Motorcycle Madness……..VOL 110
For most of my life I have had at least one hobby that had some element (or a LOT) of risk in it. Aerobatics, Helicopters, and Motorcycles are the ones that come to mind first. Activities that if not performed correctly, and with great care, could quickly get me into a situation where me and breathing could part ways.
There were a few times in my life where I was engaged in a couple of those activities at the same time. After a couple of close calls I finally had to admit that the odds of life were diminishing if I kept it up. I had to choose. I gave up the bike for about 20 years.
Now, Flying, is pretty much behind me. A heart attack about 8 years ago kind of put a quick stop to that hobby, and for a while, I didn’t do much of anything except try to get better. But then I started talking to buddy at church about motorcycles. It had been 20 years since I’d ridden with any consistency…but the thought of the open road, the possibilities of seeing the country on two wheels and quality alone-time compelled me to own a motorcycle again. I had to have a bike. Through a couple sneaky moves I’m not proud of, and with a loan from my buddy, I found an old 1986 BMW K100 in really nice shape out in the Boston area. After an unfortunate accident coming back home that left me walking for nearly a year…I found a different bike and for the next few years I enjoyed my time on the road… with a few different bikes. But all that isn’t really my story.
Motorcycles by themselves are unstable. Don’t believe me? Just stand one up without holding it or riding it or putting it on it’s kickstand…within a few seconds you will see that gravity is a cruel taskmaster…and… you will learn that motorcycles have to be parked or moving to keep from scraping the paint off them and bending things. And that’s the story right there. That is, if I can equate life with a motorcycle for a couple of minutes.
You would think that after learning how to ride a bicycle at an early age… keeping my balance would come easy…and it does if we’re talking about bicycles. Put anybody on top of a thousand pounds of metal and motor with two wheels and balance becomes a bit trickier. We’ve all seen the motorcycle dude in front of us come wheeling up to a stop weaving and wobbling all over his lane trying his best to come to a stop without falling over…looking all uncool and stuff. And then you’ve seen the riders who seem like they defy gravity before they deftly put their foot down to balance…their “cool” safely intact. In both cases the riders saved their paint jobs…but one just looks like he belongs on the bike…and we’re pretty sure the other is going to be a statistic one day.
There (can) come a point in riding a motorcycle when gravity wins despite your best efforts otherwise to thwart it. You get distracted, you’re not looking or someone else is doing the same thing… and both gravity and rapid deceleration slap you very hard.
There have been a few of those moronic episodes in my riding. One happened at a thruway rest stop not too long before I sold my Harley a couple of years back. It was a dumb thing. I hadn’t zipped up a coat pocket and a stray accessory cord had worked it’s way out. It had been bouncing around in the wind, slapping me and the bike for the past several miles till I couldn’t stand it anymore. I pulled into the rest stop determined to fix this annoyance.
Now my normal procedure when I come to a stop is to reach back with my left foot and put the kickstand down. Then gently lean the 800lb bike over onto the stand, and get off. Well…that particular day I only got part of that right. I was annoyed and distracted with the cord and when I stopped I could have sworn I put the kickstand down. But as I gently leaned the bike over, anticipating it coming to rest on the kickstand..something went terribly wrong and the bike simply accelerated from the upright position directly to the ground with me hanging on for dear life…The kickstand hadn’t broken…I had just forgotten to put it down. Well… the bike ended up on it’s side in the parking lot and I looked like the buffoon I was for letting it happen. I stood there for a moment, stunned… surveying the situation (and to see if anyone was laughing at me). Luckily I hadn’t bent or scraped anything and as far as I could tell…there was just the raw embarrassment of it all plus the job of getting the bike upright again…which proved to be more of a challenge than my 60 year old body was up for. Thankfully a young, well-muscled youth nearby took pity on me and helped me right the beast after which I promptly and carefully, set it on the kickstand and took care of the dangling distraction before I got back on my way.
There are times in our lives when we are aware of “tipping points.” Situations, that if left unattended, will take us down. Times when we can feel ourselves falling, unable to stop, and circumstances that take us completely by surprise. Sometimes we are able to catch ourselves… sometimes not, and we hit the ground…hard…wondering if we have the strength to get up. And sometimes the fall is softened by the support of friends and loved ones there to help us up again.
God sees it all…he’s known about every challenge…every tipping point. In fact, he’s been there with us. He sees us when we are negotiating a challenge. He’s encouraged us from the sidelines… he wants us to wake up, pay attention…watch out!
I think he smiles when we hear and heed his warning and make course corrections. I think he’s saddened when we ignore his voice and crash to the ground.
One thing I’ve learned through “avoidance grace” as well as from the “crash and burns” of life… Wisdom is golden whether it’s gained in advance of, or on the wrong side of a tipping point. The question today is will we listen? Will we heed warnings? Will we make corrections? Will we make the next right decision as much as it’s up to us.
I pray that we will. I pray that any bruises and broken bones we suffer are the result of worthy sacrifice, not foolishness. I pray for a heart that is willing to listen and do right. I’m so thankful for our God whose grace and mercy transcends it all.