Two stories, seemingly unrelated, except that they both deal with bikes and Glacier National Park. Oh yeah, somewhere there’s a point that should connect them.
Story #1: Somewhere on the Road to the Sun in Glacier lies an otherwise nondescript patch of dirt. No monument marks it, tourists don’t drive by to gawk at a historical site, and honestly, few would care to see it even after this story. But dirt can teach a lesson.
I’ve known Jerry since high school daze; he’s one of my best friends and we regularly take long rides on the bikes each year. But Jer is short, with very short legs, which has led to some issues. Most of his bikes have been Goldwings, which are pretty wide and a bit high. A bit too high for short legs to solidly reach the ground when he stops.
So, numerous times he’s pulled up to a stop light, or to a dirt area on the side of the road, and dropped the bike. It started leaning, and by the time his short legs tried to stop the lean, the momentum was irreversible. Factor in that to Jer bikes are a jewel to be maintained in better than pristine condition, and you see the problem.
Therefore, dumping the bike at that little piece of dirt at the side of a Glacier road in 2008 proved to be a turning point. He decided on the spot—no more falling. Now, that didn’t mean he decided to quit. Nope, he got home, put his beloved and beautiful Wing on the market, and bought a Goldwing trike, one that had no chance of tipping over with those two automotive tires at the rear..
Of course, we’ve ragged on him regularly for not riding a “real” motorcycle, but he just smiles and responds, “Better to trike it than not bike it.” And we’re glad he’s continued.
Story #2: On another trip to Glacier, 2013 version, I noticed something on our first day. Brad and I headed up the eastern side of California’s Sierra Nevada on Hwy. 395 to Susanville, a bit north of Reno. We cruised through deserts, mountains, meadows, alongside rivers that I wanted to stop at and drop in a line. We saw deer, chipmunks, hawks, a lot of cattle, and scenery to take your breath away.
That’s another reason I ride—without a steel cocoon, you not only see everything around you, you experience it. The smell of mown hay, mint fields, and more. I love that, but this trip was a little different. Since just the year before, my eyes changed. Before, I could look to the side for a good spell, then immediately refocus on the road. But now the refocusing took a little longer. A little scary longer.
I hated this trilemma—either I missed the scenery or I ran the risk of crashing, or I could quit riding. 3 wasn’t really an option, and I hated the idea of 2, and disliked the idea of 1. So, after some experimenting, I determined just how long I could look at the scenery before returning my gaze to the road. Of course, I couldn’t look as long as I had before, but I could look. And with a short enough time looking away, refocusing took less time. I finished the 4,000 mile ride safe, never went down, and ran into nothing. And I’m glad I continued.
The Point: Many obstacles get in between us and our desires. Illness or accidents, others’ choices, age, life itself. At times, if we can’t have it all we’d just as soon have nothing. We make it all or nothing. A lot of guys quit riding after they first go down. If they can’t ride safe, they won’t ride.
But maybe instead of giving in, we can adapt. Not adapt our dreams, but our behavior. Now, I’m not talking about settling. That’s just another form of discontentedly quitting on our goal. We still resent our inability to do it all.
Adapting keeps its importance, but realizes the practicing can use some tweaking. Jerry tweaked HOW he rode, not THAT he rode. I tweaked HOW I gazed, not THAT I gazed. We both continued in what we loved.
What do you love that you can’t love in the way you did? It might be physically, emotionally, spiritually. But don’t give up. Find a way to adapt.