Thursday, July 5, 2012

Motorcycles: A Food Detour

Many of you come here for the food. Today, I invite you to stay for other hobbies.

The Bug
I caught the two-wheeled bug on a trip to my cousins’ place outside of Omaha, Nebraska. They let me ride their dirt bike all over their 15-acre playground known as home. I was 11. When my aunt returned me to my parents, of course, I wanted a dirt bike. They said no. I needled the want into an ATV, like alllll my friends had whose families lived on ranches. They actually nibbled on that. My mother took me, sister in tow, to the Honda dealership down the hill to check out these machines my mother was not familiar with. The guy selling them said to my mother, “For a girl, you’ll probably want a quad.” My sister remembers that moment over the rest of the affair, because she knew it was exactly the sort of statement would galvanize my determination to defy it, then and now. Sadly, after that, sales dude proceeded to tell my mother that they flip a lot on inexperienced riders, and that was the end of the discussion. I think they bought me a new bicycle, and the dream of owning a motor-powered two-wheeled something-or-other fell dormant.

Snap from my MSF class

The Itch
Fast forward many, many (really too many, like mid-life crisis too many) moons, and the bug, like a mysterious parasite caught abroad, reignited with little warning. This time, I did adult things first; by taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation class. As an aside, the jackass classmate who brought all his fancy racing gear and fancy racetrack stories to ride beaten up Honda Rebels at six miles an hour in a parking lot for two days was the only guy who dropped his bike during the class. I still wonder how many times a month the MSF instructors deal with that guy

After passing the class, I went to the DMV to take the test for my M1 license, which certifies one to legally operate two-wheeled vehicles over 50cc engine capacity on any street in the United States that honors a California license. During this testing session, I passed the motorcycle license test, and failed the driver’s test. I had to take the driver’s test again. Maybe it's a sign.

CM1 in California, baby!
The license showed up in the mail last week, ink dry, ready to be tested.

The Search
If you haven’t gathered by now from somewhere on my blog, I am a female. As such, I have observed that women interested in motorcycles are sized up with one of three stereotypes when they walk into any motorcycle-centric space, like a shop or a dealership.
  • Harley Passenger
  • Pirelli Calendar Girl Fantasy
  • Butch Dyke
I would not use any of these terms to describe any of us. How about, A Person Interested In The Lifestyle Of Motorcycling, Subcategory, Street, Sport, or Touring?

But no.

As a woman, if you are met by a (likely) male salesperson, they will project the lowest common denominator stereotype on you, also known as the direct route to the penis; the Pirelli Calendar Girl Fantasy. Here’s how this plays out:

Me: “I’m looking for my first bike… something small and manageable, a starter bike…just seeing what’s available…”

Salesman: How about the blah blah SuperSexy ExtraSport crotch rocket substitute for my penis? Climb on and see how she feels. Don’t worry that your feet can’t reach the ground, I’ll make sure everything stays right up where it should. These words are so close to actual conversations, if I worked for TMZ, I could put them into quotes without violating their definition of lying. After these words come out, like clockwork, every other man in the dealership looks up from their work to watch, Boogie Nights-style.


So, after giving half of Los Angeles’ motorcycle salesmen afternoon mental porn breaks, I turned to Craiglslist to look for used bikes. Armed with some great advice offered by everyone but the Ducati dealer, the plan is now to start looking at smaller bikes first, get my chops on me, then sell the bike to trade up later.

What I’m half-heartedly, practically, looking for is this:
Librarians can ride this. With all of their cats as passengers.

What I want, is this:
Straight for the gold, Ducati's entry-level bike, the Ducati Monster. White. Say it a couple of times, Rocky-style, like you're psyching yourself into something. (Who's living the fantasy now, hacks?) 

Will I ever get there? We’ll see. First, I must actually buy a bike, then, work my way up through not stalling at stop signs, not dropping the bike by taking the turn into my alley too fast, then not spooking or injuring myself out of the hobby, and lastly, not getting killed by one of Los Angeles’ six million distracted drivers. What fun!

The Scratch
To be continued…as I search for my first bike.

Ladiez, here's a mini-resource guide, if you are brave enough to take resource suggestions at this stage of research. In my reconnaissance, I found three exceptions to the above mantard description: Route 66 Modern Classics, (Venice) Deus Ex Machina, (Venice) and Atlantis Motor Corp. (Silverlake). Thank you all for being good people.

And, sorry, librarians of the world, especially those of you who are my friends. Love you, mean it.

1 comment:

  1. This post totally made me laugh. I love your TMZ salesman quote. And good for you for not putting up with that bullshit... I hope you find your perfect bike soon!


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