Motorcycle enthusiasts will recognize the Tail of the Dragon as a popular destination for riders and bikers (motorcyclists will know the difference… I am a rider). This picture was taken less than a month before my accident. (And just in case you haven’t checked out my blog before… No, it was not a motorcycle accident.) I have been riding for a couple of years, but was not brave (crazy) enough to ride the Dragon until this past fall. As a matter of fact, I was very “anti-motorcycle” just a few years ago. But it is not my intention to debate the pros and cons of motorcycle riding. It is to demonstrate that we have no idea what we are capable of until we “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
When I met Kelly (the guy who creeps my page and makes corny comments), he informed me that he rode motorcycles (he had a CBR and a red VFR… red means I have no technical knowledge… it takes the place of “year” and any other identifying information… my Ninja in the picture above is “Candy Thunder Blue”). He said it was okay if it wasn’t my thing, but let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t going to let a woman keep him from it. I knew where he was coming from, since I had seen so many women “forbid” their husbands to do all sorts of things. Luckily for my husband-to-be, I already had 4 children and had no desire to mother anyone else. I assured him I was okay with his riding, but I had no interest (thank-you-very-much).
All it took was our second date and he had me on the back of the bike. He didn’t even have to push. I was surprisingly curious, if not intrigued. On October 8, 2010 we hopped on his CBR, rode to a little wedding chapel in Nashville, and vowed to laugh together and cry together for the rest of our lives. Then we rode on to the motorcycle mecca, Deal’s Gap, for our honeymoon.
In the past 3 years, we’ve done lots of laughing and crying (again… that’s another post). Lots of it revolved directly around my learning to ride. Within a year of our marriage, I was taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s course and obtained my motorcycle endorsement. In fact, we took the course together and even took my oldest son. The irony is that my son begged me for a motorcycle when he was younger and I absolutely forbade it (he was my son, so I could do that). I nearly failed the class because I was so fearful of the throttle that I would nearly dump the bike. After all, anything that is on two wheels simply tips over if it isn’t moving forward. But I desperately wanted to learn.
So my husband spent countless hours, patiently coaching me, as I slowly gained confidence. I dumped the bike, he helped me pick it up. When I panicked and cried, he walked to where I was and rode my bike home with me on the back. Then, about a year after I earned my endorsement, I took the MSF course again. This time it was a “women only” class. I felt more sure of myself and riding was becoming more fun.
Eventually, my husband encouraged me to go out on my own. I rode for 30 minutes everyday on a good little practice route we had found. I was still cautious, but I enjoyed doing my daily “loop.” And this year we took both our bikes on our annual anniversary trip and I “slayed the Dragon.” Okay, what I did looked a little more like “petting” the Dragon. I wasn’t fast and had nearly zero lean, but I made it to the scenic overlook and back on my own.
Two years ago, I never would have believed I could do it. I was 45 when I got on a bike for the first time (the teaching old dogs new tricks thing). I am so short, that finding a bike to accommodate me was difficult. And I was certainly not a natural (unlike my son, Josh). But I did it. If you started today, a step at a time, what dragon could you slay 2 years from now?