There’s nothing like the freedom one experiences flying down the open road on the back of a motorcycle. Luke Zakka, motorhead, explains how he, a tech guru with a scientific mind, approached the art of motorcycle riding for the first time.
“I’m not always the most pragmatic individual. I’ll often ‘feel’ my way through situations and adjust accordingly, rather than planning,” Luke Zakka said.
However, when it came time to learn how to ride a motorcycle, Zakka recognized he’d have to match his curiosity with an equal amount of caution. Before taking a class to obtain his endorsement, he read two books: “A Twist of the Wrist” and “An Idiot’s Guide to Motorcycles.” While he learned the basics of motorcycle riding, he also found those fundamental lessons to be poignant metaphors for life.
“A Twist of the Wrist,” Luke Zakka explained, discusses a kind of thought pattern, akin to fight or flight, which must be avoided to ride safely. The book illustrates how to conquer this gut reaction with rationality and mindfulness.
“This pattern is associated with panic,” Zakka said, explaining that the “acute, sudden fear” one can experience if they see an obstacle on the road, such as a deer or oncoming vehicle, is one which must be dealt with rationally. Otherwise, irrational fear can overtake the conscious mind and lead to disaster.
“Could the metaphor for real-life be any clearer in this instance?” Zakka asked rhetorically. He explained the ability to ride a motorcycle well consistently depends largely on the rider’s ability to be present and mindful, conscious of their surroundings, the bike, and the route. They must be alert and prepared to handle any obstacle rationally.
“It’s how well we’ve prepared, the quality of our knowledge of the physics of the bike, and how we control impulses that dictates our success,” he said.
The next technique Luke Zakka picked up relates to controlling what we focus on. Humans aren’t built naturally to travel at over 100 MPH, he said. As a result, our vision is not able to scale in sync with the speed of the passing scenery and upcoming terrain and objects.
“During this process of ‘seeking’ within our line of sight, it’s typical to become fixated on a single object,” he said.
The downside, he said, is if it is necessary to avoid that object, you must focus elsewhere in order to do so.
“In plain terms, you won’t get to the next place…by focusing on where you do not want to go,” Luke Zakka said. “Choosing what to focus on and having the ability to override our natural inclination to have tunnel vision on something we must avoid becomes a paramount aspect of going fast.”
The final lesson Zakka learned relates to how to physically control a motorcycle.
“The faster a motorcycle travels, the more it is inclined to stay upright,” he said.
He explained a bike traveling more than 15 MPH sustains its orientation; the rider is simply “channeling the forces which begin to emerge with speed.” When counter-steering, he continued, the last thing a rider should do is squeeze tightly, as if to bend the bike to their will. Instead, they should apply just enough pressure while maintaining a loose grip on the handlebars to let the wheels continue their momentum as you direct them. The proper way to ride involves anchoring down with your lower body and applying pressure on the footpegs and handlebars in a balanced, complementary way.
“This frees your body up, allowing you to be agile while also secure and planted,” Luke Zakka said. “What does this mean in the context of life? I’ll let you draw your own conclusion.”