Don't want a pickle
Just want to ride my motorsickle!
During my teens and early twenties I owned and rode a number
of motorcycles, including
three Triumphs: a 1953 650 Triumph
Thunderbird (the same model that Marlon Brandon rode, stolen
trophy strapped across its nacalle, in "The Wild Ones") and two
1966 650 Triumph Bonnevilles, one used and one brand new ($1,200
off the showroom floor).
Of all the bikes I owned, the Triumphs were far and away the
nicest. They were lightweight yet powerful, stunningly beautiful to look
at from every angle, and handled with grace and ease at
In June of 2003, thirty-three years after I sold my last one,
I fulfilled my life-long dream of owning another
Bonnie. Set me back five times what my brand new '66 cost,
but the completely original
1969 T120 Bonneville was
worth every cent to me.
After getting the Bonnie home from Frank's Brit Barn down in New
Hampshire, I began looking into what I'd need to do to get
on the road. I soon discovered how easy it would be.
First, get the bike registered and tagged. No sweat, all I had
to do was:
- Trailer the bike to the inspection center in Sherbrooke, QC
and get it inspected (ka-Ching! $64).
- Install second mirror to have bike conform to
provincial law (ka-Ching! $20).
- Return bike for the follow-up inspection and
have it appraised for tax purposes (ka-Ching! $97).
- Present paperwork to the SAAQ, where they
ignore the $97 certified evaluation of $1400 and tax me for
amount on sales receipt (ka-Ching! $367.41 Federal
and ka-Ching! $433 Provincial tax).
- Purchase a license plate (ka-Ching! $194) after showing
the insurance policy (ka-Ching! $104 with no fire/theft - what?
do I look like I'm made of money?).
So far, a piece of cake, and getting the second mortgage
was easy too.
Now for the really easy part - I need a motorcycle class
- Begin by following SAAQ's directive to obtain "Driver's Handbook"
and "Operating a Motorcycle", on sale at Publications du Quebec outlets.
Even scored copies en anglais (ka-Ching! $32).
- Enroll in an accredited driving school's motorcycle theory
course (ka-Ching! $200).
- Complete 12 hours of theory classes in two weeks and then
make an appointment to take the SAAQ's theory test (ka-Ching! $28).
- Pass theory test and receive 6R learner's permit (ka-Ching!
$32) for driving bike on the driving school's closed-circuit course.
- Trailer bike to driving school's closed-circuit course (or
use one of their bikes) for 12 hours of practical instruction in three
weeks (ka-Ching! $360).
- After having the 6R permit for one month minimum and completing
the practical instruction, trailer bike to SAAQ's closed-circuit course
for preliminary practical test (ka-Ching! $90).
- Pass SAAQ preliminary practical test, and receive 6A learner's permit
(ka-Ching! $32) which lets me drive anywhere I want, so long as I am
accompanied by at least one fully licensed motorcycle driver at all times.
- Make appointment for SAAQ road test - but only
after holding the 6A license for a mandatory minimum of seven
months. This is Quebec, ok? you know, winter... snow... ice? Fast
forward to following Spring
- Trailer bike to SAAQ (or be accompanied by licensed motorcycle
driver) and take SAAQ's road test (ka-Ching! $90).
- Pass road test, purchase the two-year probationary
motorcycle driving license (ka-Ching! $96).
Note: probationary licensees are subject to a 4-point ceiling and
zero alcohol tolerance.
- After two years with probationary license, obtain
a regular motorcycle driving license (ka-Ching! $?).
There, isn't that easy? Of course I've left out a few
details here and there to save some space.
(Cue the crazy laughter)
Now you know why Quebec license plates say "Je me souviens"
("I Remember") - Because I remember when the #^%*&@ government
hadn't yet made everything under the sun such a complete and
total pain in the butt!
Never mind, by this time we're into August and I'm determined
to get going so that by next summer I can stop sneaking around on
the secondary roads getting a stiff neck watching for Provincials.
I get to step "2" above only to learn that the only school that
gives the motorcycle course in my area doesn't give the course in English
in the town nearest me. "Try our Sherbrooke office."
I call the Sherbrooke office (25 miles away)... French only - "Try Montreal."
I call the Montreal office (100 miles away)... "Desole, French only - try Granby."
I call the Granby office (40 miles away), no English courses. "Try Brossard."
I call the Brossard office (90 miles away), courses are, you guessed it, in French only.
But the very nice lady in Brossard does hold out a ray of hope, "Maybe next year."
(As a former Washington Senators baseball fan these words had a vaguely
familiar ring to them).
So, I went to Sherbrooke and took the theory class in French (no more courses in
Magog until next year). I was just starting to get down on the bike vocabulary when the course ended.
Not to worry, I call up the SAAQ to get an appointment for my theory test.
Person on the other end asks for my dossier number.
"Dossier number?" says I.
"It's on your driving license", says she.
I haul out my license, read off the number, and idly flip the license over where I read:
Vehicule automobile de moins de 4500 kg
et habitation motorisee.
"Ummm, never mind, cancel that appointment, I have to go ride my motorsickle right now."
Evidently when I moved here in '71 and traded my US driver's license for
a Quebec one I told the SAAQ that I drove automobiles and motorcycles.
All these years... who knew?