Inclined to Wait

Foot Pegs requires an epilogue, I’m afraid.

I must have ridden for about 10 miles, mostly on my neighborhood’s one-mile loop but also on connected cross-streets and cul-de-sacs, never exceeding 15 mph. A few cars drove by, and I passed people with dogs. Initially I thought, “You should all be afraid. This beautiful afternoon… it’s not a normal afternoon!” But the angst waned and I became more and more confident.

I couldn’t wave to neighbors, of course. That would have been disastrous. So mostly I nodded, which was frustratingly subtle. I wanted to wave wildly, laugh, and rejoice. To a few I called out, “This is my first day riding!” like an eight-year old. One neighbor looked especially surprised and amused. I beamed back at him. I stopped to chat with one other. He rides too, and he keenly wanted to impress upon me that drivers don’t always see us. I don’t think a rider, especially a new one, can hear that enough. We must pledge allegiance to our eyes… to the road ahead, on both sides, and behind.

Elated and nearly in a state of disbelief, I rode back to the base of my driveway on its hill. The incline was a bit daunting, but I was in can-do mode. So I rode straight up the hill–and promptly stalled on the steepest part.

Instantly I stood up and squeezed the front brake hard, probably harder than necessary, but I had no interest in discovering the brake’s threshold or what being in gear was really doing for me then and there with 440 pounds. I switched off the ignition, and I stood there, stuck, knowing I had neither the strength to push Little Red up the hill nor the skill to start her back up and ride forward under those circumstances. My right hand was getting tired from squeezing the front brake.

I looked to the right. I looked to the left. No one was around. Where were all my nice neighbors? I looked to the right. I looked to the left again. I was alone. I wondered how stupid I looked. I kicked the side stand down, and it seemed to bear some of the weight, but I couldn’t trust it. I waited, squeezing that front brake hard as my hand became weaker. Time passes slowly when you’re feeling stupid alone on a hill and your hand hurts. A motorcycle. Really?

After a little while, a dog-walking neighbor did spot me and graciously lent his strength to push Little Red up to the level part of the driveway while I walked her and steered. Thank you, Steve!

A motorcycle? You bet.

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