Reader Story: From One Motorcycle to Another (and Another)

How it all works out in the end

By Linda Eade, Unionville, Virgina

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Back in the summer of 2002, my husband told me he wanted a motorcycle. I thought the man had lost his mind. He just wasnt the type youd picture riding a bike, well, maybe a bicycle, but a motorcycle? I told him if he got a bike, I was getting a bike. I must have been having a senior moment when I said that because I didnt have any desire to ride a motorcycle. We were both 52 years old (with him being almost 53) which is kind of old to be learning how to ride a motorcycle, although I thought I could jump on one and go since Id ridden when I was in my early 20s. I never realized how my height would impact me since I was about 5 feet 2 inches when we bought the bikes.

Linda taking a break on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 2005.

He finally convinced me he was serious so we headed to the local Honda dealer. We had already gotten our learners permits before we bought the bikes and had a friend come over with his bike since we had to ride with a licensed biker. But this first ride was before wed taken the riding class. As I got on the bike for the first time, I didnt feel any fear, but as I started down our gravel driveway, I felt like the bike wanted to go to the left all by itself. When I got to the bottom of the driveway, I managed to turn onto the gravel road and the bike kept feeling like it wanted to go left. Of course, I knew it couldnt be anything I was doing; it had to be something wrong with the bike. Well, I finally went left fell over in the grass since the bike finally did go completely left. I was scared to death at that point, realizing that the riding skills Id had 30 years ago had just disappeared. Somebody I dont remember who took my little 250 Honda Rebel back up to the house. I stayed home while my husband rode off with the friend.

I learned to ride in a school parking lot a safe environment and not on a road with other cars, stoplights and stop signs. Once I did get on the road, I rode so slow that to this day, I dont know how the bike stayed upright. Im sure my husband, who had become a pretty good rider at this point, was taking naps riding behind me. I took the riders course twice, got my license, but the only thing the license did was show I had a license to ride a motorcycle, not that I knew how. Since winter was approaching, I only rode my bike maybe three times before we put them away. That was in the late fall of 2002. Also in the fall of 2002, my husband wanted to move up to a bigger bike. He had progressed much further than I had since I could barely ride the little Rebel. In fact, I never rode my Rebel just his Rebel after we traded my unblemished Rebel with 89 miles on it for a Honda 750 Shadow Spirit for my husband and I took over his beat up Rebel.

In 2003, I began to dread the day we would take the bikes out because I just knew Id forgotten everything Id learned in the parking lots of two different schools and on the road during those three brief rides on a real road. My husband was hot to trot and the first day the weather permitted us to get the bikes out. We went riding every chance we got and of course I was still very careful and couldnt go as fast as he could and I still had all of these fears about other vehicles on the road, stopping, making turns, navigating curves and dropping my bike, which I did quite frequently. By April 2003, I felt I needed a little bit bigger bike. I bought a used Honda Shadow 600 and sold the little beat up Rebel to a woman. Id had some mishaps along the way with the Rebel, but not the same sorts of mishaps my husband had because it seems I had learned from his mistakes even though I wasnt even on a bike

Linda on her Honda Shadow Spirit 750, 2006.

In 2005, my husband decided he wanted an even bigger bike. We went to a school parking lot to see if I could ride the Honda 750 which I still thought was a gigantic bike. This bike handled so much better than my 600 and we decided wed sell the 600 and Id take over the 750. He bought a 2004 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200C. We sold the 600 and a month after he got his new bike, we loaded the bikes and went to Daytona Bike Week. Id only been riding the 750 for about a month when we made this trip, but I was totally comfortable and confident on the bigger bike. We rode our bikes every chance we got during 2005. I still continued to drop the bike, but could make turns without a problem at low speed and could navigate the curves on our back roads.

During that summer, my 750 needed some work done on it and new tires. The bike stayed in the shop for almost two months because the shop was so busy. A couple of weeks later we rode to Lynchburg to meet up with my brother. The bike wasnt running right on the way home. It had started to miss and surge. We were leaving on vacation in two weeks and we never planned a vacation that didnt include taking our bikes with us.

I knew if I took the 750 back to the shop there was no way theyd have it fixed in less than two weeks in time for our trip and I was not going on that trip without a motorcycle. So we headed to the Harley dealership in Staunton, Virginia. By September 2007, I had shrunk to 5 feet 1 inch and the number of bikes I could ride was down to one Harley in that whole great big showroom full of motorcycles. I couldnt get another Honda bigger than the 750 because I couldnt lift them off the kickstand even though I could flat foot them. I didnt want another 750, I wanted a bike with a bigger engine. The only bike I could touch the floor with both feet and lift off the kickstand was the Sportster Nightster 1200. I traded my 750 and the 2004 Sportster on the Nightster. I went from totally hating this bike to really enjoying riding it after making some modifications to it. I have a new set of saddlebags and a new rear tire waiting to be put on the bike.

Picking up her new Harley-Davidson Sportster Nightster, 2007.

Since September of 2007 when I bought the Nightster, I have put almost 12,000 miles on it. I have come a long way in my riding skills and look for every opportunity to ride whether its 10 miles down the road or 300 miles, and whether its with someone or by myself.

Linda riding on Skyline Drive in 2008.

This goes to show that a 50-something year old female can learn to ride and ride well. I get lots of attention from other women who call out to me “You go girl” and can start a conversation with others on a bike even though I dont know them. Ive gone from being scared of biker types, to being one of them. We even went out and got a tattoo. All of our non-riding friends and family thought wed lost our minds when we bought the bikes, but they really thought wed lost it when we got the tattoos. I hope were still riding for a long, long time even though Im still shrinking and am now 5 feet 1/2 inches tall due to having osteoporosis. If you see an older woman riding a mini-bike around anywhere in another 10 years, it just might be me because I cant see giving up riding no matter how short I am. Well, maybe Id have to get a trike. I will be dead when I stop riding because I love it so much.

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