And finally some bike zen!

This moto travel thing is great fun, but one main prerequisite for the fun is that the bike runs well.  When the bike runs poorly, or is carrying several ongoing problems, my day of riding turns into hours of pondering, analysing, and generally beating myself up for not being better at fixing it.

As the olympics has just finished, I’m going to use an olympic analogy to describle the motorbike.  

I once heard an interview with an olympic athlete, who said that while most people think of athletes as incredibly healthy, finely tuned machines that are totally prepared for 100% performance in competition.  The reality however, is the complete opposite, they are actually continually pushing themselves beyond normal levels of endurance, and therefore injured, sprained, strained and generally hurting somewhere.

And so it is with the motorbike.  After 55,000km on this trip, and about 255,000km in total, Betsy is tired.  She’s willing and will push on to the end, but she’s only human, and things are starting to hurt.

So for the last 10,000km, she’s had a misfire/flatspot in the bottom of the rev range that has eluded my repeated attempts at a fix, and continued to get worse and worse, ruining our riding experience, until we finally ended up being passed by a diesel Golf on the highway recently, and so once again I dismantled some parts, but after so many failed attempts, I wasnt expecting much of an outcome.  But this time, lo and behold I actually found and cured the problem.

Bike Zen.

I’d like to say that I invented the term bike zen, but it may have been my brother, or it may have come from the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but either way, it’s a real phenomenen which I will now share with you…

Bike Zen : Adjective.  The state of mental clarity and feeling of harmony which can be experienced while riding a motorcycle which you are responsible for maintaining, when that motorcycle is running perfectly.  E.g. “the bike is running great, today was an amazing ride, total bike zen”. Contrasted with “The bike is misfiring continually, it’s really messing with my bike zen”

So finally after a couple of months without bike zen, we have a healthy happy motorcycle again, and therefore a happy rider.

I wasn’t even aware of how frustrated I had become until I found myself punching the fuel tank after missing an exit from the highway recently.

“Are you ok babe?”

“Yeah, this misfire is just really killing the riding vibe ”

“Well why don’t you just fix it then?”

I love the way Sally thinks I can fix everything. Each time something goes wrong and I pace around muttering something about needing parts, or some catastrophic breakage, Sal just sits somewhere and waits for me to fix it.

“You know one day it will stop and I won’t be able to fix it”

“But you always fix everything babe”




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