Why I Ride
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
When I was a teenager, my dad bought a Honda 250 motorcycle. My mom said he could teach me to ride it if I promised I’d never leave our little neighborhood. So the day I met her at a 4-way stop in town, my riding days were over...until a few years ago.
Charlie and I were watching a TV show that featured motorcycles and he said “It’s a shame you don’t ride because that’s something we could do together for fun.” I told him I did ride a long time ago, although briefly and I loved it. I decided right then to get back on that steel horse.
I took the Motorcycle Safety Course and passed, but still needed to practice.
So Charlie put me on the back of his Nighthawk and we headed to an empty parking lot. I did what seemed like 200 laps around that lot with no problems, until the last one. As I was trying to make a right hand turn on a slight incline from a stopped position, I just tipped over! Fortunately, my ego was really the only thing bruised, but the head game over the incident went on for a long time. For a few months, I was too scared and insecure to get on any bike. Luckily, I found a women’s riding forum (www.womenridersnow) and read that dropping a bike in a parking lot or while it’s standing still is a pretty common occurence. As a new rider, many things can attribute to this—not enough gas on the throttle, bike size, losing balance etc. I thought back to the day in the parking lot and realized it was all of those things for me, but the more I read, the more confident I grew. The ladies of womenridersnow got me out of my head and back on a bike!
We found a great used bike for me and I started practicing on our street with Charlie drilling in the basics. Stopping, starting, turning, learning the friction zone of the clutch, and I got pretty good on our two mile road.
But my biggest challenge was stopping in the middle of an incline and starting again. The thought of that took me straight back to that parking lot where this particular Weeble, wobbled and could not get back up! I had to get beyond it and learn how to tackle the hills because that’s what faced me at the end of our street—a hill, a stop sign and a blind curve in order to get up on the main road. There was no other way out of the neighborhood, so I had to face my fears and rise to the challenge because if done wrong, a spill could be waiting to happen…or worse. Charlie taught me stopping and starting on our driveway which is an even steeper hill than the one leading to the main road. Over and over again we practiced…hold with the foot brake, ease the clutch out, engage the throttle and ease up on the brake. The only thing I can equate it to is dancing because it’s truly a choreography of moves that all need to be in sync or else the whole cast of Grease will collide in a big "shoo waddy wop” and Sandy and Danny would never get together!! Oops, got carried away there for a minute, but back to bikes!
One morning I woke up and said, “Today’s the day. I’m going to get out of the neighborhood.” I knew I was ready. So, we headed out—Charlie on his bike and me on mine to the end of our road and the moment of truth. He went first, but before I could follow, a car came around the corner and separated us. Without panic, I stopped and did exactly as I had done countless times on the driveway and when the road was clear, I started my moves-brake, clutch, throttle, ease out, all together now, and before I knew it, I’d broken the chains of our little street and was relishing the freedom of the main road. I immediately let out a shout and started crying!! (I admit it, I am a crier). That moment changed me forever.
I’m a biker for life now. Because learning to ride to has given me more self-confidence than anything I’ve ever done and it has empowered me more than anything else in my life. It’s like being a boxer in a prize fight, no matter how many people help you train, you ultimately have to step into the ring alone.
That’s what learning to ride was like for me. In the end, no one else can drive the bike for me or help me make split second decisions-it’s all up to me. And I learned that I can do it. I love to ride and I love how alive I feel when I ride because you have to be accutely in the moment, present, and extremely attentive…your safety and quite possibly your life depend on it. It’s also helped me learn to focus better. Charlie says it make you a better car driver, too and he’s right. I now drive my car from my motorcycle perspective, always staying aware of all vehicles, whether they’re coming from ahead, behind or even on the sides
If you want to learn to do something, take it from me, it’s never too late and when you feel like giving up, don’t. Stick with it a little longer because eventually everything kinda falls into place and makes sense. Will I ever be Evel Knievel or a member of one of those synchronized police moto units? Probably not, but I don’t need to, to safely experience the joy of riding. So, whatever it is you want to do, go for it, face your fears and break them down, bit by bit with information and preparation. Listen to experienced ones around you, apply what they teach you, and practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Go get it…you can do it!!