It’s Never too Late to Dream: Part 2

Oct 29, 2012 View Comments by

Torri apparently had lived a very deprived childhood. As if life weren’t hard enough growing up in Philadelphia and becoming a Phillies and Eagles fan, her parents somehow never got around to teaching her how to ride a bicycle. So, our first task was to go out and buy her a suitable bike on which to learn the rudiments of balance, speed, turning, and of course, the all-important skill of stopping.

So we drove to the local Wal-Mart and checked out several bikes for height, comfort, price, and of course, color. We narrowed our choices down to a few, and she sat on each of them. She attempted to pedal one of them a few feet and nearly succeeded in taking down an entire display case in the process. When she finally decided on one, we loaded it into my car, and headed to a grassy, hilly area near my house. I had read somewhere that a novice bike rider should initially practice on grass. The falls are less painful that way.

So I explained what she was about to embark upon, I rode the bicycle a bit as an example, and then instructed her to walk it to the top of the slight incline, pedal a few times, and just coast down to where I’d be standing. She followed instructions, or at least the first part. Wobbly doesn’t even begin to describe it. It wasn’t as if she were a little kid on a tiny bike held up by her father until she got the hang of it. All I can say is, it was a good thing she was on grass.

After doing that a few times, she began to get the hang of it and decided to take the next step—riding down an asphalt walking path adjacent to the grassy knoll. She did it well the first time, so she was feeling confident—maybe a little too confident actually—because she decided to pedal up the path, then circle around and ride back down. Unfortunately, her front wheel got stuck in a divot between the grass and the path and down she went. She banged up her knee pretty good, and her ego even worse. Luckily, it turned out to be the worst injury she’d encounter on any type of two-wheeled vehicle, so for that, we’re eternally grateful.       

The Biker Virgin

At 56, it’s rare for someone to be a virgin at anything. If something hasn’t been tried by that age, it’s probably not going to happen at all. But that’s not Torri. She’s always up for something new and exciting. So after numerous bicycle practice sessions, we mutually decided it was time to graduate to the motorized variety. She was going to purchase a bike of her own. Not just because it was time, but mostly because there was no chance that I was going to let her practice on my nearly new Suzuki Boulevard. Plus, my bike was too big and heavy for her, and it required shifting, which wasn’t her forte, be it a bike or a car. So we began looking for her first bike.

Scouring Craigslist, we found several scooters that seemed like reasonable candidates for her initial foray into this brave, new world. One evening after work, we ventured forth to check out two—an Aprilia Scarabeo 150 and a Honda Reflex 250. The Scarabeo seemed a bit underpowered, even for a beginner. The Reflex was a bit bigger, heavier, and zippier, and had only 6,000 miles on it, not unusual in the motorcycling world, where so many people buy bikes, think they’ll ride every weekend, but invariably, end up garaging them and taking them out on special occasions only a few times a year. It was in good shape, save for a large crack in the plastic dashboard that was covered up by black masking tape. Little did we know that in the coming months that crack would become a hole, then a crevice, then spawn an entire family of dings and dents that would be evidence of a beginner’s trials and errors.

She paid the owner, signed the paperwork, and I rode it home for her. Motorcycle practice would now commence.   

Be sure to check back on Monday November 5 for the next installment to see how Torri learns to ride!

Text and Photography: Cliff Brownstein

Missed the beginning? Catch up here:
It’s Never too Late to Dream: Part 1

Cliff Brownstein has been an avid motorcyclist since 1999 and currently rides a Suzuki Boulevard c50t cruiser, which he’s nicknamed SkyByk. When he’s not out on the open road, he serves as Executive Director for a national not-for-profit trade association in the therapeutic field.


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