Motorcycle? Check. Helmet? Check. Boots and gloves? Check. Armored jacket? Check. I'm either ready to play running back in a football game, or to go to our local community college parking lot and practice my moves on the motorcycle... Parking lot it is!
Never underestimate the value of a large, empty parking lot! To think you will automatically be ready for the road after a two day MSF class is a bit on the crazy side. (although, I know some people do it!). I personally wanted to find my rhythm in a place where I could practice on the motorcycle without cars bearing down impatiently on me.
So on a 100 degree day, (have I mentioned that I was dressed from head to toe?!), I set out to remember everything that my two day MSF motorcycle class taught me.
I turned the motorcycle on with a bit of nervousness, and slowly let go of the clutch to move forward. It was then that my eagerness started to wane, as I felt like I completely forgot how to ride.
It seems the difference between a 650cc motorcycle and a 250cc motorcycle is a bit more than I originally thought
After a few minutes, I finally got into the rhythm. All it took was taking a deep breath, remembering what I had learned, and assuring myself that I would get it eventually.
I think the two key things for me were patience and fun. The minute I started stressing and forgot about why I loved to ride motorcycles in the first place, I started doing bad. Once I relaxed, I was much better. I could then think through what I was doing, but not over analyze every little move. This made the learning curve go a bit faster.
I eventually graduated from riding the motorcycle in a college parking lot to a larger lot that had an actual road around it. Here I could practice my stops, passing, and switching gears. When I got to third gear, the exhilaration of speed came back, and I completely forgot I was in a parking lot with my husband and our dog cheering me on! I did this for a couple weekends, and then, smile on my face, officially graduated to the road.
The first time I went on the road with the motorcycle, it was an early Sunday morning with no one out.
I was following my husband on his Harley Davidson, and was really excited to be out for the first time.
The first few minutes had my nerves jumping a bit, but this didn't last long. The feeling of exhilarating power and freedom was so overwhelmingly fun that I forgot to be nervous.
I just paid attention to what I was doing and enjoyed the ride. The first time I got up to 45, I felt like I was flying! I now started to really realize what everyone loved so much about riding motorcycles!
First: Curves. But I went slow, and low and behold, "looked where I was going" (I DID remember something from the MSF class!) and it made the turns much smoother.
I also really watched my husband ride, which was really helpful. Riding behind him helped me to see how he entered and exited turns, which I then tried to replicate.
Second: Starting on a hill. Although no one laughed when I stalled four times going up my inclined driveway, I would rather not do it on the road. This one just takes practice coordinating all those damn levers and peddles on the motorcycle.
I recommend finding a small hill that you can do it in private. I'm not perfect yet, but not too bad either.
This past week I hit a milestone. For the first time, I took the bike to work on my own.
No one was there to make sure I shifted OK, didn't stall, or felt steady. I was completely on my own.
So, with my laptop in my backpack and high heels in a bag, I set out to work on an early Monday morning. I didn't have any trouble - I think all the practicing made me feel really comfortable with the bike and with my skills.
There is nothing better than watching the sunrise break over the horizon on my own motorcycle. And I do have to say that it was the first time in a long time that I went to work with a smile on my face!
To all of you fellow motorcyclists out there, ride safe and ride well.