Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A First at Nearly 61

Okay, I’m 60, closing rapidly on 61 and I just rode my first motorcycle. I don’t mean ride on the back. I did that on a Honda 50 in the very early ‘60’s.

I remember a friend and I riding tandem one time chasing rabbits which, at that time in the Intermountain part of Pacific Northwest were overpopulated in many areas to the detriment of horses (holes) crops, etc.

He drove as I fired a .22 rifle over his shoulder…I'm left handed but it took a bit for us to realize what he thought were bugs biting his left ear was the casings being ejected, oops, -:) as I fired resting the rifle on his shoulder.

I think we were probably 11 or 12 max at the time and mini-bikes were a brand new idea as were Honda's in the USA. And I don’t think our parents would have approved of the adaptive use for safaris, but this was in a time when kids got to explore and learn on their own much more than it seems most get to do today.

But the experience stuck in my memory bank and I’ve always been intrigued by motorcycles. So last weekend, I successfully completed a four day class at Shelton’s Harley-Davidson in Durham and got my DL endorsement today. So as soon as I decide on which bike to buy, I’m good to go.

Other than barely being able to get out of bed for a morning or two or turn over during the night without pain,I had a blast during the safety and training classes and learned a ton.

There were roughly two days from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. of class room instruction and two full 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. or so of riding instruction on a special range, essentially a large parking lot with corners and maneuvers outlined on the pavement. The instructors then place cones to outline about 17 different exercises, some with two parts.

At the end you had to pass a written exam of 50 questions and a riding evaluation involving four or five elements you had been learning.

Very challenging and much more substantive and useful than I had anticipated. It was exhausting, both to concentrate that long and hard but also because Saturday was hot and muggy and Sunday cool and rainy…and the instructors kept a good pace and were very clear during frequent individual coaching about what is and isn’t acceptable and why..

It felt great to learn something totally new.

Another good thing is that my decision on which bike to buy is now informed with more than just which one looks or feels best to me. One result of the school is you’re much more sensitive to the risks involved and not only how to avoid them but also how to manage what risks you’re willing to take.

I recommend it to anyone, even if you’re like one lady I heard about, who made it through her first day of actual riding and then walked away happy because she just had achieved her goal… “riding a motorcycle” was on her bucket list.

Oh, and by the way, I wasn’t the only person in the class of 8 who was over 40…so don’t worry about feeling awkward….I met some nice people and was very impressed at their determination to work through some setbacks.

Now about that airplane pilots license!


The Guthrie Family said...

Way to go Reyn! Why now I wonder? My new adventure is dutch oven cooking! It's less expensive than motor bike classes.

Lisa said...

Congrats!!! You'll find the local Harley community is a great one. They are often the most charitable and thoughtful people in the area!