Q & A: How do I handle a hubby who’s pushing me too hard?

by on July 27, 2007
in Beginning Riders

Have a question for the Biker Chick? Just send me an email!

biker chick cruising through sturgisI am learning to ride and just have my permit at the moment.  My husband is totally ticked that I am not ready to go on long rides and am wanting to just cruise around our neighborhood. Do you have any words of wisdom to overcome my anxiety?  Is it wise to hop on and go for a long ride? 

First and foremost, stress to your husband that if you are going to ride, you are going to learn at your own pace – not his. Only you know how comfortable you are on the bike, and because of this only you have that innate sense of what you might be ready to tackle.

Keep in mind that for experienced riders, everything about the operation of the bike is already second-nature – they’ve probably forgotten what it’s like to have to learn the various aspects of riding the bike, observing traffic, and generally being safe – all while trying to get just a quick glimpse of that “freedom of the road” that everyone seems to be talking about. So just tell him you’re prepared to spend the time it takes to get good at riding, but it has to be at your own pace. Encourage him to go on solo rides or rides with experienced friends so he doesn’t feel like he’s completely dependent on your learner’s pace.
Having said all that, if you are comfortable on the bike riding around your neighborhood, it’s possible you are ready for a slightly longer ride and you’re just reluctant because you’re enjoying a little “plateau” in your comfort zone. I encourage you to venture a little farther out, but safely and in your own way.

So try this: get out a map and pick a destination about 30 miles from home that you really want to go to. Plan a ride with that destination as your half-way point – hopefully it will include some 45- and 55-mph roads to give you a sense of what faster speeds are like, without putting you on the 75-mph Interstate too soon. (For me personally, it’s important that I be the one planning the comfort-zone-expanding ride… it gives me a sense of ownership of the plan rather than feeling like someone’s trying to control me.) Just take that round trip once, to see how you like it. You might find you really are ready for a new challenge!
If you really don’t feel comfortable riding outside the neighborhood yet, by all means just keep at it and stress to your hubby that it’s important for you to feel you’ve mastered this step before you proceed to the next.

Anyone else want to take a stab at this one? Feel free to comment!

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9 Responses to “Q & A: How do I handle a hubby who’s pushing me too hard?”
  1. Vicki says:

    I can totally relate with you and bikerchick has some really good ideas. It took me a while to be able to go out on the open road but here is how I did it. I have had my liscense for almost a year. I would not go over 40 MPH. Last month some of my co-workers were going to Bike Night in Indianola. I wanted to go. But to get there I was going to have to go more than 40 MPH. I decided to go for it and see what happens. Well I loved it. I have since been looking for a bigger bike so that I can do more out of city riding. Well tomorrow I am stepping up from a 400cc to a 800cc. An idea may be to get together with some friends and to take a small ride. This way you have the support and if you decide that you don’t like the open road yet there will probably be someone that is willing to turn around with you and head back to the city.

  2. Vicki says:

    One more thing. If you are in the Des Moines area I would be willing to go with you.

  3. BikerChick says:

    WOOHOO!! Vicki, the gal who asked this question is in Illinois but you’ve offered another great idea for her to consider. THANK YOU for sharing your experience and for offering another suggestion, and congrats on achieving all those milestones yourself!

    Are you going to East Village Bike Night tonight? What do you ride? I’d love to meet up and just say hello!

    Janet (“Biker Chick”)

  4. Vicki says:

    No I am not going to the East Village tonight. My son has been gone all week so we are spending time together tonight. I will let you know when I do go to a bike night so we can meet up. I currently have a Honda 400 Automatic but will be getting my Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic on Sunday. It is Red and the person that had it added lots of accessories. She is stepping up to bigger bike. I am hoping to redo my website and put pictures of it on my site.

  5. Blanche says:

    I totally agree with what has been said…don’t let your husband push you past your comfort zone! If your husband won’t listen to you, is there a friend of his that rides, too, that you could maybe put bug in his ear and he could talk to your husband about it? Sometimes, they do relate better to someone other than their spouse.

    Also if you can find some women bikers through a local club or dealership, I’m sure they would be more than willilng to go on a soft, easy ride with you. That would make you feel less stressed than riding with your husband and knowing he is wanting to push you.

    This may sound like a stupid idea, but when I started riding, I’d get freaked out by looking at the speedometer and realizing I was going a heart-stopping 35 or 40 mph. Since I was following my husband at the time and trusted his judgement, I quite looking at the speedometer all the time. (Of course, not a good idea if you are on a solo ride!) Anyway, that way by the time I would finally look down at it, we’d been going whatever speed for a while and I wasn’t freaked out about it!

  6. BikerChick says:

    Blanche, great ideas, thanks for adding them here! ~ Janet

  7. Kristin says:

    Janet– It’s Kristin from Porky’s. I found your blog and although motorcycles are cool, I don’t ride. I thought I’d tell you hello anyway! It’s neat that you do this. I have less than 50 pages left in the book you gave me. Thanks again, see you soon. Kristin : )

  8. Hi Kristin – glad you stopped by! You don’t have to ride to read the blog, it’s for anyone who’s interested for whatever reason, so stick around! I’m so glad you are enjoying the book. I really loved that book when I first read it – it has been a favorite for a long time. Another really good one is called “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg. It’s similar in that it’s very inspirational and helpful at the same time.

    Thanks again for reading along here – I am really hoping for warmer weather SOON!

    Take care –

    Janet (Biker Chick)’s last blog post..Capitol City Customs Swap Meet & Bike Show

  9. Jenny says:

    I realize this post is way old, but I can’t be the only person reading through your old posts, right? Anyway, I saw this and just had to chime in! I got my motorcycle license last summer. I took the MSF class and then started puttering around in parking lots.

    My husband pushed me and convinced me to start taking the bike to the parking lots myself (it’s only a few blocks, but truthfully, they’re the WORST blocks in town, nasty turns filled with gravel and potholes). I, of course, dropped my bike because I was racked with fear. I bought a smaller bike and had that bike repaired (no, it wasn’t huge, it was 535cc, but I listened to other people when they told me it was still small and that I was silly for believing it was too big).

    That little bike was great! I loved it. We rode all over the neighborhood, even taking those “scary” roads. My husband kept telling me that we had to go out on faster roads, and I kept telling him he was crazy, I wasn’t ready, I was too scared, this can’t be done. That time, my husband was right. I did let him talk me into it. He made me all sorts of promises how we’d go to the sign, pull over, and he’d see how I was doing and if necessary, he’d help me turn around (I was freaked out that if I couldn’t handle it, I’d be too afraid to U-Turn in the middle of a 55 mph road), and we’d go home. I started going, and was pissed off at having to stop at that very early stop to tell him we could keep going.

    Here’s the deal – sometimes when other people tell you what’s right for you, they’re right. Sometimes when other people pull that crap, they’re wrong. I should have been listening to ME. I knew that I couldn’t handle that “big” bike by myself, yet. I could feel it not just in the fear that was gripping me, but in my reluctance to even get on that bike. I desperately wanted to learn to ride, but I would find reasons not to. I also was afraid of the bike. I felt completely out of control.

    When my husband told me that I should start riding the faster roads, I wanted to go, but I was afraid that I couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t that I felt that I couldn’t handle my bike anymore. I felt like I could. I was comfortable. I had some muscle memory about how to shift, how to brake, etc. While I still had to pay attention to each thing, my hands knew what to do – I just had to pay attention so that I stayed in the moment and didn’t fall into old, bad habits of daydreaming all the time. I was comfortable. I had learned how to ride, and by then the fear was just habit. It wasn’t mind numbing fear.

    Sure, it’s easy for me to look now and say these things, but I recently had a few new-to-me experiences on my bike (I got on the road last August and it’s serious snow here by October, so got two months on my bike before winter left me just re-getting it out less then a month ago). Truthfully, I hadn’t expected the situation. I paniced. I survived. But, that panic of the situation was not the same kind of fear. It wasn’t the “oh no, I haven’t done that” it was mind numbing, “Holy fuck, I honestly haven’t practiced enough to have any idea how to handle this situation, and I’m afraid that I might die because I need more practice” kind of fear.

    I don’t know if others have that problem, but I’ve been working hard to figure out what kind of fear I’m feeling. It’s made a huge difference if I know that before I get on my bike. Mind numbing, I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation fear means STOP THE BIKE. “Um, I’m afraid, I haven’t done that before, and it leaves me with shakes,” can easily mean, “Sweetie, it’s something new, get over it, you’ll love it.”

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