I don’t know when I first heard it. At some point in my development, it just arrived: my brain generated a personal narrator for my thoughts and there it was - my inner voice. It doesn’t have a recognizable accent (unless I’m watching Bogey, Morgan Freeman, or James Earl Jones). It’s not a GPS or the lady who does “Google Maps.” It doesn’t have a real form - it speaks in thought-language and it talks incessantly. When I write, it speaks the words that fly from my fingers on the keyboard and that’s the time when I have the most control over it. At other times, it speaks unbidden and unwanted. When I am listening to music, it might be absent, but sometimes sings along. Some people’s inner voice is their biggest cheerleader and some their harshest critic. For years I fell in the latter camp, but over time I trained myself to listen to the cheerleader more than the critic, but it’s hard because they talk in exactly the same, toneless thought-speak as each other so you never really know which one has the mental microphone. You have to hear the words and the context to understand. It’s not really multiple voices, unless you have some schism of which you’re not aware, but rather the same narrator telling different stories, some positive, some negative. Multiple personalities exist inside a single inner voice. Some are afraid of their inner voice and they seek to drown it, usually in a sea of music, hence the prevalence of earphones in everyone’s head-holes. I think Alanis understood the phenomenon when she put silence in the song “All I Really Want:” Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this? [a few seconds of silence] Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines Or when you think you're going to die? Or did you long for the next distraction? Once again, you’re three paragraphs in and wondering what the hell this has to do with riding. Some of you may be getting the rear-wheel drift, so to speak, but let’s explore it together, your voices and mine: because our inner voices are so prevalent and insistent, they’re with us when we ride. They speak to us as we get ready, encouraging us to bundle up when it is chilly. They’re clock-watchers, perhaps making us rationalize not wearing all the gear all the time because it takes time to gear up and we’re only going a few miles. Inner voices are masterful rationalizers. Some are good at reminding us to pick up things on the way home from work and some…aren’t. Then, there are times when they’re not even talking about the ride, but rather shouting about something that upsets us. Sometimes, the incessant, stressful phone call going on inside our heads occupies our minds to the point where tasks are done reflexively with the lizard part of our brains. Those are the most hazardous times to ride, especially when the inner voice(s) are rehashing what we wish we’d said and to whom. Have you ever had one of those conversations going on to the point where you’re at work and you have no recollection of how you got there? I have. The conversation in your head can make you ride poorly. I have. Sometimes on the ride the voice critiques me. The negative voice is particularly good at this, telling me my lane position sucks and I’m not looking in the mirrors enough. It nags me about everything from corner entries to following distance to weight distribution to signal usage. It’s actually kind of good and it’s WAY better than the argument voice. Sometimes I tell the critical voice to shut the hell up and I start a conversation with an angelic one about how blue is the sky and how warm is the sun and how lucky I am to be riding a beautiful motorcycle and how damn good I am at doing it. It usually takes an effort, however, because the negative voice is a strong, interrupting, obnoxious jerk. In dirt riding, I know I’m a lot better rider when I listen to the voice that says “You can do this” rather than the one that says “Oh shit, I don’t know if we’re gonna make it.” I never ride alone - I’ve always got the voice and it tells me things that can make me a worse or better rider .