just a flesh wound

I passed my motorcycle road test! I am a fully licensed motorcycle rider, and only 7 years late! HOORAY! I AM LEGAL!

I am also SORE AS HELL! Because I got into an accident. Half an hour before my road test. I went boom!

I arrived at the test centre early so I could warm up on the loaner motorcycle (if I had tested on Lola, I’d only qualify for a restricted Class 6 license – scooters only). The weather has been typical April in Vancouver: raining steadily for the last two days or so. Roads are wet and slippery, but I did half my class in a friggin’ white out – I can deal with rain. Plus, rain gear! I have some now. I was (for once) dressed appropriately for the weather, so I was technically ready for everything .. except, as it turns out, gravity.

On my pre-ride I drove around a little, practicing my exaggerated shoulder checks and lane positions. For the first ten minutes, all was good .. but then I went downhill, and hit the brakes a little too hard. I locked up a tire, skidded on the wet road/crosswalk paint, and BOOM – down I went, on my left side. My leg was trapped under the bike, so I sat there for a bit waiting for someone to notice me (echoes of my dislocation accident, when I couldn’t actually get up because arm flopping). Several people rushed over to help, and lifted the bike up enough for me to extract my leg. I got up and made sure nothing was broken, and an awesome lady who stopped to help walked the motorcycle over to the curb for me and put the kickstand up (she was a fellow rider and knew what to do while I stood around being wet and stupid). An older gentleman wanted to call an ambulance, but a) I had a road test in 20 minutes and b) I was fine, if banged up a little. I convinced everyone I was okay and thanked them profusely for their assistance, then dealt with the poor loaner bike I had dropped – the engine had flooded and I broke the left turn signal, but it was drivable. I had a sheepish ride back to the test centre and just enough time to tell my instructor what happened (and arrange to use a different bike) before I had to go inside and get my paperwork done: it was test time.

Because my life is a ridiculous opera of comedic bad timing, the rain started coming down harder. I checked in and paid my $50, then used my waiting time to meditate past the spill – I HAD to get this test done today, and I had to knock it out of the park, because complicated deadlines are looming. I thankfully managed to find some sort of zen, and then it was time to ride.

I am eternally grateful for the practice test I ran through with ProRide the evening before, meaning that none of today was a surprise to me (except for the whole “falling down” thing. that was unexpected.). I wore a stylish reflective vest with a radio attached to it, and a car would follow me while the tester gave me instructions. There were a few hiccups – we got separated on the highway, so all my excellent lane changing and merging skills were not reviewed. I eventually had to pull over and let the van catch up so they could continue assessing my mad skillz, and the test continued. Turn left. Turn right. Do a u-turn. Change lanes. Do a little dance. Make a little love. Get down tonight. Woo!

45 minutes later, we returned to ICBC. I was a little worried that I had failed because of a few slip ups (non-exaggerated shoulder checks and that whole “getting separated” thing), but after pointing out a couple things I did wrong, he gave me the verdict: I PASSED! HOORAY! I paid an additional $75 (my license needed renewing, not just upgrading) and got my picture taken while soaking wet and dripping mascara. I don’t get my new license yet though – apparently I need to do another interview to prove I don’t have an evil twin because my license is Enhanced (ooh fancy) – but after that, I’m golden. With a full class 56. I PASSED MY TEST!

AND I DID IT WHILE TOTALLY SICK! Seriously, fuck this cold/flu thing. I’m going to go lie down and hope the room stops spinning, and then maybe check my new bruises out. I’m a total wreck (no pun intended), but I officially don’t EVER have to ride a motorcycle again if I don’t want to. YAY ME!

.. owwwww.

i can ride you legally!

i can ride you legally!

appeasing the rain gods

The rain finally stopped, because yesterday I drove to Seattle and spent $200+ on rain gear. You are welcome for the no rain – I hope you used the dryness well.

The recalling of the rain was for mostly selfish reasons though, because today was the reboot of my motorcycle class. We had to postpone two weeks ago because of the snow, and I was NOT looking forward to mastering two non-scooter wheels in a fucking monsoon. The purchasing of rain gear was to appease the weather gods, and they were evidently satisfied by my foray into a terrifying store for hunters (it was FULL OF GUNS and there was a huge display at the back of the store featuring THINGS YOU CAN KILL WITH THE GUNS seriously what the fuck. It was like being in an enormous MEC or REI, but replace all the cyclist gear with camouflage and everything else with guns and crossbows and ammo and Ted Nugent) – it was an expensive gesture, but it worked so I guess it was worth it (and now I have my first raincoat ever and rain pants I’ll never remember to wear).

Riding a motorcycle on a lovely day is SO MUCH BETTER than riding in snow! Who knew? We got a lot of practice in, and ended the day doing our motorcycle skills test – the very test that I’ve been having nightmares about, and have failed once already. The orange cones were a enormous obstacle for me to overcome, thanks to some awesome mental blocks I put in place. Every pass we made at the cones resulted in my running them over with extreme prejudice – hell, even as I was walking into class today, I tripped over an orange cone. I hate them. They’re trying to kill me.

.. but that’s all in the past now, because I passed my skills test! I am now one step closer to being truly legal! Tomorrow I’m going to upgrade my yellow paper license to a slightly better yellow paper license, and then we practice actual road riding for two nights. I’m much, much less concerned about the road test than I was that stupid skills test, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I’m still not sold on motorcycles versus scooters, but that isn’t what this is about – I just want my full class 6 license, and then I can do whatever I want. After today, I am more than halfway there. I’m sore and bruised (I dumped the bike on a really bad turn attempt) and achy and exhausted in six new exciting ways, but I’m also pretty pleased with myself. I did it! Go Team Venture!

let’s go rent some guns! except no, because that is terrifying.

awww look at all the examples of wildlife .. that you can kill with our many, many guns. want to know how to kill the noble moose or elk? we have specific ammo for that!

I LOVE GUNS YEAH WOOOOOOOO and it comes in pink, for the ladies!

I LOVE GUNS YEAH WOOOOOOOO and it comes in pink, for the ladies!

impeccable timing

On Saturday afternoon, I found myself hunched over in a parking lot halfway up a mountain, trying desperately to get the hang of shifting gears via the manual transmission of a sports bike, with snow flying directly into my eyes and thoroughly wet pants. It was .. uncomfortable. I was cold, sore, soaked through, tired, and sucking really hard at riding a motorcycle: basically, miserably.

Yes, only I would have the extreme good fortune to have a riding class scheduled amidst Vancouver’s first major* snowstorm of the year; one that started Friday night and as of this writing (Monday afternoon) has not yet let up. I arrived to class as prepared as I could be, but I don’t own snow gear (because I tend not to go outside when it’s snowing) or even rain gear (because I am dumb) so I was in for a rough day from the very start. To make matters worse, I was loaned a pair of rain pants which I promptly caused to split up the rear because they were the third pair of pants I was wearing, and the universe imploded around my ass. Here’s a helpful tip from me to you: learning how to ride a motorcycle when you’re fantastically uncomfortable and feeling pretty humiliated about torn pants is VERY DIFFICULT. So, don’t do it.

The very best part about all of this is that I should have actually finished the riding course two weeks ago. Due to a scheduling conflict, I had to move my February 6th start date out to the 20th. At the time I was really glad for this, because the temperature had dropped and the weekend was forecasted to be frosty. I figured that I could skip the “high of 0” days, and learn later in February when it would obviously be warmer, possibly even spring-like as it has been in the past! And while it was very cold* over that weekend, it was also clear and beautiful out – and I have plenty of warm gear, so I would have been fine. This past weekend, in the snow and slush and wet and frozen? Not so much.

I was in no way looking forward to class on Sunday, so I was secretly glad to see the snow continue to fall throughout the night. The following morning I stirred myself from the warm cocoon of cats and blankets to text the instructor, and Sunday’s class was indeed postponed: I was off the hook, and could nurse my aching muscles (motorcycles have clutches, and those clutches are STIFF AS FUCK) as well as spend the entire gloriously terrible Sunday doing absolutely nothing.

My remaining three classes have been moved to March 9-12. In the meantime, I can practice shifting on Ed’s bike (interesting fact: I thought I would want to ride nothing but cruisers because I like how they look. Then I actually tried riding one, and I hated it very very much. Sports bikes, which I dismissed entirely because eww, were very comfortable. If I ever decide I need to get a motorcycle, I may have to look at dumb sport bikes.) and prepare for the skills test that will happen on the Sunday. My goal is to pass it with very low speed flying colours that go through a bunch of stupid plastic cones, because I have a Master Plan that revolves around my having my full Class 6 license before my June so I should hurry up and get on with it, already.

I’m working from home today, which means I haven’t left the house since Saturday at 5pm. Tomorrow I have to venture out into the stupid wet cold real world. I am not looking forward to it.

*: by Vancouver measures, “major” is less than 3″ of snow and “very cold” is -2C. We’re delicate folk who had the good sense to move to the coast to get away from REAL winter, because fuck that shit.

I am learning to motorcycle! Soon I will be legal!

this is not good riding weather.