So a few things have happened since my last post about my bike. I decided to go back to Chicago to take the exam. This was mainly so I could take the test on a Honda Rebel instead of my Vulcan. I figured the u-turn part of the test would be much easier on the smaller Rebel. Also, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting my bike to the exam. So on a Thursday evening, I headed to Chicago so I could get to the exam first thing on Friday morning.
We arrived at 7am as instructed and waited. It was an hour before the inspector showed up. I knew he wouldn’t be there until 8, but I had assumed we would be able to ride during this hour wait. However, they didn’t let us ride until after the inspector got there and collected our materials. Needless to say, the wait was a bit annoying and did little to calm my nerves.
I got back from New York late on Wednesday and yesterday was my first chance to ride my new bike. My friend Erik picked me up and drove me over to the dealer to pick it up. We got my new plate on the bike and drove off, looking for a parking lot where I could practice for a while. The plan was to go over some of the test exercises and then head to the DMV to get my license.
We decided that the high school would be a good place to practice since school was still out. We were heading to the main parking lot, but when I passed one of the side parking lots, it was empty and had a fresh new pavement laid down with nice bright lines. Perfect, I thought, let’s practice there.
So yesterday, I went ahead and did it. I bought a motorcycle.
That is not my bike, but it’s pretty similar. I will get a picture up next week, once I get it home. It’s a 1994 Kawasaki Vulcan 500, a little bigger than I thought I would get, but it’s a very comfortable bike and doesn’t feel hard to maneuver. I think I can grow with this bike for some time. If I had gone with a Rebel or some similar 250, I think I would get annoyed with it after a few weeks.
I’ve always wanted to ride motorcycles. It hasn’t been a burning passion, more like an interest that I never had time to indulge in. When I was a kid, one of my friends had a dirt bike. I only rode it once that I can remember, and it didn’t go well. I don’t think I got it out of first gear, and I’m pretty sure I stalled it a least once. So for the next 20+ years, I never attempted to get on a motorcycle again, thinking that while I liked them, I just wasn’t cut out for them. And if I hadn’t moved home, I may have left it at that.
When you drive around central Illinois in the summer, motorcycles are everywhere. Harleys seem to be the standard, but there are plenty of others as well, including big cruisers as well as gangs of 20 something Ninja riders screaming through downtown Peoria at night. For me, there seems to be a dearth of things to do around here, but I’m beginning to realize that if you live here, you need to make your own fun. Boating, dirt bikes and street bikes are all popular choices.
Last summer I started thinking about getting my license, but I didn’t get around to it. At the local community college, they offer a subsidized class to learn to ride. They even give you the actual test at the end of the class, so you can get your license without any further hoops to jump through. The problem is that the class is such a good deal that all the spots fill up many months in advance. If you don’t sign up for one by the beginning of May, odds are you might not get in one. My schedule is so hard to predict, that it was close to impossible to pick a weekend to take the class.
I kept thinking to myself, there must be a place where you can sign up for basic riding classes a week or two before. Sure, you will probably pay considerably more for private classes, but there has got to be a market for people like me who find themselves in the middle of the riding season and can’t get into the ones held at community colleges. Sure enough there are two such places in Chicago, Motorcycle Riding School and Ride Chicago. There may be more. I went with Motorcycle Riding School mainly because their class fit into my schedule (the whole thing takes place over a weekend) and because they had decent reviews on yelp.