Thursday, July 9, 2015

Back on the Horse that Spooked Me

This morning I am tired beyond belief.  My eyes hurt.  I'm feeling muscles that I'd forgotten I had.  But I'm supremely happy because I passed my motorcycle skills test.

Yesterday, after a day of many meetings, after a night of not enough sleep, I headed over to the motorcycle school.  I wasn't sure what I'd find--if the class was full, I'd only be allowed to do the test portion.

Happily, there was room for me.  I changed out of my work clothes and into my long pants, long-sleeved shirt, boots, and gloves.  At 5:10, we got on our bikes.

I'm so glad I had the chance to take the second half of the riding part of the class again.  I was able to work out some skills I could scarcely do a week ago.  I can shift smoothly to second gear, and more important--I can stop.

I am most proud of passing the test--but my ability to keep the bike from falling comes a close second.  At the end of the class, we had a chance to practice one last time.  I was practicing a fast stop.  I brought the bike to a stop, and then, I realized it was falling out from under me.  My foot was already on the ground, and I braced the bike with my inner thigh and heaved it up.  For about 10 seconds, I thought I wouldn't be able to do it.

My instructor raced over to me, but by the time he got there, I had the bike up.  I saw his surprise.  He thanked me for saving us from a lot of paperwork and other chores.  I felt like a strong, sturdy woman.  I don't always like feeling sturdy, especially when I'm shopping for clothes or looking at myself in a swimsuit.  But I'm grateful for my strength and sturdiness--both the physical and emotional kind.

So, the skills test:  we had to do a figure 8 and stay in the lines, we had to do a quick stop, we had to do a swerve, and we had to do a curve (not exactly, but I can't figure out how to describe it).  I went outside the lines a bit, my quick stop was 12 inches, not 11 or less, and I decelerated in the curve instead of accelerating.  But those glitches were not enough to sink me.

Last week, I didn't understand the curve assignment enough to do it properly; I didn't understand it enough to realize I'd done it wrong.  Last week, when I did the quick stop, I got the bike into 3rd gear, and thus, did the stop wrong.  I put my foot down in the figure 8.

In short, I did a much better job last night.  It helped that I hadn't been riding the bike for 6 hours in the blazing heat.  My hands and feet didn't ache as much.  It helped that the test was done at dusk, with no sun beating down on us.  It helped that it had been a few days since I'd been on a bike.  It helped that I wasn't feeling frustrated.

Am I comfortable enough to go out in S. Florida traffic?  No, absolutely not.  I'll keep practicing and see what happens.

I would love to ride down deserted roads in the Everglades.  But there's a lot of hazardous traffic between my house and the Everglades.  Sigh.

Still, let me not get too far ahead of myself.  I'm proud of myself that I went back and patiently worked on getting ready for the test.  I will confess that I was not happy about having to do that.  But now, having done it, I'm happy that I did.

I'm proud of myself that I got spooked and discouraged and that I talked myself back from that ledge.  It was physically tough and mentally tough.  I was afraid, in a way that I'm lucky enough to seldom feel.

It makes me realize how seldom I try something really new.  I tend to try things that I'm likely to be good at:  a new art form, an exercise class, cooking techniques.  I tend to stay away from anything that may lead to broken bones or scars on my face.

I'm glad that I felt the fear and pushed ahead.  I hope to continue pushing ahead, despite my fears.  I plan to be careful.

But my overall happiness?  I'm glad that I'm done.  The only way to get the motorcycle endorsement on a Florida driver's license is through a special class like the one I took.  I'm glad that I passed, so that I didn't have to decide what the next step should be.

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