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

Never Say Never to Motorcycling

Discovering a passion for she never knew was there

By Christine Decker, San Jose, California

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I've read many stories on Women Riders Now from readers who always wanted to ride, but for whom the opportunity was deferred. How about a story from me, someone who was certain until her early 50s that she hated motorcycles. I even went so far as to avoid them, that is, until 2013 when I reconnected with a high school friend after 30 years via Facebook. He actually commutes on a motorcycle. We arranged to meet at a state fair, a neutral location. All I was thinking about was how I could avoid making sure he didn’t offer me a ride on that bike. I had no intentions of getting on a motorcycle.

However, later, I happened to encounter twice in one week a neighbor who is seldom home. Turns out he is an experienced motorcycle rider.

Fate was unraveling. He took me for my first ride—in spite of myself and my "declared" intentions of never wanting to ride a motorcycle. Heading up California Highway 9 to Alice’s Restaurant, a popular motorcycle and car enthusiast’s hangout, I found myself peeking over my neighbor Mark’s shoulder to see what he was doing. Having driven manual transmission cars for 27 years, I quickly saw riding as a way to "up" my shifting game. Then the ecstasy of the two-wheeled lean hit. That too, was new. I hadn't experienced the sensation of two wheels since the last time I rode a bicycle 33 years ago!

never say never christine decker v star 250
Christine Decker with her Yamaha V Star 250, the motorcycle with which she would enjoy her newfound passion.

Four months later, I cut out of work a few hours early and drove an hour to attend a private motorcycle lesson. My nerves were on high alert. Two weeks later, I passed the California DMV written portion of the motorcycle license exam.

A month after that first lesson, I took the weekend-long MSF Basic RiderCourse (BRC). I am a nervous test-taker and this was no exception. I put the pressure on myself as I was the only woman and the only person older than 40 out of all six students. On the second day my nerves nearly took me out of the course. At one point I rode out of the path of travel and paused. Thankfully the RiderCoaches let me continue. After that, I just rode without test concern, and I passed!

Two weeks after I passed the BRC, I researched first bikes. I purchased my first motorcycle on my own—a 2013 Yamaha V Star 250. It was delivered one day before my 52nd birthday. So there I was, at year's end, with this strange vehicle in my garage, and the license to operate it. This was not even a figment of my imagination when the year began.

never say never v star 250 roadside
After riding 8,300 miles on the V Star, Christine is ready to get a bigger bike to cover the "long distances over mountain passes" that she has in mind. "I will keep 'little V' for more serious wrench practice so I don’t need to experiment with my only ride."

I cannot bear to go a week without riding, even if it means I just go out for 20 minutes after work. I’ve ridden goat trails in the nearby Santa Cruz mountains and lane-split while commuting to work on the crowded Bay Area freeways. I even took a nearly 800-mile round-trip long weekend to the San Luis Obispo area.

Contrary to some reports of feeling underpowered on the freeway, my little V Star feels comfortable at 70 to 75 mph. But I know I am reaching the limit. The 250 isn’t meant to climb 10,000-foot mountain roads or be subjected to 40 mph crosswinds (though I’ve made it through 25 mph winds).

Motorcycling has instilled confidence I did not know I had. When I’m out for a pleasure ride, I have the sense that no matter what bad things happen in life, if I am able to ride, I will make it through. I am just sorry it took me so darn long to get here.

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