Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Around The Bay: Part 2, an Informed ride

Putting on the miles and building muscle memory.
A couple of recent articles informed my circumnavigation of Georgian Bay.

Bike magazine's resident lawyer had a great piece on the dangers of the over educated novice rider.  He made the poignant observation that people who haven't had a lot of seat time but have over-thought riding to the nth degree often have much nastier crashes than less trained but more experienced riders.  Sometimes the best thing to do is instinctively grab as much brake as you can instead of overthinking an impending disaster.  Perhaps riding is more of an art than a science, informed by experience, not training.

As a teacher I found this critical assessment of instruction over experience to be both interesting and probably accurate.  There is a lot of anxiety over motorcycle riding from the general public  I was determined to get some saddle time and learn the hard way rather than in theory.  The over-focus on training and gear tries to mitigate this fear, and it helps to a degree, but if fear is what drives you, I'd suggest that motorcycling isn't what you should be doing.

The second piece was Neil Graham's editorial in this month's Cycle Canada.  Neil is getting back to form after an agonizing winter back injury.  After everyone else had moved on Neil stayed out on track until it became kind of boring and he relaxed into the ride.  In his case it was track riding on the edge, but it still spoke to the teaching of muscle memory, something that became evident in the previous Bike piece as well.

On my way out of Southern Ontario I was intentionally trying to untense muscles, especially the ones I subconsciously tense when I'm riding.  Yoga probably helps with this, but I was able to sense and untense muscles in my legs and backside while riding.  Being loose and heavy on the bike allowed me to ride further without fatigue.  It also allowed me to respond to issues quickly and lightly.  Being able to free your mind from the demands of your body and put yourself into a state of relaxation also opens up a state of heightened awareness.

Riding into my driveway on Sunday afternoon I was exhausted but elated and felt like I was coming out of some deep meditation.  My mind was full of the 900 kms I'd seen, smelled and felt, and the soreness became something that I'd worked through; the second wind was a real endorphin rush.  After the three hundred plus kilometre stretch down the backside of Georgian Bay I suddenly found myself operating beyond the soreness of the long ride.  Coming off the very demanding highway ride to quiet back roads probably helped too.

If you're able to find a state of intense focus while performing a strenuous mental and physical activity like riding a motorcycle, you tend to be able to find that state much more easily when you're not on the bike and things are easier.  Being able to focus and perform while under duress makes entering that state of intense awareness in other circumstances that much easier.

I guess I found that moment beyond the thinking and training where I relaxed into the saddle and became the ride.  If long distance riding can do that, I suspect I'm eventually going to want to do the deed and get my iron butt.


People who think they are invincible, then suddenly realize they aren't and quit
Is the person who ignores danger with delusions of invincibility brave, or stupid?
The kind of intelligent insight you expect from Quora
An insightful examination of what motorcycling is.
An idiotic infographic that focuses on the people who choose to ride more than riding
See the top link - deluded thrill seekers are a part of the motorcycle community, the stupid part.
Another idiotic infographic that focuses on obvious truth (doing dangerous things is dangerous!), but so is obesity, smoking and getting older
The safest thing to do is exercise in a rubber box, never take any risks in anything and kill yourself before you get old (getting old is going to kill you!)