Tuesday, April 20, 2010

1000 miles riding my own motorcycle!

I've now ridden more than 1000 miles on my own motorcycle. Hurrah! Here is everywhere I've been so far by motorcycle.

The 150+ mile ride on back roads to Corvalis (farthest South trip) last Sunday was terrific, though not enough winding roads for Stefan: interesting things to see, some really lovely houses, and even a ferry ride! We also had a wonderful 188 mile ride a week ago, through the Nehalem Valley, with lunch at the Birkenfeld Country Store (which turns out to cater specifically to motorcyclists) and lots and lots of winding roads, then back through Newberg to Canby - gorgeous scenery, little traffic (except for other bikers) and dry roads.

If I wasn't riding, I would be pulling my hair out. Being unemployed for so long, missing Europe so much, and feeling like Oregon (and, indeed, the whole move back to the USA) has been such a huge mistake, it's riding my motorcycle that gives me so much of what I miss.

My first overnight motorcycle trip (camping) on my own bike could happen in late May or in June. I'm still not going as fast as Stefan around curves, but he's good about waiting for me if he gets more than a mile ahead (which does happen if we hit a really, really winding road). And for the record: I go at least the recommended MPH in a curve, and sometimes 5 - 10 miles over.

My goal? 1500 miles by September 1, 2010.

Gail saw this and thought of me. And, indeed, it's how I think now when the weather is nice. I love riding a motorcycle of my own: first of all, it's empowering. I love the sense of accomplishment and confidence riding a motorcycle of my own gives me. It also fits well with my love of adventure. I also love the camaraderie/community with other bikers -- I haven't found any motorcycle snobbery yet among motorcyclists I meet -- and everyone (waitresses, gas station attendants, etc.) are just so welcoming when we pull up and I pull off my helmet. And I feel so cool! The downside of riding my own motorcycle? It's really challenging physically and mentally, and I always have to be ready for that challenge. I also have to be hyper vigilant while riding, always assuming that truckers and car drivers do not see me.

But with that said, I don't think there's a thing wrong with women who ride on the back of a motorcycle -- I refuse to fall into that kind of motorcycle rider snobbery. One of the really nice things about riding on the back of a motorcycle is that you don't have to pay attention at all to driving -- you get to just experience, just grooving along, zoning out, not making any decisions, just enjoying the ride...

I looked up motorcycle classes when I lived in Austin, Texas back in the 1990s, and intended to sign up for them, and then never did. I'm not sure I really ever would have on my own. So I have to thank Stefan for being so supportive and encouraging of the idea. I'm just so sorry I waited so long!

To all my women friends: if you have ever thought you might like to ride a motorcycle, sign up now and take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course nearest you (in Oregon, instead of MSF, there is Team Oregon). You do not need your own motorcycle to take the class (and probably not even your own helmet). And if you pass the class, in most states, you will get your motorcycle license (no need to take another riding test) after you finish the written test. You aren't making any kind of big financial commitment to take the MSF course -- it was $150 when I took it. It's a two-day course, and at the end of it, you can decide you don't want to ride a motorcycle. It's a fantastic way to spend a weekend, at the very least.

Just promise me that, once you decide you do want to start riding, whether on your own motorcycle or someone else's, the first thing you will be is a helmet of your own!

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