American Motorcyclist August 2018

Maneuvering Life’s Transitions

Motorcycling Has Its Role

By Emily Miller

I am in a transitional time in my life, as I say goodbye to youth, young adulthood and the parenting of small kids and move into a time of more freedom and self-discovery.

These transitional times bring reflection: How did I get where I am now? What does this journey mean to me? Where will I go next?

I’ve taken this opportunity during the peak riding season to look at my personal journey of becoming a motorcycle rider and all of the curves along the way. What a long, strange trip it’s been!

I first considered entering the world of motorcycles about 15 years ago. Where does the time go and why am I not better at riding a motorcycle by now?

Well, let me tell you the answer to these queries. Within that 15-year period I had two kids, and life goes at warp speed when you are raising your babies. You enter survival mode, suffering through sleep deprivation, constant worry and a time where accomplishing minor tasks seems insurmountable with small children in tow.

There is little time in those early years to pursue new activities. The motherhood process was one of growth, learning, highs, lows, ups and downs.

I originally started my motorcycle journey before these two kids were a twinkle in an eye. My husband and I decided to take an introductory street riding course together in 2003, because I thought, at a minimum, I could ride on the back of a motorcycle and we could adventure around the world together. And maybe, if I was really good at it, I could adventure on my own bike alongside him. Sounds fun, right? Nope, not fun!

First off, this particular course was full of people who had previous experience on a bike, including my husband, who, as a teen, rode motocross. I had exactly zero experience going into the class. I had never once sat upon a motorcycle.

When they did the brief (and I do mean brief) run-through of the features of each of the bikes available to ride, my head spun.

“Wait just one second. Slow down. Where is the clutch?”

I was lost from the moment they said, “Here are the bikes you will be riding today.” I, by no stretch, felt ready to get on a bike.

The hours passed and the tears fell inside my helmet. I felt vulnerable, like a complete failure. At each break, I would tell my husband I wanted to leave and never come back. I was humiliated.

Though I passed the class and got my motorcycle endorsement, I knew I would never ride a motorcycle again, and I would never even be a passenger on a motorcycle. That was that! Riding a motorcycle was not the activity for me—ever.

Then I gave birth to two kids. After that, my mantra became: I can do anything.

I began challenging myself in ways I previously thought impossible. I could do anything. Nothing could stop me.

In 2017, when I had some free time, I decided it was time to try to ride a motorcycle again. All my insecurities were still there, but I thought, “I will try it and just see what happens.”

I enrolled again in a beginning rider course. This time, I started out making my fears and insecurities known. I raised my hand high and let the words flow.

My instructors and classmates were amazing and supportive. They heard my concerns, and the class moved at a comfortable pace.

When I got on the bike this time around, I felt ready. And when I started the riding drills, I was actually having fun. No helmet tears and plans to flee this time. It was a completely different experience.

I again passed the course, but, in contrast to my first attempt, I was excited to practice riding and get my own bike. It took almost a year before I was ready to ride in traffic and purchase my own motorcycle, but it did happen.

Now, I look ahead and am planning some solo tours, because I love a challenge and I am ready for it.

Additionally, I have dreams of encouraging other women to take up the sport. It is an amazing journey that I would enjoy sharing with others who are goal-oriented, passionate and courageous.

Emily Miller is an AMA member from Bend, Ore., who writes about her experiences at