Never Say Never to Motorcycling

Discovering a passion for what she never knew was there

By Christine Decker, San Jose, California

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Ive read many stories on Women Riders Now from readers who always wanted to ride, but for whom the opportunity was deferred. How about a story from me, someone who was certain until her early 50s that she hated motorcycles. I even went so far as to avoid them, that is, until 2013 when I reconnected with a high school friend after 30 years via Facebook. He actually commutes on a motorcycle. We arranged to meet at a state fair, a neutral location. All I was thinking about was how I could avoid making sure he didn’t offer me a ride on that bike. I had no intentions of getting on a motorcycle.

However, later, I happened to encounter twice in one week a neighbor who is seldom home. Turns out he is an experienced motorcycle rider.

Fate was unraveling. He took me for my first ride—in spite of myself and my “declared” intentions of never wanting to ride a motorcycle. Heading up California Highway 9 to Alice’s Restaurant, a popular motorcycle and car enthusiast’s hangout, I found myself peeking over my neighbor Mark’s shoulder to see what he was doing. Having driven manual transmission cars for 27 years, I quickly saw riding as a way to “up” my shifting game.Then the ecstasy of the two-wheeled lean hit.That too, was new. I hadnt experienced the sensation of two wheels since the last time I rode a bicycle 33 years ago!

never say never christine decker v star 250
Christine Decker with her Yamaha V Star 250, the motorcycle with which she would enjoy her newfound passion.

Four months later, I cut out of work a few hours early and drove an hour to attend a private motorcycle lesson. My nerves were on high alert.Two weeks later, I passed the California DMV written portion of the motorcycle license exam.

A month after that first lesson, I took the weekend-long MSF Basic RiderCourse (BRC).I am a nervous test-taker and this was no exception.I put the pressure on myself as I was the only woman and the only person older than 40 out of all six students. On the second day my nerves nearly took me out of the course. At one point I rode out of the path of travel and paused.Thankfully the RiderCoaches let me continue. After that, I just rode without test concern, and I passed!

Two weeks after I passed the BRC, I researchedfirst bikes. I purchased my first motorcycle on my own—a 2013 Yamaha V Star 250. It was delivered one day before my 52nd birthday.So there I was, at years end, with this strange vehicle in my garage, and the license to operate it. This was not even a figment of my imagination when the year began.

never say never v star 250 roadside
After riding 8,300 miles on the V Star, Christine is ready to get a bigger bike to cover the “long distances over mountain passes” that she has in mind. “I will keep little V for more serious wrench practice so I don’t need to experiment with my only ride.”

I cannot bear to go a week without riding, even if it means I just go out for 20 minutes after work.I’ve ridden goat trails in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains and lane-split while commuting to work on the crowded Bay Area freeways.I even took a nearly 800-mile round-trip long weekend to the San Luis Obispo area.

Contrary to some reports of feeling underpowered on the freeway, my little V Star feels comfortable at 70 to 75 mph. But I know I am reaching the limit. The 250 isn’t meant to climb 10,000-foot mountain roads or be subjected to 40 mph crosswinds (though I’ve made it through 25 mph winds).

Motorcycling has instilled confidence I did not know I had.When I’m out for a pleasure ride, I have the sense that no matter what bad things happen in life, if I am able to ride, I will make it through. I am just sorry it took me so darn long to get here.

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

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14 thoughts on Never Say Never to Motorcycling

  1. I totally relate to this! At 46, this past summer I signed up for the safety training course, got my license by the end of the weekend, and am only wishing I did it 20 years earlier! I had a real hard time with the shifting and clutch as I had never been able to learn how to drive a stick shift and almost quit the class the morning of the last day. I was feeling so defeated. But I figured I would stay just to get my money’s worth. Low and behold, a couple hours later I finally got it and easily passed the exam. I now feel like a super accomplished woman that could probably do anything she put her mind to! I am currently riding a 2011 Yamaha V Star 650. I can’t wait until I can move up to something bigger in a year or two!

  2. Hello sisters! I am 49 and just took the course in June. I have a 2007 Yamaha Virago I purchased a week before I started the BRC. I practiced in my cul-de-sac. I don’t know how but I passed. I am still pretty fearful and don’t ride very far. Back roads near home and only a few miles. But I’m getting more confident each time. I never liked riding on the back of a bike. Now I know why. I’m a rider! I plan on keeping my li’l Lucy for as long as it takes me to feel confident and ready for advancement.

  3. I guess we could all be sisters because I didn’t start riding again until I was 50. Loving it and won’t go back. My Honda Rebel is now my lifeline to my sanity. I rode for a bit when I was younger, then when I was pregnant in 1988 my family told me to get rid of it and, sadly, I listened. Now, no matter what, it would be the last thing to go. Right on, ride on!

  4. Good read. I started riding over 10 years ago and am told I get ‘Owly’ if I don’t ride. I, too, started on a Yamaha 250. Excellent choice. It taught me to love the road and expand my boundaries. Now I spend my time (when not riding) researching tiny out of threat places to go to when I get the chance, like riding 2.5 hours for breakfast in a small logging town renowned for their dinner plate-sized cinnamon buns. Or taking a ferry to explore a castle made entirely of embalming bottles. It’s all part of the adventure. Welcome to the sisterhood. Travel safe. Ride well.

  5. I just turned 50 and am finally determined not to let any more time go past. I guess I am in very good company with all you amazing ladies! (Permit in hand already. BRC in two weeks. Very nervous, but so excited!)

  6. I too learned to ride after I turned 50. Unfortunately the weather got bad and I have not gotten in a lot of ride time. It is always cool to see the area you live in has an article. I am looking forward to getting in more ride time to build my confidence. Reading your article definitely helps!This is me before I took my 3-day class.

  7. Loved your story and so much like mine. I started riding at the age of 50. I have always wanted to ride but life got in the way. I am a grandmother and I am still there for my family but I enjoy doing things for me now. Safe riding everyone.

  8. Great article. I took the MSF course three years ago and quit the second day. Then I was ready again, so I took it last summer and passed. I am 58 now and always wanted to ride. I bought a 2007 Honda Rebel 250. I didn’t put many miles on it last year but I am so ready for the warmer weather. I was glad to hear that a few of you also got 250s to learn on. Once I have the miles in I hope to get myself a Harley. Thanks for the stories ladies.

  9. Really nice to read this! I took the Riders Edge course at a Harley dealership in Alaska in 2009. I got my license but didn’t really ride or practice. We bought a 2009 Yamaha XT250 but I hated it as my feet couldn’t reach the ground.In 2012, we moved to Arizona and in March 2016, I bought a 2013 Harley-Davidson XL883L SuperLow. I dropped it twice, right away, but rode it a third time for about 45 minutes. Then it got too cold for me and now I haven’t ridden in about 9 months. Plus, my bike won’t start—I think it’s the battery but not sure. I’m hauling it to the dealership and getting it fixed and hoping to finally get in seat time this year! I’m 59 years old and feel in no way am I too old! I just want to be a competent rider and reading this article gives me renewed hope! Thanks!

  10. A great story, wonderful to hear your tales of overcoming the initial fears. Enjoy riding and have many more adventures on your bike.

  11. Thanks for telling your story. I was 58 when I decided that I wanted to ride. I took the safety course at Harley-Davidson in August and I became dehydrated in the heat late in the day on Saturday. So I decided to get a permit and then the next season I bought a Honda Rebel 250. I took the season to learn and gain confidence. My Rebel does not go faster than 55 mph. I am going to take the course this year and hope to upgrade. Riding is my therapy. I love to ride and I need to ride. Thanks again for sharing.

  12. This is almost exactly my story (really, almost every part)! I am at the stage where I passed my test, got my license, and am in the process of purchasing a 2003 Honda Rebel 250. I hope I love riding as much as you have!

  13. I loved reading this! I was just trying to explain to my friend the excitement of riding a motorcycle and how it makes me feel. It’s hard to explain it to someone that doesn’t understand.My first bike was a Yamaha V Star 250 as well! An awesome first bike. I put 10,000 miles on it and last spring my husband bought me an Indian Scout Sixty! Oh my gosh—I am in love with this bike! I am so grateful that I did not let my fear overwhelm me. Learning to ride as a 45-year-old grandmother was an amazing experience! Wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  14. Great story. I’m so happy for you that you stayed with it!

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