Saturday, September 8, 2012

Stat your engines!

Today was the first day of my future life as a biker mama.   Now that we are a one and a half car family I need to secure a motorcycle license to legally operate our bright blue scooter.  To accomplish this I signed up for a course through Safe Ride.

The classroom portion of this was held at Two Brothers Honda in Onalaska WI and led by a charming gentleman who has taught this course many times, so I was in good hands.

As I looked around the room and noticed all the other “kids” in my class wearing their Harley gear and with beards, bandanas and tough looking macho expressions I was feeling a bit out of place.  For some reason I felt like I should pull my hair up into a bun, don an apron and serve them milk and cookies.

One of my favorite moments in the classroom was when the cute little girl next to me was relating some experience she had “when she was much younger” and I wanted badly to ask what grade that had been in.  Come on, I mean I have jeans older than some of these kids.  Plus I was the only one wanting to ride a scooter.  My nickname thus became “Scooter” for the rest of the day.  I kind of liked that.

Before I knew it that part was done and we had time to grab some quick lunch and get to the church parking lot for the riding portion.  There were many assorted sizes and types of motorcycles to pick from and I immediately claimed the smallest and friendliest looking one of the bunch.  Oh, I had NO idea what I was in for.

During the part of this course I like to call “getting to know you…getting to know all about you…” I was warned by the instructor that this particular bike does not like to go back into neutral once it’s running. Oh goody!  But once I got used to this, it wasn’t too bad…until that fateful moment.

Those that know me understand that I’m somewhat stubborn.  Some would say bull-headed, but I like to think of it as persistent.  I can also be a tad competitive, especially when these young whippersnappers are eyeing me up as being eligible for the nursing home.  So I attempted to do what no one had been able to do before, slip that puppy back into neutral while running.

Well, apparently this was just too much for the bike to handle and it expressed its dismay by the shifting lever doing a half-gainer and landing on the concrete.  Oh oh.  I sure hope this isn’t one of those “you break it you buy it” kind of things.

I calmly motioned to the instructor…okay… okay….I waved my hands over my head wildly and kept pointing to the ground.  He walked over, took a look at it, tried to put it back on and watched it drop again to the ground.  Yup.  I killed it.  So, we got an impromptu break and while he wheeled the dead bike away I ran for the porta-potty.  There’s nothing like being a bike killer to make you have to go.

He returned with a large thing with big tires that looked more like a cross country dirt bike to me, but what do I know.  He did caution me that it might be a little high for me.  No kidding.  Please remember, I’m 61 years young and vertically impaired topping out at 5’3”.  But I was able to mount the bike and maintain an upright position with the use of my toes.

Had I ever wanted to incorporate ballet into biking, I would have to say I’d succeeded and continued the rest of the day “en pointe”.  It was also quite wide and I was having flashbacks of when I used to own a horse.  Surely this experience will make me far more limber and graceful as well as an experienced bike rider….should I survive the class.  The rest of the class went fairly well.  I managed not to fall off or hurt anyone else during the process.  By the end of the day I was able to actually say I knew how to ride a motorcycle….not pretty, but functionally.

Our last exercise was to start out from a stopped position and get up to 15 – 20 mph in a very short distance and then slam on the brakes (both of them) while clutching and downshifting….without falling over.  I’m thinking it might be easier just to run into the back of the car ahead of me.  But soon I was able to do this.  Thank goodness the rain has holding off.  I really didn’t want to try this while riding in the rain on wet pavement….which I was assured we would do.  They ride rain or shine.

Between each of the exercises we would dismount and remount.  So I figured I was really getting my money’s worth what with the ballet lessons, stretching exercise and strengthening of my thighs.  When it was time to go home I had to actually grab my left leg with my hands to assist it into the car.  Thank goodness I own an automatic and didn’t have to shift.

On the way home I stopped at Festival Foods to grab some rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes because I sure as heck don’t have any energy left to cook anything.  It was while in the store that the heavens opened up and the rain came pouring down.  They have a wonderful policy at this store where the workers grab umbrellas and escort you out to the car.  I was such a frightful mess with sweaty clothes and helmet hair that I just said no thanks and entered the deluge.  It felt kind of good actually.

So now I’m back safely in the confines of my RV and for the first time really miss my old hot tub at the Big House.  My right foot has a cramp in it and my fingers are getting tired, so that is the end of this blog.  I still have another full day of fun packed adventure tomorrow.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll let me jump over some ramps or something.

Long Live the Achy Queen


  1. I'm totally bumming. I was in Festival during the rain storm. I'm sorry I didn't see you. - Steve Spilde

  2. Well, you sure made my cup of coffee so much more enjoyable with your delightful story.

    My hat's off to you lady!!! I wish I had done this many years ago when I had my little motorcycle. Instead, I foolishly let a "friend" teach me how to ride my bike. After having five accidents (one really bad one) during the first 15 miles on this new little bike, I gave the bike away to the first taker. I really do need three wheels under me before I can take off comfortably for a bike ride.

    Gosh, another lesson and you'll riding with the best of them. Keep up the good work, hugs, Edna B.