Amplify: Adventures in learning to ride a motorcycle

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Sierra Benn is a content editor and writer at the Granthshala Climate Newsletter.

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Sierra Ben didn’t expect to be called ‘crazy’ for signing up for motorcycle riding lessons. He doesn’t have any regrets.sierra leg

Something about looking back on the last three years of my life gave me the final push to sign up for the motorcycle class. Before working at The Granthshala, I was independent, traveling solo and didn’t plan for more than a month in the future. But being alone and indoors during the pandemic inspired me to seek a new and challenging experience. Enter Motorcycle Lessons: the perfect mix of scary and thrilling.

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Me and my cousins ​​had been talking about doing it for years. And when I rode a motorcycle as a passenger, I would never have driven myself. We finally signed up for the final class of the season at the end of October. Before class, we must successfully complete a written test. Then, we must end the weekend class with a passing score to obtain our M2 motorcycle license (similar to a driving license in Ontario, the M2 allows riding with some limitations, such as not consuming any alcohol). not riding after).

I was torn to share my news. But to my surprise, I didn’t always get the response I expected.

While some shared my joy, most of my family, some friends, and my boyfriend worried that I would be hurt and expressed shock, confusion, and despair when I didn’t change my mind. Jokingly, someone offered to refund whatever I had paid for the course, on the condition that I leave.

“Can you really move the bike? You’re just too young,” said a family friend.

“Your cousin is crazy, but you are” more Crazy because you’re a girl,” said an aunt.

In a way, I found his concern cute and amusing. But it developed into an annoyance. I could not imagine that any man would be harassed like this. I understood the risks. I am aware of my size. And I was taking the class because first and foremost, it’s a course in safety, and I want to be as responsible as possible on the bike.

October has finally arrived. After the virtual theory segment, we were ready for the on-bike lesson. It was raining and windy, and we were outside for more than nine hours every day. I was wearing three (three!) pairs of pants.

We were standing in a circle talking about why we were there and what kind of bike we wanted. Some needed to regenerate expired licenses, some just wanted to get out of town to ride on the road.

A wave of embarrassment ran over me. I didn’t know much about the bike or what kind I wanted. But I explained that when I was traveling in countries where motorcycles are common, I got stuck because I didn’t know how to ride.

“I just don’t want to rely on random men to drive me around. If I ever need to ride a bike, I want to be able to do it myself,” I said, feeling like Was that I was putting myself out there as the least experienced and educated person.

“That’s actually my favorite cause,” replied one instructor. He came to me after class with positive feedback and reiterated how happy he is to teach women who have never ridden before.

There were two other women in my 16-year-old’s class, and both were there after being encouraged by their husbands, so that they could ride together. I have to admit, I was a little jealous that these women had the support of their spouse and that they could turn to someone for help.

I panicked when we were asked to do the first thing: push the bike to the practice site. I’m 110 pounds, these bikes were 300-500 pounds. I tried my best to hide how hard I was working, even though my muscles were sore throughout the day. It wasn’t until we turned on the ignition that I understood what my trainers say they love the “two wheeled lifestyle.”

The first time we took off, I was ready to feel overwhelmed with power. Instead, I was relieved to realize that no matter the weight of the bike anymore, I was in complete control with the help of the clutch and throttle. I could feel the engine vibrate when I needed to change gears, and soon my body instinctively knew how far to lean in a turn. After more and more exercise interruptions, I felt a friendly dialogue forming between me and my bike, and my anxiety melted into excitement.

I was so nervous about this, that so many people were afraid to do me, liberating. Compared to a car, you are much more connected to the air around you, the earth below you, and the machine that moves you. You need to believe in yourself, and you need to put all your attention on your every move.

Our final practical exam came at the end of the weekend. As our testers told us, they weren’t grading us based solely on technical prowess.

They were looking for confidence over perfection. Can you manage the power in your hands? Are you alert and aware of your surroundings? Can you be fixed if you make a mistake? You might not know how to ride efficiently, but if you’re nervous a little patience is something that will help. For me, I had to clear my mind of voices that were not my own.

I finished the class with perfect exam marks. Now, in case anyone has a clue, I’m looking for a used, starter motorcycle.

What else are we thinking:

my mind is haunted a video i saw recently, This is from Nina Gualinga, an environmental and indigenous rights activist in Ecuador – she speaks about women’s connection to the land. “Any violation of our land is a violation of our body,” she says. “As Indigenous women, we are more exposed to the violence of climate change, of governments, of extractive industries.” While some may not believe his message, it’s really accurate, and so, as we see Gidiment Eviction of Coastal GasLink“I think not only of the land guards, but also of the many missing, murdered, assaulted indigenous women and girls who have been affected by the pipeline to the land we call home.

Inspired by something in this newsletter? If so, we hope that you will enhance it by taking it forward. And if there’s anything we need to know, or feedback you’d like to share, send us an e-mail here [email protected]

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