This story is about a woman who rides motorcycles. I interviewed my mom, Lupita. She began riding as a child with her dad. She told me about always knowing that she would grow up and ride her own motorcycle one day. Last year, she decided that it was time to buy her own bike. She took a class and started practicing. She was very nervous at first but, little by little, she got more confident.
“Riding motorcycles can be a lot of fun. You get to experience the world in a completely different way. You are more aware of everything around you,” she explains. She likes the feeling of freedom you get when you ride a motorcycle, but there are some disadvantages, too. There is the smell of exhaust, the bugs, road hazards and exposure to the weather.
“You feel the heat from your exhaust pipe, and, if you’re not careful, you can burn your legs or melt the soles of your shoes if you let them come into contact with the pipes,” she says. She worries about safety and other riders on the road. “Yes, as a fairly new rider, being a little fearful is a healthy thing. It keeps you on your toes,” she explains. “The thing I’m most afraid of is the fact that other drivers in cars don’t pay attention to the road. They are distracted by their cell phones or just daily life. They don’t see motorcyclists or make wrong assumptions about how fast a bike can stop or react when they turn in front of us.”
“I don’t let the fear control me. Instead I try to ride my bike with the understanding that I am invisible to cars so it is my responsibility to assume that they don’t see me.
I observe the cars next to me, approaching me or beside me and plan escape routes all around me.” She says another way she stays safe is by wearing appropriate safety gear —helmet, gloves, boots, jeans—and having her bike equipped with crash bars and expanded lighting to be more visible.
“I enjoy riding all kinds of riding. As long as I’m on my bike, I am happy,” my mom says. She likes to ride in town with friends, ride to work a few times a week, and go on longer road trips, too. “Last fall, I was lucky enough to be able to join friends on a ride to Rocky Point, Mexico, and earlier this year I rode as a passenger from Tennessee to Key West, Florida,” she says. “The motorcycle community is very close knit. There is a saying among bikers “strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.” Bikers like to help people. They organize charity runs to raise money for people or charities in need. Bikers are active in helping veteran’s groups, raising money to buy gifts and food for families during the holidays, and donating money to help people who are sick; others go to court and help children speak up against abusers.
“If you dream of riding a motorcycle, do it,” says my mom. “I recommend taking a rider safety class so you can learn all the basics of riding a bike and the things to look out for. This was very helpful to me.”
“I also recommend lots and lots of practice. Get out there and ride—little by little you will gain more confidence and increase your distance each time. Don’t let fear keep you from trying.”