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Learning to ride a motorcycle: making progress


Two months ago I jotted down some notes for a blog post that I wrote.  I wrote the notes after I’d owned my bike for less than two weeks; about a month after my new rider class.   I just came across them, and as I read them, I was surprised by what I’d already forgotten.

Here’s what I wrote:

  • Scary leaving the confines of my safe parking lot.
  • Wide turns…into the other lane.
  • Mirrors weren’t adjusted….couldn’t see behind me.
  • Had never actually used my blinker until that day.
  • Still shaky on my stops.

Yep….all that was true!  But two months and 600 miles later, I don’t feel any of those things.

  • I’ve long left my parking lot!  I’m no longer petrified by other vehicles, and I even love driving around in traffic.
  • My turns have tightened up…I don’t swing into the other lane (well, almost never).
  • I rely on my rear-view mirrors all the time.  (I’m even comfortable removing a hand from the handlebars adjust them on-the-fly.)
  • I have no fears about shifting my thumb to hit the blinker before I engage the clutch or brake.
  • My stops are much more steady! I haven’t dropped my bike in over a month!

I share this vignette as a reminder to us all: that it’s important to take stock of our progress and look at how far we’ve come!

Learning to ride a motorcycle: making progressHow often do we feel impatient, like we’re not going fast enough?  How often do beat ourselves up with thoughts like, “I’ll never get there!” (wherever there is), “I can’t do this!” or “It feels impossible to go any faster!”  These thoughts can be literal, when it comes to riding, and metaphorical when it comes to life.

There have been moments this summer when I thought about giving up on riding.  I thought I’d never be comfortable riding in traffic.  Or hit 50 miles per hour.  Or be experienced enough to ride in a group.  But I have!  Yet I never would have looked back and realize it if I hadn’t found those old notes.  I’d already forgotten. Those notes made me feel accomplished!

In every new place we stand, challenges loom in our paths.  Sometimes we see impossible boulders ahead, and we feel afraid.  We fill our lungs with air, hold our breath, and consider stopping.  But if we keep going, we often realize there’s actually just a shadow that we can breeze through or a small obstacle we can move around.

So we work through the fear.  We get past the obstacle.  Then what?  We usually just keep going.  We forget to stop to look back and admire what we’ve just done.  I say, look back.  Swim in the space of your accomplishments.  Soak up the joy of your pride.  Be proud.  You earned it.

P.S. Even if there IS a real boulder in our path…we ALWAYS figure out how to get around it, don’t we?



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