I awakened on this beautiful Saturday morning with great anticipation of what laid ahead for me. As it was a gorgeous Summer’s Day with clear blue skies as the sun was already warming the earth. As truly “this is the day the Lord has made” – and this was also the day planned with my friends, Tom and Kate, to venture down to a mutual friends home in Gary Indiana – Geoffrey Ryan – who is a vintage Motorcycle racer, and who was also instrumental in teaching Kate how to ride. Yes! Today was to become the day I would learn how to ride a motorcycle on my own.
To my disappointment Tom and Kate had to cancel due to the tiredness of her first pregnancy – and said that Geoff would call, and if I didn’t mind, could I go by myself. So I spent the morning with my Heavenly Father and placed this day into His hands. And as promised, received the seemingly long awaited call from Geoff at 12:30 p.m. – who wanted me to drive down to Gary, Indiana and meet him at the corner of Route 20 and Ripley – in a vacant parking lot behind the Ponderosa!
I arrived at 3:00 p.m. – and leaning up against a lamp post sat Geoff seated on his “Honda XR250 Dirt Bike – Number 328.” As I said, out loud, “God help me!” Without my knowledge my “Trio of Friends” had decided that a dirt bike was the best way for me to learn how to ride. Their reasoning – if I could ride a dirt bike I would be able to handle any street bike.
Yes! I was all ready and dressed to ride – in jeans, wearing my new “Doc Martin” boots, which to my great surprise, and relief, felt wonderful. As going through the pain of breaking them in had paid off! Of course, I was wearing my favorite Harley top a treasure from my trip to Scottsdale, Arizona. In my mind, I was all set to ride! I also wore Kate’s riding gloves and Geoff’s helmet for protection. As I thought, “Perfect! What could possibly go wrong?”
Geoff started the “328” and gave me verbal instructions on the use of the clutch, the throttle, the gears and then said, “Get on!” That was easier said than done, as when I got onto the bike, and tried to balance it, my feet did not touch the ground. The only way for me to balance the bike was literally on my toes. This made me feel very insecure. I put the bike into first gear, let out the clutch slowly, turned the throttle for power, and while Geoff was holding onto the bike I started to move her forward. We repeated this procedure many times. Then he told me to give the bike more throttle, and before I knew it, I was riding around the parking lot, balanced, on my own – with my feet actually on the pegs! To stop – I would slow down, pull in the clutch and coast to a stop – again – putting my toes down to balance. I was thrilled and oh so proud of myself!
Geoff then instructed me on how to use the foot brake which was located on my right side. He said, “No more coasting to a stop!” So off I went, and all was well, until I tried to reach for the brake with my foot – and started to lose my balance and in my panic, realizing I was falling, grabbed the throttle which thrust the bike out from underneath me and threw me flying off the bike onto the asphalt! Geoff came running over and helped me up while stabilizing the “328!” And I thought, ” What am I doing? Am I crazy to want to do this?” as my fantasy now had a hard twinge of the reality buried within it – by what had just taken place. But what was even more incredible – was the fact that I was not physically hurt, not even a scratch!
As I stood trembling brushing myself off…my heart was racing…and I had to bend over to try to steady my knees, which were now shaking uncontrollably. I stood in disbelief as this all happened so quickly and was completely out of my control. It was frightening! Geoff seemed to know what was going through my mind as he started up the bike and said, “Get on! You must always ride after a fall!” As fear was now all over me, but in obedience I was able to get back onto the bike, but this time, with a brand new respect. Once again, I rode around the parking lot – and by now Geoff had come to the realization that I was totally unable to reach the foot brake due to the size of the bike and me. So now he instructed me on how to use the hand brake – and as I would ride he would yell, “Use the brake!” And when I did, to my surprise the “328” came to an instant stop which enabled me to balance more easily.
I was now given an assignment from Geoff who said, “Before we end this lesson you must start and stop fifteen times!” So I would ride about twenty feet, stop by the use of the hand brake, release it, and immediately keep my hand on the throttle to keep the bike running. Each time when I stopped – Geoff would count off the number I had just completed. It was really funny – because he had become my own personal instructor and trainer. Then he said, “Take the bike for a ride and we’ll call it a day!” So off I rode, made my turns carefully, talked ‘out loud’ to my Heavenly Father, and to myself, and to the “328” and came to my final stop! I had done it! I simply could not stop smiling and the joy I felt within me was overwhelming – as I had truly accomplished that which I set out to do.
Geoff and I talked and shared a meal together – and we even read the scripture concerning putting on the “Full Armor of God” found in the book of Ephesians. Truly an appropriate subject for this day. We laughed together as he told me that the ‘falling lesson’ usually comes later on, but that I had taken care of it on my first time out. Remarkable as it was, I did not have a mark on me; as Geoff commended me on falling correctly as if I had been given lessons. Once again, I saw my Heavenly Father’s hand in all of this as it says in Psalms 91 that “He gives His Angels charge over us!”
11:30 p.m – it was time to return home. A handshake when I arrived, now a hug goodbye, as we were now friends. We talked of doing this again for my second lesson – and then I said my goodbyes to my now bonded “Honda 250 – Number 328″…never to be forgotten! As I sat in my car, Geoff told me how very well I did, and how impressed he was with what I had accomplished, and even more than this, how I had executed everything perfectly. I was thrilled. And then he said, “The next time we’ll try second gear!” Oh my goodness…how we laughed…as I had done all of this riding for over two hours, all in first gear! I thought, “There must be a lesson in all of this!”
I was simply in awe of how our Heavenly Father had orchestrated this day for me – Yes! A special gift from His heart of love – with the help of my friends. Giving me the desire of my heart to ride a motorcycle on my own – even though briefly. He showed me, once again, just how much He does love and care about every aspect of our lives. As I was deeply grieving at this time, and gratefully, this was the first of many times when I was able to step outside of myself – and my circumstances – to see with new eyes who I was becoming – as I continued on my healing path with my Shepherd. To once again be able to choose, and embrace, the joy of living! As I will never forget this day – a day full of God’s Love and the instructor He chose to guide me through it! And Yes! It was also so much fun!
And as I was driving home under the beauty of the night sky – where the stars were bright and sparkling as if they were diamonds placed on black velvet – I turned on XRT Radio and sure enough they were playing the live concert recording of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s 1989 Tour, “Double Trouble.” Yes! Blues all the way home – my most favorite music! It was perfect! And as I closed my eyes on this memorable day – actually now at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday – God’s Sabbath Day – remembering every detail of each precious moment in the quietness of His presence…I still had a smile on my face with His precious peace buried deep within my heart and soul…
From my Heart…
From Original Writing – Saturday, July 13, 1996
***1986 Honda XR 250 was purchased by Geoff for $400.00 with no papers of any kind or mention – who rode it home on the rear rim with a broken case (new set from Honda). Rebuilt in 1996 by Geoff’s friend Jerry! “Number 328” was still competitive as recently as August 3, 2018 where it garnered Second Place at the AMA Vintage National Dirt Track at Marion City Speedway. This was Geoff’s last motorcycle race. Now its onto multi-day trail rides this year in Utah, Minnesota, and Michigan.