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Overcoming small obstacles

by Moto Japan

Sometimes the smallest obstacles can be a huge life problem. Like sidewalks.

I experienced this on my own lately. A few weeks ago, we took our new bikes for a short spin. Sunday night, time to reset the mind from the whole week and meditate over the sound of a nicely running engine.

It was a cold January day and as we reached Saitama, Tokyo's neighboring prefecture, we started feeling the numbness in our riding gloves. It was getting even colder, and at the same time, streets filled up with nervous drivers rushing to make it home from their trips before the end of the weekend. At the same time we got a little bit lost and it was clearly time to go home. For me, a new rider, it was completely OK to call it a night, as I was already getting tired.

Wrong road, time to go home. I chose to drive into a parking lot in front of a shopping mall instead of doing a U-turn. Just in case. Safety first. No need to rush. U-turns on Sunday nights are not for new riders.

As I crossed the opposite lane to get on a tiny sidewalk (entrance of the mall parking lot), an old woman on a bicycle popped up out of nowhere. She literally appeared from a bush next to the parking lot entrance, and not checking anything around her rushed across that sidewalk. I was too surprised and worried I'd hit her, that I did the most stupid thing I could do: I stopped suddenly, mid-turn, just in front of the sidewalk. And as my bike is quite heavy (over 200kg), I didn't have power to pull it upwards in that moment of shock. I dropped my bike. Completely froze and dropped my beautiful Ninja. A total idiot!

On the way back I just kept thinking and blaming myself for this unnecessary mistake. Thanks to my frame guard the bike body stayed intact, but my mind didn't pass without the damage. Why did I do that? Will I do it again? What if I went for it - was there ever a danger to hit her in the first place? How could I have stopped better? Why the fuck did I drop my beautiful Ninja?

It kept bugging me. Actually I remembered that experience later, even when I rode my bicycle on the street and I freaked out a little bit every time I had to get up on a sidewalk. Really stupid, huh? And a week later, as I was rushing over Shibuya crossing late for a meeting, my slippery shoe sole slid over a metal cap on the floor and I fell. On my ass. All over the place. It was just before the sidewalk, and remembering the bike experience I just started laughing, laying flat on Shibuya floor, getting strange looks from people passing by. What an unnecessary coincidence. Or was it?

Last week, we went for a ride. After enjoying a ride for almost 100km (without any problems), we decided to stop at a gas station. Road was crowded and practically wasn't moving. The car behind me was at a full stop. Kazuto in front of me was already at the position from which he smoothly got on the tiny sidewalk that leads into the gas stop. Situation was ideal. I turned on the signal light and wanted to move towards the gas station. And at that moment - BAM!!!! I just heard crash sound behind me, panicked, dropped my bike, yet again. I felt responsible for the small accident that obviously happened far behind me - though it was not my fault. Kazuto read the situation and got my bike, while I stumbled around, checking if I can help anyhow... Confused, frustrated. It wasn't a serious accident - a woman took a bad advice from her bossy husband and tried changing
lanes at a wrong time. When she hit another car, she then took a lot of blame for making a mistake. Luckily no one got hurt.

After that, I did what every coward would do. I avoided sidewalks. I enjoyed the ride and maneuvered the bike through some challenging situation, but made sure I keep away from sidewalks.

That's why today I did what everyone should do when they identify an obstacle: I put on my protective gear and got on it. The bike and the sidewalk. It was cold and it started raining. There was a nice area with a tiny sidewalk where I could practice, and I went on and off over and over again. After a few times, an older woman appeared out of nowhere. It was my nice neighbor, always curious and willing to chat. She came up to me and started talking. I turned off the engine and talked to her for a few minutes. Then turned the engine back on, and returned to the sidewalk. Over and over again.

Kazuto joined me later and gave me a throughout lesson on U-turning and improving my riding skill. As my Ninja is much heavier than the bikes I rode before, I need some more practice to be completely confident doing sharp turns and going places that this bike has never taken me before.

It sounds trivial to overcome a sidewalk, but sometimes we fear the
easiest things, and those stop us from achieving something much greater
and easier for us. In those moments, we just need to take a breath and
get over it. Over and over again...


Moto Japan
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