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I'm new to the forum, but I hope ya'll don't mind if I share with you a story I recently wrote about my new experience with my Sportster. Here it is:

My Life Has Changed…..



My heart was pounding as I pulled my riding boots on. My fingers were sweating as I donned my HD vest. I went to the key rack and went through all the keys that we have had hanging for so many years, some keys we long since forgotten what they were for. I saw the HD key first and ran my trembling fingers across those black HD letters….the key to my new life. I then fumbled through the many keys to find the one to our shop across the yard. No not this one, not this one either, gosh…what is THIS one for? Ah ha!! There is the key. I swallowed hard, knowing that my next steps would be out the door to the shop which housed my 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 105th Low Anniversary Edition. I bought this bike back in November and have put 415 miles on it. Well ok, so my husband put on about half of those…ok I said it. I had been waiting for the times my husband would come home from work to ride with him on his Heritage Softail Classic. Only thing is, my husband works out of town and does not come home but every other weekend. This made for some long times between riding as on some of those weekends we had other commitments and could not ride. It has just dawned on me that if I’m ever going to be a serious rider and get experience, then I’m going to have to ride it by myself much of the time. Besides, the thought of riding on my own without having to worry about someone watching me, or trying to keep up with their speed, going down roads that I choose to ride on, sounded very appealing.

I stuffed my drivers license, my credit card, my cell phone and my house keys in my pocket. Dang, I’m going to have to find another way to tote these things, I thought to myself. Then out the house I went.

With each step toward the shop, my heart beat faster and faster until I thought it would jump from my chest. Oh gosh, I can’t do this! What am I thinking of? What if something happens? Ok, well I’ll just at least go crank it up and see how that feels.

There she sat, all beautiful 1200 ccs of her black and copper glory. Sitting there as if to say, “What the heck you waiting for? This is why you bought me, isn’t it?” How could I argue?

So, I unhooked the battery tender, nice thing to remember don’t you think? I put the key in and unlocked the forks then put it in the ignition. Then I sat down. Yeah, it still feels good just like all the other times I sat on her. Ok, I’ll crank it up. Varroooommmm babooomm babooooommmmmmm, oh yeah, she still sounds good with slash cut mufflers and the Power commander I had installed. I put it in neutral and pondered how I would make the sharp turn and hump over the exit of the shop to get the heck outta there. Hmmmmm. I sat there……and sat there….and sat there, my heart pounding again and the smell of gas fumes getting the best of me. So I cut her off. I tried to walk it out of there, but the hump was too big so I cut it on, swallowed hard, eased the throttle and eased out the clutch and I was outta there! Stopped and got off and put the garage door back down.

Now you might wonder, what is all that special about all this? Well, I’m ashamed to say that every time I rode with my husband, he got it out of the shop and brought it to our driveway all ready to ride. And I let him spoil me this way. Only thing was, I was doing myself a great disservice by this. So now I’ve already reached a milestone before even getting out of my drive!

I eased up to the edge of the road and off I went! Hey, so far so good. I rode down a road that has very little traffic. Oh man, here I am alone on the highway with my bike!!! The feeling of exhilaration that overcame me is indescribable! I’m free….blasting off on my bike all alone….shifting gears ever so smoothly and feeling the power beneath me. (I’m good at gears, I have a stick shift car, ha!!) Then onto the main highway I went. I felt sooo comfortable pulling up to stop signs and taking off, so much more as I was on my own. I don’t know, I just felt like no one was watching me and I was free.

I rode on the two lane road, turned off, went down many, many back roads, then my gas light came on. Ohhhh….I’ve never gotten gas by myself before with my bike. Went into our little bitty town and drove up to the gas pump. A very busy store. I got lots of smiles, surprised looks and so on. I’d never pumped the gas in my bike myself and of course I overflowed it getting gas on my tank. I walked to the other pumps trying to find a paper towel dispenser with no luck. A man said “what are you looking for?” I told him and he tried unsuccessfully to find one for me. So I said that was ok, I’ll just smell like gas! Thanked him anyway. I cranked her up again, realizing I had not cut the bike off completely and the lights had been on the whole time. Oh well, a lesson for the future. A car was in front of me and I didn’t want to back out, so I waited….and waited. Seeing that it might be awhile, I decided I would go around to the other side, which was a small space. But I did it and did it well I thought and I was off again! I rode down some more back roads and got onto the busy 4 lane, which I have ridden many times before. After awhile I got bored with the straight ahead driving and turned down a county road and made the way with lots of turns back to my home.

I turned into the drive, got off, opened the garage and drove that puppy in there over the hump and all without any problem. I cut her off, and backed her back into the space beside our Heritage where I got her from. I put the battery tender back on, patted her and made my way back into my house. Only the person that walked backed to the house is not the same person that walked out of the house to the shop where my bike is. She’s changed. She’s a woman that knows she can ride her own ride, live her own life, dream her own dreams with or without someone riding right beside her. I am liberated.

This is such a significant milestone for me, especially as my life is taking on a new frontier as I sent my youngest girl off to college 2 weeks ago.

Now riding with my husband will be so much more comfortable now that I had some alone time with my bike. I can’t explain the reason I feel this way, but I do. I do know one thing though, I will never hesitate to go it alone again and plan on doing much riding alone and with my husband.

On my journey with my bike, I got so many smiles and waves from so many people. Men mowing their yards, in front of me, women in the cars with their men, just so many and I was so proud of myself.

I rode 58 miles alone today. The most important 58 miles of my life…….
 

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Just passing thru
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Rhonda, You put into words the feelings that I think men and woman feel when riding solo the first time. Well said!
 

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COB
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Enjoy!!
 

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Official Ass Tweaker
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FWIW: Cell phone goes on your belt and license and cards go in your wallet, attached to your belt loop with a 2 foot long chromed chain.....:D
You get the chain by buying a chain dog lead and cutting the leather handle off it. This gives you a ring at one end, which connects to your wallet via a keyring and a hole through the spine of the wallet cut with a leather punch, and a clip at the other end which goes onto the belt loop on your jeans.

Cunning, innit :rofl:
 

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I break stuff.
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Welcome to our lil' corner of the Internet!
 

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STAND AND FIGHT!
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Welcome Rhonda.

A word of great power, that I really admire, but can almost never use, is epiphany.
An event that forever changes your perception of reality.
Your world will never be the same. You will never be the same.

In a favorite book of mine from 30 years ago, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author made a lot of the fact that much of our lives is one or another form of TV, reality experienced thru a frame, reality you are separated from by at least wall of glass, either looking out the window of a car, or the windshield of a car, or thru the window of a bus or train or an office or your home, or really watching TV or a computer monitor. Riding a motorcycle is not just real, it's like reality magnified, it's so real you can reach out and touch it, put a toe on the pavement and see.

So while the buzz of the freedom and power is fresh and invigorating, start to think in terms of the responsibilities that come with that freedom and power.

Read up on the Hurt Report, think hard about little things to do differently to improve your chances.
http://www.harley-davidsonforums.com/forums/showthread.php?p=23183&highlight=Hurt+report#post23183

Start to think what your mindset will need to be.
Much like a soldier on hazardous patrol duty, you'll need to be tirelessly vigilant on the lookout for threats,
Much like a fighter pilot, processing all the data you can get, about road and traffic conditions,
potholes, tailgaters, places where someone can pull out, or turn left in front of you.

Heck, this is thought provoking and potentially lifesaving info,
I'll just post it here, again, maybe a few extra people will read and think of safer ways to ride....

Summary of Findings


Throughout the accident and exposure data there are special observations which relate to accident and injury causation and characteristics of the motorcycle accidents studied. These findings are summarized as follows:

1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most often a passenger automobile.

2. Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.

3. Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.

4. In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.

5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.

6. In multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.

11. Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents.

12. Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in a very short time close to the trip origin.

13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.

14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.

15. Fuel system leaks and spills were present in 62% of the motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase. This represents an undue hazard for fire.

16. The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.

17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than three-fourths of all accident hazards are within 45deg of either side of straight ahead.

18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.

19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.

20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96%), the female motorcycles riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.

22. Craftsmen, laborers, and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders. Professionals, sales workers, and craftsmen are underrepresented and laborers, students and unemployed are overrepresented in the accidents.

23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.

24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.

25. More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.

26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.

27. Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.

28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.

29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.

30. Passenger-carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident area.

31. The driver of the other vehicles involved in collision with the motorcycle are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.

32. Large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but they are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.

33. Any effect of motorcycle color on accident involvement is not determinable from these data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.

34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.

35. Motorcycle riders in these accidents were significantly without motorcycle license, without any license, or with license revoked.

36. Motorcycle modifications such as those associated with the semi-chopper or cafe racer are definitely overrepresented in accidents.

37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents-98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.

38. Half of the injuries to the somatic regions were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.

39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.

40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.

41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, which typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed.

42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.
 

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Official Ass Tweaker
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STAND AND FIGHT!
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Our mate Daniii , with over 30 years riding experience,
approaching 100,000 miles riding experience,
just had a crash and burn misadventure
caused by another driver turning left in front of him.

No matter how experienced, no matter how diligent,
you have to be prepared at any moment for some fool to try and kill you.
Even better if that fool is not you.
 

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Dear Rhonda,

I could have written this myself. You have absolutely captured the emotions I felt when I first got my 1200 Sportster. I had a 250 Yamaha Virago for about 6 months, and felt the same way. I had taken the class, told myself I was going to ride, but had no schedule to ride with others.

I gathered my courage out of the blue one day, and took the little Virago out on the Highway. I made quite a few mistakes, but discovered the joy of riding on my own, explaining nothin' to nobody, and tracking my errors myself.

When I decided to get the Sportster, it looked so big and powerful and said "Harley Davidson" on it. I had such a sense of pride, but I had to have my friends go pick it up because I couldn't ride it home.

Once I owned the Sportster, I kept looking at it, as you did, and finally got the courage to take it out. That was 4 years ago, although I don't have 4 years of true experience.

I bought a Screamin' Eagle Springer this year and sold the Sportster. Same thing, on my own, not asking anybody for their opinion. I have had so many good rides on this bike. I never would have believed this was something I could handle.

The power of doing something myself, on my own schedule, probably hasn't been felt since I learned to drive my first car- a stick- that my father had to bring home to me. I would wake up early in the morning and go out and practice on the weekends, up hills, u-turns, all of that stuff.

The bike has been the same. I am 54 years old and can't believe how happy I am when I ride. I am finally starting to really have fun, less nervousness, a little more patience with myself.

Thank you for expressing yourself and reminding me of this accomplishment.
 

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Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap...................Bravo Kido.......

^ me clapping ^
 

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:thumbsupRhonda and Smokin' Jacket: I'm proud of both of y'all. Ridin' is livin'. Courage is about overcoming fear--not letting fear stop you from taking action. I've been riding for many years, and get just as big a thrill now as ever.

Like many things in life, there ain't NOTHING like that FIRST time...

Thanks for a great couple of inspirational posts.:thumbsup
 

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Woo-Hoooooooo!!!!

way to ressurect a 3 year old thread, especially one in which the OP hasn't been back here for the most part since :cheers
 

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Woo-Hoooooooo!!!!

way to ressurect a 3 year old thread, especially one in which the OP hasn't been back here for the most part since :cheers
Things like that happen when I work 19 straight hours, then log on to check for Todays Posts. When I see stuff under "Today's Posts" I often forget to check the friggin date.

Still, it WAS a good story. Maybe somebody else got some inspiration from it that wouldn't have if somebody didn't "ressurect" the thread...
 

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Banned
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Things like that happen when I work 19 straight hours, then log on to check for Todays Posts. When I see stuff under "Today's Posts" I often forget to check the friggin date.

Still, it WAS a good story. Maybe somebody else got some inspiration from it that wouldn't have if somebody didn't "ressurect" the thread...
very true, and no problem, I was just being a smartass.... it happens from time to time:thumbsup
 

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I'm your huckleberry
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It is an old thread but one I missed the first time around. Almost brings a tear to yer eye hearing about someone finally "understanding"
 
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