Last summer I bought a three-wheeled motorcycle. I learned how to ride so that my family of five could all go on motorcycle rides together. You can read more about my experience of learning to ride that here.
We rode all summer and into the fall, and we had so much fun together. But three wheels are different from two wheels in how they handle. Because of the wheel configuration, the bike doesn’t lean, and so, when you turn it, it almost feels like it’s trying to throw your body the opposite way off the bike.
So, I had to slow down a lot. I had to adjust my body on turns and around corners. My passenger had to hold on tight and fight against the momentum as well. It was fine. We figured it out, but I couldn’t keep up with my husband and son the way I wanted to due to this.
A practice in balance
So, at the end of last year, I decided I was ready to switch to a regular two-wheeled cruiser motorcycle like theirs. I felt like I was prepared to add balancing a bike to my new set of skills.
We sold my trike, and I got a bike, and this past weekend was my first time on it. Oh my gosh, brain on fire again for sure. So, after I practiced in the parking lot and on small side streets, I decided I was ready for a bigger ride.
We were staying in Moab, Utah, which is a short drive from Arches National Park, so that’s where we headed. Generally, this is a perfect place. It’s a long road, not a lot of traffic at the time of day and time of year that we went, pretty low speeds throughout, places to pull over and take breaks, and not many intersections or obstacles.
But right off the bat, there is this long steep winding section of the road after the park entrance with lots of curves and turns that were so scary for beginner me.
My husband and I have microphones in our helmets to talk to each other as we ride. So, the whole time I was learning, he was in front of me on his bike, sort of talking me through it, answering my questions, giving me pointers, all that.
The main difference between my trike versus my bike is how it turns and balances. My trike had no leaning. My bike has all the leaning I want, all the way to the ground if I’m not careful. I was not used to the machine’s maneuverability on curves, so the turns felt so scary!
I found myself slowing down around the curves and panicking a little every time. This isn’t just a curvy road. It’s steep! There were cliffs on one side of me, and sometimes cars were passing me as I was turning.
My husband was trying to reassure me in my ear, and I was just thinking, this might have been a big mistake the whole time, heart racing, palms sweating, trying not to die.
The benefits of looking ahead
Halfway up the hill, my husband says something that I haven’t stopped thinking about. He said, “Make sure that you’re looking 50 to 100 feet ahead of you, not right in front of you. You always want to be focused on what’s coming and where you are headed, so you have a wider perspective. Your brain will adjust accordingly.”
So rather than looking just a few feet down the road or at the next part of the turn, I started looking up at the road ahead. I started focusing on the curve coming up so that my brain and my body could start making adjustments ahead of time.
I got so much more stable, and it felt so much less scary. I could speed up instead of slow down, which actually made everything easier. We drove all the way to the end of the park, and it was so beautiful.
Trusting my own knowledge
Then, right as we pulled up to stop and turn around at the end of the park, my headset mic died. I was a bit panicked at the thought of driving all the way back down without my husband’s calming voice to talk me through it. But I didn’t have an option.
So, I took some deep breaths, and we headed out. I took the lead, and even though it felt weird and I felt a little exposed, this fantastic thing happened.
When I got quiet, I settled into my own knowing.
All the things I’d learned, answers to questions I’d asked, what to do and how to do it was all there and accessible to me. I could access it from inside my brain instead of asking a question.
I felt the tension in my shoulders and hands release. I started to feel a sense of calm as I stepped into my capability.
Occasionally, I would catch myself looking right in front of me, feeling a little less stable, and I would remind myself to look up to expand my perspective. Then I would feel stable and comfortable again.
I just kept thinking about how much this all applies to any journey of change.
The instability of a limited perspective
There is so much to think about, so many new skills that we have to master, so much we have to keep in mind all at once. Obstacles come up, and unexpected things happen. We have questions that we need answers to.
When things get tricky, we tend to feel our vision narrow and find ourselves looking straight down. That limited perspective makes us feel unstable at times.
We see only what we can do right now, making us want to stop or turn around. It makes us feel like we need to slow down. It makes us feel a little wobbly.
It felt so uncomfortable, hopeless, and out of control to be looking only at what was right in front of me as I navigated the twists and turns of my ride. The longer view as I raised my eyes was so stabilizing.
This is true of us as we’re working toward change too.
Looking ahead allows for adjustments
It can feel counterintuitive to look up, to look ahead a little. We feel afraid that if we do it, we’ll miss something right in front of us that might trip us up.
But the reality is if you look ahead a little, you don’t miss it. You’ll notice it in advance! You’ll be able to adjust and correct it in time to avoid a problem.
Look ahead and see what’s possible!
However, because it’s counterintuitive, your brain willow ant to keep snapping back to your current capability, back into the fear of what might happen, so it will require some gentle reminders to practice raising your eyes to the expanded picture – to what’s coming up, what’s ahead.
You’ll be able to glimpse what’s possible, but only if you’re looking up.
Believe the universe has your back
On our way home from our weekend getaway in Moab, I got some news about something I was expecting financially over the next few months that would be different from what I had initially anticipated.
As we drove, I could feel my vision narrowing. I could feel the tightening in my chest, the tingling in my limbs, the racing of my thoughts, the tension in my head, the fear and panic of what that would mean for me and my plans.
I had to let myself lean into that feeling, let myself breathe into it, let all the thoughts have some airtime. I allowed myself to hear and feel how I was reacting.
And then I reminded myself to raise my eyes, look a little further ahead, and focus on what else there is – to expand my view so that I could see possibilities too.
After 30 minutes in my head, tapping into my inner knowing, gently reminding myself repeatedly to raise my eyes to the road out in front of me, my husband sped up and passed me to get in front of me.
It was right as we neared that last bit of road where it got curvy and steep, and I was so nervous on the way up. And I got a little emotional because I knew without him having to say anything that he wanted to go in front to protect me, to let me follow him down this part that I was so unsure about.
I thought about how often I get stuck feeling like I’m on my own in my struggles and how good it feels to remember that the universe has my back – that I’m loved, I’m safe, and I’m okay, that I have my inner knowing, and that I can also tap into guidance from outside of me when I need to.
Things are always working out for me. I can believe that any time.
The way down that steep and windy part of the road was so much easier and less scary as I raised my eyes and trusted my capabilities.
And with that, I am officially a super cool biker chic now.