Learning to Ride, Part 1

Is "Learn to Ride a Motorcycle" on your Life List? Something you wanted to do before you were too old, or conservative, or boring? It was on mine and I definitely wanted to do it before too much more of my life passed me by or before I settled into a life lacking adventure. Last summer, I had the great opportunity to visit Harley-Davidson headquarters. During that visit, I took an intro to motorcycle riding. The instructors called it a "Toe Dip" class. The Toe Dip was just that... a testing of the waters of Learning to Ride. Was this really something I wanted to do in reality? Or would I have to just imagine a romantic ideal of a life lived on the open road.

We were split into groups, rotating activities. Some of our group would be visiting the Harley-Davidson museum, others would be getting a massage. Our group was first up for the intro class.

Learning to Ride Toe Dip

The Toe Dip class was a great way to have all the nagging questions answered. Will I be able to balance the big machine beneath me? Will I be able to get the bike in gear? Will I freak out as I begin moving forward?

We began by getting familiar with the parts of the bike. This is the clutch. This is the break. This is the kickstand. Very simple and straight forward. We moved on to learning to mount the bike, kicking up the kickstand, putting it in neutral, lowering the kickstand again, and properly dismounting. We learned to walk it and turn it while it was in neutral, legs and tummy muscles straining to make the machine move. Riding was proving to be quite the workout!

The sticky Milwaukee air and record hot temperatures were the only down side of this class. We were laden down with all of our protective clothes and gear: jacket, jeans, gloves, headband, helmet, and boots. I could feel the sweat dripping down my my back, pooling at the base of my spine. It was hot and sticky and the bike was heavy. But even with all of that, I could not stop smiling! Our instructors told us this wasn't always how it was, but it was something you had to deal with when going on long rides in hot weather. I was confident that this discomfort wasn't enough to deter me from the riding lifestyle.

We eventually got into first gear. The butterflies of excitement in my stomach were having a party when we first learned to get the bike moving forward by letting the clutch out just a bit. It was so exciting to feel that momentum and I immediately pictured myself on a road filled with other bikers, smiling in the sun.

Unfortunately, that was it for the Toe Dip. There would not be a chance to ride around the parking lot. We would have to take a class back at home, if we decided that riding was for us.

When I got the email weeks later asking if I indeed wanted to take Rider's Edge, I couldn't type YESSSS fast enough. I was given three dates to choose from. I decided to take the next available class. I received a certificate in the mail and registered for my class.

Next up... Rider's Edge begins.