Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fear is my co-pilot

I’ve owned my sea-foam-green motor scooter, a Chinese Vespa knock-off, for three months and about 300 miles.

For the first two months, each time I would mount the rasping two-cycle steed I had this vague feeling that I was placing myself at death’s door.

Which was good because it made me hyper-alert. As I set out down our impossibly steep hill, I ventured into a wilderness infested with four-wheeled contraptions driven by creatures blind to two-wheel conveyances.

Bicyclists know the feeling, and, yes, twice a week I get on my folding bike to ride to the Southwest Community Center to exercise. Truth to tell, half the exercise involves going to and from the center.

I came to rely on my state of heightened, anxious awareness on scooter and bike. I found it carried over to driving my little SUV, which I’ve used sparingly this summer, thanks to my “alternative” forms of transportation. (Goal: make the SUV the “alternative”)

Who knows, perhaps scootering and biking made me more careful about picking up sharp objects as well.

But about a month ago, after dozens of successful scoots, I got on the steed and something was missing: fear.

Strangely, I missed fear. I wanted it back. Without it, I felt vaguely insecure. Hmmmm, my lack of fear was causing fear, but a different kind of fear — the fear of being oblivious or overconfident, rather than the fear of having a car door opened in my face or being blind-sided at the corner of Sunset and Capitol.

Fortunately, this earlier fear of bodily injury or worse, had prompted me last June to sign up to take the Basic Rider Training Course offered by Team Oregon, a motorcycle safety organization. The wait lists were so long that the earliest I could take the course was late September.

It is late September and I take the three-session course starting tomorrow. Just in time to re-instill a little, or a lot of, fear.

Of course, I’ll share the experience with you here. But for now, just the thought of the course is frightening. And that’s a good thing.

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