Ever since I can remember I wanted to ride a motorcycle. Then again, ever since I can remember, I wanted tattoos. I was an odd child – especially odd for a little girl. In those days, to see a woman riding solo was a rarity. Even now with the massive growth of women riders, I’ve spoken to many who want to learn, but don’t have the confidence to take that leap.
When I was about 9 years old, my brother Eddie (18 years my senior) rode a Honda dual-sport bike. He had strict orders from our mother that “the baby” was to never, ever, be on that bike. Eddie was never much for following the rules. You should’ve seen Mom’s face when we came pulling into the driveway. God love my brother, he had no idea what a motorcycle ride could do to a little girl with hair down to her bottom. After Moms initial onslaught of profanity, both directed at my brother and my hairbrush – I don’t think she spoke to him for a week.
As time passed, every so often the thought of my own bike would come and go. Of course, my mother would always throw in her signature response to the idea – “Wait till I’m dead, Shell.” Jesus Christ, Ma! But who had the time… or the money? Let’s skip to 30 (mainly because Jack Daniels took up a lot of my 20s). In the winter of 2015-16, I told my brother that I was ready to learn to ride. He was so excited. We made lots of plans for the upcoming spring and summer. We made a short-list of bikes, talked about his plans to teach me to ride and about all the places we would go together. Little did we know at the time that we’d never make it. Eddie passed away from a massive heart attack on March 11, 2016. He was 48 years old.
Maybe it was mortality hitting me in the face, maybe it was part of some stage of grief. In any event, I made the decision. I was doing it. Having only ever been a passenger, and only held a bike up on my own a handful of times, I signed up for a riding course – of which I was one of two females, the other taking the course with her husband. That first 50 yard straightaway was nothing but adrenaline. I did it. I balanced a friggin’ motorcycle and rode that bitch from one cone to the other. It may not seem like much, but as far I was concerned – I was the master of the universe.
Now I just needed a bike. If I would’ve done any more research, I could’ve probably built the damn thing myself. However, there was the small fact that I had ridden a motorcycle for a total of about an hour – broken up into various exercises, at a maximum speed of 25 mph, and I’d never ridden on the street before, you know with cars and such. Shit. There are some people that can just get on the bike and go. They get the hang of it as they go along. I’m not that kind of a person, and I knew not to rush myself. I knew that to get out there at the stage I was at would be reckless. I was told on more than one occasion, by more than one experienced rider – riding a motorcycle and fear don’t mix. I listened… for once in my life.
I knew I would probably catch hell for the bike I chose. But I didn’t care. I’d get the hang of operating the bike in real conditions, and I’d get the road experience, all while having a bit of an advantage in case I screwed up. Hairy George calls it my “backward trike” – mostly just to irritate me. But he, along with lots of other riders I know also told me “It doesn’t matter what you ride as long as you’re riding.”
I went to pick up my 2015 Can-Am Spyder F3-S in March of 2017. It was brand new – 6 miles on it… a leftover model. “Shell, how are we going to get this thing home?” Oh, my poor mother. After the customary photo that the dealership takes, I put on my helmet and pulled out onto the street, Mom following close behind. The trip home was 17 miles. I was nervous of course, but there was no fear. An image came to my mind of an angel with massive wings that were wrapped tightly around me. It may sound foolish but to this day, every time I ride, I know in my heart that he’s there.
Ladies – everything can be accomplished with determination, and everything can be figured out. Don’t know a damn thing about motorcycles? Do the research and learn all you can. Don’t know how to ride? Take a riding course, or ask a friend if they will show you the ropes. Don’t have the confidence to get on 2-wheels yet? Get 3. The most important thing is to not get discouraged. If you want it bad enough – you’ll make it happen.
One afternoon, my loving boyfriend was headed out to work when he turned to me and said: “Are you going to ride your broom today?”, then proceeded to slap his thigh and laugh heartily at how hilarious he is. I don’t think he realized what he started with that little jab. It wasn’t hard to decide what to put on my vanity plate.
Until next time dolls… get on your brooms and ride.
— Michelle Amicone
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