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What do I mean by “ride free”? How did I come up with this concept?
Easy – I’m a motorcyclist. I learned an incredible amount about dealing with life from learning to ride a motorcycle when I was 29.
It’s one of the most glorious and life-affirming feelings, driving a motorcycle. Every decision you make on a bike is saying: Yes, I choose to figure out how to live. But it’s not like you just slap yourself on two wheels and hope for the best. (Even if that’s what your parents did.) You prepare precisely so you can go enjoy the ride.
In short, I got a bike because I decided I wanted one more than I wanted other things and I wasn’t going to let being poor or underemployed stop me, and so I saved $20/week for three years until I could afford to buy a bike and all the fixin’s in cash. Here’s the beauty I bought:
I also knew I needed to learn how the heck to ride, so I took a rider training course (in NYS they’re given by MSS – a woman-owned operation!) and here’s a core tenet that stuck with me:
Before you ride, ask two questions:
- Is your bike ready?
- Are YOU ready?
Then there’s a checklist of things you do to make sure you’re ready. You do them because the result is riding free: your tires have air, your cables aren’t about to pop off, your bolts are in place, your route is mapped, you’re hydrated.
When you’re driving the bike, you enter biker consciousness: highly alert to upcoming issues like potholes or traffic, working to handle the machine, AND taking in the wonderful intensity of stimuli around you. The air, the sunlight, the visuals.
To me, riding free isn’t about being careless, problem-free, or gifted some special ease – it’s about knowing your obstacles and having a plan to deal with them. So that when I’m not directly dealing with something, I can enjoy. Riding free is the satisfaction of putting nagging fears away, problems into perspective, and doing it because life is worth finding ways to live it.