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I am a new rider. At 51 I got my motorcycle license. My husband already had a bike and I rode on the back. It was time to get my own bike. I went to the dealership and bought a used Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. I had the bike only two days. I was riding in my neighborhood to get a good feel for the bike when I crashed. I let out the clutch too fast and had too much throttle and went off the road hitting a tree. I broke several ribs, lacerated my liver, and punctured a lung.
I spent two weeks in the hospital. I want to get back on another bike, but am scared. I will probably take the safety course again.



Deborah
Plainfield, CT
Saturday, September 22, 2018
Editor Response
Unfortunately, we have heard this story too many times before. While many women have good luck with a Sportster as their first bike, it is a very big, powerful motorcycle to start on. And, as you learned the hard way, has a very small margin of error for when you make common mistakes.

Once healed, I hope you consider a smaller, lighter motorcycle with an easier, more forgiving clutch pull. WRN has a list of good motorcycles to start with here. Note that we included Sportsters, only because many women have had good luck with them. However, I personally would never recommend a motorcycle with that much power to a beginner.
Tricia Szulewski, Associate Editor
Wow, there are a lot of us in this scenario and no real solution to help us get back on that bike. But we have all learned or found a way to do it and sounds like friends and family have been there for support. I am still not sure why our confidence get so crushed! But it does and trying to get from 1 back to 10 after all the physical parts have healed seems to be biggest challenge!

I rode horses at one time and one was named Stitches. (The reason she was named this as she went through a barbed wire fence. Needless to say she was skittish and I was off her more than on her but I kept getting back on her and rode off!) But it reminds me it is not the bike's fault and it is hard to get back on and not have the heebeegeebees.

I've taken several experienced rider courses since then, and each time helps get some of those heebeegeebeees out of me! Of course I am more aware and look at all the distracted drivers today and shake my finger at them to just drive and not do anything else but pay attention to driving, and be aware and get off the phone.

Here is to keeping the shiny side up. You ladies rock!


Bikerchic
Conifer, CO
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
On May 5, 2010, I was on my brand new Yamaha V Star. My husband took me to an industrial park where there was a huge parking lot, so I could practice as I had just gotten my motorcycle license. I was feeling pretty confident by the time we were ready to leave, but as we were leaving the parking lot I decided I was going to pass him and beat him to the stop sign. There was an adjacent lot I was going to go into so I took off. What I didn't see was the big chain that separated the lots preventing people from doing what I was trying to do. I hit the chain, it got caught in my front tire and I went up an embankment when my bike stopped, but I was thrown into the side of the building.

I shattered my right collarbone, broke my right shoulder, broke four ribs, and pelvis in two places. I also punctured my lung and had a hematoma on it, plus I punctured a hole in my right scapula and the muscle got stuck in the hole. I was airlifted to a Chicago hospital that specializes in trauma, put on life support, and they told my husband he'd have to wait and see. Fourteen days later I walked out of the hospital and went home. My doctor kept calling me his miracle patient. My husband told me that for the first three days I was in ICU every time I gained consciousness I asked about my bike and he had to tell me I had totaled it. It only had 68 miles on it.

July 30, 2010 I bought a new bike against many friends and family's wishes, but this was something I really wanted to do. When I first got on the bike in the parking lot, I panicked and kept screaming. The dealership had closed, we had ridden my husband's bike there, so I had to ride it home. Once I got out of the parking lot, my confidence started coming back. I hated parking lots for a while and would scream when we entered one, but I just kept at it. I did a lot of self-talk remembering how well I did in class and how much I loved the feel of riding. I started talking positively to myself before we would enter a parking lot to calm myself down and my husband would always boost my confident too. It took a while, but now parking lots doesn't effect me at all.

I now own a Heritage Softail Classic and I love riding. I learned a lot and am very vigilant when I'm on my bike. I seriously pay attention to everything around me all the time and I'm always thinking what if and have a plan. I think my accident made me a better rider and I'm so happy that I listened to myself and not to others around me. If I can do this, anyone can! I took baby steps, and now I ride everywhere on any road without fear! My best advice is to do what you feel comfortable doing and build on that. Ride safe!

Michele
Joliet, IL
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Two years ago I was riding with our group when one went down. It was a surreal experience. While the Medivac was coming, my husband told me to go home with a couple of the guys, that it could be awhile. He was shocked that I got on my Ridley and went home. While riding I was having weird thoughts about how nice the ride was and how I hoped our friend was OK. Turns out, he passed on and I was in denial. But I continued to ride, just a little bit more carefully.

A year later I upgraded to a Harley Switchback and started the process of learning to shift. Went for a ride with my husband, I got stuck on a hill, and dumped the bike! A little road rash and my confidence was out the door. It took me a full season to get over it, but I am riding and still conquering my fear of hills, tight turns, etc. But it's one ride at a time.


JoAnne Gantzhorn
Dingmans Ferry, PA
Monday, October 27, 2014
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