The one question that people ask me most about learning to ride a motorcycle is ‘Were you scared/nervous?’ Yes and yes. I knew how to drive a standard shift in a car, but in my mind it would be a horrific experience that the left side of my body would reject.
I would end up thrown onto the pavement, attempting to hide my embarrassment with jokes as usual. There was another female in our class so I didn’t feel TOO out of my element. I have never been one of those girls who shied away from trying something just because it wasn’t a typical female activity. You could say I was a bit of a Tom boy, with my experiences riding pigs, you get the picture. The one thing beside brute determination that I DID lack though, is confidence. Things had happened to me in life that left me somewhat lacking in the self-esteem department, but that’s an entire book in itself so we will leave that here.
The first part of the class was general motorcycle safety – book style. We took turns introducing ourselves and got on with it. We went over projected slides with our two instructors that showed us the gear we should wear, how to look ahead and into where you are going, how to look for a bail out spot in case things went awry, stuff like that. Following this we had a written exam that allowed them to see how well we had paid attention. We all passed so we were dismissed from the classroom so that we could drive to the training course a few miles from there.
Upon arrival there was a class finishing up ahead of us so we got to watch what they were doing for a moment. The course was laid out in a typical drivers education sized asphalt pad at a local high school. I don’t know if you have ever been in one of those classes, but I myself have an extremely difficult time separating cones and ground paint into drive-able lanes. I watched and continued to chant my mantra ‘you can do this’ to myself nonstop.
Once we were called onto the class area, they wasted no time warming us up to the idea we were about to ride motorcycles. We were led to rows of Bikes and told to ‘pick one’. They had names on their tags and would be our bikes for the extent of the 2 day training. I chose a midnight blue Kawasaki 250 named “Sholbob’. We were shown how to stand beside the bikes first off closely followed by how to properly place ourselves onto them. After we were all seated we went over the different switches, toggles and levers that each contained. They identified brake pedals and throttles, what would make you stop and what would make you go. Still nervous I knew we were running low on sitting still time, I was in a class to learn to RIDE after all.
The moment to get to the actual riding part of the class was finally upon us. But first, to my joyous surprise, the instructors introduced us novices to a novel idea called clutch friction. This is the ‘grab’ that the clutch being released has on the belt that makes the wheels on a motorcycle turn, no touching of the throttle required. Now – it will only take you so fast in first gear, but at that time, it was perfect for me. I had no desire to shift into anything. So we sailed around the empty, cone-less course getting used to riding those two wheels in first gear. Now THAT was fun. I really felt like I had accomplished something there!
I had successfully ridden a motorcycle. I know I was only driving in a small oval at 15 Miles per hour…..but I was doing it. Needless to say that first exercise left me starving for more.
*Next up – Endorsement class day two…..will she pass?