Operation Moto Dog
Written by Mallory Danger Paige
- Colorado Nomad - USA -
Packing my saddle bag, there was a lot I didn’t know. I hardly knew how to ride a motorcycle, had never camped in the wilds alone, wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to Alaska, had no clue what gear I needed for the months ahead. But I did know two things for certain - (1). With my furry copilot at my side it would all be a worthwhile adventure and (2). I was definitely bringing my slackline.
Now more than 300 days and 20,000 miles later, I’m happy to report (1). I've learned a few things along the way and (2). never once have I regretted packing that line. It may sound melodramatic, but slacklining changed my life. Grounded and calmed me in ways I’d never before experienced, taught me countless lessons about commitment and resilience that have helped as Baylor the Dog and I travel across North America on a motorcycle-sidecar.
Slacklining came into my life during a tumultuous period of heartbreak and upheaval. Trying it out for the first time, I was immediately hooked. Here was the perfect activity to distract myself, to turn off the chatter and focus on breath and balance. Upon moving to Bend, YogaSlackers Jason and Chelsey introduced me to highlining. At first I resisted. Found excuses to miss the terror-inducing outings and avoid facing the fears hovering over the abyss brought up.
Eventually, though, I committed. Not to walking the farthest or the highest or being the best highliner. No. Just a commitment to go for it. To push myself and face the fear.
For the first couple months I did not walk. I stood and fell. Whipped dramatically. Climbed the leash. Sat on the line exhausted from the effort. Stood and fell. Learned to catch. Scooted back to the edge. Took a breather. Attempted to calm my racing heart. Did it all over again. I was covered in bruises, sore and annoyed. There was no evidence of improvement. But I could not stop; I’d made a commitment.
Then one day, with my favorite dirty hip hop blaring, I stood and walked. Slow and wobbly, I’d done it. Succeeded in a small way, looked fear in the face and went for it. After that day more lines were walked. Sometimes it was terrifying, sometimes only scary. But each tiny victory built upon itself, made me feel that much more confident and driven.
I’ve found the same to be true with any adventurous pursuit. The scariest moment is when you’re sitting there thinking about it. When a barrage of fears, worries and worst-case-scenarios threaten to overwhelm.
Having been on the road for nearly a year, I’ve made countless mistakes and regularly felt the crushing weight of fear and doubt. I’ve sat in the tent shaking with heebie jeebies. Gotten lost, became found. Broken the motorcycle, learned how to fix it. Met strangers, turned them into friends.
And whether it’s a good day or a bad day, no matter if I’m feeling stressed, ecstatic or exhausted, a little time on the line always brings me back to center. Reminds me that it’s not about being the best. It's not about setting a record or getting the perfect picture. It’s not about going the furthest or the highest.
It’s just about doing it. About making a commitment to yourself. About staying resilient through the struggle. About hovering over the fearful abyss and really going for it. And when I doubt even that, I think of these words from Winston Churchill,
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
- Winston Churchill
Mallory Paige and Baylor the Dog are currently riding a motorcycle-sidecar across North America - collecting stories and proving that you don't have to be fearless or perfect to live your dreams. Follow the adventure at OperationMotoDog.com.