Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This is my very first time on a motorcycle. I am about two years old. So cute!

After many years of riding on the back of (also called "bitch" on) Michael's motorcycle, I decided that I would finally woman up and learn to ride. After all, I never feel so free as when I am flying down Angeles Crest Highway, smelling the pine and taking each curve in turn.

When I told Michael that I was ready, he bought me lessons for my birthday. Exactly 2 months following my 37th birthday, I was in class and ready to ride.

When it comes to riding on things, I will start with the caveat that I haven't always been very successful in these endeavors. For instance, I didn't learn how to ride a bicycle until I was 24. My sister and I weren't allowed to ride when we were kids.

Michael taught me how to ride a bicycle so that I would do the California AIDS Ride with him. From San Francisco to Los Angeles. Yes. Ride 700 miles after just learning how to pedal a bike.

My friend Kristin lent me the bike and I practiced for about 5 months but I never quite got to the place where I could take my hands off the handlebars to do things like...signal.

Notice the Band-Aid on my helmet in this picture. Very appropriate.

So after pushing my way down from San Francisco, possibly crying through parts of it. Possibly not riding every mile, I gave the bike back to Kristin and I haven't been on a bicycle since.

Some day I'll tell you about my one and only stint on inline skates that ended up with problems and surgical staples involving "DO NOT BACK UP: SEVERE TIRE DAMAGE" spikes.

But I digress.

The class, led by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, would have waived my DMV riding test and was scheduled for 2 days in February. The first 5 hours was classroom instruction and a test. On which, I received 100%. Because I am a smarty pants.

We broke for lunch and returned to what was called "the range" but was actually a big parking lot with cones. In my mind I was already airbrushing flames onto my 750 Shadow before I had ever started up a motorcycle. We got on our assigned bikes. We learned neutral, the clutch, the friction zone, first gear. Soon, it was time to sit on our iron butts and ride across the parking lot.

Ummm. That part didn't go so well. You see, when riding a motorcycle, your left hand controls the clutch. Your right hand controls the throttle and the brake. Your left foot engages the gears and there's another brake under your right foot. That means, essentially, that all four limbs are working at the same time...or need to be ready to work at the same time.

My coordination...I would say is not that great. Others might say it really, really sucks... so when I wanted to brake, I accidentally gave the motorcycle gas, flinging myself out of control. When I had done that, I got scared so I let go of the handlebars like they were on a hot stove. Hmmm. Perhaps not the best thing to do when sitting on a 300 lb. machine with wheels.

The whole escapade was reminiscent of an I Love Lucy episode. I actually made it back and forth across the parking lot 8 times (barely), legs splayed out to the side of me. Flinging myself like a slingshot hoping that someone might be able to stop me. To this very moment, I have no freaking idea what the brake under my right foot looks like. I certainly never made contact with it.

After dropping the bike twice, though the instructors were very sweet, they asked me to please get the fuck out of there for both my safety and the safety of everyone within a 5 mile radius. And so I got off the bike. And made the walk of shame across the parking lot to my car. In front of 23 other students. Who are likely riding their motorcycles this weekend around L.A.

I am not. For now, and for the foreseeable future, I will be riding on the back -- bitch - like the old lady I am.

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Blogger æ said...

omg, I adore you! And Faith, I love how you can see your face in your 2 year old picture, I mean how you can see FAITH in there, all the way back then.

totally love that.

it's hard to not be instantly (or ever) good at something we really want to do...especially when we've been dreaming about it since we were two years old, huh? did I ever tell you about my stint in "adult gymnastics?!?!" yeah, it was as yikes-inducing as it sounds. omg, just imagine what we looked like! all the adults that had wanted to be mary lou retton but never even learned the splits :)

however! just going and doing it, even though I was incredibly lame at it, had this really good "getting it out of my system" effect on me. yes, I will probably always envy how fun it looks to flip around like that, but it feels SO GOOD to know what even trying felt like in my much better than just wishing.

hope you're enjoying some of that too.


Blogger Annika said...

Oh dear, and here I am afraid to learn to ride a Vespa (which requires approximately one hand). Thank goodness we are such adorable bitches.

Blogger Annika said...

Oh - an totally agree with ae about the photo - 2-year-old Faith was 100% FAITH!

Blogger Laurie Ann said...

I never successfully learned to ride a regular bicycle, so I understand. I mean, sure, I can peddle and all, but lo the disfiguring spills I've taken on two wheels. I'll stick to the relative safety of a car and get my kicks by driving the hell out of a stick shift.

Blogger indianafuji said...

I was a late bike-bloomer, too! Your husband is so sweet to teach you :) And you're amazingly brave to do such a long ride after just learning.

Thanks for sharing your stories and the pictures! Adorable.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although your attempt wasn't successful, at least you gave it a shot. Wait a while and maybe try again!

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

How friggin cute are/were you?!!!! You look just as cute riding bitch as you do at two.

Can you believe I am HAPPY, nay, ECSTATIC to learn of your travails. I am just glad to know there are some things I can do that YOU CAN'T. You are so superior (and I don't mean that in a snotty way, just evaluatively speaking) in so many things - you are so freakin smart it physically pains me - that at least I can say: The first time I got on water skis, I "crossed the wake"; I can ride a bicycle with the best of couriers in the wilds of downtown D.C.; I was widely known as "roller girl" in Pacific Beach, back in the day; and I could ride the flames off your Shadow (NICE choice, btw), if only I could afford one.

Sigh. You still got me beat.

Blogger MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Hey, Sweetpea. Check out this video ( It may give you enough incentive to jump back on that iron horse. :)

Blogger Mama Llama said...

Faith, I love you. I thought I was the only person ever asked to leave the Motorcycle Safety Program. You did better than me - I didn't make it across the parking lot (safely) even once. I've learned to embrace my bitch status. I like to be able to look all around, anyway. I'm not sure I'd enjoy myself as much if I were operating the bike (at least, that's what I tell myself).

Blogger Faith said...

AE - No. You never did tell me about the adult gymnastics program...I can't wait to hear about it...

Annika - I can't ride a Vespa either, but only because I'd look like such a dork among my biker gang...

LaurieAnn - I CAN'T EVEN DRIVE A STICK SHIFT!!! No wonder I suck so bad at riding!!!!

Indianafuji and Riverwolf - thanks so much for the encouragement. I think the next thing I need is probably individual lessons so that I'm not falling over in front of others...

As for you are smart. You are smart. You ARE! I really am no smarter than you. I just happen to have some book learnin'. I adore you.

Mama Llama - I tell myself the same thing!!! I think it might actually be true. I do love the sights.

Blogger billie said...

That was so funny! Love it, love it, love it. B

Blogger fathima said...

i have a picture of me at age three on a motorbike and yet i also do not know how to ride a bicycle. i need to get on that. and when i went rollerblading two years ago, random preteen boys walking by felt the need to give me advice on how to do things like stop without breaking my face.
in the meantime, i continue to have big dreams. i really want, for instance, to learn how to unicycle. i think i'd be amazing on the one wheel.

Blogger carlita dee said...

This is entirely sweet and funny, a twinge sad, and so human.

Blogger dale-harriet said...

Oh yeah, but are you ever CUTE! Seriously- the blog picture is nice, but really you are such a cute-looking person! That picture of you and the lad with your bikes? (Imagine my smooching my fingertips and waving them in the air like an Italian.) Your unsucccess at the first round o' classes does not diminish y'all from over here where I am. So there

Blogger Sally said...

I had the exact same experience in Indianapolis. Did great on the classroom part, but can't do the clutch if my life depended on it.

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