November 21, 2021
I can’t stop smiling.
Looking over my handlebars, I watch Amanda and Lo crush through the waves of the dirt trail beneath our tires, and adrenaline hits my bloodstream as I fall into line behind them. Sure, I am not quite comfortable standing yet, and no, I have definitely not mastered how to keep my body weight forward, hoping my KTM Betty wants to conquer each challenge as much as I do. But it doesn’t matter – because I can feel myself learning, proving what works with my body and my motorcycle through trial and error, understanding where I can push and when I need to let up, and finding confidence in a place where I didn’t think I ever would.
“I guess this is what I do now,” I say to myself, chuckling, my heart pounding in my chest. Then I rev the throttle and go chase my girls.
That morning, I’d gotten up, downed some coffee, and hopped on Betty to ride the 45 minute trek out to China Hat for a special Friendsgiving of riding, food, and good company. The air was crisp, and my fingers were a little cold jetting through the desert at 65 mph on Highway 20, yet the sun was rising fast and could not be more ideal for getting the bike dirty.
Again, it wasn’t a huge day of riding, mainly because I had the foresight of my commute home and additionally, the eventual fatigue of overcompensating and overuse of my body while maneuvering Betty on the trail. And damn, after absorbing and making adjustments through tight turns, hills, and rock, I sweated through my t shirt under my gear, and no longer smell like roses (not much is sexier than that). Still, the age-old lesson many riders have adopted is one that rings true in a time like this – the more time you have your ass in the seat, the more you will improve, and the more confident you will become.
After a few sessions on Betty, I am by no means confident, but I can feel my comfort level rising, and certain things like hill descents or taking a turn through rocks don’t throw my brain into the tailspin those situations used to stir up. The tension is easing with every ride, and I am more determined than ever to keep at it.
The day ends with beer and laughter back in town a few hours later, due to the sun setting at the early hour of 4:30pm in November, and as the evening draws to a close, I can’t remember the last time I’d felt so tired and so exhilarated at the same time.
With exhaustion finally creeping in, I find I am happy to be home, wrestling with my pups for a few minutes before I grab a glass of wine and crawl into an Epsom bath.
And it’s incredible how, in certain moments, your body might be completely drained, yet your mind has its own plan for you. In this case, my heart had shit to process, thus dragging me down a rabbit hole of reflection whether I wanted to be there or not. Somehow, at 8pm on a Sunday night after a gargantuan weekend of riding motorcycles and spending time with my tribe, my brain is starting to tap into something I’d been searching for, something I’d been yearning to truly feel in my soul.
A wave of emotion hits as my throat chokes up and tears well in my eyes whilst realization after realization explodes from the abyss like fireworks in the sky. Each one, however, doesn’t manifest in a way that inflicts sadness or anger; instead, it’s relief…overwhelming relief….and it all circles back to one, incredible epiphany: that I am finally letting go.
Not just of who I had been, but also, the people I’d lost along the way, the limitations I set for myself, the rules I had to follow for a socially constructed idyllic existence, and most of all, the idea that I need anyone other than my dogs to make me whole. The house of cards was tumbling down, like the tears melting down my cheeks, and the release alleviated an enormous weight I hadn’t been aware I’d been carrying.
Freedom, it seems, is a mentality, one I’d been a little too intimidated of exploring fully, though now a life untamed is calling, and I am answering it. There are no restrictions, no rules, and no obligations. The odd thing is, I feel like I had to learn that I have the power to live a life I want, and what’s even crazier, is I can tell you when it all began.
I sat down with a stranger late this summer, had coffee and a conversation, and by the time I left, something in me had changed. Of course, I had no idea then that this unpredictable shift would catalyze what I will call a personal revolution, but that’s just it. We are all on the brink of dramatic change, every second of every day, standing on the edge of a cliff. All it takes is one little push, and we discover that the fear holding us back is gone, and that we can fly, all on our own, if we only just open our wings and try.
Riding motorcycles has kept me wild and free these last eleven years. But my journey to finding Betty, and the new door she has opened for me to explore these last few weeks, has finally brought me closer to the one thing I needed all along.
Until next time, y'all.
Ride Hard. Live Free.