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Motorcycling 101: Conquering Life On Two Wheels

Motorcycling 101: Conquering Life On Two Wheels

A long, lonely road, a roaring machine between your legs, and a full tank. The unique experience of riding a motorcycle through lovely scenery is a sanctuary for many, and a reason to live.

road

    The joy of hitting the gas and enjoying the speed is something that changes you forever.

    From heavy cruisers and choppers to powerful sport bikes and cross country dirt bikes, motorcycles embody freedom, adrenaline, and living life to the fullest.

    For those reasons and a thousand more, many are opting for a bike or starting to look for one. Today, we’re looking into everything you need to start motorcycling: getting a bike, safety equipment, a license, insurance, and safety.

    Let’s hit the road, Jack!

    Types of motorcycles

    There are plenty of different kinds of motorcycles, and here we’ll describe every type to help you understand which one suits you best. Some types are better on the road, while some of them are perfect for off-road driving; some are suited for longer travels between countries, while others fit into short sprints better. Let’s explore the types of bikes:

    Cruisers

    Cruisers are the kind of bikes that have lower seat heights and a more laid-back riding position (Harley Davidson, for an example). In most cases, they have big engines. If you prefer smaller, have no worries, as you can get yourself a cruiser with a smaller and more silent engine.

    cruiser

      These bikes are not made for racing or some super high-performance situations; if you are a beginner, you shouldn’t find yourself in these situations for an extended period. So, if you are the type of person that loves to lay back on the seat and drive casually from one city to another, then a cruiser motorcycle is a great bike for you.

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      Expect a heavy load, average fuel economy, and prices around $4,000 and up for a decent cruiser bike. They aren’t quite as good for a total beginner, so taking a riding class might help significantly. Riding these types of motorcycles suits a traveler’s lifestyle, which can require a lot of gear. Cruisers are reliable, stable, and built for comfort.

      Sportbikes

      Unlike 20 years ago, when you could see cruisers around every corner, sportbikes are the most popular type of bikes around the world at the moment. They are well-tuned machines that are capable of high performance and they can achieve great speeds (we’re talking 299 km/h or 185.79 miles per hour, with models that can go even 400 km/h). Because of their speed, we would strictly recommend you avoid any type of sportbike for at least your first couple of years, until you master the handling of the motorcycle.

      sportbike

        The reason for this is obvious — it will take some time before you adjust your body to handle a bike, and with the sportbike, you can get yourself into a life-threatening situation before you even realize what is happening. Think about your life first before you think about the thrill of riding at 100+ miles per hour.

        Sportbikes are expensive. Expect to pay around $6,000 for an entry-level machine or an older one with significant mileage. Next, forget about the comfort or luggage — these machines are built for speed and speed only. That also means a higher fuel expenditure. Special gear is a must here, as you’re on a speedster where streams of wind can freeze you or throw you away from the bike quickly.

        Touring bikes

        If you’d love to travel to other countries on your motorcycle, a touring bike is what you’ll need. Touring bikes come fully loaded with large luggage saddlebags, windshields, GPS, and stereos. There are some that are focused on the engine power more, and they are a bit stripped-down in terms of equipment, but one thing is sure: they will come with high seats due to high clearance to allow you more comfortable off-road riding.

        touring bike

          These type of bikes usually offer an excellent travel experience, but be aware that they are also a bit pricier and heavier than regular bikes. Because of that, they are not recommended for beginners. With a touring bike, expect a huge fuel compartment, fully equipped saddlebags, ABS, great fuel economy, and prices that start at $10,000 for a basic, several-years-old machine. A lot of equipment is necessary, of course. It’s all about the comfort and tags of states you’ve visited.

          Dual-sport

          Dual-sport bikes are a mixture of touring bikes and off-road bikes. They have touring capabilities, but with a high chassis and suspension to conquer off-road terrain as well. So, if you know a good off-road area where you could enjoy driving this bike with your friends or even solo, take advantage of it. You’ll release yourself from the stress and forget about the problems in your life. After your adrenaline rush, you can return home on your dual-sport machine and commute to work like on a regular day.

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          dual sport

            Most of these bikes have a higher center of gravity and tall seat height. The difference between these bikes and pure off-road machines is in the law regulations — off-road bikes aren’t allowed on the street. The fuel expenditure is pretty high, but you get the good suspension travel of a dirt bike and the power of a touring bike. The simplest explanation of a dual-sport bike would be that it’s an off-roader that’s allowed on the street. Prices go from $3,500 for an entry model.

            Off-Road

            A pure off-road bike is an agile performer, jumper, and a powerful dirt bike capable of taking almost any obstacle. These bikes aren’t allowed on the street because of their performance and capabilities. They are very light and take a tremendous effort to ride perfectly, especially if you’re going through rough terrain or performing stunts and tricks.

            offroad

              Since they aren’t allowed on the street (you need a proper license and a set of regulatory permissions), we won’t consider them further in this article.

              Standard

              Last from the category, but not the least, is a standard bike. This type of bike contains a little bit of everything when compared to the previous four types of bikes. A lot of motorcycles that you can see now on the streets can be sorted into the “Standard” group of bikes. Usually, they have more upright riding position when compared to the cruiser type, which requires you to lean back more, or a sport bike, which requires leaning forward.

              standard

                Engine size on standard bikes can differ widely, but usually they are not meant for racing or to be upgraded with some huge and loud engines. So, if you prefer to have a silent and decent engine (that can speed up to 220 km/h max) then these type of bikes are perfect for you. Also, in many driving schools when you go for your driving license, you will usually practice on a standard bike. This means that after you are done with it, you will save some money by not having to take extra classes to learn how to drive one of the other types of bikes.

                Which bike to pick?

                So you’ve decided you’re going to get a motorcycle. The first step is to analyze which type of bike suits you. Deciding which type of bike is for you is almost as hard as choosing a perfect car for your needs — it is not something that you can buy today and decide to swap out tomorrow. Remember, you are choosing your two-wheeled machine for a longer period.

                If you’re a beginner, aim for stability and comfort. Since you don’t have experience, it’s important to be able to put both feet on the ground while sitting comfortably on your bike. That will provide more confidence — you’ll feel you’re in control. Very fast bikes and bikes with a higher seat are not great for beginners. The same goes with touring bikes — they are massive and very expensive. So, consider sticking with a standard or cruiser model.

                It’s smart to purchase a used bike for your first one, simply to get a hang of it and see which type of ride suits you best. Beginner riders usually don’t have a precise idea which riding style they’ll choose and how and where will they ride their new bike. That’s why it’s good to practice a bit and see what suits you.

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                A driving license is a must

                Be aware that before you even sit to drive on your new machine, you will need a driving license, and getting one is almost as tedious as getting one to drive a car. The only difference is that when you are taking it on the bike, you have more written tests.

                Some people will tell you that you do not need a full license, that you can drive your bike just by renewing your learner’s permit, but we would advise you to be responsible and get a full bike license to safely enjoy your two-wheeled friend and to avoid any lawsuits.

                Take extra classes for the type of the bike that you bought

                There will always be those people that will tell you that right after you finish with getting your driving license, you will be okay on a motorcycle. Trust us, they are wrong — that’s not to mention those people that will try to talk you into taking your bike classes through YouTube videos.

                Riding any bike, especially a heavy bike, can be hard and even dangerous for beginners, so taking extra classes is the perfect option. After you get yourself a cruiser, for instance, try to find a personal trainer that will help you handle that type of bike without any problems. Think of it as an advanced, more personalized training.

                  If you think a personal trainer is not for you, then you can take some extra classes at the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation), which may even a better solution, since these people really know what they are doing. Do not expect to become a pro driver after these classes, but you will be able to handle the basics for sure.

                  Be aware that dealing with a motorcycle at low speeds while taking a corner well are not skills that come naturally. Practicing is what will help you to perfect them, and the best way to do it is to learn from a skilled teacher.

                  Choosing the perfect gear

                  One of the fascinating things about bike gear is that the very same equipment will keep you fresh when it is hot, warm when it is cold, and dry when it is raining. Motorcycle equipment is some of the the most advanced designed gear in the world. But still, to avoid injuries, you should get yourself some good equipment, and it all starts with a quality motorcycle helmet.

                  Picking a quality helmet can be a science; there are dozens of models, types, variations, accessories, and more to get you confused. Still, with a little exploring and researching, you can get a quality motorcycle helmet.

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                  equipment

                    Don’t go cheap on gear, especially for the helmet. It will keep you safe if an accident occurs. Traffic laws also oblige you to wear one — and please, don’t go all Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Next, get yourself some riding boots, gloves, pants, and a jacket designed for riding. Here’s some more information on motorcycle gear.

                    Get yourself proper insurance

                    When you take the fact that motorcycles work on a high level of performance into consideration, getting insurance is a no-brainer. The main reason why you should get insurance is that even the best of the best motorcyclists make mistakes sometimes. Those mistakes can happen to anyone, and even when it’s not our fault, we can still end up suffering damage.

                    insurance

                      You can be a perfect driver and never jeopardize anyone’s safety, but the guy next to you can be reckless and harm you and your bike. You don’t want that to ruin your life or your bike. Depending on the job that you currently do, insurance companies will give you different rates, so either try to get yourself an insurance agent or just request quotes from various companies.

                      Safety comes first

                      After getting a driving license, some extra classes, and gear, you are ready to cruise around the country or even the world with your new two-wheeled friend. Always have in mind that safety comes first, no matter what — even if the road is clear and you feel tempted to test out the bike and push it to the max.

                        It’s not only about your safety as a driver, but the safety of the other drivers as well as the passengers. Motorcycles are more vulnerable to outside forces and bumps; a small rock can make a significant impact on your wheel and set you off balance. If that happens during your “testing” at maximum speed, you can fall and hurt yourself badly. Always be careful.

                        The life on two wheels awaits you

                        No matter the style you prefer, when you start riding a motorcycle, you’re in a club for life. Life itself changes — your thinking, your core values, and your psychology all change. You yearn for freedom, and there is no bigger freedom than a lonely, long road, you, and your bike.

                        Hit the gas, be safe, and ride on.

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                        Dejan Kvrgic

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                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                        How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                        Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                        Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                        I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                        You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                        Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                        When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                        I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                        Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                        Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                        Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                        1. The Inner Critic

                        This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                        • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                        • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                        • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                        • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                        He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                        Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                        2. The Worrier

                        This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                        He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                        Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                        3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                        He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                        He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                        He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                        4. The Sleep Depriver

                        This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                        His motivation can be:

                        • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                        • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                        • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                        • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                        How can you control these squatters?

                        How to Master Your Mind

                        You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                        Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                        There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                        • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                        • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                        This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                        The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                        Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                        For the Inner Critic

                        When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                        You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                        For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                        You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                        “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                        If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                        • He riles up the Worrier.
                        • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                        • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                        • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                        • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                        Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                        Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                        For the Worrier

                        Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                        Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                        You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                        • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                        • Muscles tense

                        Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                        If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                        Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                        “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                        Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                        If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                        Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                        Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                        For example:

                        If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                        “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                        Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                        “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                        Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                        For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                        Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                        The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                        • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                        • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                        • Muscles tension

                        I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                        Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                        Breathe in through your nose:

                        • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                        • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                        • Focus on your belly rising.

                        Breathe out through your nose:

                        • Feel your lungs emptying.
                        • Focus on your belly falling.
                        • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                        Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                        Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                        One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                        Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                        For the Sleep Depriver

                        (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                        I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                        Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                        1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                        2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                        When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                        From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                        For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                        If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                        You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                        • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                        • Shut down your thinking.
                        • Calm your feelings.
                        • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                        Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                        Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                        You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                        Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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