My first week and a half

by rydelykeagurl

The Stable at Our House

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.

Comments for My first week and a half

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Aug 17, 2012
Were you standing behind me!
by: Lexxia

Lol, awesome "play by play" - loved it. Fond memories of my own. Brought a tear to my eye. Well, ok, that's going a little far, but in short, you are definitely not the only one whom ALL of those things and more, have happened to.

Before my current bike, my husband had bought me another - same year, make/model/size but it was having clutch issues. He finally thought he'd gotten everything perfected so time for me to take the bars and go for a spin. Well, the bike had other ideas. It uncerimoneously dumped me on my touche. My right knee is already pretty shattered and so when I dumped her, all I could think of was protecting that knee. Which I did, amazingly enough. Did so again a few weeks later when driving in a little town, came to a stop but rather than stopping more to the middle, I stopped to the right, the way I was going to turn. Of course there was this thing called a dip and my foot was trying to find the ground and by the time it did, the bike was already on a nice side dip of its own. Down I went...smashed the right hand mirror, but I protected my knee!

Moral of the stories - it isn't the number of times you down a bike that count.It's the number of times you get back on and ride into the sunset smiling!

May you enjoy the wind on your face, sun at your back and many miles of safe traveling ahead of you. All the best with your course!


Aug 17, 2012
some riding tips
by: Lillie

I am 38 and I have a 2000 honda 600 f4 that I have been riding for 8 years and I love it. I am still not that fast and hate inclines will avoid them if I can but here a re a few things I have found that and hopefuly you will find that makes it easier to turn if you place your toes up on the foot pegs instead of being flat footed on the pegs while you ride and push a little with your toes on each side it only takes a little pressure to make the bike move from one side to the other. Also when in a turn let your leg turn out just a little at first than the more comfortable you become on the street bike you can lean out more, as you look through the turn. If there is a race track in your area you may want to check and see if they have trainings, I have been told that they are amazing. One of these days I want to do a track day with some instructions just to learn more not to go faster but to be able to ride safer and turn smother. Hope these tips help. that is a beautiful bike, congratulations. Ever since I started riding my own I have never been on the back of a sports bike since.

Aug 15, 2012
Hudson Valley, NY
by: lilmsrida

I have to admit I was laughing not at you but with you......I, too, am a new rider, 47 here and I decided a long time ago that I wanted my license a bike and to ride, by myself, after sitting on the back of a cruiser where my #$$ cheeks hurt so bad from riding for over 2 hours. I went to a HD garage party, signed up for the MSF class, got permit, took the course, license, and bought a bike all within 2 months from April to June of this year.
Then I read this....and said uh huh, yup, all that was me....short slow turns I hit the front brake duh...the front wheel stops silly and I put my leg out to hold the bike...wronnnnnnnng, hurt leg, crying, and all I was worried about was "is my bike ok"?
after two weeks of resting I decided to go for it again...only this time I looked elsewhere when to turn and almost hit the mailboxes..lol...shifting w/o the clutch my husband tells me he used to do that all the time when riding offroad so I tried it once but i still need the clutch. Oh and the incline? I just went out with my sis n bro n law and all he did was take me out on incline starts and the infamous go right turn after stopping..so much fun...then my first time to the gas station ...i drove down ok sharp right turn left turn get to the station ...splash all gas all over my tank ....then I pulled out and waited and waited until I could turn when no cars were coming and made it home smelling like fuel....what a scent that was.....well I am here for you!!! I feel for you...and congrats to you..you will love the MSF class...but remember when doing those short turns feel the clutch the gas and have someone stand behind you for you to turn and look at them down the road...that may help too!!! Keep us informed how you did.....Your bike is beautiful!!! enjoy!!

Aug 15, 2012
by: Donna

Glad you liked my story. I had fun writing it! And I think it was therapeutic getting it down in words. :)

It's been a couple days since I've been able to get out on it...I'm itchin' to go!

BTW, I live in east-central iowa...cedar rapids/iowa city.

Aug 15, 2012
Love it!
by: Jolene

Great post!! Your story brought back memories of when I was learning to ride. I started riding about seven years ago, I'm 63 years old now, but age won't be what stops me from riding. I love it and will continue as long as the Lord allows me. Hang in there girl!

Aug 14, 2012
First week
by: Char

I loved this post, I think you just about hit all the lessons learned and WTF did I do. Let us know how you make out after the riding class. Good luck and keep us posted.

Aug 14, 2012
by: Linda

I LOVED your story! It just sounds like something I might say or do or done! LOL Where are you at in Iowa? I'm East Central by the Mississippi.

Aug 14, 2012
awesome post
by: Jeanette

What a great post... I think I could have written most of it myself except I didn't need to replace the clutch when I used my front brake in a turn... I am still nursing the wound on my shin (7 weeks later).. I probably should have had a couple of stitches.. but I am fine. That was my first parking lot experience.. I have since taken the MSF course, passed and riding on the road which I find much easier than the parking lot...
Enjoying every minute.. Happy and Safe riding

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