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SCARED BUT LOVING IT

by Flamin' Rose

I started riding dirt bikes when I was six years old and have ridden them on and off (mostly off) for the past 31 years. In the spring of 2003 my husband got the bug, after not riding for many years, he bought a 1976 Harley Davidson Sportster. Never having ridden a street bike I was scared that he would get hurt, but I couldnít tell him no! A few months after buying his bike the unthinkable happened, a fuel line broke, as it hit the hot motor and pipes, the bike burst into flames. He pulled the bike down from 70mph and got off, stepped away and watched it burn. Other than a few minor burns on his hands he was fine but very disappointed. I am very thankful that he had taken the motorcycle safety course; I believe that this education helped him not panic and that is what brought him thru this incident unharmed. Shortly after what I call the inferno incident, we bought him a 2003 Sportster 1200S. I wanted to spend time with him while he enjoyed riding, but did not want to be a back seat rider. I started looking at old convertible hot rods to use as a Harley chaser. Then I saw it, a Harley Davidson Trike, I knew I could ride one as my reason for not wanting a bike was the stability. I was very scared of the lean you get when taking corners, after all asphalt is very hard! I started researching trikes and quickly found out that my budget would not allow this option. So here I was back at the beginning, what to do? I decided that I should at least take the rider safety course, with this decision made, I started to look at bikes. I really liked the look of the Heritage Softail, all those classic lines. I knew that the Sportster was not an option, as sitting on my husbandís bike was very uncomfortable, I got the feeling that I would kill myself. So I took the hundred plus mile trip to the nearest Harley store just to sit on the bikes. The Heritage intimidated me, although I could sit flat footed it seemed very top heavy. The next ride I sat on was a Dyna Low Rider, what a feeling, my heart pounded and my adrenaline was pumping, I was so excited. I could ride this bike; it felt as though it had been built just for me, what a rush. I headed home and on the way had to stop off at hubbyís place of work to tell him that I found my bike, I told him that when I sat on it I had the feeling of being home.

I took the safety class the end of September 2003 and pasted the written portion with a 100, but had a few points taken off the riding portion for some problems with the cone weave. In the end I had my endorsement and more confidence in myself. I never did get my Low Rider, but I do have a 2002 Harley Softail Standard. I bought it from a friend who was upgrading, the bike had a lot of work done to it, is in excellent shape and I got a steal on it. Although I donít feel as at home on the Softail as the Low Rider, I love my bike. The first ride I took was through a local cemetery, this was a good way to start as the road through the cemetery is nicely paved and full of tight corners, then I rode around the small town that I live in. After these accomplishments I took to riding around our valley. Every ride went well and each time I went out I have gained more confidence, of course I did lay my bike down once, quickly learning that the front wheel does need to be straight when coming to a stop. Thankfully there was no damage to myself or my bike, just my pride. A lesson well learned and not soon forgotten. It is true that the roads that you have driven your entire life look a whole lot different on a bike and I have found that wind coming off of trucks can be very intimidating, nothing like riding a dirt bike. By the end of November it was time to put my friend away, as I live in a snow zone, but as spring approaches I have an itch to put on my leathers and go for a ride. I still have a bunch to learn and experience, although I have no problem riding the speed limit, I still want to fight the lean in the corners. I have found out that many of the corners do not require big lean angles to get through, of course taking the corners at the posted speed has a lot to do with how much lean is required. My husband is great about letting me ride my ride, although he likes to get out and stretch his legs, he enjoys our rides together and has no problem following my lead. We are planning a trip to Sturgis in August with a group of friends, I am nervous about the trip because it is approximately 1200 miles one way and our friends like to ride fast. They assure me that I will be ready and my hubby says that we will still ride my ride and get there in my time. So I will spend the time until August working on my comfort level in preparation for the 2400 mile round trip.

I believe that the rider safety course should be mandatory, but since itís not, all new riders should take the course. It teaches the fundamental skills required to ride and gives you a great sense of accomplishment. The only other advice I would give is to look for the bike that fits you, no matter of the make or model. There is a bike out there that will feel like you are home; you just need to sit on them all until you find that fit. Although I ended up with a different bike and it is working out for me I believe that I would reach my comfort zone quicker on a bike that felt like an extension of myself.

Keep the rubber side down and ride your own ride.

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From Flamin' Rose: "I am a 37 year old mother who just got my first street bike, a 2002 Softail Standard. Still learning but having a blast doing it."

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