Motorcycle Monday: Why I decided to ride my own


(Picture from Google Images)

I’m going to take you back a few decades. My first introduction to a motorcycle came from my dad. Back in the mid 70’s, my dad had purchased a BMW and put a side car on it. I believe that is how he justified it as a family vehicle to my mom.

My most vivid memory of the bike was when my dad took me to school in it. I remember that the inside of the sidecar had a bar in it, I used to grip the bar and pretend that I was steering the bike. Vroom, vroom, turn to the left, turn to the right, it was an exhilarating feeling. It was also a good thing that my dad did not drive the bike like my pretend steering.

When my father pulled up to the school, it seemed like every kid turned and looked. They all ran up to the bike “wow, that’s cool” they chimed time after time. I earned some serious cool points and had all the boys following me for days. That is probably the last time I earned cool points and had boys following me around. Unfortunately a drunk driver hit the bike while my dad was driving it and totaled the bike. My dad was fine but he never replaced the bike.

I didn’t have much to do with bikes after that; a couple of outings on mini bikes and at 18, I drove a bike down our quarter mile stretch and that’s it. I joined the military and my life went on, without another thought of a motorcycle.

Then one day, as a divorced single parent I met a guy, I liked him and we started dating. He had a 1999 Harley Davidson Fat Boy. I remember my first ride with him, I was wearing jeans and a winter coat and a helmet he had just bought me; if I didn’t have newbie written all over me, I don’t know who did. The ride through the Eifel region in Germany was exhilarating and it brought back those sidecar memories with my dad. I couldn’t wait to ride with him again.

Bird rode with an amazing bunch of people; probably the best people I’ve ever met in my life. Riding with them was a blast; I never had a bad time. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Bird and I didn’t last, and with his departure, away went the Fat Boy rides also.

After our separation, I would hear a motorcycle buzz by and my heart would skip a beat, I would yearn to get on a bike and feel the wind in my face, listen to the rumble of the mufflers and explore the world on an open road. The camaraderie that goes with riding in a group was also gone, no more having a few beers after the ride and talking about the adventure. It was a sad time for me, not so much because the relationship was dissolved; it was because I wasn’t out there riding.

Then there it was, the ‘aha’ moment, I knew what I needed to do. I made a promise to myself that I would learn to ride my own and never have to wait for a guy to give me ride. However, learning to ride my own was going to have to wait till I returned to the states, I was determined; I would wait and learn and then ride my heart out.

Fortunately, in the mean time, McGyver wooed me and for the next two years I rode two up with him. Not only that, but I got to ride with the same group of friends that Bird and I had rode with (a little weird but it was all good). I told McGyver of my desire to ride my own, he encouraged me. He also took every chance he could to prepare me.

McGyver coached me about riding, pointing out what riders were doing right and what they were doing wrong. He explained to me how to pack a bike and what to pack. He educated me about the parts and the care of a motorcycle. I was involved with every part of riding, except the driving part. But I knew that was just a matter of time.

Then the time finally came, a move back to the States. As sad as I was to leave Europe, I was excited to learn to ride my own. My first order of business was to sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginner course; the local classes were full, but I was not to be deterred. I had waited two years to learn to ride. Instead, I signed up for the course offered at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It was a 45 minute drive each way for 3 days, but that was nothing compared to waiting for two years to ride my own.

I took the course and did well, except for the slow small turns. A crazy eight inside a box, are you kidding me? I never did master it; ironically I still have problems with it. Fortunately in the state of Illinois, if you passed the MSF course, you just had to bring your card in and your license would be endorsed. Whew, no second test needed.

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2 Responses to Motorcycle Monday: Why I decided to ride my own

  1. dave hortin/jodus's dad April 26, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    A nice story. I have always wanted a Harley, still do. I had a Honda 350 for a high school graduation gift (I paid for about 70% of it), and rode the hell out of it for 6-7 years, two wrecks with passengers, and two rebuilds later. I’m lucky to be alive, one wreck was my fault, the other was not. But the timing still isn’t right yet to make that big purchase ( maybe never will be ), but the love and desire to own one will never die…

  2. Denise April 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    Enjoyed your story. It’s similar to mine. My dad always had Harleys and Triumphs when I was growing up. There were bikers always around the house and I started riding on the back at a pretty young age. I had boyfriends with bikes, married a guy with a bike, divorced and am now dating a guy with a bike. Just can’t help it…it’s in my blood. Problem is, I’m always at someone else’s mercy…if they want to ride, I get to ride. There have been a couple of events that I wanted to go to but couldn’t because he wasn’t into it. So, I finally decided it’s my time. My daughter is now 20 years old and it’s time for me to do something for me. So I took the Riding Course, got my endorsement, and immediately bought a Sportster. (I thought this was a good entry level bike. Looking back, I wish I had bought what I really wanted…a softail springer. Someday I’ll upgrade). It’s such an awesome feeling to have my own ride. Now my hope is that eventually I’ll get that comfort level I need to jump on anytime and go anywhere I want to go. Hopefully that comes sooner than later.