Don’t Pop a Wheelie, Just Shift Those Gears

By Patrick McNerthney 

Of all the stupid stuff I’ve done as an adult (beginning when I was 18, thus technically an “adult,”), riding a motorcycle in the woods tops the list. It’s kind of a complicated story so I’ll paint the picture right quick:

  • My pops shared a very small cabin in the Cascade Mountains with his buddy, Billy
  • We went there all the time when I was a kid (age 7-13, definitely under 18)
  • When I was in high school (age 14-18, now teetering toward adulthood), Billy bought a dirt bike (250cc, kickstarter Yamaha off-road motorcycle) for the cabin
  • During the summer between high school and college (I was now a seasoned 18 year old), my friends and I went up there and rode it for two days
  • Which lead to one friend crashing the bike in a creek as he tried to cross the turbid waters and burning his leg on the exhaust pipe, another getting a wicked sunburn because he rode with no shirt for 12 hours on day one, and me launching the bike into a tree as I tried to do a wheelie on day two (unlike our bodies, the damage to the bike was easily bend-back-able).  

But this isn’t a story about moronic teen-adults. This is the tale of why that bike launched into a tree. 

Motorcycles have gears just like a car. For those of you who remember what a stick shift is, it’s far easier to shift a motorcycle from one gear to another (in my humble opinion) than it is in a car.

(It may be hard to imagine today, but that’s what a manual gear shift knob looked like on a car.)

Shifting gears on a bike works like this: squeeze the lever on the left handlebar (the “clutch”), then with your left foot push the teeny-tiny-but-big-enough shift lever up or down depending on what gear you want to be in, then release the clutch as you give the bike some gas with the throttle on your right handlebar.  

Easy peasy, right? 

Of course, just like a car, this process is way easier when you’re already in motion as momentum provides a lot of flexibility — the trouble comes when you’re starting from a standstill. (You really care about this stuff, right? And there’s the rub.) That’s because when a car or motorcycle switches gears, the engine is providing zero forward power. That means it’s more difficult to steer, brake, balance (on a bike) or generally control direction as one moves from zero to “15” as opposed to when one already has forward momentum of oh say 20 miles-per-hour.  

And—for the record—when you’re trying to do a wheelie from a standstill, you’re giving the bike a ton of gas, really revving the engine, so when ya pop into first gear from neutral expecting to look like Evil Knievel, instead what happens is the bike launches from underneath you, somersaults a few times, and hits a tree as you stand there watching and wondering what happened.

Bottom line: the only way to effectively switch gears in a car or on a motorcycle is to do so while moving and use forward momentum to overcome the pause in an engine’s power as you “land” the shift. Or, better said, using forward motion as a chance to (ironic as it may seem) pause and make the adjustments you need to keep propelling yourself where you want to go is the key to success.

(It’s all about where you want to go.)

Over to you. Undoubtedly you’re making progress as you care for your residents and loved ones. But it’s very likely as you seek to discover what the next best move is to help the elderly, children with challenges, or anyone needing assistance with daily life overcome the rigors of social isolation, you’re faced with a desire to STOP and slow down to “zero” before you make that move. Totally understandable—but also wrong. The right way?  Keep your forward momentum and let Fine Art Miracles (FAM) help. 

FAM champions creative expression as a robust and effective tool to reconnect your residents and loved ones with the perfect antidote to the anxiety and depression they live with every day thanks to social isolation—feelings of self-worth, confidence, mastery, joy, hope, and the belief that they matter. That means by working with FAM’s Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy,  and Multi-Sensory Session (and more!) programs, you can maintain the forward momentum you’ve already established as a caregiver while simultaneously shifting into a higher gear that will propel you residents and loved ones where they want to go. 

Pretty sweet—and you don’t even run the risk of  launching anything into a tree or any other crazy stuff. So why not get started today? Give FAM a call or drop them a note, they’re happy to help! Now’s the time to use forward motion as a chance to (ironic as it may seem) pause and make the adjustments you need to propel yourself where you want to go and to help those under your care find success. Think of it as your New Year’ Resolution!

 The alternative? Watching your bike sail into a tree and wondering how the heck you’re gonna bend that kick starter back into place. Trust me–no fun at all!


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