by Janine A.
I’m submitting my story with the hope
that it will help one of my fellow newbies just as the other stories
have helped me. I, like so many other women, had my days on the back up
until August of 2004. I went with my boyfriend, at the time, to a rally
in Cripple Creek, Colorado. To make a long story short, he got drunk and
abusive so I opted to ride home in the bus. I promised myself that night
that I would never ride the bus home from a rally again!
I am 4’11” and about 115 pounds. Although I consider myself as having
the will of a warrior, those close to me say I’m stubborn and they call
me Lucy – as in Lucille Ball. What can I say, I’m clumsy.
In January, 2005, I enrolled in a MSF course. When I walked into the
class the instructor looked me up and down and said, “Let me guess,
you’re here for the basket weaving class.” At that moment I knew it
wasn’t going to be easy. The class comprised of mostly men and the women
were much bigger than I am. Everyone had previous riding experience. I
was intimidated. If you’re not familiar with Colorado weather in
January, let me just say that it is COLD! We rode all day on Saturday
and by the end of the day my buttocks and fingertips were numb. And the
day did not go without an incident. I wanted to ride so bad and having
that bike under me for the first time felt so good. However, when it
came time to get off I forgot to put down the side stand and the bike
fell over with me under it – Lucy Incident No. 1. When the instructor
came over to help me pick it up I hollered at him and told him “I can do
it!!” The next day, Sunday, was the riding and written tests. I passed.
Of twelve of us, eight of us passed – two women and two men failed.
I was now determined to find my bike. I didn’t know any women who rode
so I mostly asked men for advice on which bike to buy. I received too
much advice. Some said start off on a dirt bike, some said get a bike
with about 250 cc and then move up as you become more comfortable
riding, others said get a big bike because you’re going to end up
wanting one anyway. I concluded that the best advice was to get the bike
that felt most comfortable. So, I tried to find the bike most
comfortable. Here comes Lucy incident No. 2 . . .
On Valentine’s Day weekend, my new boyfriend arranged for me to test
ride a bike that his friend had for sale – a Wide Glide with a lowering
kit. She was pretty and she was BIG. She felt good though, my feet were
flat and I could pick her up. I could see myself riding her. He started
the bike for me and I got on but soon discovered that in order for me to
have my feet on the forward foot controls I would have to sit on the gas
tank. As determined as I might be I wanted off. Since my boyfriend and
his friend were waiting for me so that we could all ride to breakfast,
my boyfriend was kind enough to offer me to ride his bike (a 1200
Sportster) while he rode the Wide Glide. I gladly accepted the offer and
away we went out of the driveway which was dirt and uphill. I got on the
street – whew! Here comes my first turn . . . it’s a right turn and I
can’t tell if my right foot is properly placed on this forward foot
control so while I’m in the turn I decide to look down at my foot. Okay,
remember, the bike will go where you look so if you’re looking down
where do you go? I went into the curb, went down with the bike and
scraped the entire left side of the gas tank. My boyfriend came over,
picked up the bike and rode it home. So I found myself on the back of
the Wide Glide with him in the front, totally frustrated, embarrassed,
angry and for the first time questioning whether I could really do this.
By the time we finished breakfast I wanted to try again. Lucy Incident
No. 3 . . .
We returned to the house and I got on again. This time I wasn’t going to
look down. Up the driveway I went and then I had that overwhelming
feeling to look down because I couldn’t find the foot controls. By then
it was too late so over I went again. This time I am so angry that I try
to lift the bike from the ground which I succeeded in doing except my
right hand slipped and the bike came back down on my foot. That was
it!!! We put the bikes away for the day and, again, I questioned whether
I could really do this. I came to the conclusion that I could, I just
hadn’t found the right bike and those forward foot controls just weren’t
Two weeks later I found her . . . a 2005 883Low Sportster. She’s black
and sleek and petite like me and she’s got mid-mounted foot controls!! I
call her Gypsy. Once she was delivered I took her around the block – one
time. The pain to shift was so overwhelming I went to the doctor. Yes,
it’s broken and 50% displaced because I didn’t have it looked at right
away. The doctor is going to have to re-break it; this means I will have
to have surgery, be in a cast for 2-4 weeks and then wear a wonderfully
stylish boot for an additional 2-4 weeks. I spent a total of eight weeks
healing and looking at my bike sitting in my garage.
It is now September and although I am fully healed the process of
getting back on has been slow. The first time I got on my legs were
shaking and my heart was racing. I made it out the driveway, around the
block, came back in front of the house and stopped a little too much to
the right, bike dropped. The neighbor ran over to help me pick it up and
put it away. I gave it a week and got back on again. This time I was
trembling so bad that I got right back off. I went into my house and I
cried and I cried and I cried. As of mid-June I have managed to get back
on. For awhile I rode in a cemetery by the house. Then, I ventured out
and found a frontage rode which allowed me to pick up my speed a little
more. Most recently, I took the bike out with my boyfriend and I stopped
with my front wheel turned, Gypsy down again and a broken mirror.
Another time, I went to make a right turn from a stop sign and Gypsy
died out, down again.
I still see myself riding the Rocky Mountains without a Lucy incident. I
still have some anxiety before I get on but once I get going I have
moments . . . moments where I feel that vibration under me and the wind
in my hair and then I look over and I see my shadow on the road – that’s
me, Lucy, riding a motorcycle.
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