I’m probably the last person who should be trying to get a license ride a motorcycle, but I did anyway. I’m a small woman in my fifties, a nurse, a wife, a mother of four adult kids, and a grandmother to two grandsons. Why on earth did I want to do this?
I decided I need to pick up an unusual skill, one that people would not expect of me… It’s good to let folks underestimate you; it may come in handy someday. According to a 2018 survey 19 percent of motorcycles were women-owned. That’s double what it was in 2009.
Here’s how learning to ride a motorcycle went for me.
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How It All Started
It all started when my husband surprised me and gave me a Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle for Christmas about 5 years ago. He has been riding since he was in his teens, so it’s second nature to him. He thought it would be “fun” to ride together.
What was he thinking?
I like to ride on the back of the bike, shielded from wind and bugs hitting you at 55 miles per hour. Plus, I was a bit intimidated by its size and felt it was too much for a new rider.
Still, I made a few attempts to learn to ride each summer in my large yard. I had a lot of trouble letting the clutch out and simultaneously increasing the throttle without killing the engine. I had trouble going uphill, stopping at a predetermined point, and starting out in first gear on a hill. There’s so much to learn! I realized that it was time for professional help.
Time for Professional Help
I signed up for a well-known motorcycle training course with an organization that provided:
- the motorcycles,
- a trailer for indoor classes,
- and the parking lot where hands-on training was held.
We students had to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes or boots covering the ankles, gloves, and a motorcycle helmet. It was a three-day course, from 8:00- 6:00 pm.
A Brief Overview of Learning to Ride a Motorcycle
The first day went just fine, but quickly. We went through an entire training manual and took the comprehensive written test. Then the next two long, long days were the motorcycle course on the bikes.
Of course, it rained the entire weekend. It wasn’t just rain, but torrential rain. We had two instructors for our group of 12 students (I think). They were as different as night and day. I’ll call the mean instructor, “Jeff”, and the nice one, “Bob”.
We started by just riding in first gear across the parking lot, with our feet on the ground, not even up on the footrests. We progressed to riding with feet on the footrest and going into second gear. Our exercises increased in complexity as the day wore on.
I still had a problem killing the engine. Jeff yelled at me every time, mortally embarrassing me each time. Once, he claimed he saw me take my ring and pinky finger off the throttle from across the parking lot. He yelled at me in front of everyone and asked “Why are you even here???” It was like boot camp. At least it was raining, so people couldn’t see I was crying.
This happened to me the whole day. But, I had only one more day, so I was going to try to push through. I didn’t pay $200.00 to fail or be verbally abused.
The next morning, I pulled up in the parking lot and the only other female in the class came up to me and said she quit. She fell off her motorcycle the night before while practicing but told the instructor she was too hurt to continue. She told me she was finding another instructor because she was having the same problems as me.
My second day of training was even worse. I was so nervous that I made minor mistakes, which were all pointed out to everyone in the class. I was also told that I’d never pass the course. The torrential rain returned and was so bad that most of us couldn’t see the lines in the parking lot because of the inch of rain we were riding in.
Complex exercises were required. We had to go around a curve in the downpour at 15-20 mph, slam on the brakes, stay between the lines we couldn’t see, and stop in front of the instructor. We had to perform tiny Figure 8 patterns in a small square, and leave in second gear, then third, and go through patterns of traffic cones.
Jeff yelled at pretty much everybody, but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought it was just me. Finally, we had our comprehensive timed riding test, consisting of every maneuver we had practiced. One at a time, we took our test in front of everyone. I was in the middle, so I got to watch several people go first.
I managed to do very well on the test and every time I passed Jeff, I stared him down. No way did want him to know how much he had intimidated me. It was such a pleasure to go back in the trailer after my successful completion of the course and wait for him to sign my certificate, certifying that I passed.
Do you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle?
My story isn’t meant to discourage any of you – quite the opposite.
It’s meant to show that perseverance pays off, even in difficult circumstances. I wanted to quit so badly, but I would have always felt like a failure. Don’t let anybody tell you, “You CAN’T do it” (ncluding yourself). The worst case scenario was that I would have to repeat the course, but I’d make sure it was with a different instructor.
Visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation start on your journey of learning to ride a motorcycle. They have great information!
So how will this help if the SHTF?
If gas ever goes sky-high, it costs much less to fill up a motorcycle than a car. If I need to evade someone in a car that is following me, on my motorcycle, I can go off the road, through fields, yards, over sidewalks, etc. (I want to mention, that my husband bought me a 1974 Honda 100. It’s a kick start, no electronics to be fried during an EMP).
I have thought if things get really bad during a collapse, those with the most skills may be “selected” to survive. What if you were considered an asset to your group and you are abducted by another one, like becoming forced labor, forced medic, or cook? I’m not going to mention any extra skills I have, including riding a motorcycle. If one should become available, or be at the premises, I would wait for an opportunity and take off. Ladies my age don’t generally ride motorcycles, so nobody would suspect it by looking at me.
I know this sounds far-fetched, but during a societal collapse and the years that follow, who knows what could happen? I’ve watched “The Road” and read “One Second After” and it shows how quickly things fall apart when there is not enough food, shelter, and resources for people. I say, gain all the unique and unusual skills you can because who knows, maybe someday you will need them.
Final Thoughts About Learning to Ride A Motorcycle
Learning to ride a motorcycle is not just about enjoying the freedom of the open road or seeking adrenaline-fueled adventures. It goes beyond that, transforming into a valuable tool for enhancing your survival preparedness.
The practicality of maneuvering through congested areas and bypassing obstacles presents an invaluable advantage when normal routes become impassable. The freedom and agility offered by riding a motorcycle empowers you to swiftly respond to changing circumstances, making it an indispensable asset in emergency scenarios. It could be the unexpected skill you didn’t know you needed to learn.
What about you? What unique and unusual skills have you learned or do you want to learn?
*Guest post by Mary Blandford. Originally published March 13, 2016.