My First Experience Riding a Motorcycle
Before we get into the details of my first motorcycle ride I’d like to tell you how my interest in motorcycles started. I was in my mid-teens; I’d guess around 15 or 16. My parents were away for the weekend so I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle. At the time he owned a late 1980’s Honda Shadow which I thought was the coolest bike in the world. After spending the evening out with my friends he called me to say he was picking me up and he arrived on the motorcycle. That 5 minute trip home left a lasting impression on me. I remember the feeling of speeding down the road with nothing other than wind and engine noise to keep me company as clearly as if it was yesterday.
The Catalyst for My First Motorcycle Ride
Fast forward to August/September 2016. I was reading “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. ”. I had bought the book due to the recommendations and reviews I had read. The fact that the book was concerned with motorcycles didn’t have anything to do with my reasons for buying it; I bought it for the philosophical journey the author embarks upon. For anyone who hasn’t read the book I’ll give you a brief synopsis. At its most basic level this book details the journey of a father and son, travelling by motorcycle from Minneapolis to San Francisco. It soon becomes apparent that this is not the only story being told. Underlying this journey is the exploration of the romantic approach to life and the classical approach to life, along with the discussion of what the author calls Quality. I’m not a book reviewer so this is as much as I am going to write on the book, if you are in any way interested I would highly recommend getting a copy.
Let’s set aside the philosophical aspect of the book for a moment. The actual journey from Minneapolis to San Francisco is what rekindled my interest in motorcycles. Driving through the mountains of Montana, the author describes stunning scenes in great detail. I think a large part of the appeal of motorcycling is the open road, the feeling of freedom and the experience of being disconnected from society.
Taking the Plunge
Saturday, 28th of January 2017 was the day I first rode a motorcycle. I had received a two hour motorcycle riding experience as a gift for Christmas. The experience took place in the Leinster Driving Campus, a facility with over 2 KM of private roads (no licence required!). To be honest I was apprehensive at the beginning but Brian the instructor quickly put me at ease. Although in my head I knew how to drive a motorcycle, physically it was a new experience.
The first hour was spent in a small car park. Driving at low speeds and frequently stopping, this was essential to getting familiar with the bike. As anyone familiar with riding a bicycle will tell you, riding at a slow speed is a lot more difficult than riding quickly. The last 45 minutes or so were spent riding at higher speeds, using the full range of gears on the bike. As I mentioned, this part was actually easier than the first hour.
Just before we finished the experience, Brian encouraged us to try some of the slower manoeuvres again. After gaining a lot of confidence from the higher speed driving this brought me back down to Earth! It was almost like starting over again with a slightly more manageable learning curve.
What I Learned
I realise that many of you reading this blog will have no interest in motorcycles, however I think there are a two important lessons I learned.
- Get out of your comfort zone. Before this experience I had never worked up the courage to ride a motorcycle. When I was given this experience as a gift it took the choice out of my hands, I would have to try it at least once or let a fantastic gift go to waste. Now that I have tried it I am sure I will start the process of getting my motorcycle licence, all due to the fact I ventured outside my comfort zone and tried something I had been thinking about for a long time.
- Prioritise experiences over objects. People often buy the latest gadget or toy expecting it to bring them happiness. In reality, any new object we purchase soon becomes obsolete. There is a newer and better version available leaving you unhappy with your original object. By putting an emphasis on experiences we create lasting memories. I know I will not forget this experience and I think I would struggle to find an object of similar value that would leave such a lasting impression.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this experience as much as I enjoyed the experience itself. Before finishing, I will leave you with a quote from one of my favourite literary characters that I think is applicable to the theme of this post.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”