Your Mindset Determines How Good You Will Be

Jo and her Suzuki V-Strom in Turnagain Pass, Alaska. It was 11:30 pm on the solstice.
Jo and her Suzuki V-Strom in Turnagain Pass, Alaska. It was 11:30 pm on the solstice. 

The motorcycle class was supposed to be a way for her husband and daughter to bond; Johanna Noble had no idea it would change her life.

By Johanna Noble
Alaska-based MSF RiderCoach and quality assurance member

I didn’t know I would love all this. 

My journey as a rider started just five years ago. My daughter was home from university and I thought it would just be a fun activity for my husband and daughter. They attended a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse and came home exhausted and excited. Neither had any experience with motorcycles and both just went to have a fun bonding experience. Little did we know what this experience would lead to in our household.

One year later, we purchased our first motorcycle. My husband or daughter planned to use it as their summer commuter. Then the unbelievable happened: My husband crashed the motorcycle and his summer riding was done. The motorcycle went into the caverns of the garage. 

Six weeks later, I thought, “Well I could take a class and learn.” I was told these classes were designed for anyone, even if that person never touched a motorcycle before. I signed up and nervously drove over to the motorcycle training facility. My palms were sweaty, my heart raced, I was unsure about how crazy it was that as a mom, 44 years old, I would learn to ride.

I had two female instructors. Those two ladies were the most hard-core bikers I had met in my life. My class had three other female students. We all quickly bonded through common nerves. When the RiderCoaches walked us out to the motorcycles, I had no clue how the machines worked except for what I had learned through the hard-copy book we used in the classroom part of the course the night before (which is now done through the online eCourse in many places).

The next two days of class were a challenge.

Jo teaches the MSF Basic RiderCourse in Alaska.
Jo teaches the MSF Basic RiderCourse in Alaska.

I had never ridden, and moving through the processes of riding, I was challenged mentally, emotionally, and physically. And then I dropped the motorcycle. I was devastated and embarrassed. But those coaches didn’t skip a beat. They encouraged me. I reminded myself, “Taking a class doesn’t determine how good of a rider you will be. It gives you the tools to be a good rider. Your mindset determines how good you will be.” We lifted up the bike and I got back on. 

My mindset changed my actions and purpose that weekend, and I passed the class. The next day, I walked into the local DMV and put that “M” endorsement on my license. I was now a motorcyclist.

That afternoon, I put a leg over the motorcycle that sat in our garage and took my first street ride. It was a 280 mile round-trip ride through some of the most amazing scenery in Alaska, from Anchorage to Seward. It poured buckets of rain, sleet, and snow — and I giggled and loved every minute. I was hooked.

Six months later I purchased another bike, a Suzuki V-Strom, and rode out of Alaska, through Canada, and into the western U.S. I spent three months traveling by motorcycle, visiting more than 50 national and state parks, camping the whole way. It was 35,000 miles of empowerment. Along the way, I learned how to work on my bike, change the tires, and do basic maintenance. I met the most amazing people, and women of all ages would walk up and just be so surprised that I was out on the road “on my own.” 

You will often hear me say, “I don’t care how you choose to adventure. Get out in a car or a motorcycle and see the amazing world we have. Experience the richness of cultures and society in this amazing country!”

After my travels, I wanted to share my passion. I started working at a motorcycle dealership in Alaska. The female owner had empowered me to ride, and I could now empower other women. Two months later, I found myself training to become an MSF RiderCoach. Since then I have taught over 600 Alaskan riders. My favorite classes, I admit, are our women’s segments. And when someone struggles, I am reminded of my own empowerment and have the amazing opportunity to pass on the gift of riding. But I know it can lead to so much more than just learning to ride.

In the last five years, I have traveled to 49 states and six Canadian provinces all by motorcycle. I completed the Iron Butt Association’s 48 States in 10 Days challenge and more. I participated as a member of the Women Riders World Relay and Ripple Relay. I am now helping to train RiderCoaches, I attend motorcycle events, and I advocate for rider training and safety in the U.S. My newest passion is helping veterans and first responders through the Motorcycle Relief Project. 

And yes, my husband and two kids ride. (My son also took the BRC when he turned 16.) Life has changed for all of us since that first BRC class. My husband often says, “She always knew she would learn. Sending the kids and myself, that was her ticket to getting all of us to ride. It changed all our lives.”