"So why do you want to ride?"
I was standing at the counter at Harley-Davidson, acutely aware that my black summer dress and strappy sandals were drawing in unwanted attention in a sea of leather and chrome.
I was waiting for the store employee to complete signing me up for the MSF Basic RiderCourse taught through HD. (MSF stands for Motorcycle Safety Foundation.)
"I've always wanted to ride a motorcycle."
He stood there looking at me from the other side of the shiny counter, as if waiting for more of an explanation. I stared back, silent.
"Have you ever ridden a bike?"
"You've never been on a motorcycle??"
I tried not to let my irritation show as I focused on the wall of black helmets behind him.
"Do you know anyone who rides? Anyone who can spend time with you after the course?"
"No. Not really."
I smiled politely, anxious to complete the registration. There was a rack of leather things to my right that I really wanted to look at.
"So you just decided you wanted to ride a motorcycle?"
He proceeded to tell me how there were 4 women in the course when he took it, and one even dropped her bike, but she picked it up easily and I shouldn't worry because the bikes in the course were really light and I probably wouldn't have any trouble lifting my bike when I dropped it.
His unsolicited reassurance was testing my patience and made me want to cancel my registration, but the next closest course was over an hour away and I wasn't keen on making that commute for 3 days straight.
I finally signed the credit card slip and he reminded me to email Bruce, the instructor, so that I could firm up which weekend I wanted to attend.
I scooted around the store, looking at all the various leather items and then found myself standing in front of some of the sexiest bikes at the rear of the shop. My heartbeat actually sped up as I realized how much bigger they looked up close. I left the store before I could change my mind and ask for my money back.
From the parking lot, I sent the instructor, whom I'd already been in touch with, an email: "Ok Bruce!! Sign me up for your next class, I'm official!"
He immediately confirmed me for the weekend of September 11th and I immediately purchased two pairs of black leather boots.
* * *
I notice the bikes everywhere. Sitting at stoplights, flying past me on the other side of the road, parked in parking lots.
I watch the drivers closely.
Left hand pulling in the clutch.
Left foot pressing the gear down to first.
Right hand gently applying a small amount of throttle.
Left hand slowly releasing the clutch.
I notice what type of helmet the driver is wearing... full face, open face, half helmet, no helmet at all (which is the majority. Kentucky law does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet.)
And the bikes. So many shapes and sizes. Sport bikes, standards, cruisers, scooters. Some with back rests, some with saddle bags, some badly banged up. Shiny, colorful. customized, black, white, red, and one that was even decorated like a Wonder Bread package.
I notice the girls in tank tops sitting behind the driver, hair flying around their faces. I notice how the driver is always male (at least in this city) and I am sure of two things...
1. I will always ride with a leather jacket (fringe optional) and a full face helmet.
2. I have zero desire to be the one riding bitch.