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And bye bye Don

This blog has become so much about motorcycling I reckon it's time to dive headlong into that space - at least for a while. If you want to come with me, click here.

Bye bye American pie

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I won't be going back. This latest visit finished it for me. An angry, confused nation that is collapsing in on itself. They have traditionally thought of the Canadians as backward but from what I saw the situation has completely reversed now. They do have one thing going for them however: Alaska. Our ship was BIG but it looked like a toy against the awesome scale of glacier country.



The Sixth Sense

I'd forgotten how good this 1999 film was. I happened upon it again this week in a hotel room and couldn't turn it off. Afterwards I googled it and read the fascinating story of its writer/director (whose name I can't pronounce let alone write). Long story short: he made it to the top of his craft despite a surprising number of dud films along the way. And the really surprising thing was that the duds and successes were INTERSPERSED. I think that's exceptional because our normal reaction after a big success followed by a dud is to quit. We tell ourselves the first one was a fluke, that we don't really have any talent and that the market has finally woken up. Not this guy. He had success, dud, success, more duds and so on. As of now he's at the top but I'm betting he's the sort of guy who's not resting on his laurels. He's obviously a gritty performer who believes in himself and isn't easily swayed by either failure OR success. Both are impos…

Who are we kidding

when we rock around on what we consider to be an ultra-cool motorcycle and then act all nonchalant as if it's nothing? We 'ain't foolin' nobody. Everyone knows we think we're pretty special. May as well be honest about it. Next time someone says "hey, nice bike" don't act all surprised. Say "it's friggin' AWESOME!"  Be proud of it. You know you are.

To quote Molly...

Do yourselves a favour and read Mark Twain's autobiography. He asked that it not be published for 100 years after his death and that came in 2010. If you love superb written English you will, like me, prop your eyes open with matchsticks in order to keep reading luscious sentences such as this one about a generous man Twain loved and pitied in equal measure:

"James Lampton floated all his days in a tinted mist of magnificent dreams and died at last without seeing one of them realised."

Or this one about his uneducated but wise mother:

"My mother never used big words but had a natural gift for making effective use of small ones."

There's Shakespeare. Then there's Samuel L Clemens (Mark Twain) in a photo finish with Charles Dickens for second.

The rest can fight it out amongst themselves.

Go opposite

I'm on a cruise ship at present and, as usual, studying crowd behaviour (yeah, I know...). And once again I come to the conclusion that you're usually better off doing the opposite to the mob. Eat at different times to them, walk the decks at different times to them and so on. A good example this morning was when some whales were sighted off the stern. Over the next ten minutes everyone congregated there - in vain. The whales had of course moved on. The smart move would be to go look elsewhere - off the bow for instance. As Robert Kiyosaki says (in reference to the stock market) in his terrific book Rich Dad, Poor Dad: "Ignore the crowd, they always arrive late and get slaughtered."  If you do what everyone else does, you get what they get. If you want something different you gotta DO something different.

Hugh da man

"Speak at the right time, not all the time."

Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void

Where you look determines where you go

I walked along a glass-floored walkway suspended way out in space in the Canadian Rockies today. Looking through the floor to the valley below made it difficult to put one foot in front of the other. But the minute I refocused my eyes on the glass itself, it was a doddle. Focus through the glass again and I walked like I had leaden legs. It was fascinating. My brain simply couldn't cope with the idea of walking in space. Nothing changed in my stance or the angle of my stare - just what my eyes focused on. What I took away from this was that we can't fight how we're made. We gotta learn to work with it. But I also learned that a simple shift in perspective can mean the difference between inertia and flying. I think it was Siimon (yes, two "i"s) Reynolds who said you're only ever eight seconds away from happiness. He's right. Small shifts can have HUGE effects when it comes to these things called human beings. Good, i'nt it?

Unhappiness

is the gap between what you want to do






and what you do.

Shock, horror!

Motorcycle cops here in Seattle ride ......HONDA's!!

Harley, what happened?  Maybe the police just prefer reliability, handling and power.

How unpatriotic of them.

Never too old

In 1972, an Englishman called Ted Simon decided to ride a motorbike around the world. He hadn't ridden a motorbike before and was 42 years old but he believed he could do it.

And he did. Four years later he arrived back in London having ridden his 500cc Triumph Tiger over 100,000km through 45 countries. But wait, there's more.

In 2001, now aged seventy, he decided to do it again (!) And he did, this time taking a mere THREE years :)

I'm heading over to Barnes and Noble right now (it's directly opposite the hotel I'm staying in) to buy his book.

Inspirational, huh?

A "less is more" story ('ain't it always?)

"It took me 20 years of wanting the biggest and best to realise that less is more: less horsepower, less weight, less gadgets - less money. It's on simple bikes like these that I have once again found the joy of what attracted me to riding in the first place."

Comment on motorcycle forum. Good to learn the lesson BEFORE doing the twenty years ;)

Travel (2)

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

Mark Twain

Reality check

"Graveyards are full of indispensable people."

Isaac Lidsky, "Eyes Wide Open"

The courage to admit it's over

Whenever I'm in America I don't know whether to laugh or cry. They cling to a 1950's version of themselves like a man clinging to a prized, upturned boat in a fast moving river. His only hope is to let it go and swim for shore but he hangs on, hoping against hope, and goes over the falls.

Travel

Travel is like climbing a wall to get a better view of what's going on.  When you get down, you're better able to hold your course amidst all the hurly burly.

Me too

"Just you. The empty mountain road. The engine your soundtrack. Each corner a new sensation. Time? No meaning. You forget you are on a bike and just see the road in front of you. Feeling those corner forces. Fluid. Without history or future. In the moment."

Amin Pelkmann explaining why he rides alone, never in groups.

I haven't been doing this long but am completely hooked and Amin has articulated beautifully for me the reason why.

I literally kit up and go out at every opportunity. And getting off the bike at the end is only because I have another commitment. It's a beautiful thing. What a privilege to be able to do it. Thankyou Harley Lady wherever you are. I wouldn't have found this if I hadn't run into you that day. And unless I run into you again some day, you'll never know.

PS ... I would add to Amin's list: "enjoying the dance". Because that's what it feels like to me. You're in a dance with your bike, both hands and feet invo…

"Ride safely"

Why do people say that? It's not like it's going to change anything. ("Oh, OK, I was going to ride recklessly, but I won't now.") I think they're just projecting THEIR fear onto you. And that's kind of cowardly when you think about it. My wife never says it to me. I know she fears but she doesn't make me share that fear. And that's because she's brave. Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's "feeling the fear and doing it anyway".

No one dies any more

They all "pass away".

It's reflective of our unwillingness to face death.

But it's only by facing death that you live.

Really live.

Someone who gets it

"Suburbia is a mistake driven by the car. I'm a person who believes in 'villagisation'. The village is what we all want as humans. It's what you see as standard in Italian villages where the old people sit in the piazza every day and if Giuseppe doesn't arrive they ring his son and say "where's Giuseppe?" And we know the benefits of those common places - the trees, the shade, the community points, the collection points, how the seats are arranged. It's quite simple but we're still experimenting with it in Australia. They're very learned in their delivery of it in Italy, Greece and Spain."

Adrian Fini (in Qantas inflight magazine)

Decided to buy a motorcycle magazine

And read it from cover to cover on my flight to Melbourne. And left it on the plane. Because it's living in the past. Motorcycling is about to change forever with the advent of electric bikes and men in black on noisy bikes trying to look tough are going to look faintly ridiculous. Oh, that's right - they already do 😎

No-one is fazed any more

They're all "phased".

Go figure.

"It is hoped next year to incorporate it into the memorial service"

Yeah, why not. Incorporate a "war dance" into the ANZAC service.

Great idea.

Not.

We wouldn't accept this behaviour from our children

Imagine you're from another planet and you're looking down and seeing all the nations of the earth doing this. Sad, huh? Pathetic actually. We all need to grow up.

Wow, that's a first

China urging restraint by the US and North Korea. It's good that they're finally getting involved. Long overdue. If Don's aggressive stance does nothing else but drag China into the game it will have been worth it.

There's no good news

And no bad news.

Just news.

"Good" and "bad" are subjective. What's good news to one man might be bad news to another. (How many times have you heard cancer sufferers say "it's actually been a blessing"?)

We don't choose what happens to us but we do choose how we respond to it.

That should have course been "latter" (yesterday's post)

Where's the line?

The one between persevering with a "good" idea and flogging a dead horse. I've always tended to do too much of the latter. But as you get older you realise life is short. Ideas have to bear fruit quicker or you move on to the next thing. Wish I had figured this sooner.

Meh. Be yourself.

I was watching a review of a new "badass" motorcycle and the guy said "with a bike like this you have to wear an open face helmet and sunnies; wear a full-face helmet and you'll look a real tool". What he doesn't say of course is that you'll look an even bigger tool when you come off and slide your face along the tarmac. Mind you, by then you wouldn't care I guess.

It's only taken 5,000km

To figure out what an incredibly light touch you can use on The Black Quacker to move smoothly through the gears. Amazingly light. Like almost "willing" the gear to change and it does, with no discernible effort from me at all. My sincere apologies Mr Suzuki san. You designed a Swiss watch and I've been treating it like an abacus.

Dawn is beautiful no matter what's goin' on

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It brings promise.

Hope.

Peace.

And then the traffic starts.

And it's gone.

I'm realising you can't dabble in motorcycling

If you're not constantly practicing / improving you're probably going to become a statistic. It's a bit like having kids: an all or nothing commitment. The advantage of a motorcycle though is you can lock it in the garage. Hmm, kids in the garage, eh? The other big incentive to constantly hone your skills however is that the better you get the more you ENJOY it. Funny that.

"You'll go places you wouldn't otherwise go"

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I remember reading this on a blog aimed at encouraging people to take up motorcycling. I also remember thinking "yeah, right". It didn't make sense to me. Why would I go places that I wouldn't go in my car? But I'm now seeing what they meant. You don't necessarily go to "grand" places but you start seeing all sorts of "micro" places within your own city. Like right now in fact. I'm sitting on the steps of Dome on the river's edge in East Fremantle having a coffee and watching the sunset. I've driven past it many times in my car but wouldn't ever call in and do this. So why on a bike? Don't know - but here I am. The guy on the blog was right.








It's easy to be tough

It's much harder to be vulnerable.

It takes more guts.

So we act tough.

And shut ourselves off from being our true self.

And that's a waste of a life.

When The White Knight grows up

It will look like this.

Yowzer.

A mate was going to buy one but the test ride scared him to death and he decided on something smaller.

I see in the comments under the video that this is the guy's FIRST MOTORBIKE (!)

I wonder if he's still alive...

Bring back Jeff

Jeff Kennett that is. We need clear-eyed thinkers like him.

In his recent commentary on Hawthorn's poor form he hinted that the club's super-coach Alastair Clarkson might have run out of puff when he said "I think about six to nine years is enough when it comes to leadership."

I think he's right. After that amount of time you start marking time. Think of all the people you know in management / leadership positions who have been there fifteen and twenty years.

'nuff said?

"No-one will steal your bike, it's a Suzuki."

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That's what a mate said when I was trying to decide what anti-theft measures I should take for The White Knight.

I thought he was joking.

But then I did some research and realised he wasn't.

They're well built, extremely reliable and relatively cheap.

But not popular. Not really.

Honda's and Yamaha's, yes. Kawasaki's too.

Suzuki's not so much.

Why?

I don't know. Perhaps someone who does can tell me.

Anyway, that's obviously why this one sat unsold on the dealership floor for the best part of two years before I came along and took it off their hands.

Would I do the same deal again?

Absolutely.

I love this bike.

It's got no frills, no fancy electronics, no fancy nuthin'. But it's honest.

And it's beautiful.

No one will steal it?

More fool them.



Is Don. Is….. ?

Americans might not be quite ready to say this yet, but I think there's one thing they would agree on and that is that the worst thing you can be with those who seek to harm you is

predictable.

The missile strike on the Syrian airbase will have been designed to sow the seeds of doubt in a few minds.

I'd say it's doing exactly that right now.

Relax

The more I relax, the better my motorbike works. The gear changes, throttle application, braking and steering are just so much smoother. In other words, the engineers at Suzuki assumed I would ride with a light touch. If I ride in a tense, ham-fisted fashion, all their good work is negated. Our bodies are the same. They work best when relaxed. The Engineer intended for us to "live relaxed", trusting in Him. But we don't. And then we wonder why things keep breaking.

Ostrich syndrome

When you stop and consider the infinitesimally small odds of life on earth happening at all, you would have to wonder why we stick to our "it all happened by chance" model. In any other sphere we would consider someone delusional who pinned everything on such ridiculous odds. The "there must be a creator" model makes so much more sense. Why don't we embrace it? Because it opens up a whole new can of worms we'd rather not face. More fool us. There will be a day of reckoning for such weakness. That's not me saying it - a fellow from Nazareth said it and from what I can see, he had a clue.

Life under the sun

I sit at the cafe and look at my bike and wonder if the Seal Mate tool will fix my fork seal leak and Assad gasses the children.

Uh oh Chungo

There's only one thing better than going for a long ride on your motorcycle and that's GOING FOR A LONGER RIDE!

Man, I got it bad. But what a beautiful disease.

I think this by Tim Watson on RideApart pretty much captures it:

"Before you had a motorcycle, you always tried to find the quickest and most direct way to get around. In a car or truck, it was efficient and practical to do so. Now that you have a bike, you’ll be willing to go 100 miles out of your way to visit a store or restaurant that has the same stuff as the one in your neighborhood. You’ll find yourself with entire States between you and home, amongst strangers and in strange places that you never knew existed, just because. You’ll tell your family you’re just going out for a quick ride, then return hours, sometimes days later, not entirely sure where you have been. And it won’t matter, because you were riding."

HOG Rule No.1: No sissies!

Harley rider on YouTube: "So you've got your new Harley and you're about to head off on your first ride in front of your mates and you stall it. Sell the bike, give away the money. You're done."

The Don way

Don: "If China doesn't sort out North Korea we will."

Reporter: "How?"

Don: "I'm not going to tell you."

Love it.

Sitting is the new smoking

"I see shopkeepers sitting in their shops all day as if legs were meant to be sat on not stood and walked on and I think they deserve some credit for not all having committed suicide long ago."

Henry David Thoreau (1843 - 1916), "Walking"

Can a deaf person enjoy motorcycling?

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Pretty much ends the loud pipes debate doesn't it?

I think the coming wave of electric, silent motorcycles is going to make us all "deaf" motorcyclists.

And the era of motorcycling being "badass" will be relegated to the past.



I've been flip-flopping a lot on this but I've finally decided I 'aint getting loud pipes on The White Knight. Instead, I'm going to use its quietness to train myself into a new motorcycling sensibility.

The internal combustion engine (and all it's noise) will soon be a museum exhibit.

The future is here.

"Ride it like you stole it"

I liked this piece of advice from a 35-year motorcycling veteran. He loved his bike but when he rode it he RODE it. I'm only new at the game but already I can see this is the way to go.

That day

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There comes the day in every noob's motorcycling journey when he finally gets the confidence to relax his stranglehold on the handlebars and hold them as gently as birds.



And the whole WORLD of motorcyling opens up before his eyes.

And he stops cursing the "terrible" transmission and starts praising the Suzuki engineers for their skill in creating such a silky box (and he cringes a bit in shame… just a bit).

Today was that day.

Woohoo!!

The garage

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I've rediscovered the joy of it. 

And in the process discovered something about myself that has been buried all my life:

I'm a "craft" worker, not a "list" worker.

All my career I've been a list worker. You know, create the list, do the things on it as quickly as possible so that you can create a new list and start again.

It's a work style born of too much to do and too little time to do it.

Some people love it.

I don't.

I've decided I'm a "craft" worker. I want to spend hours doing a thing if that's what it takes to do it properly. Like 100% properly.

I suspect we're all one or the other.

I also suspect the world needs both.

What I really like about The White Knight is what others consider its shortcoming

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It's basic. Especially in the brakes department.

It's a big, relatively powerful bike yet only has one disc on the front and (gasp) a DRUM on the back!

No ABS.

No power assist.

No linking.

In other words, if you want to stop this baby in a hurry, you have to use skill and feel.

And, as a beginner, you have to ride conservatively, knowing that you haven't developed those yet.

I'm not unhappy about that.

Team Building Day

You know the drill: go to some place and scramble over obstacles and then stand around and fall backwards into each other's arms yada yada yada ...

That's not how you build teams. You build teams in every little interaction at work. The way you speak to each other basically.

It's hard work because you don't always feel like doing it but it's the professional's choice.

The Doc is in the house

Mike Nahan has been made Liberal leader.
It was unopposed. And so it should have been. The Doc is a straight shooter who likes to get stuff done.

The Don and The Doc.

Same.

PS…. sometimes I think I'm slightly right of Attila the Hun

Hardcore

If you're into motorcycles, you gotta get out to Clean Ride
Open the door to their windowless store and you enter Aladdin's cave. The guy's are so devoted to what they do it's a beautiful thing to see: great products, great service and great presentation.

And once again I learn that real passion can't be faked.

You know you live in a rough area when

your pre-ride check includes checking that your bike still has wheels.
Thanks to Chris Cope for this gem.

Panic helps no one

So a propellor falls off a plane mid-flight.

The pilot goes into a cold sweat and white knuckles the wheel.

Frantic calls are made to ground and everyone starts shouting.

Only that's not what happened.

A prop did fall off an Rex Air flight yesterday.

The pilot calmly informed air traffic controllers, went into training mode and landed the plane on one.

Impressive.

Panic helps no one.

The importance of cafes

They're full of people.

And food.

And coffee.

You enter flat, and emerge full of possibilities again.

Vans in Cottesloe does it for me.

The vibe is "doing" people doing.

All sorts of people.

Execs, grandmothers, young folk.

They're all doing something.

It doesn't matter what.

Doing keeps you alive.

What to do?

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You can either ride your bike or you can look at your bike.















But you can't ride your bike and look at it at the same time.

This is important. If you don't see why, it doesn't matter. Go in peace.

If, however, you feel my pain, I can only say to you this:

"I don't know."

I don't know what can be done about it.

Because the sad truth is that you will never see yourself on your bike.

Sure, someone can photograph you, or video you. But then you're just looking at a photograph or a video. You're not actually seeing YOU on YOUR BIKE.

And here's the thing: when you're actually on your bike, it looks nothing. It looks just like any other bike. It's like sitting behind the wheel of a Porsche: if it wasn't for the logo you could be sitting behind the wheel of a Mazda or something. Seriously.

See where I'm coming from? Sense my frustration? YOU CAN EITHER LOOK AT YOUR BIKE OR YOU CAN RIDE YOUR BIKE BUT YOU CAN'T LOOK AT IT AND RIDE IT.

Can't say I wasn't warned

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When I bought The White Knight from Rick Gill Motorcycles in Osborne Park, the man himself saw me out and said:

"You realise you have just started an addiction that you will never be cured of?"

I laughed.

He didn't.

















Spaceman

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That's what I feel like when I suit up - restricted and clumsy. 

But as soon as the bike's rolling it changes instantly to a feeling of weightlessness.

It's better than heroin and doesn't kill you.

Actually it can.

Oh well, it doesn't have withdrawal symptoms.


Actually it does.

Oh well, it's just better ;)

"Know thyself"

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I've had a hankering to take these stock exhausts off my bike and put something louder and meatier on. 

I've told myself all the usual reasons. There's only one problem:

I don't believe me.

"Know thyself" was the motto carved into the wall of my university. I think it's a worthy one.

"Why be happy when you can be normal?"

That's what writer Jeanette Winterton's mother said to her when Jeanette was a young girl trying to figure out her unusualness.

Sad, huh?

"I wish I only worked 15 hours"

That's what a work colleague said when I told him my hours had been cut.
"Work is a privilege" I said. "There are plenty of people lying in hospital beds who would love to be able to work."

"What's more, it's the best way to stave off dementia and a bunch of other things."

"If you don't like your job, sure, get another one, but don't stop work."

"Retirement's a mug's game. The whole concept is daft - that you stop work and sit on your arse just because you reach a certain age. Why? If you can still contribute and be productive and earn money, why not keep doing it? You're engaging with people, using your brain, helping others with your experience and knowledge."

"Playing golf and going fishing? Meh. Fast track to brain mush."

Last time that guy talks to me I'm sure!

I get a fright every time

Every time I go for a ride, something happens that scares me. 
Every time.

Not big scares (so far), just little ones.

But sufficient to make you stop and think.

I was telling a mate (who also rides) and he said "good, it'll keep you alive. The time you get into trouble in this game is when you think you're good."

Ah, humility. Probably the single most important trait of all.

But how do you know when you're humble?

Simple. For as long as you think you are, you're not.

True story. Think about it.

Mind-bender, huh?

Advice on buying a motorbike

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Don't buy one from a beginner who's upgrading.

It's liable to have a gearbox full of iron filings and clutch plates as thin as sandpaper.
And a worn drive train.
And bent things.




On the other hand, it will be very keen to be your friend, anything to get away from the ham-fisted butcher who's been it's master for the past twelve months*.

_________________________________________________________
* I don't know of course - just theorising.

PS…. I understand now why they called this bike the Intruder. It comes into your life and steals everything you've got. In a good way though. See that LC? It stands for "Life Changing"  πŸ˜Ž

First world problems (2)

The current anxiety consuming the hand-wringers is whether our billion-dollar stadium* will be finished in time to hold a cricket match.
I mean, if it's not, what WILL we do?

Eat cake I suppose.

________________________________________________________
*What other community of two million people can afford to build a billion dollar stadium? Oh, that's right, we can't.

You don't have to be going anywhere

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when you ride a motorbike. 

Because riding is the destination.

So, crack of dawn, I'll be out there again tomorrow*, God-willing.

Because I can.

Because it might be the lasttime I can.

Who knows.

Every ride is precious.

A privilege.

What a lucky guy.

_________________________________________________________
* The White Knight had its maiden voyage today. A daybreak run to Yanchep and back. Even then I didn't want to get off. Gobs of torque whether in 2nd at 5kmh or 5th at 80kmh. A big, fat, beautiful beast that shimmies, shakes and vibrates just like a classic motorcycle should. You can see where this is heading, can't you? Harley Town. Just don't mention the war. I did once, but I think I got away with it. 

The Black Quacker taught me something else today

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It likes to be RIDDEN!


I'm realising motorcycling is a very "active" pastime, not a passive one like driving a car can be. It demands your whole mind and body to do it well.

And that's in part because bikes are relatively crude things compared to cars. There's really not that much to them. It's you sitting on a frame with a lawn mower under you working it's box off. Well, not really, but that's kinda how it feels - on this little fella anyway.

There's no comfy seat, no climate control, no nuthin'. It's you, a piece of metal and the road. And that's what I love about it. It's about as "real" as it gets. In a world of cubicles and computer screens that's a welcome release.

Speaking of cubicles and computer screens….no I won't start on that.

Another post perhaps.

Suffice to say it's killing us.

Literally.

Getting it out of the system

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After months of being restricted, today was my first proper ride sans L's.
What did I learn?


That I've got a lot to learn.

As a bloke at work said yesterday:

"Now that you've passed your test you can really learn to ride."

Uh huh.

You got nuthin'

The appearance of having "a life" is an illusion. 
Even when everything is falling into place and you seem to have it all, you got nuthin'.

All you really have is this moment. This second. This breath.

Live NOW.

"Come now, you who say: 'Tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit'. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapour that appears for a little while then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say: 'If the Lord wills we will LIVE - and also do this or that.' "
James 4:13-15 (New Testament)

I was telling my friend that my desire to get my licence for this gorgeous thing is bordering on obsession

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"Why?" she said.

"Why what?"

"Why so desperate?"

"Because then I can ride away. Alone. No-one to watch me."





"Why's that so important?"

"Because I don't want to be scrutinised. I want to be free"

"Hmm," she said after a pause. "You know, no matter how fancy the bike and how far you ride, you can't ride away from what's inside."






Ouch.

Don't do it

A young woman in for months (years?) of disability and pain, hundreds of hours of police and emergency time, thousands of dollars in repair bills. 
And why?

Because she couldn't discipline herself.

Don't do it.

Please.


Tell your friends.

See, say, do.

Don is showing us how bogged down our professional politicians have become. Exercised in the dark art of saying nothing, they fill up space but effect little. Don is the opposite. See, say, do. I don't always like the saying and doing, but I admire the courage of conviction that it evidences.

PS…dang that motorbike wheel is beautiful!!

I don't care

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My friend thinks it's hilarious that I ride in endless circles out the front of my house with all my riding gear on.
I don't care.




The bloke over the road thinks it's hilarious that I keep photographing my bike.

And polishing it.

I don't care.

My wife just thinks I'm hilarious.

I don't care.

Find what you love and you won't care either.

Hugh always nails it

"Remember: being close to the action isn't being the action."
Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void

This captures it I reckon

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"Every time I let the clutch out and roll past my mailbox and into the street, I feel like I'm embarking on an adventure. It's never routine."
Dude on forum.
















Don says

"Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. "
The only thing I would disagree with is "sometimes". I find that if you reflect honestly on your loss you always find the key to victory. The hard part is being honest.

"I think, therefore I am"

Poor old Rene Descartes - it took him a lifetime to come to that conclusion. 
All he had to do was ask :)

Bernd

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Bernd over the road is a good guy. 
He's eighty years old and still rides around on his 1200cc BMW like he's twenty.

He also very kindly comes out and trails me around on my L's.

But there's a price to pay:

Brutal honesty.

You see, Bernd calls a spade a shovel:

"You're too timid. Relax. Bend the bike. Let it lead you. Go a bit faster. That was better but you're still too cautious. Don't let the handlebars wobble like that when you do an emergency stop. Don't keep checking that you're in first gear - you don't look confident. SMILE!"

He's just what I need.



No comment necessary

"We've filled the seats in our business with ideas people, creatives, multi-talents who are willing to take risks and lose big just in case it works out."
Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void


"Managers worship at the altar of conformance [but] unfettered controlism cripples organisational vitality."
Gary Hamel, Harvard Business Review

I'm with Don on this one (2)

Don gives a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu and is asked what solution he favours for the Israeli / Palestinian situation. 
His reply:

"I favour whatever solution the two parties come up with."

Yes! At last someone's said it.

SORT IT OUT ISRAEL. Stop relying on the US to solve your problem. Negotiate like the rest of us have to.

Netanyahu's response was to look a little bewildered. You mean you want us to figure this out OURSELVES?

Ah, yes. I think that's pretty much what grownups do.

"It's good - unless it affects me"

Been reflecting on yesterday's events and that's what I've concluded. We generally like the rigour applied in this country to make our citizens safe - until it inconveniences us! Can't have our cake and eat it too.

Went for my licence today

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And came up short.

By a point.

Happy?

No, not at all.

Does it make any difference?

No, not at all.

When the phone dies

When the phone dies
so does life as we
know it and 
perhaps that's the
problem - life 
as we know it -
and we really
just need to
get out more.

Just coz

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I had to remind myself of my previous post

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I go for my bike licence on Wednesday and the thought of failing spooks me.
That would mean more L's, more lessons... more RESTRICTION. I just want to get out and GO!

But if I have to fail in order to succeed, so be it. Bring it on.

(I wonder if he'll be open to bribes?)











A willingness to fail is essential to all progress

In other words, you can't get it right until you don't care if you get it wrong.
Or as I used to say on the golf course, you can't hit it straight until you don't care if you hit it crooked.

It applies to everything as far as I can see.

Perfectionism is the great killer of creativity. Creativity is messy. The final polished product belies all the scribbled mistakes that went before it. No shortcuts here. If we can't accept that, we'll create nothing.

Nothing worthwhile anyway.

There's what's real

and then there's everything else we concoct in these extraordinary things we call "minds". A tangled, mysterious, dark world of shadows and monsters. Scary. 
But not real.

"If you think you can

or you think you can't you're probably right."
Good that, isn't it?

I've been reminded of it again today.

And I've also been reminded that you should enjoy what you're doing.

So what if you make a mistake?

Enjoy yourself.

You're actually less likely to make mistakes then anyway :)

The strength to be vulnerable

To put yourself out there, to risk rejection -"failure".
This guy had it in spades. What if no one wanted to go fishing with him?

Goodonya mate. You made my day.

Great story

I found this story coz I was googling my bike (Suzuki C50).

Ah, the indomitable human spirit! Love it.

I think we all know the feeling: you're SO keen to do something, you put your hands over your ears to block out all the "danger, Will Robinson's" and go for it.

Never mind. As my former boss used to say: "It's all good, clean fun" :)

And you know what? I think we're most alive in those moments.

Disclaimer: there's risk and there's RISK. If deep down in your gut you know it's a dumb idea, DON'T DO IT. This guy always had a bail out: he could just get off the bike. 

First World problems

Examples abound but I thought this one was pretty good.
On a side note, notice the person in the story called Anthony Crummy? Poor bugger. Should change his name. I don't know, "Jack" Crummy or something.

My bike is shrinking

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When I first sat on my 250cc it felt huge. 
Big, heavy and cumbersome. 
That was because I'd never ridden a bike before. 
But as I get more and more comfortable with it, it's starting to feel really small.



So what? 
I think it's a metaphor for life: ie everything's a problem until it isn't. 
Hang in. 
Things shrink over time.

Have you noticed?

That people seem to be either energisers or ener-takers?
They either lift you up or bring you down.

There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Obviously we should be aiming to be those who inspire others, not drain the life-force out of them.

But how?

I don't think it's very complicated:

1. Be interested

2. Be positive

3. Laugh

My 2c anyway.

C'mon folks, put it away

Very lucky she didn't run down one of the myriad cyclists and joggersthat use the path along this section of river.
PUT YOUR PHONE WHERE YOU CAN'T SEE IT OR REACH IT WHILE YOU'RE DRIVING.

Oh, sorry, it was her "GPS".

Is checking that text or email really worth five years in the slammer for "negligent homicide" (or whatever term they use now)?

Toss your phone on the back seat.

Problem solved.

Note: I've put this post under "personal growth" because that's what it's really about: having the strength to deny ourselves our every whim. You know, like children don't.

You can't lead by committee

Don is leading. You don't have to like his direction but at least he's leading. It's something the western world hasn't seen for a while and has forgotten what it looks like. You vote them in to lead, they lead. You don't like it, you vote them out. Some people think democracy means everyone gets a say on every decision. Clearly that's unworkable. Our chance to have a say is our next visit to the polling booth. Until then we need to suck it up and accept the consequences of our last one.

I had to take my own advice today

It's never easy doing this but I'm committed to it because I know it's right. Mind you, it's taken me a long time to realise it. Still, as Steve Jobs said: "you can't connect the dots looking forward, only backwards".

Is motorcycling dangerous?

"It doesn't have to be."
That's the take-away from this excellent video by an ex-US Air Force flight instructor. It should be required viewing before ANYONE is given a motorcycle licence.

It hurts, John

John Hurt has been my favourite actor since I was a teenager and witnessed his astonishing performance as Quentin Crisp in"The Naked Civil Servant".
To appreciate just how great that performance was, check out some videos of the real Quentin Crisp from the same era. It's hard to tell the difference.

I believe he went on to do some other films called "Harry Potter" or something.

Great actor, great voice. I'll miss him.

Summer shower

God's rain falls unexpectedly
and all down the street the
birds sit on roofs, their
arms spread wide
in thanks.

Sound advice from someone who should know

"Better to be slow into the corner and fast out, than fast in and dead out."
Stirling Moss

Poida's baby

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I was watching "The Beast" the other day, Eric Bana's film about his Falcon Coupe, the car he bought when he was fifteen years old, rebuilt several times - including a final OTT re-build that would have bankrupted a small country - only to wrap the thing around a tree in the Tasmanian Targa. 
After the smash he does an interview with Dr Phil who says "re-build it, that car is part of you now."

He then does an interview with Jeremy Clarkson who says "re-build it, that car is part of you now."

But you know what? I got the feeling their heart wasn't in it, that they were just saying what they thought Eric wanted to hear.

Meanwhile, there's me shouting at the TV:  "NO!  Mothball the thing!  Move on!  Yes, it's been an important part of your life, but you're all grown up now. MOVE ON!"

He rebuilt it.

At the cost of yet another $200,000.

Frightening, huh?

Men's obsession with their toys. Don't understand it myself.

BTW, di…

You gotta find that place where nothing else matters

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It used to be golf for me. 
It was so engrossing it didn't matter if I was sick, had work problems, was stinking hot, freezing cold or soaked to the skin. Nothing but the next shot mattered for those four or five hours. It was indeed "the beautiful game" to me.

After thirty years I gave it away (long story) and found the thing I missed most about it was that sense of total absorption. Nothing else I did seemed to provide it.

Until now.


Motorcycling is giving me exactly the same thing.

Because I'm trying to do it artfully.

Every gear change, every corner, every start and stop.

And because I'm trying to anticipate everything to avoid the need for emergency reactions.

Achieving all that takes total concentration. It's just me, the bike and the road.

A true meditation.

Play the game

At my motorbike lesson yesterday, the instructor took me out for a ride and showed me all the little things I will need to do to pass my riding test.

Things like turning your head to look at EVERY side street so the examiner knows you've checked.

"But I check with my peripheral vision. I don't like turning my head as it distracts me from what's going on in front."

"So turn your head but keep your eyes looking straight ahead."

"Well I may as well not turn my head!"

"Hey, I'm just telling you what they require. If you don't do it, you will fail."

It was a good lesson. Not just because it taught me how to pass a riding test, but because it reminded me that you don't have to like the rules, you just have to play by them if you want to win the game.

You can't fight City Hall.

Don "wannabe"?

Barnaby is trying to out-Don the Don.
NOBODY out-Don's the Don.

But I think we're going to see an increasing number of politicians try. "Hey, if Don can do it…"

But that's a bit like me learning to moon-walk and saying: "Hey, if Michael can do it…"

Yeah.

Don's genius

Is his ability to make the complex simple. 
Or at least make us believe it is.

Like today. Crime rates are going the wrong way in Chicago and everyone knows it. So he tweets "the Mayor needs to sort it out or I'll send in the Feds".

No-one has any idea what "sending in the Feds" really means, but doesn't it sound good? It makes perfect sense even if it doesn't make sense.

The world thinks Don is a buffoon. I don't know so much. "Change agent" more like it.

And isn't that what leaders are supposed to do? You know, LEAD?

One week in and it certainly looks like he intends to do that.

A Reader Said (2)

A reader emailed me to say that she feels guilty if she doesn't spend time with the narcissist in her family.
No. That's what narcissists trade on. They use your loyalty to keep you trapped in their web. And that not only does you no good, it doesn't help them either.

Because the only hope for the narcissist is that one day, as he surveys the smoking wreckage of his "superior" life while simultaneously seeing all the "lesser" people out there having fun, he finally comes to his senses and says "I think it's me!".

But he will NEVER arrive at that conclusion for as long as we continue to play his game. We have to call time and let him know we're not interested until he learns to play like an adult.

Sound a bit childlike? You bet. Because narcissists are essentially children that never grew up. That's not being mean, that's what the literature says. For whatever reason, they didn't develop. Sad, but again, it's something o…

I'm convinced

Man was not meant to work in corporations. 
We're meant to be more creative than that.

This diagram makes me laugh every time - but it's a nervous laugh*.

_______________________________________________________
*If I'm honest, it actually makes me feel a bit ill.

There's only one way to deal with a narcissist

Keep away.
The temptation is to try and "fix" them. You can't. Only they can. It's a terrible affliction which robs them of their life whilesimultaneouslyassuring them they're fine. The perfect disease you might say.

But inside every narcissist's head there's also a tiny little voice, barely audible most of the time, but occasionally crystal clear. And that little voice says to them, quite unmistakably:

What if it's me?

And right there, in that moment, the narcissist has his choice. He can explore this possibility further, painful as it is, or he can shut the voice down and carry on. Most will choose the latter. Most will go to their grave with it - broken, but believing they're whole.

It's a terrible affliction but don't for one minute think you can help them. Only they can. If you try to help you will be sucked into their vortex and destroyed along with them.

Keep away.

Keep the faith

I stood my ground on principle recently and suffered a loss. But as a result of that loss I found myself positioned to take advantage of an even better opportunity. It's been my consistent experience that doing the right thing pays off in the long term. You just gotta keep the faith. ;)

Living = striving

"In America, we understand that a nation is living only as long as it is striving."
Don at his inauguration today.

It's a great point and applies to individuals too. We are wired to strive. When we stop, we shrivel up and die.

And striving doesn't necessarily have to be for bigger and better. It might be for more equanimity for example - more acceptance, more peace. Heck, you might even be striving to be less striving!

It doesn't matter. The thing is to be working towards something. Then we come alive. Then we get the incredible joy of overcoming.

The joy of being alive.

Cliches are cliches because they're true

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"If you fall off the horse, get straight back on."
There's no other way. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets.

Get STRAIGHT back on.

A couple of gutsy examples that come to mind are James Hird's return to football after that sickening face injury and Mick Fanning's return to the ocean after his hair-raising encounter with a shark.

Our "falls" might not be as physically frightening as those but we still deal with our own little fails every day. Things that can dent our confidence, motivation and resolve. There's nothing for it but to GET UP AND GO STRAIGHT BACK INTO THE FRAY. We only fail when we give up. Until then, "fails" are just "learning experiences" ;)

The hardest falls I find are the ones where you feel humiliated. Pride is a very demanding master. Best to show it who's boss early or you can end up serving it all your life.

So, what brought all this on?


I went for a ride today with my experienced neighbour and …

The inner workings of a Swiss watch?

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No. The front wheel of my motorbike.

Did I mention I got a new motorbike?

Oh, I did.










Leave an escape route

It's one of the fine juggling acts of life: to always leave yourself an escape route. It's a juggling act because you also have to commit. Getting the balance right is tricky and sometimes you don't succeed. You box yourself in and find yourself at the mercy of others and/or circumstance. It's not a great feeling and you have to just hope for the best. And learn for next time.

Throw it

I first learned this with golf.
You have to "throw" the club head at the ball.

Then I learned it with drumming: you have to "throw" the sticks at the drum head.

Now I'm learning it with motorcycle riding: you have to "throw" the bike at tight turns.

Throwing takes confidence.

Because you think you'll lose control.

But after a while you realise that you have to "lose control" to gain control.

A bit like life really:

"If you love it, let it go. If it comes back it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."

Meditation

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It's not what I thought.

































I thought it was about thinking things.

It's actually about noticing things.

At first you start off noticing only your breath. It helps you get the idea of staying with something. But once you get the hang of that you can start noticing anything: your thoughts, your body sensations, sounds, smells etc. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it's happening now. The main thing you're trying to avoid is ruminating - thinking about the past or the future. When you think about it (sorry), all thinking is to do with past or future. In the present you don't think at all. You just be. That's meditating.

So that was a rather long way round to get to the point I wanted to make:that motorcycling is the perfect meditation.

Why?

Because if you lose touch with the present and start ruminating, your dead.

Pretty good incentive I reckon.

And I think that's why I'm enjoying it so much. There's great freedom in the present. All the pro…

Who would post a picture of a motorcycle fuel tank?

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Me. Because I'm very pleased with myself.
I got the incredibly stubborn manufacturer's stickers off it WITHOUT SCRATCHING THE PAINT.

Is that really such a big deal?

For me, yes! Normally I get impatient and rip and tear and bugger up everything.

But I was patient and resourceful and achieved a perfect result.

I checked all the Youtube videos on how to do it, I emailed mates, and finally I settled on this:

1. Park bike in sun to get the stickers hot (softens the adhesive a bit)

2. Soak the stickers with repeated applications of WD40 over about twenty minutes (place cloths around the stickers to prevent run off into various parts of your bike*)

3. Gently scrape away at stickers with an old credit card

4. Soak a piece of soft cloth in WD40 and rub off the remaining glue

Voila! Perfect outcome.

Pretty happy with that actually.

Combine knowledge with patience and you actually get good outcomes. This is new territory for me but I'm thinking I might like this approach ;)

Of course m…

A Reader Said

"There's a real two-wheel camaraderie out there - it's a great thing."
He's right. I've noticed it already even though I'm just starting out in this caper. If you ride a bike it doesn't matter if you're young or old, male or female, black, white or brindle: you're "one of us".

When I was at the dealership arranging for my new bike to be delivered by a specialist motorcycle courier I expressed some concern about it getting to me safely.

"Don't worry" said the dealer, "Peter's one of us."

And Peter certainly was "one of us". The guy LOVES his bikes. He's been delivering them for 25 years and I got the impression he still loves it.

"Just remember," he said as he brought my bike down off the truck, "there's two things you never lend to your mates: your wife and your bike."

'Nuff said.

Much better!

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Pillion seat removed, now she's PHAT!
Just gotta get those silly stickers off the fuel tank now.



















Some things are just exciting

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This is my new bike arriving on the back of a truck this week.

I said to the delivery driver (himself a bike nut) that it's not often you buy something that seems even more beautiful when you actually take delivery of it. My experience is usually the opposite. I usually end up thinking "wow, I obviously had my rose-coloured glasses on that day!".

But this was different. I knew it was a nice bike but, man, LOOK AT THAT THING!

While it was on my driveway a woman pulled up, wound her window down and said "I think that's the prettiest bike I've ever seen."

I think I agree with you ma'am.

And it's going to get even prettier when I take that dinky pillion seat off the rear fender.

It lives in my garage because my wife baulked at having it in the bedroom.

No sense of humour 

Unsure whether you should take that job?

Neil Gaiman says ask yourself this:

"Will the job take me closer to my mountain or away from it?"

If it's away, don't take it. Period.

It sounds ridiculously simple but it works.

It assumes of course that you've worked out where your mountain is.

But once you have, ask Gaiman's question often.

And be honest with your answers.

Try it. It works.

Bike lesson, life lesson

It was emergency-stop practice at today's lesson.
And I found out the hard way where the front tyre lock point is.

I also felt the horror every rider feels when their beloved mount hits the asphalt. Checking yourself out comes second!

I was pleased to see that I instinctively rolled when I hit the road rather than slide as I think this saved a bit of damage.

Fortunately no real harm to man or beast but I did learn something - apart from how easy it is to lock the front tyre :)

I learned that in life you must go by your gut and not be swayed by others.

I like my instructor because he gives me the confidence to back myself and have a go. But I realise now I allowed him to talk me into something I wasn't quite ready for. And I paid the price.

You gotta stand your ground folks. You know what's best for you. You know how fast you're able to progress. Honour that little voice that's saying "build gradually".

Besides, what's the rush? The journey's the …

I'm with Don on this one