Thursday, July 23, 2009

Biker Babe

After getting my scooter, then wrecking my scooter, I finally got around to getting licensed to actually RIDE the scooter today. Shortly after I got it, I went to DMV and got my permit. It allowed me, much like a driver's permit, to ride with another licensed rider. I figured that was ok and not that big of a deal until I started wanting to go places and didn't have an escort. I couldn't take it to Weight Watcher meetings, I couldn't ride it to trivia or to the library or anywhere. Kind of a PITA since I'm not comfortable riding with a passenger yet and we always had to wait until someone else was home to watch the kids so we could take the bikes out. Since I wrecked, I've been back on it several times and I haven't had a problem. I had not been near DMV and I was ok with that too. RF has been encouraging me to get back over there and get it done. I kept putting it off for this reason or that and today, I finally just had to suck it up and do it. I posted to FB last night that I was doing it and I knew that would hold me accountable because I knew people would be asking me if I had done it. So I did.

I got up at 6:30 this morning so that I could get everyone up and fed and out the door in time to be at DMV when they opened at 8. RF rode the scooter over for me, since I couldn't, and I followed in the van with the kids. I was in line and ready to go when the doors opened at 8. I was the second person in and the only one taking a motorcycle exam. I handed over my info, visited the cashier (I didn't have to pay because I paid when I got the permit) and waited about 5 minutes before the lady called me out to test.

We went through the standard light checks then she had me set up for the course. The first test is a sharp left hand turn. You have to stay inside the lines, not knock over any cones and not put your foot down. As soon as I entered the shoot, I knew I was going too slow and wouldn't be able to make the turn in the space. I ended up putting my foot down but completed the rest of the test fine. After that was weaving and U-turn (we had been doing the U-turn in the wrong area and it was a lot harder the way we were doing it), which I was confident about. Following that was stopping. I had no issues with that because if I can do anything on that scooter, it is make it stop! There is a foot break pedal on it and when you hit it, it stops NOW! After that was the swerve. I freaked out to no end about the swerve because that was were I wrecked before. I told RF that I sort of wished that I had passed on breakfast because I felt pretty sick at the thought of having to swerve again. On the one hand, I was pretty panicked at the thought of wrecking again. On the other, I knew I wasn't going to do it so it didn't matter. She showed me how to complete the test and I found out I was doing it ALL wrong. Not as wrong as I thought I was doing but wrong enough. Basically, you start at the same point as the stopping test, ride through the shoot and swerve around the red "stop" line. We were starting right, just trying to swerve around the outside boundary line instead. I pulled around, fairly certain that the foot down had failed me. I've heard other people talk about getting their license and most of them that failed the first time failed because they put their foot down somewhere they weren't supposed to. Imagine my surpise when she told me that was only worth 1 point and the only point I missed. If I had kept my stupid foot up (something we worked and worked and worked on while we were practicing), I would have had a perfect score!! Back inside to wait a few minutes and now I'm the proud owner of a shiny new license, listing me as class DM. Ask to see it sometime, it is pretty neat looking, with holograms and two pictures and stuff :)

Most people have been pretty happy that I was able to pass fairly easily. The notable exception to that is my mom. Since I first started riding the little scooter a year ago, she has wanted me to take the U of I motorcycle class. I felt (and was obviously right), that I didn't need the class to get my license. The class is not without virtue and merit, it just isn't for me. It requires 4 hours, 4 different days, pre-committed with no exception. It is rain or shine, hot or cold, doesn't matter. First of all, I would like to know where I was going to fine 16 hours to devote to the class? My weekdays are open enough (although still busy) but I have the kids and my weekends are packed! We had to cancel a trip a couple of weeks ago because it was simply too much. Had we gone, we would have had 6 solids weeks where we weren't home either day of the weekend, then a week off and then vacation. Too much. I'm also nothing if not a fair weather rider. I don't want to do it when it is raining or cold or too hot or anything else. Committing to taking a class in July sometime in April just didn't work for me. Had I needed to learn to ride a motorcycle (motorcycles have manual transmissions and require clutching and shifting and what not. Scooters are automatic and a much smaller learning curve), the class probably would have helped but it still just wasn't me. So basically, I practiced the course for maybe 2 hours and rode it for maybe an hour and passed just fine. That is 13 hours I saved by doing it my way

Anyway, my mom took the class a couple of years ago and really struggled with it. She ended up sick all 4 days from the heat, she struggled and struggled to pass the test and just generally didn't do well with it. Then she bought a bike she didn't really want, dropped it a few weeks later trying to park on gravel (she was stopped, the kickstand just slid on the gravel) and sold it last summer. I think she really wanted someone else to have as hard a time passing and riding as she did. Of course that isn't the case because RF and my brother basically breezed through the class and I never took it. And I don't think she was in anyway happy when I wrecked but I sort of got the feeling she was hoping it would put me off riding. Since I had just bought the bike, I had to get back on it or it was a HUGE waste of money. And I didn't wreck it riding it, I wrecked it at DMV. Basically the same difference but a huge divide in my mind. Her attitude today was "oh, isn't that nice, well anyway" and I think she was irritated that I did as well as I did without the class because that meant I was right. Getting a license isn't rocket science and I didn't need a class to teach me how to do it.

My first motorcycle ride is this weekend too, which is part of the reason I decided to get my license today. Although I was perfectly legal to ride in it, I felt better knowing I had a real license and not just a permit. My mom is following the ride with my van and a trailer in case anyone has problems. She will also have MT with her and since TB is riding with my dad, she will be available if he wants to get off before the end of the ride. Last year, this ride was plagued by busted bikes. 2 guys never made it out of town. One guy blew a tire, one guy had something else happen to his bike, it was crazy. My dad worded his statement about the trailer very carefully. He said "your mom is going to drive the van and pull a trailer in case something happens to one of the bikes or if you decide you don't want to ride anymore". My mom was not as careful. She told me "I'm driving your van with a trailer so when you decide you can't do it, you have a way to get home" Well, by God, I'm finishing it now, if just to show her. I don't care if my ass is on fire, my arms are completely numb and my head is pounding, I WILL finish that ride!

If you see me around town, feel free to wave. I'm getting better about waving back because I'm more comfortable than I was last summer and my new scooter is heavier and less squirrely so I don't have to have quite such a death grip on the handle bars :)

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