by Traci C.
October 6, 2003
While I know that everyone has experienced the newfound freedom and
exhilaration that comes with your first ride, second ride, third ride,
and so on. It just occurred to me that I should put mine on paper. After
all, it is the fourth best thing I’ve ever done (marrying my husband and
having two beautiful children being the top 3). And had I known the way
it would feel, I would have begun riding long before now.
It was at the encouragement of my husband and a few special friends I
met through a website my husband joined after buying his Volusia, that I
decided I would give it a try. I honestly thought I would never be able
to do it. I mean I had met other female riders and was really impressed
that they were riding. I just thought I was too short, too nervous, I
wasn’t coordinated enough, the bike was too big, etc. But I still signed
up for the MSF course and actually counted the days until it was time
for it to begin, the anticipation grew. I became excited, nervous,
happy, worried, scared, etc. It was time and, pass or fail; I would give
it my all.
I took the course in June 2003. On our first riding day, it rained and
rained and rained, but still we rode. After becoming familiar with the
bikes (I knew most of that as my husband had given me a crash (no pun
intended) course in the driveway prior to the class), we started them.
Now that might not seem so thrilling to some people but to a person who
had never done that and was actually able to rev the engine, it was, to
say the least, really cool!!! Then we walked the bikes back and forth in
the parking lot which was not as cool, but part of the learning process
I am sure. I think it was the “friction zone” we were working on by
doing that. It was during this exercise that the instructor would let
you know when it was time to actually pick your feet up and ride. I was
scared to death when it was my turn to actually ride across the parking
lot. I was given the signal, put my feet up, and was hooked. I went less
than a mile or half mile for that matter, but the feeling I had at the
moment my feet actually left the ground and rested on the pegs, was
unforgettable. I COULD do it and I was hooked.
So class went on for two days. We were taught so many things:
counter-steering, braking, swerving, cornering, etc. I had a blast, even
if I was in a parking lot going around in circles, being yelled at,
getting soaking wet one day, burning up the next. I aced the written
test and passed the riding test. I know I had a few points taken off
during the riding phase, but I passed. I was exhausted to say the least
after the long weekend. But I had a license to ride (er, actually, learn
to really ride) a motorcycle. I was proud of myself for doing it.
So, I had a license, I just needed a bike. We got a good deal on a 1986
Honda 450 Rebel. We looked at it on Monday after the class and picked it
up on Tuesday (Denny drove it home). So, now I had the license and the
bike. And my adventures begin…………!
I was off to the parking lot of the local high school to practice the
skills I learned in the MSF class. For two weeks I hit the parking lot.
My husband would ride the bike there for me and sit and watch and coach,
helping me every step of the way. If I did something wrong, he told me,
if I did something right, he told me. He was very patient and is still
very patient with me (as I am still learning every time I ride). I
practiced starting, stopping, turning, using the blinker, etc. My only
obstacle was the figure eight. I could not get it. So I practiced other
After two weeks, I was bored with the parking lot. I don’t think my
husband thought I was ready to be on the road yet, but I was. My first
ride on the street was 12 miles total. It was everything and more than I
ever expected. I had a little trouble maneuvering through a parking lot
(my husband brought up the figure eights), but I rode. It was a good
After that, I seemed to get a little better and a little braver with
each ride. My husband would ride with me, sometimes in front, sometimes
in back. I never tried to keep up if he was leading but he didn’t run
off and leave me either. He let me know if I needed to work on something
and he let me know when he thought I was doing a good job. He also
taught me things they didn’t go over in class like starting and stopping
on hills. I know he thinks I don’t pay attention to anything he says,
but I do.
As of October 6, 2003, I had ridden approximately 2,500 miles on the
Rebel. My husband and I have ridden whenever we can to wherever we can.
I have ridden the straight roads, the curvy roads, the mountain roads,
the two lanes, and the four lanes. I have ridden short distances (20
miles) and have ridden long distances (250 miles). I have ridden in four
different states (Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky). I
have ridden in the rain, wind, and heat. I have ridden with large groups
and small groups. I have ridden solo, but only once. And, I have gently
laid the bike down twice (no scrapes on the bike or me). I am aware that
this probably means nothing to a more experienced rider, but remember,
in June 2003, I had never ridden. So with all I have accomplished, it
means a whole lot to me.
I must say my house is not as clean as it used to be, the laundry does
pile up, I don’t cook as often, and I spend way more time in the garage
than I ever did. It is fun to talk about where we rode today and where
we’ll ride tomorrow or next week. I love the time I spend with my
husband on our rides. Our girls don’t seem to mind us riding most of the
time. Eventually they will go with us, when I am ready to add the extra
passenger. But until then, they enjoy hanging out in the garage with us.
Learning to ride has truly changed my life. The open road and wind in
your face is great therapy. And where else can you find therapy this
cheap (100 miles of it for $1.32)!!! I am dreading the shorter, colder
days because it means less riding time. I still get nervous sometimes, I
still have a lot to learn, and I still need to master those figure
eights. The nervousness has eased since I first started riding. I am
sure I will never stop learning, and eventually I will do the figure
eights (I hope). I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom I have on my bike
and look forward to many more miles in the future.
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