Saturday, July 16, 2011

Relaxing to Enjoy the Ride

I often include comments on this blog with suggestions to stop obsessing (such as whether you should wear boots or leather garments in public), to chill out (relax, stop worrying about stupid stuff), and enjoy the ride (smile, be happy, etc.)

I realized that I had not been following my own advice. Today (Saturday), I am leading a motorcycle ride. It's supposed to be a short, fun, just "get out and ride" kinda ride. No specific destination to go to. Just put your boots up on the highway pegs, lean back, set the throttle on cruise at a moderate speed, and enjoy the scenery of the Maryland byways through farmlands and small towns that have historical connections to the U.S. Civil War.

But I take things too seriously sometimes. (Some good friends call it "conscientious"). To prepare for this ride, I got out on my Harley last Sunday and began to ride, thinking that I would ride along and use the trip log on the GPS to track my ride, then save it, and use it for the "official" ride.

Well, no such luck. As I was riding along, I took a turn that led to another turn and before I knew it, I had doubled back almost to my origin. That is, I got lost on familiar roads. Heck, if I get lost on roads that I ride often, how in the heck am I going to lead a ride for a large group to places that are interesting, and have the ride take more than a half-hour and not go through rivers, fords, or involve mountain-climbing?

I had hoped that a buddy would be riding with me last week, but he couldn't make it. If I had a passenger, I might have pressed on. But it was exceptionally hot and I was tired and frustrated, so I gave up and rode back home. (Well, I took some pictures of my new All American 401 Firefighter Boots that I was breaking in that day for posting to my website, so the ride wasn't a complete loss.)

But that was all the time I had to attempt to pre-ride the ride. With our usual weekday routine -- we both work, I cook dinner, then my partner and I eat -- we usually have only a couple hours after dinner before we go to bed before 9pm (and I usually go to a meeting or two in the evenings during the week, to boot). No way I can find three hours after my work day ends to get out and ride.

So the anxiety was building. I was obsessing, worrying, and wondering just how I was going to lead a ride if I didn't know where I was going to go?

I got onto the computer and began trying to plan a ride. I found the motor company's on-line ride planner. It worked well, and I thought I figured out a really nice ride. But then I couldn't save it, or print it out. All the effort I put into it was for naught -- all due to some computer problem. This situation was making me even more stressed. (Turns out, the ride planning tool is not compatible with Win7. Who knew?)

The internal fret-meter continued. Self-pressure was mounting. Then a thoughtful, caring, special sister just happened to call me on Thursday afternoon for a routine catch-up chat. She noticed some tension in my voice, and thought my concern was about my partner's health condition. I explained that as of now, he's okay and we're in a waiting pattern, so that wasn't the reason I was stressed. Then I told her about my concern about the ride planning.

After she lectured me about getting my priorities straight (i.e., it is correct to be worried about my partner's health; it is not right to be worried about a simple 3-hour motorcycle ride), she helped me to refocus myself. She was absolutely right.

Friday morning, I approached the matter anew, with a more up-beat attitude. I found an old computer with Windows XP, and found that the ride planning tool worked fine on that one. I plotted the ride, printed it out, shared it with my sweep road captain, and followed it with Google Earth and Google Maps (satellite and street view.) It looks good... theoretically.

The attitude adjustment was critical. So what if we get out, ride, and make some wrong turns? As long as we don't end up in a river or on a roof of a building, we'll be okay. I have been on all the roads that I want to ride at one time or another, but not in this particular route. But that's okay... we'll try it, and if it works, that's great. If it doesn't, as long as we remain upright with the rubber side down and smiles on our faces, we'll be fine.

Life is short: don't sweat the small stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We really do have a special sister, don't we? I don't know which one it was (though my twin thing has given me a clue). All of our sisters are special, aren't they? I'm glad she helped you remember to keep the focus where it belongs.

Get out and ride! Have fun!

Ore e sempre,