Saturday, 16 February 2013

First Time on My Own Bike

It was May 8, two years ago, and the day had finally arrived to swing a leg over my new-to-me bike and take it out for a spin. 

I suited up nervously and went outside to pull the cover off my Suzuki, marveling at my decision which had brought me to this point. It was too exciting and I had to take a deep breath before I rolled it down the driveway. I inserted the key into the ignition and it began with a rumble that flooded my ears and heart with joy. (Does that sound corny? Yes, but no other way to describe it.)

I had asked my husband to follow me in his truck around the neighbourhood that day in case I had any trouble. The bike weighs 450 pounds and I wasn't sure if I could pick it up by myself. 

Started out by doing a very wide u-turn on our cul-de-sac at the end of the street, and then stopped to do a right turn out to the neighbourhood. Well...let me just say that within 30 seconds, the first thought in my head was "I feel just like I did on my Kawasaki when I was 18".

So the afternoon went by with me figuring out how the controls work and getting used to the feel of the bike. 

The first couple of times of starting out after a stop, I was in danger of the Suzuki leaving me sitting on the road still in the riding position. It had so much more power in a tiny twist of the wrist than the Kawasaki KZ 200.

It was interesting learning to stop the bike and sliding forward each time. I had to figure out how to turn off the turn signals without hitting the horn button and without taking my eyes off the road. I had to watch for running, barking dogs. I had to figure out how to stop slowly in gravel so as not to fish-tail too much with my non-knobby tires (hiking boots to the rescue that time).

At one point during the trip, I had stopped at a stop sign and looked over to see three young guys working on a shiny black Harley. Dressed in the standard black tank shirts and muscles bristling, they all stopped working to stand up and see what kind of bike was rumbling at the intersection. I nodded to them and received one back and proceeded on my way. Went by them a few more times, eliciting a stop work action each time.

By the end of the afternoon, I was tired and satisfied that I had done enough learning for the day. My hands were sore...but I had had a great time and knew I was not going to give this up any time soon.

My husband pulled up behind me in the driveway, got out and closed the door. He walked over to me and I said, "Well, did I look like I knew what I was doing?" He looked at the Suzuki and said "Yeah, you looked like you were having fun...maybe I should try that."

He had not ridden since he was a teen either. He had bought a trail bike with a buddy back in the day and rode a bit without telling his parents. When he told them that he wanted to ride on the street, they had forbidden it and there was no more discussion about it.  

So along comes me to shake up his life and his parents' views on a few things in the ensuing years, and here we are that day - standing in our own driveway with me having my inaugural ride under my belt, and him with that look on his face as he stares at the bike. 

I cannot even begin to describe the look on his face the day I came home and told him I had bought a motorcycle. I had asked him that day if he was interested in taking the safety course with me and buying a bike and doing something completely different with our lives. That day, he had decided no, he could not for various reasons. 

So I went ahead anyway with my own plans to ride as I could not wait any longer. I was not getting any younger and the kids could look after themselves, and my job was causing me way more stress than a person should have to put up with. If I didn't do this for myself...well, I think you have all hit a wall in your own life in this regard...

Needless to say, within a month of my inaugural ride on my Suzuki, my husband had taken the motorcycle safety course too. He told me that he had been scraping his pegs on the fancy little tight "S" curve and had no problem with the u-turn - I called him a show-off! And just before he was to do his road test on the course, a 16 year old had flipped her bike up in the air and landed on her head. The ambulance was called and she spent the night at the hospital, but we heard later that the next day she was in buying a new helmet. They work! It shook him up a little, but he passed his test with a little more reserve as to what he was getting into.

The day after his course was finished, he came home from work, and told me that he had bought a motorcycle and you should have seen the look on my face! Within two weeks of that purchase, I saw where my son had picked up his natural riding ability and I knew it wasn't from me. He bought a Kawasaki 250 Ninja.

Yep, my husband is totally hooked and addicted and can ride circles around me - which really only took a few weeks. He rides it to work, rides it to buy me flowers and rides it to buy things at the store. Our daughter has noticed a distinct lightening of mood since her dad got himself this machine. 

His work friends - who ride also - keep asking him "When are you going to get yourself a real bike?" He's thinking of getting a bigger one but is having way too much fun on this more maneuverable size. The right deal will come along when it's meant to.

So, that is my tale of the beginnings. 

Heading out to this today, the forecast is for more snow tomorrow and it's -11 C (12 F).

There is a car under there - really! 

Have a great day!







  1. Awesome story, you capture the feelings that we all felt at the beginning, feelings that just never go away, and kudos to your hubby to not getting sucked into getting a big bike first off, starting small and easy is a very very very wise thing to do.
    Life is an adventur to be lived not endured.

    1. Yes, the feelings of the joy still start up when I start up the bike each time, it's kind of awesome.

      My husband says that even if he does buy a bigger one (we saw an awesome ad for the Triumph Tiger last night) he will still keep the 250, the insurance and gas can't be beat for value.

      You're so right, life is meant to be enjoyed, not just going through the motions.

  2. Wow that snow is serious!!

    What a great story Suzu, that thrill of riding, being noticed and the feelings of belonging that you get when you see another rider and nod or wave. All things that touched a nerve in me, they are things that I love too.

    Oh I remember so many of those things from when I was first started practicing, I was sure I was going to end up doing permenant damage to myself if I didn't learn how to stop without sliding forward into he tank.

    My hubby used to drive the car around after me too, it took him a bit longer to get his bike but only because we had to scrimp and save to get the one he wanted. I'm sure he was hankering to get it from the first moment he took me out to the deserted industrial area where I learnt.

    Isnt' it wonderful to be a good influence on someone else :)

    Hope the weather clears up soon for you and you get out for a ride :-D

    Oh and I like the Ninja's, if I thought I had half a chance to reach the ground while seated on one I'd have one now.

    1. The snow just won't quit this husband was digging out the driveway again yesterday afternoon. The neighbours were pulling snow off their roofs before there are any cave-ins. It will start to melt with warmer weather about mid-April but will take a while to disappear.

      It's humbling to know that I've injected some fun back into someone's life who was sorely needing it...He's always worked faithfully to look after us, but I think he decided that day that he was missing out on something and was tired of pushing what he wanted to do to the side.

      The Ninja is an awesome bike and now my daughter is eyeing it up...

      Sliding into the tank does hurt quite a bit doesn't it? You have to pay to play! Have some good rides for me...

  3. Suzu:

    I think it was brave of you to be the first to buy a bike. usually it's the guys who buy a bike and not the gals so you are a trendsetter. I think that it's nice that most of your family have this passion and can enjoy riding somewhere together.

    I really don't have any relatives who ride and most would say it is a dangerous thing to do. In fact, I don't even have a riding buddy so I look forward to meeting up with others during my annual motorcycle vacation. I can't be selfish and ride all the time so I reserve Sunday for brunch and car outings.

    You certainly have a lot of snow. I don't even want to think about having to shovel it

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. A trendsetter...yep, I guess I am. It was definitely a leap of faith with spending the money to try something new. But I wasn't happy and something had to change...

      Yes, we've been on a few rides all together - it's cool to be the leader of the pack! My husband and I have weekends off now (I ditched the stressful job and got a better one with some fortuitous help) so we have that time together. Our son joins us when he can, his work schedule is different from ours and he doesn't like the early morning rides...

      It is a dangerous thing to do, but after hearing about all the other ways people can get hurt, we've done what we can to lessen the chance of it as I'm sure you do too. Over the years, I've learned you can't always please your family, you have to do something for yourself too.

      Shoveling snow has taken up a lot of time this winter, everybody I work with is all over the novelty of the postcard pictures. The lucky ones have left the province for warmer climes for a bit. Yesterday was quite nice with the temp at 0 C.

  4. Don't you just love the sound of that IXIL exhaust on the Gladius? I love the rumble when I fire it up.

    One of the best features of the bike is the gear indicator. I think I'd miss that on another bike. Hubby was out on the Gladius yesterday and let me know he didn't appreciate the notchy throttle and his knees hurt from the riding position. The bikes has it's foibles but it sure is a great and forgiving bike. And FYI - I hit the damn horn instead of the turn signal all the time, especially when I am tired or feathering the clutch in a parking lot. Unfortunately it gets more attention when I do that.

    I enjoyed your story and I am glad your hubby got back into riding too. It is nice to have a hobby to enjoy together.

    And damn that snow looks cold.

  5. Yep, love the rumble too...finish snugging up those gloves because it's go time!

    It took me a few rides to get the throttle figured out so I wasn't launching myself each time; my best solution is to give it a little bit of gas then release the clutch slowly and I'm smoother now. I've never got the tachometer past 6000 even at 110 km/h (68 mph) so I know there is a ton more power in that engine if I need it. That is the max speed limit on the highways here. Our Suzukis are perhaps not great for really long distances for riding position, but more breaks seem to help with that. I wonder if the V-Stroms are better for that as they seem to be set up for adventure riding?

    It is nice to have this hobby to do together, we are really enjoying it, and I know you and your husband are too.

    1. Suzu:

      I used to have a Suzuki SV650k3 so I know what cramped legs feels like. I could barely manage 2 hours on my bike before my legs were cramping. I was on a 11 hour ride back to Vancouver from Kelowna and had to detour north because of the forest fires. My legs were killing me. The bike makes you bend your legs too much. so I started to put my legs out on the rear pegs to stretch. I also had frame sliders so I rested my legs in front resting on them on straight stretches.

      My V-strom is better but I still needed to install highway pegs and that made all the difference. Plus the 'Strom has a more upright seating and I added a GEL pad on top which also stops your legs from falling asleep due to lack of circulation.

      Riding the Wet Coast

    2. Happy to hear you found a solution for long trips. The GEL pad might work pretty well for my Gladius too, have to keep my eyes out for one, thanks for the hint!

  6. Suzu:

    I suppose you have read this !

    it's not fair . . .

    I bought the GEL pad from CT: Canadian Tire. On sale they are $10., reg price around $40. On hot days it also stops sweating in your pants, if you know what I mean. In Oregon it was 100°F in Hell's Canyon last year, and that GEL pad made all the difference.

    Riding the Wet Coast

    1. Oh yes, we have seen it and are not happy. Expressed my displeasure to another coworker today who knows a lot of Harley riders, and there is already a petition going around. SGI says they have not decided exactly, but were threatening this last year too. If it goes through, it will be a death knell to all of the dealerships here. I cannot afford a 130 percent increase for five months of riding, while some dummy who won't look where they're driving, does not get an increase on their insurance...stupid, stupid. Thank you for thinking of us though, I'll keep you posted as to how those public forums go...

      The GEL pad from Canadian Tire? Really? Have to check that out and bring along my saved up Canadian Tire money! Thanks again.

  7. Suzu:

    more info here, with rate tables

    Riding the Wet Coast