1990 – Going from riding on the back of a Harley Davidson to solo riding was quite a change for me but I was up to the challenge. I practiced every chance I got, conquering the parking lot down the street from our house first and then to riding up and down the narrow streets of our very small neighborhood, practicing stops and turns, over and over. I graduated to outside the neighborhood, mastering traffic lights and higher speeds until I felt confident enough to ride with the big dogs! The Ladies of Harley – it would be my first solo ride.
The ladies were riding to a restaurant near Lake Okeechobee for lunch. We were meeting at Peterson’s Harley Davidson dealership in Miami. The anticipation grew as departure day approached and my nerves were shot, but I knew I was about as ready as I was going to be. The ride up there was about 150 miles. Not bad for my maiden voyage! There were only 5 or 6 women riders, one of which was my trusted friend and fellow motorcycle classmate, Phyllis. I was the only rider whose husband followed behind in the car. I think he was a little bit concerned …about the bike, of course … not me! We shared one bike at the time. “Ol Red!” Frank bought it brand new from Johnny Mancuso’s in Houston. It was one of the first Softail Evo Engine bikes they sold. He was rather fond of it.
I really didn’t think about much on that first ride except hang on and, don’t fall down, don’t fall down, don’t fall down. No peaceful, calming kind of thoughts like I get now when I ride. It’s safe to say I was tense. It was at the first gas stop when I realized that my arms were beet red, the color red as in it looked like I had been on a small fishing boat, lost at sea, floating aimlessly for days, anxiously awaiting rescue. Cooked, I say, I was cooked!
Tip Number 2: Don’t forget the sunscreen. Even when you think you don’t need it, use it anyway. It’s better to be safe than sorry!