Monday, October 17, 2011

A Month of Scariness

I don't know what has gotten into me lately.  Perhaps it's a mid-life crisis or just the desire to do something...scary.  I'm not sure of the reason, but the results have been quite...revealing.

I've been wanting to get back into riding motorcycles.  I use to ride a 3 wheeled ATV (a trike) in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey with a bunch of dirt biker friends, but I was in my late teens, early 20s.  Recently my friend Kathy suggested we take the Motorcycle Safety Course together.  They provide the bikes, helmets and instruction over a long weekend.  So I took my learner's permit exam the same day my son took his driver's permit test (no - he didn't think it was cool - lots of eye rolling that day). We both passed :)

Over the long Columbus Day weekend, I sat in a classroom for 5 hours of instruction on motorcycle safety. The instructor Harry was quite the character - he'd threaten to throw things at us if we didn't listen to him when we were out on the range and he liked to say, "However comma" when making a point.  I earned a 100 % on the written test :)  So far, so good.

The next day as I'm straddling a red Suzuki 250 cc bike along with Kathy and six others, I'm having major second thoughts.  The bike is huge and heavy and there are lots and lots of things to do with both my hands and feet and I'm supposed to balance and steer while doing all this shifting, breaking, clutching, throttling.  I was terrified - this was nothing like my little automatic transmission 3 wheeler.  But I stayed and listened to Harry and he walked us through everything in baby steps.  By the end of the day I was having so much fun turning and weaving through cones.  And was very glad I hadn't chickened out :)

So feeling rather confident (cocky perhaps?) I arrived for day two to learn that our first exercise is doing figure 8s on the bike.  Really? Gulp!  No warm ups - or a few loops around the track? Nope - right to the hardest exercise of both days.  Confidence gone, I was back to being a giant chicken, ready to bail out.  But I stuck with it and learned a lot - like I turn better going left than right especially with those tight U-turns/figure 8s. 

At the end of day two, we took our skills test to earn a motorcycle license.  We needed to demonstrate certain life skills, like swerving, stopping quickly and going through turns. I'm doing good all day, but as soon as Harry gets his clipboard out, I'm stalling the bike, wobbling on the turns, making a really warped figure 8 all with my heart in my throat.  After everyone is through the test, he made us wait 20 mins to hear the results!

We all....passed!  Yay!  I now know how to ride in a big parking lot around a bunch of cones.  I'd like to buy a small bike - around 250 cc engine - no scooters.  My family isn't so sure, so we'll see. 

No, my kids still don't think I'm cool - my daughter insists I'm still a soccer mom.  Good to know I have them all fooled ;>

And I've learned when I'm the most scared, I have the most fun (I'll be writing about my haunted house adventures next).

How about you?  Any stories of conquering your fears and having a blast?


  1. I'm 30 years old, and I've gone back to school! I have two college certificates from right after high school (one year each) but I've gone to university for a Bachelor of Arts in English. Not quite the same as learning to ride a motorbike, but leaving my full-time, secure job and joining herds of students 10 or more years younger then me was quite the jolt. I'm calling it my early mid-life crisis :) I've been told that doing new things stimulates the dendrites in your brain, which makes you more creative. I'm already feeling more creative...but have too much homework to write just for fun! :P

  2. I do High Board Diving once a week, for ages I was too scared to try and go off the 5meter platform, but after I'd done it once, the adrenaline rush is amazing. I love it now. I also kept chickening out of doing 1 and a half somersaults but Adore them now. So glad I pushed through the fear.

    My other one was signing up to NaNoWriMo last year, I was convinced I would never be able to do it, what was the point? but I plugged on and stuck to it and have a novel out of it that I'm hoping to get published, and I've already signed up again for this year. :D

    I don't think I'm brave enough to ride a bike. Well done you. :)

  3. this made me laugh, my mother in law was also talking about getting her motorcycle license since she grew up riding bikes too. Props to you on passing! I have always been a very cautious stay out of trouble kinda girl, so my most adventurous things are baking and cooking; they can still go drastically wrong,but less painful if they do ;p

  4. When I was 7 years old, I climbed on the back of my uncle's motorcycle for a ride down the street. Before we even got started, by ankle hit something (the exhaust pipe?) and was instantly burned. I have been kind of afraid of the behemoth bikes ever since. Good for you for trying something new. :)

  5. Welcome to the bike babe club! Motorcycles are fun and scary, too. I have been riding for five years and love it. I recently sold my bike because my hubby and I needed to prioritize. We got a scooter that gets around 80 mpg!!! But, whenever I see or hear a motorcycle rev up, I get the chills and miss the power. Good for you to take the class. A lot of people don't and think they can learn on their own. The course teaches you a lot about defensive driving. Number one lesson: if you wake up and are not scared of your bike, that's when you sell it.

  6. Haha, you're much braver than I am lol :)
    I've done two pretty scary things. One, I went on Shikra in Florida and was terrified, lol. Two, I went on a extremely scary ride at Flamingo Land Theme Park in Britain. I'm talking, giant blue tower with what looks like a spinning plate on the top that had seats looking out of it, and it would go about 90 feet in the air, spin turn around and kept on going even when the thunderclouds came out. Needless to say, I was glad I hadn't eaten and whoever built it was insane lol

  7. You should try Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen, it is brilliant :)