Me on my first motorcycle, a used 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883L, named Ms. Daisy.
Encouragment and Humility
My father has always been a motorcycle lover and passed it on to me. When I graduated from college in 1998 I talked about buying my own motorcycle. He thought I should learn to properly ride first, so he gifted me with the motorcycle safety course in 1999.
During the class, I dropped the bike and broke the clutch lever and was quite embarrassed. But, I was determined to finish because my father said I could ride his motorcycle once I completed the course. Thankfully, I passed! As promised, my dad let me ride his big Suzuki to a parking lot to practice the skills I had learned. I dropped it right away and didn’t (yet) know how to pick up the heavy motorcycle, though I do now! Alas I had to just sit there waiting for my dad to come find me.
At the time, cell phones didn’t yet exist and I wasn’t going to walk away from my dad’s bike, so I waited. I knew when I didn’t return home he would come looking for me. About an hour later he showed up. We lifted the bike together and I rode it home. There was no damage to his bike, but I was so scared about dropping it again and possibly damaging it, that I never asked to ride it again. With no money to buy my own bike, I did not ride again for a very long time.
ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) is a good motto. The gear I was wearing when I crashed during my first long road trip likely saved my life.
The Riding Bug, Reinvigorated!
Today, I am a police officer working for a local mid-sized agency. In 2012, one of our officers was shot and killed in the line of duty. He was a motorcyclist, so our local Harley-Davidson dealership hosted a fundraiser for his family which I attended. Even though it was a very sad time, I remember walking through the dealership showroom, seeing all the bikes, and having my riding bug reinvigorated. A couple months later, I returned to the dealership and bought my first motorcycle, a used 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883L. I named her Ms. Daisy.
Once I had my own bike, it was on! I started riding regularly. I rode for the sense of power, peace, and community it gave me. I learned the term “wind therapy.” I learned about giving the peace sign to other bikers passing by. I learned about being “cool.”
Proving that you can tour just fine on a Sportster 883, my 4,400-mile solo ride took me through some of our country’s prettiest places.
My First Solo Ride To Sturgis
In August of 2013, I took my first long distance overnight solo bike ride. I rode the Sportster from the center of Texas, circled up through Colorado, and ended up in Sturgis, South Dakota, for a few days during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I saw a lot of our beautiful country and also learned a lot about riding.
I came to understand the value of properly inflated tires and how a motorcycle helmet can save your noggin, even at low speeds. I crashed right outside of Sturgis due to my bike’s under-inflated tires. I hit a patch of gravel on the highway while making a right turn and lost control of my motorcycle. I wasn’t going very fast but ended up going down the embankment of the access road. I remember hearing my helmet against the pavement a couple of times as I slid. Luckily, there wasn’t enough damage to my bike to cut the trip short, but having to see the damage every day afterwards was a good lesson learned.
On the way home from Sturgis I paid a visit to the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee and then came back to Texas, riding the iconic American Route 66. Find out about the AMCA Riveter’s organized woman’s ride of Route 66 here.
Looking To The Future
Everyone told me that I would outgrow the Sportster. At times, I did think I wanted to sell Ms. Daisy for a bigger motorcycle, but in the end, I couldn’t sell it. She was my first. We’ve shared a lot of experiences together, and thinking that she might end up in the hands of someone who would not care for her as much as I do, I couldn’t do it. I still have her and ride her regularly.
While I have no plans to sell Ms. Daisy, I’ve started thinking about the number of motorcycles I “should” have. Why can’t I have two?! Or three? I started dating my current husband a couple of years ago. He was not a motorcycle rider at the time, but soon became one. One day we’ll buy him a bike. Little does he know that his bike is also going to be a second bike for me.
More Reader Stories
Technique for Lifting a Dropped Motorcycle
Choosing Your First Motorcycle
Reader Story: A New Rider’s First Overnight Solo Trip
Motorcycle Review: Harley-Davidson Sportster 883L
Do It Yourself: Tire Maintenance and Inspection
How to Ride Your Street Motorcycle in Gravel