My first week and a half
The Stable at Our House
I am 43 and decided to start riding for myself. I have been a passenger on our ’09 Kawasaki Concours and there is NO WAY I’m touching that thing! Way too heavy and powerful! I bought a 2012 Ninja 650. So far I love it…it is neither overwhelming or underwhelming. Even my 30-year-riding-veteran-bf loves it. Yeah, probably shoulda started with a used bike, but what can I say? I fell in love. Anyway, it’s like being pregnant…there’s no turning back now!!!!
I have been learning on the street/in parking lots for now. I am signed up for the MSF course that starts in a couple weeks.
In the last week-and-a-half, here are some of the “opportunities for learning” that I have encountered!
1. First night learning low speed maneuvering, I applied the front brake while my wheel was turned. 10 miles on the ODO. &*^%$& Had to buy a new clutch lever. I’ve said to myself more than once since then “lay off the front brake, woman!” I have found that practicing low-speed maneuvering is like spending a Friday night doing math homework.
2. Oh, another thing I say to myself, “turn your f***n head and look where you are going!” Like when all I could see was the trash can at the curb on garbage night!!!
3. Hour four of “practice time” apparently someone called the cops on me for “reckless driving.” Uh…noooo. We had been riding around some residential street when we stopped at a park for a chat. Cops walked up to us and asked “who rides the green one?” Jeez, can’t people tell the difference between a newbie’s jerky starts and stops and a wheelie??!!! Give me a break! Although, a day or two later I saw a green ZX6R in the area being WAYYY more rambunctious than I ever will. So, maybe that is who the call to the cops was meant for???
4. Hand slipped on the throttle…whoa Nellie! Nice ‘n easy…!
5. Shifted without using clutch. Whoops.
6. Downshifted instead of up…what the heck did I do that for? Now I keep my toes under the lever at all times. It seems I was also lightly resting my foot on the shift lever…this made it so I had to more aggressively tap the lever to downshift. I didn’t realize I was doing it. Now that I keep my toes ALWAYs under the lever, downshifting is smooth.
7. Trying to park at the curb on a hill…(this all happened in a matter of seconds)…used front brake, bike started falling, hand slipped and goosed the throttle. Scared the crap outta me! It was by sheer determination that I pulled that bike back up mid-fall!!!! Woohooo, didn’t have to buy ANOTHER new clutch lever!!!
8. Light changed to yellow…hit brakes harder than I needed to and locked rear tire. I credit learning to drive on ice and snow here in the Midwest for my instinctive reactions…”whatever it is that made it happen…STOP doing it!!!” LOL Instantly released the brakes and reapplied with less pressure. It really doesn’t take that long to stop my bike.
9. Successfully used downshifting/engine breaking to slow down a steep hill with a stop sign at the bottom. That was fun! Now, starting on an incline…I’m workin’ on it! ;)
10. Filled my gas tank. Hey! This is a big deal! Low speed maneuvering in front of people…
I think my big thing now is to work on loosening up. I know I am gripping too tight and holding my frame too rigid. It wears me out and makes me too jumpy on the controls. My thoughts range from, “just do it” and “breathe,” to “get outta your damn head” and “calm the f*** down!” I wonder if that self-talk is a female thing or if everyone does it??
As far as countersteering goes (there is so much talk about this online)…for me that is a piece of cake. It is completely effortless and natural, as long as I look where I want to go and let myself go there. (Now, what’s my problem doing that around a right-hand corner from a stop??!!?? “Get outta yer head, woman!” LOL) Of course, I have not pushed any limits at all in that regard. But then, I’m not here to race. I’m here to enjoy the ride.