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A Not Eve Post: New Bike Day

Let's not talk about Eve today.

I am a motorcyclist and for anyone that knows or is a motorcyclist they will understand the importance of new bike day. Getting a new motorcycle is similar to getting a new car but it is more amazing. Motorcycles are incredibly intimate. After all, it is just you and the machine your legs are wrapped around skimming across the ground. It is as if flight and horsemanship had been melded together, leaving nothing but a purity of moment as the landscape vanishes under the hungry growl of the motor.

I've always wanted to ride. I grew up around Washington D.C. It is plagued by riders on sportbikes doing outrageous things in traffic. They are the true organ doner type. No protective gear. Their helmets (if they are wearing them) perched on the top of their heads. They often have no training and no license and their motorcycles may not even be legal. And when I was younger and knew nothing about danger, I found them amazing. Not the riders themselves but the motorcycles.

You see, I love sport bikes. Crotch rockets. Rice burners. Whatever you want to call them I adore them. I can watch motorcycle racing for hours. I don't care who wins. I don't want to see wrecks. Just the endless drop and roll as they riders take corners and skim across the ground in a dance with physics and mechanics enthralls and excites me.

However, I'm a rather realistic person. I wanted to get a motorcycle when I was about nineteen. However, the motorcycle class was booked up and I was never able to get licensed. This is good. Not because I was reckless at nineteen. Simply, the cost of the gear that I would need and insurance would have been to much for me. The bike shop that I did once visit happily would have sold me that motorcycle I was looking at without knowing if I knew how to ride or was even licensed. They had not a care for the size of the engine I was eyeballing (it was a 600 so not bad) just the sale. I no longer visit shops like that.

I never lost the dream or the desire. It would not be for another eight years until I could try again. I was older, wiser, with more income and a husband. My husband is from the UK. He rode a little 125cc dual sport around as a teenager which left him with fond memories of motorcycles, childhood, and dual sports. I still lusted for a sportbike. Every time they buzzed past my house I'd feel the call that I couldn't answer. Yet, I'm a practical, grounded woman. I'm a trained EMT/Firefighter. I know exactly what can happen to motorcyclists. It is not that I didn't care it is that I decided to learn some risk management.

At a point where we could afford motorcycles, I set down to figure out how we would move from no riding experience to riding experience. My husband had not ridden in about fifteen years so I classified him as needing as much training as I did. The first thing I did was sign us up for our local Motorcycle Safety Class at our community collage. There was a nine month wait for the class. In many states, this class allows you to get your license without a road test. The class is your road test. They provide basic gear and 250cc motorcycles to ride on. For a hundred dollars it was a three day course in motorcycle safety, rules, and practical application as well as a end test for both paper and bike. If nothing else it let people know if they wanted to ride. Some found out that they did not. Not I.

During that long, cold, nine month wait I decided to learn. I purchased books. I watched shows. I got into motorcycle magazines and forums. I started reading reviews. I decided that we were going to do this properly. We would start out with smaller bikes and work our way up once we'd been riding for a little while. Motorcycle depreciation isn't terribly bad. I got us gear. I told my husband that we were going to ride properly. Full face helmets, boots, gloves, jackets, and riding pants. I learned a lot about statistics for crashes and injuries.

I learned a lot of people do not wear gear.

We purchased our bikes and had them delivered to the house. We settled on a pair of Kawasaki Ninja 500s to start our new motorcycle life. Mine in silver and his in yellow.

With the bikes in the garage the time ticked down and we finally were able to take our class. It wound up being a nice, mild April. We passed our class with flying colors and perfect scores. Excited, we went to the DMV and got our licenses with a book test that I almost managed to fail. That didn't stop me and off we went to try out our bikes and go on our first short ride.

At the time we lived up on a mountain. Our main road is prime riding territory. We took it slow and safe and things went well until the first stop light and turn. I managed to panic, target fixate on the turn and down I went on the shoulder. I was unhurt, my new shiny bike a tiny bit scuffed, and mostly I was embarrassed. That particular turn curves back on itself and I wasn't ready for it. I did learn, completely, to look at where I am going and trust the bike to go where it needs to go. An ugly lesson to take twenty minutes out of the gate but it was done.

I rode that little bike almost daily. I ran errands on it. I went to the store on it. I racked up four thousand miles in six months. I got wet gear and rode in the rain. I commuted to work. I was in love with riding.

I was then struck by a deer.

I was heading to work, puttering along happy as could be on my mountain road home when a very large doe leapt off a bank above me and slammed into my motorcycle. She hit the radiator right in front of my leg while I was going about forty mpg (64km). What I remember from that crash is rolling. I remember the sparks from my bike as it slid down the road and my fear that it would slam into me. I finally stopped and laid there, staring at the sky, pleased that I was alive. I wound up in the ditch for the opposite lane with my feet pointing in the direction I had been heading. I was about fifty feet from the crash site and my bike had gone another fifty feet back. The doe was dead back down the road. Good.

I got up and went and picked up my bike. Adrenaline made it rather light. A car stopped and I got some help. I was only half a mile from home so they dropped me off and I knocked on the door, sheepishly to tell my husband I'd been in a wreck. By the way, I was fine. My gear? Shredded. Me? Bruised up with a tiny bit of road rash on one forearm where my jacket had been ground away. My bike was totaled but as I said, they don't depreciate quickly. We received almost the full value of the bike minus $500.

Everyone asked if I was going to ride again. Wasn't I scared? A lot of this came from women. The ones who would tell me how they are to scared to ride or that they prefer to let their ride and just watch from the back. I'd already dealt with a steady wave of people who assumed I rode on the back of his bike.

I laughed and went and got a Yamaha FZ6.


I named this bike Mantis and I loved him. I got all sorts of goodies. I changed the engine bolts to blue. I put pin striping on the tires. I got a motorcycle GPS for road trips. I got luggage and I began to go visit my best friend in Boston, MA (10 hour trip). She and her wife had started riding the summer before I did so we had great fun in a line of girls on blue bikes (My FZ6, her Kawasaki 650, her wife's Ninja 250. Her wife started with a scooter and moved up to the 250.)

I rode everywhere. My mileage slowed down when I changed jobs and couldn't commute anymore. I learned to do my own oil changes. This had the added bonus of my also doing the cars too. I installed heated grips and a charger for my phone. I rode in the heat and the cold. Once the temperatures hit freezing I tended to give in. I racked up 14,000 on this motorcycle before I had my next wreck. I know, my co-workers say, "Sugar, stop wrecking your bikes!" This time I was driving along and a car decided to turn left by straddling my lane because he "didn't see me". Blue bike, white jacket, white helmet, high beams on, and out he goes and into the side of his car I went. I was only travelling about 30mph when he pulled out so I was almost stopped when I slammed into him. Off I went, roll, roll, roll. At the time, I thought I had gone down from over breaking. So, I looked at the sky for a while and sighed. Another set of gear ruined (only my helmet and pants in the end. I won't wear a helmet after a wreck.) Another bike totaled.

I wound up not riding for almost two years. For one, I didn't know what I wanted to get. For two, life was busy. However, the other week, discussing it, my husband asked if I wanted another bike. Well of COURSE I want another bike. We'd been holding off because we've been thinking about moving cross country. Plus, the bike that I wanted was discontinued for 2014 but I really, really wanted it and maybe... just maybe... I could get a used one?

We looked and discovered something. The dealers had their new 2013's still sitting on the floor for the same price as the used 2011-2013's we were finding. A quick search of our local dealers found one with a 2013 sitting on the showroom floor. We decided to go and visit and discovered that they had sold the one on the floor. Disappointed, I thought maybe it was not time for a new bike.

"We have one in a crate still."

Oh? Oh yes. It turned out they had an unpackged one sitting in the back. One deposit later and we scheduled to pick it up on the weekend. I ran home and spent all of my money. With my account wiped clean (maybe not that bad) I had a new helmet, some decals, a tank protector, reflective stripes, and a few other useful bits and bobs headed my way. My husband and I decided on modular HJC helmets with blue tooth integration. We've always wanted to communicate while riding and the blue tooth systems have really improved. Now we can just talk to each other and he can stop feeling as if he is disconnected from me.

I pulled out my gear, dusted it off, and on Friday went to get my new boy. A 2013 Yamaha FZ8 with zero miles and no ones body having graced him but mine and the mechanics. He is matte grey and black. I really do like the matte look.


He needs a name.

The dealership said that it was funny. We purchased him and the next day they started receiving calls about their available FZ8s after months of nothing. It's spring in Virginia. There are lovely roads just an hour west in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Now that the switch has flipped to warm, the motorcycles are coming back out. But this one gets to come home with me.

They are very polite but this is the time when you realize how few women ride in comparison to men. They even asked if my husband was going to ride it home for me. He goes, "No! It's all her." I don't even glare anymore. Maybe I am getting old and mellow. People assume I ride on the back of his bike. They assume that the bike is his or for him. They think its cute that I come along with him to look at bikes. He must be a lucky guy that I let him ride. Their assumptions don't affect me. It's all mine.

I am rusty and stiff. It was a bit embarrassing. I was nervous. I never used to be nervous. But, I started to relax and the sixty mile trip home went well enough. I was never in any trouble. I was just erratic with speed and my turns left a lot to be desired. A lot. But, I made it home without incident other than a few pissed off drivers.

It is a great bike. It is a bit bigger and a bit heavier than my FZ6. But, I think once we get a few dozen more miles together it will be quite a lovely relationship. My bestfriend will be coming down on her BMW F800R for one of my off weekends next month so that we can spend the weekend taking some of the mountain roads. I think I'll be back up to speed by then. We'll probably even let my husband come along. He rides a Suzuki Vstrom 1000. It is a call back to his early bike days. He does love dual sports.

I picked up a taste for streetbikes after riding my Ninja 500. I am not one for cruisers but I needed more utility than a straight up sportbike. I was very happy with the performance of my FZ6 but one thing the FZ8 has is a lot more torque at the bottom, which is nice in an I4 considering all their speed is up top once the engines start to scream.

And that is my not Eve post about my New Bike Day.

Comments

  1. I remember when I got my first real bike. Nothing that big. In the UK you can ride a 125cc after a day of basic training, so you can learn for bigger bikes. It was a Suzuki Intruder, all sparkling chrome and a deep rich blue.

    Love that cruiser style.

    The first day I took it out, it was a beautiful sunny Summer's day. Cool breeze coming off the flowering downs, and trees gently swaying under their leaf-heavy canopies. Almost didn't notice the growing traffic jam behind me. I took it very slow that first day.

    Had to put him in storage for the last few years though. I've been out of the country for so long.

    I have a commuter moped here in Vietnam, a Suzuki Hayate. It's good, does it's job well, and is light enough to make parking in weird places easy. Sports bikes and cruisers just aren't practical when you have to park in the 5-inch gap between a wall and fruit stall. It's not the same though.

    And riding here isn't the same either. Wouldn't dream of going out in England without the full helmet/jacket/glove set. Here, I have a tiny half-helmet, and a mask to keep out the smog. Oh, and and a pair of sunglasses. I've seen more accidents on the road here in 4 years than I've seen anywhere else in my entire life.

    People driving against traffic. Refrigerators and dogs piled high in the back of bikes. The tricycle conversion jobs for people with only one leg. Optional traffic lights. Optional road markings. Literally dodging the police camps. Everyone texting whilst riding. Not wearing a helmet is hardly the worst of it.

    But thinking back to those Summer days on the back of that chromed up Intruder keeps me smiling, even when I'm surrounded by twenty or so other mopeds literally shoving each other out of the way for road space.

    Glad you had a happy New Bike day, Sugar. Thanks for writing about it.

    And that's my not Eve comment :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very nice :) I hate driving in cities but I am willing to ride in them. Some countries however, no thanks.

      Delete
  2. My wife has had six bikes. Me only two. My second bike, an old girl now, is with me now ... Kawasaki Vulcan 1500. So is my wife but she gave up biking two years ago. Just the b on the back, now.

    I have pictures of when my wife got her first bike. It's in the crate! Very exciting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was recording me when I got on!

      Delete
  3. Congrats, your passion for bikes shines through.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congratulations on your purchase, Sugar. I hope every day off is sunny and promise to keep my disappointment that my sixty degree V-twin proselytizing had failed under wraps.

    If you're close enough to even consider a day trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you're a very lucky motorcyclist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While your bike overheats..

      The Blue Ridge Parkway is an hour away. I'd like to ride it but its so congested with bikers and cars that maybe not. I don't know.

      Delete
  5. Awesome.

    Not been on a bike for years now, in fact the last bike I went on was on the back of my friend's Kawasaki Ninja 600. That was quite enjoyable, can't imagine what it is like to ride that thing on its own!

    I did have a little mini moto until recently, it did 40 mph and it was decal'd (is that a word?) to look like a little Yamaha R1. Now that was scary, people might laugh at the 40mph thing but when you're essentially a few centimetres off the floor with your knees almost up to your head ..... yeah.

    I once pulled a wheelie on it and forgot to let go of the throttle, that resulted in some nasty grazed knees. Hehe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mini bikes hare hysterical. They have races with them and everything.

      Delete
  6. Wow, that sounds like so much fun. :-) Riding a bike of any kind here is crazy dangerous, but if I had some beautiful scenery to drive around in, I might be tempted.

    Fly safe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will be safe. Looking around is great but riding my bike is the closest I get to meditation. Its amazingly focused and contained.

      Delete
  7. Congratulations on getting to CSM9!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you unknown but supportive poster!

      Delete
  8. Congratulations! All three of my top choices got in! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congrats Sugar. I'm not a Low Sec pilot, but you got my top vote. Also, congrats on the new bike. Ride safe.

    Mi Sing

    ReplyDelete
  10. You should name the bike CSMSugar. Grats.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Congrats on CSM! The trader community needed a voice badly!

    Somehow I'm not at all surprised that you are riding bikes.

    One hint against a "didn't see you" accidents: even on bright sunny days turn on the lights. Greatly increases visibility, it's even mandatory in several European countries due to the decreased number of accidents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sugar, you do it right. Love your ride and grate on CSM!

    Gevlon, new stock motorcycles in the U.S. all have the headlights permanently on.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Congrats Sugar!!!

    Go go for lowsec!!!

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  14. Congratulations Sugar!
    As a newbie I sadly didn't have a vote in that. But that makes me even more happy that you made it anyway. I love your blog and I'm sure you'll do a great job :)

    Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great post, Sugar, very enjoyable read! Ride on up to Rappahannock County (north of Culpeper) some day and sit a spell. I'll introduce you to my ride of choice, Emma my mule. Give me some advance notice so I can feed you and whoever comes with you :) (And grats again on your CSM win!)

    ReplyDelete
  16. My first bike was a Suzuki SV-650 metalic blue, and I LOVED that bike! I never would have taken the motorcycle safety course if it wasn't a requirement from my command to ride on base, but I'm glad I did. Living in Phoenix, AZ I had a car try and come over into my lane at least once a week. My first (and so far only!) wreck was a silver pickup truck pulling out of a Wendy's parking lot because he "didn't see me." Sigh.

    My second bike was an Aprilia Tuono and I LOVED that bike too... but it was too much bike for me at the time. I sold that bike and bought an RV which is a whole different story...

    Congrats on the new bike! And congrats on the CSM

    ReplyDelete
  17. ATGATT...its the only way to ride. Ninja 250 rider here, honestly don't need any more than that.

    I've been lucky enough to never use my gear in a crash (riding 10+ years), but I'm glad to hear its been successful in saving your life.

    ReplyDelete
  18. First, congrats on the CSM. I only voted for 3 people and you were my #1 vote. My #2 also got onto the CSM but my #3 didn't..

    As for bikes, I grew up on a farm and started riding the farm bikes by myself when I was 12 or 13. I'm in my late 40's now and have two bikes in the garage, a 2012 Yamaha FZ1000 and a 1999 Yamaha TRX850 (I don't think the TRX850 was ever sold in North America. It's very similar to a mid 1990's Ducati 900SS). I've never owned a car or even bothered getting a drivers licence for a car. When riding a bike starts getting too hard, I'll look at one of those three-wheel CanAm Spyders.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Grats on the CSM win and have fun riding.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulations on your new bike!!!! I just started riding last year and fell in love with it. I grew up around motorcycles. Most of my family are riders including my Mom. My first and current bike is a 1999 Kawaski Concours http://kenadams.org/equip/1999%20concours.JPG.

    Take care and ride safe,
    Cath Hita

    ReplyDelete
  21. My fiancee rides, and is in the process of buying her first bike, a 2006 YZF600R; she's trying to get me hooked, so odds are I'll be training and riding within the year. It was entertaining-- I mentioned this to a corpmate, and he of course was impressed that I could get my fiancee to ride, as he could get his wife to ride only grudgingly.

    The confusion was obvious when I told him my only bike doesn't have a motor-- well, priceless. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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