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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  7. SO, much to the chagrin of my disapproving wife, I am about to take delivery of a new Piaggio mp3 500. It has been about 45 years since I first took my mc driver test for a license. I am now 60, diagnosed with PD since 2004.

    This scooter is a scooter but with two wheels in the front. It has disk brakes all around and ABS anti-lock braking. It is made by the same people who make the Vespa, and is the top selling double front-wheel scooter in Europe.

    I test drove a 2018 Honda Gold Wing the same day I test drove the mp3 500. After owning two Gold Wings in the past, I can safely say that there is not another one in my future. It was nice, quick, smooth and heavy.

    The scooter accommodates my feet better since it has a step- through foot area. The front wheels turn and lean in unison while travelling. They are capable of locking in place at stops, with the flip of a button. This set up is more stable than only one front wheel, both on just a wet street, as well as uneven pavement or at a RR tracks, etc.

    My life style has changed from that of a practicing attorney to forced disability retiree. So, most of my trips are for 10 miles of less each way to PT, doctors, etc. Perfect for a scooter.

    There is no clutch and although it is a single cylinder 500 cc engine, there will be no uncontrolled fast starts with the automatic transmission and its centrifugal clutch. (but it will do about 90 mph, when asked.)

    I intend to be careful in many ways, the last of which is NOT to forget to have fun and enjoy the fresh air here in East Texas! I drove other various bikes for thousands of miles, many with a cargo trailer in tow and most with my wife and luggage in place, and so far and knock loudly on wood, I never laid a bike down, had a wreck or otherwise spilled the beans, (but I loaned my Gold Wing to my best friend once who promptly went wide and into the ditch due to a gross lack of experience.) They got some Honda rash and the bike was repaired, plus I learned a lesson for future requests to ride my bike for a little while!

    I think riding this scooter will be therapeutic for my PD. It will insist that I use body and eye coordination at all times. I will use my cognitive resources as I make decisions, including whether to stop at that scenic overlook just ahead!

    So nay-sayers: hush yourselves. Let me really enjoy some of the time I have left on this earth!


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