Permission to Ride

19 October 2012 · 17 comments

Losing things is one of the hazards of travel.

I’ve heard horror stories of people who have lost their luggage, for example. Or had it lost for them. Last autumn, for example, I was fast asleep in my room in Lima when my roommate arrived.

“Sorry, mate,” Steve announced as he turned on the light. It was 2am. “My plane just got in from Australia, and my luggage isn’t with it.” For the next three weeks, Steve was constantly on the phone with the airline trying to track down his bags. He never found them.

Other times, folks lose things to pickpockets.

Me? I have a tendency to lose things to carelessness. I get distracted and leave things behind.

I did great on my recent trip to Turkey, though. I made it through Denver, two weeks in Turkey, and four days in New York, and I didn’t lose a single thing. Not until the airport, anyhow.

At the TSA checkpoint, I showed my driver license with my boarding pass. I passed through the scanners, gathered my things, and flew to Atlanta. When I went to show my ID at the hotel, my driver license wasn’t there. Crap.

Then, on my last night in Atlanta, I was upstairs in the bar, dancing with the ladies from the Savvy Blogging Summit. I was hot, so I pulled off my sweater (my $180 sweater) and tossed it on a nearby sofa. Not a smart move. Guess where that sweater still is…

This week, my first week back from my trip, I’ve been running all sorts of errands. Top on the list, of course, was obtaining a replacement license.

Oregon motorcycle manualI stopped by the DMV yesterday at lunchtime. I pulled number 116 and looked at the board — they were only up to 79. It was going to be a long wait. I sat down and looked around. There, before me, I saw the Oregon Motorcycle Manual.

“What luck!” I thought. “Don’t I want to get the motorcycle endorsement for my license?” Indeed, I do. I picked up a copy of the manual and started reading.

Much to my surprise, I found out that you can actually get a motorcycle permit in Oregon. That’s right. If you pass a written test, the DMV will give you a motorcycle instruction permit, just like you might get when you’re learning to drive a car. On a whim, I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I looked at the board — they were only up to 84. I began to read as fast as I could.

Forty-five minutes later, I had skimmed the motorcycle manual twice and could answer the practice questions with ease. When they called number 116, I stepped forward, applied for my replacement license and asked to test for the motorcycle permit.

“You want a motorcycle permit?” the woman asked. She seemed skeptical.

“I do,” I said.

And so I took the test. There were 25 questions. I could miss five. Which I did. But in the end, I passed and was awarded the prize:

My motorcycle instruction permit

The thing is, this permit is nearly useless. All it does is let me ride a motorcycle as long as a licensed motorcyclist is riding near me.

In order to get the actual motorcycle endorsement for my license in Oregon, I need to complete a motorcycle rider education course through the one organization in the state that offers them. Without completing this course, I can’t legally ride a motorcycle by myself.

When I showed the permit to Kim, she was baffled. “But you don’t even know how to ride,” she said.

“I know,” I said. I don’t even know how to turn a motorcycle on. The permit is useless, but it’s fun to have. And one of my goals is to actually be able to ride a motorcycle come spring. This winter, I’ll take the motorcycle rider education course, and when the weather warms, maybe I’ll be buzzing around the backroads of Oregon on two wheels.

1 Philip Brewer October 19, 2012 at 09:48

Illinois has a great motorcycle rider course program—free, paid for with a small fee on drivers licenses. I took it, bought a motorcycle, and rode quite a bit for one year. But the next year (after not riding all winter), I felt like I really needed to begin at the beginning and take the course over again. I never got it together to do so, and after a couple years of not riding sold my helmet and my bike. I did enjoy it, and still kind of miss it.

2 Charles Meyer October 19, 2012 at 12:05

Nice, I love doing things like that. I can recount a few times where I saw something and was interested it in and decided to go after it. Creates pretty awesome experiences in life!

3 Darcy October 19, 2012 at 16:40

Um…JD….did you notice that the permit is only good for one month? Do you need to get your license come November 16th?

4 jdroth October 19, 2012 at 16:53

No worries, Darcy. It’s a temp. They’re mailing me a permanent permit (which I think has a one-year limit) and it should reach me in a week or two. :)

5 Dan Stratton October 21, 2012 at 07:31

Good for you. I know the feeling. I have my Cncealed Weapons Permit, but don’t own a gun that could be concealed. Maybe someday, but for now, it is kind of fun to know I could stuff my .22 rifle down my pants if I wanted.

6 david October 21, 2012 at 11:42

Oregon has some great back-roads for riding.
Did a four day tour with my brother a couple years ago, wasn’t nearly enough time for all the roads we wanted to ride.

7 stellamarina October 21, 2012 at 13:59

Re the travel stuff part: a bit of advise from my travels

To prevent Pickpockets etc. I always travel with a money belt tucked down flat inside my pants. Those gypsies are very clever and the game is on. I also have a few rules about my stuff when you get distracted by all the new stuff happening with travel. 1…no wallets to be forgotten or stolen, Money for the day is in my front pocket, needed credit card or ATM card in buttoned shirt pocket,….the rest is in my money belt along with passport etc. 2…tie my jacket around my waist if I take it off. ..That was after I slung it over my cross shoulder bag and it slipped off never to be found. 3…carry my day backpack or light shoulder satchel on my body at all times….do not take it off to put it down on the seat beside you. Yep…..left it by the computer in an internet cafe….lucky I remembered it a few minutes later and it was still there. The other thing I have to watch carefully is my travel notebook with all my notes and addresses in it. Did leave it at a railway station counter for a few minutes but lucky to get that back too! I do not even bother to travel with a cell phone or lap top etc. too much humbug ..and…take nothing with you on a trip that you are going to cry about if you loose it.

8 Amy @ VineSleuth Uncorked October 21, 2012 at 18:46

Love this, JD! Way to redeem the time and turn it into an adventure… whether it turns into a motorcycle adventure or not! :)

Sorry about that sweater, though. What a bummer.

Can’t wait to read about your motorcycle journeys in the spring.

9 Jocelyn October 21, 2012 at 18:49

Team Oregon is a stellar institution- you’ll enjoy the range portion of the class. And btw- if you think having the permit is fun, just wait till you actually, you know, ride? ;)

10 The Ninja Baker October 22, 2012 at 01:15

Congratulations, JD, on your stellar new site AND motorcycle (instruction) permit. I love how you looked for the gem in the situation and turned it to your advantage. Plus the drivers license dropped along the way in your journey is now more current than ever, yes?

Growing up in Japan and working in the travel industry, I’ve had the privilege of seeing extraordinary sights and meeting/making new friends. However, it seems you’ve really had some adventures!

Looking forward to your next More than Money post.

11 dan October 22, 2012 at 09:08

Team Oregon’s great. Great people, good classes, serious riders. Not only are Oregon’s back roads great, but think of two wheels in Viet-Nam.

12 superbien October 22, 2012 at 09:52

Hey JD, consider blacking out your DOB too – that’s one of those identity theft pieces of information. Good luck :)

13 Greg Griffin October 22, 2012 at 12:45

I highly recommend those motorcycle classes they offer up at PCC. The instructors are really knowledgeable, they make sure you learn the book lessons and (perhaps more importantly) the core basics of actually riding the motorcycle. Once you pass the class you just walk back into the DMV and they’ll put the endorsement on your actual license. And I think it gives you a discount on (the already affordable) insurance.

14 Kathleen @ Frugal Portland October 22, 2012 at 14:27

Oh, Oregon. A permit for motorcycles! Were there questions about horses on the written test? Because I had to answer one about horses on my written test for a driver’s license.

15 Ben Slavin October 23, 2012 at 22:26

JD, you’ve got the Spanish skills and soon the motorcycle skills… Considering pointing your compass south! The moto is an excellent ice breaker and the ideal mode of travel to see the world! Drop me a line when you’re ready to go :)

In 2009, I spent 6 months riding my moto from NH to Ushuaia, Argentina. (www.AFewMoreMiles.com)
Then in 2011 I put together the how-to guide for motorcycling in Mexico (www.MotorcyceMexico.com)

16 Ben Slavin October 23, 2012 at 22:28

Whoops! http://www.MotorcycleMexico.com is the site :)

I’m happy to send you a DVD – You’ve inspired me so much since 2007. With the help of GRS, I was able to save for my grand adventures.

17 Jenna October 24, 2012 at 14:13

Congrats! You can take a class at PCC for your license :)

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