9.02.2014

Casen's First Ride

My grandson, Casen,  liked his motorcycle rocker and I was proud of how it turned out.  I hope it will stay in the family for a long, long time.  I thought this was an appropriate way to commemorate his "first" ride. 

Who knows, I may have ignited a passion for riding in a whole new generation. 


video


This is what Living Free, Riding Hard, and Being Happy is all about!

8.29.2014

I'll Always Be Able to Ride, Right?

Recently friend and fellow moto-blogger Tina Walker asked herself the the question, “What if I couldn’t ride a motorcycle anymore?”  I asked myself that question  and then quickly dismissed it thinking, “I’ll always be able to ride.”   That thought may have been a little short sighted on my part because I found out earlier this week that I have moderate carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands.
 
You Can't Ride Without Them!
I’ve known for a long time that something wasn’t quite right because my fingers would routinely go numb and my hands would ache. Over the past few months, the numbness and pain have become more frequent and intense.  So much so, that I sometimes wake-up in the middle of the night feeling like my hands and forearms are on fire.  After more than a few restless nights, I decided it was time to see a doctor.   After listening to my “symptoms” and performing a quick exam, the doc said I most likely had carpal tunnel syndrome and then referred me to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study.

If you enjoyed putting a fully charged 9-volt battery on your tongue as a kid, you’d love a nerve conduction study.  I lay on the exam table for an hour as the neurologist placed sensors on both hands and forearms and used what looked like a mini stun gun to “stimulate” my nerves and muscles. It was a shocking experience, literally. It didn’t really hurt, but it was uncomfortable.  When the neurologist was finished, he told me my median nerve was damaged and that I would likely need carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands.  He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss treatment options.

I have an ortho appointment in two-weeks and to say the least I’m nervous about it.  It’s a little ironic given my last post was titled “Don’t Let Fear be a Factor forYou.”  At this point, my biggest fear is how surgery will affect my ability to ride.  I don’t know what the ortho folks will say but after doing a little research, I’ve learned it can take three months or longer to return to your normal activities after surgery.  Anything that requires heavy use of the hands is off-limits.  I think riding a motorcycle falls squarely in this category.
   
Being unable to ride for three months or more is a scary thought because it’s become such an important part of my life over the past few years.  I cannot adequately describe the sense of peace and freedom I feel when I’m on my bike.  It is truly indescribable. When I’m not riding, I’m obsessed with planning my next ride. Strangely enough, the prospect of not being able to ride makes me think of it even more.

I wish I had given Tina’s question more thought at the time, but even now, I don’t have an answer. The thought of not being able to ride makes me sad.  Over the next few months, I may have to face the realityof not being able to ride.  When and if that time comes, I’ll deal with it the best I can knowing it should only be temporary.  I hope my love of riding will serve as a motivator to get me back in the saddle as quickly as possible.

If you’ve dealt with carpal tunnel or had carpal tunnel release surgery, I’d really be interested in hearing about your experiences…good and bad.  You can leave a comment or send me an e-mail.  Your perspective is appreciated. Thanks! 

8.21.2014

Don't Let Fear Be A Factor For You

http://54ka.deviantart.com/art/Fear-8094691
“Fear (noun) - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” 1

Watching my granddaughters play in the pool recently, made me think about fear and how it affects us.  My oldest granddaughter, Addison, will play all day on a shallow tanning shelf but ask her to get in the deeper water, even while wearing a life jacket, and she freaks out.  She’ll eventually get in but only after a lot of coaxing and even then, she wants someone to hold her the entire time.  On the other hand, my youngest granddaughter, Mia, will jump right in.  Mia is content to splash around on her own while wearing a life jacket.  Both girls enjoy the water but have vastly different comfort levels.

I think for many, riding a motorcycle is similar to my granddaughters’ experience in the pool.  Some jump right on and ride like a bat out of hell while others are so timid their motorcycles become glorified garage queens.  While fear can help keep us safe and out of trouble, if not checked, it can become debilitating.  Fear can keep us from trying new things and enjoying life to its fullest.  Fear is the antithesis of adventure.  How many times in your life has it played a part in the decisions you’ve made?  Be honest with yourself. 

As motorcyclists, it’s important for us to be aware of our fears and balance them with an honest assessment of our riding skills.   We can’t afford to be overcome by fear while riding through a curve…the result could be deadly.  We must work on improving our riding skills and addressing our fears head-on through thoughtful practice.  If you’re fearful of riding the Interstate, riding at night, riding in the rain, or riding the twisties, work on your basic skills, then go out, and make yourself ride in those situations and conditions.  The only way to conquer our fears is to face them.
 
Friend and fellow moto-blogger, Trobairitz, did just that.  Two-weeks ago, she visited Huckleberry Flats Off-Highway Vehicle Area for the first time on her Yamaha TW-200.  While climbing a steep and rutted hill she was almost thrown off her bike, but despite being injured and afraid she hung on and made it to the top.  Traobaititz faced her fear and will forever be a better rider because of it. I admire riders like that and hope if I were in a similar situation, I’d have the intestinal fortitude to do the same.

Looking at my own life, I know that fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and fear of injury have influenced several of my decisions over the years.  I regret that.  I realize I can’t do anything about those things now, but I can work to do a better job of acknowledging and recognizing when fear is present and make a concerted effort to face it head on.  Life is too short to hold back out of fear.  

Don't let fear be a factor in your riding or your daily life. Live with no regrets...Live Free. Ride Hard.  Be Happy!

_______________________

8.08.2014

Life Lesson...Don't Become Your Own Worst Enemy

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t been posting much lately…the reality is I’ve been busier than normal at work and at home I’ve been focused on building my grandson a motorcycle rocker. The time I’ve spent in my shop has been enjoyable, but it’s left little time to write, ride, or take photographs. I miss those things. Unfortunately, it’ll be a while longer before I can fully get back to them. When I started working on the rocker seven weeks ago, I had hoped to finish it as a present for my grandson’s first birthday. That didn’t happen.

Last Friday at midnight, after making a 17-hour push to finish, I realized   there was still too much to do to have it ready for his birthday party that   Sunday. The realization was devastating. I was so disappointed with myself for not having started sooner or working harder. I felt as though I was letting him down. I felt guilty…I had completed special gifts for his sisters for their first birthdays, but he’d have nothing from me on his special day. I was a bad grandpa and not in a funny, Johnny Knoxville, kind of way.

Core of the Motorcycle Rocker
Sherry and I left for San Angelo on Saturday morning with the motorcycle rocker laying in pieces all around my shop. It was a sad sight and I still felt bad for not finishing, but in the light of a new day, I knew everything would be okay. When we opened the door at my daughter and son-in-law’s house, we were greeted by our three smiling grandchildren. Not one of them seemed concerned with the absence of a shiny new motorcycle rocker. They just seemed happy that we were there. That made me feel good.

One Happy 1 Year Old
On Sunday at the party, my grandson received so many gifts that he didn’t know what to look at or play with first. He was happier than a pig in slop. At that moment, I knew he wasn’t missing anything by not having a motorcycle rocker built by his “Pop-Pop”. His feelings weren’t hurt. He didn’t care about what he didn’t have because he was focused on what was right in front of him. All my worrying and beating myself up had been pointless. At the end of the day, the only person who had been concerned about finishing by a certain calendar date was me (okay, and maybe my wife).

Part of the Front Wheel Assembly
Later that day on the drive back to San Antonio, I felt a sense of relief. Gone was the self-imposed pressure to hurry-up and finish…and the guilt for not finishing in time for the birthday party. After some much needed reflection, I realized over the past several weeks I’d become my own worst enemy. I grossly underestimated the time, complexity, and effort involved in building the rocker and ignored my wife’s early reminders to get started. Once started, I didn’t realistically evaluate my progress and pushed myself until I could no longer deny that it wasn’t going to be ready. I focused so much on finishing that I lost sight of what it really means to Live Free, Ride Hard, and Be Happy.

I don’t know how much longer it’ll take to complete the rocker but I do know I won’t be so laser focused as to neglect other things that bring me joy and happiness. I’ll stop being my own worst enemy and enjoy taking the time needed to build a custom “bike” my grandson can proudly hand down to his children one day. After all, a well-built motorcycle (rocker) should last for several generations, right?

I hope you never become your own worse enemy and lose sight of what it means to Live Free, Ride Hard, and Be Happy!