After much time toddling around the neighborhood, it was finally time for me to start taking supervised rides. I spent the better part of an entire season riding in front of my husband so he could keep an eye on me. During that time, he had me traversing traffic areas, back roads, twisties (for what they are in Iowa - they're hard to find, but they exist), and even gravel roads. He was a tough, but thoughtful teacher. Each ride had something for me to learn. Sometimes it was obvious, like making me deal with miles of gravel and mud. Others it was less so, but looking back, each one was a building block for a solid foundation. I'm lucky to have had the experience.
After about 1500 or so miles of being followed, I finally graduated to being able to ride behind him. Hooray for becoming a walker! So much less stress when you know someone isn't watching and critiquing your every move! It doesn't seem like a huge deal, but to me it was monumental - I finally felt trusted to lag behind a little and just enjoy myself rather than needing to focus on every little skill.
Because of those miles and miles of tutelage, I'm sometimes the trusted 'sweeper' for group rides. During that time it's my job to keep an eye on the less experienced or skilled riders and make sure we all get to return home safely. Sometimes that means I spend more time on my Sena headset talking to the lead rider, my husband, than I do listening to music and that's okay because while those aren't my most relaxing rides, I get a great deal of enjoyment helping other riders learn the ropes in a safe environment.
It took dedication, practice, and perseverance, but I finally consider myself a runner. To this day I still practice parking lot skills - something I don't ever plan on giving up; but at the same time, I know all those lectures, stern talkings to, and hours of sometimes frustrating practice have made me a good rider. There's literally no place I feel uncomfortable on a motorcycle. In fact, I've embraced two wheel life so much, that I sold my car last month because I used it just enough to circulate the fluids on a monthly basis. If I need to run an errand, I hop on the bike; if I need to carry something larger that won't fit in my tank bag, I grab my trusty Alpinestars backpack and take off. I am unstoppable.