Tuesday, July 20, 2010

License to Ride - Or, the story about motorcycle class!

So I went on vacation this weekend! Well, not really, but it did sort of feel like it in a way - my sister-in-law, Amy, came up to visit with her family and we went to motorcycle class! How was this a vacation? I SPENT 15 hours AWAY FROM MY CHILDREN TALKING WITH OTHER ADULTS. Srsly. Matt and Amy's husband Marc had the 6 kids Friday evening, and all of Saturday and Sunday morning. It almost felt like I didn't see little Jason at all! Let me tell you about it :)

Late Friday afternoon Amy and I left the kids in their daddies' good care & drove to the Harley dealership where our class was to be held. The course is through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and they hold it up at the dealership. Clever, no? While you're waiting you can browse all the bikes and all the merchandise! (Need to go back and see if they still have that pink button-up shirt...) We wanted to be the first ones there because, as Matt knew from his experience back in March, when the instructor arrives for class he has the sign up list for the next day's session, either morning or afternoon - we definitely wanted to be in the morning class - it is July, after all.

So we were the first ones there & got our slots for the 7:30 am class Saturday and Sunday. Everyone else arrived and by 6pm we were ready to start. In addition to us, our class had one older married couple, 4 college-aged guys, a retired truck driver, an older lady who had a scooter, and two other women (nurse co-workers). We were relieved to see that we would be riding in the morning with the nurses and the married couple, and not the testosterone crew - one of whom would apparently do a wheelie the next day and put a big divot in the practice area.

Friday night was classroom time - we hunted for the answers to questions in our study book & then watched videos, followed by a discussion. Class was finished by around 9:30 & we then headed home to stress about the written test, drink a pitcher of peach sangria and get ready for the next day.
Amy, bright and early, pre-helmet

Saturday morning we didn't waste any time getting on the bikes - our instructor, Dave, was a really great guy who couldn't have been a better teacher, he really made it a fun, manageable task. Everyone was assigned a bike then we looked at all the controls and went over all the basics. Before long, we were in 1st gear riding from one side of the parking lot to the other. Before the day ended, we were riding in circles shifting from 2nd to 3rd. I wish I could remember everything we did Saturday morning, but honestly we were out there for a long time - 5 hours - and it was HOT HOT HOT. One girl was really struggling with the heat & we weren't sure if she'd make it through the day, but she did, and happily didn't have heat stroke - oy. At 12:30 the afternoon crew arrived & we all went inside to take our written test.
Me, not so early, post-helmet

Just like everyone said, 'don't stress the test'. You have to love multiple guess choice! 50 questions, choice of 3 answers, piece of cake. I was the first one done, and only missed one question. Apparently I'm a good guesser :) When Amy was finished, we headed back to the house and about collapsed - it was a physically and mentally draining morning. Of course, after being home for an hour or so I thought it would be a good thing to try to practice on my bike, you know, so I didn't forget anything - that was a mistake. My bike is double the weight of my class bike, and has nearly 10 times the power. I was really intimidated by it just sitting on it, let alone riding it. Matt insists that it's the right choice for me though, and will not even consider getting something smaller for me to practice on. Meanie :(

Anyway - we decompressed & had dinner out followed by yummy drinks at home - 1oz Vanilla Vodka & 1 oz Amaretto over ice in a big glass topped with sparkling lemonade (recipe thanks to a tweet from Connie) - and tried to get some sleep before Sunday morning.

Bright and early Sunday we arrived at class to find all our bikes waiting for us to ride them from the garage up to the practice area. Apparently I'd forgotten everything from the previous day and almost ripped my feet off trying to get the damn thing going in 1st (CLUTCH CLUTCH CLUTCH!!!) After that confidence-shaker, things went a little more smoothly & we moved through our drills until about 11:30 when Dave set up the course for our practice and then skills test. The test consisted of doing 2 U-turns inside a box, swerving at 12-17 mph to avoid an obstacle, stopping quickly without locking the wheels from 18-20mph (I think), and being able to negotiate a 135 degree curve at about 17 mph. Most everyone was struggling with the box, but as Dave said in practice, if you turn your head in the direction you want to go, everything else sort of follows along. We went through the course one by one practicing each task in a loop until it was test time, when we all got to watch one another. What a nerve-wracking experience that was. I thought I did pretty good until the curve when I had trouble getting the bike into 2nd gear, but that didn't affect my score. I lost points for taking an extra foot to stop on the quick stop and for not taking the curve fast enough - but I think almost everyone lost points for that.

Long story short, we all passed! Amy and I were pretty giddy and relieved that it was OVER and that we were successful. Never in a million years did I ever think this was something I would do, and I'm so glad I did it. It feels good to have gotten out there and accomplished something for myself unrelated to the care and raising of young children - this is something completely separate from them that I went out and did on my own, and it's been a long time since I've had that feeling. Now to get some practice on my big-ass bike and ride :)

Visual proof that I'm not pulling your leg.

The kids had swimming lessons last night and while I was waiting and chatting, Evie asked me to watch her do a flip - which I of course completely missed the first time, so she went and did it again. My jaw dropped to the pool deck when I saw her do a flip off the diving board into the deep end - I have no idea where she picked up THAT from! Needless to say, I grabbed my handy-dandy iphone and took a quick video of her next two flips. Clearly, this child is not related to me (although I do vividly remember her birth....) Take a peek, please:

Can you imagine? Maybe YOU can, but I can't - swimming always feels like almost-drowning to me, and hurtling myself through the air like that? Can't say I would attempt that. EVER. You go girl :)


  1. So proud of you...really. And not for the obvious...the getting on a motorcycle and actually riding it...but for the doing something that seems so out of your comfort zone..something that caused you stress and anxiety...and you did it.

    I think adding adventure to ones life..especially the life of the stay at home mom...is vital. Vital for you, your kids, your marriage, everything. Continue to do this...take leaps, push the envelope, color out of the lines...just do it. There is so much more life beyond the piles of laundry and dirty dishes...grab it while you still can.

    And your flipping daughter?? Perhaps she is mine...I used to do back flips off of my parents bed, and into the pool...maybe that can be your next adventure/challenge???

    and now, don't get me started on the weekend away from your children...I'll sign up for just about anything to get that kind of time off!

  2. How awesome are you! You are bad ass for sure!!! That is just so exciting... super scary too! :) Holy flips little Miss Evie is a rockstar!

  3. Go you! And go, Amy! Well, while I'm at it...Go Matt and Marc for kid-duty!

    Just one question: Did you get any pics of Amy plastered after the spiked lemonade??? (Hi, Amy! I know you're reading this...Mmmmmuwah!!)

  4. Wow - so cool!!! You guys look so great with your helmets and bikes! Congratulations!


  5. YAY for spiked lemonade and passing your test!

    Great job!

    I'm not a swimmer either...Evie is awesome!

  6. Brave little Evie! I want to do that...I love diving off the diving board, but these days it's more like a beached whale creating a tidal wave. So not attractive.

    The drink that Connie gave you the recipe for sounds sooooo good!! I'll have to try it. I love anything with Amaretto!

    The lessons do sound stressful, but you're official now!! Hopefully after some side street practice you'll get the hang of it and start to feel comfortable behind the handle bars! Cute pics, btw!

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  8. Okay.
    Let's see, so much to comment on.
    The drinks you made from Connie sound DELICIOUS!!
    The bike practice and stuff...NO. I couldn't balance a bike and if I rode one I would tip it. For sure. And you can't tip those things, can ya? I mean, you'd hurt yourself AND the bike.
    CONGRATS on passing!!
    Also, the flip in the water? NO.
    I'm with you. Not a water baby.
    You and your SIL are so cute!

  9. You go girl! I so admire your sense of adventure and hope that one day I can find my adventurous side lol.

    Way to go Evie...I'm not a big swimmer so the diving board totally freaks me out even without the flip!

  10. You a a total bad ass!! So when do you get your leather chaps with the fringe?

    I love swimming! I wish my parents had a video camera back in the day so they could've taped me, I was always doing flips and stuff off the diving board.

  11. She's a daredevil just like her mom!

    How awesome are you?! I'm yearning for some child free bad-ass time myself. You're an inspiration!

  12. You are too cool for (motorcycle) school!! And my John-Paul (7) just started doing that Evie-flip this summer too - so scary!


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