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Should Mrs MotorbikeWriter learn to ride?

Mrs MotorbikeWriter internet shopping partner
Mrs MotorbikeWriter in her RSD jacket

It is a Sunday afternoon at our house and the V8s are on the TV. My friend Michelle has come over to watch the races with us as her husband is a race engineer with one of the teams so she likes to have someone to watch it with.

Mr and Mrs MotorbikeWriter on the Victory Cross Country Tour
Mrs MotorbikeWriter on a Victory Cross Country Tour

We have consumed a few glasses of wine which always makes the V8s go faster, when MotorbikeWriter announces that the person he had lined up to do a how-to-learn-to-ride-a-motorbike story has pulled out. My friend and I very enthusiastically step up and volunteer. Within minutes we have worked out our coordinated outfits.

When my friend’s husband hears about our plan to get our bike licences he reminds her of how clumsy she is and talks her out of doing it. But I am a determined woman and will do the opposite of what any man tells me. So I decide I am going to do it. Girl Power!

The day arrives and I head off to the designated course. I haven’t told my daughters about my intentions. I also have had second thoughts about it as I had been super-busy at work and I just need a weekend of nana naps.

However, I made a commitment so I grab my bike gear and head off. The first hour or so is theory and so much to take in. Then we head out to the bikes. Yikes it is getting serious.

I think to myself “you rode trail bikes many years ago with what seems great ease, this will be similar”.  

Mrs MotorbikeWriter
Lynette Clarke has been riding 4 years and now feels more scared when riding pillion

We get some information about starting the bike and kill switches and what to do if you panic (on reflection I should have paid more attention to this). Then we are on the bikes doing straight lines and very quickly it is left-hand turns. I think to myself I can’t believe I am doing this. How cool am I?

Then we have to do right-hand turns. Oh dear this is not feeling so easy. The instructor yells “you need to go faster through the turns”. I panic, accelerate and see a fence in the distance.

I believe it is called “target fixation” and I see the fence coming closer, thinking this is going to hurt … and it does. The bike slams into the fence resulting in 15 stitches in my leg.

This also resulted in some awkward confessions to my daughters and I still haven’t fessed up to the truth of my injury to my parents but no doubt they have worked it out.

Consequently I have been a pillion ever since.

Mrs Motorbikwriter
Erin recently got her licence first go

My friend Erin has recently decided to get her bike licence. Initially for her it was the thrill that she was doing something that many people said she couldn’t or shouldn’t do. She also likes being able to share the experience with other riders and not having to rely on someone else if she wants to go for a ride.

There is also the adrenaline rush and the peacefulness of riding. Just you, the bike and the road; a perfect relationship.

I also believe it is an experience for you and your partner to share, as two individuals on separate bikes or two-up.

On our recent trip to America I was impressed by the amount of American women who rode their own bikes. Much more than in Australia. I felt slightly inadequate when I was in America as I was the pillion and depended on the rider.

This is unusual for me, because I have always considered myself to be an independent women who has always worked and earned her share of the household income.

Mrs MtorbikeWriter in her pillion position aboard an Indian Roadmaster
Mrs MotorbikeWriter in her usual position

However, I am also pragmatic and, being of Scottish descendancy, I realise that two bikes mean twice the expense: servicing, tyres, petrol, etc.

To add further conflict to my feelings about riding, there is the fear that if anything happened to MBW when we are in an isolated location, I couldn’t ride the bike to save myself.

With all these conflicting thoughts swirling around in my head, the big question is do I get my licence and ride my own bike or do I sit on the back of MBW’s bike and content myself with making the bike look better?

  1. Ok Rob, I agree it would be great to have your own bike but your last experience took a long time to cure!!!!! If something happens to your partner you can always call for help with your mobile!!!!!

  2. The big question that seems relevant is “do you really want to ride?”

    I’ve seen a few diasppointed/detached female riders that want to move off the pillion seat and “have fun like their boyfriend/husband” and they give up soon after – they aren’t committed to actually “riding” and are trying to be “one of the boys”. (same thing applies to blokes a bit, but the bar seems a bit lower – that’s testosterne for you)

    If you approach from a real independance focus, want to do your own thing and commit to doing it there is no reason why you wouldn’t make it work and be a force to be reckoned with.

    As for your previous experience – it’s experience. Now you know what not to do – learn from it, try again. Everyone has a drop or prang (usually in in a way that everyone sees), so you now have that out of the way.

    Make it *your* ride, go your own places, do your own things and be comfortable doing it.

    Go for it!

    As for feeling useless if “something happens” – there are courses for that, even motorcycle-focused first-aid classes that are well worth doing.

    BTW – not sure if you realise that trying to make MBW look better could be a losing proposition, if you accessorise your own ride and gear you can at least say “Oh, he just pops up everywhere I go!” 😉

  3. A couple of years ago I announced I was going back to riding. My wife said it’s something she always wanted to do. She committed herself and went through some of the same issues. I never forced her to ride once she had her license but gradually she’s ridden more and more and can’t live without it.

    Tell yourself you can do it and take it slow on a bike that suits you. Any decent trainer will take you through at your pace. Once you have the RE then you can decide if you like riding or not…it grows on you

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