that it is easy to just take the truck.

I think I'll go put my stuff away now...

Steve Williams
Theoretical Agriculture
Scooter in the Sticks

Charlie6 said...

yep, a bit of bragging on my part...but wanted to make the point that if one wants to ride, sometimes one has to step over the "reasonable man" line to get it done. : )

besides, my wife says I become unbearable if not able to ride for more than one I am trying to keep my marriage healthy. ; )

prozac on wheels is how she refers to my motorcycle.