Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Observing Myself

On my way home from work I was traveling too fast but it was intentional. The road was dry, clean and smooth having been repaved a few months earlier. The next turn was bracketed by guardrail on the right and a shallow drainage ditch paralleling a high steep bank on the left. Curiosity caused me to increase the gas as I neared the curve. No one was in front. I checked both mirrors and saw only empty highway behind me. When I passed the yellow warning sign I was doing well over the speed limit.

I entered the curve and . . . nothing happened. I came out of the turn as mystified as I entered it. How did I do that?

I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 40 years. About five years ago it occurred to me that I don’t know how I do it. I come up turns and navigate them without conscious thought or any movement in my body. It’s as if I and the motorcycle are one. We’re like some type of borg creation from a Star Trek episode. I spent the last half of one summer trying to solve this mystery. On one occasion I thought I felt a slight shift in my hips. It wasn’t a lean to the left or right but a subtle shift of weight that would be imperceptible to observers. Shifting my weight slightly does affect my direction but it doesn’t explain a sharp turn at high speed. How do I do it? Winter came and the mystery was stored away and forgotten until last summer when I finally solved it.

I rode more miles last summer than I have in several years and continued to be mystified. Each day as I came home from work, I consciously thought about what happened each time I entered one specific turn. One sunny afternoon, about halfway through the summer, I felt a slight tightening of the muscles in my arms and I had the answer. Upon a curve to the left, I unconsciously pull back on the right handgrip, press down on the left handgrip and sometimes, depending on my speed and the sharpness of the turn, shift my weight to my left hip. It’s all very slight, subtle and spontaneous.

Before I solved this small mystery, I enjoyed riding but now I enjoy it more. For me, life seems to be that way. The more I observe nature, other people -- and myself, -- the richer and more enjoyable life becomes. There are still mysteries that I don't understand about this person that lives withing me. I like observing him and getting to know him.


Blogger Whitesnake said...

It is almost like being at one with nature!

8/29/2007 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

This one made me chuckle. I've done the very same thing - try to break it down and figure out how I do what I do when I'm riding. Came to the same conclusions that you did.

8/30/2007 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Steve Williams said...

Riding is like dance in a way. The body and machine work together to become a single thing.

When I began riding again a couple years ago after a 30 year pause I realized that while I still knew the dance I never really learned much strategy on the road. I was a dirtbike kid with a lot of bad habits and short sighted thinking.

MSF training and a lot of thinking has made the dance safer and more fun.

Great post!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

9/02/2007 06:18:00 AM  

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