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!