We used to teach the Basic Rider’s Course in a parking lot behind one of the government office buildings here in Ottawa. Being a government building there was never any risk of employees working late so it was usually car-free by training time. It was also close to City Hall where we had a small office and storage for our bikes, so the location was excellent. It was also quite scenic, overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau Falls and nicely landscaped with various shrubberies, including several large rosebushes at one end of the lot.
The spousal unit had expressed an interest in riding up front for a while, and my stories from the course and the types of people we were teaching to ride finally convinced her that this was something she would be able to do. So she signed up to take the training. We ran several concurrent classes on alternating nights, and at her request I did not run the Tuesday night course she was taking. I guess I made her nervous, or something.
As usual, the instructors would meet 1/2 hour or so ahead of time to transact any business, review student’s progress, and swap stories about last week’s classes or the weekend vintage races down at Shannonville – typical biker stuff.
So one night we were getting caught up and the story came out about this one student who experienced some sort of brain cramp, and instead of braking somehow managed to accelerate right into the rose bush, which conveniently kept her from hitting either a large tree or a low wall, which would have catapulted her ignominiously into the Ottawa River. So it was kind of a blessing in disguise – although an embarrassingly prickly one. As you might expect, the story was told with much humour, many expletives, and a fair dollop of exaggeration. Nonetheless it was a great story, and one which persisted for the better part of the summer.
Later that evening when I came home I asked if she had seen the excitement on Tuesday.
“Well someone had a brain cramp and pitched a bike into the rose bushes at the end of the parking lot. Sounds like it was pretty funny. I can’t imagine you missed it.”
It was just about then that the old 10-watt light bulb came on, perhaps triggered by the stony look from a fast-reddening face.
“It was you?”
“Well it wasn’t really my fault….”
And I missed the rest because I was laughing so hard.
Postscript: She went on to complete the course, get her license (another story), and become one of the better riders I know.