Laura Goes to Motorcycle School–Day5: This Is How It Ends

I so wanted to come home today with A +++ on both my motorcycle skills and written tests. But it wasn’t to be. While I missed only a single question out of fifty on the written test, I scored a 25 on the skills test–5 points over passing.
We spent our first hour doing stop and start, weaving, and swerving exercises, took a break, and were allowed another twenty minutes to practice various things we wanted to work on. I spent most of my time doing the Figure 8 U-turn in the tiny box. On my second attempt, something clicked, and I actually started to get the hang of it. The dragon 250 is much, much steadier in first gear than the 125, so I didn’t have to do the exercise in second, or worry about clutch control in first. It was pretty much just all making sure my head and eyes were aimed in the direction I wanted to go.
I was nervous during the test, but the anticipation of it was much worse. Everyone there seemed to have the good kind of nerves–excited, but not wigged out with worry. I felt pretty confident about my swerving and turning, and about my ability to keep my speed up. Let’s just say I was hopeful.
The first part of the test was the U-turn. I crossed the white line once, which cost me 5 points, but I got out of the box feeling pretty happy. Next was a swerve. Easy-peasy. Then we had to do a sudden stop. I was STUNNED to later learn that this one cost me 15 points. For two days my sudden stops had been good. But for whatever reason, I took too long to stop on the test. It was a lovely stop: front/rear brakes engaged, clutch in, simultaneous downshift to first, eyes and head up. It just didn’t happen quickly enough after I passed the little green cones. I wonder if I was overconfident because the U-turn went so well. I lost my focus. It stings to have bombed the test because I wasn’t paying good attention. I missed the very last five points because I didn’t keep my speed high enough through the test curve.
We had no idea what our scores were at the end of the skills test. The written portion went quickly. We all went outside while the tests were graded. There were lots of anxious smiles, and many smug ones–those belonged to the people who had a lot of previous or, ahem, illegal riding experience. They had looked smug all week.
Don’t you hate it when the teacher adds a “see me after class” note to a failing paper? Insult to injury, I say. I think the worst part was having to listen to the instructors tell everyone what to do with their qualifying certificates (they’ll come through the mail on Monday), and encourage them to take the intermediate course. I confess that I only half-listened since it didn’t apply to me–and I also texted PB, because I needed him to know that I had failed. My chat with the instructor was brief. He told me what I’d lost points on and said I could certainly take the class again.
I don’t know that I will take the class again. We’ll see. I learned an awful lot about motorcycle safety, and am much more familiar with the bikes themselves. What I need is practice. Lots more practice. Is there a new bike in my future? I honestly don’t know. I liked riding both small cruisers, but I don’t know how badly I want one. Riding is fun, fun, fun. But it also makes me feel very physically vulnerable. And I’m not particularly good at vulnerability of any sort. I’ll keep you posted.
Did you know that you’ve been an important, wonderful, surprising part of my motorcycle adventure this week? I need you to know how much your comments and phone calls and Tweets and Facebook Likes and emails have meant to me. There were several times–as you know–when I was hot or tired or embarrassed or disgusted, and just wanted to go home.  (Or lie there forever, staring up at the sky, pinned beneath the bike.) It wasn’t only my (prodigious) stubbornness that made me get on that bike again–it was the feeling that you were cheering me along, telling me I was brave. I loved that so much.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love, me.

8 thoughts on “Laura Goes to Motorcycle School–Day5: This Is How It Ends”

  1. Lauren says:

    You. Are awesome. Congratulations on a great accomplishment!

  2. And you are a darling. Thank you so, so much for believing in me, L! xoxo

  3. Coolkayaker1 says:

    Laura, you are an awesome mother, wife, writer and blogger. It was a thrill, a true thrill, to live through this, the last time you will ever drive a motorcycle, with you. Thanks for taking us on this, your inaugural–and farewell–motorbike tour.

  4. Steve, you’re always more than welcome on my impulsive, uh, I mean imaginative journeys. I really appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking words. : ) I promise any future foray into the moto world will be very tame!

  5. Cin says:

    Bummer about the test, but you did what you wanted, right? You met the challenge head on and kept getting back up. What else is there?

  6. Yes, Cindy, I did! I confess I was happy not to have to get out of bed and jump on a motorcycle this morning. It was starting to feel like a job. I’ve decided that if I get a two-wheel vehicle, it’s going to either something like a 300cc scooter or a CanAm Spyder like PB’s. I would’ve been more game to ride an uber-cool motorcycle when I was younger. xoxo

  7. Erik Lucien says:

    I admire you Laura, for sharing your cute experience with your motorcycle class. The first day of motorcycle class is really exciting, thrilling, and can make you tremble with the feeling of butterflies in your stomach. Where did you lose points? It’s been a month since you had your first motorcycle class. Do you plan on taking the test again?

    Erik Lucien

  8. I hope that a few negative experiences don’t completely stop you from trying your hand at motorcycles again. Everything you’ve learned has already given you an edge! I hope somewhere down the road, you decide to try and get back on a bike because you’ll have learned a lot of lessons by now both from success and failure.

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