Yes, I will fall

We finally got our bikes! Two Suzuki DR650s, which we picked up from Chip and Casey at Nicholson's in Ann Arbor.   Mine has been out of the garage exactly 3 times and yesterday I dropped it....on a busy street...in front of a restaurant with a crowd of al fresco diners...and right as a cop was passing by.  It was embarrassing.  Here's my story:  

 

I was riding home from work when the bike stalled as I was approaching an intersection.  I coasted onto the sidewalk to get out of the traffic and quickly learned that while stopped on an incline, trying to support the bike on my downhill foot is NOT a good idea.  In what felt like slow motion, the bike tipped and I was dumped into the street.  Shaken and embarrassed, I heaved the bike up (with the help of a very kind bystander) and attempted to collect myself…but all I could focus on was the swarm of negative thoughts flooding my mind:

 

“You can’t even ride the bike around town without falling, how are you possibly going to make it all the way to South America?”

 

“Women aren’t supposed to ride bikes like yours”

 

“All these people think you are foolish, reckless, and shouldn’t be riding motorcycles”

 

“I knew you’d fail at this”

 

All my doubts were staring me in the face...in addition to a horde of curious and concerned onlookers. I badly wanted to escape the situation and go climb under a rock somewhere to loathe in my self-pity. I attempted to start the bike and…nothing. Enter a whole new string of destructive self-judgments:

 

“You don’t even know enough about bikes to figure out what’s wrong- you are NOT ready to go on this trip”

 

“It’s because you’re a woman…”

 

And once again….“I knew you’d fail at this”

 

As someone who prides herself on being a strong, independent woman this dealt a huge blow to my ego. I took a deep breath and called Jay, who luckily works only a few blocks from the scene of the incident. Being the remarkable, supportive husband that he is, he arrived on his bike a few minutes later. As I saw him riding toward me, I secretly wished he would have showed up on foot so he could ride my bike home for me. I clearly had no business doing so myself.

 

Jay, anticipating my fears and doubts and seeing beyond the distorted thoughts that had taken over my head was not about to give me an out. After shifting the gear lever back into place, my bike fired right up. “You’re going to get back on the bike, and we’re going to ride home together” he calmly and matter-of-factly stated. Trepidation running through my veins, I hoisted my leg over the seat and squared the bike. Glancing back at Jay, he shared a confident head nod and a look that somehow instilled in me enough poise to turn my wrist and take off…slowly.  

 

While I still feel a bit apprehensive, my confidence gradually builds as the miles on the odometer tick upward.  The reality is that we are going to fall- both literally and figuratively- on this trip…and in life. That’s what makes us the beautifully imperfect and vulnerable humans that we are. While the fall itself can be embarrassing and sometimes painful, the hard part is getting back on the horse (or motorcycle) and continuing down the road. Knowing that I am not on this journey alone and have others to lean on for support and encouragement quiets the skeptical voices in my head and gives me the confidence to ride on.

 

Yes, I will fall and yes, I will get back up!

 

-Emily

 

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Comments: 4
  • #1

    Grant Alexander (Tuesday, 20 May 2014 21:08)

    Emily I don't know if you've read "the long way round" by Ewan McGregor but when he started his round the world motorcycle trip he dropped his bike at the first gas station they stopped at. This triggered a massive wave if negative thinking for him about the trip, the bike and himself. So don't sweat it, if Obi Wan Kenobi had some doubts you're in good company....

  • #2

    Emily (Thursday, 29 May 2014 16:32)

    Grant- Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I have, in fact watched Long Way Round and Long Way Down and have found myself relating to Ewan in his moments of doubt. It certainly is comforting to know i'm not alone in my propensity to spiral into negativity following a setback. Turns out we're all just human! Also- I've enjoyed browsing your blog! Thanks for being an inspiration to Live It Right!
    -Emily

  • #3

    Sarkis Karapetyan (Sunday, 01 June 2014 21:58)

    No worries, Emily! It's going to happen. I remember getting back into motocross I kept on falling. I had the same feelings as you did. People around the track were jumping 80 and 90 foot jumps while I was falling at the simplest parts of the track. All I could think was how am I going to do that again if I can't even maneuver a simple turn? Who was I kidding? This was not my sport. It's natural to feel that way, it's going to happen and every time it does the liklihood of you doing it again decreases.

    The number one most important thing is safety! Be safe and everything will come with time. Your confidence on the new and very tall bike will gradually build. You have one of the best guys in the world next to you that instills confidence and courageousness unlike anyone else ever can.

  • #4

    DJ (Monday, 11 August 2014 03:02)

    Just catching up on the blog! This is a great start to an awesome trip. So happy for you guys!