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The Kid

Posted By Tammera Fenn #209267, Sunday, January 28, 2018

"I can’t believe you allow him on a motorcycle!" said someone I'd just met. "Aren’t you worried?"

I'm his mother, so of course I had concerns. On the other hand, since he was three, we could see the writing on the wall and shortly after this third birthday, we removed the training wheels from his bicycle. They were interfering with his ability to ride.

A few years later, when he was about 11, we caught him in the barn with one of the old dirt bikes. Knowing he wasn’t allowed to sit our motorcycles until his feet could touch the ground, he’d taken the situation into his own hands. Tools, bolts and both shocks were strewn about on the floor as he worked to fit flat, short pieces of metal he had fabricated himself onto the original shock fittings. His idea was to shorten the distance between seat and wheels, and hopefully drop the bike's height to the required inseam status. Though we appreciated his determination and ingenuity, he was told to remove his modifications.

Because his dad rides dirt bikes for fun and a street bike whenever he can, there was no getting around it. Our son had the fever. Being the parent more worried about the potential dangers of letting our son ride a two-wheeled motorized machine, I debated my options.

I could divorce my husband and forbid the children from riding motorcycles. After further thought, this option was dismissed because of my love for my partner and the realization that he would probably allow them to ride anyway.

I could put my foot down and make the kid wait to purchase his first bike when he was an adult. I realized that except for rides in the sidecar or behind his father, he wouldn't have any experience when he finally bought his first bike.

The final option would be allowing him to begin riding on the dirt bikes we have here at home. This way, we could enforce the use of safety equipment, supervise where the bike was ridden around our home and provide the opportunity to master the machine via small, single-person tumbles on a vehicle suited for scratches and dents. We believed skidding through sand at the dirt pit and negotiating unexpected logs and bogs in the woods would make him a better road rider in the future.

Eventually, we chose option three and sooner than I expected, my husband came home with a small dirt bike. The kid took to the saddle and has never looked back.

We’ve prepared him for the asphalt as best we can and so far, he's walked away from minor incidents including a missed turn into the swamp and an evening date with a deer. At least those are the ones he’s told us about. Crashes have revealed themselves through his pain and trauma and the cost of damage repair. Last but not least, he attends bike safety courses, reads motorcycle articles and rides with an excellent teacher - his dad.

Not long ago on a lovely July afternoon when the kid was 15 years old, his younger sister and I watched him and his dad ride away. Boys and bikes were packed for a month-long trip with friends through the southeast.

Knowing what I did about their riding experience and skill, was I worried?

Yeah I was, but just a little!

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Roger R. Mullins Vice President says...
Posted Monday, January 29, 2018
Nice article Tammera. I enjoyed reading it very much. All of us who have put 15 year old sons on bikes and watched them ride away know exactly how you feel.
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