I always loved the look of a Harley - the deep shine of the paint, the way the chrome reflects the blueness of the sky with the contrast of the clouds. There is no other sound but that of a Harley that stirs my blood to boil. In August 2000, I purchased a 2001 Low Rider. She is my soul - a reflection of who I am and what I strive to be. When I ride, I feel at one with God, the world, and myself.
In all my life, I had never been totally responsible for myself. Divorced in 2002 after 29 years of marriage, I had much to experience and learn. Having made many mistakes, I was not willing to continue giving up pieces of myself. Instead, I chose to face my fear of being alone head on by taking a solo cycle trip through New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. This 3052 mile adventure took me through 11 days of heat, cold, wind, rain, hail, and fear. It was a trip to learn how to trust God, and more importantly, myself. Ultimately, it was a trip that changed my life.
For the most part, the trip went as planned. I completed between 200 and 400 scenic miles a day, sometimes parched and dry, and other times exhilarated to be alive and alone. At times during those first few days, the fear I had tucked away reared its ugly head, forcing me to doubt my abilities. Questions plagued my mind. What are you doing? Why did you come alone? What if something happens to you out here? Many strangers I encountered questioned my sanity, as did I during those first days.
Early on day three, I left Taos, New Mexico, intent on approaching Monument Valley from the north before I stopped in Mexican Hat, Utah. Dusk was looming on the horizon, and the last soul I had seen was at a trading post miles prior. I had filled the tank with gas and myself with Gatorade. As I turned onto a lonely desert road, I questioned when I would next see civilization. It was only 29 miles to Bluff, and another 25 to Mexican Hat. Even if there were no facilities in Mexican Hat, it was only 101 miles for the entire side trip. Strapped behind me sat a red, one gallon container full of gas, just in case. Yet still, I debated whether to continue on with my original journey, or abandon it and go back.
I continued on, but at mile six, panic set in. I had seen no houses, I had seen no cars, and I was afraid. I pulled the bike over. Tears fell from my eyes, and I cried out. I pleaded with God to teach me to trust Him. Instead, He taught me to trust myself. I vowed that I would not go back on this road, for somehow that signified going back in life. Whatever happens on this trip, and in life, I am not alone - He is with me. As I rounded the next curve, I saw an Indian woman sitting atop her horse with a dog by her side. She was deep in thought, staring down at a small cemetery plot. The same spirits were guiding us on both of our journeys...she atop her horse, and I atop mine.
Life is a series of curves. The ease and speed with which we take them depends upon our focus. We master them when we focus our eyes through the curves to their end, rather than on the road directly beneath us. The Disciple Peter learned this when he walked on the Sea of Galilee to meet Jesus. As long as his focus was on the Lord, he experienced peace and power. The moment that he focused on the turbulence below him, his confidence was shaken and he began to sink. Faith does not rest in trusting God to stop the storm, but in trusting Him to walk us through it. For me, what started as a trip to trust God taught me to trust my ability in the curves. It was here at my personal crossroads that I learned to look through the curves. And it was here that I mastered my fears. No longer hesitant and afraid of what might happen, I challenge myself to enjoy what the curves in the road, and in life, bring.
Patricia L. Ryan, a.k.a. Buffy