Motorcycle Endorsement!

Diana at New Castle DMV

I had a motorcycle permit, all my riding gear and a new to me Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. I had to ride it, even if I didn’t know how! My townhouse was near an elementary school.  I just needed to get around the corner to the entrance and then I could ride in circles around the parking lot.  I would never even have to shift out of first gear.  It was the perfect plan.

I figured the clutch worked the same way as in my car – give it a little gas, ease out the clutch, give a little, go a little.  And it did work that way heading up the slight incline on my road.  When I got to the stop sign I needed to make a left onto the street, so I waited until there was no traffic anywhere near before I started to go.  Gave it a little throttle and let the clutch out a bit.  I was headed slightly downhill at this point though, so apparently I really didn’t need to throttle at all! The bike shot out forward and was halfway across the street before I could blink! I now had only half the space to make the turn…and I almost made it.  My bike came to its intended forward direction about two millimeters away from the curb.  So I rolled along with the side of my tire scraping against the side of the curb for about 5 feet before the bike decided it didn’t like that and fell over.  My crash bar filleted the grass and sliced up a nice piece of sod.  I scratched the shiny chrome on my pipes, tore a small chunk from the toe of one boot, and got bruises on my elbow and hip. Before I could even refocus, a man in a pick-up truck stopped and helped me pick up the bike.  He made sure I was OK, then drove off. 

I knew I needed to put the bike away, but then it wouldn’t start up again…so I had to duck-walk it back down the block and into my house.  I learned a valuable lesson that day: respect the machine! After that, Jay drove down from Delaware to Baltimore once a week after he got out of work. He took my bike over to the school parking lot for me, and watched while I rode around in circles for hours on end.  By the time I showed up to the Basic Rider class, I could shift comfortably between first & second gears and could make a GIANT figure-8 in the parking lot.  That made the first morning on the range a piece of cake.

It was ungodly hot that last week of August, but somehow we managed to make it through the two day MSF basic rider class at Cecil Community College without getting heat stroke.  We quizzed each other at the swimming pool in the evening and until we fell asleep that night.  Jay scored 85% on his written exam and aced the skills tests.  I aced the written exam and scored 85% on my skills tests.  It was like a match made in heaven. We both received our motorcycle endorsement!

Diana MSF Basic Rider Class Completion Card

* This article first appeared in print in the January issue of Fast Lane Biker Delamarva and is the fith in an ongoing series of articles by Diana Green.