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Reader Story: Taking the Wheel, in Life and on the Road

Refusing to be a spectator

By Cindy Waldron, O'Fallon, Missouri
8/5/2011


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Challenging myself mentally and physically has always been important to me. Over the years, my interests have included barrel racing, golf, skydiving, triathlons and half marathons. While working full-time and raising my daughter as a single mother, I obtained my master’s degree in health-care administration. I’ve just never believed in being a spectator in life.  

In 2008 I began dating Pat, who became the love of my life, and he rides a 2000 Harley-Davidson Deuce. After a few trips sitting on the back of his bike, I realized being a spectator at riding was just as bad as being a spectator in any other sport. So I decided to buy my own motorcycle. After a few winter afternoons looking online at various Harleys, I decided to go sit on one at a dealership. Well, on January 3, 2009, at the age of nearly 47, I left the dealership an owner of a 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider.

Cindy Waldron in Monument Valley, Utah, on her 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider.
Cindy Waldron in Monument Valley, Utah, on her 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Low Rider.

In my early 20s, I owned a 400cc Honda and then a 200cc scooter for a summer, but this had been my only experience riding a motorcycle. How hard could it be? I’d ridden bicycles at 45 mph downhill, whirled around barrels on a horse and could drive any stick shift thrown at me, so I knew I’d learn how. To be on the safe side, Pat had the dealership install an engine crash bar on my new bike. (He’s learned to just smile and shake his head at me!)

As luck would have it, we had snow and more snow that winter, and I did not get a chance to ride my new toy until March. Safe rider classes for the spring were full, so Pat said he’d teach me. (First test of the new marriage!) I rode behind my husband on my new baby to a large parking lot. He got off and said, “Go for it!” Many, many attempts later, I successfully started, turned and stopped the bike in the parking lot. The next day, a Sunday afternoon with no traffic, I ventured onto the road. But the road means shifting! Yikes! Fortunately, the Low Rider has an rpm gauge, so I used the gauge to help me judge when to shift. However, looking down at the gauge means lowering your head, which can play havoc with your balance when you are first starting to ride.

Well, after many short 50-mph rides, corners at 25 mph and encouragement from a very patient husband, I was ready for a longer adventure. So we chose to ride to Sturgis. Told you I enjoy a challenge! My husband told me if I made it through some of the rides in the Black Hills without laying down the bike, I could take off my engine guard when we got back to Missouri. Of course I won the challenge, and my engine guard is now off. Sturgis was a wonderful trip, except for riding at 8 p.m. in the dark during a very cold downpour! But by the time you finish Main Street in Sturgis, you certainly know how to use the clutch and not kill it!

Cindy and Pat with their bikes at the Wyoming state line during the Sturgis Rally in 2009.
Cindy and Pat with their bikes at the Wyoming state line during the Sturgis Rally in 2009.

In summer 2010 we took what I call a “land formation” trip out west. Seven states and 4,200 miles later, I love my Dyna Low Rider even more. We are now one. I lean through corners, and I even dragged my boot heel the other day! Man, that was a proud moment for me. I can turn circles in gas stations, ride my clutch rather than brake when stopped on a hill, and beat Pat leaving from a red light. (Readers, please note Pat would never admit I beat him off the line!)

I absolutely love riding with the wind, sun and smells engulfing my every pore. I love to see more and more women riders on the roads, and I don’t think any woman should be scared of the size of the bike or balancing it. Think of riding as balancing a baby on your hip while stirring supper and talking on the phone. Piece of cake—just believe in yourself!

Now, because I have the motorcycle riding challenge won, my challenge is to find daring riding clothes, posters and a paint job for my bike. You might have guessed I am not the “pink” type, and I actually love the HBO show “True Blood.” I would love to create a clothing line for women bikers with a “vamp” theme and paint my bike this way as well. If another pink riding outfit comes out for women, I think I’ll puke. As for those posters we always see featuring beautiful, young, scantily clad women, my question is, where the heck are the posters with hunks of young men on their bikes? Come on, ladies, let’s demand equal rights from the makers of motorcycle posters. I’d love to have a paint job on my bike that would make a person think, “Wow, what kind of rebel rides this?” before seeing a middle-aged mother and nursing-home administrator, thickening in the middle, come out and hop on it. Just imagine!  

So to women out there who keep wishing they had their own motorcycle, I say take the challenge—you only go around once! And if any of you are creative, contact me so we can start our very own “vamp” clothing line.
 
Editor's Note: Thank you to Cindy for sharing her story, but I must go on record to say that Women Riders Now never advocates riding a motorcycle without getting properly trained through a motorcycle safety training class. I realize some people rode dirt bikes and smaller motorcycles when they were younger, but motorcycles today are different than they were 20 or 30 years ago. And trying to learn from a loved one can often be a lesson in frustration. Fortunately for Cindy, her husband was one of the patient ones. However, patient or not, people who learn from someone other than a certified instructor risk learning how to ride incorrectly and thus increase their chances of getting into an accident. They'll also pick up the bad habits or incorrect riding techniques of the person who teaches them. Whenever possible, take the training class first—buy the motorcycle second.

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Reader Comments


Great article. It's nice to find someone who agrees with me on the pink thing and the ubiquitous, always young thin chicks. Each to their own but when I see a pink Harley, I feel ill.

And yes! I want to see posters of hot guys too! LOL! Love your moxie Cindy. You're an inspiration.

Christine
Seattle, WA
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Cindy....we are kindred spirits! Hope to meet you on a ride really soon.

Heather Anderson
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Friday, August 26, 2011
Excellent article, and very inspiring! Can't wait to see your line of women's motorcycle clothing. And I agree about the engine guard. It's not like having training wheels on your bike; it's about what happens to you if you lay it down at high speed. Just sayin'.

Leanne
Dolores, CO
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Cindy rocks! Nothing stands in this woman's way! But put your engine guards back on. They make a great place to put highway pegs. Don't try to be too macho for the guards. My only beef is when tough girls (real women) make a big deal out of the "no pink" thing. I ride three "boys" bikes (two Yamaha sportbikes and one BMW 1200 GS) with no girly stuff on them, but I wear pink. And everybody knows I wear pink. Doesn't mean I'm not as tough. I rode my bikes twice to Alaska and back from New York state. Crappy roads, rain and all the rest. I hope you inspire women around you to rock their own world, too. Ride on!


Patti
Pittsford, NY
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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