Blog Archives - Women in Motorcycling
 
On Memorial Day, I went out riding with Sue from the Furies. We went North on Sheridan Road all the way up through Evanston and Winnetka and through the ravines.

It was awesome! I was SO comfortable on the bike. I couldn't believe how good I felt. None of the nerves or worries from previous rides were with me on this one. I think the main reason I was more comfortable was that the road was just 2 lanes and the speed limit was never more than about 40.

The ravines have tight curves and beautiful scenery. I LOVED going around the curves and screaming "SLOW LOOK PRESS ROLL" into my helmet as I approached each curve. But I had a smile on my face the whole time and kept saying to Sue "lets do it again" each time we finished curving and dipping through the ravines.

The best part was after my first trip through, I saw a red-bird fly across my path in the parking lot when we were turning around. For the past 6 years, a red-bird in my path has always been a sign that God is still hanging out with me and that I am on the right path. This is the first time I've seen one in a very l

I wish that this was the type of riding I could do all the time. It was fun, non-scary, and I didn't end up at home crying afterwards. THIS is how i want to ride.

I just wish I lived in a place that would allow me to ride this way more often.
 
So, Saturday was the day of the bike blessing. And all of the practicing and preparation for riding was now over and it was time to put the rubber on the road-- literally.

It did not begin well. My stomach had been bothering me since Thursday because I was so nervous about the ride. When I went out to gear up and start the bike on Saturday morning, a steady rain began to fall.

Rain. I hadn't ridden in the rain before.

So, I sucked it up and MJ and I headed off to the meet-up spot with Nora following behind. I was a nervous wreck. Every little shiny spot on the pavement terrified me and I did not want to be going even as fast as we were going-- and we weren't going all that fast. We made it to the gas station and then to breakfast without incident, but I was so freaked out that when i got off the bike i left keys in and the lights on.

We kind of waited out the rain hoping it would stop-- it didn't, so we set out on the way to McHenry. There were 8 of us riding together- 2 Furies: Sue and MJ, 3 ladies from the HOG group, a regular city rider and then me and Joanna. Joanna had been riding 3 weeks and had never ridden in the rain or very far, and of course I have only done one long-ish ride an that was last season. So,  yeah, we were quite a crew.

Sue led the way, i was the second bike, and somehow I managed to keep up despite being terrified out of my gourd. I didn't calm down until the nice long DRY straight stretches on route 12. But I still didn't want to go much over 45 mph.

Somehow though, we made it. I made it all the way to McHenry.

The blessing went great. It was a wonderful experience to have over 20 bikes and women there wanting their riding seasons blessed.  Click here for pictures!

After the blessing however, I was NOT ready to ride back. I was so nervous I seriously thought I was going to lose the most excellent lunch McHenry Harley Davidson had provided. And then once we got on the road, the wind was blowing across the road and kept jostling me on the back of the bike which completely and totally freaked me out. I had no idea how to deal with the wind.

It was a long, slow ride home. I was a nervous wreck the entire way home.  I was more nervous because there weren't as many bikes with us and because I was worried about the wind and about getting home on time and I just felt nervous. There was no part of the ride home that I actually enjoyed and that bothered me.

I had actually enjoyed parts of the ride out to McHenry, but on the way home I just couldn't get past my nerves and the desire to just get home and get off the bike.

All in all i rode 85 miles, had my first ride in the rain, my first group ride and my first long ride. It was a good day of firsts, but I wish I could get past the nerves and enjoy the ride.
 
This is the blessing i gave on Saturday at the Furies MC Women Only Bike Blessing at Mc Henry Harley Davidson:

May  the road rise to meet you and may the wind be ever at your back

May there be many sunny days for riding

And  if it must rain, may it be while you are working or sleeping so that the flowers and trees will still be beautiful for when you  ride.

May summer temperatures be just right, fall leaves more beautiful and winter as late and as mild as it can be.

May you and your path be safe from danger.

May the critters and creepy crawlies stay off of the road, and may the bugs slide easily from your windshield.

May the drivers in four wheeled and 18 wheeled vehicles be ever aware of your  presence and may their blind spots be few and their tailgating be minimal.

May you be alert, courteous, patient, and considerate of the rights of others on the road, even when they are not considerate of you.

May  your equipment run well and May you perform maintenance when needed and replace tires when worn.

May your gear hug and protect all your curves, keep you dry when the rains fall and keep you warm when the temperatures dip.

May your favorite sun glasses be ever free of scratches and may you switch to your clears at the right moment so as witness the sunset. 
 
May you ride with courage and confidence and may you have restraint on the throttle when tempted to ride unsafely.

May your nerves disappear and your confidence increase as you lean into tight corners or face long stretches of gravel.

May your hairdo by helmet be embraced as new fashion and may your vest, chaps, and boots be acceptable attire at all of your favorite restaurants.

May your U-turns be limited and your ice cream stops plentiful

May your twisties be many and may your stoplights be  few

May your passengers lean with you and not against you,

May those who ride with you lead the way, clear the lane and forever have your  back.

May your maps be ever accurate and your GPS be always updated.

May every drop of gas you pour make it inside your tank and may the gas prices drop  and your miles ridden increase

May you find new friends to ride with and old friends available at a moment’s notice.

May you be thankful before every ride for the blessing of being able to ride, but may you ever be mindful of the tremendous responsibility of controlling your machine.

May the Creator of you and me and the world in which we are privileged to ride shelter you every moment and shield you from every harm.

And may God’s face shine upon you and grant you peace for all of your journeys.
Amen.

Rev. Rebecca Butler 2012, permission granted for use as long as credit is given.

 
Liz Jansen posted the following in her blog: http://lizjansen.com/blog/transitioning-from-student-to-easy-rider-5-expectations-to-manage
I think it speaks to exactly what i'm dealing with as far as fears and expectations-- great advice!
 
Have i mentioned that i have the most awesome riding mentor ever? Yeah...cuz i do. MJ took me out again last night to practice more.

We did some practice in the parking lot-- stopping and going. But we also rode with a 3rd person, so i had to get used to having someone behind me. For the most part, i forgot Sue was back there, but in the back of my head i knew she was there and keeping me safe, which somehow made me feel better. I felt protected.

We did some really tight slow turns in the parking lot, and for the most part I did ok-- I missed the final cone a few times, but also i made it around all of the cones a a couple of times too, so I was pleased.

It comes down to this: I'm scared to go fast. I'm perfectly happy at about 45 miles per hour.  I feel in control of the bike and myself at that speed. I like that speed. Any thing faster makes me nervous and feel less able to control the bike.

Is there something wrong with only wanting to go "so" fast? Does that make me a poor biker?
 
So, yesterday was the first time I had ridden again since the almost-accident. It took me a few miles before i was able to breathe on the back of the bike again. It didn't help that it was spitting rain on me too. My mentor and i went down to the lake and did a lot of practice-- primarily turning. I get very nervous about turning, especially from a stop. So we practiced a lot of turns and some stopping as well.

I'm fine in the parking lot.
I'm fine on the small roads down by the lakefront where I never get above 40mph and rarely hit 5th gear.
I'm fine on the little side streets in the neighborhood.

I'm not so fine when I start thinking about real roads.

Even though in October, I was just fine-- fine enough to do the twisties in the ravines and fine enough to ride out to a suburb on backroads and back home without major incident. My confidence is shot.
 
I'm still reading Riding in the Shadows of the Saints by Jana Richman. On page 94 she says, "The relationship between motorcyle and rider is more like an affair: intense, charged with energy, demanding a great deal of attention and an acute sense of awareness. A relatively small mistake can have large consequences"

It's this small mistake large consequence thing that makes me the most nervous about being a new rider. There's so much to remember- T-Clocs, FINE-C, clutch, gear, brake, brake, keep your head on a swivel, look where you want to go, slow look press and lean in curves. So much to remember. I'm terrified that i'll forget that ONE thing that will keep me safe.

I struggle with wanting to be "good" at this sport, and in wanting to be "good" at it, i get lost in the persuit of perfection instead of focusing on being SAFE.
 
In Riding in the Shadows of the Saints, Jana Richman says, "The last thing a woman motorcyclists wants is to fit  the stereotype of the woman motorcyclist-- the one who can't make tight u-turns, who can't answer the question 'How many cylinders?' when she takes the bike for emissions testing, who most definitely cannot fling that tool packet open with one quick movement, pull out a wrench, tweak this and that, and get the bike back in working order"

I am by no means a handygal, but I have learned some things already about bike maintenence. I do know how to change the battery. I am also intriciately aware of how to change the spark plugs (including "testing for a spark" which was scary at best). I can do the little stuff-- checking tire pressure and the like. I can also change/check fuses. But that's about the extent of my mechanical knowledge.

I'm looking to learn more!