So, I’m getting into something new. Something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but never really gave careful consideration to until recently. After much ado, I’m getting a motorcycle sometime in the next couple of weeks.
While this may seem completely out of left field, there’s a certain method to my random madness. The first thing I do when I consider taking up a new hobby/mode of transportation/obsession is research it like crazy. What I mean by that is that I spend every free minute that I have learning everything there is to know about my new interest. Ranging from the best safety gear to crash statistics, I can guarantee you that I leave no stone unturned in my quest for knowledge. I generally don’t dive into any endeavor headfirst without knowing exactly what I’m getting myself into.
The next step was signing up for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course. I’ll learn the basics of bike safety there and I’ll also get a discount on my insurance. It’s a good thing that I had every intention of taking it because as of July 1st, 2008, all individuals applying for a motorcycle license need to have taken the course.
Once I was signed up for the course, I set about getting all of my gear (which is completely functional as well as very cool). I ordered a leather jacket, leather gloves and leather riding boots. The jacket and boots both have body armor so that in the event of a crash, I’m better protected. The other piece of gear that I still need to figure out is motorcycle pants. Apparently, jeans will only protect you for about a 5-foot skid and obviously that’s not very far. The only problem is that these are my other pant options:
1. Leather pants (I’m not sure I want to teach classes in full leather)
2. Chaps (um, yeah)
3. Overpants (which basically are big body armor pants that you pull over your regular pants)
I need to go try some of these options on, but based on the new biker lingo I picked up, you want to wear ATGATT (all the gear all the time), otherwise you’re just a squid (someone completely stupid who rides around unsafely). Ok, ok, I promise not to use my new biker terminology in regular conversations.
So, I managed to pick up 70% of the gear that I needed without ever having stepped foot in an actual store. Unfortunately, the two things that I still needed (an actual motorcycle and a helmet) required an in-store visit.
Let me preface my apprehension by saying that it is really annoying to be a female walking into any situation where you’re dealing with men who think that women don’t know what they’re talking about. The classic annoying as hell scenario is buying a car. I can guarantee you that I know more about cars (ALL cars) than 90% of the men that I know. Still, without fail, I have to essentially brow beat the salesmen with my knowledge to get them to speak to me about something other than the color of the car or how soft the leather seats are. Even in a bicycle shop, where I can spout off all of the bike components and talk about suspension and frame weight with the best of them do I have a hard time getting someone to take me seriously.
So, imagine my apprehension sitting in front of the Harley Davidson dealership gathering the nerve to go inside. It didn’t help that I had just driven back from the prison and was dressed in grey dress slacks, heels and a black sweater. Certainly not biker attire. Never one to shy away from any situation, I firmed my resolve and walked inside. I thought that I would try on helmets first since that’s less intimidating than straddling a 500 lb. motorcycle. The guy at the front counter directed me to the helmet guy and I explained what I wanted (full face helmet for optimum safety, etc…)
Then something shocking happened. He started speaking to me as if I knew exactly what he was saying, which I did. We had a 15 minute conversation about the different safety gear and the different helmet types (I’m happy to say that I made good decisions on the rest of my gear) and after I told him that I was going to think on the helmet, he walked me over to the bike salesman. “Great,” I thought, “this is when it should get ugly.” But it didn’t. I told him that I was taking the MSF course and it turns out that he’s on a softball team with the guy who runs it and then we spent about 30 minutes talking about all of the different types of motorcycles that would work with my needs. Simply amazing. Both guys offered to help in any way they could (whether I went with a Harley or not) and welcomed me back anytime. I walked out of that store completely dumbfounded.
Fast forward a couple of days and I needed to go to a couple of other motorcycle dealers. I figured that the Harley guys were an exception and prepared myself for the worst as I went into the second shop. (I felt a little more comfortable because I was at least in jeans this time.) You know what, they were really helpful too! I tried on about 5 different helmets (turns out that I’m a size small in some helmets and an extra-small in others) and I sat on 4 different bikes. The bike salesman was even googling images of the bikes that he thought would work best for me…and they weren’t even bikes that he sold!
So, here are my conclusions. Motorcycle salesmen are polite, friendly and blow car salesmen out of the water when it comes to dealing with women. Helmets are not for clausterphobic people. Walking a 500 lb. motorcycle out of a parking spot is a lot harder than it looks. Motorcycles are much larger in person than they appear to be on the internet.
I’ll definitely keep you guys posted as my quest for the perfect motorcycle continues….
Breakfast: Kashi breakfast bar, coffee
Workout: 4 mile run, 50 minute spinning
Lunch: Hummus and baked torilla chips, blueberries
Dinner: 2 eggs over-easy, baked potato with sour cream, strawberries