Riding is SUCH an adventure. It’s both a challenge, and an escape all at once. But truthfully, when you first start, it’s mostly just a challenge…
Especially when you don’t even know how to start the machine.
18 years of two-up riding, and I stupidly never bothered to learn how to myself. Ladies, I REALLY don’t recommend this. Just learn. Cause “what if?” Even in two-up, may be in the position of needing to move the machine at some point. Seriously. No one wants to think about it, but just the same…Do it.
My Love surprised me with my first bike when I came home from work one day late January of last year. He had found a little Honda Night Hawk 250, spent hours secretly scrubbing, polishing, and getting it cleaned it up, replacing some important parts, and even rattle-can painted it for me.
It was a bit moody in the clutch, and struggled to make it up big hills unless I was open throttled and at full speed. I had to work way too hard to get ahold of the brake. The Night Hawk was NOT made for extra-small handed ladies, and the levers are fixed so there’s no way to adjust that…But all in all, it was a fantastic starter bike. I could comfortably flat foot it, which was important for my beginner’s confidence, and I knew I wouldn’t die if I sneezed. Eventually I even mastered the Fred Flintstone’s walk required to make it up a major hill, but truly I was thrilled to be on my own.
My solo riding adventures started with the MSF class put on by our Harley shop. I learned to ride, weave, zig and zag, box turn, and such all in what seemed like the shortest time span ever. And all on a Harley. It was EXTREMELY stressful. My instructors were super knowledgable and mostly patient, but going from zero mechanical knowledge to passing all the skills tests in two range days was a huge challenge for me.
My biggest issue day one starting off was clutch. The friction zone was a major struggle for me the first day. I killed it more than I actually ran it, I think. Clutch in, ignition, clutch out/gas on, lurch, CHUNK.
“Friction zone, friction zone…bikes don’t stall in the friction zone.” (singsonged to me by my ever supportive instructors…)
And then I got hit from behind. I was completing a close off-set cone weave, full stop, left turn drill. I had just stopped when I heard this shrill whine that made me think Hmmmm. Turned to look, and sure enough from the opposite corner of the range one of my classmates had popped the clutch and was zooming straight at me. Reality slowed as I slow motion processed what to do: if I try to move out of his way, I’m either gonna chunk the clutch and kill it, or zoom straight into the dumpster in front of me, cause beginner LEFT HAND TURN…Just sayin…and he was clicking straight at me.
So I jumped off like a startled bird taking flight. Dropped that bike like it was hot and tried to get my booty out of the way. He hit my bike just as I went airborne, and spun my bike into my leg, bruising me up pretty good, but mostly just totally jacked the back of my bike up. He flew by my and slid 10 feet on his face. (Thank God for full face gear.) We were both shaken up but neither seriously hurt. They told me later it looked like I ballet leapt off the bike and pirouetted out of the way. Cause Diva does what Diva does, apparently…
My instructor grabbed my helmet, and checked me over. Seeing no major damage, they got me back on a new bike pretty quick, and had me moving again before fear really set in.
But still…Lurch. Chunk. EVERY. TIME.
A 5am garage lesson with my hunky hubby the next morning helped me with the friction zone tremendously, and day two was more focused on realizing neutral was not a real gear. I idle like a PRO. Shift up? Heck to the no. I’m quite content at 1st and 2nd gear, thank you very much. She revs real purty there, don’t you think?
I don’t think anyone (including me) really thought I’d pass that class, but I stubbornly knuckled down, and pass I did. With 3 points to spare… 😉 I left that class feeling like I’d just won the lottery. 40 years old and finally had the ability to take the exam for my M class addition. Exciting! But I think Micah was more excited than I was. He asked me regularly if I’d had a chance to go take the written yet. A week later I was certified and ready to rock the road, albeit REALLY SLOW.
My first ride on the Night Hawk was terrifying and liberating. Mostly terrifying. I’m an overly cautious control freak, what can I say? It took me a full minute to wobble lurch my way through a huge figure eight in a parking lot near me.
But I made it. I was officially a rider. Now I’m riding to work and church, as well as around with my Love, just because I can.
Rock what you got, and leave the rest to Him. ❤