Friday, June 18, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl

Atgatt:  All The Gear.  All The Time!

Dear Atgatt Girl,

I've been considering learning to ride a motorcycle of my own.  I've ridden on the back of my boyfriend's bike for a few year, but I see other women riding their own bikes and I wonder if that might be something I could do.  What 3 things would you tell women who are thinking about learning to ride their own bike?

 - H Davidson
   Sturgis, SD

Dear H,

Thanks for writing in and congratulations on thinking about joining an elite class of women.  As Virginia Slims say, we've come a long way, baby!  Female riders are an ever increasing portion of the field of riders and luckily our voices are being heard by the manufacturers of motorcycles and motorcycle apparel.

I know that from my own experience, thinking about learning to ride your own bike can be a bit overwhelming.  When it comes to learning the ropes, the first 3 things I would say would be:

1.  Take a motorcycle safety class!  In Indiana, motorcycle safety courses are offered through Abate of Indiana.  Something similar exists in every state.  For me, this step was a life saver!  Before my class, I had never been on anything with 2 wheels other than a bicycle.  The classes can usually be taken over the course of a weekend or several evenings during the week and cost less than $100.  Small motorcycles (around 250cc engines) are usually provided and they are taught by certified instructors.  The classes are broken down into a textbook portion and a riding portion.  They are held on a closed site (usually a large parking lot), so there is no other traffic to worry about.  They will teach you everything from the very basics about your motorcycle to how to stop quickly without laying the bike down.  At the end of the class, there is a written test as well as a basic riding test.  If you pass these tests, you will receive a certificate of completion and (at least in the state of Indiana) a waiver of the riding test when you go to get the motorcycle endorsement for your driver's license.

Some of you may have boyfriends or husbands who assure you they can teach you to ride.  I beg of you, kindly DECLINE their offers.  I have seen way too many conflicts arise from this scenario.  For instance, while your husband/boyfriend may be a patient, caring man.  I assure you if he has been riding for any period of time, he has picked up some bad riding habits.  You are better offer learning from someone who is not emotionally involved and who is an expert motorcycle instructor.  I promise.

2.  Get appropriate riding gear that fits you and wear it!  I'm certain to rile up all kinds of talk on this one, but I believe in riding gear.  That's what ATGATT stands for.  All The Gear All The Time.  I've noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Invariably when I see a man and a woman riding together (either both on one bike or each on their own bikes), they are always similarly dressed.  I'm not talking about matching t-shirts or helmets.  I'm saying that if her man is comfortable riding in a do-rag, jeans and flip-flops, more than likely, a woman is gonna be wearing similar items.  If you are going to start riding, please don't do this.  You need the proper gear.  That means pants, jacket, gloves, boots and a helmet.  If your man loves your beautiful legs wrapped around him, then shouldn't he want you to keep them looking beautiful?  Nothing is LESS sexy than burnt flesh on your thighs from hot pipes or worse.  {WARNING.  Do NOT click here if you have a squeamish stomach or don't really want to know what road rash looks like.}

Motorcycle gear for women has come a LONG way.  Manufacturers have finally figured out that we aren't just smaller men and that we come in all shapes and sizes.  I'll cover more on what to look for in gear in the coming weeks, but First Gear has some really great looking, high quality, reasonably priced gear for women.  I wear it and I love it.  While quality riding clothes may be pricier than your husband's old motorcycle cycle jacket, just remember that $1000 in gear is worth $10,000 in skin grafts.  It may not be pretty, but it's true.

3.  Ride your own ride.  Let me say that again.  Ride your OWN ride.  I'm not talking about the motorcycle that you sit astride, but the manner in which you navigate that motorcycle.  If your riding companions think you take too long to put on your gear or you don't ride fast enough, say ok ... and then ride your own ride!  Tell them you'll catch up with them at your destination or just that you'd rather not ride with them that day.  It is so important, especially in the beginning, that you not ride beyond your comfort or capability.  This is your safety that they are messing with and you are in charge of it.

This doesn't mean that you'll never ride with them, but it's important that you find your own "riding voice".  Troy and I have very different riding styles.  He has been riding for well over 25 years.  I have been riding for 6.  He LOVES the twisty roads where he can lean his bike over until hard parts scrape.  I would rather open up the throttle and whiz down the open highway at 85 mph.  (Sorry, mom!)  I wasn't able to say those things in the beginning without thinking I wasn't a "real" rider because I was comparing myself to him.  The important thing is that I know it now how I like to ride.  We still have very enjoyable rides together.  We simply find a path and a destination that both of us can enjoy.


Tiffanee said...

Great tips! Following you back from Friday Follow!! Have a great weekend!!

I am Harriet said...

Hi there.
Stopping by from Friday-Follow to say hello.
Thanks for playing.
Have a great day!

Best Housewife said...

Hello :)

I'm following you from Friday Follow Me, hope you have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

I am a new follower from Friday Blog Hop. Thanks for the tips. Stop by and say Hi!


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