Overcoming My Fear Of Bambi
- People always ask me if I’m afraid I’m going to die on the motorcycle, which leads me to ask them: Are you afraid to live?
About ten years ago, we, my hubby and I, decided to take our “Left Turn Ride.”
Our plan, (which was hatched over too much wine on a Friday night, but brilliant just the same) was to ride up the west coast of the US, from LA to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, staying as far left as the roads would allow without having to wear a wetsuit.
Our trip motto: When in doubt – turn left.
Those were in the days before I met Ginger who turned me onto custom earphones and the concept of riding with music playing at all times. I now go to great lengths to assemble the perfect soundtrack for each day of our rides.
Big, sweeping instrumentals for curves and great scenery, Sting for the moors of Scotland and Ireland, Billy Joel, Annie Lennox or Gaga for city riding and even a best-selling book for the long stretches of flat, straight, highway in Wyoming.
On this “Left Turn Ride” I had only my own thoughts to keep me company, which could put me into a kind of zoned out state of bliss, or wreak havoc, depending on what I was seeing, how much sleep and coffee I’d had, and my general state of being that day.
Crap shoot, in head to toe Kevlar, on two wheels going 80 m.p.h.
I’m a pretty even-tempered person, relatively low maintainance (if you just heard a thud, that’s my husband falling out of his chair) I’ve even been known to fall asleep on the back of the bike.
No, you don’t fall off.
No, I don’t admit any of this to my mother.
Up the coast of Oregon and Washington we rode through mile after mile of gorgeous redwood forests.
The scent of pine is one of my all time favorite things in the world next to the sound of babies laughing and bacon.
Redwoods and Pine trees are at the top of my list of the reasons Why I Ride.
They feed my soul.
Sometimes the forest gets so dense and dark and the smell gets so strong, like a Christmas tree farm, you become completely transported to another time and place; of fairies, devas and magic. The trees truly are not just living, but ALIVE, and so is the forest……and therein lies the rub.
One day in central Oregon, if I remember correctly, we saw remnants on the road of a deer that had the misfortune of meeting the front bumper of a logging truck at 65 mph.
The next day, a red pickup truck was at a gas station, totaled on all four sides as a huge buck had gone up and over the front hood and windshield, with its legs making contact with the side panels on its way down the back and straight to heaven.
That is when my thoughts, left to their own devices without the distraction of music, went to work on me.
“What happens if we hit a deer?” I asked later at lunch, picking all the good bits out of my salad.
My husband looked at me as if I just slapped him and slowly put down his fork.
Shaking his head and fiddling with his paper napkin (he HATES paper napkins, it’s the French in him) he let out a long sigh.
“Well, I will try to slow down if I have the chance, I won’t jam on the brakes and I won’t swerve to get out of the way because THAT will kill us for sure.”
I stopped chewing.
“When we hit it, the guts will splatter all over us, the deer will die, it’ll total the front of the bike, but hopefully we’ll be okay.”
Shit. I dropped my fork.
“If it’s an Elk or a Moose, you can kiss your ass goodbye.”
I’ll do all the same things, I’ll slow down, go straight ahead…..but we’ll all die. That’s a huge animal.”
He nonchalantly picked up his fork and started to eat again, like he just given me the weather report.
Cloudy with a chance of reindeer.
I’m crying now, and in my best freaked out seven-year old voice I wailed:
“What!!!!!!!??????? You mean…we could DIE! Holy shit!”
He was laughing now, big giant guffaws of laughter.
“You’re kidding, right? It never occurred to you that you could die on a motorcycle?”
Because my fate suddenly seemed uncertain and life too short; I stopped a passing waitress and ordered a hot fudge sundae.
“Well, no. Certainly not at the hands of a Bambi.”
He went on to explain that the greatest threat was when the wildlife was most active – dusk and dawn. That is apparently when the most vehicle versus fauna accidents occur.
My husband has this theory about accidents. They are a series of random events that converge at the same time and place. If you remove ONE component, the accident cannot occur. For instance, if you forget something and run back into the house delaying your departure by five minutes, that will either place you on or remove you from the accident timeline.
I wanted to remove us from that timeline.
My new rule: No riding before nine in the morning and kickstands down by five.
Suddenly my beautiful pine forests were filled with terrifying, furry, four-legged terrorists ready to leap out at any moment and render us dead.
Why I Ride is all about the experiences. It’s about Living life.
Hadn’t I just said that to the person that asked me if I was afraid of dying?
Now I found myself afraid for tens of hours a day, my eyes searching for animals lurking in the landscape, ready to leap.
Cute became creepy.
Fuck I hate fear, it changes you…..it was changing me.
It was making me afraid of some implied danger, trading beautiful experiences for the illusion of safety.
I was willing to forgo some of my all time favorite things –– the sunrise and sunset rides, the mystical, foggy, early morning departures right after coffee with the promise of a big breakfast after a couple of hours of sleepy coastal roads.
- No way Jose, I’m sleeping in. Those brazen killers will be stirring at that hour.
Wait…why do I ride?
(To be continued)