Mental Ditch

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It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch. I can remember in my early teens, driving my ’72 Dodge Charger around town in the winter snow, looking for snow drifts to plow through. This was a great car but it didn’t do well in the snow. Those after-dark Friday nights driving around White City in the snow would often find you getting the front-end pulled into the ditch, often due to a heavy right foot and an out-of-control back-end. Right up there on the center console, next to where your cell phone would have been had we had one, was your gloves. Someone was getting out to push.

So what does this have to do with a mental ditch? I thought you would never ask. It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch of negativity. Sometimes it happens faster than we can react and we find ourselves sliding into a bad attitude or mood. Despite how we felt before it happened, it can suck you in requiring someone else to push you out. We need friends riding shotgun with us to make us understand that we are responsible for our own attitude and that we aren’t responsible for the attitudes of others. And besides, they are willing to get out and give us a push in the right direction – just like we would do for them. Literally and figuratively speaking.

But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of this mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push.

We are at this point in the year where I normally talk about riding my motorcycle and all those wonderful thoughts that roll around in this pretty little head of mine, and believe me those blogs are coming. But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of the mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push, and will gladly get out and give it all they have. After all, we have to be home by midnight.

Place Your Bets

Editor’s note: This blog is starting out like so many others.

This time of year can be difficult when you ride motorcycles. The ride to work is cold but the ride home is beautiful. This morning’s ride was typical for this time of year with a start in the low 20’s. I was dressed adequately but I noticed an air leak somewhere around my neck so I just sucked it up and dealt with it. With a high temperature today in the mid 50’s it is a promise from the weatherman that my ride home will be alright. Cool. That’s in the groovy sense, not the meteorologist sense.

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So as I rolled through the small Kansas town of Skiddy my mind starting drifting off to last night’s ride home. After I rode south of Interstate 70 my mind seemed to lock in on my shadow to my left. For once the sun was still at a point in the evening to cast a shadow, for whatever reason I was focused on how sharp it was. And how weird I look on a motorcycle. I’m sure there is some explanation based on the angle of the ditch, the height of the hillside, the trees and tall grass alongside the road but no matter, it created quite a show. So I thought about this for a few miles and miraculously it took my mind of the temperature for a few minutes.

Only this time it was a steaming, sizzling plate of steak fajita.

Once I turned right on highway 77 heading north it’s nothing but a straight shot to work. Now I know in a previous blog, Hog Heaven, I smelled bacon while riding. I don’t know how this happens but it happened again. Only this time it was a steaming, sizzling plate of steak fajita. I know what you’re thinking – this is just a commercial playing on the radio in my helmet. I don’t think so. I could smell this and actually hear the sizzle. I’m sure there is a valid reason why this phenomenon happens, but I don’t know what it would be. Is it subliminal advertising? Could it be a new app on my phone? Am I hungry for fajita? Bacon? So many questions, and lunch is so far away.

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I don’t know if my mind is coping with a cold ride by featuring a La Fiesta commercial to keep the blood flowing to my extremities, or if I’m delusional. My money is on delusional.

 

 

Planning the Ride. Check.

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It’s been a few months since I’ve written anything for my blog. For whatever reason my head felt empty and for once, I was at a total loss for words. I know, right? So now that I’ve had a break, it’s time to get my thoughts together and prepare myself, and you, for what might be coming as the weather warms up here in the Midwest. It’s March, but little do we know, spring is right around the corner. Or, a couple of blocks down and around the corner. Either way, we’re close.

I have a few trips planned – some long, some short – to put those much need miles on my bike and to fill my head with tall-tales and wild stories of where I’ve been and the people I’m going to meet. And I will meet people. I’ve made this small promise to myself to actually ask someone their name as they tell me their life story. I’m really bad about that. Of course, most will tell me their name right up front so it isn’t a big problem, but nonetheless I will do my best to have a formal introduction. Check.

I’m hoping to do Sturgis again this year for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like there is some unfinished business. I went last year and I didn’t accomplish a few things I had set out to do. I felt a little out-of-sorts and it was just weird. This time I plan on taking the weirdness out of it (take the weirdness out of Sturgis?) and look at things a little differently.

Los Angeles on my motorcycle? Hopefully. Probably. Yep. Check. Maybe even another trip that direction. More to come on that.

Iron Butt. I’m putting some ideas down to achieve an Iron Butt. I know I’ve probably done a couple over the years, but I’ve never documented it to get a certificate – 1000 miles in 24 hours, 1500 miles in 36 hours and it goes on like so. Sounds easy enough. I just need to figure out a route and pick a weekend. Oh, and read the rules from the Iron Butt Association. I wouldn’t want to hammer out 1000 miles only to find I didn’t follow the rules.

It doesn’t hurt to have goals. Sure some can be lofty, but none are impossible. It also doesn’t hurt to have a plan, and I need to work on this. I have a habit of shooting from the hip and somehow it’s worked for me this long. Shoot from the hip – Check.

Hopefully this year will bring sunshine and light breezes but I know there will be rain and high winds somewhere along the way. That’s okay. I’m ready for whatever comes my way!

Bring It On

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And just like that, 2016 is behind us. Last year when I wrote Mind Over Matter I made some generic resolutions, much like everyone else around me – to eat better, exercise, appreciate stuff and be nice to others, blah, blah, blah. You know, like we’re supposed to do anyway. Well, I did some of those things except for the exercise and eating right. There’s just something about food…and furniture, that keeps getting in the way. This year I’ll try, I promise.

This was a year to remember for sure. I actually hooked up with three fellows from across the ocean and rode with them on their epic journey across the U.S. My part of it had me riding through Kansas and sharing some of the fine roadside attractions such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. The Ride 50 at 50 crew of David, Adrian and Andrew made me feel welcome and not only took me in as one of their own, I also made some lifelong friends in the process. Thank you fellows! We also discovered Blip Roasters in Kansas City and Ian welcomed us with open arms as well.

But I did ride my motorcycle to the east coast.  A trip that came together at the last minute, it was something I didn’t think I would accomplish any time in the near future – but it happened. Along with the regular trip to Sturgis, it was a month full of miles and smiles. Somewhere in the mix I mamaged a ride out to Colorado Springs and that, combined with the usual commute to work, added up to a lot of miles. It was nice to get my head cleared a bit and see some different scenery. You know the kind, where although you’ve never been there it all looks eerily the same but just different enough to keep you wondering “have I been here before?”

You know the kind, where although you’ve never been there it all looks eerily the same but just different enough to keep you wondering “have I been here before?”

It’s hard to believe that we’re entering the year 2017. If I still wrote checks this would be that awkward time when every check for the next thirty days or so would have the wrong year written in and then scratched over with a 7. But that doesn’t happen any more.

So instead of making some other humorous resolutions for this coming year, I’m going to turn the tables around and challenge you to a few;

Be nice to a stranger. Not in the sense of just being a decent human being, but to actually put out the effort and engage with people you don’t know. This is easy for me as I don’t have a problem interacting with folks I don’t know.

Believe in yourself, and have the confidence that you can. Because when you believe the rest will come.

Take a moment for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in everything around you, focusing on the needs of others and it’s easy to forget about stopping to breathe it all in.

Remember those we’ve lost, but also share that precious time we have with those standing around us.

Happy New Year!

Weather Or Not To Ride

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It’s funny, winter comes around about the same time every year. We even have the early warning system derived from trees shedding their leaves. I know it isn’t an alarm or flashing lights but these leaves need to fall a little louder to the ground. They pile up and blow around signaling the coming of winter, but somehow it goes unnoticed to the motorcyclist in me. It’s this time of year when cold, blustery days start creeping in with excited weathermen and women telling us to be prepared. Even the dedicated weather channels start airing episodes depicting blizzards and freezing rain and the cause and effects of temperature change.

Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear.

But the one detail left coming from the lips of said meteorologists is the affect is has on those of us who ride motorcycles. Cold temps can be tough enough to ride in, but when you just add water, in the form of rain sleet and snow, it brings us to a parked bike and a closet full of gear. Not to mention all the hopes and dreams of someday riding again. It just didn’t sound right to say “with the wind blowing through my hair again.”

So how do you break the bad news to a guy like me that the weather will make it dangerous to ride? First and foremost, don’t sound excited that bad weather is coming. This may be your line of work and I know at times it can be boring, but I like boring. Boring lets me get outside to ride. Secondly, be honest. Tell me it’s coming but give me hope. Hope that one day the sun will shine and the temperature will be above 20 degrees. And thirdly, be accurate. There is no honor in telling me lies. I know it’s hard to predict the weather but if we combine the room full of radar and computer programs you have at work with maybe a peak out the window we might get it right. Let’s recap – contain your excitement, be honest with me and be accurate.

One more thing, let’s get our local meteorologists interested in motorcycling. Maybe this will take the sting out of the cold weather forecast. At least then I would know we were in this together.

20 O’Clock

Nobody said it was easy. I would go a little further and say sometimes it isn’t much fun. For the last few days as the weather has danced around from comfortable to cold, it’s been a hit or miss as to whether or not to ride. I know what you’re thinking; but Jeff, you always ride. Not always. I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

I seem to be in this transition of psyching myself up to ride in freezing temps. Did I just say riding in freezing temps? Whoa.

This morning as I sat down to put my boots on, I hesitated whether or not to ride. With snow-showers in the forecast for the weekend and a snow storm brewing up next week, I thought today I might as well put my pull up big-boy pants and ride. After checking the temperature on my phone I pushed the bike out of the garage and fired it up. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I have my junior meteorologist credentials and with that I could feel it wasn’t 30 degrees out. I hadn’t ridden for a couple of days, so I felt like maybe I just wasn’t acclimated to what 30 felt like. It’s all in my head, remember?

Well, the ride in was no fun. The first 10 miles was doable but after that it was obvious I wasn’t prepared for, you guessed it, 20 degrees. I didn’t have my glasses on after pulling my helmet over my head so from where I sat it looked like it was 30 degrees on my Formotion thermometer. It looks like a clock, doesn’t it? Take your glasses off and look again. See it?

This is just the first of many cold rides to work. Like callused hands it takes time to work your way up to the hard stuff. I’ve heard jogging is like this too but I wouldn’t know. So if you pass me on the road while you’re driving to work with your heater on and your coffee cup beside you, don’t feel sorry for me. I choose to do this. Wow, saying it like that makes me sound a little crazy.

 

Earning My Story – Trayvax

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If there is one thing this blog of mine has done, it has given me the ability to share my thoughts and feelings from not only the surface, but from a deeper sense within my helmet. I ride motorcycles and as you know this affords me time to reflect and delve into some of the more dusty corners in my head. And boy do I need to dust sometimes.

But this lifestyle of riding mostly year round makes you appreciate the good-weather days even more. Although the sun was shining on this morning’s ride in, the temperature was an alarming 19 degrees. Even with a ride like this I can find an opportunity to reflect and figure things out – and like my motorcycle – move forward.

…but it’s also a symbol of how we really want to be – free from all that clutter we carry with us throughout a normal work day. Is it possible to check our mental baggage?

As motorcyclists we seek that feeling of freedom and adventure. We know when riding our bikes it’s not unusual to carry only the minimum with us as space is a premium, but it’s also a symbol of how we really want to be – free from all that clutter we carry with us throughout a normal work day. Is it possible to check our mental baggage?

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Last week I received my new Trayvax Axis minimalist wallet in the mail. For those of you who haven’t heard of this company, I urge you to check them out. A few years ago I switched to carrying a typical wallet and moved to a much more user-friendly front pocket wallet for a variety of reasons. Mostly to lose the unnecessary stuff that found its way into my back pocket. I will say that after transferring my cards and cash to my Axis, this is the easiest wallet I have ever carried. Ever.

Trayvax is 100% made  in the USA produced in Bellingham, Washington. Mark King, owner and inventor of the Trayvax brand has a vision of adding 5000 jobs in the US and based on his passion and sense of purpose, I believe he is not only on his way to this goal but will exceed his own expectations. I hope so. I love Mark’s entrepreneurial spirit and I know with this kind of determination, this is only the beginning. He is showing us that it is possible to reach your goals both personally and professionally and live your dreams. Mark is earning his story through the stories of his customers but more importantly his story is one we can all relate to. And it doesn’t get more American than that.

Mark is earning his story through the stories of his customers but more importantly his story is one we can all relate to. And it doesn’t get more American than that.

Just like the pocket knife I’ve faithfully carried with me for the last 35 years, I hope to have my Trayvax Axis share the same life – experiences with me. I know it will as it’s built to last a life-time. After all, life is truly an adventure.

Check out this real life story of making a dream and a vision come true, and show your support by following along on social media and purchasing one for yourself or that someone special in your life.