A year to the day

A summary of my first year on two wheels
Published March 17, 2009

On March 16, 2008 I completed the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse. I had never ridden a motorcycle before the course, but passed the final test missing only a few points for crossing the boundary of the U-turn box. On March 17, 2008, I endeavored to ride my sparkling new 2008 Ninja 250 home from the dealership.

San Francisco isn’t a large city, the ride from the dealer to my apartment comprising a mere ten miles of surface streets. Though to put that brief ten miles into perspective, I noted that after completing the MSF course the trip odometer on my borrowed Rebel had just barely ticked off twelve miles over two days of “riding” (more like “idling in a playground”). The ten miles between the dealer and home, insignificant now, were at the time intensely intimidating.

On the bike, out front of the dealer, I repeatedly stalled the motor for probably ten minutes, struggling to take off between clusters of traffic. The slight uphill slant of the road was enough to give me fits, though getting started proved to be the only major hurdle. By the time I’d reached the first stop light, I recall marveling at how comfortable the fit of the Ninja was in contrast to the comparatively awkward saddle of the MSF Rebel. The Ninja’s upright position, slightly canted forward over the handlebars felt at home to my body accustomed to mountain bike commuting.

My anxiety seemed to inconspicuously vanish–it didn’t lingeringly fade, it didn’t suddenly disappear, it just felt as if it’d never been. I traced the coast via the Great Highway without incident. And as I approached my apartment’s drive, I rode past. Ten miles wasn’t enough. I stretched the ride to twenty-some-odd miles to the office, and then enjoyed another twelve miles home. By the end of the first day with my Ninja 250, the bike had gobbled up forty miles.

Motorcycling is, in my estimation, the best thing in the world

An unforgettable start to what would be a defining year of my life.

I didn’t start riding for the lifestyle, expected it’d be a mere casual pastime. But during the past year with my Ninja, I have…

I imagine it’ll all become inconsequential with time, but it feels like it’s been a big, important year, and I’m glad I lived it. Motorcycling is, in my estimation, the best thing in the world.