Since I was young, the sound of a motorcycle has always given me butterflies of excitement! I still remember when I was about 17 going to a Fourth of July festival where motorcycles circled the grounds. The distant low, rumble of them coming then the overwhelming sound and sight of them once they got to us was one of the most memorable things from that summer.
Wanting to be part of the world of motorcycling, I stepped WAY outside my comfort zone to take the basic rider safety course which follows the curriculum set by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Though I have been fascinated by bikes for most of my life, I am the ultimate beginner having never even cranked up a motorbike before Saturday morning!
I was nervous and excited as we walked silently out to the range. I was ready to go – though also a bit apprehensive due to imagining myself flying over the handlebars or tipping the bike over with a leg trapped under. Plenty of people I know have at least one horror story about bike accidents. Certainly, it is a dangerous pursuit but also one gives a sense of freedom like few others. There is also an inherent notion of rebellion in riding a motorcycle which appeals to my wilder side.
It’s important to note here that I am not the most coordinated or graceful person. Learning physical activities is typically difficult for me even when I understand conceptually. Zumba, kickboxing, BodyPump, fast-moving yoga – I’m always at least 4 steps behind! One reason running appealed to me was because it is one foot in front of the other, consistently for a set period of time or distance – no quick changes or complex moves that involve your feet doing one thing, hands another, and hips yet a different one. I used to kickbox regularly and I LOVED it!! I made wonderful friends plus relished the feel of punching a bag and the sore, tired feeling at the end of a tough workout. It took me a lot of practice before I felt comfortable and could get through a sequence without screwing up but I did it with time and patience.
Approaching with caution, I hopped on my assigned bike. As we proceeded through the class, the exercises got gradually more complex and challenging. I struggled to get through the slow, tight maneuvers such as weaving between cones and doing a figure eight. The friction zone often evaded me with my letting go or pulling in too much at the wrong times (yes, I stalled more than once). Rolling on and off the throttle often got confused. And don’t even get me started on the notion of counter-steering!
I tried hard and listened to my instructors, both of whom were excellent. At the end of the day, I did not pass the riding evaluation. A combination of nerves and the need for additional practice did me in. Truthfully, I’m okay with it and knew ahead of time that with my non-physical/kinetic learning style, I needed more time on a motorcycle before I could even fathom passing the evaluation. The instructor who told me I didn’t pass gave me clear and helpful feedback then welcomed me to come back to the class, feeling confident that with more practice, I would indeed get it.
The weekend was not a bust because I learned a lot, had fun, met some nice people, and got in a great work-out (bikes are heavy!). I’m going to stick with it because I am determined to figure out this whole motorcycle riding thing. It is just going to take me more effort and time before I can truly call myself a Motorcycle Mama!