Nervous to ride on city streets after a few months off

by Kim
(Portland, OR)

Hi ladies,

So I bought my first bike at the end of April this year and took my MSF course in June. I loved the course and felt very comfortable on the bike. I came home and started practicing on mine. However about a week later my carbs got all gunked up and my bike was out of commission. Due to the high volume of bikes that are being repaired during the summer it took a month and half for my shop to get the bike back to me. Now I have her back and she's running fine but I'm really scared to go out on city streets. Technically I've never ridden on one aside from the little culdesac I live in. I've been out to practice the basics like shifting and getting comfortable with the friction zone; I'm really nervous to go on the road. Plus I don't think I've ever gone more than 25 mph! All the roads near my house are 45 mph and I don't want to go so slow that I become a danger to me and everyone else. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to get out there?

Also about the speed thing. When I have gone 25 mph I felt like I was moving at mach 5 and that I might just get blown off the bike. I've tried gripping the tank with my knees but I still have that worry. Will I just get used the speed after more practice?

Comments for Nervous to ride on city streets after a few months off

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Aug 26, 2012
Nervous to ride on city streets after a few months off
by: Cher

I understand what you mean. I just got my license 5/1/12. I was nervous too about driving in traffic; especially when you consider previous close calls in cars, etc. Someone suggested I try working on my starting, stopping, curves, cornering, starting/stopping on hills, and quick stop skills in a cemetary before mixing with traffic. There happened to be one about half mile from my home, where the back section is 1800's burials. Figuring there'd be virtually no cars in that section I sucked it up for the half mile at 30-35 mph and one red light, and spent a few hours working on my skills. You can't really get much speed going, but to me if you're comfortable with those skills you can concentrate more on the traffic when you hit the roads, rather than worrying that you'll fumble at an intersection, which means you're not fully concentrating on the traffic around you. It helped me greatly. I don't get out to practice as much as I'd like or should, and some days those skills aren't as I'd like, but other days they're awesome.

I spent the first month pretty much riding alone. I stayed on back roads, working up my speeds. I found I'm most comfortable around 40, but try to push the speed more and more knowing it'll become less uncomfortable the more I do it. I have a couple of buddies that have been riding 1-2 seasons. They understand the getting used to it, and they started taking me out on weekends; one in front, me in the middle, other in the rear. When I ride with them I feel completely safe. They sort of crowd me at intersections if I lag to make sure I get through safely. I also connected with a lady rider through the group "Women Who Ride Rock!" on Facebook. I've been out with her a few times. She's encouraging, and gives me helpful feedback. If you can connect with anyone to ride with I suggest asking if you can join them.

The key is practice. The more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. Be patient, and remember women are tougher on ourselves than anyone. Give yourself a break! You'll get there. I know I will too! :)

Aug 26, 2012
Practice, and more practice
by: TammyT

You will definitely get used to the speed with more practice. Pay attention to when the traffic dies down around your area, For me, it is around 6:30 pm after the commuters are all home. Then you can get out and have the road to yourself and practice at your own pace. Just keep an eye on the mirrors and get out of the way of folks who want to go fast. Pretty soon you will be going faster and it will feel just fine. Look way down the road, not right in front of your bike. Look where you want the bike to go. Control your speed gently by rolling on and off the throttle, and not so much with the brakes and you'll do great. I read so many stories on here about ladies dropping their bikes by braking with their front brakes in a turn. Remember that is a big no-no.

Aug 25, 2012
you'll be fine!!!
by: Jen

YAH! You took my advice about getting out early! Since it's Sunday morning, that early, chances are you won't have too many vehicles to deal with. Have fun! I wish we were closer, I'd go for a ride with ya (I'm in Ontario Canada...that's a little too far lol)

As for worrying about the cars...Be cautious! I always try to expect the wrose that driver could do, that way you're kind of prepared for anything. Don't ever ever ever let your guard down!! I personally think that's how come there are so many motorcycle accidents, too many people get too comfortable and too relxed and forget to stay focused and on guard! If you don't think the person in the car sees you, then expect them not to see you and treat the situation as if they don't. Slow down at intersections, don't stop...just slow down and watch the oncoming traffic and the traffic coming to the intersections...sometimes some people like to wait until the very last second to stop, or they blow the stop...always look for a place to get out of that situation quick (if that happens) You basically have to go through scenerios in your head, know what I mean, to always be prepared.

Let us know how your ride went!

Aug 25, 2012
Re: Nervous to ride
by: Kim

I like to play the 'invisible' game so being around cars is what scares me the most. I've had cars not see when I'm driving my car. I know bikes are much more agile but I still worry they won't see me and do something unpredictable.

I've got my alarm set for 6am tomorrow :) I don't really have anyone to ride with. My ex boyfriend encouraged me to pursue my dream of riding. Even though we're still friends he stunts bikes and has been pulled over lots of times for speeding being reckless. I'm sure he would ride with me but I feel like he might teach me some bad habits or be a bad influence.

Have any of you ladies tried joining motorcycle clubs on your own? I tried going to one meeting and felt like a piece of meat since I was one of the only females and am 21. I want to meet more people who ride but feel a little uncomfortable at meetings like that.

Aug 25, 2012
I'll just be repeating but...
by: Lexxia

If you do have someone you can ride with (I also have my husband), that would be great. Going out early in the morning is when we were taking runs when I wanted more street time. My very first street run though was at 9 at night in and around a bunch of streets that are normally pretty quiet. Found I got less tense and more confident as I went. I took my first long run about 3 weeks after to a cottage about 150 miles from home. On the way there we took all back country roads. I was working on keeping the throttle at constant speeds because my hand was getting so sore. I was also hanging on for dear life. The wind was a little brutal in areas were there were open fields (or so I thought) and I was certain I was going to go sailing but after awhile, you sort of get use to the buffeting. On the way back I had become comfortable enough to take the main roads. I even got on to our freeway here for several miles was surprised at how much I loved it.

The more you go out, the more comfortable you become. The first little while you will find yourself grabbing those handle grips til you get cramped fingers and when you get off the bike you may have sore inner thighs that evening or next day. At least I certainly did. It all takes time and practice to become "one" with the bike.

I still won't take runs down main thorough fares here. We went to a baseball game this morning and my husband wanted to take the bikes. Only 13 stop lights and hardly any traffic at 9 a.m. he said. I said nope, he was a bit disappointed but we took the vehicle. The traffic was crazy, every light was red and when we got to the ball diamond, it was down a hill and before the bottom you turned to the left and had to motor over raised pavement as soon as you turned. Coming out again you turned right and immediately began going up the hill with the stop light at the very top. It was red when we got there. So, I'm not only very glad but very certain I'd have had a tad bit of trouble doing that hill. Someday I'll take the plunge and tackle it but don't think that will be for a while.

We all have our "firsts", some firsts take a bit more practice than others but just like everything else, take it a few steps at a time, chunks that you can handle at your comfort level and you'll be taking longer runs at highway speeds in no time.

You can do it!

Aug 25, 2012
Been there done that....you'll be fine!!
by: Anonymous

As someone else asked, do you have a friend you can go out with? I was lucky and had my husband to go out with. Him and I like to go out on a Saturday or Sunday mornings at around 6am. It's so nice and peaceful, and no one is up and out on the roads yet. It's understandable to be really nervous when you haven't been out on the real roads yet. But once you do it and start feeling more comfortable with it, the more confidence you'll have. Try not to grip the handle bars too much or the tank with your legs. just relax!!! I know if I'm tensed up and not really feeling into riding that day, I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying it, and I find myself gripping the bars. relax relax realx the bike will flow so much better with you when you're relaxed.

Let us know how everything goes!

Aug 25, 2012
City streets
by: Donna

Go out when traffic isn't crazy, a little farther every time.

Aug 25, 2012
Relax and Ride
by: Anonymous


Congratulations on your first bike! Do you have a friend you can go out with? I find when I'm with others that are patient I do much better. You can ride in front or back, wherever you are comfortable. I prefer being behind, they keep the pace and wait for me if I go slower. My problem is the bends, I wrecked on a bend a few years ago. Just keep going, you will eventually have a smoother quicker pace. I don't grip the tank because your concentrating on that and not the road. Try relaxing your legs and body, looking where you want to go.

Good Luck, keep riding

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