A philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant (1726-1804) said that humans have knowledge that precedes and goes beyond their personal experiences. Motorcycle riders prove this to be true because they knew, before ever throwing a leg over a bike, that they’d love it. There is an inclination to try to categorize and define this bond. Shall we call riding an art, a passion, a skill, a compulsion, an instinct, a desire, an ego booster, sheer entertainment or simply a challenge? Celebrating my sixtieth year of riding, I still don’t know which it is and that doesn’t bother me.
Why ride? The question has no practical significance, it is a moot point. I knew, from the first moment I considered it, as you probably did too, how it would, could or should feel. Riding fits into an already existing recess in our (riders’) souls, our urge to live, our sense of existence, our core aliveness, our essential being. Deny it at your own risk: enjoy it to your great happiness.
Only one point should concern us: losing that sense of discovery. It’s that open, childlike view we must preserve where everything is fresh paint and dewy grass except you have a set of bars and a throttle in your paws and where each corner becomes an adventure and a world unto itself. I abandoned trying to discover “why I ride” long ago.
Defining the qualities of a perfect ride; finding that groove where it all flows, where you are there but detached, where all things are obvious and yet simple keeps my passion alive. A good ride has qualities that transcend the moth-goes-to-flame category of experience. Here is a description of some of them that are on my list.
I seek the perfect balance of focused but not too focused. Aware of what I am doing but not pushed into it like with my face pressed against a window. Focused more on a result than on the skills or technique I need to get the result. I have to be willing to crash but not have my attention on crashing.
Keep my expectations of how well I'd like to, or think I should, be riding on the back burner. I’ve found there is a fine balance between taking small errors in stride and not feeling stuck with them but not ignoring them either; that’s a trick: I open up my mental riding software program which allows me to maintain enough free attention to identify an error and hit “save” so I can later make some decision on what I can do to correct it. Be willing to make changes but always keep in mind that sometimes a very slight change can make a world of difference. That means don’t be too darn greedy for change. Realize the instant that my focus is broken and either put it back together immediately or reduce my pace. On the track, I have to separate what a practice session is from a go-for-it session. Trying not to feel weird about it when someone quicker passes me is still a battle. I have to be willing to go slower to learn something new.
Give any technique a fair chance of success and try it enough times to know if I can or cannot do it. I always accept coaching that I trust. I know that self- coaching is quirky; it’s easy to delude myself and miss what is important. Once I notice some little thing I’m doing I try to discover what it is. I keep in mind that riding is a universe unto itself and being a universe it has limitless opportunities to discover its intricacies and one’s own connection to them. With all of that in place, I have a great ride. What’s on your list?
PS: We still have some open spots for our Las Vegas schools in October and November. Weather is usually perfect at that time of year in Vegas. Check out the schedule here.
Copyright 2017, Keith Code, all rights reserved.