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Stories of Encouragement
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Morgan and Me.
It started long ago. When I came out, people asked if I was going to pierce my nose and begin to ride a motorcycle. I had no interest in either and remained that way until Jan of 2009. By that time, I had ridden on the back of a former partners bike for awhile and had gotten used to how fun it was. After a few years, I had built my confidence up enough to try it myself. I said to her, “You know, I could see myself learning how to ride and getting a bike of my own. Instead of sitting behind you, I could ride by your side!” She rolled her eyes. It wasn’t long before I would have my own bike and no partner.
After we parted ways, I took a trip home to visit my family for the Holidays. I was walking down 4th Ave in Tucson, AZ and saw a woman driving down the street- like a mirage. She was driving a motorcycle had aviator goggles on her face, her dreadlocks pulled up on top of her head, her black trench coat billowing out from under her. Magically, she pulled up and parked in front of one of my favorite cafes and I felt compelled to approach her. I had fumbled for words, but managed something along the lines of, “I would like to learn to ride, but my former partner rode and I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t want to feel stupid. It looks like a blast and I want to give it go, but I just don’t know if I can…” She listened patiently, then stopped me and said, “Fuck your ex. If you want to learn and have your own bike, it’s all you. You figure your shit out and you make it happen.” Turns out, she was absolutely right. Any fear I had around learning to ride, or finding and buying a bike all by myself was later completely taken care of. I grew into it… fast.
My first bike, Morgan and my magic boots. (right)- coming soon.
It started by a ‘good faith’ purchase of a pair of worn motorcycle boots in Tuscon- my “Magic Boots”. Fired up by my motorcycle mavens frank encouragement, I found that pair of motorcycle boots at a resale shop (a perfect fit) and bought them, promising myself that I would learn how to ride by the end of 2009. Maybe after that, I would buy my own bike. Momentum is everything, and I had started the ball rolling. By the time I had returned to Chicago, I had gotten on the mailing list for Ride Chicago and was saving money towards their beginners class. Within a week, I had set up appointments with people on Craigslist to check out some bikes, knowing absolutely nothing about bike mechanics, how to spot a lemon, or how to even drive a bike if I did find a winner. Also- it was January and freezing cold. None of this mattered. My Femme Jets were ablaze!
Within a matter of days, I had priced out a Craigslist bike- a Honda Shadow 600, found a sweetheart who knew how to check for lemons and could drive it home for me if it worked out, and secured a car to get us there. It was thrilling. The bike was a great deal, and I forked over the cash. My friend rode it back. In January. To Chicago. For an hour. We kept pulling off the road to blast the heat in the Zip car to warm up frozen limbs. There was no turning back. I now owned a motorcycle. It was time to learn to ride it. I had shortened that time line from a year to a few, scant weeks. Go me.
By the time Spring rolled around, I had completed the beginners class with Ride Chicago with a friend (coming soon.) and was riding my very own bike. I named her Morgan, after a favorite childhood book, Morgan and Me by Stephen Cosgrove. I rode all the time, everywhere. I went camping on my motorcycle. I rode alone. I rode with friends. I rode to the lake and watched the sun rise. I rode to nowhere and stayed there overnight. 2009 was a tough year for me on a lot of levels and riding Morgan was my saving grace. It’s been a few years now and I am so glad I explored that original curiosity. The confidence I gained from taking on something I didn’t think I was tough enough to do and mastering it has made me feel more independent and self assured than ever. I now ride a Honda VTX1300 with dazzle lashes (eyelashes and a sparkly gem liner). Her name is Salander (after Lisbeth of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, of course). I encourage any woman who is curious about learning how to ride a motorcycle to do it, to do it now. You’ll find adventures and friends along the way and you may just find out that you’re far tougher than you thought. See you on the road!
Lisbeth. My Honda VTX1300 with custom paint job and dazzle lashes. She’s all lady! Oh, and I eventually got around to piercing my nose too. A few times.