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Balance and trust (Dave's learning curve)

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by bangalla, May 14, 2007.

  1. I've wanted to get my bike license for a while now. I'm not really sure where the desire came from, but it has certainly been there gnawing away at me.

    The first time I raised this was when I told my wife that I was considering looking after a 250 owned by a friend who was going to be overseas for three months. My wife let me know pretty quickly that it was one of the worst ideas that she'd heard me express, which is quite a statement considering some of my grand plans in the time we've been together.
    That was over three years ago, every now and again I would raise the subject, each time being told that she wasn't comfortable with the idea of me on a bike.

    Three weeks ago I raised the subject again, more out of hope than anticipation, to be completely floored when SWMBO told me that not only could I get my license, but I had her full support. Within a week I'd passed the knowledge test for my Learner's permit and on the weekend following that purchased my safety gear. My father in law recently bought a Suzuki Intruder 250 to learn on so it was agreed that I would also use this bike during my Ls period rather than investing in another 250 which would be replaced once I obtained my unrestricted license, which would be as soon as I passed my Ps test as I'm over 30.

    I began reading on the 'net. I found netrider and looked for whatever other resources I could find. I read everything I could about learning to ride and looked at bike manufacturers websites, dreaming about what type of bike would find its way into our carport. This is about the time that the fear set in, what if I couldn't do it? What if I genuinely could not manage to ride a motorcycle? The conversations in my head went back and forth, my father and father in law (Bruno) both rode and Bruno had hopped on a bike for the very first time last year so surely I could do it. But what if I couldn't? The thought was awful. The last time I rode a motorbike I was in my early teens and I was dodging potholes and cow pats on a friend's farm, a very different scenario to riding in traffic, or attacking winding mountain roads.

    Last Monday Dad rode into town on his Harley, bought down from Port Macquarie to be sold to Bruno. I rode pillion when Dad went to deliver the bike, loving every second; surely I'd be able to ride. Bruno told me that he'd drop the 250 over for me on Saturday.

    The week zoomed past and on Saturday I returned home from town to see the Suzuki sitting in our yard, teasing me as I had no time that day to ride it. By lunch time on Sunday I was determined to get on the bike so I suited up and fired up the little V-twin.

    My plan was to ride to a nearby car park and familiarise myself with the controls, which seemed to be a big goal as I stuttered and bunny hopped out of the driveway. The self doubt was dispatched as soon as I grabbed second gear, suddenly the bike found its manners and my confidence soared. I climbed through the gears, dropping down again to go over speed humps then back up, I couldn't believe that it was all so natural.

    The car park was more crowded than I had expected and the fears that had been working up all week had gone so I ventured on to the suburban streets near my home. I would have had a grin from ear to ear, except that the cheekpads in my helmet made that impossible for more than a few seconds at a time. I came to an intersection, performed a headcheck and gunned the throttle, turning to my left. It was only after I'd completed the turn that it sunk in that I'd turned in front of a semi trailer and that it was now behind me, despite the gap being completely safe I was very aware of how exposed I was compared to the safety of our turbo charged Audi.

    While all of that was running through my head I realised that I'd forgotten to cancel my indicators, so I switched them off and then turned into the next side street before the gap between the semi and myself got any smaller, this time remembering my indicators. A give way sign part way along this street let my practice my stop and stall technique. A few more blocks and I came to another carpark, this time deserted, where I practised my starts, with plenty of stalls, braking and low speed manoeuvring.

    Everything was going so well that I decided to head out of town towards the Hume Weir and Bellbridge. This road is a lot of fun, with a few kilometres of 50-75km/h bends through some undulating terrain. As I passed the 80 signs and twisted the throttle my thoughts turned to how I would fare cornering at higher speed, thankfully it was so natural that I was onto the third corner in a row before I thought to check which way I was turning the handlebars (yes, I was counter-steering properly).

    As my fears slipped away and I realised how natural everything was coming to me my mind began to clear. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of riding through the countryside, feeling totally connected to the bike and the road below it. My perception seemed clearer than it had ever been when on the road and I felt an amazing sense of euphoria. Another amazing feeling was when I looked at the people in the oncoming cars, suddenly the term 'cagers' really made sense (I admit I had thought the term funny, if a little trite). I looked at these people stuck in their little metal boxes, while I was free, the feeling was so empowering.

    I safely returned home and organised a time to drop the bike back to Bruno as he'd need it to get to work the following day. As the time to drop it off grew nearer it began to rain, both Bruno and my Dad asked whether I still planned to ride it over but I knew that this was something that I had to confront sooner or later. With my wife and kids shadowing me in the car I drove from our home in East Albury to the in-laws house on the far side of Wodonga, no stalls, no scary moments and another important first lesson ticked off.

    24 hours later and I'm itching to be on the bike again, waiting for it to be dropped off this weekend is going to seem like an age. I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I am thrilled that everything thus far has come so naturally. The gnawing has now changed, I now know why I want to be on a bike, I've had just the smallest taste of the freedom and calm that it brings and I want more.

    See you out there next weekend.

  2. nice post dave, thanks for the story :biker:
  3. I liked this...reminds us long time riders what riding is all about - something I forget from time to time..
    Just remember that it can go from Euphoria to disaster very quickly...so keep your wits about you, and enjoy your new-found freedom. :grin:
  4. Excellent post Dave. Glad you have the "the bug" :LOL: Good luck with the practice sessions. :)
  5. Sounds like you have a nack for it. I'm so envious! I started out like a complete clueless git :LOL:

    Keep being aware of how you're doing things so you can check if it's the right way and then be right for when you're pushing it more :wink: ...or even if you get pushed more (emergency situation). But yeah, riding's awesome :grin:
  6. Thanks for your feedback :)

    I do indeed have the bug, I spent ages yesterday poring over a roadmap, planning out rides for this weekend.
  7. Today was all about trust and balance.

    I was itching to get on the bike today after last weekend's efforts, but between work, friends and family I didn't get the opportunity until a little after three. My initial start was again an abomination, the penalty for not being anywhere near the bike for over five days, but once again things quickly improved once I grabbed second.

    Today there were no stalls and cancelling the indicators was done without a second thought. I did a quick spin through the car park again, but it wasn't vacant today and besides it was the open road that was filling my thoughts so I once again pointed the little cruiser in the direction of the weir.

    The familiar road to the Bellbridge was handled without a hitch, but today I was going further into the hills across the border, to Bethanga and Talgarno. The road out of Bellbridge is nice and twisty as it climbs up towards the Kurrajong Gap lookout, which overlooks Lake Hume, then down into the valley and the village of Bethanga.

    I was all at sea. I felt like I was constantly in the wrong gear and my lines through the corners were atrocious. Added to this was a blustery wind that seemed to constantly be catching me by surprise, I wondered to myself how could I be doing so badly? I dawdled into Bethanga and turned towards Talgarno at the big sign in the middle of town, unfortunately due to my utter self absorbtion I didn't see the much smaller sign telling me to make another left turn. I discovered my mistake when after battling the bike through the countryside I came across a dirt road which I know I wasn't supposed to encounter. I wasn't too perturbed about missing the turn, I just headed back the way I had come.

    After I'd spun the bike around something 'clicked' and changed my afternoon. The corners which only minutes ago had seemed too tight now felt like they were inviting me to open up the throttle, I was in the right gear and had the right approach speed for every corner, every line felt well chosen. In an instant I'd learnt to trust myself and trust the bike. I realised that I'd been busy looking at the hazardous spots that worried me rather than looking where to go, I hadn't been trusting the tyres to grip and had been backing off in all the wrong places.

    As I zipped back towards Bethanga for the second time I spotted my turn off and unleashed the bike. Despite not intimately knowing this road I threw the bike and myself at it, I overcame my fears and was suddenly riding so much better. Now I confronted every corner with more lean and more throttle, trusting the bike to stick and trusting myself to point it where it needed to go.

    The rest of the trip was amazing, I hunched over the tank and moved into the corners, giving plenty of throttle each time. I found my knees hanging towards the blacktop as I cornered harder and harder. Every time I felt that the my entry wasn't quite right I just leant over further and resisted the urge to back off the throttle, each time I was rewarded with a smooth exit and the bike kept within its lane every time.

    So balance and trust. I knew I had to balance my new found enthusiasm against my lack of experience and that I still need to learn to balance the clutch better at a standing start, but I now trust myself and my bike and my tyres.

    I'm looking forward to attempting the road up to Kurrajong Lookout again, next time there will be no indecision, no backing off and screwing things up; instead there will be balance and trust, and a whole lot of leaning.
  8. Well done, you have a great writing style to boot!

    Pooh out!
  9. Great posts Dave
    you write really well too

    we used to live in Wodonga and Phil was born and bred on the family sheep property in Mullengandra so reading your posts feels extra special because we can picture where your going.

    Phil said about heading up to Mitta
    nice ride

  10. Welcome to motorcycling, Dave....sounds like you've been well & truly bitten by the "bug'...... :grin:

    Just don't make the mistake of getting too cocky, too soon......things can turn "pear shaped" mighty quick....cheers :)
  11. Nice story mate makes me wish I could start all over again.Sign up for a riding course it's a cheap way to learn painlessly and you have a great day with like minded people,might even make some new friends.