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The Lion Tamer

The sights, the sounds and the smell of the circus arena excite both the young and the young at heart. The clowns, the performers and the exotic animals all compete for their attention as the show goes on. Along with the elephants stomping around the ring and the trapeze artists flying high overhead, lion tamers tend to capture the hearts and minds of the audience surrounding the show.

 The lion tamer carries a chair while performing in a round cage. Why a chair and why a circular enclosure? Both are designed to protect the man in the cage with the large ferocious cats. The lion tamer doesn’t want to back any of the cats into a corner where they feel trapped. The chair has four legs and the lion tries to focus on all four at once. If it were a single stick, the lion would simply bat it out of its way with a single swipe of its large, powerful paw.

"Driving, like riding, requires complete concentration when interacting with other traffic."

In reality the lion’s huge paw could also easily knock the chair away leaving the lion tamer vulnerable and unprotected. If this lack of focus can paralyze the king of beasts, think of what it can do to us as we ride. Like the lion, we don’t want to get cornered by a situation that leaves us no options. And allowing our focus to be diverted from our riding by too many things can prevent us from seeing the situation as it really is.

That is why it is so critical that we remain focused on what is happening around us as we ride. This is especially true in light of the number of people who are sharing the road with us that are already distracted. Driving, like riding, requires complete concentration when interacting with other traffic. Yet we have all seen people driving down the road doing a myriad of things and almost totally oblivious to anything or anyone else traveling near them. Because of their lack of focus, we must be concentrating even more on our riding. We cannot afford to let anything distract us from our task.

 There are many things competing for our attention as we putt down the road that could cause us to lose our focus. The good looking person walking along the sidewalk could distract us from what we're doing resulting in us missing a sign that the car is about to turn in front of us. The crash on the other side of the road could produce a divergent focus that draws us mentally away from our riding and we fail to notice the car backing out onto the road. A conversation with our passenger might mean we don’t see the truck stopping ahead as we turn to reply to the question from the back of our bike.

 In contrast to the lion tamer whose safety is enhanced by the lack of focus of the wild and dangerous animals with which he shares a cage, our safety is greatly reduced and we are at greater risk when the focus of those sharing our road is taken away from their driving responsibilities. We can’t change the inattentive way others drive on the road, but we can and must keep our focus clear as we ride. For us, concentrating on our riding all the time is our safety net that, like the chair, keeps us from harm. And like the lion tamer, we have much to lose if that chair were to get batted away.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!