Do You Remember Your First?
Ah, Spring! When a gal’s fancy turns to thoughts of...
Do you remember the first time you drove a motorcycle?
For many of us it was in an MSF class, or a friend let us use his/her bike, or we started on a dirt bike. One gal I know got on a bike at a safety course, drove straight into a tree, broke a rib and never tried again. For me, it was with a guy who wanted to date me and offered to teach me to ride---he was a red-headed engineer who could really cook…no, I really mean cook. Ah, Joe, if you could only see me now!
At any rate, you never forget your first…or your firsts.
Like the first time you feel the drag of a truck pull you along. Oh, what a feeling!
Or how about the first time you rode in the rain…I thought the truck ahead of me was carrying gravel and it was blowing onto my gloveless hands. It turned out it was raining so hard, the drops felt like sleet!
I had no one to ride with after I qualified with the MSF course, so I rode by myself at 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. I would ride around my town, in and out of the side streets, carefully avoiding highways, and in Bergen County, that’s pretty hard. Eventually, I had to take my bike to inspection and the closest station that was open was just off Route 17.
I planned my course carefully so I could take the back roads and did just fine. I breathed a sigh of relief after the bike passed inspection and I drove out of the parking lot, only to turn right instead of left and wound up on Rt. 17! It was your typical “Oh, shit!” moment, but once I commited, I had to go on. The Route 4 and 17 intersection is one of the most lethal in New Jersey, but to get home, I had to negotiate it. And I did. And I survived.
The first thing I bought that was bike-related…after I got my license and before I got my bike. I was down in Key West Florida in the summer. There was a tee shirt shop having a sale, so, of course I had to go in. I bought two things that day… one was a tee shirt that said “This Goddess Drives a Motorcycle,” and a beautiful black leather fringed motorcycle jacket with an inset of red suede roses that I still wear.
The first thing I bought with the Harley logo on it? Why my Heritage Softail Classic, of course.
The first Spokes-Women member I communicated with? Liz, who also works at a Library.
The first time someone acted surprised to see me on a motorcycle? I was going to a Weight Watchers’ meeting and some kids were playing on the other side of the fence. I pulled up on my bike, took off my helmet and shook out my hair. One of the kids, a boy, said, “Hey! It’s a girl!”
My first long distance trip was to Georgia to the International Women in Motorcycling Conference in 2006. It was members of this club who told me I was ready and who made me believe I could do it. Alexandra Pessacreta was our “Mother Goose” and we three “newbies” were her ducklings. And I thank her for her patience.
First time I dropped my bike…It was a warm Thanksgiving morning one year and I put the turkey in the oven and decided to go for a ride. I got as far as the stop sign down the street from my house. The road was damp, I put my foot down on a cross-walk stripe and my foot slipped out from under me.
Fortunately, there was a woman in a car stopped across from me and she helped me pick up my bike. We both felt kind of proud. And I learned how to fall so I would not injure myself ... a skill that would come in handy many, many times.
However the first time I dropped my bike in front of a bunch of bikers was embarrassing! I was at a corn boil and saw the entrance, but not where to sign up. I thought I’d pull up to one of the guys and ask. I stopped and put my foot down…on gravel!
Do you remember the Indiana Jones movie where he looks down in a pit and sees the one thing in the world he fears…and says, “Snakes…I HATE snakes”? Well, that’s how I’ve come to feel about gravel. Down I went. About ten guys rushed to help me up, one of them a guy with a grey beard and eyes that twinkled.
Two years later, I went on a date with a clean-shaven guy with a twinkle in his eyes, not recognizing who he was.
And as we sat talking across a candle-lit table in a lovely little restaurant, he suddenly recalled that he had picked me up off the road.
Some firsts you just wish some people would forget…