That Time I Learned to Ride a Motorcyle


It was a whirlwind weekend!  One of those weekends where you feel like you need a weekend to recover from your weekend.  It’s going to take a lot of coffee to get me through the next couple of days until I catch up on sleep.  It was funny, I wasn’t nervous at all about taking the motorcycle class but after the classroom portion on Friday night, the nerves kicked in and definitely affected my sleep both Friday and Saturday nights.  Add that to the early wake up (we had to be there ready to go, at 6:45), and I was pretty much ready to collapse into bed by around 7 last night.

We really lucked out though.  The other 6 people in the class were really cool and we had two absolutely awesome instructors.  Seriously, if you’re thinking about taking a class in northern Virginia, you should go to these guys.  They made the class really fun but provided great feedback without making me feel like a total idiot.  I definitely went into the class a little cocky.  My thought was that I’ve seen some pretty big dummies riding motorcycles, it can’t be THAT hard.  And I guess really it’s not that hard.  It’s just like learning anything else, you need to practice.  Confidence is key on a motorcycle.  The difference is when I learned to drive a manual car, panicked and slammed the break without pushing the clutch, I just stalled.  Annoying, but not a huge deal.  When I panicked on the bike and grabbed the front break hard in a turn, I fell off the bike.  Mental note, NEVER grab the front break hard in a turn.  Luckily I was going so slow, the bike just kind of fell over, and the only things hurt were my pride and confidence.

That happened near the end of class on Saturday.  When we got back to class Sunday morning, I was a mess.  I couldn’t even do the easy maneuvers that I’d had no problem with the day before.  My whole body was tense and I could feel myself fighting with the bike, too afraid to relax and move with it.  And of course the first lesson of the day was one of the hardest things we’d have to do, a figure 8 in a tiny little box.  It was miserable.  At one point, I just stopped and told the instructor I couldn’t do it.  He walked over to me and I was half expecting him to tell me that I was right.  That I wasn’t ready.  But he just looked at me and said, “What’s the problem?”  “I can’t do it.”  “Why not?  You’re doing fine.  Relax and smile.”  And right there, that was the turning point in my day.  I suffer from over thinking and lack of confidence in most areas of my life.  The amount of times the words “I can’t” pop into my head on any given day is kind of embarrassing.  In fact, if I want to get all introspective about it, it’s probably the reason that I’m attracted to distance running.  I’m pretty sure my best race is much shorter, most likely around the 5k or 5 mile mark.  But while I like doing well, racing for me isn’t all about what place I come in.  What I like about marathons is that finally FINALLY I can hear that voice in my head that says, “Tara, what are you doing?  You CAN’T do this.” and say, “Wanna bet?”

Anyway, getting off track.  Back to motorcycles.  Once I stopped over thinking it and relaxed, it all clicked back into place.  I stopped fighting with the bike and started moving with it.  And the rest of the class I just tried to enjoy the gorgeous day and the time on the bike.  At the end of it, I passed the test and am now legally allowed to ride a motorcycle, watch out!  We’re still looking for a couple of starter bikes and I don’t plan on leaving a parking lot any time soon, but am very proud of myself for not getting off the bike and walking away.  After we finished the class, we headed over the Sweetwater for a celebratory drink.  Octoberfest is on tap right now.  It made my day.

The kids had a great weekend too.  My dad helped out with them on Saturday and took them IHOP for breakfast and shuttled them around to their soccer games.  Lawrence’s parents took them out to lunch and to Mt. Vernon yesterday.  We are very thankful and appreciative that they could help us out so we could take the class together.  It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time and it was kind of awesome to finally do it.  Last night, we ordered Chinese and talked about all the fun things we did this weekend.  Lauren asked if I would drive her and Ryan to school on the motorcycle once we bought one.  That made me smile.

I have some fun stuff on the calendar this week and am hoping to get back to running for real this time.  Fingers crossed.

Happy Monday!


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