Saturday, August 21, 2010

The price of exhaustion

No, I did not wreck, but I did learn something about my limits this week.

I have read many times, and heard it said many more, that riding long distances or for long periods of time, can wear out a motorcyclist. For this reason, I have never ridden long distances without pacing myself and taking breaks when necessary.

This week marked the annual day camp and teen week for my Church. As one of the youth leaders, I pitched in and helped out with the teens on four of the five evenings. It was a genuine blast by the way.

This event is held at Woodcrest Retreat just northeast of Ephrata, PA. For the first three days, my wife and I took our son to the camp in our Toyota, but for the last day, my wife was not feeling well, so the kid and I hopped on the Sabre, and off we went. Knowing that the roads deeper into the retreat were gravel, I told him he would need to dismount once we were past the paved areas. Even so, I didn't proceed much further and parked the bike at the top of the hill instead of parking down the gravel drive near the pavilion.

Now comes the part about exhaustion.

After the teen camp festivities had concluded for the evening, I slowly coaxed the Sabre out of the graveled areas, and onto unbroken pavement, where my son re-mounted and we started home. We were nearing home when I started to feel some difficulty keeping the bike upright. It dawned on me that I was overtired and this was a symptom. I had worked all week, then devoted four hours each evening to the church's teen camp, and the week's activities had taken their toll. I said a quick prayer and was able to regain my focus, but I immediately got off the highway and made my way to quieter roads which would provide less risk to myself and my precious passenger.

We made it home without incident, but I have a new perspective on exhaustion and riding that I had little previous appreciation for. I'm not sure if it is a feature of ADHD or just something unique to me, but even when I am tired, I've never felt quite the same while riding, and riding my bike or scooter has never driven me to the point of exhaustion. We folks with ADHD tend to have higher metabolisms and tend to have trouble slowing down. Perhaps this accounts for my heightened stamina while riding, and could explain why I have never had the same difficulty riding as I experienced last night.

I wanted to take a ride tonight, but had worked another eight hours this morning, then spent a few hours at my church's annual carnival. Having learned my lesson from last evening, I decided to remain at home and watch Bicentenial Man with my wife.

My point is this, for less experienced, and even more, the warnings regarding exhaustion and riding must not be ignored. From personal experience, I can now vouch for how true these warnings are.

I'm very thankful that my experience ended well. I can't say I will never ride while exhausted again, but I hope I will be able to avoid doing so with a passenger, especially when that passenger is my son.

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