Dedicated to the women who RIDE THEIR OWN motorcycles  


by caped intruder

My insides were jumping up and down with excitement, fear & dread! It was the morning we were leaving for the ride to Daytona for Bike Week. OK, so it isn't quite my "first" ride, but before this I had only ridden about 150 miles total on my scoot since I passed the MSF course. And on the only other ride over 20 miles I'd managed to drop the bike TWICE!!

I dawdled my way through packing the bike up with the brand new leather sissy bar bag I'd just gotten about a week earlier. Nearly gave myself a hernia picking it up to wiggle it onto the bar! I swear I didn't bring everything I own! My S.O. Bart had ridden over from Miami the night before, so he was all ready to go in short order, but I'd had to sleep in from working late the night before. The original plan was to be on the road as soon as the traffic lightened up, maybe 9am. WRONG! We didn't get away until noon. (A usual problem for us, I'm afraid!)

As we approached the turn where I dropped my bike just over a month earlier I could feel my mouth go dry & my hands get shaky, but in spite of practically p--ing my pants, I made it safely around the corner. Maybe all that weight on the fender behind me just kept me anchored to the ground better! The next hurdle was just to keep the bike going straight as an arrow while semi's & dump trucks whizzed by, but at least there was a clear sky & very few intersections or curves to worry about, so I finally began to relax & get the real feel of the bike.

Since my bike has a pretty small gas tank, we had to stop for fuel often enough for me to catch my breath & get comfortable with lots of turns. Good thing because I really needed the practice! While I was getting used to moving along at faster speeds, I was still not real quick about whipping around curves or taking off from stops, so many times Bart would be a bit far ahead of me. I also like to leave a lot of room when following cars in traffic, so naturally he got through a few stop lights that caught me. This resulted in him having to pull over to wait for me several times, but he was always gracious about it! Once he got so far ahead, he turned around and came back for me! A pattern was developing here.

A little past halfway to our destination hotel we got separated again when I got caught by a light. As I arrived at the highway exit to the next road we would be taking I looked to the right to see where Bart had gone & saw him in the parking lot of a gas station. I was stuck in traffic, but figured I'd pull in there after I finally got around the corner. It was one of those really busy Speedway stations, so I was REALLY looking out for moving cars as I pulled in to a parking spot & shut down the bike. Now I started to look for Bart, but didn't see him anywhere! After about 45 minutes I realized he wasn't coming back for me & traffic was getting worse as rush hour approached. I certainly didn't want to be riding through Orlando during that, so I finally just said to myself "get going, nothing's changed, you are still just riding your own ride!"

Of course the whole rest of the ride I was expecting to come up on Bart sitting by the side of the road waiting for me. NOPE!! I managed to go right past the next route change I needed & had to turn around in a parking lot (still hadn't mastered that u-turn thing!) I got going in the right direction, but something about the foot peg didn't feel right, I looked down and the entire rubber section under my left foot was gone! I had some fun trying to not have my foot slip off that peg!

Now as a car driver I never seem to make a wrong turn when I'm traveling, but now I realize that's because I'm always checking the map to see where I am every time I stop for a light. On the bike I'm watching traffic & not the map, which I can't see without my glasses anyway! Of course I managed to get confused at least 4 more times on the rest of the way, but finally pulled into the hotel parking lot a mere 6&1/2 hours after my departure from home! It was only about 300 miles!! Bart's "Connie" was sitting there when I arrived & I didn't know if I should be relieved or furious. He came out just then & we checked out my peg problem, turns out the peg had loosened up & was just upside down!!

I just knew I'd had enough for one day! But my confidence level had shot up tremendously! Good thing, because the next morning I awoke to see him frantically getting dressed with the announcement that he was late for the COG meeting North of Daytona, about 60 miles away! Could I make it to Daytona on my own & meet him at the speedway later? I guess I'll just have to won't I!! Well, even though I made a wrong turn, I finally got there & managed to wade through heavy traffic, wandering pedestrians, and arrived at the Kawasaki members area without freaking out once!

We met up with Dr. Donna & Jerry at the Bob Evans, but no one else who was supposed to meet us managed to make it through the downpour that started right after we sat down! OH GREAT! Now I have to ride in the rain too! And did I mention the wind that was whipping things around? After a bit things let up & we went back to the speedway & spent money!! Then it started to rain again.

Experience was being heaped upon me faster than I had a chance to worry about it! We finally decided riding in the rain was better than riding in the rain & dark, so we headed for the hotel. And yes, we got separated again!

The next day we headed out together, on I-4, my first time on the super-slab! It was cold & I was nervous, but we made it just fine. After prowling the vendors again for the whole day, he announced that we were supposed to meet the Cog members about 30 miles up the highway for dinner. OK, now it's late afternoon & the only way to avoid lots of traffic is I-95, Yep! back on the "slab" again! We got lousy directions, got lost, got separated, I ended up finally finding the restaurant alone again! A real confidence builder! Now we have to return about 60 miles to the hotel in the dark, on the slab, in the dark, and the roads are wet. I gritted my teeth & managed that too.

The next day I wanted to visit some family in Leesburg, so off I went alone!! Got lost! Getting used to it by now! Had a great visit with 3 different locations & managed to get turned around all 3 times! But after the downpour let up, I was headed back to the hotel again. Pulled into the lot right behind Bart who'd been off doing his own thing all day.

The final day of our trip (Monday) we were to meet with some folks from IntruderAlert to take possession of Erving Merlin, a wooden doll being transported all over the country by Intruder owners. We finally got away from the hotel about 11am, headed for Lake Wales. You guessed it, we got separated! By now I'd given up even being concerned, just knew I had to be in Lake Wales to turn over the doll, so I just kept going after I verified on the map I was headed in the right direction all along! This time it was the guys who were confused! I finally met up with them again even though one of them had to drop out because it was getting a bit late. We headed off together, the guys passed the next turn we were to make, we did a u-turn & the clowns missed the turn again!! I said nuts to this, & went the right way. It took the guys about 30 minutes to get themselves sorted back out, by the time they caught up to me I was already at the drop off location. We had a great visit, blabbed way too long & just Bart & I took off headed for home.

We got lost again! But at least this time we managed to stay together, arrived back in Cape Coral at 11:15pm & I had to get up for work the next morning at 3am!! All counted up....we managed to get lost &/or separated 11 times!! Heck of a "first ride" for the little old NEWBIE!! Now I'm not afraid to ride in anything, wind, rain, dark, alone.....bring it on!!

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From caped intruder:
"I just started riding in December 2002 at age 53. My beautiful 2000 Suzuki Intruder 800 has earned the nickname 'Passion' by causing me to become totally obsessed with everything motorcycle related! I belong to the SCRC, Sun Coast Chapter & Intruder Alert. My favorite forum is Delphi Women Who Ride."

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