Tiny Gringa + Some lessons from my first month on a motorcycle
I ordered a burger and a beer and took a seat on the back porch of that restaurant that sits in the middle of horse country, between Midway and Lexington. I picked up my phone and sent a text.
"Have you sold her yet?"
"No. She's been waiting for you."
I just finished looking at a motorcycle in Midway, a young man's first bike that he quickly outgrew. But I knew, even I was driving to their house, that the bike I really wanted was sitting in a garage in Lexington.
I had no idea (still have no idea) how I was going to look after a bike that is older than me or how I was going to store it over the winter, or how I was even going to get the bike to my place. I had only just passed the MSF course a couple weekends earlier, and that was the entire extent of my riding experience to date.
But, the man with the 1978 Suzuki TS 125 (soon to be my 1978 Suzuki TS 125), offered to drive the bike to me. He taught me how to lube and tighten the chain, how to top up the oil, and we discussed the fun of getting into the "power band" that is typical of two-stroke engines.
And just like that, I had my first bike. I named her Tiny Gringa.
In the month that I've had her, Tiny G and I have had our fair share of adventures and she has taught me many painful lessons, about riding and about myself, which often are one and the same.
And because I love me a good ol' list, here are some of them...
1. Motorcycles are crazy ass heavy. Even small ones like mine. Especially when you are trying to push them through the mud, uphill, in the rain.
2. As a grown woman, learning how to ride for the very first time is hard. Really hard. I actually wasn't quite prepared for how hard using both my hands and both my feet at the same time was going to be. This results in a lot of stalls, jerks, and engine revs without going anywhere. It also results in some award-winning cussing.
3. I'm actually scared to death to get on the motorcycle. So scared that sometimes I think I might puke. So scared that I consider selling it every time I'm about to get on it. But somehow I keep swinging my leg over that damn thing and each time I do, I am changed in ways I'm not sure I can explain just yet.
4. Crashing your bike is simultaneously embarrassing and terrifying and will make you consider never riding again. It will also remind you, in case you forgot, just how heavy your bike is. I've been waiting for some bruises to fade for almost two weeks now. My first ride after my little spill only lasted about 15 minutes. I never got out of second gear and I never left my parking lot. My hands hurt afterwards from gripping the handlebars so tightly. And I had never been so happy to have my feet back on the ground when it was over.
5. It gets easier. The 2nd ride was 30 minutes. 3rd gear. Weaving in and out of parkings lots in an office park behind my complex. No traffic to contend with. The 4th ride was also 30 minutes. 4th gear. Same office park, but this time with traffic. Negotiating stop signs and turns with the flow of other cars.
6. The sound of the engine after a flawless kickstart is just about the most exciting sound ever.
I wonder every day if I'm ever going to be confident enough to get out in traffic and actually ride with purpose rather then just the intent of practicing. Each time I swing my leg over the seat, I wonder if I'm going to have an accident. When I see other bikers on the road, I can't take my eyes off them and I'm watching their every move.
My friends love to tell me that they think I'm a badass and I have to laugh. I'm not even sure I know what that means. The reality is that I'm giving myself pep talks behind my tinted faceshield and I'm a quivering mess when I kick down to first gear.
But there is something about being on a bike that feels like nothing I've ever felt, and I just can't stop chasing it.