Learning to Ride a Motorcycle: A Valuable Skill During SHTF

learning to ride a motorcycle

I’m probably the last person who should be trying to get a license to ride a motorcycle, but I did anyways. I’m a small woman in my fifties, a nurse, a wife, a mother of four adult kids, and grandmother to two grandsons. Why on earth did I want to do this? I decided I need to pick up an unusual skill, one that people would not expect of me… It’s good to let folks underestimate you; it may come in handy someday.

It all started when my husband surprised me and gave me a Honda Rebel 250 motorcycle for Christmas about 5 years ago. He has been riding since he was in his teens, so it’s second nature to him. He thought it would be “fun” to ride together. What was he thinking? I like to ride on the back of the bike, shielded from wind and bugs hitting you at 55 miles per hour. I was also a bit intimidated by its size and felt it was too much for a new rider.

But, I made a few attempts to learn to ride each summer in my large yard. I had a lot of trouble letting the clutch out and simultaneously increasing the throttle without killing the engine. I had trouble going uphill, stopping at a predetermined point, and starting out in first gear on a hill. There’s so much to learn and I realized that it was time for professional help.

I needed professional help!

I signed up for a well known motorcycle training course with an organization that provided the motorcycles, a trailer for indoor classes, and the parking lot where hands on training was held. We students had to wear long pants, a long sleeved shirt, shoes or boots covering the ankles,  gloves, and a motorcycle helmet. It was a three day course, from 8:00- 6:00 pm.

The first day went just fine, but quick. We went through an entire training manual and took the comprehensive written test. Then the next two long, long days was the motorcycle course on the bikes. Of course, it rained the entire weekend. It wasn’t just rain, but torrential rain. We had two instructors for our group of 12 students (I think). They were as different as night and day. I’ll call the mean instructor, “Jeff”, and the nice one, “Bob”.

We started by just riding in first gear across the parking lot, with our feet on the ground, not even up on the footrests. We progressed to riding with feet on the footrest and going into second gear. Our exercises increased in complexity as the day wore on. I still had a problem killing the engine. Jeff would yell at me every time, and I was mortally embarrassed. Once, he claimed he saw me take my ring and pinky finger off the throttle from across the parking lot. He yelled at me in front of everyone and asked “Why are you even here???” It  was like boot camp. At least it was raining, so people couldn’t see I was crying. This happened to me the whole day. But, I had only one more day, so I was going to try to push through. I didn’t pay $200.00 to fail or be verbally abused.

The next morning, I pulled up in the parking lot and the only other female in the class came up to me and said she quit. She had fallen off her motorcycle the night before while practicing, but told the instructor she was too hurt to continue. She told me she was finding another instructor because she was having the same problems as me.

My second day of training was even worse. I was so nervous that I made minor mistakes, which were all pointed out to everyone in the class, and I was told that I’d never pass the course. The torrential rain returned, and was so bad that most of us couldn’t see the lines in the parking lot because of the inch of rain we were riding in. We students performed more exercises, which were quite complex. We had to go around a curve in the downpour at 15-20 mph, slam on the brakes, stay between the lines we couldn’t see and stop in front of the instructor. We had to perform tiny Figure 8 patterns in a small square, and leave in second gear, then third, and go through patterns of traffic cones.


Jeff yelled at pretty much everybody, but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought it was just me. Finally, we had our comprehensive timed riding test, consisting of every maneuver we had practiced. One at a time, we took our test in front of everyone. I was in the middle, so I got to watch several people go first. I managed to do very well on the test and every time I passed Jeff, I stared him down. I didn’t want him to know how much he had intimidated me. It was such a pleasure to go back in the trailer and wait for him to sign my certificate, certifying that I passed.

Do you want to learn how to ride a motorcycle?

My story was not meant to discourage any of you – quite the opposite. It’s meant to show that perseverance pays off, even in difficult circumstances. I wanted to quit so badly, but I would have always felt like a failure. Don’t let anybody tell you, “You CAN’T do it”. Worst case scenario was that I would have to repeat the course, but I’d make sure it was with a different instructor.

So how will this help if the SHTF?

I know gas is cheap now, but if it ever goes back to $5.00 a gallon, it costs much less to fill up a motorcycle than a car. If I need to evade someone in a car that is following me, on my motorcycle, I can go off the road, through fields, yards, over sidewalks, etc. (I want to mention, my husband bought me a 1974 Honda 100. It’s a kick start, no electronics to be fried during an EMP).

I have thought if things get really bad during a collapse, those with the most skills, may be “selected” to survive. What if you were considered an asset to your group and you are abducted by another one, like becoming forced labor, forced medic, or cook? I’m not going to mention any extra skills I have, including riding a motorcycle. If one should become available, or be at the premises, I would wait for an opportunity and take off. Ladies my age don’t generally ride motorcycles, so nobody would suspect it by looking at me.

I know this sounds far fetched, but during a societal collapse and the years that follow, who knows what could happen? I’ve watched “The Road” and read “One Second After” and it shows how quickly things fall apart when there is not enough food, shelter and resources for people. I say, gain all the unique and unusual skills you can because who knows, maybe some day you will need them.

learning to ride a motorcycle


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