Born To Ride, The End Of The Beginning

It’s late. Everyone’s sleeping. By ‘everyone’, I mean my patients. And I’m on my break. I have neglected the final entry regarding my moto journey and moto school, so now is as good a time as any….

I arrived on the final day of moto class, nervous, excited, and ready to see this through to completion. I had some time to decompress and debrief with my boyfriend, so I felt ready. Ready to go. Perhaps ‘too ready’?

Against my better judgment and inner voice, I relented and told James to come watch me for the first few minutes of class after he dropped off a friend at the airport. He was hesitant at first, but after a bit of coaxing and convincing on my part, he decided to come and see me. I felt good. I wanted him to see all that I had learned.

I quickly realized what a mistake that had been.

My nerves kicked into high gear (no pun intended) almost as soon as I straddled and started my motorcycle. I knew he was watching me. While not judging, I knew he was scrutinizing my every move.

I felt a bead of sweat trickle down the small of my back.

Take a deep breath, Lisa. Can’t turn back now. Let’s ride.

Day two of school opened with perhaps the most difficult maneuver of the entire class. A tight figure-eight manuever inside a ridiculously-small rectangular box. I immediately began to panic inside my helmet. I gripped the handlebars tighter than ever before.

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It was my turn.

After almost zero time on the bike that morning, I released the clutch and began to move forward. I knew almost instantly that this attempt was a complete and utter failure. I turned wide, and I barely moved the throttle enough to maintain any sort of smooth speed. I was struggling. Worse than that, I knew that a pair of trained eyes in the form of my motorcycle-riding boyfriend were trained on my every move.

The instructor stopped me. She gave me some good instruction and firmly told me to apply more smooth, consistent throttle, turn my head in the direction I wanted to go and turn the handlebars.

Okay, I thought. Let’s try again.

And again. And yet again.

Without realizing it, my boyfriend had left. I immediately felt relieved and less pressure. We kept doing the figure-eight turn, with some people nailing it from the beginning, and a few people struggling like me.

After a particularly disastrous attempt, the instructor looked me squarely in the face through my visor and said,

“Lisa, if you can’t come close to mastery of this skill, there is a very good chance you won’t be allowed to continue with the remainder of the class. Now, you can always return another day at no charge, but keep in mind, mastery of this skill is something you’re going to have to come close to attaining.”

I froze.

Failure?

That’s simply not an option. I didn’t come this far only to fail on the final day of class. I vowed to get my head back in the game, shake off the nerves, take a deep breath, and play this out. I was not about to voluntarily leave the class. I would exhaust all my options and wait to be asked to leave, if that were the case.

As it turns out, I completed that skill and all the rest. While I didn’t completely master it, I made huge strides, and the instructors could clearly see that I intended to stick it out with the rest of my class. Some people made it look easy, while others struggled. One thing that will always stick with me is something one of my instructors said:

“Nobody is the perfect rider, including us instructors. We all have things to work on. While some may have perfected the figure-eight turn, they may need practice on quick stops, or shifting. Just remember that there is no such thing as the perfect rider.”

She was absolutely correct. I may have felt some tasks and skills were easier to master or learn than others, but I also knew there were others that would need constant attention and practice.

At the end of the class, it was time for our final course evaluation.

I approached each skill one at a time. There was no sense in worrying about what was upcoming until I had successfully made it through the current skill. With each passing skill, I was one step closer.

When we finally finished the evaluation, we dismounted our bikes and walked over to the instructors.

I passed.

We all passed.

I felt a lump rise in the back of my throat. I had done it. I had successfully overcome fears, doubts, disbelieving friends and family, a rough start to the final day, and my own mental obstacles to obtain a certificate showing that I had completed a basic motorcycle course.

Wow.

I was in disbelief.

We all congratulated each other, wished each other continued success on two wheels, and before I could even leave the parking lot, I called the one person who inspired and encouraged me, and flat-out knew I could do this.

My boyfriend.

As I choked back happy tears, I proudly proclaimed,

“I can ride a motorcycle.”

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4 thoughts on “Born To Ride, The End Of The Beginning

  1. Princess Scooterpie/Moto_Diva says:

    Congratulations Lisa! Motorcycling is about two things perseverance and practice. Your instructor was right, there is no such thing as a perfect rider, even the best make mistakes. A friend of mine is an MSF instructor and recently posted some pics of himself in a practice session and he ran over a cone, completely munched it. Keep practicing and before you know it you will be pulling off perfect figure 8 turns.

  2. Princess Scooterpie/Moto_Diva says:

    Congratulations Lisa! Motorcycling is about two things perseverance and practice. (well maybe more than 2 things) it’s hard to put your faith into a machine that that can bring you so much joy and possibly grief. Your teacher is right about there not being such a thing as a perfect motorcyclist. A friend of mine is a MSF coach and posted pictures on his blog where was doing manoeuvres and drove over a cone. Everyone has their days and sometimes I think we get too into our heads and it freaks you out. You will be pulling off perfect 8 turns before you know it.

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