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Carla and Ned

It was a fairly typical beginning rider course with twelve people ready to learn to ride a motorcycle. There were varying levels of riding experience within the group. A couple had been riding for years, but the class was the only way for them to get their motorcycle endorsement and become street legal. A few we re-entrant riders, folks who had ridden years ago and they were now getting back into riding. Many had little or no experience and were there to fulfill a dream.

Although no one knew anyone else when the class started, they got to know each other better as the course went on. As the instructors became more familiar with their learners, couple of new riders seemed to stand out. One was Nervous Ned and the other was Calm Carla. Both of them entered the classroom with absolutely no prior riding experience. Both held a dream of riding with family members; one with his father and the other with her mother and sister. Unfortunately, they approached the class with different mindsets that led to different results.

Beyond his desire to ride, Ned possessed very talented and skillful amateur chef who enjoyed preparing elaborate meals for his family and friends. During the course Ned focused on the perfection of his culinary skills and the raves he received from those who tasted his delectable cuisine. So Ned became obsessed with trying to be perfect in everything he did, both in the classroom and during the riding exercises. He was so wrapped up in making sure he was doing it right that he was frustrating himself more with each exercise.

Ned forgot about all the recipes he had tried in the kitchen during his early years that resulted in dishes never reaching the table. He became so nervous that the sweat was just pouring off of him even though the temperature of the day was moderate. It seemed like he was so strongly focused on the skill of the current exercise that he totally forgot what he had learned in the previous exercises. In his pursuit of instant excellence, Ned’s disappointment in his ability to be a perfect rider the very first day he tried to ride eventually led him to give up and drop out of the course.

Carla was also a very competitive person who was a rather proficient amateur golfer.  She had worked on her game and elevated it to a level that adorned her home with a few trophies. She enjoyed golfing with her friends and they relished the level of competition they sensed when they joined her foursome as it strengthened their game.

Carla was patient with herself during the course, allowing herself to make mistakes as she had on the driving range and putting greens. Her approach to the class was to learn as much as she possibly could with the knowledge that, like her golf, her riding skills would get better as she practiced them. She saw every mistake she made as an opportunity to expand her developing set of skills.

Both Ned and Carla had a strong reason for learning to ride. Both came into the class with the expectation that they would be successful in completing the course. Both had the mental and physical ability to gain the riding skills being developed during the course. The difference was their expectations in learning these skills. Nervous Ned was looking for perfection and Calm Carla wanted to learn the techniques. Her expectations were more realistic during the course as were her results. Patience is a virtue, especially when learning new skills.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!