Freedom, Friendships and More on a Motorcycle

Learning to ride at 56 discovering joy along the way

By Jodi Judson, Smyrna, Tennessee

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I am 56 and new to riding. For the last five or six years I have been thinking about learning to ride and getting a motorcycle. In August I finally made it happen. I took a weekend course with an accredited MSF company and spent the two days riding a Honda Nighthawk 250. Keep in mind, I am 6 feet tall with long legs and I knew from the beginning that I had to have a larger bike. After getting my motorcycle endorsement, it was off to find my first bike.

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At 6 feet tall, Jodi found the Honda Shadow Aero 750 to be just the right size for her first motorcycle.

I understand the comments that some women have made concerning being “invisible” at dealerships. I spent more than 30 minutes walking around the sales floor of a local dealership (one of the bigger ones in the Nashville area) and finally got so ticked off because no one paid me any attention, I stormed out of there. Not a good first experience!

As it turns out, a guy that I work with had a very good family friend that works at another larger dealership south of Nashville and I went to see him. They treated me like a queen, answered all of my questions, and helped me decide on a brand new Honda Shadow Aero 750.

I went through a long weekend riding my new motorcycle around in my sisters quiet subdivision out in the country of dropping it three times, scaring the crap out of myself more times, and finally feeling comfortable enough to get out of the subdivision into a little traffic. I was exhilarated! My best friend, who turned 70 in August, has ridden bikes all her life and was right there with me all weekend. She gave me some good advice to overcome some of the issues I had.

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Since learning to ride, Jodi (far left) has enjoyed many day rides as well as a few overnight rides and has met some of the nicest riders she ever could have imagined, including this joyful group of lady riders.

I have put more than 3,000 miles on my Shadow and am just enjoying the freedom of the road and the new friendships I am making. I never dreamed that it would be such a positive experience!

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Like this vantage point of the river rapids, Jodi (in the red baseball hat) has discovered more of her beautiful state of Tennessee in just a few months of riding than she’d seen the entire 46 years she’s lived there. And sharing it with new rider friends makes it even more memorable.
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Jodi works on accessorizing her bike during the cold non-riding months. The Aero already had engine guards put on at the dealership when she bought it, and since has added a windshield, luggage rack, sissy bar, saddlebags, highway pegs, Cobra floorboards, and a Mustang touring seat that has great lower back support. She does most of the installations herself and is having a blast making the bike “hers.”

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7 thoughts on Freedom, Friendships and More on a Motorcycle

  1. The article and responses are inspiring! At 52, I tried the class last year, failed the driving portion, and dropped the bike. At the same time, my father was in a rehabilitation center due to a fall. In pretty sure it was my guilt contributing to my failure. That was a year ago. I’m ready to try it again, but don’t want to fail again. I have a Suzuki 250. Any suggestions on how to find a mentor?

    1. Than you for sharing your experience. This is a great question. We are putting it out to our reader so they can share their responses with you. Click here to head over to our Your Questions Answered section on WRN and find your question and check out the responses.

  2. I had a huge life change at 40—an unanticipated end of 22 years of horse ownership and boarding, new husband, home, and career. After three years of nothing but working at the family business seven days a week and dealing with my hubby’s health issues, my husband casually mentioned a friend’s wife was selling her Honda Shadow and he was thinking of buying it. I happened to have an insurance settlement for the exact amount to cover the bike and a year’s worth of insurance come to me unexpectedly and saw it as a sign.I took my 2-day course, got my motorcycle endorsement, bought the bike, and have been treating it like a green horse—practicing at least two days a week. Yesterday I had some work errands to run, came home, got it out, and was on the highway for the first time. I ran five errands, including going to the shop of the friend who sold it to me to thank him. I loved every minute. It was pure bliss. Last night I told my husband I felt guilty taking “his” bike when he admitted to me that it was a suggestion to get me outside and living again. It worked.

  3. Just started riding this summer myself at the age of 46. Got a 2016 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Several of our friends started riding this year as well. It has been so much fun!My only regret is that I wish I had started sooner! Great article and have fun Jodi!

  4. Thank you Bunnie for your comments. I am still enjoying myself riding my bike. I just wish I could ride more than just the weekends. My friend and I are still riding together and each time we ride it just amazes me. I hope that I’ll still be riding at her age since I waited so long to actually get a motorcycle. Here’s the latest pic of my bike after a few more add-ons and replacements.

  5. Wonderful read. Congratulations on making your dream happen Jodi! I would love to connect with women riders here in Rhode Island, and learn to ride. Maybe one day…

  6. Just wonderful. So Jodi, I don’t have to quit by retirement age, said so yourself with that 70-year-old friend. Thank you for the encouragement and conviction to stay on two wheels for as long as I can throw one leg over the seat.

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