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My First Ride

— by Debbie Andrews, Motorcycle Mama

You never know in the morning when you get out of bed, just what you'll be doing before bedtime. Good thing we don't or we'd either spend all that day worrying or waiting for the event to happen. Such was the case of my adventure last week.

I was sitting in my friend's living room and just out of the blue, a relative stopped by to say "You're coming with me!" Now there was no problem leaving my comfortable abode to go outside with him, but the problem did arise as soon as I saw what was waiting for me. Yes you guessed it! A brand new motorcycle, 1800 rpm's (I think that's correct language)1 that had my name on the back seat waiting for its rider. Oh my goodness, oh my gosh! I devised many a reason why I couldn't possibly take a ride on that tiny little seat that had no sides, belts or any type of security features. After all, I'm not in exactly what you'd call my prime anymore and my fear of such a ride is mounting. "I'm too old", was one excuse, which I thought would work instantly, but the driver insisted that's exactly all it was, a bad excuse. "I'm suddenly not feeling well," was another, but again it was only laughed at. Now all of a sudden I had the perfect excuse. "Why, I'm wearing a skirt, and I can't possibly sit on the back dressed like this!" "No problem," was the reply, "no one will notice that, because I'll be sitting right in front of you".

With all my excuses exhausted, I nervously agreed to take the big plunge. First thing was the size of my head to determine whether it was big or small. My head is bigger than normal, so I was given the largest of the helmets. Now on top of all this fear that I have, I also suffer on occasion from slight bouts of claustrophobia. If you've ever had that, then you know how your mind can run away with you when you're in a situation that you just can't get away from. That's exactly how I felt after putting on the helmet and tying the strap securely under my chin.

Now it was time for the big moment when I would mount this thing, with my skirt awaiting. A fast look around to ensure no one was trying to catch a glimpse of whatever you might think of at this point, whether it was me getting on the bike or my helmet. Yeah, right! Actually it was not as difficult as I first thought, since it was rather easy to just put my right foot on the pedal and with a little lifting of the denim, a quick toss of my left leg over the seat and I was on. Amazing how I conquered that feat with such ease. Not necessarily grace, but with ease. Now the cameras were ready! People were standing there taking my picture, so amazed that I'd even made it this far. A couple more shots and we're about to start this terrifying journey. Now how do I hold on? There's no seatbelt and no, I don't hug the driver! If that were the case, I'm sure he wouldn't last long behind the wheel, before my frightened arms would squeeze all the air out of his lungs. I place my hands into the hand grips on either side and I'm ready for my big adventure. And believe me, it's BIG!

And we're off! Just a few meters and there's a traffic light. Thank goodness for small favors as this gives me a chance to recover from the initial take off and regenerate myself. Is there anyone else around me? I am sooooo terrified that I don't even know. I keep my head down, way down, and then suddenly the light must have turned green, because we are accelerating fast and I'm actually riding this gismo. Now what are my feelings as I'm becoming this motorcycle momma? Well, first feeling is of panic, because it seems as I'm just sitting on this thing that has no sides, no security and I think if I let go, then I'll really go a flyin' if you know what I mean. My heart is racing. I keep banging my head against the driver's helmet as I keep trying to lower my face further into his back, and picture me now on a four lane highway, surrounded by all types of vehicles, and I'm the one just sitting there without any control of this bike. I'm surprised at how easily the driver can hear what you are saying sitting on the back, as I let a couple of terrifying words out. Then I ask him to please do not go any faster as I am going to have a heart attack right now, right here. I think he gets the message fast because I can feel the speed drop rapidly. We continue on a little further and then, even though it was so kind of the driver to invite me for this ride, I have to ask him to turn around. I swear, if I go just one more inch I will die and fall off this contraption right on the highway, because if I let my hands come out of those handles, I'm a goner. Oh joy, he's actually putting on the signal light to turn in at a coffee shop and then turn this bike around and bring me back home.

We have to wait for several vehicles to pass before we can cross this busy highway, and I'm just waiting to hear the bang if one gets in our way. We drive across the parking lot and then comes a very sharp turn. Oh my goodness, no one told me I was supposed to turn with the bike. Are we going to skid and fall on our sides? If so, then I guess I won't be around to tell my grandkids about this expedition. We made it! What a great driver I have in front of me!

We head back onto the highway and now I'm finally heading home. I'm still just as terrified as when I started this ride and I can't seem to see one darn thing around me, because I'm concentrated only on holding on to those handles, less I fall off. Back to the traffic lights and again we have to stop, but I can see my final destination off in the distance. Thank goodness I am almost there and in one piece. As we turn into the driveway my relatives are applauding and they comment about how scared I looked. Now I didn't actually want to appear scared to everyone even though I felt it inside. I've messed up my chance to look like a teenager one more time by being scared.

I slowly descend the bike in reverse fashion of the original mount. No problems with my denim. Everything is still intact. Now off with this helmet. It's a little snug, but with a tug I'm finally free. Oh sweet freedom. What a blissful feeling!

Now as I look back upon this adventure I'm wondering why exactly I was so scared. The one chance in a lifetime to actually take this ride and I blew it and I don't think I'll ever get asked again either. This was my chance to feel young again, to feel as if I were a teenager once more. To have the wind blow in my face and feel what real freedom is like. Well I guess it's a learning experience for when my next great adventure arises. I must try to make it fun and let all my fears vanish. After all, I am only going this way once, so why not make the most of it whenever the opportunity arises.

By the way, I do admire all of you baby boomers out there who have those motorcycles and ride them fearless around our highways. My denim, sorry hat, goes off to you. Maybe one day before I get too old, I'll buy one of those fancy bikes, dress myself in leather from shoulder to toe and then I'll be in control of my destiny and speed. Well it was at the least an experience, even if I didn't enjoy it like I should have. I'm still a momma, however despite the end result, just not a motorcycle one.

  1. We think Debbie meant 1800 cc, rather than rpm.

Copyright © 2003 by Debbie Andrews

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