Ready for your next ride in the mountains? Here is your co-rider's guide
Having always envisioned myself as an evolving solo traveller, I always saw myself juggling between various modes of transportation and garnering a wide range of experiences as a passenger. Transit would be a time I'd retract into my bubble, stay present with my thoughts, review and reflect on my life and resolve things. Riding was not particularly one of my interests until I happened to meet a rider recently and decided to give it a try.
During few of our initial short distance rides, I continued with my old practice of withdrawing into my bubble and staying oblivious to the rider and the road. Inspite of multiple instructions, it never really grew into me. Then came our recent most ride to Pichavaram. We were riding thousand odd kms in 3 days, covering the Dimbam ghat consisting of 27 hairpin bends. By then I had made multiple trips to the service center and learnt a bit about the functioning of the bike and built a sort of connect with the bike. The clarity of my role as a co-rider was also becoming clearer.
It took an episode of microsleep and the rider loosing it on me to get me to think of it seriously. Fortunately we were safe. I kept wondering about what really caused me to sleep, why do I forget certain agreements that we collectively agree upon? There were a hundred justifications that came up like it's a normal thing, afterall I'm a human I can make mistakes, maybe it's the sun, maybe this or maybe that. As I cleared all the superficial garbage out, I could see the deeper problem. I had not completely owned the identity of a co-rider. I was being a passenger (or maybe in a transitioning phase). What's the difference you might ask?
A passenger is someone who is commuting without any shared responsibility with the rider, a passenger has the privilege to sit back and relax, zone into a book or loose oneself to the scenic beauty while a co-rider on the other hand teams up with the rider and has some shared responsibilities especially safety.
Consolidating all my learning from the trip, I have put together a little guide to help me and all the riding enthusiasts out there to make your riding experience a delightful one.
1. Know how you see and feel about riding: having clarity on how you see and feel about the ride will help you have clarity on your purpose of doing it, any limiting beliefs, your self-esteem levels wrt being a co-rider and fears if any.
2. Know how the rider sees and feels about riding: having clarity on how the rider sees and feels about the ride will help you empathize with the rider.
3. Embody the identity of a co-rider: have clarity on the roles and responsibilities of a co-rider and visualize yourself in that place, doing all that you need to do and feeling how you would like to feel through the ride, by this you are familiarizing your brains with the new experience.
Here are some of the responsibilities of a co-rider that I've arrived at.
Stay connected with yourself: since the riders focus is on the road, it's your responsibility to be mindful of your body, it's a tendency to abruptly move to adjust yourself, set communication in place to communicate when you need to move or if you feel your eyes droop.
Stay connected with the rider: stay connected to the rider from the waist, be mindful of the riders body movements and try to sync especially during turns.
Stay connected with the bike: be mindful of any changes in the bike (sounds, wobbling, any changes in the seat alignment etc.)
Stay connected with the road: since all you see is the back of the rider's head, it's easy to disconnect and zone out into your own world, you can lean slightly towards your right and stay connected to the road, pay attention to the signboards, zoom out at times to see the whole picture.
4. Communication: this is the most crucial part, since the wind stops you from communicating verbally agree upon non-verbal communication strategies and "STICK TO IT". Some of the strategies could be-tapping on the riders right shoulder to indicate that you want to move- tapping on the left shoulder to stop- rider tapping on the co-rider's left knee to indicate stopYou can explore more.
With this little guide, I'm determined to change my co-riding experience for myself and the rider into a joyous one. What about you?
Sending my gratitude to the rider for holding space while I figured my way out through this.