So today The Lovely Rhonda and I went to a motorcycle dealership.
I have my endorsement but TLR does not, and having never ridden a motorcycle before, not even a dirt bike or scooter in her misspent youth, she will need to learn to ride.
We are familiar with a local dealership that has a “JumpStart” device, rather like a bicycle trainer, where a motorcycle is mounted onto a trailer with a roller for the back wheel. Essentially it becomes stationary.
The tricky part of learning to ride is working the shifting. Your left hand operates the clutch, your right hand the front brake and the throttle. You shift with your left toe, and your right foot works the rear brake. It’s exactly like shifting gears in a car with a manual transmission, but everything is in different locations than you are used to. Muscle memory has to be learned.
A person with a crappy old motorcycle at their disposal has a lot less to lose than, say, a person who will be facing learning to ride on a brand new Triumph Bonneville.
Did I mention that I have anxiety? I’m really quite surprised that I myself ever learned to ride, I have such anxiety.
So we wandered down to the dealership and requested that Rhonda be given some time on the JumpStart.
The nicest, goofiest, most affable old duffer in the world was paged and once he understood what we wanted, he went off to get it set up. From the way he talked, it became apparent that it would be set up in front of the dealership where customers were browsing motorcycles or sitting at umbrella’d picnic tables awaiting repair or service work. Multiple customers. Mostly Harley riders. Crusty, black-leathered, vest-wearing, bandanna’ed Harley riders.
TLR paled. “Uh, it’s out front? I kind of thought it would be, um, somewhere inside.”
“Oh no!” says the duffer, “You’ll get to ride in front of the entire store, and they’ll all be staring at you!”
Then he cracked a grin and said, “You see all these guys? They were all just like you once. They’ve all been there.” And then told us how he’d bought his first motorcycle, a Honda 90, when he was in the military, in Nashville TN, and had an hour to ride it fifteen miles back to base before curfew. Oh, and he didn’t know how to ride, and he had a friend along who didn’t know how to ride either.
So yeah, compared to that she had it kind of easy I guess you could say.
So we went outside and he offered to put a Bonneville on it, which didn’t fit because the Bonneville has a shorter wheelbase than apparently any Harley. The JumpStart device is made for Harleys.
Then they got a different Triumph which fit. “It’s the first time we’ve ever put a Triumph on it,” says the old duffer, “so we’re making history here.”
By this time TLR was about ready to give it up out of embarrassment, but with encouragement from the duffer she pressed on. As luck would have it, a large number of the shop rats and dreamers had wandered off to the strip club or strip mall, respectively, and there were relatively few onlookers.
Despite the fact that the bike is stationary, the owner of the dealership has a rule that anyone on the premises who sits on a running motorcycle and puts it in gear must wear a helmet. So the old duffer set her up with a loaner helmet and onto the thing she climbed. I stood by helpfully holding her Coach purse and taking photos.
She was absolutely convinced that she would kill it, but she didn’t. And although the clutch was difficult to get a feel for because there was no real resistance on the rear wheel, she did awfully well at shifting.
She gets her permit on Wednesday. Stay off the sidewalks!