I Dropped My Dresser 11 Times!

How this motorcyclist keeps her confidence persevering through adversity

By Brenda Sanders, Bar Nunn, Wyoming

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dropped dresser 11 times ultra classic limited
Overcoming fear and loss, Brenda stands proudly with what she calls her best friend, her Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Limited.

May 8, 2002 was a bittersweet day for me. My husband divorced me for a much younger woman. I was devastated but also felt a twinge of relief. We hadn’t been happy with each other for a long time and it finally hit me that I could now do the things I wanted to but couldnt when I was with him. I met my second husband 30 days later. He took me everywhere on his 1991 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic.

One of the things I really wanted to do was attend the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. He was thrilled to take my four girlfriends and I to the rally where I fell in love with the lifestyle. After the rally he talked me into taking the motorcycle safety course and I aced the class. There were five other women in the class and none of them passed. I then bought my first bike, a 1985 Honda 750. It was rough, but it worked. I was terrified to ride fast at first and I rarely rode the bike.

dropped dresser 11 times dyna low rider
Brendas second bike, a 1993 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider, is all loaded up and ready for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Then a good friend of mine sold me her 1993 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider. I was so excited to have a Harley! My husband, Rick, rode with me every time I got on my bike and always gave me tips on how to handle different situations. He had ridden for most of his life and had a lot good advice. The only time I would ride was when he rode with me, but I still wasn’t confident.

After a minor accident involving a curve and a barbed wire fence, I was petrified so I didn’t ride a lot. I did go on some Sweeties on Wheelies rides, however, and I was thrilled to be with a bunch of women that had the same fears as me. We all supported each other and it was nice to know that I wasn’t competing with experienced riders anymore. A good thing about a women’s riding club is that most women want to learn as much as they can without someone criticizing them. We all shared stories and became friends.

dropped dresser 11 times womens motorcycle group
Brenda now enjoys riding with a womens motorcycle club whenever she can.

In 2010 Rick died in an auto accident. I was again devastated. My best friend, a wonderful man with the biggest “Santa” heart was now gone. I realized then I had a lot more friends than I realized. Soon everyone was calling me to go for rides, so I did. But the Low Rider was not riding very well. The front fork seemed out of alignment and I had a hard time with it.

Finally, I traded the Dyna in for the brand new 2011 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Limited in Candy Root Beer I had been drooling over. On the day of delivery, I rode to the end of the dealership’s driveway and dropped it! Talk about embarrassed! But two very nice guys stopped and helped me pick it up. This was the first of many times that I dropped it, but I was determined to ride it.

Two weeks later, a couple friends talked me into riding to Glacier National Park in Montana for nine days! This would be my real test. Wow, what a beautiful ride! We had everything from dry pavement to heat, rain, and snow. I dropped the Ultra several times during the trip, usually while stopped, coming to a stop, or parking, but I was OK with it.

The first year I dropped the Ultra 11 times (yes, I was counting), and fortunately there was always someone around. But I needed to learn to lift it myself. One day I laid the bike down on purpose in my driveway and used the correct technique to pick up your bike with your legs and I did it! Talk about confidence. Now I could go anywhere! I rode to the Sturgis Rally and rode the hills by myself, and yes, I continued to drop the bike but not as often.

dropped dresser 11 times brenda sanders
Brenda is a grandma of six with one 18 years old already. You go girl!

Now I ride all the time and usually by myself. Last year I put more than 15,000 miles on the Ultra, which I just love. She has become my best friend and every year I learn new things. A lot of new riders now come to me for advice and I’m honored to be able to help. I finally found what I’ve always wanted … freedom in the wind!

Some great tips Id like to share:

  • Always look for where you are going to park. Never park it on a downhill grade knowing that you will have to back it out. My bike weighs close to 1,000 pounds loaded.
  • Never stop where the road has a dip; your legs will never reach.
  • If you have to ride on gravel, ride at a comfortable speed. Don’t use the brake.
  • Make sure your sidestand is down before leaning the bike at a stop. I know this sounds dumb but this is why a lot of guys drop their bikes.
  • When coming to a stop use your rear brake as much as you can. It evens out the weight of the bike while you are stopping.
  • If you hit a critter, try to keep going straight and slow down. I hit a huge raccoon going 75 mph. He actually went between the tires and I kept it upright.

dropped dresser 11 times harley davidson ultra classic limited
Brendas goal is to ride a motorcycle in Europe for her 60th birthday in a couple years.

Do you have a story to share? Please send it to us, but follow these submission guidelines.

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21 thoughts on I Dropped My Dresser 11 Times!

  1. I like this article. After 40 years of riding it’s interesting to hear of other rider’s do’s and don’ts of riding.For myself, riding has been a lifetime of some changes but generally stayed the same each time I traded up with my Honda Gold Wings. The one thing that didn’t change was the desire to ride. With almost one million miles on the road, time has proven anything can be done if you really want to ride.

  2. Great story. Almost like my life. Started riding at 45 and never looked back. I am on my fourth bike, a 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide named Elsa. She and I plan on riding 35,000 miles before I can’t ride anymore. That will bring me up to 100,000. I just wish I started riding when I was younger.

  3. Great article! Sounds like she is having fun. I only dropped my Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe once, at a gas station. I thought the kickstand was all the way out and it wasn’t. Good thing my husband was there to pick it up. I couldn’t budge the thing.

  4. I started out at 54 years old riding my own. I love it. I went from a Sportster 883 to a new Softail Slim. I have as many miles on my 2014 as my husband has on his 2009 Street Glide. With that being said, I would never ride a bike that I don’t feel comfortable on. I have never tipped over but I see way too many women on bikes you can tell are just too big for them. If you can’t handle the weight when stopping or parking, do yourself a favor. Swallow some pride and get a smaller bike that you can handle. I could never stay on a bike I’ve dropped 11 times. I think that’s just crazy and asking for trouble.

  5. This is a wonderful article! just bought my first bike (2014 Honda Rebel CMS250C), candy apple red, and my drivers course is next month. You made me feel a lot better about my fears as I have yet to even try my bike out around the yard. Thank you so much!

  6. I am 5 feet and I have a 1200 Harley Sportster. I dropped my bike many times especially when I was stopped. I was always dropping it when I had to stop at a curve, now I remember to turn the wheel straight before I stop. In 2015 on every ride I would tip the bike once then I will never tip it again until my next ride. I was so embarrassed and always afraid to ride in a group. Last year I rode my bike and never dropped it. I am slowly getting better. I feel that my bike is top heavy for me. All Harley bikes are heavy. Last year I rode to Laconia, New Hampshire, and never dropped it. Finally!

  7. Wow, thanks for sharing. I just got my red L license in August 2015 at the age of 64. I never rode before that, never even sat on a motorcycle. I, too, took the safety course and passed with flying colors.I have dropped my bike (2008 Suzuki Boulevard) several times. I can’t pick it up myself (I’ve tried many times.) I ride short rides by myself, but my husband went and bought a bike so he rides with me most of the time. He has had his license for many years but never rode, so there are even a few things I can teach him.In August 2016 I got my level 1 green N. I would love to own a Harley, maybe the Low Rider. Keep safe and enjoy the ride!

  8. Great article. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Brenda, thank you so much for your story. I am right there in the early stages and know I need and must ride my bike more. Thank you for your inspiration. God bless you and keep you safe.

  10. I give you a lot of credit for getting back on after dropping it so many times! I got thrown off mine (used the front brake when handlebar was turned) and darn near didn’t get back on! However, I went immediately to motorcycle safety class— I slowly went from 250cc to 500cc to 900cc to my current 1600cc—everyone is different! It sounds like you currently got your skills down! Enjoy yourself!What works for some may not work for others. I was the only woman to pass the class, but I barely passed. That damn figure-eight! I had my baby out today at a brisk 32 degrees. (Are there any winter gloves that really work?)Be safe ladies!

  11. Love your story, and thanks for sharing the tips, we really need them. Would you please share some women riders communities with us?

  12. So sorry for your loss. You have a lot of courage which is admirable. I too have “dropped” my bike a few times the first two years of riding. I had an 883 Sportster and started riding at 61. I traded in the Sporty for a 2016 Softail Slim. I have dropped that once also when coming to a stop. I keep at it and build more confidence with each ride. And just so you know, Maine roads are notorious as some of the worst to ride even for experienced riders. So keep on keeping on sister. You have many sisters having the same experiences and it is great to hear and learn from others.

  13. My blood pressure spiked when reading this article. I am frankly surprised that you would not only print it, but label it as a favorite story. With all due respect to the writer’s personal struggles, I can’t wrap my head around the concept of dropping the motorcycle repeatedly and not realizing she needed additional training! Yes, most of us drop here and there, especially in the beginning, but this is ridiculous.First, she graduated to bigger bikes without the required skill. Second, she says she enjoys riding in a group of women because they want to learn as much as they can (but she is clearly not learning!). She dropped the bike SEVERAL TIMES on a trip to Montana. She is endangering not only herself, but the people she rides with.What really steamed my bean is that she has the nerve to give advice to other riders. Perfectly brilliant, and I quote “When coming to a stop use your rear brake as much as you can. It evens out the weight of the bike while you are stopping.” That is a recipe for disaster at some point, and I know you know better. The front brake has most of the stopping power; so she wants riders to make a habit of not using it? What if she needs to stop quickly? Is that how she “aced” her Basic Training Class?I am going to submit a more diplomatic response for your consideration, to share. Thanks for listening.

    1. Manna,Thanks for your comments. No need to submit another response. We’ll post this one. Our site is one of people learning from other people. It’s what has made it so successful after all these years, and the go-to resource for women who want to read other riders’ experiences so they can learn from them. If I’m not mistaken, you’re an MSF instructor, right? Thank you for your comments to supplement this reader story.

  14. Loved your story sista! I’ve dropped my Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster SuperLow a few times as a new rider—even broke five ribs in the process. So I know that slightly-scared feeling of getting back on, but I did and I seem like a much better rider now because of it. I’ve ridden in Toy runs with 6,000 bikes without any problems!Practice makes perfect. I’m still learning of course and hope to move up to a bigger bike eventually. Love the looks of the Harley Softail Deluxe and Road King. I’m just not sure I’m ready to handle the weight yet. Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I admittedly haven’t been riding as much as I used to as I don’t have any friends that ride. I’m also single. Although I love it, I get tired of riding solo all the time. I’ve looked at riding groups, but not sure I’d fit in with the personalities or skills. I do love riding—the freedom from life feeling it gives, the joy of new destinations. This read was very encouraging. Thank you.

  16. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. But I am glad that you have lots of friends to ride with!I have had two drops and one accident. All three were embarrassing and resulted in minimal injury to myself and my bikes. All three were learning experiences, too. My first drop I learned it was a bad idea to park on a hill…with gravel on it. Yep, my foot slipped holding my little bike up and flop we went (it was a slow, agonizing, gentle fall). Since my high-strung Suzuki GSXR is pretty temperamental with how I do things at times, I’ve learned how to really plan ahead with how I take low speed turns or parking. There’s no turning radius on that bugger whatsoever.I really love your bike. A good biker friend of mine that died recently had the same bike, color and all. He loved that root beer color and had to have it when he bought the bike.

  17. Nice article sister-in-law! Now you need to come to Ohio Bike Week in Sandusky, Ohio! I’ve heard it’s a good time. (My brother Rick was a biker. I am not.)

  18. Very much appreciated article. So sorry for the loss of your husband as mine sounds much like yours, very helpful and encouraging. I too have dropped my 2013 Harley-Davidson Street Glide a few times.So devastating at the time but now I’m 63 and I’ve decided to ride a trike and it is great. I have a 2016 Harley Freewheeler. So I encourage others to continue riding whatever they have. Thank you for sharing. Makes me feel good to know I’m not alone.

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