bucket list

I worked this past weekend with Pete and I have two bff’s that just started to teach – I’ll call them Sherre’ and Ricardo. Sherre’ was working the other class with Paulette. Neither one of them are much of a fan of each other. I have no problem working with Paulette but she is frigid. I can see where newbies working with her can be a little scary. She’s not a good teacher at all.

Ricardo is seeing Sherre’ (I won’t get into that too deep but just know that it is very complicated) and he decided to show up and help out with both of our classes and get a little time next to Sherre’. Ricardo just got hired to work there and like Sherre’ is new to the rider coach world. I had seen him around and just about every time Sherre’ works a class he would show up and help take the bikes out and set up then later bring her lunch. I think I even said something in passing that she had him trained pretty well.

Pete and I had a class of 11. The very first night when we’re going around the room doing introductions and telling why they’re here one middle-aged woman stood up and introduced herself and said that riding was on her “bucket list”.

Ok, I freaking hate to hear that. Riding a motorcycle for the first time is not a “bucket list” item. It’s a choice, a decision, a passion. Not an item that you cross off of a list. Bucket list items are like visiting the Grand Canyon, taking a knitting class, seeing the Red Sox play in Fenway Park, visiting Washington D.C. those things. Not riding a motorcycle.

So, Saturday rolls around and bucket list rode just like someone having riding on a bucket list would ride – THEY CAN’T. Not at all. Bucket list continuously couldn’t take off and would stall out every time it was her turn to perform an exercise. I told her to take three steps before putting her feet up and ride because she would continuously gun it putting her feet up and stall almost falling over. Once I told her to power walk, she took that to mean to walk 100 feet before taking off – that is if she didn’t stall it first.

We also had a young woman, Elizabeth, whose father wanted her to learn to ride. I just love family pressure, too. They don’t actually want to be there but some family member or spouse wants them there. This girl looked like she’d rather be shopping and having a pedicure. Which, when you really think about it is a FABULOUS idea – hell, I’d rather be doing that if I didn’t really want to ride or need the money. Yes, your Ridercoach has had it today and is leaving to go shopping and get a pedicure – bye! See ya! And, she rides off into the distance never to return. That’s what I thought about after picking her up for the 3rd time that day.

Then, we had another woman, Debbie, who isn’t doing too bad – pretty good, in fact- much better than a few of the guys. I had one foreign guy who had no comprehension of the English language who loved to go fast. His take off’s s*cked but he could ride fast so I’m sure in his mind he was a great rider.  I pictured him getting on a CBR650 and launching himself under a tractor trailer. I coached him a lot on speed, how it can work against you, etc. I don’t think he understood a word I said it got through, to be honest. I still see him as a danger to himself.

By the end of Saturday I was tired from picking up Elizabeth and wanted to choke bucket list. The last exercise of the day was Maximum Braking. The second part to this exercise we stand in the braking shoot and call the riders down and soon as we give a stop signal they are supposed to downshift and stop as quickly as they can. Well, I should have known bucket list would go rouge on this one. I called her down and she gunned it popping it into second without squeezing the clutch. This motion caused the bike to lurch forward. I could see a look of panic on her face. She gunned it even more and tried to squeeze the front brake as she pulled on the throttle even more. (I had been coaching her all day to no avail not to cover the front brake) The noise caused her even more panic. She was heading straight for me. I simply stepped out of the way yelling “squeeze the clutch”. She headed for Paulette and Sherre’s range. Fortunately, they were already off their range. By the time bucket list got stopped she was in the middle of their range. I made a signal to Pete similar to cutting my own throat meaning I was done and to end the exercise.

By the end of the day I had my mesh pants on even before the Impairment video was over with in the classroom. I was done, stick-a-fork-in-me, done!  I couldn’t wait to get out of there and climb on the Ducati and ride away. As Pete was wrapping up I was putting on my jacket and grabbing my helmet. People were filing out. “See you tomorrow.” Just then Bucket List approached him. I heard an emotional “I just don’t know if I’m cut out for this.” I let him deal with it and walked out. I would have told her that no, riding a motorcycle is not a bucket list item and if she only considered doing this just to cross it off some list then she had wasted both of our time.

The next morning we’re taking out the bikes and setting up the range. Ricardo and I are joking around when I see bucket list out of the corner of my eye approaching. “Uh oh, here she comes.”

“I don’t think I want to continue but wanted to talk to y’all about it.”

Since Pete had initially dealt with her the night before after class I rode out and told him “Hey, bucket list wants to quit go talk to her.”

“Why me? You’d be better – you’re a woman.”

Pete obviously didnt know me as well as I thought because I would have told her to go take an underwater knitting class and be done with it.  

“No, you’d better. You talked to her last night. She’s going to expect you to talk to her again.”

“Well, it’s not in my nature to talk anyone out of quitting.”

“Fine with me. Whatever.” Just you talk to her dude. It’s too early in the morning to deal with crying women. So, after practically a 20 minute conference with bucket list she finally quit on her own decision and walked out. I was thinking she could have just hit the snooze button, rolled over and gone back to sleep instead of showing up, making a production of it before ultimately quitting and wasting 20 minutes of our time – but, that’s just me.

I was sitting in the classroom talking to Debbie about bikes. She had spied Paulette’s Boulevard she wanted to sell outside. I was trying to sell it for her. She said that her husband said she could only spend $3,000 on a bike. I thought that was reasonable until –

“Yeah the reason I got into this was he got a Harley and started riding and I wanted to ride my own bike. I got tired of riding on the back.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this.

“We were having problems and he went out behind my back and bought a Fat Boy.”

A Fat Boy is a twenty-some THOUSAND dollar bike. (Oh, my bad – they start out at 16,999 but I bet that doesn’t include tax, tag and title) I thought that was interesting – Mr. Harley husband pays that much for a bike but won’t let his wife spend the $4400 that Paulette was asking for her bike.

What a douche bag, I thought. I bet he’s having a midlife crisis and is screwing around on her – or will be.

“Yeah, it took me awhile to get on that thing with him. I was so p*ssed at him. But, finally I did and we took all these rides together and it was great.”

I still wasn’t convinced that he wasn’t a royal douche bag.

“The kids love to see him all decked out in his leather. They say, ‘Daddy’s so sexy in his leather.”

Uh huh. I bet Daddy is. I bet he’s seeing a Hooters woman on the side thats half his age. Yeah, well you’re in the right place, Debbie. We’re gonna get you your license and the bike you want before he divorces you. Then, you’re going to go out and ride on your own and meet all these other men who will treat you nice and ride with you. In fact, your next husband will buy you a Harley.

I know….. I have a huge imagination.

Towards the end of Saturday I saw a glimmer of the light bulb going off and a slight smile on Elizabeth’s face. She rode much better on Sunday and we only had to pick her up once and since bucket list quit the class was going much smoother. We rolled into the skill evaluation – four exercises that you are graded on. Debbie was bragging that riding the box (limited space maneuvers) was her best one. I was timing and grading with Ricardo over my shoulder and Pete reading directions. Debbie rode into the box and did her first turn beautifully staying within the lines but then after turning saw her husband and two sons standing up on the hill watching. She freaked out, hit the gas heading towards the fence narrowly missing it and going onto the other range. (Paulette was so over my people riding onto her range by the end of the weekend) She finally stopped and bent over her handlebars crying.

“What the f*ck…..”

“I’ll go talk to her.”

She was crying because it was her best skill and she messed it up because when she saw her husband and kids she got nervous. Later, she told us she had no idea that they were going to be there. Pete started towards the hill to tell them to leave but before he could get there they walked off and left.

“Debbie, just ride the swerve. It’s ok.”

She rode down and swerved perfectly and then parked behind the rest of the line. She was still crying.

“Man, that p*sses me off!”

“I know. If we’d known they were there we would have asked them to leave.”

We finished the eval and Debbie passed with flying colors. I walked up after they parked by the barn and dismounted.

You passed, lady.”

She hugged me. “Thank you so much!”

“Wasn’t me –you did all the work but I will tell you one thing.”


“Your husband cost you 8 points – that’s almost half of what you could have missed. You tell him he owes you that. You tell him you want that bike.”

Yeah, you tell that f*cker.

We went inside and took the written test. My foreign guy was struggling. I wondered if we’d have to give him a verbal exam. Everyone else had finished and were hanging out in the break room. I looked outside and saw storm clouds rolling in.

I hope we get out of here before that hits.

I was on the Triumph but suspected when I took it that morning that I’d be riding home in the rain. It wasn’t new for that bike. When I first got it every time I rode it it rained. I called it my rain bike. Finally finished we walked outside with our gear to load up and leave when it broke loose. I hugged Pete and yelled it was good working with him (I had my headphones on) and took off. By the time I got home I had water swirling around in my boots and soaked all the way through to my underwear. Charlie was sitting in the carport when I pulled up and I undressed in there.

By the time I was sitting down for a beer the sun had come out and the rain was gone. Just in time, I thought.






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