Those 3 words are quite powerful! Why, you ask? Let me tell you a long story.
I cannot take credit for those words – they belong to Klaus, a Swiss ski instructor from a video that some good friends gave me on 'how to ski' 12 years ago. Klaus was right – if you want to become a better skier you have to FACE THE DANGER. You have to turn your body and face down the slope to gain control, the one direction you do not want to go. So, you may be wondering, what does this all mean??
For this particular story, it is about facing the danger in bikepacking, more specifically, "motor-bikepacking" :)
During all of the years I was out riding and racing the Great Divide Route, I would come across the Dual Sport motorcycle guys riding the same trails. While riding my bicycle for endless hours and with nothing but time to ponder all things, I wondered what it would be like not having to pedal every hill, and maybe even carrying a few luxury items. I watched them, talked to them, researched bikes and learned everything I could. I figured I could take my techniques for bikepacking on a bicycle and apply them to going lightweight on a motorcycle. With the help of a motor I could enjoy the Divide in a whole new way.
A year or so back I purchased the perfect bike in my eyes for the Divide, a BMW 650GS, and decked it out for dirt. I purchased the bike without ever touching one, so when I went to pick it up, I was not even sure I would be able to ride it home! I found myself riding the fine line between “FACE THE DANGER” and “STUPID THING TO DO”. Personally, I tend to be of the belief that those “STUPID THINGS TO DO” make my life much richer. I made it home safely.
Once it was home, I guess I had never really considered handling the weight of that motorcycle – I went from a 22 lb mountain bike to a 400 lb motorcycle. That was when this particular fear entered my life. I treated that motorcycle so cautiously and never took it anywhere that I could not turn around or knew I could not handle it. I second guessed my decision to buy this motorcycle for sure. I worried- ‘What if I drop it? How will I pick it up alone? I will never be able to handle this thing over rough terrain or single track, it is just too big and heavy! How do you change a tire and the chain, I have to be self dependent out there!’ – there were so many things I needed to figure out. All of these fears were stopping me from enjoying the motorcycle for the reason I bought it- to ride.
I even bought a smaller 230 motorcycle and thought about selling the 650. I didn’t follow through. The 650 really was the perfect bike for what I wanted to be able to do. I had a plan to ride this thing everywhere and anywhere the dirt would take me. I did my research and knew, in theory, how to do most anything to that bike in any situation that might arise out on a long solo journey. (That is important- do your research!) But, I confess, it still sat in my garage for a long time, with me just hoping one day it would all work out.
That strong urge to do long dirt routes self supported has never left me. As adults we all know that things don’t just happen, you make them happen. So finally, last week, I packed up the 650 and went out for a learning weekend alone- just me, that motorcycle, and my fear of it. It was time to FACE THE DANGER. Plan A quickly turned to Plan B, and through it all I rode 4 days straight on as much dirt as I could find. I lived off that bike, I got lost, I got stuck and I even dropped it. I figured everything out and made it home in one piece with a giant smile on my face. I gained a new confidence and LOVE for that 650! It was one of the best trips I have EVER experienced!!
SO again, what is the point of this long story?
Those 3 words can make you feel so alive. My story is not just about the motorcycle, it is about the process to truly FACE THE DANGER! I hear things all the time from people like, ‘I cannot do that! It is just to hard for me. I am not good enough. I am too scared to try.’ This story was not the first time for me to FACE THE DANGER. I wanted to share this particular story because I want to show that I too struggle with those same fears as most everyone on this planet. We all have the power to do something we want to do, to make changes, and to grow. That something could be anything from mountain biking for the first time, to starting a new business, telling someone you love them, a solo journey across the country, or trying a new food – whatever your fear is – FACE THE DANGER – and don’t let it hold you back any longer. Life experiences are richer when those fears are left behind.
Just as I write this I thought, I never write and share anything very personal on FaceBook - maybe I should not post this BUT then Becca quickly reminds me to FACE THE DANGER and post it!