Just Call Me “Clutch”

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Our bikes for the weekend

This weekend I learned to ride a motorcycle. Yes me!  I did it!

I’ll be honest, my first ride felt horrible. There were so many things to pay attention to. It all got garbled up in my head. I worried and panicked and overthought, making it all worse. I stalled, pulled the throttle at the wrong time and forgot everything I was supposed to know.

Dave, the instructor was a tough-love kind of guy…he was a big dude, with a Southern accent, a white goatee, and a missing tooth. He told it like it was and didn’t give me any breaks for being the only girl in the group. I kept messing up, he kept yelling at me, and man, I wanted to cry.

After the first lesson of the day I had to step away. I actually hid in my minivan and yes, even cried, angry at myself for screwing up. I decided then in my misery and anger that I was going to leave and be done, walk away, and cut my losses.

So I approached Dave and said, “I think it’s better if I leave.”

He looked at me and said “You’re doing better than you think you are. Just don’t over think it. How about one more round and then decide?” And so I agreed.

And you know what? The next lesson went so much smoother. I actually had fun.

I returned to the break area with a smile on my face. I had practically forgotten about my escape plan.

But then, of course, in round three things got hard again…I mean really hard. I kept stalling the bike and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to shift into second. Do a figure 8? Forget it. I failed at it four times, with Dave yelling at me the whole way…pretty soon I had the whole class shouting at me “use the clutch!!” As crappy as it felt at first, it became almost comical. At one point I found myself even smiling….and suddenly out of nowhere I was getting it right, taking the turns like a pro. I had stopped overthinking, and was just doing.

At the end of the first class everyone patted me on the shoulder and said “We’re so glad you didn’t leave.” They were rooting for me.

After another round or two Dave gave me the nickname “Clutch” because of my frequent neglect of this vital component. Pretty soon all the guys were calling me “Clutch”. I sort of liked it. I felt like the kid sister who everyone picked on but still loved.

I had far from mastered anything except maybe putting up the kickstand, but I had come a long way. All I could think is “When am I going to get my own bike so I can practice, practice, practice?

At the end of the final day, after all our work and testing Dave had us pull up in our spots.  He said to the group “I‘d like to congratulate you all…you’ve passed.”

Me!? With a motorcycle license? When Dave handed me that little card, you’d think I was receiving my diploma. I was grinning ear to ear.

Before I left I asked I asked Dave for a hug, which I’m sure looked out of place out on a range with a bunch of guys and their bike’s, but I didn’t care. He wasn’t just my instructor he was my weekend guru. He didn’t let me give up.

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Me and Dave!

And so here I am with A MOTORCYCLE LICENSE!!!! I did what I thought I couldn’t do. Thank God I didn’t quit.

The funny thing is that all the work I did this weekend seems to directly apply to the rest of my life. There are many moments lately where I feel stupid and want to walk off “the course” and hideaway, but I’m going to keep on riding, because I know if I let go and stop worrying so much there are good things to come.  There always are.

One thing I learned out there this weekend is when you ride is that you need to look in the direction of where you want to go…not at the ground, not at your speedometer, or your foot brake… look ahead.

And when you do, the bike follows…wherever you want it to go.

And so, as I continue dealing with life, I’m going to keep looking ahead…looking out to where I want to go… and when I do, though I may falter once in a while, I will still ultimately ride in the direction of where I want to be.

Many thanks to Dave and all the guys today who supported me (and thanks for not running into me all those times I stalled).

Keep on ridin’

Becky (aka Clutch)

P.S. I go bike shopping tomorrow!! I’ll post pics!!

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7 comments

  1. You are very brave!!! I tried to ride a moped once and nearly killed myself, I can’t even imagine what it is like to ride a motorcycle. Congrats on getting your motorcycle license!!!!!

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