I have had my motorcycle licence since 1982. My first street bike was a 1981 left-over Suzuki 450 from Sport-Cycle Suzuki, long before they moved to Leesport. This was well before the state funded PAMSP . My friend Barry and I were both beginners. So we often would ride together and practice our skills. At that time you had to have a permit and ride the same course as in a car to pass your test. They had a few motorcycle skill tests, such as doing a figure 8 in the three point turn box. It was about the area of three parking spaces. So we both practiced doing the figure 8 in a parking lot in two lined parking spaces. That made the 3 point turn box seem huge.
After a few weeks of practice, we decided it was time to get our motorcycle licence. It would be so nice. We could take our wives for a ride on the back legally after that. One Saturday morning Barry and I both rode over to the Pennsylvania State police barracks in Kenhorst, where they had the course set up. No appointment was necessary at that time. I don’t recall how we picked who would go first. We were both as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After all it was the “POLICE” barracks. As it turned out it was me to go first. Here we go I thought as I put on my full face helmet. The instructor walked over to me and asked for my permit. Then he started rattling of questions like; Where is the choke, the turn signal switch, horn and so on. He gestured for me to go through the course. I started the bike, carefully left out the clutch while twisting the throttle at the same time, and off I went. I shifted through 3 gears in the “S” turn. I came to a stop at the stop sign. He motioned me to the 3 point turn box. I entered and did the required 3 figure 8’s without stopping or putting my feet down. I exited the box and rode to were he was standing. He said nice job and if I recall handed me my stamped permit.
Barry looked at me and gave me the thumbs up. I too in return to him. I watched as he proceeded through the same thing I just did. He came out of the course, rode to the instructor stand and was immediately asked if he had forgotten anything? He said “no”. I looked at him and he at me as I shrugged my shoulders. The instructor asked again “Are you sure you did not forget anything?” As soon as the instructors words came out Barry slammed down his face shield. The instructor smiled and told him to come back next week, you will pass. I will never forget that safety protection item. Had he been wearing sunglasses he would have passed. I could not ride over with him the following week as it was my turn to work the weekend. He did pass. Barry no longer rides. Maybe someday he will.
Fast forward to last week. Donna and I were at a 50th Birthday party for our old neighbor Shelly. Her kids and ours were always playing together. I was talking with Shelly’s daughter Jen, who is now in her mid 20’s. She mentioned that she was buying a motorcycle. Jen told me she was getting her permit and was going to practice just as I had so many years before. She was going to take her test at Classic Harley Davidson’s PAMSP near Leesport, PA. I told her to always play the “What if game.” She cocked her head and asked me what that was. I told her as you are riding, always ask yourself “What if that old lady turns into my lane as I pass her”, “What if the scrap metal in the back of that old Pick up truck falls out”, “What if that guy pulls out on me”.
To which Jen replied “That’s what she said”