Saturday, January 22, 2011

Parkinson’s Patient Earns Motorcycle License

Post 39
Every rider told me the same thing.  Sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Riders Course.  No matter how experienced you think you are, you WILL learn something.
It is a very popular course, and after several tries, I was admitted to a midsummer session. In Pennsylvania, the course is paid for by the license fees, so cost is not an excuse for not taking it. As an extra bonus, those of us who are riding on permits get to take the riding test at the end of the course and earn our license on the spot.
The course consists of three nights of classroom and three five hour riding sessions on loaner bikes. We started with the basics (And I mean basic. We started by duck walking the  machines around the parking lot for a half hour.) Soon, however, we were weaving through cones, shifting through turns, and practicing panic stops.  I was doing fine.  Our second riding session was five hours of practice in driving rain. It was a confidence builder to know we could ride, lean and brake in bad road conditions.
During session three, we learned advanced techniques. This was good preparation for the test which would follow the five hour session.
I however was learning that high heat and humidity was not a good mix for my parky brain and body.  I made mistakes and got the yips with each slip.  My confidence was shaken.  I could not just park the bike and rest until I felt better.  I would finish this course and get my license.
One test was called “The Box”. Marked out on the parking lot was a 20 by 30 foot box that we entered, performed a figure eight, and exited without taking our feet of the pegs or rolling outside the lines. No matter how I tried, I could not pull the last right turn in tight enough to stay within the lines. The hotter it got the worse I did. My water was gone, and I was dehydrating.
It was time for the test.  The instructor told us, “Ride in, do the box, then forget the box. Go nail the rest of the course test.”
It was my turn. I rode into the box, but didn’t make my right turn tight enough.  I went outside the box about three feet.  Now, I didn’t care. I knew I had failed.  Off I went and nailed the rest of the course.
I had lost a few points on the figure eight, but still had enough to earn my license. In fact, the entire class passed.
The class taught me some good riding skills. The best lesson was that I should listen to my body, ride when I feel on, and keep my rides short.

1 comment:

  1. My husband has been an avid rider for 40 years. He has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson after he totaled his bike. He is on medication and exercising regularly and feels ready to get another motorcycle. I am horrified because I felt that his wreck was a cognitive issue. I also know that his lust for life is tied to being on the bike across the USA & Canada - probably 30K each year. A compromise for us might be passing a drivers safety class.