It’s Never too Late to Dream: Part 1

Oct 22, 2012 View Comments by

I turned 60 earlier this year and have been riding for over 13 years. I had wanted to ride since I was a teenager, but my parents wouldn’t let me. So instead, I used to secretly hitch rides to high school baseball practice on the back of my buddy’s Yamaha 125. Sheer exhilaration. But it wasn’t until I was 47, and my three kids older and financially protected by my insurance policies, that I finally decided to do it. And I’ve never looked back. Motorcycling has taken me places I’d never have otherwise visited, and enabled me to meet people who have become not just fellow riders, but true friends.

But this story isn’t about me. It’s about my girlfriend, Torri, 57, and her long-held belief that life is to be lived with a smile on your face. Torri and I had been together for a bit more than a year. She loved riding on the back of my bike. In fact, she was the most comfortable passenger I’d ever had. She would relax on the rear seat of, first, my Honda SilverWing, and then, my Suzuki Boulevard c50t. Holding on to nothing, feet planted on the rear footpegs, it was not uncommon for Torri to spread her arms wide as we rode through the countryside, where green grass, rolling hills, and blue sky converge, and exclaim, “Thank You, God!”

Then one day, as we were taking a break during yet another 200-mile Saturday ride, she said to me, “I think I’d like to move up to the front seat.” And that’s where this story truly begins.

The Wrath of the Kids

There were several challenges that lay ahead of Torri’s quest to become a motorcyclist. Some involved acquiring knowledge; many others involved learning new skills. But perhaps the toughest was telling her grown son and daughter, then 26 and 22, that she was about to embark on this great adventure. Her daughter, a college senior, was most concerned. To put it mildly, she though her mother was nuts. No doubt, she blamed me for talking her mother into this wild and crazy idea that would invariably leave her a homeless orphan.

I took great pains to explain to her that this was purely her mother’s idea and that I was quite content to have Torri ride on the back of my bike. She skeptically accepted my plea for clemency, but has since quietly held her breath each time her mother has strapped on her helmet. We give each other grief all the time about which town’s baseball and football teams (I’m a New York fan, she’s from Philly) are better. Her mother’s motorcycling gives her one more reason to give me a hard time. 

The Written Test

We decided that it was best for Torri to first take the written test at the local Motor Vehicle Administration office, so that she could legally practice her riding with me. So she picked up a copy of the manual and began studying. Some of it was reminiscent of studying for her driver’s test many years ago, and some of it was very different information—hand signals, lane positioning, and more. I showed her all the different components of a bike, where various controls were located, and explained the differences between a conventional motorcycle and the newer, bigger, automatic scooters. I grilled her incessantly, as is my wont. At times, she no doubt thought I was a bit overbearing, but she had no idea that this was merely the tip of the iceberg. She handled it well and passed the written test with flying colors. She was now an officially permitted rider-in-training. The fun was just beginning!

Text and Photography: Cliff Brownstein

Be sure to check back on Monday October 29 for the next installment to see how Torri learns to ride!

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