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Sunday, June 03, 2012

I Did It!

My hands and my ass hurt as if I tried stopping  a train.  My quads are so tight that I cannot stand up easily, afraid that the tendons are now stretched to maximum sling-shot tenseness.  My knees may never, ever forgive me. But, after starting out in mid-February, I have finally successfully completed the Harley Rider's Edge course.  I wasn't taking it because I necessarily even wanted to get a license, but I did want to know how to ride a motorcycle.  Then I got a motorcycle, and I needed a license to ride it, so I signed up, just after the New Year, to check another line off my Bucket List.

As we all know, I royally wiped out, or in surfer parlance, "beefed it" on my first attempt.  Really freaked out, lost control of the bike and messed up my knee pretty badly.  That took me out until I felt ready to try it again in May.  I got on the course and we just had to sit on the bikes and turn them on.  That's it.  Just do your start up procedure, FINE-C and turn the bike on.  I could not do it.  I got flop sweat, blurry vision, and I knew I could not take the course that day.  I was so sure I was going to wipe out and kill me and hurt others.  I left the course with no shame. 

That day I got my bike out, and started her up and started power-walking the beast up and don my drive way.  Then I'd go out in the street.  Then I started going up and down my street, changing gears, braking.  Then I started going around the block.  Yesterday when I tried this, for the third time, I was no longer so intimidated by the bike and accelerator.  I was and still am afraid of going much over 25 miles per hour, but I pretty sure I'm not going to completely freak out if I have to serve or ride over a board in the road.  There will still be a lot of pissed off neighbors in my neighborhood as I keep practicing the skills I learned in this class.  From everything I've been told by people who have taken the course to many instructors, they are skills that keep you safe on the roads.  Will it keep me from every wiping out or being in an accident?  No.  But my chances of making better decision on the bike are the more I practice my riding skills.  It's like driving a car in that manner.

Do yourself a favor and head over to the Harley site to see if it is something you think will interest you.  Yes, Harley products are pushed at you a lot, but it's worth it to see some fine riding gear and learn skills that will help you be a better rider.  The reason I am pushing this is because I've spent the past month driving around looking at motorcycle riders.  The next jackass I see riding around with no helmet, tank top, shorts and flip flops will be immediately nominated for a Darwin award.  I've seen some pretty stupid crap just happening on bikes around Waco.  Yesterday they had a HOG (Harley Owner's Group) thing up at the Dealership that was going pretty strong when we went in for our last class room meeting.  There wasn't a helmet to be seen anywhere.  Sleeveless shirts, shorts and tennis shoes were the rule rather than the exception.  Great example guys!  I'm an All the Gear All the Time kinda gal.  I appreciate a guy who is intelligent enough to protect his cranium and body art from sudden stops and road rash.

If you have ever wanted to learn to ride, this is the safest, most comprehensive way to do it.  In the three classes I've been in almost all of them were full of brand new riders who had never been on a motorcycle in their lives.  A few are like me and take a while to "get it", but most take to two wheels like a duck to water.  If you've been riding for a while but still don't have your M endorsement on your driver's license, take this course and get it. I've seen guys that have been riding for years and they have a really hard time doing the slow speed maneuvers.  Learning those skills is one of the funnest parts of riding a bike.  I've see guys on an empty road swerving the lines down the middle of the road or practicing swerving pushes.  It's fun and it's what makes riding a bike like nothing else you'll ever do.  If you do have your M endorsement, take the Skilled Rider's Course to get your insurance certificate for the discount.  You get to do it on your own bike, rather than the Buells and from everything I've heard, doing the maneuvers on your own bike is a huge difference.  I will try the course out in about 3 years or so.  Who knows if I'll actually ever get out of my neighborhood by then?  I certainly hope I am, but I've learned to take nothing for granted.

It's also the best thing that you can do just for yourself and your own confidence.  There is no one with you when you take the final "evaluation".  It's you and your bike and you have to perform as they so.  No one to talk you through it, no one to hold your hand.  When you finish you will be very, supremely proud of yourself and rightfully so.  The instructors are the first ones to tell you so.  I had the best.  The three of them know who they are and as I don't have their permission to post their names publicly, I shall not.  All I can say is that one man, in particular and his lovely wife deserve a "Patience of Job" award for putting up with me.  The local Rider's Edge coordinator, a nice lady who is soon to get her degree in business, deserves the best of everything for putting up with me.  She sat in the ER with me the day I wrecked and kept in touch with me up to today when I finished.  She's now training her replacement as she goes back to school to finish her degree.  I'm glad I finished today and will not have to try to go through this without her.  As for the instructor I only got to meet on the range this weekend, a huge thank you for keeping it light and letting me know it really was going to be alright.  I hope you and your wife are deliriously happy.

So I finally won this one.  I know I can do it.  Now, what's next on my agenda?  Learning to speak another language.  This time with complete fluency.  Come on Rosetta Stone!

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