Motorcycle Learning Journey
Around 2014, about a year after we moved to Florida, we decided I would learn to ride a motorcycle. I was curious to see why so many embraced traveling on a motorcycle. There were many choices: what model, cubic capacity (cc) engine size, style, and whether to get new or used. My husband and I chose a used black Honda CBR250 from a first owner. We found a young woman who wanted to sell preferably to the next woman motorcycle rider. I became its second owner. I didn’t even have a license to drive it, only to check to see if I could reach the ground while the motorcycle stand was released and stopped.
The next step was to get my motorcycle license. We found a school to get my training. We trained in front of a shopping mall area using very used motorcycles. The horns didn’t work. We could do everything else and perform an inspection before riding. I met a motorcycle friend who I am still connected with. She already had prior experience driving the motorcycle. I enjoyed the training and loved going over the obstacles and doing the turns. I learned quickly that I needed to plan for 12 seconds or longer when making choices to turn, pass, brake, signal, navigate, and steer clear of debris. We typically underestimate how comfortable and much safer it is to drive a car.
Remember, I’m very green at riding a motorcycle. I’ve only ridden with others who were more seasoned drivers, and that was when I was still around 10–11 years old in the Philippines! Many of my family and friends know I’m daring enough to try outrageous things like this! I completed my training and was able to get my driver’s license updated to state that I have a motorcycle endorsement. My somewhat thrilling journey began. I’m only 5'1" in height and very new at riding a motorcycle. I didn’t lower the bike and kept tiptoeing when I put my foot down at the stop. Who would have thought Florida roads were slightly curved to the side to allow water runoff when raining heavily? I almost tilted and fell a few times on the road.
I began to practice around our subdivision for safety. It was a learning curve to do all the checks, make sure that I wouldn’t fall or drop over 250 lbs of motorcycle, wear my helmet and gloves, motorcycle jacket with protections, boots, and all. This is Florida we are talking about. It was humid and hot! Still, I persevered to make sure I was dressed and ready to practice riding my motorcycle around the neighborhood. I learned that riding the motorcycle was still dangerous despite being in our subdivision. Drivers would back out of their driveway with no regard to motorcycles. Some would just stop as I’m about to pass by and then have a chitchat with other people in the middle of the road! Others were looking for homes or visiting and would stop their car again without signaling a full stop and with no warning. It was supposed to be enjoyable and peaceful, and instead it was very unpleasant. When riding a motorcycle, you notice even more things that could potentially cause danger for you. I was really happy when nobody was on the road while I practiced.
At some point, I finally did drop my motorcycle, because one of the drivers was trying to give way as I turned into a roundabout. We both got confused while I was still learning to drive. I froze, and I inadvertently dropped my motorcycle. I was embarrassed, and I felt horrible. Still, I called my husband, letting him know I needed help lifting the heavy motorcycle. I walked the motorcycle back to house while in neutral mode. I kept at it, still practicing to ride the motorcycle even when the handlebar was bent. It was still in good condition, despite the drop. Later on, as I gained more confidence, I still had my husband follow me while practicing on the main roads near us. I never went on the highway, only near our subdivision. I was still very fearful that and not be confident in my driving skills or trust other people would not hit me on my motorcycle.
The learned lesson is that everyone should have the opportunity to drive a motorcycle. Many people do not respect or see motorcycle riders. Now I understood why many bought a Harley Davidson where you could hear it for miles away. I also realized many people should never drive a car too! When you make a mistake driving a motorcycle, it is unforgiving. We have seen accidents like a motorcyclist who was decapitated. A few motorcycle racers or more seasoned drivers have had plenty of broken bones, bodily injuries and have metal in their bodies after surviving their accidents.
I already gave plenty of distance behind motorcyclists before attempting to learn to ride them, but now even more. We finally sold our motorcycle to someone more seasoned and would give it a new home. If I get another motorcycle, it would be a three-wheel or Can-Am. For now, I’m content not having to stress that other drivers do not see me, hear me, or have no sense of respect for motorcycle riders. It was a fun experience to feel liberated and feel the breeze. Frankly, it was a dare-devil move, to begin with. I was crazy enough to learn at a later age. Now I appreciate this learning journey and recommend that others try to learn it for the pure respect of being safer drivers. It is not for everyone. Many more should be aware of and respect it as a vulnerable way of riding a vehicle.