My New Motorcycle Friends

Joe and I spent the weekend in Rock Springs, WY attending a motorcycle safety/driving/licensing course. We were intimidated going in since our only motorcycle driving experience was mine 35 years ago in high school on a little dirt bike. Having recently bought a hot BMW 1200 GS with a Hannigan sidecar, though, the pressure was on to learn how to ride the thing and pass the course.

Class began after dinner Friday night and my predicted first impressions of the attendees were quickly confirmed. Bikers. Leather, boots, lotsa hair, piercings, the smell of stale cigarette smoke and beer in the air, leathery looking skin. You get the picture. One of our instructors fit the part, too: long grey ZZ Top beard, tight little  pony tail out back, multiple ear piercings. and a sort of biker swagger to his walk. And then there was us looking, I’m sure, like the two elementary school teachers we are. I had to giggle. No one talked much at first. It felt a little like we were all checking each other out. And honestly I didn’t think I’d have much in common with these folks. Ahem.

And then the magic happened. We were told to read through sections of the course book and summarize it together in small groups to present it to the rest of the class. And what do you know…all those biker stereotypes immediately fizzled and out came a bunch of people who were all a little unsure about what to do or say. It was great. There is just nothing like a challenging, new experience to bring a group of people together. In addition to working through the text together we shared what we knew and didn’t know about bikes, what we were a little scared about when it came to the driving portion of the course, and what brought us there.

Everyone had a story. One woman’s husband said he’d buy her a new bike if she passed the course. (She didn’t. She got sick and had to leave early). Another wanted to get out from behind her husband on his bike. She did! One guy was there to get over his huge fears after a crash on his bike beat up a good friend of his. My Joe is retiring this week and is looking forward to exploring Wyoming with the sidecar rig. His interest sparked mine so I was there to see if I could still ride. A young woman on the course had already built her own bike and was there to sharpen her skills.

I tell you, I get caught every time with these preconceived judgements. I’m sick of it. We had a total blast this weekend with our new biker friends. Out on the riding range we laughed and hooted it up with each other session after session after session. There was nothing but fun encouragement. There’s a whole new biker world out there waiting for us. Hey, do they allow BMWs w/a sidecar at Sturgis?!