August 5th, 2012
Amalie Howard, New York mother of three, is no stranger to taking risks. She has bungee jumped off the Macau Tower in China and is an avid scuba diver. She did have some concerns however, when learning how to ride a motorcycle.
A self-described adrenaline junkie, she still keeps safety in mind. Knowing that learning from friends is not the safest way to learn how to ride, she decided to learn from professionals. She signed up for the basic rider course.
First she needed to obtain her motorcycle learner's permit. She went to the DMV in Yonkers and passed the test on the first try. There was a guy doing the tests at the same time, and he already failed it five times. She was feeling pretty good at this point.
Howard researched a school couple schools in the New York area. She chose one that had availability that fit in with her schedule.
The day started early at 6:45 AM. She spent six hours in the parking lot learning drills with nine other students. There was only one other woman in the class. Howard said, “I have to say that it was SCARY getting on a bike by myself for the first time and engaging that throttle! Not to mention navigating the clutch, rear brake, front brake and gears! But once I got going, it was pretty exhilarating. And scary. Did I mention scary?“
After two long days of drilling and learning new skills, it was time to take the final exam. The road test.
Howard failed the test.
It turns out that 50% of the class also failed. Howard was pretty devastated. She really does not like to fail. She knew she could pass the test. She had the skills. She was just too nervous. Howard said, “So what do they say to do when you fall down? You get back in the saddle. As part of the course, I had the opportunity for a skills retest. I took mine the next day. And left my nerves where they belonged. At home.”
The next day she passed with flying colors.
Howard sums up the experience thusly: “So the lesson learned here is that riding a motorcycle is hard. It is difficult—there’s so much mind/body synchronization that it is not easy. It takes massive amounts of coordination and concentration—you have to use all four limbs concurrently, as well as your head, to smoothly operate all the controls on the bike. You have to be aware of everything and everyone around you—no more putting on lipstick in the rear view mirror or glancing at your phone. It takes a ton of skill to do different things at once while riding a 300-pound bike and navigating all the pitfalls (pot holes, glare, parked cars, rain, dogs, other drivers). And the truth is, if you fall or get into an accident, the risk is injury and/or death. Riding a motorcycle is no small feat and even though I’m now licensed to ride, there’s no way I’m going out on the road without logging a few more parking lot practice miles under my belt.”
[The Loop New York]