“I Ride Because I Can”

Making her motorcycling dreams finally come true!

By Susan Stevens, Nova Scotia, Canada

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I ride because I can V Star 250
Susan Steven gears up on her Star V Star 250 for a ride near her home in Nova Scotia.

I had made a number of important life decisions in the year leading up to my 6th birthday. When I grew up, Id go to Africa with Food for the Children that I kept hearing about in Sunday school and at our dinner table for kids who did not have enough to eat. I thought the best things to take would be shreddies, cherry cream soda, strawberries, hamburgers, smarties, and homemade chocolate ice cream — especially the ice cream, because it was so hot in Africa. I also decided I would have three dogs — a Lassie, Saint Bernard, and a German Shepherd. And while I received many nice gifts that year, what I really wanted was a motorcycle, because I had decided that I was going to learn to ride one as soon as I turned 16.

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I ride because I can Susan Stevens young girl
By Susans 6th birthday (shes in the green shirt), shed already decided that she wanted a motorcycle.

I didnt earn my motorcycle license and buy my first bike, a 2010 Yamaha StarV Star 250 until I was 43. My motorcycle journey began at a very young age and has had many unexpected twists and turns along the way. And it started with one very special woman.

I am the middle child of three. When my younger brother came along, my mother had three children under 5 years of age. Our neighbors were a young American couple. “Hippies,” according to my parents, who were dodging the Vietnam draft. And while they adored children, they had none of their own — just a big, shaggy, black dog.

As I grew up, I spent more and more time with Sheri and Peter. My mother said Sheri was a true “flower child” and “free spirit.” She was, in fact, an incredibly creative and talented artist. We drew pictures. We painted abstract art. We watched Sesame Street and ate delicious peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, singing and dancing with Big Bird and Grover between bites. In her garden we planted the most amazing sunflowers that grew taller than me. We skated on the lake in the winter and we swam in it during summer. We walked the dog, and we threw and chased sticks with him.

When I was 5 years old, she tucked me between Peter and herself on the back of their motorcycle and held me tightly as we drove around their yard with the dog barking and chasing us. It was — and remained — our secret. It was the most fun and excitement I’d ever had. On that bike, with those two people, I felt such joy and love.

The next year, Sheri got sick. A year after that, she told me she had to go home to see some doctors that would make her better. We wrote letters and exchanged artwork for years. Her letters were always filled with stories and illustrations of places where the leaves were always green and there was never any snow.

When I was 13, her letters stopped. Then, one day after school there was a card from her. It was, it turned out, from Peter explaining that Sheri had died. She was the first person I loved that I lost.

I didn’t learn to ride a motorcycle at 16. My parents wouldn’t consider it. In the years that followed, there was always something in my way it seemed – health, finances, university, career.

On my 35th birthday, after two back surgeries, I decided it was time. I took an 8-year rehabilitation program designed to regain enough strength, balance, and flexibility to ride safely. Just after my 43rd birthday I earned my license, bought my V Star, and started riding.

I ride because I can Susan Stevens
It was a long time coming. Susan rides her 2010 V Star 250.

I ride a motorcycle for many reasons. I ride because many people told me I shouldn’t or couldn’t. I ride because I love the contemplative solitude it gives me. I ride because of the in-the-moment focus it demands of me. I ride because I love the connection I feel with the bike and the places we travel through. I ride because I love the thrill of sharp corners and near misses. I ride because I feel strong and healthy. I ride because in some small way riding connects me to a time and place and a person that I carry with me always. I ride because I can.

Women Riders Now Inspirational Quote
Thank you to Susan for this inspiring quote. For more motorcycling inspired quotes, click here.

Every weekend I post my motorcycle stories and photographs on SusansMotorcycleStories.com. My home base is Nova Scotia, Canada. Within minutes I can ride along the seashore, take in the many freshwater lakes and rivers, or enjoy the rolling landscape of the countryside.

I never know which way I will head, how long I’ll be gone, or what adventures I will encounter. It’s all part of the escape and the freedom I love about riding. It is not about the destination – it’s all about the journey.

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

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9 thoughts on “I Ride Because I Can”

  1. Love this story. I have a question and a comment. First, the question: Did you ever make it to Africa?And the comment: I have been wanting to ride for a long time as well, not quite as long as Susan, but long enough! Seeing all of the other comments by ladies of a certain age (I myself just turned 44) inspired me to write. I’ve been riding two-up for eight years. I wanted to ride solo, but didn’t think I could ever feel as confident in myself as I do when I get on the back of my boyfriend’s bike. I finally got my endorsement after taking the TEAM Oregon moto course last weekend. Sunday night I couldn’t sleep; I had bikes on the brain. By Monday night I had found a bike, a 2005 Buell Blast, on craigslist. I will pick her up this Saturday. In the meantime, I am having trouble concentrating on work, or anything else for that matter (which explains why I am posting a long comment on this forum rather than meeting my work deadline). I can’t remember when I felt this excited, maybe not since I was a kid, anticipating Christmas. My boyfriend keeps laughing at me (in a good way) and saying things like “she’s got moto fevah!”In short, it’s never too late! Those of you lurking on forums such as this, waiting for either the courage or the “right time,” don’t lose hope! If you really want to ride, you will.

  2. At 60 I got my endorsement. Didn’t have the confidence that I thought I would but bought a Honda Rebel 250 anyway. Once I got on I never looked back! Now, three months later I have a Sportster 883 SuperLow and am having the time of my life. I had no idea that riding would give me such a new lease on life. (I had been a passenger over the years many times). It gets ahold of you, it really does!

  3. I have this same bike, and I love it!

  4. Just read your story and loved it! Personally I don’t remember when I rode as a passenger on a motorcycle, but I loved it! The thrills and freedom! Because of responsibilities and hang ups, we put off the idea of motorcycles until our “middle ages,” then it happened! First hubbie got his license and I enjoyed being a passenger for a year or two, then at 49, I too was bitten! Took two attempts to obtain my license and a few wipe outs, minimal damage to both the bike and me, and yes, I am here today to say that I love to ride! I now have a Honda VTX 1300; it has a personality all its own, kind of like me! It too is loud and proud! Oh, I have people to thank for picking me up, physically and mentally. Hubbie and Heather, sometimes I cursed them but now I thank them and owe them both so much for their encouragement! I have to say that it’s better late than never! You are never too old to enjoy the open road on two wheels!

  5. I was 10 the first time I rode on a motorcycle. I knew that day I would get a motorcycle. Then after riding on a Harley, I knew my first bike would be a Harley and not a Sportster. I was 17 when I bought my Shovelhead. Bought it for $1200 with a blown motor. I rebuilt it with the help of a male friend, Robin. Had my brother custom paint it. Never took a class. Was told one down, three up. And off I went. Never looked back. After a few years I got my motorcycle endorsement. That was over 35 years ago. I still have that Harley. And now I have a much newer one also.Ride on! It is Never too late to ride!

  6. I got my first bike at 57. Just a year ago. I have put 6,250 miles on the bike (darn that work gets in the way of fun)! I too always wanted to ride, but allowed other voices to drown out my own. No more! I am a rider. I never considered that I was too old to start!

  7. I’m 44 years old and just got my license. Wanting to ride for a long time, but life and fears kept getting in the way — people’s views and opinions. I finally decided to block everything out and do what I want for a change. I do not have a bike yet I’m still in the process of finding what’s right for me but I’m determined, and like Susan I feel a certain need to feel the solitude and freedom that I don’t have on a daily basis.

  8. Love this story! It gives me hope. I got my motorcycle endorsement more than two years ago. I have been saving money to buy my first bike for the whole time. Each time I get close, something comes up and I have to spend some of the money. I began to worry about my getting too old to ride. At 44, this story inspires me to keep pushing towards my goal. My plan is to take a sabbatical from teaching in order to tour the American south documenting blues music and American culture for a new course on American culture and blues music. After reading this, I know that I can’t give up on my dream. Keep writing and inspiring others. I appreciate you as I’m sure many others readers do as well. Thank you for sharing.

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