Riding brings me many things: joy, a sense of freedom, the satisfaction of doing something a bit out of the ordinary. Riding across the country? Definitely not the norm!
I consider myself to be a skilled rider and also take safety seriously. I’m not ever going to be the person in flip flops and no helmet bombing down the street.
Other riders even tease me for still doing the motorcycle safety school skills at least bi-weekly. “What, you haven’t been riding long enough?!?”
Then I see videos like this and am inspired to practice even more.
All being said, I can hold my own on a bike of any kind. I’d never consider setting off on this epic journey if I wasn’t an experienced rider.
But the western half of the US has turned me into a chicken.
There, I said it.
The wind that has been my ever-present companion since Arkansas and Oklahoma has humbled me. I’ve become fearful… and that in turn is making me more nervous.
But this isn’t just a nagging feeling. An event caused this. (And, I’m working to overcome it, more on that in a bit)
I’ve eluded to this incident a couple of times but never said what happened. Partly, because I have (reasonably) worried parents. But, they’ve now seen me since and know I’m intact and relatively unscathed. (Mom, stop reading now, you really don’t need to know about this!)
So here goes.
I got blown off the bike. Literally. Going 60.
In the perfect storm of poor road surface, banked curve and a strong wind gust in advance of a storm, the Vespa was taken right out from under me at the apex of a turn and I slid sideways across the lanes of a 65mph road. The incline was such that I was brought clear across to the opposite side, wheels off the ground, sliding on my right saddlebag essentially.
I’ve said more than a few prayers of gratitude that no cars (or worse, trucks!) came by during those 10-15 seconds. I would have been toast. They wouldn’t have seen me until too late.
So here I was, on the side of a very banked corner, desperate to move out of the way and the wind came up even harder. Just as I managed to balance the bike upright, another gust pushed me the opposite way.
Looking around, I quickly ascertained that I had a slim chance of getting back on the road and saw a small road just behind me. I skid-rolled the Vespa and was able to get over to where the surface became level.
I stopped 50 feet down and made sure Purl and I were both unharmed. My adrenaline got me out of there, but I knew I had taken a really bad spill. I checked us both over (oh, if Purl could talk!), looked the Vespa over and thanked myself once again for getting those saddlebags.
Then I sat down. That’s when I realized I couldn’t get my heart rate down. It was about 140 BPM. Not going into my medical history here, but there was reason for concern.
And, I couldn’t convince myself to get back on that road. I did some breathing exercises. Walked around. Drank lots of water.
My anxiety was through the roof… or the sky, in this case! It took an hour to get my heart rate below 100. And much longer to reduce my anxiety.
And, it hasn’t quite gone away.
The Vespa is top-heavy. Even more so because I have a large top-case. And the design of the wheels, side covers, fenders and so on make it even less wind-friendly.
But much more to the point…. I am not wind-friendly!
I knew this had deeply affected me when I was in the rental car weeks later, turned up the a/c to max just as I was coming to a big turn on the highway. The feeling of the blower on my chest as I swung left literally brought it all back. Amazing how we hold onto things in our body, huh?
Getting the bike back after two weeks and immediately dealing with wind brought this all to a head. I’ve got plans for a tapping/ EFT session this afternoon to work through this. I rode 10 miles in wind gusts today.
Rode like a wimp. Everything was fine… except the rider.
I wish I had thought to work this out of my body sooner, but like anyone, I didn’t want to deal with it. Or admit that I was so deeply affected by just one minute of my life. Or think I was any “less” of a rider.
Now, I’ve allowed myself gratitude for practicing my skills, getting those saddlebags, the timing of no other vehicles being on that road right at that minute and coming away with no physical injuries. But its time to deal with the mental ones.
I want to ride into California feeling confident and strong and like the champion this ride has proven that I am. Its going to take a bit of work to get there. Wish me well.
PS- there happens to be a really funny “road story” for that small road I ended up on. Stay tuned and I’ll get it written.