New Rider Frightened On the Street

by Kate
(Boston, MA)

Hi, I took the MSF course a few weeks ago and didn't pass the skills test - 3 points away from passing, mostly because I had trouble getting my speed up enough and they take points off if you're not going a certain speed for the exercises in the evaluation.

I bought a bike that I really like the look of and is a good size for me... Kawasaki Eliminator 125 (small, but looks like a cool cruiser). I have practiced on three occasions in a nearby parking lot, warming up and doing the drills that are on the skills test, among others. I can now do everything that is needed to pass the test, including the figure 8, and I have gotten up to speeds of 20-25 mph on a straightaway.

My boyfriend and another couple we're friends with helped me practice, and it was really fun. Then they wanted to go for ice cream, and we rode about 1.5 miles to the town center on Memorial Day evening in relatively low traffic. I was scared to death! Even with one person in front of me on a bike and two behind as a buffer between me and tailgaters, it was pretty scary. We were probably doing 25, tops, and there were cars lining up behind us. I was shaky when we stopped for ice cream. On the way back, when it was time to turn off the main road onto our friends' street, I totally forgot all I knew about "slow, look, press, and roll," and didn't slow down enough, then took the turn too wide, on the clutch instead of downshifting properly before the turn and then speeding up while in the turn.

That really shook me up. Nothing bad happened, but it made me realize that if something I totally know how to do can just go out the window like that, I shouldn't be riding in traffic! But I feel like I'm slowing my friends down and I should be ready to go out and ride around.

Any advice?


Comments for New Rider Frightened On the Street

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Jun 26, 2010
1st Time Rider
by: Anonymous

I am a new rider also and have had my license for about 6 months now, but only riding for about 3 months, do not let anyone rush you, this is your life and you have to feel comfortable on your bike and in traffic. I live in a community that I would go around the street and practice stopping going in a u-turn, slowing down behind cars, I was doing that for a month, then went to the back roads and practiced being in a little traffic and making my turns and stopping at 4wys. it took me almost three months to get into traffic. I just made my first long ride with my husband and that is the only person I have rode with so far. I have friends also but she just got her bike and it will take her some time before she is ready to ride on the roads and do a road trip. But please take your time, you have a life time to learn. Good luck!!!

Jun 22, 2010
Glad I'm not the only one.
by: Laura

I just finished my motorcycle course last weekend (the instructors were awful, and it was a really bad experience). Overall, I didn't feel ready to get out on the road. I've really been pushing myself to get out there, but it's been tough, and I've had a few brain farts. I've only been riding for two weeks, and am a little down that I'm not riding into work every day (like your friend in Boston), but I guess we all have to learn at our own pace. Glad I found this form too! Nice to know I'm not the only one who's just learning.

Jun 08, 2010
by: Kate

Thanks for all the advice, everybody! It makes my feelings seem normal. Nice to know not everyone is like my friend who took the class with me and is already riding her bike to work in downtown Boston! I'm glad so many people felt like me and are now riding with confidence. Hope I will be one day soon also!

Jun 08, 2010
by: Anonymous

Kudos, you're normal . You just need lots more seat time . Good luck.

Jun 06, 2010
Hi Yvonne
by: Bridgett

Thanks for your comment, glad you could get a chuckle out of our frustrating situation!! LOL. The really bad part was I was trying to show my daughter how "good" I was getting, and as I was trying to turn around in our court, that is when my throttle problem happened. My ex and my daughter just stood there thinking God knows what, Kiss mother goodbye! LOL. The throttle issue straightened itself out within a week or two. But I would say the first few months were tough. Then it just gets easier and easier with lots of "comfortable" practice. If you don't feel confident and comfortable you will have a mind block and I felt It was not as good of a practice session. Yes, I dropped my bike,at an almost complete stop. Yes, I couldn't turn on the road and would scoot the bike thru turns with my legs! LOL, ridiculous, but I kept trying and oh how I love riding now. I road with a large group today, about 200 bikes, we only went about 125 miles, but it was such a great feeling, I could ride with the best of them, only one of two female riders today and that gave me a feeling of accomplishment.Ride Like a Pro, you can get it on Amazon.com, or just Google "Ride Like a Pro" Jerry "motorman" Palladini I think is his name. I highly recommend.

I started riding Feb '09, so now a year and a half later I can say I feel so much more comfortable, with each ride it gets better and better. Hang in there SISTA!

Jun 05, 2010
Not walkin' on water here...
by: Yvonne


You gave me the BEST laugh, on a not so great day. I have the same problem with throttling when I mean to brake- not an "in control" feeling at all. I guess we're all not so different from each other as we think we are. I too have the same fear of "road-riding" other women are describing. I admire the handle on it you've acquired. How long did it take you to get past that fear, and where did you get the video on riding like a pro?

- PS Thanks for the smile!

Jun 05, 2010
I'm with You Totally
by: Jenn

I totally understand you right now. I just bought my own bike. Took the MSF class too. I keep to my parents neighborhood (the bike has a garage over there) I'm starting to feel like Rainman. I'm an excellent driver, but only on Sunday and only in the driveway. :)

I haven't taken the bike out into traffic yet. I'm terrified. In order for me to get to some nice roads, I first have to pull out and drive down a road marked 55 MPH. I admit it, I'm terrified. I'm not ready to go from 35 to 55.

But I'm convinced that with practice and with patience in ourselves (you and me), we'll get out there and feel comfortable. Good luck with your riding!

Jun 04, 2010
Hang in There
by: Julie

I know how you feel.. I struggled with all the feelings you have and did the exact turn and ended with the bike on top of me. Nothing serious but it taught me I am not ready for the road and if you don't feel comfortable, don't do it. Take your time and use that parking lot and practice. There is nothing worse than being in traffic and being in total fear. Your friends will understand because they were there once also. Keep practicing and when you are ready, you will know.

I take my course tomorrow and it is supposed to rain, lol. Happy riding and be safe:)

Jun 04, 2010
Don't Give Up
by: Penster

I too did the parking lot...went to my local high school and drove that parking lot over and over and over. It really helped. Anyway, don't give up! Just practice. Try to stay calm and enjoy what you are doing. Enjoy your practice time. Just take it easy, at your own speed. Good luck!

Jun 04, 2010
by: robin

Hi..had same feelings and when I took the turn as you did, I crashed..thankfully had a helmet on as I hit a fire hydrant in a residential neighborhood! Have only been riding since March but the parking lot became my second home and really helped a lot. I think the other robin said practice practice practice...I am looking forward to when it is second nature. My friends say I am doing fine..hang in there...we can do this together!!

Jun 04, 2010
by: Robin

I comes with time and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It will be second nature, just like someone drives a car.

Jun 04, 2010
Take your time!
by: Bridgett

Ride your own ride. Don't go on the streets until you feel comfortable in a parking lot. Everyone learns at a different pace, I compared myself to other newer riders (mainly men) and felt very inadequate. But I kept going to the parking lot, around our neighborhood, and after awhile I went on the road. I did stupid things like I always had a habit of giving the bike throttle when I was trying to brake! I rode up onto the neighbors lawn and every time I let of the brake I would have the throttle open and would keep lunging forward! It took me a few times out to stop doing that. You will feel your doing much better one day, then the next you think WTF!? Keep practicing, take the class again if you need to and you WILL get better! This is my second season riding. I just rode my longest ride last weekend, over 300 miles, it was a blast! But the first long trip I took last year (200 miles) I thought I would never do it again, I was thrashed when I got home, practice and you will get better and then you get more comfortable, then you really start enjoying the ride!

BTW, I got the video "Ride Like a Pro" and it was excellent. It really helped me improve my skills. Hang in there and Good Luck...ride safe. DO NOT let anyone pressure you into riding beyond your comfort zone.


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