Friday, January 7, 2011

Parkinson’s Patient Rides Motorcycle!

Post 31
It took two tests to get my motorcycle permit. I failed the part about riding in groups the first time. All my youthful experience had been charging around farm fields on a dirt bike.  As soon as I got the permit, we drove out to the dealer’s shop.  He filled out all the paperwork while I picked out a full face helmet with visor.  The check was written and I was handed the keys.
The salesman and I went out to the parking lot to start the new bike.  He gave me a quick overview of the controls, and it was now dawning on me that I was soon to be on my own.  I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle in almost 30 years.  I knew the controls, the gears, the basics of riding in traffic.  I just didn’t know if my body was going to connect with the machine and make it do what needed to be done.  Briefly, I inventoried my PD symptoms: I was focused and steady with just a slight head wagging. The first mile would tell all. I would safely maneuver this beast in traffic, or drive it into a ditch.
My wife, Martha, intended on following in the car. At least I would have some protection from traffic.  She gave me a thumbs up vote of confidence, then reminded me that the shovel in the trunk could be used to scrape me off the pavement, if necessary.
I mentally ticked off the checklist. Gas on.  Choke on half.  Key on.  Transmission in neutral.  Kill switch in the on position. Kickstand up. Clutch disengaged. Push the start button.
The engine responded with a civilized rumble. Dropping into first gear, I eased out on the clutch and rolled to the edge of the pavement. There were twenty-two miles ahead of me, twenty-two miles of potential regret for my folly.
I turned into my lane and accelerated.  Traffic was light.  I shifted into second, then third. The bike leaned left, then right. My body connected to the machine. Stopping at red lights was not a problem. I stopped where I wanted and didn’t fall over. There was a lot to learn about this particular motorcycle, but, happily the basics were not forgotten. I was focused by a little fear and having fun.
Statistically, the first 1000 miles are the most dangerous for a new rider. This time the rider made it home safely. Only 978 miles to go.


  1. Hello! Are you still blogging? I'm curious how riding went? I've ridden for 15 years and am net diagnosed with PD. I'm not sure I can ride anymore as my spaceyness is so bad.

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