RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Self Reliance

Jun 20, 2012 View Comments by

I’m holed up in a Dunkin Donuts sipping coffee; I got caught in a sudden downpour on my way home after a long day. It looks like it’ll pass and I can be on my way, but it’s got me thinking about how much we, as riders, need to be prepared for any eventuality. Sometimes that just means reacting on the road to a situation that develops in front of us; sometimes it means pulling off, staying dry, and waiting it out.

I remember an old NFL film where the coach is addressing his players and he says “you can get it done, you know what else? You gotta get it done”.  When something breaks, you fix it. Problems come up; you solve them. Get lost, you find your way back. When you’re riding there’s no one to do it for you. You do it, or it doesn’t get done, it’s that simple. I carry zip ties, duct tape, tools, raingear, a patch kit, fuses, a flashlight, and a spare book just in case. You never know what you’ll have to deal with.

Doesn’t that just carry over perfectly to modern life? It reminds me of one of my favorite movie lines from A Christmas Story: “Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us“. You have to be prepared for change. It’s true of motorcycles and life, you have to adapt, overcome, accept, fix, heal, and keep moving on your journey. Riding motorcycles has made me better at all those things, and I think motorcyclists are particularly adept at rolling with the changes life can throw at us.

Before I started riding and doing my own maintenance I wouldn’t have said I was particularly mechanically handy (ask my brother if you don’t believe me); but riding has made me mechanically proficient and that carries over to many things outside of riding. When you ride every day you have to learn to fend for yourself. You have to adapt, have to plan ahead, have to overcome, so you do, and you ride on.

If we can dance on the pegs of a 500-pound machine in traffic, what can’t we do? Riding is confidence building and nurtures the independent, self-reliant part of everyone who rides. Every ride is a chance to learn something more about our machines, our skills, and how to handle new situations. Proficiency on a motorcycle is earned over time.

Well, the rain’s stopping, coffee’s gone, time to hit the road and deal with whatever comes up next.

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.