Friday, January 23, 2015

Madre Rides, Ride #1

Madre- Spanish for Mother
Rides- English for "to sit on and manage a horse or other animal in motion or to be borne along on or in a vehicle or other kind of conveyance" ( In this case- a dirt bike.

Madre rides a dirt bike.

The boys have been riding dirt bikes for almost five years now. Way back at the beginning Audrey and I also tried it. It was fun but we didn't stick with it like they did. As you know, riding dirt bikes became a passion for both Bill and Ben while I got more into running. While we were both connected by dirt (I like to say we are addicted to dirt), I became the photographer, cook, laundress, and support crew for their riding endeavors and never got back on the bike. It felt like a lot of work to help get them out the door so they could go do what they loved and I was okay leaving it at that.

Within a year or so, after hearing the stories of the boys, friends would ask if I rode. I said yes but soon that yes became distant yes. Yes, I had ridden before. Yes, I rode a couple times. Yes, but it's been a few years. Yes, but back when they first started riding and not anymore. I would have round and round conversations with Bill about riding but it always focused on riding to race and I came to a discovery about myself.
  1. I'm very competitive. Well, I just wasn't going to ride to ride. I was going to ride to race and I would want to win. 
  2. Which lead me to realize that would take a lot of time to get to that end. And I didn't like that. 
  3. And I felt like I was already behind.
  4. And I didn't have the proper gear which would cost a lot of money in exchange for possibly not a lot of commitment.
  5. And I'm pretty sure I came up with about another fifty excuses. 
Over beer and pizza with trail running friends this past summer, my friend, Heather, asked me why not? She was sure I could do it. I walked away with that little nugget of belief and challenge and let it turn over and over.

I ran the thought past Bill again and he didn't see why I couldn't. I was pretty much my own hang up. So a month or so later as we were packing up for a trip to Grandpa's and Grandma's I asked if I could bring some gear along to ride. We determined that Ben's 85cc would fit me well since we had sold the bike Audrey and I had ridden before. The next afternoon I geared up with my favorite compression socks (because I didn't have any other long socks), someone's old riding gloves (amazing that we still have matching pairs), an old pair of Bill's goggles, and Audrey and my old riding boots and helmet (all still safe to wear).

That's when I received my first riding lessons with a manual clutch. The first bike I rode a long time ago had an automatic clutch, which I couldn't have told you anything about because I didn't know any different. Ben's 85 (and the 65 that Luke rides) both have manual clutches. This is all old hat for probably most of you guys reading this or for anyone who has driven a stick shift car. (I have but I didn't like it at all. Sidebar: We once owned a stick shift car for maybe six months. I hated driving it but for budget reasons the price was right and it was mostly Bill's transportation. I drove it only when necessary. One day we had to run a quick little errand just a half mile or so away and I had Ben in the front seat. I stalled the car several times attempting to get it in reverse and back out of the driveway. Ben looked up at me and asked "Do you know what you're doing?"  I exclaimed "Yes!" but clearly even at three years old he already knew more about clutches and such than me. Shortly after that, in a very succinct manner (uncharacteristic for me) I laid out my reasons for not keeping the car and Bill was persuaded to buy an automatic car for our family.) So here I am, in front of my father-in-law, sort of kind of listening to my husband explain the whole of the bike. After many, many, many attempts I get it going with the clutch let out slowly while I twist the throttle in the right order. I manage a couple laps around the yard before coming to a stop. But guess what? I don't know how to stop properly. Do not fear. I did not gun it and head in separate directions apart from my bike. I just simply squeezed the brake and the motor killed. So lesson two. The clutch is everything. If in doubt, squeeze the clutch. 

Ben, watching, comments to me that I did a good job but I'll tell you what. I am straight up not having that much fun. My riding is jolty and bumpy and with fits of not holding the throttle steady and lurching forward faster than I would like. In reality I'm no where near the edge of losing control of the bike but I feel like I will any second.

This was a new undertaking for me and I came away from that riding experience learning a whole lot about myself. For one, it was unnerving to have an audience. The thing was the audience was composed of people who were only rooting for me. A big hinderance to my effort was focusing on what others would think. I shouldn't let that stop me from trying. Secondly, even though I knew I was a beginner, starting from scratch, I found I didn't have the beginner's mentality. It was super humbling to be lurching around the farmyard trying to navigate back brake, front brake, throttle and clutch. This was going to take more than time. It was going to take a lot of time. I had to take the lie of being behind and run over it. If I compared myself to the boys then, yes, I was behind. But I wasn't going to, I couldn't compare myself to anyone. If I was going to have to any fun just trying this out I was going to be okay with being right where I was at. I found myself being good with that. I found myself being okay with just learning to ride because I wanted to. Because I wanted to connect with my boys with what they love. Because there is something appealing about trying something new. Because uncovering things you didn't know about yourself is unnerving and scary and brave. Because taking yourself to the edge of your known bravery is a bold statement in believing in yourself. Not because I possess within me all the means to make it happen but because God gives me all opportunities to uncover and express His work in me. Clearly, I need more of Him working in me and more clutch work. 


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