Today a whole year has passed since I got my motorcycle license. A whole year! It´s also the one-year anniversary for the very first driver's license, period.
It all started when Kenneth asked me to do this crazy journey with him, to ride motorcycles from Norway to South Africa. I might need a license for that! So that was the level of pressure that faced me when I got in contact with the driving school, one and a half years ago.
The man who taught me how to ride certainly had his work cut out for him. I didn´t have any understanding of traffic, or mechanics of the bike, or what a clutch was. Even as a pedestrian, I wouldn´t follow traffic around me or where I was going. Always listening to music and being stuck in my own head. I´m pretty sure if you caught a birds-eye view of me walking to work, my path would look something like this:
Luckily, the teacher I chose had a lot of experience, both as a rider and as a teacher. Per Anders Lein, at Trondheim Traffikskole did an amazing job with me. Should you ever want to learn how to ride a motorcycle, let me recommend him! This is what we looked like, celebrating my passed exam one year ago today:
When people ask me what it was like to get the license, and "was it hard"? I always hold back a little how hard it actually was. I don´t want to deter anybody from trying, but it took a LOT of lessons for me. There were several times where I was close to giving up. I spent hours running in the woods because I was so angry and frustrated with myself for not getting it. More than one of my lessons ended with my ugly cries. Just at my lowest point, Per Anders picked me up and refused my defeat. He said I was just about to get it and gave me some extra hours on his time off. And he was right!
So why was it so hard? I´ve already explained my inexperience in traffic. A second reason it was extra challenging was that I was afraid of driving a motorcycle. I´m a nurse, right? At the hospital. And where do motorcycle drivers go after having been in an accident? The hospital. And who takes care of people when they´re injured or hurt? The nurses. Who receives the pain and frustrations of mothers whose sons are injured? The nurses. Who clears away the moose fur stuck to people after a crash? The nurses. Cranial fractures, neck fractures, traumatic brain injuries, hemorrhages, spinal fluid leaking from people´s noses. I´ve been there. All that stress and fear must have stuck to my upper body while trying to ride, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Here comes the third reason. At the time, I was reliving some trauma from the past. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and nightmares. It wouldn´t take much to fire my fight or flight response, which was very challenging while riding with a male pillion. There were several times when I would notice my teacher behind me - that was all it took for panic to arise. I found the only thing that helped me get through the panic was to talk about what was happening. So off I went. "I chose this. I want a motorcycle license. For that to happen, I need a pillion to help me. The only reason he´s here is ´cause I asked him to. This fear, this panic, doesn´t belong here. I´ll have plenty of time to tackle this anxiety later, but now it´s time for me to breathe. And focus. "
One year later. I´ve put 13 000km behind me. Went on trips alone and with Kenneth. Rode from Trondheim to Kjerringøy by myself. From Trondheim to Copenhagen and back. Driven in on snow, ice, and slush in winter. Tipped over more times than I can count. Broken two blinkers, one front brake, and five clutches. Crashed into a deer. After these 13 000 km? I feel much safer, much more in control. The sense of freedom having a driver´s license gives me is one I cherish every day.
I still get nervous at high speeds. I´m not comfortable going over the speed limit, and I don´t love the adrenaline rush so many other bikers seem to do. I still fall on my ass every now and then. But I truly enjoy riding a motorcycle.
I´m ready for more.
Now you´ve heard how I experienced getting my license. Now tell me your story!