"Lean into the curve," she reminded me.
I was the tender age of twenty, and my twenty-two year-old roommate was schooling me on how to be safe passenger on a motorcycle. We were waiting for our dates to arrive, and I took her advice seriously.
When in a big turn that tilts the bike, you'll instinctively to want to counterbalance that by leaning towards the other side. Don't do it, just go with it. Lean into the curve.
It's scary, but here's how you do it. Grab him around the waist, and melt forward into him. Just watch over his shoulder. You can switch shoulders, but only on the straightaways. You can look left and right, but only your neck should move independently of his torso. The rest of your body should to follow his movements. When the bike turns, his body will tilt with the bike. You do the same. ALWAYS.
When the boys picked us up and I climbed onto the motorcycle, I was nervous. As we roared away from the curb, I looked to my friend. She looked confident and secure, and her words echoed in my head.
We made our way through some of the suburbs south of LA, and I spent much of my ride leaning into my driver, with my eyes shut. I was scared. Eventually I caught a whiff of the Pacific Ocean and with that I realized where we were. The sudden scent of the ocean combined with the the tilt in the road told me what I needed to know; my eyes were not needed in this situation. I took this route routinely for work and for play, and I recognized not only the scent of the ocean, but also the curve of the road we were on.
I opened my eyes.
Everything was coming at me so fast...and yet, as I was in the cocoon that was my helmet, everything was peaceful. Sights, smells, the woosh of sounds...all blurred together as we cruised down the highway. I stopped being afraid. I just experienced the ride.
As the road wound its way to the coast, I heard my friend's words in my ears and I leaned into those turns.
As a bike tilts towards the ground while taking a turn, you'll be temped to do what you should do on a boat, which is shift your weight in the other direction. You have to fight that intuitive action and just trust physics to do its thing. You lean into the curve. It's what's right, even if it feels wrong.