Saturday, November 7, 2009

How I Came to Ride, Part 1 - The License

I don't come from a family of bikers, and never had friends who rode. Prior to 2008, I had only ridden a motorcycle on two occasions. Around 1990, an acquaintance let me take his bike for a spin around the neighborhood, and in 2000, my boss at the time let me take his bike around the block a few times. Neither bike was anything special, just older, mid-displacement metrics, around 600 or 700 cc's. The motorcycle bug hadn't bitten me.

After I got married in 2001, I casually mentioned the idea of getting a motorcycle to my wife, who quickly vetoed the idea. She was riding on the back of her first husband's bike and they went down. They weren't badly hurt, but it scared her off motorcycles forever. Like I said, I didn't have the bug then, so I let it go.

I separated from my wife for good in 2007, and, in the spring and summer of 2008, I was basically living like a 40-year-old frat boy. Outside of working hours, my life focused on drinking and chasing women. I was making up for lost time, you could say. The idea popped into my head about getting a motorcycle, preferably a Harley, now that there was no wife to veto the idea. I thought it would be a fun diversion, and a way to impress women. I think it was partly a mild case of midlife crisis.

The only problem was, I was broke, even though I was working full time then. Most of my money went to support my soon-to-be-ex-wife, who had not worked for a year and a half while she attended New England Tech. Even though I had moved out of our apartment, I was still paying her rent, utilities, groceries, insurance - all her expenses - while I had to move back into my mother's house.

Still, I had to get a motorcycle endorsement on my license before I could get a motorcycle anyway. So I signed up at for a Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic rider course at the Community College of Rhode Island in October, 2008. The two classroom sessions were mostly common sense. For the riding sessions, I bought cold weather riding gloves ($50) and borrowed a helmet. The written portion of the test was easy. The riding portion of the test went fairly well ... I did okay for not having been on a motorcycle in nearly a decade. I went to the registry to get my motorcycle permit, and, after holding it for 30 days, went back to the registry to get the motorcycle endorsement on my license. So, I had the license, but no bike, and my prospects were not looking very good. It was almost December, and I had been laid off from my job.

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