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#WEverb11 – December 23rd

#23: Grasp

Describe something that you actively engaged in learning to do this year.

I learned how to ride a motorcycle!

I’m totally not moving. The bike isn’t even started and I’m pretty sure the kickstand is actually down.

It started with attempting to learn on Matt’s old Nighthawk, a process that didn’t work very well. We’d head out to the airport and I’d practice starting without stalling but inevitably I’d stall, and because the bike is sort of a work in progress, Matt would have to bum-start it, which would mean every time I stalled it was a five-minute wait to get it going again, meaning I stressed out heavily when I couldn’t get it going consistently. We only did two, maybe three lessons on the ‘Hawk and then we gave up because my M1 learner’s license was about to expire and there was no way I’d manage to pass the exit test. We planned for me to learn the next summer with a fixed-up bike and less pressure.

Matt’s stepmom Deanne and his brother Jesse decided they were going to get their licenses, though, and wanted to take the learners’ course in Thunder Bay. I jumped at the opportunity to join them, even though it meant spending the weekend on a motorcycle the day after we returned home from BC.

I look like an angry biker but the truth is I was embarrassed because Jesse was taking the picture in front of the whole class and I felt silly and wanted him to hurry up!

Most of us got these little red Ninjas to learn on, which was an adventure in itself. I had a hard time remembering to keep my legs tight to the bike having spent two weeks trying to stretch ’em out at any opportunity on the back of the ‘Wing. After an evening of theory we got right into learning to ride, and I learned that a functioning bike is way easier to learn with, because when you stall it, you can just push the starter button!

It was an intimidating course, to be honest. A lot of the manouevers they explained sounded terrifying at first (for instance – drive straight at the instructor at a high speed, until, at the last moment, he gestures right or left, which is the direction in which you have to suddenly swerve around him, and then swerve back in the opposite direction to maintain your original trajectory, without hitting any pylons). By the time we got to the end of the last day, when we tested out of the course and, if successful, received our M1s, I was convinced I was going to fail.

Somehow, miraculously, even with the pressure of all the other students watching me, I managed to execute all of the turns, emergency procedures, and other tests. When I got my marks back I learned I had done everything perfectly, but at a lower speed than I should have, which is why I lost points. Still, I passed! As did Jesse and Deanne, of course.

I don’t really remember a lot of it, now, because I didn’t have a bike to ride for the rest of the summer. I’m guessing that getting back on a motorcycle is a more complicated version of getting back on a bicycle but I’m looking forward to getting out to ride in warmer weather, probably with a small refresher from Matt before I hit the road. It was totally worth being so sore I could barely walk, sunburned and super, super tired. I’d recommend it to anyone.


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