Don't be afraid to learn to ride --- by yourself!
(Penfield, NY, USA)
I rode back in the early 80's in my early 20's. Stopped when my oldest niece had a motorcycle accident that took half her face off. I got back into it this year because the new boyfriend was into it, and I was riding on his bike -- a super comfy full dresser -- until he traded it in for something much more speed oriented and passenger unfriendly. Well, that just pissed me off. So I went out, got my motorcycle license again, took the safety course and due to many MANY physical limitations opted for a cute little scooter (Yamaha Star 250) which I could physically handle on my good days. My first ride out on it with the boyfriend was a disaster. On so many levels. I succumbed to peer pressure, even though I knew over the course of years I had more riding experience than he did, I had no RECENT riding experience and was intimidated by him, even though I knew I wasn't suppose to be. The important thing here, that I want to get across... is you ride for YOURSELF, not for somebody else. That even if someone tells you "THE CODE" don't believe them.. Ride for your own safety first, and them second. Harsh, but true. Unless, of course, you're willing to die in a motorcycle crash just because you feel peer pressure to follow some rules that don't make sense in the moment.
Here's the scenario:
First time out after getting my license. Boyfriend insisted we go out. I didn't want to, it looked like it was going to rain. He convinced me it would hold off. Five miles down the road, it started to pour. I was leading, and I diverted our planned route and started taking back roads to get home fast. He didn't know where I was going and I could tell he was upset by the way he was following. Him being upset made me upset. I was so busy watching him in my rear mirror I missed over shot the turn into my own street and ended up driving up onto the sidewalk on the other side, he swerved off the road and drove down the sidewalk to "help" me. I was so rattled, I couldn't think. All I heard was about "You weren't paying attention, I saw you freak out!"
I told him after that, "I ride alone. Always did, and want to now."
He talked me into another ride about a hundred miles later. Again, me in the lead. I went down old country roads and back roads that I knew. He didn't know them. I was happy just cruising along at 35/40 mph, but he kept revving up behind me. I was ignoring him and at stop signs he would pull up and glare at me. SOME good rider, right??
Then, I came around a curve and there was a bicyclist pedaling in the lane... doing about 35 mph. I was perfectly ok with that, and just stayed behind him. It was a hilly terrain with double yellow lines and the bicyclist wasn't moving over to let me pass, so... I just happily stayed about 50 ft behind him.
Meanwhile, some yahoo's in a black stripped downed pickup truck came up behind my boyfriend who was behind me, and were tail gating him. I suppose at that point I should have pulled over, then he would have pulled over and the yahoo's would have gone around us. But I just kept my speed and direction. Soon, my b.f. started getting nervous and upset and screaming at me, "_____, GO AROUND HIM! GO AROUND HIM!" meaning that he wanted me to go around the bicyclist. Well.. several problems... I could never see over the next hill to risk going around him, and I didn't see that me going around him was going to resolve the issue that the yahoo's were tailgating. Then... the unthinkable happened! Over the crest of the hill came a group of MORE bicyclists pedaling about 35-40 mph and all of a sudden in MY LANE another pickup truck crested the hill trying to pass the cyclists in HIS lane and coming straight at me in MY lane!
So you had.. if you can even begin to picture this... me behind a cyclist with an irate motorcyclist and a tailgating yahoo behind him... and in front of me an oncoming pickup truck heading straight for the cyclist (and me) and a flock of cyclists coming down hill to my left.
The cyclist veered right, and so did I. My boyfriend hit his breaks, and the cyclists coming down the hill just kept going. The yahoo behind my boyfriend and the pickup that crested the hill swerved into each others lanes and missed everyone.
If I had listened to my boyfriend and tried to go around the solo cyclist by crossing a double yellow line where I couldn't see what was coming over the hill I would have been... well... history.
Peer pressure is hell, but I firmly believe by sticking to my sense of safe riding and not letting peer pressure influence me, I not only saved my own life that afternoon, but the lives of others as well.
That's all she wrote.