diary of a rider: Starting the Journey

August 23, 2007 | Motorcycle

Wheee! We got a motorcycle. It's a yellow Ninja 250, which is supposed to be a great starter bike. Ooooh, and cellphones. Yay, life is getting fun. After the Hawaii trip, classes start again, which wow – I’m so excited! I love having something to do. The homework and papers and whatnot are so interesting. All I can say is thank heavens life is picking up. These past few weeks have been so boring.

February 12, 2008 | MSF sign-up

I’m feeling very mellow lately. Everything has a slight tinge of humor to it recently. It’s also been a little sunshinely lately – god, I love the sun. I love blue sky. My entire day seems to just lift when I see that sky-break in the monotony of endless horizon-grey. I’m a little jittery. Can’t stop moving – my fingers twitch, my leg jiggles, and my ankles snick. It’s all movement, and somehow it’s never enough. It’s as though my spirit and recent inertia are conspiring to explode in a crescendo of barely anticipated movement. In my mind, I see it: all bared teeth, whirling wind and gleeful cry. Spring is definitely in the air, and life is beginning again.

I signed up for a motorcycle endorsement course. It’s in March, during spring break. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited. I’ve been told the only way to really fail one of those things is to accidentally run over and kill the instructor, and I have more faith in my abilities than that. I’m fairly certain I’ll dump the bike a few times, but that’s probably expected. And the reward – oh, the reward! It’s been so long since I’ve been on a bike, and then only on the back. But I remember – I remember the way the wind sings a song of power, and you can smell the cold. I remember the liquid warmth of the sun on my shoulders, and the scent of leaves and mulch in the air. I remember the feel of leaning into a curve, and my hands gripping tight on a leather-clad back. I remember the weight of a helmet and still feeling freedom and escape. Gods, I can’t wait.

09 March 2008 | It's Just a Ride

So, in this thread on a riding forum I go to, they were talking about the songs they'd have on their 10 minute memorial dvd's. I thought about it, and decided on the list below. It's more than 10 minutes, but those are all songs that mean something to me, and that anyone who knows me can relate to me. So I'm thinking those are the ones I'd like on a memorial video of me.

  • Why Do All Good Things (Come to an End) -- Nelly Furtado
  • Never Too Late -- Three Days Grace
  • My Style -- Black Eyed Peas
  • Flowers on the Wall -- Eric Heatherly
  • Boulevard of Broken Dreams -- Green Day
  • Just a Ride -- Jem
  • Open Your Eyes -- Snow Patrol
  • String of Pearls -- Soul Asylum

I decided to post it here instead of in the forum because, well . . . even though I have a bike and the gear, I don't really ride much. Yet. I haven't taken the course yet. That's not for another two weeks. And until I ride regularly, it'd seem, I don't know . . . precipitous. Kind of poser-ish to be posting stuff like that.

March 28, 2008 | I am Epic Fail Girl

Remember how I was all excited about a motorcycle course I was about to take? Three days long, intensive class on How To Ride a Motorcycle? Yeah. Well. I got booted.

I did not crash the bike. I did not run over the instructor. I did not park the bike improperly, leave the kickstand up, or anything else. No, the instructor felt I didn’t have enough confidence and “strongly recommended” I leave.

Now, let me make a few things clear. This was the novice course, supposedly designed for the novice rider – someone who has never ridden a motorcycle before (that would be me). Yet most of the other students in the course – well, all but another girl (who was also “strongly recommended” due to lack of confidence to leave) had previous riding experience of some sort. Some had years on off-road dirt bikes, mopeds, or dual-sports, some just a few months or weeks on motorcycles. But all had previous experience.

Then there are the two actual novices, who are of course a little nervous. I was asked to leave because I had, apparently, problems with tracking my course – looking where I was going. I think they decided this because on one portion of the exercises, I swerved around one of the students and the instructor instead of sticking to the course.

In my defense, the instructor had stopped the student in the middle of the course to lecture him on his technique, and had earlier told us not to stop our exercises for any reason. What was I supposed to do, plow through them?

I am a little upset. When the instructor recommended I leave, he told me to practice on my bike to bring up my confidence. Of course, he also told me, I should get something other than my Ninja 250 to practice on. Like a Rebel or a Shadow -- because, to quote him, "If you're going to insist on riding, you shouldn't ride a sport bike. They're far too dangerous for girls."

Yay sexism! Plus, even if that wasn't the stupidest reasoning ever, where am I supposed to get that kind of money for a new bike? I already threw $125 away on this course that I won’t get back. And how, exactly, is getting kicked out of the course halfway through supposed to bring up my confidence? I thought I was doing fine right up until the point when he said, “Leave, or you’ll hurt yourself.” I mean, wow. Ouch. Okay, so that was a confidence-booster.

Looking back, I honestly can’t see where I had any problems that you wouldn’t expect out of a complete novice. Each practice was run through 6 times, and by the 3rd or 4th time, I felt I had it down pretty well. I was enjoying myself and felt pretty confident. Up until I was told to leave.

Anyway, now I’m studying the manual for my permit, and once this stupid rain stops, I’m going to start riding and practicing for my DOL test. When the instructor told me to leave, he (reluctantly) suggested I come back for a second try at the course. I got the feeling he was supposed to say that. I asked, “Is it pro-rated?”

“Uh, no. We tried, but no.”

“It’s awfully expensive to come back when I could just take the DOL,” I pointed out.

“But you get the benefit of instructor experience and encouragement,” he said, not even realizing the irony. I just nodded and left.

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