The fact that I bought a motorcycle shortly before my son was born — having never ridden a motorcycle before in my life — prompted many people to wonder if I was having some sort of midlife crisis. Being only 32, I truly hope it’s not a “mid” life crisis, but I can’t say that I haven’t been doing a lot of soul-searching lately. Of course, those who know me well know that I’m almost always doing some soul-searching of one sort or another, so that isn’t really saying much. In any case, I thought it would be fun and relatively inexpensive (well, compared to, say, golf), and I bought a bike I could turn around and sell essentially for what I paid if it turned out riding a motorcycle wasn’t my cup of tea. I ended up with a 1999 Honda Nighthawk, which a lot of experts recommend as a good starter bike, and a good all around “standard” bike period. It had only 5000 miles on it and was in great shape.
Here in Oregon you’re required to have a motorcycle endorsement on your license to drive legally, and you can get this by passing a knowledge and skill test. However, many people take the route I did, and take the Basic Riding Training course from Team Oregon. It was a 16 hour course, with about half spent in a classroom and the other half spent out on the “range,” which was just a cordoned off part of Chemeketa Community College’s parking lot. If you pass both the written and on-bike exam, then DMV waives your testing and gives you your endorsement. I took the course this weekend, taught by a very friendly and knowledgable retired motorcycle cop, and I’m happy to say that I passed. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll be jumping onto the freeway anytime soon. Just because I’m legal doesn’t mean I’m ready. I’ll be sticking to my neighorhood for just a while longer, with the idea that I’ll commute the back roads to work this summer.
I took the Nighthawk out for a spin this afternoon, and Heidi took a few shots. I also managed to scare her a bit when the bike lurched out of the driveway when I gave it a bit too much throttle — the problem of spending all weekend on a different bike and failing to remember that no two bikes, like no two cars, handle exactly the same . . .