Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A giant serving of humble pie

When The Texan and I bought our scooter a little while back, we decided to go to motorcycle riding school. There are programs here that, once you pass them, relieve you of having to take the riding test for your motorcycle license. Plus, since I'd never driven a scooter or a motorcycle, I thought it would be wise to get proper habits established from the get-go.

So we called it an early night on Friday so that we could get up at 5am for motorcycle school. We'd chosen one that would be all day Saturday and Sunday, figuring it would be intense but over quickly.

The first hour was fine - I was the only female student in a class of 16, but we were in the classroom going over some basics and frankly it wasn't that hard.

Then we went out to the parking lot for our initial time on the motorcycles.

They provide you with a motorcycle, helmet, and gloves. They require you to wear long-sleeves, long pants, some sort of eye protection, and shoes with low heels on them. I'd worn my cowboy boots, since they work just fine for horse-riding. However, I didn't know that I needed rubber soles to be able to grip the pavement. As it was, I was scrabbling around, trying to make sure I didn't skid and take the 250-pound bike with me.

The school split us up into two groups: one that had had some prior motorcycle experience, and a bunch of newbies like myself. However, they still thought that we knew what we were doing. My instructor would tell us to check for the fuel line. Me: "Where's that?" Then she told us to move the choke. Me: "Where's that?" Then she told us to put our right hands on the throttle. Me: "Where's that?"

What I didn't know was that motorcycles are like stick shift cars - you have to kick the gears through from first to neutral to second etc. Scooters, however, are automatic. After seeing me struggle in finding neutral, my instructor asked if I wanted to learn on the scooter. Wounded, and sure I could get it eventually, I told her no. Big mistake.

I dragged that class down with me. I was the one who was always pointed the wrong direction, who was always a minute or so behind everyone else, who had the instructor barking at her that I needed to get it (really? I thought it was all optional) and that maybe I should get private lessons.

After the first hour, we broke for water and rest. I stalked over to where The Texan was smoking and chatting with his instructor, asked for the car keys, and went over to stand by the trunk and cry. I have never been so pissed in my life. I am of average intelligence and that class was designed for people who'd never been on a bike before - why couldn't I get it?

After hyperventilating for ten minutes, the break was over and The Texan went back to his class. I asked the instructor if I could switch to the scooter at that point. She dubiously said yes, but I'd have to play catch-up with the rest of the class. She started to tell me that everything I'd learned on the hand gears for the motorcycles was inapplicable to scooters. I was so mad and frustrated at that point I told her to forget it, I'd reschedule. Then she told me she'd known from the beginning that I'd have trouble, that my balance was awful and maybe I should focus on yoga or something to strengthen my core. OH MY GOD there were all these 50-year-old men in my class, I can GUARANTEE my balance was at least as good if not better than theirs. AND I ALREADY HAVE A STRONG CORE.


I took off, but had the humiliating task of having to come back at lunch for The Texan - since he didn't have a car to get around on - and then I had to wait for him since he was told his class would let out early.

The only up-side is that it was a gorgeous day and nice to be outside.

The Texan and I talked and decided that all I need to know how to do is learn how to drive a scooter. That's what we have, that's what I want a motorcycle license for. So I've got a call in to the school to see if a) I can reschedule, b) I can take the class on the scooter, and c) I can have a different instructor. I get along with most people but for some reason our personalities really clashed.

And now I can say I've joined an elite group of people: those who have been kicked out of motorcycle riding school for sheer incompetence.


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