I can smell small engine fumes as I lay in my bed. My butt muscles are aching in spots I didn’t know existed. When I close my eyes I can feel the throttle as I give it a little too much. The night after Day 1 of my motorcycle lessons I'm riding on cloud 9. "A little give and a little go" is ringing through my mind.
Teal and I both consider ourselves lifelong learners. She always says if she won the lottery she’d stay in school forever. I always say if I marry rich or win the lottery I’d spend my time getting my license to drive a transport, going to beauty school, and taking a coding course. We both just want to soak up everything we can.
While I await the lottery pulling through, though, I’m admittedly focused on knocking off a couple goals that are less time consuming and more of an immediate thrill. Most recently, it is the successful completion of the Harley Davidson Riding Academy.
I can’t pin point the moment I knew I wanted my motorcycle license. Growing up we drove the ol Arctic Cat Panterra snowmobile around a trail in the forest and I always liked that. Maybe that was my first taste of control and freedom.
This year on Easter weekend, while everybody else was waiting for Jesus to be risen I was straddling a Harley, inhaling fumes, and revving the throttle. My rebel spirit was alive and well.
Biking is very Californian. When I first moved here I looked at my goals and knew it was time to check one off. I googled “motorcycle learn to ride” and Harley-Davidson’s New Rider Training popped up. This course would provide me with the classroom learning, motorcycle and gear, and successful completion would exempt me from having to do the driven test with the DMV. I was immediately stoked.
My class was a real mix of people. There was another young girl like me - new to San Diego and embracing her good girl/rebel soul persona. There were a handful of middle aged couples, coming to learn so they could join their couple friends on weekend cruises down the coast. There was a fella with tattoos up the back of his neck and all over his bald head… very similar swagger to Happy for all fellow Sons of Anarchy enthusiasts. There were a pile of Marines and military guys. There were guys who had been riding for years without a license and thought they better finally get registered (God Bless America). There was a artsy young college fella taking the course only because it would give him a break on his recent moped violation. A real mixed bag of us. Coolest part about it, though, was how we were all there to learn and all very supportive of one another.
From the start I worried I would walk into the classroom and be eyed up as the dippy young girl who had never driven a standard and now thinks she’s tough. When I texted Slate the morning of we were both laughing in disbelief that I was actually going through with it. His advice came from the marvel that is How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days… “Just remember Mad it’s a little give and a little go with the clutch and the throttle”. Why do the chick flicks always come in so handy? The instructors and my classmates were all equally as excited as I was to be learning new things and freeing their hearts and souls.
On the 2nd day of our 3 day course we were invited to join in on the dealership’s free BBQ. There was the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, a country band, burgers on the grill, MC’s wearing cuts (again, for the Sons enthusiasts that’s ‘motorcycle clubs’ wearing leather vests). Harley people really don’t care what you do or don’t have in common because the love of riding is all they need to unite them. It was a super cool community to experience.
Academic nerd alert: I can proudly say that I got a 94% on the written test. Tough bad ass Mad alert: I was then the only girl in my class to pass the driven test. Having never touched a standard vehicle in my life that was my biggest worry and quickly became one of my favourite parts. Inner control freak? You best believe it. I love switching gears as the bike gains speed or comes to a stop. I know my instructors recognized my confidence and that in an of itself made me feel strong. The people in my class who failed the driving portion flunked because they were hesitant or timid. They took the weave or the hard corners too cautiously which proved dangerous. Despite having only ridden on the back of a Harley, and just one time, I went through the pylons with confidence, knowing I was in control of the 450 pound machine beneath me.
Not to get too deep but isn’t that the same with life? If you take it too cautiously you are going to miss the rewards that can only come from taking risks. If you take risks with confidence in yourself and your abilities you are more apt to succeed. Always a lesson in life experiences!
Motorcycling is dangerous and the overprotective men in my life are still not sold on me ever actually having one (however they know Mad and they know they really don’t have a ton of say and can either join me or wind up looking really cute holding onto the back of my bike). It’s certainly a risk to ride one. Having now taken the course, I’m happy to have a better understanding of what the roads are like for bikers. I know I will be a safer car driver who is more considerate of motorcyclists, especially in California where they are allowed to lane split in traffic. And maybe someday I’ll wrap my ginger braid in leather, throw my leg over the saddle, and tear up the open road.