The Joys of Learning to Ride - Part 1
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Joys of Learning to Ride - Part 1

The Greek Gorgon Medusa.
The Greek Gorgon Medusa.

Never ride a motorcycle. It's what my dad always told me. I'm not sure if he was trying to keep me away from dating rebellious, leather wearing bad boys or if his own experiences made him afraid of losing his only daughter to a motorcycle vs. car fight. Even when I got my first car he made sure it had the most amount of metal surrounding me. "It's not you hitting someone else that I worry about, it's everyone else on the road hitting you," he would say. This was usually then followed by some horrific story about motorcycle accidents and how you could be the best rider in the world and still get hit by some oblivious car driver. So I spent the first twenty-something years of my life avoiding motorcycles as if avoiding the Greek Gorgon Medusa. I could have sworn that if I looked at a bike I would certainly turn to stone.

Then somehow I found myself on the back of a friend's Harley-Davidson. I'm not sure how it happened. The whole incident was a blur. The only thing I really remember was my teeth chattering uncontrollably though I'm not sure if it was because of the freezing air whipping across my face or the mixture of sheer terror and excitement. All I could think of was what would happen if I slid right off the back. The ride was over in an instant but seemed to last a lifetime and I was both relieved and disappointed as I peeled my practically useless legs off the bike. I had done it. I had overcome my fear of motorcycles and ridden one. This amazing realization was enough to curb my curiosity of bikes for almost a year. I was always a fan of the motto "quit while you're ahead." I had survived one motorcycle ride, why push it?

To any motorcycle rider, that is by far one of the most ludicrous questions. There are an endless amount of reasons to push it. And once again my curiosity is peaked. I'm sure my father will kill me, but I've decided that it's time for me to learn how to ride. I don't want to just sit on the back of a friend's bike, but be in control of my own. I want to feel why so many people take the chance every day.

This only poses one major problem: where the heck does a person start when learning how to ride? I'm sure there are people out there who were on a bike before they even got their driver's license and whose fathers helped them build a bike from scratch when they were a kid; the kind of people who were born to ride and never needed to start from square one. I'm definitely not one of those people. In fact, I didn't learn how to ride a bicycle until I was nine. I try to blame being raised during the rollerblading fad but the truth is, I'm a puss when it comes to two wheels. And it's not like I could ask my father for some kind of motorcycle guidance, not unless I would like to be written out of the family will.

So square one: what kind of bike do I want to ride? With so many different makes, models and styles, I'm swimming in a sea of options. And when I ask my friends for advice I either get "dude, you're insane" or "you would look cute on a scooter!" But if I'm going to do this, I want to do it right. Go big or go home. Well maybe not too big� I can't really see myself on a chromed out chopper. Do I even want to buy a bike? With bills and student loans it's not exactly like I have a whole lot of liquid income to just play around with. But then how do I learn to ride without a bike? Borrow a friend's? Do I want to take lessons? Am I going to fall over?

I mean really� learning how to drive a car was never this complicated. It seems like everyone I ask thinks there's a different way to best start the process. And the internet only offers more doubt and confusion. I'm sure I'm going to make a ton of mistakes but everyone has to start somewhere and I'm sure I'm not going to make any mistakes that have never been made before. About the only thing I know is that I really just don't want to fall over.

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      Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:29:19 AM
      Karrie said:

I was very much in your shoes. My husband a motorcycle for years and when I decided to get off the back and do it on my own it was a different experience. He tried to teach me himself which really didn't work(haveing a barking husband in your ear just makes you really want to qui!). I did in fact dump the bike. After that I was scared. At that point I took a MSF safety course sponsored by our local ABATE. That was the best thing that I had ever done! They were so helpful and to see people there just like me who knew nothing about riding. Also start small on size. We learned on 125cc's. I had a 400 at home and I have been riding for 3 years and am up to a Honda Shadow 600cc's. It is the best thing I did. I now know what it is like to feel the freedom and openess of just me and my bike!


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 1:10:20 PM
      Linda said:

Started at 44 yrs old. Take professional lessons. Always wear every safety gear. 99.99% bikers are professionals. If you want to join a group, the best ones are those who do police-escorted charity(you don't even have to join a group, I go as an independent) runs. "You never see a motorcycle in front a psychologist's office" I love it! It is so relaxing. It's like anything else, you just have to ride defensively.


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 1:22:05 PM
      Sarah said:

Start with taking Motorcycle Safety Class. Then you'll know if you are serious about this or not, and you'll know the basics of how to ride safely. While you're at it, start saving a bunch of money. Get back to us after that and we'll let you know the next step.


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 2:25:11 PM
      Ron said:

I faced the same thing, learning to ride from scratch at age 32. Here's what you do. Start at the MSF: Find a local MSF course. Buy a helmet (you can write 2 more articles on that alone.) Buy gloves. Buy boots. Take the course. Read the book. Watch the videos. And then learn to ride. Now you have experience, and you can start making educated decisions. What appeals to you about riding? What kind of posture do you think you feel comfortable with? Why do you want to ride? And where do you want to ride to? You'll find your way amongst the answers.


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 3:46:40 PM
      Concerned FATHER said:

Something to consider is a Can Am 3 wheeler, bad ass bike and will still allow you to be a practical target for the road knuckle heads!


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 4:31:48 PM
      Curt said:

I would suggest you take a motorcycle safety course they will teach you all the basics about riding a bike and and they have bikes for you to train on in most cases. Most people that attend these course whether they are !st time riders or seasoned riders say they benefited by attending the course and you'll most likely get a discount on your insurance good luck you'll enjoy it if you take the option.


      Tuesday, April 19, 2011 5:25:39 PM
      Renee said:

Though my experience may have been different from yours, I can certainly understand your fears. My father had me on the front of his bike when I was old enough to hold on. This only lasted a short time though, and then he decided to be a responsible father and sold his bike. But that didn't stop my grandparents from buying my cousins and I a 50cc dirtbike to rip around on as kids. Although I was only about 7 or 8 when I was riding that thing, I still remember how happy I was ripping around on that little honda. Then I hit high school, and my love for bad boys, led me to boys with bikes. I went on a lot of rides on the back. The exact moment I knew I needed to ride my own bike was when my friend and I were going to pick up a few of his friends from work. It was a guy and his girlfriend. I was expecting her to jump onto the back of her boyfrineds bike, but she didn't! In full riding leathers, she got on her own bike and kept up with the guys! I was in awe of her! So I swore I'd have my license after that. Finally, last year I decided that it was my year. I called a riding school in town,and booked some lessons. Even with my experiences, I still think that learning how to ride defensively is very important, especially for a new rider. Your dads fears aren't too far off. There are a LOT of oblivious drivers out would almost think we are invisible sometimes. The riding school I chose had bikes to use for riding school and you could rent them for however many days you needed to for your test. The school I went to had a couple of different types of bikes to try and encouraged us to try them all to get a feel for them and see what kind of bike we felt most comfortable on. I loved the look and feel of a sport bike. I, like you, don't have a lot of disposable income, but if you shop around, you can find a good deal on a used bike. I bought an older Honda CBR for $1500. It needed a little TLC, but she looks like new now and rides like a dream. PS, you won't fall off the back of your bike so long as your are holding on to your grips. LOL. Also, you might tip over...but that happens to the best of us at least once. It's a part of learning. The important part is, you shake it off, pick up the bike and get back on it. Its a freedom that cannot be explained, only felt. Just remember to get a full faced helmet because you are going to be smiling so much that you will have a lot of bugs in your teeth! Lol. GOOD LUCK!!!


      Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:35:58 AM
      Linda said:

"Respect thr Bike and the Bike will respect you!" Lessons are available thru most Motorvehicle Driver's Schools(they supply the motorcycle) and take the Basic Riders Course afterwards. Riding is very therapeutic-it makes you forget about your problems and concentrate on the ride and what is around you. Safety is everyone's responsibility-and you just have to be aware what's going on and never be under the influence of drugs and alcohol or tired. Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD(cruiser)is ranked as one of the best starter bikes for beginners(I have this one) If you can ride a bicycle that has thin tires-you can ride a motorcycle that has thicker tires. When I was learning, I thought I was going to get into a bad situation on the bike, like ride into the building, and I panicked and I stood up on the bike(standing-very bad idea!)and I felt like I was going to fall off and I jumped off before I fell over and landed on my feet-it was all ok. It's all about defensive driving, protective gear and not over-thinking it. And for some-dong figure 8's are hard, but required to pass. It's all worth it. I had a very good instructor.


      Thursday, April 21, 2011 10:17:40 AM
      Don said:

I was riding 2 wheel bicycles at 3 years old w/out training wheels. From day one I still couldn't wait for the day I wouldn't have to pedal anymore.:)



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