Monday, November 29, 2010

Motorcycle Mayhem

I love motorcycles.  It's a lot of fun riding around on one, especially when the weather is particularly nice.  I have several friends that ride, my husband rides, and both my parents ride.  And I ride too.  On the back.  Deep down inside, the Wild Child in me wants to be brave and ride too, but the real me is just such a chicken.  It's not like learning to ride a motorcycle is something you can take in baby steps.  You have to learn how to balance, how to turn by leaning and not actually turning the handlebars, and then there is the whole clutch/gears thing going on too.  Oh, and of course remembering not to sear the skin off your leg by accidentally touching the pipes.

I was nervous even when learning how to drive a car.  I would barely creep along the road and was still an anxious wreck, knowing that at any minute some other car, person, animal or thing was going to jump out in front of me and I wouldn't be able to stop.  Or I'd lose control of the car while racing down the road at a blistering 10 MPH and crash into a building/ditch/tree and we'd all die in a massive, flaming ball of death.

Thankfully once I got comfortable in the car that phase didn't last long.  But even knowing that, the thought of trying to learn to ride (drive?) a motorcycle still freaks me out.  At least in the car I didn't have to worry about whether or not I'd fall over and crush my legs under the weight of the bike, or that I'd skid out when trying to make that tricky right hand turn.  I have enough trouble with balance while standing on my own two feet, or with walking around a corner and not hitting my arm or shoulder on the door frame.  (Stupid things keep moving on me, I swear it!)

But this week, the day before Thanksgiving, my husband decided I was going to learn.  Or at least try to learn.  So when we got to my parents' house we borrowed my mom's bike and my husband attempted to teach me how to ride a motorcycle.  I have to admit I did better than I thought I would, but it was still pretty terrifying despite the fact that I never went over 12 MPH and would not turn.  When we got to the end of my parents' street my husband would take over and turn the bike back around so I could try again on the straight section.  He's not nearly as timid as I am of course, so after a few runs with me not falling over or causing anything to burst into flames he decided I was ready to try a turn.

I'm sure you've already guessed by now that this didn't go well.  For one thing, I wasn't comfortable enough yet to get up to a high enough speed to turn efficiently.  And while I know you are supposed to lean to turn, I'm so scared of falling over that my body just automatically leans the opposite direction out of pure self-preservation.  So here we are creeping down the road and the closer we get to the turn, the more panicked I get.  So much so that when I decide to abort (if I could have abandoned ship entirely without killing myself or my mom's bike, I probably would have), my brain function had shut down enough that I could barely remember how to stop.  Thank goodness the clutch slows down the bike significantly - otherwise my mom's bike would probably be decorating the neighbor's living room right about now.  It slowed the bike down sufficiently that I could calm down enough to remember how to brake. At this point I was so overwhelmed by everything that I started to cry.  No one will ever accuse me of being brave or courageous.  Daredevil, I am not.

But despite the dramatics, it really was fun, and I was pretty proud of myself for the part I WAS able to do!  I'm certainly willing to keep trying.  By this time next year, I may even be the proud owner of a Motorcycle Driver's License! Anything can happen, right?


  1. An uncle was a motorcycle cop for many years. He said that the minute you stop being afraid of the bike, it will kill you. It had happened to several of his fellow officers. So please continue being very afraid. ;-) That said, at least you gave it a try. But first invest in lots of kevlar and an adamantium skeleton.

  2. Marvin - That sounds like good advice from your uncle! And I'm proud to say I NEVER get on a motorcycle without a helmet. I could probably swing the Kevlar, but I might have some trouble with the whole skeleton thing.