Last Week-end was my third time EVER to ride a motorcycle. My head is still swimming, partly from excitement but also from all the new stuff I am trying to remember.
Scott keeps telling me to relax but it is so hard! He has been riding since he was 5 years old so for him it is all second nature. Me, I have never ridden anything close to a motorcycle, I can’t drive a standard and well, I am very intimidated by it all!
He and I discussed how it can be difficult for seasoned riders to grasp the concerns, fears, and issues that beginning riders have. They simply let the clutch out, roll on the throttle, let off the brake simultaneously and zoom away clicking up and down their gears without thought. Me , as a new rider however, I have a completely different perspective on this process. We are not familiar or acquainted with how all that works together. We also mentally dwell on each task that needs to be performed just to get the bike moving, all the while being concerned about keeping their balance, tipping, or falling.
To the new rider taking off is like a task list where each action needs to be checked off and accounted for. 1) Slowly release clutch until engagement
2) Slightly roll on throttle
3) Keep my balance
4) What if I let the clutch out too fast?!
5) Let up on brake
6) What if I give too much throttle?!
7) Release more clutch
8) Keep my balance
9) What do I do if I start to fall?!
All these things and more are going through the new riders head and it can easily create a fog of thought that makes it even harder to get started. Scott assures me that I will overcome these issues at various levels, it just takes practice and time.
The very first time he took me out to learn to ride I was able to grasp the basics of clutch and brake. I wasn’t zooming around the parking lot, but I did ride and stop. Scott would jog beside me, coaching me, and was available in case of emergency. He got my exercises in for sure that day and lost a few pounds! Only one time did I fall, and fortunately when I started going over, I pulled in the clutch and held it in place to keep the bike from propelling forward. Not sure if that was something Scott had told me to or not, it probably was just luck.
The second time we went out my skill level went up tremendously. I just caught on to all of it. By the end of the day I was taking off and stopping without help. I rode around the parking lot for a couple hours practicing clutching and braking. I did topple a couple times, once due to popping the clutch and having the bike jolt forward, the other time I came to a stop and turned the handlebars which caused me to topple to that side. No harm done though, I hopped right off and just let the bike go over. It was a good experience for me to topple though. When Scott asked if I was okay I replied “Now I know I can fall over and not necessarily get hurt”. I had a great fear that falling over automatically meant broken body parts. Toppling safely helped over come some of my preconceptions about that.
The third time we went out to practice was totally exciting. Again I feel like I took a huge leap forward in my learning. Of course Scott took this to mean he needed to begin pushing my riding skills. By the end of the day I was shifting up to third and back down, weaving between buckets (we bought cones for future practices), and coming to quicker stops at a parking lot line. I was scared when he told me what we were going to do but in the end I am glad he pushed me.
We have gone out a fourth time and again Scott felt the need to push me a little bit more. He closed the cone weave to be a bit tighter and had me perform more shifting patterns to accustom me to having to shift more due to traffic situations. He also shook me up a bit by having me take off facing upwards on a slight incline. That gave me some problems because I couldn’t just let off the brake without rolling backwards. It did help me learn to feather the clutch with more accuracy though and taking off on an incline is a real world situation that I need to be able to do. I have to admit I didn’t do very well with it and that will be an area that will require A LOT OF PRACTICE!
Going back to my third ride, Scott took the GoPro that day and shot a bit of video of me. He did it so I could see how well I was doing. Sometimes its not evident to yourself when your the one riding. He had fun with the clips and put them into a short video with some music. It was fun to get to see myself riding and to be able to appreciate how far I have come. I am so thankful for a husband that is willing to help me reach my dream of learning to ride!