By: Susan Gerle
I got invited to do an afternoon ride on a 1500cc Kawasaki Touring Bike recently. Up until then the biggest bike I had ever been on as a passenger was a 650cc Yamaha and it was only for about 40 minutes. After I turned 60, it wasn’t something I had on my bucket list but it didn’t stop me from taking up the challenge.
My personal experience included owning a 50cc scooter, which I purchased at age 57 and rode for a year before selling it because I was leaving the country for awhile. I knew how to ride with the bike and not lean the wrong way. I was also comfortable adjusting my seating when necessary when I was riding.
The motorcycle owner had never had a passenger on the bike so it was something new for him. He was surprised when I showed up with a proper motorcycle jacket to wear, even though the jacket wasn’t the most stylish. I had made the rounds of the thrift shops and found one for $5. That way if I didn’t enjoy the trip or he didn’t like having a passenger, it wasn’t a huge investment. I had a pair of hiking boots so I wore them to protect my feet. Otherwise I wore a pair of jeans. He supplied the helmet.
The next thing we did was spend some time driving up and down a few streets just so both of us could get a feel for the bike and riding together. Then we headed for the highway.
I’ve included a “youtube” video to give a passenger a bit more information obout what the driver is doing in front of you (hopefully!)
His motorcycle had footpads instead of pegs so I didn’t have much movement for my feet as we rode. I also found when he stopped that I slid forward a bit in the seat. It took awhile but I gradually got used to bracing my body for stops. I didn’t have chaps to wear which would have helped keep me from sliding as much. I rested my hands gently on each side of his waist. I knew enough not to grab him tightly.
We stopped every hour, which was good. It was very hard sitting without moving my feet and my knees weren’t used to staying in one position either. I also found it difficult to see what was in front of us without leaning out. I chose to sit quietly and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the ride.
Five hours later we were back to our starting point. It was early evening and even being prepared with the right clothing, it was chilly by then riding the bike. With all the fresh air too, I was ready for sleep!
I enjoyed my ride and the bike owner didn’t mind having a passenger. A few days later I was out to the thrift store once again, looking for more gear. I managed to find a modern leather jacket, chaps, and leather boots with rubber soles for under $100.
Our next trip will be 4 days of riding through the Rockies and then down to Whitefish, Montana. I’ll know after that trip whether I really like riding!
About the author:
Susan Gerle tries to experience as many new things as she can in her travels.