The Calm Before the Morn’

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For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time.

Who wouldn’t like to see this every morning? It can be easy to be preoccupied enough to let a moment like this slip away, but I just can’t do that. With the constant hurry and this wierd feeling I need to be somewhere lingering over me, I still want to stop and take it in. All of it.

We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

I wonder how many moments I’ve missed over the years because of my own lack of awareness? The ability to stop and appreciate something so big and out of my control is a learned trait and one that may take years of practice. Or maybe a few birthdays to realize life is more than a daily commute. We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

This is what I need each and every day to prepare me for what’s ahead. It’s this calm feeling I need before the storm of life hits the shore. Even though the temperature is 36 degrees, just knowing the sun is coming up to warm the skies makes me feel anything is possible. In a matter of moments this sunrise will change and evolve into another day, but for right now it’s majestic and worthy of a moment of my time.

For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time to take this in. Sure, I may be standing in the ditch but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

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Long Way Home

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I travel the same roads almost every day but it’s always in the same direction. As the seasons, colors and temperatures change things can look a little different but it’s the landscape and landmarks that we relate to. Some are only a few miles from home while others take us back home.

It’s the long way home. Some days it’s just required to take a different route – one taking us away from the well-worn path we’ve created between point A and B. Remember, it’s the regularity that keeps the grass down. We don’t always have time for a detour, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. Just a few extra minutes to see some different scenery – you know, stuff you haven’t seen for a few months or years – to clear your head. We don’t do it enough and when we do, we’re always glad we did.

 

I travel the same roads almost every day but it’s always in the same direction. As the seasons, colors and temperatures change things can look a little different but it’s the landscape and landmarks that we relate to. Some are only a few miles from home while others take us back home. An abandoned house, an old bridge or a valley that has always made you look – and smile, are always there for us whenever we need them. As a motorcyclist, it can be hard to find a day in January where the long way home can happen, but it always seems to. Sometimes you have to just do it even if there is an internal struggle to follow the same old habit of taking the usual way home.

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Why is this so important? It gives us a few minutes for ourselves. It can be just what we need to see our small little world that surrounds us and give us a different perspective on the day. It’s no different from taking a minute from our busy day to watch the sunset, or turning around on your way home to take a picture of something that catches your eye. It can be on a road we have traveled before, but for whatever reason we overlooked it every time. Maybe it’s the time of day that gives us a different light on the same old scenery. We win either way.

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I’m lucky to be surrounded by familiarity and memories. For those who know me also know of the area around me. You are familiar with my landscape and landmarks as you know them as well. Take the long way home – not every day, but someday. Pull over and take it all in and let the scenery take you home.

 

 

The Big Picture

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There are some things in life that give us the sense of how small we are and how short a lifetime really is. Small in comparison to the power and forces of nature and all things we take for granted in the world around us. How many years have the rivers flowed and the mountains stood before our very eyes along with all those who saw them before us? Quiet, patient and without fail they continue to do what they do best while life around us goes on. We take these moments to stop and snap a picture but then we move on about our daily lives, while the mountains and rivers wait for the next photo opportunity to come along. Long before the camera, let alone the smart phone, explorers drew pictures and painted their likenesses on canvas just to capture the moment. They too were in awe of the beauty – the only difference, they had to enjoy the view a lot longer to get it down on paper or canvas.

As a motorcyclist, we will go out of our way to find such picturesque places, but we soon turn our backs to move on to whatever comes around the next curve or bend in the road. What took an eternity to make, becomes a moment in time, a memory to some, but to others it becomes an attitude. A chance to take it in and become a better person, and to be humbled with realization that I am not everything I think I am, but rather I’m brought to this place to appreciate its beauty and to allow it to change me from the inside out. It’s telling me to be quiet, patient and to be without fail.

We sometimes measure our lives in birthdays or decades, but the big picture tells us that no matter how long our life is, it’s the impact we have on those that pass by us leaving them with memories and impressions that withstand time. The moments we share with others, no matter how small or insignificant, can leave those we know and love with an everlasting snapshot of who we are and what they mean to us. So while we continue to take a lot of pictures to remember the moments and beauty that we behold, there will also be those taking their own mental pictures of how they want to remember us. Let’s leave them with some great pictures.

Fun-Factor

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Attending this year’s Dealernews Dealer Expo in Indianapolis is a motorcyclist’s dream. As a small town boy I’m no stranger to looking out over my handlebars at the tall grass pastures of Kansas, but here in the Convention Center, standing on acres of confetti inspired carpeting it becomes apparent that I need to get out more. As always, anytime you can see and touch new motorcycle industry related products versus the internet, or worse yet, hearing it second-hand from the guy down the street who got his information from some other guy further down the street…I think you get the idea. So for those of you out of shape, I recommend walking mile after mile on carpeting. You will thank me. But seriously, it’s great to see what’s new and what’s improved for the coming year. There was plenty of enthusiasm in everyone I met and I think we all agree it will be a good year in the motorcycle industry.

I always recommend walking through events like these with your head up scanning the room. I know it’s hard to resist the patterns on the carpet but trust me you’ll be surprised at who and what you’ll see. I ran into Marc Cook with Mortorcyclist Magazine and we had a very good talk about the past, present and touched a little on the future of this great sport. We both agreed the smaller displacement motorcycles coming out recently are going to surprise many new and seasoned riders. We also talked about how big is big enough. My first “real” motorcycle was a Yamaha DT175 and at the time I felt like that was all I would ever need. It could run on the highway, pull wheelies and go off-road. Sometimes all within a block of my house. Remember, I grew up in a really small town.

Marc mentioned his first motorcycle was a Yamaha RD 400 Daytona. Another relatively small displacement motorcycle but cool nonetheless. He told me that his friends actually tried to talk him out of it because it was probably too much motorcycle for him. You know what? There is some truth to that statement! We often look at a GSX-R600 as a starting point, and I have to admit, I have been riding for 40 years and a 600 has more than enough power on the streets where stop signs and potholes live. You can always move up, but let’s be real here. A new rider that gets in over his head may never throw a leg over another motorcycle if the experience starts out as a bad one. So think about that for a minute. Your first won’t be your last as long as the “fun factor” doesn’t become the “fear factor.”

I think we need to get back to the reason we all ride. It truly is for the fun of it. Sure, size matters but fun is where it’s at. If my skill level exceeds that of the motorcycle I’m on it’s still fun. Next time you walk up to your bike or any bike for that matter, look for the Fun Gauge. You won’t find it anywhere – until you climb on it. You see, WE are the Fun Gauge. We determine how much fun we have on any particular motorcycle, whether it’s slow and down on power or just ridiculously fast, on road or off-road it doesn’t matter. Either way, our internal Fun Gauge will tell us the level of fun we’re having. We all to often get caught up on the “bigger is better” mentality and for some that is what they were told by the guy down the street who got it from…You get the idea.