Swizzle Sticks

Spring arrived, but I never did venture out onto real streets with Little Red. I rode her once or twice more in the neighborhood, and that was that. With the rigors of modern motherhood, learning to ride wasn’t a priority, and I lost some of my zest. Maybe too, the influence of the man in my Hayabusa love triangle had started to fade somewhat. But in May 2017 I attempted the ABATE class again, this time with an encouraging friend and one last ounce of persistence.

This friend and I met when we brought our kids to a day-long ABATE dirt bike class on a lark, which was fun for us all until my daughter was thrown up and over her bike and landed on her back on a patch of gravel. She lay there crying, not otherwise moving, and only later at the ER did we learn she was okay. She had been riding off the course and ran into a wooden beam obscured by taller grass. Coincidentally, ABATE instructors at the regular motorcycle class have been known to throw wood out onto the course right in front of student riders, but not on the first day riding thank goodness.

This time, the weather was fine for class. But riding a bike too small for my long legs, in a wobbly herd with mixed skill levels, while being shouted at by a bully instructor (just my luck) made the experience feel too much like punishment and leached the confidence I had gained back in my neighborhood. (By the way, the other instructors were really nice.) Then after a woman ahead of me fell and I saw her sprawled under her bike on the pavement (and again saw my daughter on her back), I rode back over to the parking area, hopped off, and left.

I didn’t feel relieved, not really, and I fought feeling embarrassed. I felt dull. Driving home without my endorsement papers meant accepting a status quo I still longed to resist.

Little Red stayed in the garage another year until I sold her to my ex-husband’s colleague. During those months before they drove off together (looking cute—his compact frame matched hers), I’d often pause in the garage to admire her curves. I’d remember that a man and a motorcycle in Colorado changed me. They really stirred something up. What was it? Power certainly, the joy of learning something new, freedom and fresh air of course, some devil-may-care, and maybe a secret ingredient. It’s a cocktail I’ll try to recreate, just some other way.

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