Easy Rider: Learning to drive a motorbike

in Adventure Travel / Dominican Republic / Overland Travel
12 Comments
turf to surf motorcycle travel

Before arriving to the Dominican Republic, my experience with motorbikes was limited to a singular weekend of touring Block Island on a rented motor-scooter. That, and listening to my friends’ tales of motorcycle crashes, which mostly ended in “I had three operations to fix my knee,” or “…and he died.”

This didn’t do much to allay my fear of motorcycles or prepare me for life in the Dominican Republic, which requires hopping on the back of a motoconcho to go shopping, get to the beach, or go about your daily business. So, when we rented a motorbike so I could learn to drive it and get around town on my own, my first thought was that the Cabarete Medical Center was going to be seeing a lot of me.

Luckily, I’m married to a very skilled teacher. Ryan patiently coached me through my initial inability to coordinate my right hand on the throttle, left hand on the clutch, left foot on the gears and right foot on the brake until, eventually, it became as second-nature as driving a car. And after that, once I’d gotten my hands and feet to cooperate with my brain, I just had the busy roads and Dominican traffic rules to contend (you know, nothing big). Which was luckily conquered with a little more practice and some mental coaching from Ryan.

Now, I can’t imagine not driving around the Dominican Republic on a motorbike. When I’m out on the road, I can hear, see, feel and smell my surroundings like I’m an integral part of them. I’m aware of every little change in scenery; the sound of cars, birds and cattle; and I get an adrenalin buzz even on a ten-minute ride to the beach.

And, sure, I get scared sometimes, like when I have to stop on a hill or pull out into traffic. But the more I ride, the easier it becomes, the less scary it is, and the more I realize that I won’t get hurt as long as I stay vigilant and make sure I’m aware of other drivers and my surroundings.

The real gift of this new-found skill, though, is a heightened sense of adventure. It’s opened up new possibilities for where we can go and how we can travel on land when we reach a new country. And it’s injected excitement into otherwise mundane chores like going to the store to buy milk. Going anywhere to do anything has become such a sensory experience that now I look for excuses to go out just so I can take the motorcycle.

For sure, motorcycle riding is a lot of things, including potentially dangerous and unpopular with protective parents. But it is anything but boring.

motorcycle travel turf to surf blog

I think my clear-lens riding glasses and helmet say “total badass,” don’t you?

turf to surf motorcycle travel blog

Tommy, my favorite neighborhood dog, seems to like my new look

motorcycle travel cabarete dominican republic

Just riding through Cabarete… like I’ve been doing this my whole life

dominican motorbike travel turf to surf

Isn’t she a beauty? The bike, I mean.

If you enjoyed these “Easy Rider” photos, visit Turf to Surf’s Photo Albums on Facebook to see more of Tasha & Ryan’s motorcycle travels.

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12 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Mid-Life Cruising! May 15, 2013, 11:31 am

    Glad you conquered the motorcycle! I can only imagine how fun it must be to ride around a place like the Dominican Republic … I gotta get the dust off of mine and go riding soon. You’re right, a motorcycle turns a mundane chore into an adventure. It’s never boring, and always exhilirating!

    • Tasha May 15, 2013, 2:07 pm

      So much fun! Think we can put a motorbike on the boat with a davit?! 🙂

  • Sarah May 16, 2013, 8:26 am

    The first time I ever rode a motorbike was in the DR too!

    • Tasha May 16, 2013, 10:59 am

      Awesome! Where did you learn and where have you been in the D.R.? Any recommendations? We LOVE this country!

      • Sarah May 16, 2013, 11:08 am

        I didn’t get to drive, ha. So I wouldn’t say I’ve learned. It was just a ride. I was in the south, outside of Santo Domingo. I went on a mission trip, so I didn’t really see much of the island outside of the small village we were in. So I’m enjoying reading all of your adventures. I would love to go back and do those waterfalls you talked about. That looks SO fun.

  • Craig May 16, 2013, 10:29 am

    What fun! When we sailed in the Greek Cyclades Islands we could not wait to dock so we could rent some scooter/quad/mc to explore the island. One time we found a really funky two-seater dune buggy powered by a motorcycle engine. Ah, I miss that. Good for you getting out there on a mc!

    btw – kinda curious what your hurricane season plans are?

    • Tasha May 16, 2013, 11:02 am

      Hey Craig,
      I’m kind of in love with my little 125cc motorbike. It’s so much fun and it’s light enough for me to handle.

      As for hurricane season, we will be leaving the boat in Luperon because we have some really exciting plans coming up, which will be revealed shortly (in a week or two, once I know everything’s finalized)… so stay tuned. Sorry to be so secretive, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for everyone!

      Tasha

  • Loca Gringa May 22, 2013, 12:12 am

    Love your article, yes the freedom takes your breath away! However, I’ve seen too many wheelchairs, crutches, and amputations in DR from concho disasters! Be very cautious of the lack of respect from other drivers of all vehicles in DR.

    • tashahacker May 22, 2013, 12:17 am

      I’ve noticed the Dominicans drive their motos a little crazy… I’m a very paranoid driver. I assume everyone is trying to kill me and have about 5 escape routes planned out in my head. That’s why it’s so exhausting for me to ride. But I still love it!

  • James March 22, 2014, 3:39 am

    Congrats! I grew up on a farm with bikes so I was familiar with riding, but being in traffic was another matter. I have ridden in many places in SE Asia now which has enabled me to see far more than I would be able to by public transport
    James recently posted…Long-distance motorcycle ridersMy Profile

  • Josh@BikerGearLab.com August 17, 2014, 11:33 pm

    I have to say you’re awesome. Do you ride often since this DR trip ? I visited your Facebook and did not see anything thing else but photos of motorcycle travelling in DR.
    Josh@BikerGearLab.com recently posted…Bell Rogue Helmet ReviewMy Profile

    • Tasha August 22, 2014, 12:14 pm

      Hey Josh! Thanks for stopping by! I absolutely loved driving my own bike, even though I was usually convinced I was going to do something clumsy and maim myself horribly. I do lots of things with that fear, though, as I am an incredibly clumsy person. So far so good! (knock on wood). Anyway, I never got to write about my time in Bali (perhaps I’ll get back to writing about it this winter), but I drove a motor scooter all around the island, on road trips to the beach and I loved it! Hopefully when we get back to the D.R. this winter, I’ll be doing some more biking then 🙂

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