Sunday, October 25, 2009
The Basic Riders Course
Saturday was day 1 of my course. I was a bit apprehensive, but so was everyone else. There were quite a few women in the class. This surprised me. I thought I would be the only one. We went through the book and watched some informational videos. Then it was lunchtime. After lunch we hit the course for the first time. The instructors had us stand by a bike that we thought would fit us. They were all relatively the same size, so I don't know what that was all about. I chose a Honda Nighthawk 250. After some instructions, we were told to start the bikes. Mine started up just fine. Between exercises, we had to shut down the bikes, and then start them again for the next exercise. OK, that's cool, no problem, right? Well, this little Nighthawk did NOT want to start. It had a dead battery. The instructor got on it and popped the clutch to start it for me. He told me not to turn it off after the next exercise. No problem! Then I stalled it. :) We all got to take a nice little break while they got another bike for me. Same model and size. Rocking the bikes back and forth to find the 'friction zone' (where the clutch just barely catches) was great, but I was ready to ride. We had to 'power walk' the bikes across our lanes to the other cone. Then we were instructed to put our feet up and ride back to our original cone. YAY! There was one woman who just didn't get it. She left about 1/2 way through the afternoon. She came back this morning and they transferred her to a private course, no extra charge. That was cool. After learning to start, stop, shift, turn, etc. I was ready to roll! I got stuck behind a girl named Lisa on day 1. It sucked because everytime we did something, the instructors would stop Lisa and instruct her some more. So I had to wait with my clutch pulled in. OUCH. I was getting tired of hearing, "Lisa, stop!" More on Lisa later. When I got home last night I was absolutely EUPHORIC! I rode all afternoon, and it kicked ass!!! I was totally hooked. However, there was one slight issue: my left hand was throbbing and felt as if it would never go back to normal. Nothing a Soma and a glass of wine can't fix! This weekend, Big D had gone up north for a BACA child ride. So I called him as soon as I got home. The whole gang was up there and yelled "Congratulations" to me over the phone. They all knew how anxious I was about turning and not dropping the bike. That was really cool. I'm sad that I missed the child ride, but I'm so happy I took this class. After talking to Big D for a while, he made me promise, again, NOT to take Annabelle out of the garage while he was gone. I promised. With my left hand such a mess, I really had no inclination to, anyway. After a great night's sleep, it was day 2. I got up extra early, had some coffee, chatted with some good friends on Facebook, and got ready for class. As I was driving to class this morning, I thought, "This is boring! I WANT TO RIDE!!!" No, I did not take Annabelle. A promise is a promise. I wasn't ready anyway. More instruction and some videos this morning, and then....the written exam. I guess after being back in college for more than a year, taking written exams just doesn't bother me anymore. I wasn't nervous at all. And I shouldn't have been. I passed with a 100%. :) Lunch and then on to the bikes! I was really excited about riding again. I was a little nervous, because I knew the skills test would be held this afternoon, and that worried me. Those damned figure 8's SUCK! I kept going outside the box. I've always been an 'outside the box' kind of gal, anyway. :) But when I told that to the instructor, he just shook his head and said, "This is one instance where you need to be an inside the box kind of gal." Dammit. So we did some stopping, turning, curves, slaloms (which I LOVE!), and accelerating through a turn. Then more figure 8's. These were killing me. It was bad. Then it was time for the skills test. This made me very nervous. I started sweating profusely and taking deep, calming breaths. I was the 4th bike in line. I watched 3 men execute PERFECT figure 8's. Not only did this annoy the living shit out of me, it made me more nervous! Now it was my turn. Clutch in, 1st gear, ease off the clutch, roll on the throttle. 1st turn: head turned, press & roll, good. 2nd turn: head turned, press & roll - TOO MUCH! Outside the box twice on the 2nd turn. Now accelerate and swerve to the right, then come to a quick, complete stop while downshifting to 1st gear. No problem. Executed perfectly. I love swerving! Then we had to go in a straight line, get up to 20 mph in 2nd gear and stop just after the cones. No issue, right? My bike stopped 2 ft too late. I lost points for that, too. Then, we had to execute a 90-degree right turn, accelerate, and then a 135-degree turn while accelerating through the whole turn. Stay in the lines, inside-outside-inside, and do not slow down in the turn. Apparently, I slowed down. Lost points for that, too. After completing all the tests, we were told to ride over to the staging area and they called us over one by one to give us our scores. The anticipation was killing me. When the instructor called my name, I walked over to him. I told him that if I failed, he should just tell me to walk away, and I will. I lost a lot of points. He said I was probably just nervous on the last turn, because I had done it perfectly several times before that. He explained how I lost points, and what I could do in the future to avoid making the same mistakes. He also told me to practice a lot. Then he told me I passed! :) Remember Lisa? The chick that was solely responsible for my throbbing clutch hand Saturday night? She failed. I think it's a good thing, though, because I really wouldn't want to see her on the road on two wheels. She was really bad. I do give her credit for not giving up, though. I really thought she would. Everyone else passed the class. We all got our paperwork to bring to the DMV and went home. While I was driving home I thought, "This sucks. I want to ride!" However, I still need practice. And I have never ridden Annabelle before, and she's a whole lot different than a Honda Nighthawk 250! I am going to take her to the old WalMart parking lot next Saturday morning to practice. Maybe if I get comfortable enough with her, Big D will let me ride her home! It's only 1.5 miles! :) Thanks to everyone for all your encouragement, support and kind words. They mean a lot to me, and I was thinking of all of you when I was riding this weekend. I was thinking, "If I don't pass, I'm going to eat a lot of shit from the bloggers!" LOL! Have a great night and ride safe!