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Riding as a Motorcycle Passenger

September 7, 2010

When I was younger, and growing up on the farm, I would ride our mini-bikes through the fields and pastures.  My brothers and I would take turns riding the bike, each getting 30 or 45 minutes.  That time could get me to and from a friends house using all field roads, or to the little grocery store to get some penny candy then home again.  I truly enjoyed riding the mini-bike.

I enjoyed the freedom of riding on the bike, going much faster than I could on my bicycle.  That is until I took a couple of serious spills in a row.  I wiped out on a new gravel patch when rounding a turn on one of the field roads.  As a result of the wipe out I took out the fuel line on the bike and had to walk the bike home what seemed like miles – turned out to be only 3/4 mile.  I was bleeding and had embedded gravel in my leg and shoulder.  It took a couple of weeks to recover and more than a month to get back in the saddle.  The next spill was the result of a near collision when one of the local boys thought it would be funny to ride out of the woods aiming his bike directly for mine.  This incident resulted in stitches and a longer recovery time.  I think my father even told me I would not be allowed back on the bike for a long time.  Before I was allowed to ride again he sold the bike.

These memories came flooding back to me ten years ago when my husband purchased his Harley Davidson.  Apparently I made the promise[although I don’t remember] that once our daughter was out of school, in her own home and making a life for herself – I would ride with him.  On the day she went to settlement on her own home, having celebrated her graduation from college and her permanent employment, he reminded me of this forgotten promise.

So, I did what any good wife would do – I went shopping.  His birthday present this year was a good riding jacket, leather riding gloves and a motorcycle helmet – all for me.  He knows I was very leery about getting on the bike, so he gave me some time to prepare mentally.

We are preparing to participate in a car/bike show in Lenox, MA later this month.  A part of the show is a guided motorcycle ride through the Berkshires, and he wants me to ride with him.  In preparation this past weekend was my first ride.

My first step in preparing for this ride was to do some research on the internet.  I wanted tips on riding as a passenger on a motorcycle.  The best article I found was by Chuck Hawkes, titled “TIPS FOR THE MOTORCYCLE PASSENGER  (Or How To Get Invited To Go Riding Again)”.  I read and reread the article several times.  These tips made the experience much more enjoyable for myself and my husband.

Saturday morning we pulled the bike out, cleaned it up a bit and took off for what I thought would be a few minutes to get me comfortable.  I started with a death grip, both hands firmly gripping his leather coat. About fifteen minutes into the ride I began to relax the death grip and enjoy the experience.  At about the same time I realized we were heading for a local Harley shop – more than an hour from home.   OK – so I settled in for the ride.

Once we were at Chesapeake Harley Davidson I felt more comfortable with the turns necessary to cross traffic into their lot.  I dismounted the bike (still have to work on making that look smooth) and tried to look like I was an experienced rider when taking off my helmet and stowing it on the ground next to the bike.  There were several people there on the the rocking chairs in front of the store watching the riders come and go – not one called me out for being a new rider.

My husband ‘rewarded’ me by taking me to the clearance racks and letting me do some shopping.  I think he was looking to see if I would look for yet another jacket for him, or for something for myself.  He had a grin when he saw me checking out the ladies racks for another jacket.  I found something I really liked, but reserved purchase until he assured me he had room in the saddle bags of his Road King for the jacket.  We walked around looking at the bikes, but this time he spent time looking at bikes I could handle with my shorter legs.  There are some interesting bikes on the floor, but I am not ready to take that leap yet.  I want more time in the saddle as a passenger.

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