Ted’s essays

biker chick ready to fly

This month has been most remarkable for the introduction by Missy’s ‘little’ brother of a “new” 1979 Honda XL75 into our household … and a new motorcyclist along with it.

While visiting him as he and I took Idaho Star’s ENHANCED STREET SKILLS course, he set his ‘big sister’ on this 174-pound motorbike hiding in the corner of his garage full of Harleys. He and I agreed it was an excellent fit, subsequently hatching a plan to move it to our garage and turn her into a motorcycle jockey.

We began her orientation ride July 1st in the Darby High School parking lot with Bruce and I coaching. Since that weekend, I have been coaching solo.

She completed her 13th session today. Her current goal is to pass the Montana Motorcycle Rider Safety BASIC RIDER COURSE she is scheduled for July 29th and 30th.

As you can see in this video clip, she is smooth, confident and competent … particularly noticeable in The Slalom – one of the tougher exercises required to be considered capable of handling a motorcycle on the road.

I pronounce this fledgling “Ready To Fly”.

Our pattern has consistently been that I, the licensed motorcyclist, drive her Honda to the high school parking lot. She follows in her van. There she drives around for a while practicing various necessary skills. I then ride it home.

Throughout this experience, we have made quite a few references to her brother and his Harleys. The other day as I headed over to mount her diminutive Honda I made some reference to taking her HOG home. Smiling to myself as I rode away its new name popped into my head: PIGLET.

All three of us love the name. She happily planted the sticker I bought on her motorcycle helmet.

I picked up my motorcycle jockey endorsement around the mid 1970s. In my early 20s, I hopped onto my first motorcycle, a 1972 BSA 650 Thunderbolt, with approximately zero experience. I rode it around for a few minutes, paid cash, and soon thereafter passed a simple written exam inspiring California regulators to add the motorcycle pilot permission that I kept ever since.


Almost world-wide, The State requires much more training and demands proof of competence before allowing you to ride. In Montana, she applied for an appointment to take the written test over a month ago. Taking the first opportunity offered equals early September just to take a brief multiple-choice test.

Passing that allows her to legally ride under very limited conditions until she feels competent to pass Montana’s riding test. The riding test can be replaced by taking, and passing the Montana Motorcycle Rider Safety BASIC RIDER COURSE.

Thankfully, she signed up for the second one offered in Missoula this year almost as soon as the class was announced. Those are now sold out until the second-to-last 2023 session this coming September 9th. I expect that window to close soon.

I am confident she will not only pass, but impress students and instructors alike that this petite first-time-rider grandmother can comfortably handle the little vintage bike with kick-starter, 4-speed foot-shifted transmission, left-hand clutch, right-hand front brake and right-foot rear brake.

Modern scooters are A WHOLE BUNCH SIMPLER.

Go dazzle them, hunny