Reader Story: If She Can Do It, So Can I

The cycle continues

By Jill Smith, Massillon, Ohio

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Its a hot summers day and Im waiting at a red light. I turn my head left to follow the roar of 10 bikes and 12 riders as they zoom past me on Route 21. That looks like so much fun, but Im 54 years old and I dont know if I could learn to ride a motorcycle, let alone pick it up from the kickstand. My vision fades as the last rider disappears around the corner.

A couple of days later, I see a woman older than me pumping gas into her motorcycle. I watched her get on it, start it up, and glide out of the station. Hey, if she can ride, I should be able to do it.

After many searches on the computer, reading reviews, watching basic rider videos, I bought a 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. I had read that it was a good beginners bike. I practiced every single day for weeks in the parking lot by my house until I felt I could shift, stop, and start with no problems. My husband was so gracious to follow me in our car on my first ride on a real road. It was awesome!

Jill on her 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. She says she wears full protective gear when riding.

Any woman out there thinking of learning to ride a motorcycle, do it. Dont let age or gender stop you from it. It is a thrill to have the wind blowing, and the fragrance of the ride surrounding you. I am so glad I did buy my bike, and I’m looking forward to learning to ride it well in the basic beginner’s course in October.

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10 thoughts on Reader Story: If She Can Do It, So Can I

  1. Yay, Jill! I had been a long-time back seat rider (30 plus years) and just last year my hubby and I decided that I should learn to drive just in case of an emergency while we were out. Well, long story short, at 47 I learned to ride and my hubby bought me a bike of my own. I took the course and am still in learning mode but I wouldn’t trade my own bike for the world! Ride safe and maybe we’ll see you around!

  2. Yes, “older” gals rule! Jill, congratulations and keep going. All of us once had that longing look, that wish, and found the “oomph” that got us to the course, to the parking lots, and on the road. Time’s a wastin’. On all those main streets, parking lots, food stores, cars passing us by, there are those young girls watching us make the moves, wind in our hair/sun on our face, sitting proudly on our iron horses, showing them, yes, it can be done, and what’s stopping you? Nothing.

  3. I love to hear about older women taking up riding. I’m 56 and took the MSF course, bought a 08 Kawasaki 900 Vulcan and really enjoy riding, although not often. Unfortunately, I have lost a number of friends the last couple of years from motorcycle accidents. Now I have not rode for a year and am really scared to ride. As much as I enjoy learning to ride I hesitate to take the plunge. Wish me luck – any encouraging words are welcome. Enjoyed the story!

  4. I was never interested in riding on or owning a motorcycle until the cost of gas kept increasing. My husband and son bought bikes and I said, do you think I could learn that? It took a while, and I flunked the riding test two times before I got my license. I’m now over 60 and have been riding only two years. Don’t ever try to take my Yamaha away from me.

  5. Fantastic Jill, great to hear your story. I am in my 50s and have just returned to riding after a break of 25 years! Used to ride “big” road bikes in those days — 750s and 900s. Bought a new Suzuki V Strom 650 last year to share with hubby (also a returning rider), but hated it. Bought a great little Beemer (BMW G 650 GS) and am loving its forgiving nature! Don’t know why I waited so bl***y long! Am eyeing off the baby Beemer’s big sister (1200cc) aka Ewen McGregor/Charlie Boorman Long Way Round. Never know — could do a USA trip some day! Keep up the great inspirational stories everyone.

  6. Just what I needed to read! I took the MSF course in June, passed the test and then after nagging my husband rode an old 1970s bike around the block to make sure I wanted to buy my own. Did fine and bought a 2007 Suzuki Boulevard 800 a month ago. Been out a handful of times and slowly gaining confidence. Needed to read that it takes time! Best advice hubby gave me today. I have already passed the test and just need to ride! Forgot to say that I am 54 years young!

  7. Good for you, Jill! I’m 45 and started riding motorcycles three years ago. Like you, I kept watching other riders and dreaming about the open road. Then I just did it. I signed up for the basic rider’s course and purchased my first motorcycle, a Honda Shadow 600. I now own a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100 and I haven’t stopped smiling since I first swung my leg over that first bike. Welcome to the road!

  8. Stories like this are so inspiring. I am 65 and got my motorcycle license in 2008 and my first bike which is a Honda Rebel. Since then I have logged nearly 12,000 miles between it and Suzuki 650 which I love. I love riding, love being out there on the road, just me and the bike.

  9. My experience is similar to Jill’s. My husband purchased a Vulcan 900 in 2006 and I rode on the back as a passenger for a good while. He had been urging me to learn to ride “my own” for some months when I met a woman at a local motorcycle accessory store. Both her and her husband learned to ride in their early 50s. That incident and some friends wanting to learn to ride was what it took for me to take the motorcycle safety course. From there I purchased a 96 Vulcan 800 that had been highly customized. That bike turned out to be a little much for me to ride so I sold it and now own a 2006 Yamaha V Star 650 and love it! I’m very happy that my husband kept urging me to “ride my own.”

  10. Good for you Jill. I know exactly what you mean and how you feel. I started riding two years ago at the age of 58. There’s that sense of nimble power and controlled freedom like no other when you’re riding. I, too, wear full body armor when I ride so I can enjoy the ride knowing that if something goes wrong I am as protected as possible. I’m 60 and I want to preserve my assets. By the way, I prefer the modular helmet for my glasses. And I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic Riding Course. It was a matter of practicality for me. The course offers the riding certification portion, while the written test is done at the DMV. The course prepared me so well for the test, I breezed through it with a 100 percent — not to mention, the course gives the students the opportunity to have two years of good riding skills to hit the road with.

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