by Gale R., aka 57Sportster
Twenty-seven years ago I had a Honda something, 350? I managed to get my
license after practicing in the Honda parking lot and being escorted to
DMV by a dealership employee. I was the only one out of 11 that passed,
the only girl! I rode for a very (very) short time. A little old man
decided he was going to use me and my bike for target practice and ran
me off the road amongst the trees. I sold the bike. All those missed
I was a passenger for awhile and wasn’t bothered with riding my own
ride. A couple of years ago hubby started talking about buying a new
Harley. I checked out the website and decided I would eventually get my
own Sportster Hugger (I’m only 5-3”). In May 2003 hubby reserved his
Ultra Classic Electra Glide, the Cadillac of H-Ds. I, on the other hand,
had visions of a Hugger with fringe hanging from the levers and fringe
and studded saddlebags. My mid-life crisis had set in and at 46 I knew I
had to have one!! I wasn’t about to say ‘I wish I had’ 20-some years
After leaving work on a warm, crystal-clear afternoon and passing
too-many-to-count bikers on rumbling Hogs, I ran straight in the house,
called the HD dealer to see if they had any Huggers coming in, called
the credit union and insurance company and went the next day and put a
deposit on my Hugger. It arrived a week later and we trailered it home
(my husband is too tall and I was too nervous to go over 60 miles after
all those years). I sat on it and duck-walked it in the garage until the
following weekend when we trailered it to the high school parking lot.
As it roared to life, again and again and again (I kept stalling it out
if you didn’t catch that) I finally took off, bucking and wobbling!
Instantly ‘what have you gotten yourself into’ flashed through my mind,
but quickly left as I got it under control. Around the parking lot I
went, with a death grip on the handlebars, in first gear, doing 10 mph,
stopping and starting. . .for four hours. I was like a kid; give me one
more hour. My hubby was finally sitting in the truck with the a/c going,
I called for almost two weeks to get into an MSF course and finally
“showed” up July 4th weekend hoping for a no-show at the class. The
instructors took pity on me when everyone showed and let me complete the
class work and written test. I passed! The instructors are trying to get
me into the driving part of the class soon.
Hubby said we could go on the road one evening and do it to my comfort
level. I was ready to go all out, but wound up going about 3-1/2 miles
out our development and down a road with a real yellow line down the
middle; turning around before reaching a major road and coming back
(repeat five or so times), in third gear though and doing the speed
limit of 35 mph with hubby behind me on his UC. He complained that his
s--- was getting too hot and he would follow me in the truck the next
The following Sunday we took off with me in the lead to go at my comfort
level. I surprised him by going four miles from the house and hanging a
right onto a major (two-lane) road. But I quickly turned left onto a
small country road. Of course, I went a smidge over the yellow line on
the main road (it was a turn lane and empty) and didn’t put my left foot
on the foot peg until after hanging the left on the next road (hubby
gave me heck for that). Off I went thinking I knew the road. Roads are
so different on a bike! Back to a road with a yellow line down the
middle and, oh no, we have to turn left and right across the street is a
gigantic Rottweiler standing at the foot of the steps. Good, there’s a
fence, oh no, it’s split rail and there’s no wire! The dog went up on
the porch and faked sitting down twice before actually doing it, as I
cringed and prepared to make my turn. (Hubby told me later that there
was a person at the door talking to it.) Luckily he stayed put when I
turned. . .Hubby was on his own!!
The road turned back into an unlined country road and there were hills
and twists and turns that were preceded by signs saying 15 mph and,
horror, 15 mph sharp turn and what’s that sign, oh no, one lane bridge!
Brake, downshift (only from third to first). . .no I’m in neutral,
braking, uh-ho, here’s the turn. . .off the brakes, look and lean, into
the turn, stomp it in first and throttle. . .yikes, the bridge!!! Thank
God no one was coming. Shift to second and act like nothing out of the
ordinary happened! Hubby didn’t know I was in neutral! Then I went down
a dead end road (didn’t see that sign) and wondered what happened to
hubby. Turned around and he was sitting at the stop sign waiting for me.
Turned on what I thought was the little country road with no yellow
lines that I wanted, but it wasn’t. Got in third gear several times, but
mostly downshifting and braking going into 15 mph, sharp turns, and we
had torrential rains the night before that washed anything and
everything out into the road. Came to a crossroad and stopped and hubby
pulled up beside me and asked which way and I told him I didn’t know
where the h--- we were. He said go straight and we did.
Then the next horror. We were at a regular road (the yellow line thing
going again) with a sign that pointed to Route 9 (a 55 mph curvy main
road in our area). I looked at hubby and he said turn on it toward the
dreaded Route 9 and I did. Zoom, I was in fourth gear, going 45 mph!!
What a rush!!! I didn’t even care that we were headed for the dreaded!
When we got to our turning point I asked how many curves to our road and
hubby said it was okay, so off I went. . .not 55 though, but 45!
I made another mistake when I turned on the road to our development and
went past our street. There is a golf resort development down the road,
which happened to be another 15-mph-sharp-turns-all-over-the-place-road
with no place to turn around. The little asphalt golf cart paths that
crossed the road were starting to look very inviting at this point! I
wound up pulling into a golf pro shop parking lot and turning around to
Of course, when we got home hubby had to tell me that I got to close to
the yellow lines on some of the curves and that I didn’t need to ‘stop’
before going into a curve! I let him know real quick that I only slowed
down to 15 mph when it said, too, and tough cookies, I was in front! Our
little jaunt in the country took us 1-1/2 hours and a little over 30
miles. I was so proud and so ready to get back on!!
I can’t wait to ride her to work, but I need saddlebags first for stuff!
I really need to go solo without,
behind me! His input is good, but you know how it is girls, we gotta
ride our own ride!!!
I’ll have to admit though, I’m a little "afeared" of curves - going down
or running off the road! Hope I get in that MSF class soon! (It’s taken
people in my area over a year to get in!!!)
Gale, a.k.a. 57Sportster (after all, it was a good year!!) ;o)
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