One Woman's Path to Riding a Trike (2024)

My husband signed up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic RiderCourse a few months ago, and asked if I wanted to join him. At first, I thought, no way. I'm a sixty-year-old lady, I have no business riding a motorcycle. But he knew it was something I wanted to do, and said, "If not now, when?" And I thought...he's totally right. Ten years from now, when I'm seventy? So I registered for the basic course, which is specifically for beginners with no experience. I can ride a bicycle and drive a stick shift, so I've even got that going for me.

FAIL: First Attempt In Learning

I passed the online portion of the course just fine. But when I got to the riding school, things went downhill. The Ricky Bobby Motorcycle School, as I will refer to it here, is essentially a cracked paved lot between a dirt bike track and an old decrepit racetrack. The "classroom" is a beat-up trailer next to some rusting shipping containers, a warehouse, and some port-a-potties. It’s pretty ratty, but hey, I was there to ride motorcycles, not have a f*ckin' pedicure.

Most of the bikes were some level of sketchy; the 2004 Honda Rebel 250 I was assigned to wouldn't reliably go into neutral. In addition, the coach wasn't at all supportive nor great at explaining his instructions. On the bike, I did OK when I could get up enough speed, but on the slow parts I dropped the bike twice. This shattered my confidence, and bruised my shins as well as my ego. The coach gruffly warned me that if I dropped the bike again, I'd be out of the training. He then then mansplained that as we age, things get a little more challenging, and suggested I should hit the gym. I was done.

Although Ricky Bobby was not a good experience, my failure wasn't all on them. I take medication that sometimes gives me brain fog and balance issues, which likely contributed to my difficulties in understanding vague directions and managing the bike. Riding motorcycles requires you to do a lot of things at one time - throttle, front brake, back brake, clutch, shifting, steering, and balancing - and I was completely overwhelmed. It would have been better to have more practice on each exercise before moving on to the next one, so the 2-day format of this class probably wasn't right for me. Husband was very kind and supportive, and he believed in me, but I was utterly disappointed in myself and thought I was just unable to ride a motorcycle.

The Happy Medium

A few weeks later, Husband (who passed the course easily) got the shiny new motorcycle endorsem*nt on his driver's license, and we went to a shop to look at bikes. He tested the one he was interested in, but it wasn't a good fit. However, the dealer also had Can-Am trikes and I thought they looked weird, but... could a trike be my happy medium? At least I couldn't drop it! Just then, a very stylish older woman rode up on a beautiful emerald-green Spyder. I swallowed my introversion and asked her how she liked it. She was super nice and explained that she had been a biker for many years, but as she got older, she found that her balance wasn't as good as it used to be. It's not just me! She told me about all the things she loved about her Spyder and strongly recommended it. From that moment I was intrigued.

One Woman's Path to Riding a Trike (2)

I didn't have a motorcycle license yet, so Husband test-rode a Ryker model and then a Spyder for me. Both models are equipped with a CVT (a kind of automatic transmission) so I wouldn't have to use a clutch to shift gears right away. We went out to lunch and discussed it, and decided to buy a Spyder. The Ryker is fun but it sits much lower, and for safety reasons, I wanted to be as visible as possible in traffic. I sat on a few different models, and the most comfortable one was a brilliant fire-engine red -- also good for visibility. Yes, I let my ass decide which trike to buy. I never expected my first motorcycle to be a bagger, but I had to admit the storage was fantastic. My sales rep was another mansplainer (what is it with these guys?) but we got through the deal and my shiny new trike was delivered a few days later.

I love a happy ending.

One Woman's Path to Riding a Trike (2024)
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