From Where I Sit – The Open Road

Dear reader, I have a confession to make. I’ve been keeping something from you. I was hoping to have a good news, happy ending, victory-over-defeat story to share this week. Alas, it was not to be.

Last year Roy bought a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, thereby living out a dream. He took the Alberta Safety Council course and earned his Class 6 rating. My brother-in-law Todd made a purchase and did the course a month or so earlier. My other brother-in-law has been riding for over 30 years.

At the motorcycle show in early January some of us succumbed to the idea of making this new pastime a family affair. That night two sisters, two of our daughters and I registered for the basic motorcycle course. It would be a fun-filled girls? weekend out.

In the ensuing months I’ve alternated between being pumped about taking on a new challenge and thinking ohmigawd, what have I done.

All of us survived the course with varying degrees of scarring. Only two of us were confident enough in our abilities to attempt the Class 6 skills exam. Of those two, only Hilary passed the exam. I had my doubts by Friday night. Fighting a week-old head cold with Flonase and Cepacol lozenges, coughing my head off, and blowing my nose didn’t improve either my comfort level or mood.

The course is brutal. Twenty-one hours of unrelenting course and classroom time spread over two days and one evening. It was physically demanding, mind-numbing, information overload. It didn’t at all help that our chief instructor was some sort of power-tripping, paramilitary, hard ass, tough love, I’m gonna whip these recruits into shape, know-it-all arrogant jerk.

I soon discovered that having repetitive stress injury (RSI) in both forearms made this an extremely painful process. I wore braces the entire time, but holding the clutch lever and throttle for that many hours has caused a relapse back to the time I needed physiotherapy to get through the day.

I will be following up with a formal letter of complaint about the class size (24 split into two groups), seemingly crappy bikes that needed to be taken out of service, and the chief instructor’s approach to adult learners. I will also be suggesting they add a buyer-beware clause to the registration form, saying ?Having the following diseases/conditions may impact your ability to successfully complete the course.? Instead, they cover a list of conditions (including RSI) on Friday night. A little late, in my opinion.

I know that my attitude, mood, skill level, ability to handle the rigors of the course, et cetera are all my responsibility. Maybe I’m too old to be trying something like this.

The good news is I have a whole new respect for anyone who can ride safely and well, the patience of the instructors, and the secure knowledge that someday when Roy is ready I will be a well-informed passenger. When the scars of the weekend heal I intend to keep riding our Rebel and take the road test locally when I feel I’m ready. The open road still awaits, from where I sit.