The Voice: When Your Mind Affects Your Ride

Mar 08, 2014 View Comments by

The Voice: When Your Mind Affects Your RideWith several decades of riding under my belt, I’d like to say that I’ve got it down pat and take to the road with unflappable confidence and consistency, but I don’t. I consider myself a fairly decent rider, one who has a reasonably accurate assessment of his limitations and abilities, and who doesn’t venture too terribly close to the edge of those limitations on a regular basis.

While the variations in my riding are probably imperceptible to other riders, what goes on in my head is another story altogether. There are rare days when I feel invincible, and I generally don’t try to analyze the magic too deeply. I just “go with it” and have what inevitably turns into the ride of the season. The sensation of crouching on the bike like a jockey, flowing through the turns, and occasionally dragging a peg while feeling like the bike is a natural extension of my body imprints a memory that lasts for years.

During these special rides, nothing seems to shake my mood or break my focus. Nobody pulls out in front of me, no dogs chase me, and no unexpected road conditions are encountered. I wish I could tap into whatever makes these rides special so that I could create the experience during every ride, but I can’t. There’s a randomness to their occurrence that defies any attempt to replicate them.

On the other end of the spectrum are days, equally rare, when I’m almost afraid to hop on the bike. I’ll have a little voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to do this today? This might just be the day that something bad happens…are you really sure you want to ride?” I may have actually stayed home a time or two, but I usually hop on the bike anyway, riding with extra caution and expecting surprises around every corner.

The odd thing is that often surprises do occur on these rides. Small animals with suicidal tendencies fling themselves in front of the bike with alarming frequency, sometimes so often that it seems almost comical. A car or two will often do something unexpected and potentially dangerous, but since I’m in hyper-aware mode and riding conservatively, I manage to get through the gauntlet unscathed.

So here’s the million dollar question: am I creating my own reality in both situations due to my particular psyche that day, or is there some other mysterious, intangible force at work? It’s almost uncanny how precise my pre-ride attitude predicts the type of ride that I’ll have. I’ve learned to listen to what I now call “The Voice,” and although I often leave out for a ride with no preconceived idea of what type of experience I’m going to have, I do adjust my riding style when I have strong feelings in either direction.

Perhaps it’s nothing deeper than being in tune with myself and assessing, at an unconscious level, my body’s ability to perform the complex skills needed to safely pilot a motorcycle. Does any of this sound familiar to you? The proper question is probably whether or not anyone else will admit to it if they do have these feelings, but I am curious.

Photo by Mark Meftah


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