Nervous Motorcycle Riding

I met this guy who had a Suzuki GSXR 750 one night and we hit it off well.  A few days passed and he asked me to ride with him on the back.  About 8 or 9 months went by and he decided I should learn to ride for myself.  So out came the Gixxer from the garage and he told me to get on.  I went down the back drive and around the bend out to the bigger part of the parking lot.

The bike and I were apparently on different frequencies because I wanted to go right but the bike went straight and I dropped it.  I was mortified.  I cracked the mirror and scratched the right front fairing.

He told me that maybe I should take the Rider Safety Course provided by PENNDOT.

“I think that’s a great idea,” I chirped.

I got the motorcycle rider manual from the driver center in Bensalem and read until I felt like my eyes were going to bleed ink.  I went and took my permit test.

I failed.

I was distraught.  I had never failed a test in my life!  Back home and I read some more.  This time I handed the book to my BF and told him to ask me questions.  A couple weeks went by and I went up to take the written test again.

I passed!

So I went onto the website and I found a class up at Brian’s Harley Davidson in Langhorne, PA for a rider course.  Basically, 2 weeks, 6 classes.  2 in the class room, 4 on the bike.  The last 2 would be test classes.

I passed the written with flying colors.  The bike I chose for the riding part of the class was a Honda Rebel 400.  The guy looked at me kinda funny  He was apparently surprised that I had not chosen a smaller bike like a 250.  But I’m tall and the Rebel fit me.  Isn’t that one of the most important parts of riding?

I felt like I won the lottery after I got my license.  Now we could ride together like real riders.  He told me I could ride the Suzuki 750 GS which I really came to dislike.  It was air cooled and so as long as I was moving the temp was good.  However, when stopped at red lights it would heat up rather quickly and it would stall out.  Plus it had one of those engine protectors on it so it felt a lot bigger that it actually was.  Still, I rode the GS for about 3 months or so.

Andy took me to Bromley’s in Trevose, PA one late afternoon to look at bikes.  I didn’t have to look too long because my eyes caught a Ninja 500 sitting to the right and I swore if it the air had been silent I would have heard it calling my name.  I looked at a few other bikes to appease Andy, but I knew what I wanted.  I wanted that bright green Kawasaki Ninja.

I had my license for about 2 months and was really liking the winding roads of Bucks County.  We would ride up through New Hope and into Lawrenceville, NJ.  I was still gun shy and would just about do the speed limit.   Andy would pull over up ahead and remind me of how I had to keep up with him.  I would roll my eyes and keep up for a little bit but then I would let off of the throttle and go back down to just about the speed limit.

It was the first week of August and Andy decided we would go up to Bloomsburg, PA via the PA Turnpike.  I felt my stomach churn.  The turnpike?

It was hot that day and my riding jacket was secured under my cargo net on the back seat.  I had on my helmet, a pair of jeans, my sneakers and a white ribbed tank top.

We got on the turnpike at the Bensalem entrance.   I was white knuckling the whole way doing sixty-five.   I wanted to tell him we needed to stop but my foolish pride kept me going.

We merged onto 476 North which has only two lanes.  We passed the Lansdale exit and I felt like I might be okay.  I was really going to make it to Bloomsburg.  As I cruised along, now doing about 75 trying to keep up with Andy, I started to see signs for construction and my stomach twinged a little.  I was watching Andy up ahead and then all of a sudden the cars in front of me had brake lights lit and I was gaining on them quickly.

I’d like to say that what I learned in my rider safety course took over but instead I panicked and instinctively grabbed the front brake.  I heard this awful screech, the bike shimmied and suddenly I was down on my right side sliding down the highway.

I didn’t feel anything as I slid across the asphalt and all I could remember was hoping that whoever was behind me didn’t run me over as I was pretty sure that would have made things a lot worse.

Suddenly, there was this really nice woman who was kneeling beside me telling me not to move.  I kept reaching for my chin strap.  All I wanted was to take my helmet off.     Andy was there talking to me and I was pretty calm.  My adrenalin was in overdrive because I still felt no pain.

The ambulance arrived and I remember the one EMT was funny and he made me felt at ease.  My adrenalin started to wear off and the pain of the road rash on my right shoulder and arm, my broken ankle (my shoe had been torn off of my right foot), and my bruised knee really started to scream.   The EMT asked me if I wanted some morphine and I felt like that might be a good idea.

While I was doped up in the ER of Lehigh Valley Hospital Andy got in touch with our friend Chris who was nice enough to ride up there with his trailer and get my beat up bike back home.  The left mirror was shot and the whole left side of the fairing was scratched and cracked.

I was discharged from the hospital that same day and when I got home the first thing I did was run in the bathroom to throw up from all of the morphine I had been shot up with.  I felt awful about ruining our trip to Bloomsburg, but Andy assured me we could go another time.

I missed work for the rest of August.  I was a car parts delivery girl at the time and due to my injuries could not effectively carry an alternator or even press my foot on the gas and brake pedals.

This year we rode to Port Jervis, NY.  We took back roads and it was one of the most amazing rides of my life.   I did wear my jacket for the trip.

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Author: D. A. M. Steelman

I could get through life just fine quoting heavy metal lyrics.

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