Warning for my motorcycle-adverse friends: this post is all about bikes and riding and the risks and rewards inherent in that. Please to skip if it'll make you upset or unduly worried.
This past weekend, I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation beginner's course. This course provides you with 16 hours of instruction (5 in the classroom and then 11 on the riding range) on riding motorcycles. They provide low-cc motorcycles for you to practice on and helmets if you don't have one, and then drill you on basic maneuvers and bike anatomy and the tools you need to be out on the road.
The first thing they start out with in the classroom is a discussion of the risks inherent in motorcycling. They're very clear about the fact that you're on the road with a bunch of metal cages that outweigh you by a factor of 10 that are driven by often-inattentive humans and that you will lose if you try to take one head-on. Your decision, they say, is how much risk you are willing to assume.
I'm kind of surprised at my willingness to embrace that risk. I'm doing everything I can to minimize it - a good helmet and gloves were my first purchase, steel-toed boots are my second, and a leather jacket with armor
inside is my third (leather will hold up on a skid of 100 or so feet. Motofabric generally lasts about 80 ft. Denim lasts 5). The bike is the final purchase. M wants me to get a bike around 750 cc, Nikki thinks I should stay below 600. I'm sort of leaning toward "whatever's in good shape and is less than $3000," which puts me in the lower cc range. I'm cool with that - less power is a good thing for a beginner. I do want it to be big enough to be a) comfortable on long rides and b) able to power up the hills. Not that I plan to do much riding in the City itself - the point is to get out of town. The point of the bike is to allow me to wander and take a look at the scenery - I'll be very happy not doing twisties at 100 mph. I'll leave that to the sport bikes, and wend my merry cruiser
way along. Almost everyone I know in North Beach rides or used to ride, so I have a wealth of people who can advise me and help me practice. Martin especially - and that's where a bigger bike would be nice, so we can ride together (I'd be the passenger, since it doesn't make sense to have the heavier person on the back if you can help it).
I still don't think of myself as someone who takes risks willy-nilly, and then I think of moving 2000 miles and starting a whole new life, I think of getting married, I think of going to a college that I had never seen before in a state I had never visited. My biggest and most common problem, and one that showed up in the training this past weekend, is a hesitation to commit. I'll do a maneuver, but there's a part of me holding back - in fear, I think. Fear of making an ass out myself, fear of falling, fear of hurt. I know that this problem can be solved on the bike specifically by practice practice practice, and I hope that it can be applied to the rest of life.
I was impressed by the pedagogy in the MSF course - it was very woman-friendly and safety-oriented. The Rider Coaches are good at having you work on a specific thing every time, and very good about giving feedback in a positive manner. I'll definitely go back to them for the Experienced Rider course and the Cornering and Curves course.
There's been a trade-off or five in the past two years - no theater, but I've travelled and gone to concerts and gotten a wonderful tattoo and I'm getting a motorcycle after wanting one for 10 years. (Side note: I'm glad I waited this long for the bike, because I think I'm much more able to cope with crises now.) No marriage, but I've found someone who is a better partner for me. You get the picture.
I wasn't a great director. I was good, but I lacked something that would have made me great. That got frustrating, because I felt like I wasn't progressing, that I would be working admin jobs to support the theater and my "directing career", and the frustration kept me (in part) from committing fully. Not to mention all of the interpersonal politics and games that distract from the joy of putting on a play. It's called a play for a reason - it should be fun (if still a lot of work), and it's so often not.
I'm not a great rider - I don't know that I'll ever be. I don't think quite that spatially, and I'm prone to overthinking when I should just move
. I can make up for that by being as careful as possible and the best rider I can be. I'm gifted in that I have great balance and posture on the bike (thank you, horseriding), and I understand the mechanics and rhythm of clutching and shifting. The great thing is that it won't matter - it's not competitive, no one is judging your style, as long as you're safe. Everyone's just happy to be out riding. I like that.
And to wrap things up, a song."Roll Me Away" - Bob SegerTook a look down a westbound road,
Right away I made my choice.
Headed out to my big two-wheeler,
I was tired of my own voice.
Took a bead on the northern plains
And just rolled that power on.( The rest of the lyrics )