Stretching Beyond Your Motorcycling Comfort Zone: How to set achievable goals that will raise your skill level
Originally published on WRN. Link HERE.
Alisa Clickenger (right) signs her book, Boost Your Confidence Through Motorcycling: A Woman’s Guide to Being Your Best Self On and Off the Bike for industry veteran and motorcycle industry recruiter, Jan Plessner.
I’ve seen first-hand how confidence is unique to all of us. That we each have silos of confidence—we may be very accomplished and confident in one area of our lives (our work or parenting, for example), yet perhaps less so in another (commanding a motorcycle). This is perfectly normal. And confronted with something new and exciting, yet challenging all at the same time, sometimes our lack of confidence surprises us. The good news is that confidence can be nurtured and built upon in every area of our lives.
Confidence isn’t just about being brave or acting as if you are 100% capable and know what you are doing. In fact, it’s a clever combination of the two. For instance, it can be as simple as talking ourselves into something instead of talking ourselves out of it.
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to go on a long-distance motorcycle ride. Sure, a few of us are wired in such a way that we can just jump into the unknown and do that daring thing, yet for most of us, we need to build up to that big daunting thing, setting ourselves up for success in smaller steps along the way.
Many new riders are too intimidated to join a large group long-distance ride, such as this year’s upcoming Suffragists Centennial Motorcycle Ride (SCMR2020). It’s best to plan for these big epic rides in advance by taking small steps that lead up to it. Training and practicing can include joining small, shorter group rides and gradually working your way up to riding longer distances. Photo by Sara Liberte.
Imagine running a marathon. It requires training, and that training gives us both the internal mindset and the external confidence. Very few people have the physique or the stamina to wake up one morning and decide that on that particular day we are going to run a marathon. Most of us have to first jog around the block. Then we might run our first mile. We might have to change our eating habits, start jogging two miles per day, then perhaps get a new pair of athletic shoes so we can run even further. Each successful milestone is a building block leading us up the ladder of success and on to the next challenge.
The same is true in motorcycling. If you want to build your confidence to start in motorcycling, you take a beginner’s class. You practice. You find friends to ride with you and to support you. It’s good to set yourself up for success with incremental steps. Or perhaps you want to go on your first long-distance trip. It’s best to start with a ride around town. Then plan your first 100-mile ride. Then do an overnight trip. Then stretch your mileage to a 200+ mile day. Then ride in the rain on purpose. Then take a long weekend ride.
The best beginning rider classes, like this BRC (Basic RiderCourse), are designed in a way that builds new rider’s skills like building blocks. One step at a time is the best way to achieve success. Photo by Kaia Szulewski.
Setting achievable goals all along the journey is paramount to successfully building your confidence. Being part of a supportive community of yeah-sayers instead of nay-sayers is another. Signing up for an experience that stretches you, yet comes with built-in support is another great way to step into your confident zone.
I’ve talked with a few women who have registered for the SCM2R2020 in order to make that leap into confidently touring on two wheels. This is a great idea because of our supportive staff and done-for-you infrastructure. Start with a spring motorcycle training program to freshen up your skills. Then go out and start riding in those situations that challenge you a bit. I’m not talking scary-dangerous (you know your own skill level and aptitude), I mean one-by-one start doing those things that intimidate you a wee bit. Maybe it’s joining a riding club, or changing your motorcycle’s oil yourself.
Do those things that will stretch you beyond your comfort zone and help you build skill and confidence. Create a track record of success for yourself that you can remember when you get super challenged and afraid and want to retreat to the safety of not stretching yourself. I bet you’ll surprise yourself with how your moto confidence can feed your off-bike confidence if you approach it with purpose and passion. Get on with it, girlfriend. You’ve got this.