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THE RIDE, WILL SHE REALLY DO IT?

by Catt

This story takes place the weekend after taking the MSF course. At the time of this ride I had been learning to ride for 4 weekends.

The morning started out with a "test" drive, went up and down a few dead end streets near the house, and was really feeling like I would wind up "passenger" on the ride. My personal MSF instructor (boy-friend) asked if I felt up to riding to the store about a mile from my house to fill up the tank. I'm game, so we head out with him in the lead, as we near the end of my road I realize that I have to "do the hill and turn" to get to the main road.

A bit of history, I have been teaching my youngest daughter to drive and when she first started she was terrified of this hill by the house, its just a small down grade, but it has a turn at the top, and at the bottom before going back up and turning again. I finally 'felt' her concern as I was sitting at the stop sign getting ready to head down the 'Hill'. I take it slow and it goes really smooth with me thinking the whole way, press, lean, look "through" the turn. My BF is waving back at me to make sure I am looking up and through the turn. Made it, OK now the stop sign and on to the road to the store.

We get to the stop sign and sitting in the field across the road is a car that has just come to a bad landing, looked like they decided to jump the fence and park in the field (no one appeared injured). I am thinking "bad Omen". We continue to the store, new problem, the store is closed. I decide we have 2 choices if we are going to fill up the tank, before it hits reserve, we can go in to the little town I live in, this means crossing a 4 lane highway, not sure I am ready for that or we can take the road we are on in to the next town, about 5 miles and get gas on the same side of the road.

I go for the second option, he agrees and we head out with me leading so he can watch my back. When we get about halfway there I remember that the stop sign at the end of this road is on a hill. Now I have to try starting from a stop, up hill and make a left turn. I make it and continue on, now it is downhill to a sharp right, aaarrrgggghhhh. Slow, slow, slow, turn. We made it to the gas station, fill up and get ready to head back home. I am feeling pretty good about this, so when he suggests taking the main road back I agree. We go to the light and make a left onto the four-lane highway complete with traffic and stop lights. I slow for the red light, Yea! it turns green I don't have to stop and try to get started again. I shift up 3rd, 4th, 5th; I made it to 5th gear cool, this is really sweet, running 55 down the main road, I could get used to this.

We get to the road we where we turn to head back to the house; it's a left across 2 lanes of traffic, then across railroad tracks to another up hill from a stop left turn. As we straighten out from the turn I am feeling like I've got it, this is so cool. We get back to the house and I can't stop grinning, I did it, I really did it. So he asks if I think I can make it to Alabama, I'm hyped up and giddy from my accomplishments and say, "sure, I can do it." So we check the DOT site for traffic, grab our stuff, put on sunscreen, bungee down the jackets and long sleeve shirts, don't want to get cold if this takes longer than expected.

We decide to take the Interstate since there isn't any cross traffic or stop lights to deal with. I'm thinking this is great, no problem, we get to the point where we head for the Interstate ramp, uh oh, clover leaf type turn to get to the on ramp. I make it, using my mantra of look through the turn, look through the turn. Ok onto the Interstate, through the construction zone, all cool so far, this is the route I take to work every day right through down town Nashville. Funny how those familiar routes seem to change a bit when viewed from 2 wheels.... that turn isn't usually that sharp, when did they at that bump to the road, I'm sure you know the deal.

We make it through Nashville as we pass the exit I take to go to work, I'm thinking well I guess I don't have to worry about being able to make the ride to work anymore, cause I just did it. We complete a little over 50 miles and make our first stop. He wants to check my comfort level and needs to fill the tank on the bike he is riding. Side note: He is riding his Honda VLX600 instead of the Harley, big sacrifice, didn't want me to feel like I had to complete with the Harley. Wonderful, considerate guy!! OK back to the story, fortunately most of the ride was uneventful, went a bit wide on 2 curves, but recovered and continued on at 65 to 70 MPH. I may never drive the car again...

We reach our destination and after lunch head back. To make a long story a bit shorter, I am tired and a little sore, too much tensing up, but I rode 278 miles today and can't wait to do it again. My wonderful guy is now afraid I won't ever want to ride on the back again.

He let me know later that he really didn't expect me to take him up on the challenge to ride to Alabama, but I am glad I did.

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From Catt: "I'm a 36 year-old mother of 3. I got my first ever motorcycle on Mothers Day 2003. Up till then I had only ridden as a passenger. My bike is a 1986 Yamaha Virago 1100."

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