Perspective

It’s no secret that life is a little crazy in nearly all corners of the world at the moment.  Social media and the news showing chaos and panic,  gloom and doom.  I had to shut it all off because I was spending way too much time focusing on the troubles.  Some  bad news in my personal life last Friday was the last straw and I went tumbling head first into a dark and scary place.  I lost my perspective and was sure that my world was all screwed up for the foreseeable future.  The rational side of me knows better.  Bad news is temporary.  Even good news is temporary, let’s be real!

Something that bothers me about the news around this pandemic is that so many are focused on what we perceive to be lost.  It’s easy to live in that space; I spent several days there last week.  When I feel chaos, I search for information and in this case, all the information I found was negative.  It didn’t help that I spent all day Friday focused on work and my own issues and how awful it all was FOR ME.  That evening I went to the grocery store only to find it cleaned out as if they were preparing for a remodel.  Fear and panic took an even tighter hold on my heart.  My thoughts of oh boy, this is bad went to how will I survive and how did I not see this coming?  I’m not proud to say that the fear and panic stayed with me for much of the weekend.  The turning point may have been a post on social media that was so exaggerated, I laughed right out loud at it.  Maybe it was the laughter.  Or recognizing that I had been nearly as fearful and panicked; this person was simply putting words to it publicly.  I shut off notifications and turned off the TV.  I went outside and sat in the sunshine.  Read a book.  Connected with friends via text.  My attitude started turning more positive almost immediately.

Today I’m able to focus on what’s going well instead of just the negative.  More time to connect in small groups, being encouraged to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.  Looking out for our older loved ones and neighbors.  What if, through all this chaos and doom, we find ourselves more compassionate, connected and in community?  Let’s add some positive energy to the world and watch what happens.  Let’s try compassion for the people who are buying out the grocery store in fear, instead of looking at them with contempt.  Maybe we can turn the tide of fear and panic into peace.  What’s the worst that can happen?  We “only” change our own perspective?  I think it always starts one and grows.  It is at least worth a try because the alternative is not taking us anywhere I want to be!

Be well, stay positive and take care of yourselves and each other!  If you can, go out and ride – it’s good for your mental health and as a bonus meets the social isolation guidelines too!

International Motorcycle Show

This was the first time in quite a few years that the International Motorcycle Show has made a stop in Denver.  I’ve heard everything from 8 to 15 years ago was the last time, so I don’t know the exact number.  What I do know is that the last time it was here, I wasn’t into riding and had never attended an event so I had no comparison to past events.

I tried to keep my expectations low, but I was still excited and hopeful to see some of my favorite brands there.  I have to say in that regard, I was sorely disappointed.  Many of the major motorcycle brands were missing – no BMW, Ducati, KTM or several others.  I also noticed there was no Klim booth and one of my favorite Colorado companies, Butler Maps was also missing.

I had already heard from other women riders in other cities that the selection of women’s gear was slim at best.  Even with that warning, I was highly disappointed!  RevZilla is one of my favorite gear sources and they had one tiny rack of women’s jackets and pants.  Maybe three of each – and by that I mean literally three jackets and three pair of riding pants.  No gloves, no boots, nothing else.  My other favorite store, Performance Cycle, had a small women’s gear selection but they had more options than RevZilla!  Pretty good for a local retailer and we had a nice time chatting with one of the employees.  Again though, no gloves and no boots that I saw.  I didn’t expect that there would suddenly be all kinds of women’s gear available, although that would be a dream come true!  But I was surprised at how little space was allowed and how few choices were available.

Probably the best part of the entire day for me, other than attending with my best riding buddy, was meeting up with a bunch of lady rider friends at the Women Rider’s Now booth.  WRN had a survey for attendees to complete on who had the best women’s gear so they could say thank you with awards at the show.  I was super excited to participate in this, but after seeing next to no women’s gear, I didn’t feel like I was able to vote for anyone.

One theory I heard is that the Denver motorcycle market is just too small for many of the “big guys” to come here.  That seems odd, given our climate and the number of people who enjoy various activities outside.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll spend the money to go should the show return again next year.  On one hand, it was a fun day catching up with friends and meeting new ones.  On the other, nearly everything we saw is available locally for free.  I guess we’ll wait and see if the IMS returns to Denver next year, then decide.  Hopefully more vendors will come this way if they do!

Questions To Ask

Recently this question came up in a group of riding friends and I thought I’d share it with you all.  My main goal here has been information sharing and I think this certainly fits.  We talked about questions you would ask before signing up on a motorcycle tour or joining a new riding group.

We all bring our past experiences to any group situation and with that comes our assumptions and expectations.  Assumptions about how a group will ride (or not ride) and interact.  But everyone brings their own assumptions and expectations to the situation.  What are the chances they all mesh?  Highly unlikely I’d guess!

Ask about riding order – is there one?  Does it change?  Is there a designated sweep?  Is that always the same person?  What about safety – do people ride side by side or staggered or something else?  Is it acceptable to pass another rider? If so, under what circumstances? Does each rider keep the one behind them in view?  What about if there is a mechanical breakdown or an accident?  Does the whole group stay together until it’s resolved or is the affected rider on their own to sort it out?  Or something else, such as the group will wait an hour, or until help arrives?  If it turns out that this group isn’t for you, are you comfortable riding the rest of the trip (or day) on your own?  Also, what is the protocol if you do decide to ride with a certain group and then choose to head off on your own?  Is there a group leader to notify?  If not, I would think seriously about this group because how will they know if you left or if you got into trouble!

Asking these questions ahead of time and listening carefully to the answers should give you a good understanding of the group you’re considering.  If you hear something that makes you uncomfortable, ask more questions or think carefully about proceeding.  Each group has it’s own way of being together and not all will be a fit for every rider!  I believe strongly in ride your own ride, but I also like to know what I can (or cannot) expect from the rest of the group for before I head out with them.

Most of all, be safe & keep the shiny side up!

A Year of Contrasts

I had been thinking about my year end post and what I wanted to write when I took a break and headed to Pinterest for a little mindless looking around.  I was surprised to find a “pin” that perfectly summed up my thoughts.  It says: “2019 – a weird year because I was somehow living my best life and my worst life at the same time”.  I don’t know who wrote this but I wish it was me, because it is the perfect way to describe my 2019.

Sometimes the contrasts seemed to collide head on.  I had a 3rd and final job interview scheduled and had to delay because I caught the flu!  When I later landed that job, I took a few days off in between and we had a “bomb cyclone” snow storm that stranded me at home for a few days.  Probably the biggest one of all – I managed to book my dream motorcycling trip to Alaska and then had an accident that could have take my life . . . two days before my birthday.

I confess to waking up in pain some mornings and wondering why this is necessary.  Why am I still here if all I am going to experience is pain, day in and day out?  Because there are also days like this, when the pain is gone, the sun is shining and the skies are an unbelievable shade of blue.  Days when I feel like I can accomplish anything! Because there are more lessons to learn, to teach and to share.  More adventures to have and to learn from.  My life has value.  And meaning.  It took me several weeks (months?) after the accident to realize that but the moment I did, and said it out loud, my perspective changed.  I still can’t say it without tearing up, but that simply reminds me that I have important work to do.

As in years past, I have kept my gratitude jar going.  Yes, some weeks it is difficult to find something to put in there.  But I do it anyway, even if the only thing I can come up with is I’m grateful to still be here.  Because as long as I’m here, there is always, always room for improvement.  Life can turn on a dime as the saying goes, but that also means it can improve in a blink too.  I am looking forward to the very end of December when I’ll pull all the papers out of my gratitude jar and spend some time reflecting on 2019.  I hope that  I can come to appreciate the contrasts and the depth they bring to my life.  

 

You Go Where You Look

Remember this from your MSF class or other basic motorcycling class that you may have taken?  I have heard the instructor in my head many times reminding me that the bike will go where I look.  I’ve also tested that lesson and proved it’s true – oh no, I don’t want to hit that pothole and WHAM!  Yes, I was focused on it and I went right into it.

Lately I have been wondering if this concept also applies to life.  If I am too focused on what happened in the past, where am I going?  Likely no where that I want to be.  As the calendar year comes to a close, I dare to think about next year’s riding season and dream of where I might go.  I think about what it might feel like to plan for and take off on a multi day trip again.  I wonder about how I would handle that and if I’m going to be up for it.

As the days grow shorter and cooler, I always look forward to spring.  I tolerate winter and sometimes even that’s a stretch.  I don’t enjoy the snow, I simply deal with it.  One way of coping when the snow starts to fly is planning for summer fun.  I’m not ready to commit to a specific plan for next summer yet, but I am at least allowing myself the space to think about what it may look like.  My hope is that will help me in making it a reality next year.  Will I indeed go where I look?  I sure hope so!

Pillion’s Perspective

It has been over three years since I’ve been a pillion on anyone’s bike.  If I have my way, it will be at least three more before it ever happens again too!  I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t enjoy it and now I can confirm that is, indeed, true.

Last weekend I took my first ever ride on the back of my riding partner’s bike.  Before anyone gets the wrong idea, let me say it had nothing to with a lack of trust in him.   He is a great rider and someone I trust completely.  What was bothering me about it, though, took a while to sort out.

There is something about not being on my own bike, and in charge of my own fate that makes me uncomfortable now.  Or maybe I’m a bit of a control freak.  Ok, there, I said it!  Even though our journey was brief, it took everything in me to sit still and not complain the entire time.  That would have been terribly rude of me as he was doing me a favor in letting me ride on the back.

If I am completely honest, I also found it a bit boring.  I don’t have to worry about traffic and in fact, it could be distracting for someone else to be looking around to see if the way is clear.  Just sit there, don’t any make unexpected moves and behave!  Where is the fun in that?  Other than in hanging out with my friend of course, but I don’t need to ride pillion to accomplish that.

I know of a few folks who only ride pillion and say they really enjoy it.  I’m hoping that the next time I run into one of them, they can explain it to me, because clearly, I have some thing still to learn.

 

D30 Armor Lessons

D what you may be asking?  D30 armor – the armor that is in my Klim jacket and pants.  It’s probably in other brands of gear too, but since I am no expert, I don’t want to assume or lead anyone astray.

After my accident in Alaska I had to think about my gear and what needed to be replaced.  My helmet was obviously destroyed, but my jacket and pants are just dirty and grass stained  I have not found any holes or tears in either piece.  Then a friend asked me about the armor in the gear – are we supposed to replace it after a crash?

I looked online and found various opinions.  I finally went straight to Klim and asked them, since they are the experts on their gear  What I learned is that the D30 armor is designed to withstand multiple impacts.  Unlike the padding in helmets, which takes one impact and must be replaced, D30 armor bounces back.  Now I know and can go on wearing my Klim gear with full confidence that it will protect me should this happen again.  Obviously I hope this never happens again, but I don’t believe in tempting fate and taking a chance with my life.

Speaking of gear – I had looked at my helmet a few days after the accident and while obviously damaged, I didn’t think it was terrible.  Last weekend my riding partner asked to see it and I took it out of the bag again.  As I did, I noticed that the chin bar piece of the helmet no longer closed.  In fact, it is now far out of alignment.  I was shocked!  Of course, I have already replaced the helmet and wouldn’t consider wearing it, but I didn’t fully realize initially just how damaged it is.  That was a reality check!

I hope that everyone wears ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) when they ride.  Please check your armor and ask the manufacturer about it’s safety if you have had an impact.  Make sure it’s in good repair so that if you should need it,  it can do it’s very best to protect you!

I am still on the road to recovery, and it’s longer than I’d like, but I am learning.  Last week I gained the ability to look over my right shoulder again.  Hopefully turning my head over my left shoulder will follow soon.

The new helmet is slowly breaking in and my bluetooth communication device is installed on it.  I also have replaced the RAM mount that holds my phone when I’m on the bike.  I never take calls or texts, but I do use my phone for navigation and especially for music.

Be safe out there!