Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Cycles: an interval of time during which a sequence of
a recurring succession of events or phenomena is completed

Motorcycle: a 2-wheeled automotive vehicle for one or two people

Motor scooter: a low 2- or 3-wheeled automotive vehicle resembling a child's scooter and having a seat so that the rider does not straddle the engine

For the past months, Tom and I have been debating about getting some kind of cycle. For years Tom has half joked about wanting to be a chain wallet, leather wearing, bandanna boasting motorcycle man. I always said, "No way, too dangerous - you know what leather pants do to me." Haha. No, I knew the statistics, the way people drive it would be suicide. This is what I thought...until lately.

What changed my mind? Maybe turning 40 did it - a mid-life thing. Could be, but I really attribute the change to GBW. NO, not GBV(for all you fans out there)...GWB. Gas prices, this war, the economy...George W pushed me to it. I can no longer AFFORD to drive my mini-van solo around the Twin Cities while Tom drives his V-8 engined Buick Regal...it is just too damn expensive! I am also concerned about the environment and believe that global warming IS happening. A smaller vehicle would at least help me to do my part to put less poisonous gasses into the air.

For awhile we went back and forth between Motor Scooter and Motor Cycle. Tom's father was selling a Harley and would give us a good deal on it but it was big and potentially TOO big for me to ride. So, we started looking at buying two motorcycles. We got all excited and signed up for the motorcycle instruction class and everything. We TOLD people. THEN, we looked at our money situation and the lack of it. Some of you would say that we should have done that first - well, as creative souls we tend to operate in this way. So, we had to wait.

Months later, with a little more research under our belt and a budget, we found a place in St. Paul that sells and works on both scooters and motorcycles. We liked the sound of that, somewhere in town, supporting the local economy and small business. It is located on Vandalia Street under the water tower and when I left a message, the owner Ryan, called me right back. Blue Cat Garage. We even like the name.

It is such a thrill to go shopping for a vehicle. It can be a little stressful too. We had done the research though and were pretty positive about what we wanted. We chose a motor scooter. One, they are less expensive than the type of motorcycles we were looking at. Two, we liked the European look of the scooters. Tom had just been in Vietnam and had seen all types of scooters, it seemed just the way to go. Blue Cat had the kind we were looking for, SYM HD 200.

The SYM HD 200 can go 80-90 mph. It has the speed that you get with 200 cc's but the advantages of a scooter...automatic transmission and you are not straddling the engine. Tom drove it home July 13.

Now, even though it's a motor scooter, it is considered a motorcycle because it is over 50 cc's so you have to get a motorcycle license endorsement. After having enrolled in a motorcycle course months back and withdrawing, we thought we might be able to do without the course. We both studied the motorcycle manual for the permit test and passed the permit no problem. We started to gather our cycle "things". Helmets, gloves, goggles/sunglasses; bought myself a pair of Doc Martens. Yet, every cycle person we encountered seem to say the same thing, "Take the motorcycle class." They offered a couple through the state that were cheaper than the one through the private company we originally signed up for. They had an opening at Dakota County Technical College for Friday, Saturday and Sunday the 20th- 22nd. Cool, we would take the class and get licensed.The first evening is all classroom instruction. The next two afternoons, from 2:00-7:00 is range driving and then lastly, the test. We could have used our scooter but ultimately one of us would have had to use a motorcycle since we only had the one scooter, so we both decided it would just be easier to learn how to ride a motorcycle since that is what they provided AND we wouldn't have to be concerned about driving the scooter on the highway to get to the class (which neither of us had done yet).

Everyone got to choose their cycle, first come first serve.

This is mine. A 250 CC Kawasaki cruiser.

This is Tom's, also a 250 CC cruiser.

This is our instructor's cycle, a Gold Wing.

It is appropriate that this photo of our instructor is shadowy, that is how I would describe him. He reminded me of the "Cigarette Smoking Man" in the X-files, better known as CSM. It was a father and daughter instructing team. His daughter is there on the left. They BOTH smoked. We got many cigarette breaks.

I thought that the instruction was fair. They would set up the course and describe what the purpose of the drill was and how we would go about doing it. If you had never driven a cycle before, the instruction may have gone a bit fast. The boyfriend in my 20's with the motorcycle had changed the fact that I was not a novice. For me if was a bit like dancing. Follow and lead, hands and feet, together, apart, leaning side to side. I never had any problem picking up dance steps fairly quickly. It was a bit different for Tom. I could tell he was struggling after the first day. He had a hard time turning his head and looking where he wanted to go, trusting that the cycle would not fall over. I tried to be helpful and give him some tips - but when he is focused, the last thing he wants is "tips" from his wife who is having an easy time of it. I was getting praise from the instructor while he was not.

In life, it all comes down to a moment, "an interval of time" (see above definition of cycle). The moment for the test came. It didn't matter how you had done the hours before or how you would drive hours later. It was short and particular.

I ended up having to re-do part of the test because they said I wasn't going fast enough. That made me nervous but the rest of it went very well. Tom looked very nervous.

I passed.

Tom did not.

The elation I would liked to have felt was dampened by my best friend feeling let down. Like all best friends, he was happy for me (still is) but down because we both thought we would come out of this course with our motorcycle license endorsement.

Tom said to me, "It's a coordination thing. You have always been more coordinated than I." True. I was not picked last for kickball in elementary school because I missed the ball when I went to go kick it, Tom was.
Yet, the bottom line is - we don't own a motorcycle, we own a motor scooter. If you remember the definition from above it is the perfect cycle for us!
Motor scooter: a low 2- or 3-wheeled automotive vehicle resembling a child's scooter and having a seat so that the rider does not straddle the engine
Tom will pass the test with the scooter - and then the cycle will be complete.


Lucas said...

Congrats SC!!!!! So happy for you! Tom, I know you'll do things in your own time! Way to go for taking the class kiddies, you'll never regret it!

Latin Lupe Lu said...

Thanks Lucas...I'm loving every minute of it!