Serena’s First Street Bike Experience

Motorcyclist Editorial Assistant Serena Bleeker takes a deep breath and goes for it!

First ride on a motorcycle.
Now I know why Ari and Zack are always smiling when they come back from testing motorcycles!©Motorcyclist

It's a rewarding experience to watch somebody totally new to motorcycling take his or her first ride on a street bike. Motorcyclist Editorial Assistant Serena Bleeker has never ridden a street bike until this week, at our annual Bonnier Motorcycle Group Hack Day Track Day. The event is a fun no-pressure track day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway where magazine staffers and moto-industry friends get together and ride. Many first-timers come out to get a taste of what riding is all about. Here's Serena's story:

Wow, who would’ve thought that just about a month ago I rode my first dirt bike and now here I am at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway waiting for the beginner’s session to swing a leg over $4,000+ streetbikes. Note these key words: Raceway, beginner’s session, and $4,000+ streetbikes. That’s a scary combo to me.

First ride on a motorcycle, Honda CBR500F
Reaching 65 mph on two wheels for the first time was kind of terrifying at first, then the thrill kicked in. I know I will do it again!©Motorcyclist

Motorcyclist's parent company Bonnier Motorcycle Group and clients from the motorcycle industry like Alpinestars, KTM, Arch Motorcycles—yes, Keanu Reeves was there to represent his motorcycle company and yes, I did get to say hi— Shoei, 6-D, Yamaha, Honda, etc. gather to get a quick rundown of the itinerary. I thought I was nervous before, but seeing the squiggly map of the track, the meaning of the yellow and red flags (yellow=danger ahead, red=potentially fatal danger ahead), and the fact that there is an ambulance on site has my instincts screaming at me to get back into my enclosed, airbag-equipped, four-wheeled vehicle.

First track day jitters
For whatever reason, idling and waiting for the session to begin was difficult for me. I guess I just had that itch to get going and zip around the track.©Motorcyclist
Keanu Reeves at the track
See, I didn’t lie! Keanu Reeves was there!©Motorcyclist

Instincts aside, I take a deep breath and walk outside to get suggestions from some of the more experienced riders on what motorcycles I should start off on. Of the motorcycles that were available, the suggestions pointed to the Yamaha YZF-R3, the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the KTM 390 Duke, and the Honda CB500F.

I hopped on the R3 first. Then my mind goes blank. Everything I had learned disappeared right when I needed it most. Figures. So I opt to take a quick loop around the parking lot before heading off to the intimidating track—naturally stalling a couple times in the process. I swear, this is just like when I learned how to snowboard...sliding slowly off the ski lift was the main challenge. Getting speed and going down the mountain was easy.

Arch Motorcycles with Motorcyclist's Ari and Zack
Watching Senior Road Test Editor Ari Henning and Senior Editor Zack Courts doing what they do was a treat. Meeting people like Arch Motorcycles' Gard Hollinger and Keanu Reeves was icing on the cake.Photo: Brian Hatano

Anyways, after a couple slow loops around the track I’m suddenly shifting into third and even into fourth gear! I even felt comfortable enough to look at the speedometer and see that I hit 65 mph. I was riding at freeway speeds! Wouldn’t seem like a big feat to some, but to me that’s exhilarating!

First ride on a motorcycle, Kawasaki Ninja 300
While I was riding the Ninja 300, I accidentally passed the exit of the track after the checkered flags were put up. So I had to take a lap of shame by myself. Oops!©Motorcyclist

At the end of the day I hear a coworker say, “Well, she’s hooked!” With the motorcycles, the speed, the thrill, the adrenaline, and the smile that is plastered on my face, I would say, yes! I am definitely hooked!

First ride on a motorcycle, Bonnier Motorcycle Group girls
We gathered up all the girls that were at the track for a group photo. Some of these ladies are just as fast as the guys!©Motorcyclist