OK, check one off the bucket list. Valerie and I have successfully completed the basic motorcycle training class and are now duly and officially licensed to drive motorcycles.
The class was taught by Don and Mary Ann, who were clearly authentic bikers, but excellent teachers as well. While they were gruff and no-nonsense, they were also supportive. Neither Valerie nor I had any motorcycling experience going in, and Valerie hadn't ever even driven a standard transmission car before, but the teachers were always helpful, never critical, when we goofed up.
The class consisted of an evening of classroom time followed by two full days of doing skills exercises on motorcycles in a big parking lot. Let me tell you, the riding part was hard work! We started each day at 7:30 AM. Spending the day out in the sun in August all bundled up in riding gear would be tiring enough in and of it self, but we were doing much more. Like an incredibly bad circus motorcycling act, the group rode in circles, did figure eights, rode over obstacles, swerved through cones, and did tight turns.
It was an effective course. When I first sat on the bike I was pretty nervous about riding it at all, but now I feel that I could take a motorcycle out at least on local streets (not ready for the highway yet).
By the way, Valerie was afraid she was going to fail the final practical exam. while she did in fact completely blow one of the exercises she actually wound up with a better overall score than I did, since I lost a lot of single points here and there. We both got 100% on the written exam (we may not be super well coordinated, but we're book smart!).
And today, when I went kayaking at Ft. Washington I noticed a Harley parked at the marina. I exchanged a couple of words with the owner, complementing him on his sweet bike. Hey, man, that sort of camaraderie is typical among those of us who are brothers in the biker community.