Why running an Ultra-Marathon and learning to ride a motor bike are life lessons for us all

Yesterday’s Compulsory Basic Training with the good folks at Cheshire Biker Training was a useful reminder of how best we learn things and how we overcome our fears.

I’ve never ridden a powered bike before in my life and so approached the day with a mixture of anticipation and concern.

It was, like Sunday’s Ultra-Marathon, self-inflicted.

The route to CBT in Macclesfield began after I sat outside a beach-side Starbucks in Muscat, Oman last February and watched the coolest dude (a South African male in his late 50’s) roll up on his bike after a Saturday morning run then sip coffee as he watched the world go by.

That’s the photo above.

“I want to do that” was all I could think (albeit in somewhat less sunny Cheshire) and I was instantly determined to do something about it.

Cut to the car park under a grey sky at Macclesfield Rugby Club and my first four attempts at pulling away on a Honda 125cc ended abruptly with a stalled engine.

My emotions at that moment were frustration, a little humiliation and dread at the fact that my ambition could be stopped as quickly as the bike I was sat on.

Credit here to my teacher, Paul Belcher, whose patience, attention to detail and genuine appreciation were exactly what I needed.

Give that this is a biker training event – potentially full of testosterone – my fears were quickly put to rest – it’s OK to fail at the start – just get back on and do it again – but try this differently.

A few minutes later I pulled away successfully and begin to familiarise myself with the handling and the co-ordination.

Fast-forward 5 hours to 15:00 on Monday afternoon and the sheer exhilaration of a 2-hour ride around the Cheshire countryside, with Paul following behind and sharing directions, tips and instructions through our radios.

My confidence level from 1/100 to 60/100 – I recognise that I have much to learn but you know what?

I can ride a motor bike!

On to more advanced training in August, with a view to a full licence.

The most interesting battles over the last few days have been mental – the challenge of a 35-mile running distance and riding a bike were two unknowns.

On both occasions there were moments when my internal conversation included “Why are you doing this to yourself? Will you finish? Can you really do this?”

What we learn by stepping outside of our comfort zone is that we are all capable of much more than we give ourselves the credit for.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

2 thoughts on “Why running an Ultra-Marathon and learning to ride a motor bike are life lessons for us all”

  1. I totally agree, Chris. I learnt to ride a bike about three years ago now, the same trepidation faced me!

    At the same time as learning to ride a motorbike I was also learning to fast target shoot a shot gun and dance modern jive, my brain spent a considerable amount of time in a state of “I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing”, I felt like a five-year-old again, exploring a complex and engaging world for the first time.

    After doing my basic motorcycle training I then decided to push myself and do the advanced, it took six months of training but I eventually passed last year.

    I love your enthusiasm for life, learning and challenges, Chris, you continue to inspire me.

    Thank you for sharing your journey, “The Bikers of Dentistry” motorcycle group on Facebook awaits you 🙂

  2. Love this – and Mark’s reply and idea for a group. Moving to Greece challenged me in many different ways, I was worried about being too hot at night, insects, serial killers, poor broadband and being lonely (in that order) but I actually love the heat, can cope with the insects (fewer than I thought) the broadband is faster and cheaper than at home and serial killers, well that was just daft. My social life is brilliant because there are lots of special interest groups, everyone is outside all the time so we actually see each other and issue invitations and the slightly-older-than-me ex=pats are not worried about inviting a single woman along, as long as she gives good conversation. Next, onto writing a novel and learning Greek!

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