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Women Riders Now - Motorcycling Lifestyle. Women. Men. Men Riding with Women.

Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them

Reader Story: WRN Articles Got Her Back in the Saddle

Finding her confidence through other readers' stories

By Michelle Landry, Tylertown, Mississippi

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After riding behind my husband on his Harley-Davidson for more than 16 years, I decided I wanted to try riding on my own. While searching online for advice, I discovered Women Riders Now.
I pored over each article, starting with “What To Expect,” which was so helpful. Yes, you will dump the bike, and yes, you will be nervous. OK, I needed to remember that. I found an MSF course in my area and immediately signed up. Because my husband’s Harley-Davidson Fat Boy was too big for me to practice on, I went to the class with no riding experience. Having been a passenger for so many years, I thought I should have some advantage, right? Wrong! I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of my left hand, right hand, left foot, and right foot all doing something different at the exact same time. After dropping the bike twice and not being able to keep up with the class, I ended up failing the course the first day.
Discouraged, I went home in tears. Thank goodness for the WRN article “You Flunked! Now What?” It was encouraging to read other women’s stories and how they didn’t give up. I especially related to a commenter named Susan, who felt the class moved too fast for her. I also felt like I needed more time on each exercise. I wanted to practice, so I bought a Honda Rebel 250. I felt it was small enough for me to learn to handle. I was so excited the day my husband brought it home, but I was scared to death because now I was going to have to ride it!
wrn articles got her back in the saddle rebel 250
Michelle on her first bike, a Honda Rebel 250, which she chose for its smaller size.

I started out by riding on a side road to practice what I learned at the safety course, but at my own pace. Instead of doing an exercise 10 times, I did it 20 or 100 times or until I felt comfortable. The first few weeks, it was a challenge just to take off without stalling. I would sit on my bike, one hand on the throttle, one on the clutch, my heart pounding through my chest, trying to remember why I’d wanted to learn to ride in the first place. Thank goodness my husband was patient and kept telling me I could do it. He even picked the bike up off me when I dumped it in the front yard.   
This is when the WRN Reader Stories became invaluable. I could relate to people like Ruth Grant, who said she “prayed for the panic to end and the fun to begin.” Yes, that’s it. That’s exactly what I felt. Well, if she could overcome this fear and have fun, so could I. I would force myself to practice, if only for just 30 minutes a day. I felt every time I took off, every time I put my foot down at a stop, every mile I rode, was more experience gained.  
Four months after failing the MSF course, I went back to take it again. I was still nervous, but I was more comfortable on the bike. I passed the second time and learned invaluable safety and riding skills. I went to the DMV and got my endorsement the next day. Yes!
wrn articles got her back in the saddle vulcan 750
After nine months with the Rebel, Michelle upgraded to a Kawasaki Vulcan 750 and loves it.

This past year, I've ridden more than 4,000 miles, and it has been a year of firsts for me—first time riding in heavy traffic, first time riding at night, first time riding on the highway. The first time I took the bike out by myself, I thought of Rhonda Elkins, who wrote in her story about her first bike ride without her husband along. Each milestone, from getting her bike out of the garage to pumping her own gas, I could relate to. 
I rode the Honda Rebel for nine months. It was a great bike to start out on and gave me a chance to learn the skills I needed. I recently purchased a Kawasaki Vulcan 750 and love it. At first, the extra weight was intimidating, but I started the same way as with the Rebel—in parking lots and on side roads—until I became comfortable on it.     
When family or friends ask why I ride, I can't accurately answer them. It's impossible to put into words the feeling of joy, accomplishment, freedom, and thrill that I experience when I'm riding. WRN is a place where other women get it. They understand.

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