When off road riding, you have moments of clarity. Usually right before you have moments of Oh #$&%! I had one of those moments this weekend, realizing that off road riding is like parenting a rambunctious toddler.
Motorcycles can intuit your mood and emotional state in a heartbeat, just like your toddler.
Start your day stressed, it comes out in your riding and your parenting. Tight on the bars, you’ll give the bike too much input, it will respond, and your energy will be quickly zapped. Or, wound tight, you’ll respond to your toddlers normal behavior in a rigid fashion, and they’ll react in turn. Start your day relaxed and optimistic, and you’ll be able to respond to whatever happens with an open mind and open heart, in riding, or in parenting. Remind yourself, relaxed mood, loose on the bars, happy toddler, er, bike!
You always must strike the balance between relaxed and firm.
When riding off road, too much input to the bike creates havoc, just like trying to micromanage a toddler. At the same time, no input creates total havoc! If the bike hits a big rock, a correction is necessary, just like if your toddler tries to use a big rock to hit you. It is important to quickly return to relaxed riding (or relaxed parenting) letting the bike find it’s own path over most of the obstacles (or letting the toddler explore their environment fully.)
Sometimes the bikes throw temper tantrums. How you manage the tantrum shows your true colors.
This weekend, one of our gals was happily riding along after an exceptionally gnarly ride when her bike stopped working. After kicking it and trying to bump start it, her crew pulled out the tow rope, and hauled the bike uphill, over logs and roots, for five steep miles of switchbacks. When they finally got back to the staging area after dark, her family was there cheering her on, ready to load her bike, and everyone enjoyed a hearty laugh after the exhausting experience. Just like the toddler throwing a tantrum, you can let it ruin your day, or roll with it and move into joy.
A good support network is so important for learning to ride off road and for parenting a toddler.
When parenting, it is helpful to have friends around who have similar beliefs to share your experiences with and to discover other parenting techniques to try. If you didn’t grow up riding (and perhaps even if you did), there is so much to learn about off road riding that a good support network is vital. There are bike choices, gear choices, figuring out where to ride, the time investment of figuring out what you like to ride, learning to ride it well, and usually, it’s safer to learn when you are not alone. Finding your people, the people who support you, give you information, share their experiences, and then ultimately allow you to make your own decisions can help develop a skilled and happy rider. Social media is a modern riders gift for this. There are dozens of online resources and groups, all with people who are willing to ride with new people, offer advice, and to pick up bikes. One of our favorites is Women Adventure Riders on Facebook.
The number one way your bike is like your toddler is that no matter what that bike does, you have a bond that transcends words.
When you mount that motorcycle, nothing else matters. Recent research suggests that riding benefits riders in the same ways as exercise and meditation. Giving your motorcycle proper love and attention, when riding and between rides improves that bond. Your motorcycle will never judge you when you share your hopes, dreams, fears, or grief. It strives to be an unconditionally loving presence. The more you give to your motorcycle, the more it gives back to you. No matter how many motorcycles you have, you remember each of their quirks, their strengths, their challenges, and the places they took you.
Both bikes and toddlers need frequent naps!! We need to give them these naps so they have the energy to finish the ride!
Did I miss any? How is your motorcycle like a toddler, and how is off road riding like parenting?
And here’s to everyone raising kids riding!!
We love each and every one of you!
We look forward to riding with the next generation of riders!