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Blathering - May 2024

IN THE ZONE 

 

Below is the first "Blathering" I did as the Editor of The View from the SEAT, the monthly newsletter Wanda and I did for the South East Arizona Touring Riders, BMW MOA Chartered Club #213.  It appeared in the December 1994 issue of The View from the SEAT and is still germane.  Seems like only yesterday...

IN THE ZONE  Have you ever been "in the zone"? You know, that place where we can do something really, really well. All of us at one time or another have been in some kind of zone. Like the no passing zone and the no parking zone. How about the Twilight Zone? Yeah, right.

     But what about that elusive zone sports players on rare occasions find themselves in. During the NBA play offs Magic Johnson was "in the zone". Joe Montana over the years has been "in the zone" many times, winning enough Super Bowl rings to prove it. One time my dad came to see me play softball. I was so pumped up I played like there was no tomorrow. Out of 21 outs, I made 15. Not being the fastest player around, it’s rare when I can turn a double play. In this game I made doubles like they were nothing. I went 4 for 4 at the plate, placing my hits like a pro. I was awesome - I was "in the zone".

     By now I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with riding motorcycles, especially BMWs. Well, the other day on my K100RS ABS SE for a brief moment I was "in the zone". I left work at the usual time and decided to go by the motorcycle shop on Wilcox in Sierra Vista. This is a four-lane road, nice and wide with plenty of visibility. I pulled up to the stop sign at Wilcox and Carmichael in the left lane just as a large van in the right lane next to me was pulling away. I came to a stop, and then accelerated away, catching up to the van in a hundred yards or so. Suddenly, with no signal, the van turned right into a parking lot. Little did I know there was a car in the same parking lot that wanted to cross the road straight in front of me. Because of the van, I couldn't see him, nor could he see me. What a surprise when suddenly there was this shiny new Pontiac bearing down on my right side, cutting directly across my path. With no hesitation I counter steered, pushing hard on the left handlebar, kicked my weight to the right, accelerated full out and steered around the Pontiac, my knee just inches from the hood. This wasn't close, this was REAL close. The best avoidance move I've made in years. I was "in the zone". (I did have to stop and let the shakes go away. Took about 5 minutes before my hands would stop shaking. Didn't have to change any underwear though!)

     In that brief encounter I did everything just right. Didn't think about it, just did it. As natural as walking. But let's face it, you don't just happen to get "in the zone". Magic and Joe practice every day. They live, eat and breathe their sport. They work at it until their fantastic moves come naturally. When the time comes, they are ready. So how can we riders prepare ourselves so that when the time comes we can be "in the zone" like the pros?

     I believe the best way to prepare is to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training courses being offered around the country. In 1986 I took the MOST course on my '83 Ducati. I could hardly turn the Duke around in a Safeway parking lot but with the patience and help of the MSF instructors I made it through.  In 1993 I took the MSF basic rider course on my K bike. I only had the bike about two weeks and hadn't ridden a bike in 3 years. The instructor kept asking me if I needed roller skates. Boy did I learn a lot.

     Since then I try to practice the skills I learned in the MSF training every time I go for a ride. Emergency avoidance of an object in the road is one I particularly practice. When that Pontiac appeared, I was ready. I had the basic skills down and they came out as natural as walking. I'm looking forward to making it to a BMW National Rally someday. Not just for the ride, or the great bikes you see, or the great people you meet, but to take part in the MSF training given by the best of the best. I plan to never stop learning or practicing.

     Deryle & Wanda Mehrten, SEAT Members in good standing.

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