This isn't a cool or heart felt story. It's an honest one.
I admit I do not have a grand tale of any incredible pedigree or heritage in motorcycles. No, my father and other family members did not ride but for the exception of an ex-husband of a past aunt and a very distanced Canadian uncle that I see every seven years. No, I was not raised in a mechanical shop or race track. No, there were not any Motorsport fans either. I had a few friends in High School who had bikes but nothing too often or radical to be impressive to my being five to ten years later. And I think everyone thinks motorcycles are "cool" and "dangerous" or "daring" but those were neither my reasons of learning.
I suppose it was a fluke. I just liked learning new skill sets. From languages to martial arts to building things and tools to different forms of illustration... To riding bikes. Four years ago, I decided that I wanted my Moto license. My boyfriend at the time had ridden when he lived in Europe but not at all in the states. So he wasn't an overwhelming factor except being both supportive and impressed by my audacity and tenacity in learning to ride.
So I picked up a booklet at PennDOT (DMV) and studied for my permit and passed the test for my permit. Then I had enrolled in the PAMSP (Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program), which is free. I fell during class on their tiny engine bikes. A lot. I think at one point one of the instructors was frustrated with me. But I didn't give in. I just got back up and kept trying. Eventually I became comfortable and started to be more coordinated. Long story short with that is there were a lot of awesome people I had met in that class, both peers and instructors. Also, I had passed and gotten my license.
For the next two years, I did not do much with my license. I wanted to get a bike but it was not a priority in my life at the time. Especially being that I shared it with a partner and we had some important expenses to cater to. After my exit from that chapter of my life, I moved back into the city of Philadelphia and lived on my own. I had been looking for a bike. But as expected, I did not know what I was looking for and social media or the Internet were flooded with the trending cafe racers made from older Hondas and such. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. I had gotten some advice about older bikes and different kinds of bikes. I didn't understand the advice but I had gotten them. Haha.
With the constraint of money and experience and not a large number of supporters or experienced friends, it did take a while. Until one of my ex-coworkers from years and years before reconnected with me as bike loving enthusiastic friends. He knew I was looking and I was new at this stuff. And one day someone happened to trade her bike in for a car at his dealership. It was a 2009 Ninja 250. And it was a deal and I could afford it and it came from a friend I trusted. It wasn't the cool CX's that I had fallen in love with. Or a cafe racer or scrambler or "brat". But it was my first bike and I wanted to ride.
I wanted to ride. Why? Because I just wanted to.
I admit my friend rode it home for me from his dealership which was an hour and a half away and most of that was on the turnpike. Which is a scary thought on a bike that I have never ridden on before. I didn't think much of sports bikes but Boy, she was pretty. Pretty blue with hot pink Ninja logo or typography decals. Blue and pink--it reminded me of the X-men character. The psychic ninja that ran around in a blue one piece and pink psychic powers. Yeah. That's her name, Psylocke.
I took her out the next day, a summer Sunday. I managed to ride her to my friends house but on the way back home, I psyched myself out on a turn and boogered it and fell off. On my second day of owning her, I had fallen off. The worst part was that I did not know how to pick her up. Incredibly embarrassed and angry at myself, I cursed the sky and tried and tried and punched the stop light and the air probably. Luckily there are good people, and not the angry drivers who honked and drove around me, who parked and helped me get her up. I hopped on and zipped away incredibly embarrassed and disappointed in myself. Actually that was an incredibly bad weekend where three other major bad things happened. Anyways, I definitely cried and felt unworthy of my noble steed. I cried because I couldn't pick her up by myself. Because I couldn't take care of it myself.
I had to order some new mirrors and blinkers to replace definitely. And eventually, I got back on. I hesitated. But I gingerly got back on. I went mostly at night when there was no traffic during the week. I was fortunate enough to live near two awesome roads to learn on (Lincoln and Kelly drive) that just loops around back to my hood. I had dated some guys who would worry about my night rides but I thought they were perfect. During the summer, riding down by the river. I slowly gained confidence.
But not without woes. Not without failure. I've dropped Psylocke stupidly trying to get her into my apartment's court yard where I parked her under my window. I dropped her leaving the graveled parking lot and drive way. I have dropped her a hand full of times. And have bought a lot of new mirrors and blinkers. Can probably change those with my eyes closed.
But I kept going. I wanted to. I liked it when I was doing it right. I liked it when I learned to do it right after doing it wrong before. I liked that it was me doing it and doing it for me. I liked being alone. Seeing the world from a higher and open view. Feeling and hearing the wind. Feeling the bike. Smelling the road or trees. I accidentally got into something unexpected. But isn't that the most genuine kind of love? Accidentally finding the love of your life by mere chance--by giving it a chance.
Fast forward to today. I am unabashed about taking my tiny sports bike, that in no means fit with the custom or classic bikes my friends ride, anywhere. Maybe not the best bike to always do it on but I'm working on that. [smile] It took a lot of work though. And a lot of pushing my limits and comfort zone. After two years and 10,000 miles, am I an expert? Hell no. There is always more to learn and more to push. I love it. It is challenging. It is both the feeling of excitement and despair. It is a nomadic lifestyle that I am used to. It is an independent skill set.
I don't think I'm "cool" for it, or cool at all (I'm terribly shy and awkward). I don't have anyone to impress--com'mon, I ride a generic ninja 250. But I fell in love with it. I fell in love with it and I fell in love with the important people in my life who can appreciate my love for it--whether or not they ride. And I couldn't have gotten here without friends and help from the community. It just feels right. All of it. The experiences, the challenges, the friends, the communities, the lifestyle.
This is how I got started and why I keep going. I fucking worked for it and it continues to be rewarding.
So, what's your story? I hope to hear them.