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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: Starting to Ride—at 68 Years Old!

Determination despite failing MSF two times

By Ruth Grant, Tallahassee, Florida

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It all began at the ripe age of 65 while vacationing in Pigeon Pass, Tennessee, during the spring when bikes were abounding everywhere. I decided that riding a motorcycle would be fun. I was so enraptured that I went to the Harley-Davidson dealer there and purchased a helmet. Upon arriving home in Florida, I signed up and took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, which I failed by riding the bike off the course and going down.

Undeterred, I began looking for a used small bike to practice on. Not having any luck with this search and having been given the cold shoulder by the local Harley-Davidson dealer (whom I am sure thought I wasn't going to buy anything), I went to the local Yamaha dealer and purchased a new Yamaha 650 V Star. I could sit flat footed on the V Star 650. Afraid to take off on my own, my son would ride the V Star to a local neighborhood park. There was virtually no traffic and I would ride the bike around and around for about a mile in a circle. However, I must admit that I never became comfortable on the V Star—it seemed so large, intimidating and hard to handle. While riding it, I always had a death grip on the bars and prayed for the panic to end and the fun to begin. 

Ruth on her Harley-Davidson Sportster Nightster.
Ruth on her Harley-Davidson Sportster Nightster.

Still thinking that I would do better on a smaller bike, I began another search, which ended with the purchase of a 2004 Honda Rebel 250. I felt more comfortable on this bike. After some practice, I took the MSF course for the second time, which I failed again. At this point, my desire to ride a motorcycle had become a quest—I was going to do this, and I was going to have fun.      

I began searching the Web for sites that gave information and instructions on motorcycle riding. Fortunately, I found plenty of sites, but the most helpful to me were V-Twin Mama and Women Riders Now, along with an instructional DVD, all containing lots of inspiration and practical tips. Armed with plenty of information, I began going to an empty parking lot on Sundays with my bag full of tennis balls cut in half. I marked off my course and practiced and practiced. The third time was the charm. I passed! Still not comfortable on the V Star, a special friend convinced me to go to the Harley-Davidson dealer again, which I did and was met with a new staff that was super. I purchased a new Sportster Nightster model. The difference in handling versus the V Star is like night and day, even though they both are approximately the same height and weight. So while I will always respect my Nightster's capability, I am not afraid of it. At 68, I am having a blast.  

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