Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning to ride

I am a geek. And I ride a motorcycle. Kind of.

My fiance took a motorcycle class and got his license about 5 years before he met me. After that, he never bought or rode a motorcycle. About a year ago, he decided he wanted to ride again. He still had the license, but didn't trust himself to ride without re-taking the class. Off-hand, he asked me if I wanted to take it with him. In a fit of spontaneity, I agreed, surprising both of us.

We took the class in May of 2008. It was a one-weekend class, about 10 hours each day, classroom and practical. The classroom stuff was easy, as I'd spent the last month reading "Motorcycles for Dummies" and the class textbook. Getting on that motorcycle for the first time though...that was one of the scariest things I've ever done.

The class provides motorcycles, and of course I had to use the one with the smallest engine and seat height. I was just a bit shorter than the other two ladies in the class (3 girls vs. 9 guys, represent!) and needed the itty bitty 125cc bike. We started out, and I immediately kept stalling because I was shifting up into second instead of down into first from neutral. I've never learned standard, so this was a weird concept to me. Once the instructor helped me get that sorted out, I felt a little better, but every few minutes I was screwing something up. I burst into tears at least three or four times each day. I'm sure the instructor thought I was a lost cause. Simon kept encouraging me, while assuring me he would not think any less of me if I withdrew. I was determined to finish.

At the end of the second day, we took our road test. I think Simon was more nervous for me than I was. The way it works is you gain points for every mistake you make. Once you hit 21 points, you fail. Everyone rode the test course, then they took us aside one by one to let us know our scores. Simon's result didn't matter, as he already had his license, and he passed with an amazing 4. He said he tried to peek at my score while he was in there and was 99% sure I passed, which greatly relieved me. I took my turn, and lo and behold I got a 13! I aced the figure-8 and swerve, lost points on the turns and emergency stop. Good enough for me!

One girl and one guy failed, and I felt bad for them. But nothing could dampen the elation I felt at actually earning my motorcycle license! I bought myself a 1985 Honda Rebel 250 for $1,000 within the month, and tried to go out on the roads with Simon. He bought a 2004 Honda Shadow 750 and rode it to work frequently. More and more, I found myself freaking out and stalling in traffic. I found excuses not to ride, and discovered the joy of riding on the back of Simon's bike.

Eventually we decided my ancient bike might be the problem, so I sold it for $600 and bought a 2002 Hyosung GV250 for $3,000 with only about 100 miles on it. I had it on lay-away all winter, and brought it out eagerly this spring. Simon watched as I geared up and prepared to take a spin around the parking lot to get used to it again. I sat down...and immediately burst into tears because I didn't remember a single thing. He calmed me down and talked me through the basics again, and I managed to get it around the lot a few times. I practiced once more the next week, and haven't been on it since.

I'm proud of myself for doing it, and I want to keep the bike just in case I change my mind, but it looks like I'm happiest as a passenger. I just can't get over how many things you have to do at the same time on a bike, and doing so in traffic is just a little more than I can handle. We both just geeked out our bikes with vanity plates (AFK and PWN) and I'd love to get back up on it someday. But for now...I'm just the bitch on the back. ;)

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