How NOT To: Teaching Your Girlfriend to Ride
I’ve taught people karate, hang gliding, and motorcycling. I’ve done a share of rock climbing as well, so I’ve seen a lot of the dynamic as men and women learn the same skills differently.
Women are often at a disadvantage in sports. I love it when a guy who is six feet tall tells me how to solve a rock climbing problem. Jumping up and grabbing a rugosity might work for you, tall boy. I’m 5’4” and it will not work for me. Neither will trying to convince me to jump off a hill in dangerous conditions or racing up Palomar Mountain.
When women learn, I’ve found they like to acquire skills incrementally, practicing something until moving on to the next task. Lacking the “rawr, full speed ahead” influence of testosterone, we can take much longer to learn something.
You might think we’re cowardly, or maybe stupid. Nope. We just want to get it right before moving on.
Here’s the thing, though. By the time we’re ready to hit the cliffs, slopes, roads or whatever, we are comfortable with our collection of skills. We’re not half-assing it in the hopes everything will turn out okay. We want the odds in our favor.
So I get a sad when I see women being mildly bullied by boyfriends or husbands to press the envelope beyond their comfort level. The girl on a .883 Sporty who should be riding a used Honda 250 is riding a new Sportster because her husband won’t be seen with her on a Jap bike, let alone a tiny Jap bike. The woman I’m thinking of nearly dropped her bike at an intersection, first by losing her balance in a slow and wobbly turn, and second by wearing spike heel booties instead of, you know, REAL motorcycle boots.
If Hubby had let her roll on a 250 for six months, she might be ready for an expensive new motorcycle. She might be more confident and start actually enjoying riding, instead of constantly being corrected by her dummy biker husband.
Seriously, forcing someone to ride a bike beyond their skills just says you care more about how you appear to others than your girl’s safety. And your way might not be the best way; just remember the six foot tall rock climber I couldn’t emulate due to my being altitudinally challenged.
I’m not saying all women learn this way. Some are indeed, eggs to the wall riders right off the bat, just like some guys seem born to two wheels. Others have to find their way to a comfortable skill level.
Guys, fellas, you KNOW the old rule of thumb, “Never teach your wife to drive.”
If you’re going to teach her to ride, don’t let your ego get in the way of her progress. If she wants to learn on a 250 Honda, suck it up and smile. It’s a good way to ensure you’ll have a competent riding partner in a few months.
And women, learn to speak up when you are not comfortable in a situation. No, I don’t want to climb that vertical dirt wall. No, I don’t want to split lanes all the way to the top of Palomar Mountain. No, I don’t want to ride a big-ass bike I cannot pick up.
If Rule #1 is ‘Never ride faster than you can think,’ Rule #2. should be, ‘Don’t ride it if you can’t pick it up.’ Because some day, you are gonna dump it out in the Boondocks and wish you’d gone for the 250 Honda. And you’ll curse your boyfriend for talking you into getting the Harley instead.
I know women who love to ride. I know women who will ride, but it’s a chore. Smile and think of England kind of chore. That’s a shame, because nobody should have to overcome fear and uncertainty to ride just to keep someone else happy.
It’s fun if you let it be fun. I get so tired of hearing these guys telling their women how they are doing it wrong or how they could be better. Can’t we all just get along?