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Journey from newbie to intermediate

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Ness_, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. I've been blogging my thoughts in a Word doc on my laptop, I wanted to use the blog feature here on NR but I don't have access to that area until I've been around a lot longer.

    So I thought I'd post my blog up here, if anyone is interested in reading it, then great! If anyone wants to reply or comment, that's cool too. But if nobody reads or replies, that's also fine, I'm just wanting to keep my newbie thoughts all in one place :)

    Bear with me, I have 2 weeks of blogs to post first up, and a couple of them (the 2 x Q-Ride ones) are looooooong. They'll slow down after this I promise! As a newbie, I wish I had been able to read more about the Q-Ride process so I hope they help someone...

    Sat 16 Nov - Pillion rides are fun, but I bet I know what’d be more fun...

    I’m on holiday overseas. I’m at my godparent’s house having a few days R&R. We decide to go to a summer fair being held in my mum’s old primary school. The night before, while discussing the logistics of getting the whole family there, my godfather says “I think I’ll take the bike, then you guys will all fit in the one car”... it’s 10pm, I’ve had a few wines, I’m feeling brave, my eyes lit up. “You have a bike?” so next comes the invite... “Sure... you want to come on it with me?”

    Next morning dawns, he kits me up in leathers and helmet, tells me to lean whichever way he leans, not to move my legs off the pillion pegs, and to hold on tight. And we’re off!

    The bike is a Honda Firestorm, and it goes like the clappers, especially in the hands of my godfather. He’s a very sensible rider and we don’t do anything that scares me, we only overtake other vehicles where it is safe to do so, we don’t go into any turns at high speeds, we’re always in a safe lane position, it’s an awesome ride because I feel safe with him, he’s totally in control of the machine. And the speed! Wow, it’s so exhilarating! I skydive, and this was so much more intense!

    When we arrive at the fair, I get off reluctantly and make him swear that the next time I come to visit, we can go out on the bike all day, I don’t think I will ever get enough of that feeling.

    At lunch, we talk more about the bike, and riding in general, and an idea begins to form in my mind...

    Thurs 12 Dec - I’m just looking...

    I drive past a big bike shop every day on my way home from work. And since returning from my overseas trip 3 weeks ago, each day when I drive past I’ve been rubbernecking at the bikes as I slowly move past in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. There are so many styles! Dirt bikes, high performance sport bikes, Harleys, cruisers, mammoth big submarine-sized things covered in chrome... I wonder if there could possibly be a bike in there for me. I feel a little like Goldilocks. Not that one, it’s too big. Not that one, it’s too small. Will I find my “not too hot, not too cold, just right” machine? There’s only one way to find out! So, on the spur of the moment one day driving home from a meeting, I pop in. I wander about the bikes on the forecourt, trying so very very hard not to look too overwhelmed. I touch chrome, I pull on levers, I stand next to them wondering how high is too high (being female, and short, I wonder how on earth some of them could be ridden by anyone other than Harry Potter’s Hagrid!). Eventually I gather up the guts to walk inside the air-conditioned showroom. Three salespeople look at me. Two of them go back to whatever they’re doing. Which leaves Dean. Poor, unsuspecting little Dean, who had no idea what he was getting himself into... J Okay, so he’s not little, but he’s young, and he’s insistent. I am up-front with him from the start : this is the first shop I have been to, I don’t know what I’m looking for, but do I know that you’re not selling me anything today, so don’t waste too much time on me, ok? He then spends an hour talking to me about what made me want to buy a bike, what would make a good starter bike, what to look for in a bike, and why he’d recommend a used bike over a new one for a learner. After swapping life histories, we go outside to the used section.

    We take a look at a few, but nothing really catches my eye. They’re too tall or too wide or too ugly or too... hang on. What’s this one you’re showing me now? Oooooooh. Yes, *this* one I like. A Honda CB400 you say? VTec variable timing you say? Inline 4 you say? A naked sit-up sports tourer you say? Oh yes, this terminology all makes so much sense, I absolutely know exactly what you mean! Hahaha he’s speaking double dutch to me, but I don’t care. All I know, looking at that bike, is that it’s sexy, and it’s perfect for me. But I’m still not buying! It’s too expensive, and it’s the first bike I’ve ever looked at, and I don’t even know if it’s a good model, let alone a good specimen, I have to go and get advice from various Friends Who Know About Such Things. And did I say that it’s way too expensive? So please stop, Dean, stop trying to sell it to me, stop selling me the lifestyle, stop trying to... oh, money? You want to talk turkey now huh? OK, how’s this for bargaining? I only want to spend $X, including the bike, insurance and gear. My budget is way lower than what you’re asking for the bike without any of the extra on-road costs. Now, I may not know a lot about bikes, but after years of backpacking, I *do* know how to haggle. He comes almost all the way down to my budget, with bike, on-roads, and gear included. Okay then. So even though I swore I wasn’t buying today, how about I just leave you a deposit and then have some Friends Who Know About Such Things come and look over it for me?


    And that, my dear reader, is how you sell a motorbike to Ness. Top marks Dean, top marks!

    Fri 13 Dec - Friends Who Know About Such Things

    So I’m in a flap about the fact I have just left a $500 deposit on a machine I know nothing about, and I’m wondering who I go to for advice. So I drag a friend down to look at it with me. He has a Hayabusa, and has been riding for a million years, so he knows a little bit about bikes. But before we even go to look at it, he’s trying to talk me out of it, showing me some other models for sale online, asking me what kind of riding I want to do (how the hell do I know? I don’t even have a licence!). Then we get there. He looks it over. He gets me to sit on it and changes his mind; actually, it is a good match for me. And when I tell him what they were asking for it, and what I talked them down to, he’s kinda impressed. The girl who knows nothing about bikes actually managed to score herself a good bargain. Yay me! I start getting that excited kid on Christmas Eve feeling, but I can’t get too excited just yet. I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing.

    I get in touch with my godfather on Facebook. I show him pictures, tell him the price, ask him if he thinks I’ll get myself in trouble on it. He says it’s got just enough mischief in it to keep me on my toes, but that it’s not likely to do something to make me scare myself stupid, and he thinks it’s a great first bike choice. He also tells me he’s insanely proud of me and can’t wait for me to come back to visit so we can go for a ride together, but with me in charge of my own machine next time :) Okay, so that’s two down, one to go...

    Lastly, I phone one of my oldest mates, who I would absolutely trust with my life (and have, in some of the sports we’ve done together!). He’s the scientific reasoning to my emotional reaction, the earth to my live wire, the yin to my yang. I know he’ll tell me to pull my head out of my arse if I’m making a silly decision. Friday morning he goes up to check it out for me. He test rides it, goes over it with a fine-tooth comb, and then calls me with a full report. In my excitement yesterday I hadn’t even noticed that it had been dropped. Friend #1 who looked at it with me had noticed it, but didn’t say anything to me as it looked in excellent mechanical condition and he didn’t want me to worry about it, and perhaps not buy the bike for superficial or superstitious reasons. Friend #2 has never held anything back from me and always tells me like it is, which is why I trust him so much; so we talk about why it being dropped by its first owner isn’t a big deal at all. We debrief for over half an hour in total, and in the end he agrees that it’s a great first bike, if he was buying me a first bike he’d probably buy me that one, and that settles it. I’m sold. I call Dean and tell him I won’t be needing a refund on my fully refundable deposit. Instead I’d be requiring a contract and some nice shiny new rego plates, pretty please :)

    Sat 14 Dec - Finances

    So I haven’t named the shop, and I’m not going to make any defamatory comments here. I will just say, if you’re buying a bike from a bike shop, be very clear what they’re offering you when you ask them to sort out your finance.

    When I went in to the bike shop 3 days later to sign the finance paperwork, somehow my loan contract was for over $4k more than I was expecting it to. My monthly repayments were way higher than I was expecting. Somehow they had bundled into my bike purchase: tyre & rim protection insurance; an extended warranty on the motorbike; life insurance; disability insurance; loss of income insurance; gap protection insurance... all these extra features which I wasn’t aware would be bundled in at an extra cost. I asked to have them all removed from the loan contract, and all of a sudden the manager needed to be called in to authorise that. *Ahem* sure he does. The manager comes in and smiles sweetly and tries to impress upon me the vital importance of these items, but I was adamant that I didn’t require them and wanted them all removed. He realises he won’t change my mind, so they had to completely re-do all of my contracts and paperwork, they couldn’t do it that day so I had to go home and they emailed them all to me a couple of days later.

    It’s all sorted now, they removed it all as I requested so it wasn’t a massive deal, but I was not aware they’d try and do that, so just a headsup to anyone else who may be in my shoes, be really clear what their finance entails. It’s usually a good idea to shop around for finance – I didn’t, and I probably should have.

    Sun 15 Dec - All the gear and no idea

    I have another biker mate. I didn’t ask him to look at the bike with me like I did with the earlier two. This friend is heavily opposed to me buying a bike. He’s tried so many things to convince me not to go ahead with this purchase. I can understand his reasoning. He was involved in a horrific motorbike accident about 5 years ago and he will never be the same person again. I love him to pieces and I respect his opinions on most things. I don’t want to have to hide riding from him, or not discuss it with him at all, he’s a fab mate and I want to share my excitement with him, even though he disapproves. So, I asked him to take me shopping. Shopping for safety gear. I showed him all the stuff I was going to buy. The helmet, jacket, jeans, boots and gloves. Only the helmet met with his approval. *sigh* After a heated exchange in the middle of the bike shop, we compromised on a jacket change. I wanted full textiles (jacket & jeans) and he wanted me in full leathers. Instead, a lovely salesman at the bike shop showed me a Berik combo jacket with textile sections for airflow, but that had leather down the arms, across the shoulders and down the spine. So the helmet & jacket now meet with his approval. Kevlar jeans are staying for now, but I agreed that by the time winter comes along I will probably want a second pair of riding pants, and we’ll look at leathers then. I just can’t be wearing full leathers in Qld in summer. I’ll look at the Berik pants as they will zip into my jacket and make it essentially one piece. Boots, I am still shopping for them. The boots which were in my price range aren’t good enough according to him, so I need to save a bit longer. He also recommends spinal armour. I can see his point, once I am riding properly. Another thing to save up for. So now he feels a bit better knowing that he had input into my gear choices, and I feel better knowing why my initial choices weren’t wise ones. Instead of just being told “they’re crap boots”, now I know why, and what to look for in non-crap boots :)

    So, I ended up with:

    Helmet: Shark S900 – with the internal flip-down sun visor so that I don’t have to pull over on the side of the road to switch from specs to sunnies to specs etc. I think this will be a very valuable feature!

    Jacket: Berik CE AirMesh jacket

    Pants: RST Kevlar jeans with knee armour

    Gloves: DriRider mid-season gloves – these have good armour on the knuckles etc, but they’re not really a high enough cuff. I want another pair which are maybe 2-3 inches longer and will cover the cuffs of my jacket, but these will do me for now

    Boots: still shopping. Will use my hiking boots until I find what I want. They have good thick soles, and the most ankle and toe protection of any shoe I own, and they won’t fall off easily
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  2. Mon 16 Dec – Protecting my pride & joy. Oh, and my credit rating.

    So, insurance isn’t a very sexy subject, but we do all need to think about it when we buy expensive new toys. Especially expensive new toys which are expensive to fix if you drop them, and which can cause a lot of expensive damage to other people and property. Oh, and not to mention, expensive new toys which are easy to have nicked. *sigh* So, insurance up to the eyeballs please!

    My first insurance quote made my jaw drop. $1260 per year. Ouch. Ummmmmm maybe I can’t afford a bike after all? Okay, let’s shop around. A couple more quotes, I’m down to $620. The bike shop comes back with a quote, $480 from their insurer (although they never asked me a single question about my insurance or driving history, or where the bike would be garaged, so I’m not sure how they came up with that figure?). I was about to go with their quote when I thought I’d do one last check myself. Bingo! NRMA insurance. Who would have thought it? Fully comprehensive, covers any rider (not that I will be letting any old Joe Blow on my pride & joy, but just in case, it’s good to have...), has a written agreed value of some $1900 more than I actually paid for the bike (so I’m safe that there won’t be a shortfall between the loan payout amount and the insured amount), and was only $300! Yay me, bargain hunter extraordinaire :) So if you’re hunting for insurance, check out NRMA, they might save you a few pennies

    Wed 18 Dec - Choosing a training provider

    Luckily, living in a reasonable-sized city, I have lots of options for training.

    School 1 - There’s a place about 30 mins from me which does a longer, more intensive course over 6 weeks, where you do a few 2 hour lessons and then your Q-Ride assessment at the end. It looked a great idea, until I saw the price (ouch!), plus they wanted you to do it on your own bike which totally makes sense but I have no way of getting my bike up there for lessons each week. Scratch that.

    School 2 - The place I bought my bike from recommended a training school and handed me a leaflet. They seemed a good deal, 2 days training then a 3rd day doing the Q-Ride assessment, but after asking about and reading reviews I wasn’t sure they were right for me.

    School 3 - The place which got the most recommendations was relatively local to me, was in the price range I was expecting to pay for a 2-day course, so I called up and booked with them. I told the lady on the phone that I had never ridden a motorbike before, so she recommended their 2-day course. She went over what I’d be getting for my money... 3 hours riding training on Saturday morning, followed by a 6 hour assessment on Sunday. Okay, sounds feasible... kind of. That’s not a lot of training on Day 1 though... the other places I have looked at actually offer a full day on Day 1? But oh well, everyone on the internet raves about them, so go on then, book me in please. Then I called the friend who test-rode the bike for me, and asked him what he thought. I just wondered if 3 hours training was enough for a newbie before taking the assessment. “Absolutely not!” was the reply. *sigh* Cancel that booking, and back to the drawing board. Goes to show you can’t believe everything you read on the internet!

    School 4 – Said friend recommended the HART school in Springwood, so I gave them a call. They were cheaper than School 3, and I had 2 x 8 hour days. At least half of Day 1 would be spent inside their air-conditioned classroom doing theory, not just practical stuff. Plus, if they didn’t think my skills were up to par at the end of Day 1, they’d postpone my assessment day until we’d had a 1-on-1 and sorted me out. Sounds like a plan! Booked and paid for... just 3 more sleeps!

    Thurs 19 Dec - My baby comes home

    Since I can’t actually ride a bike yet, I fluttered my lashes at the guy who sold me the bike and he threw in free delivery to my house. Yay, no awkward trip home on busy roads in traffic on a beast I can’t ride.

    I worked from home today, and told them they could deliver anytime they liked. They said it would be between 12-5. At 7 minutes to 5pm, having still not heard a thing, I started to worry so I called the shop. Yes, the delivery guy is definitely on his way, apologies for the delay. 5 mins later, there he was! :) My baby was strapped onto the back of a ute, but I had no idea how he’d get her off the tray. Then suddenly some ladder-like ramps appeared, and he used one ramp for his feet, and the other for the bike tyres. He’s so brave, I’d have been petrified of dropping it off the side of the little ramp, it wasn’t much wider than the tyres! So glad he knew what he was doing :)

    He rolled her into my backyard, and as soon as he heard I’d never had a bike before, or even ridden, he showed me a couple of basic things (how to lift the seat, how she won’t start in gear with the stand down etc). He then showed me when revving her, the little line on the dial which I think is called a power band – the bit where the bike really kicks in. He just wanted me to not be shocked the first time I hit it and feel the bike really start to react :) Duly noted, I’ll steer clear of that for a little while methinks! This is going to be so much different to driving a manual car... in a car, I’d never keep the revs that high, but on a bike they don’t really start to perform until you’re in the 8-10k range? Man, I have so much to learn!

    I don’t know why, but the bike feels like a she. I know that most guys refer to their bikes as a she, so maybe I’m supposed to think of mine as a he, but I’m not feeling it. She really feels like a she. She doesn’t have a name yet, we’ll work on that the more I get to know her. But she’s my new baby and I love her already! I spent the rest of the night sitting on her, patting her petrol tank, and texting a friend: talking bikes and asking him stupid questions. So much easier to ask dumb questions by text, as then you can’t see or hear them laughing at you :)

    Just 2 more sleeps until my Q-Ride training course, I’m so excited!

    Sat 21 Dec - Q-Ride Day 1

    I wake up early, throw all my safety gear in the car, punch the address into the GPS, and head down to the HART training school at Springwood. It’s going to be a hot day, so for Day 1, when I know we won’t be leaving the training compound, I’m going with the school’s recommendation to just wear long pants. I’ll save my heavy Kevlar jeans for tomorrow (if I am allowed to come back for tomorrow), when we hit the road for real. I arrive at 7.50am ready for an 8am start, and I’m the second-last person to arrive. I wasn’t the only eager beaver then, everyone else was just as excited and arrived early! There are 5 of us in total, and I’m the only female. There’s a couple of guys who want to commute on their bike, someone like me who just wants to ride for pleasure on the weekends, and a young guy who I think wants to race. There’s only one other person who, like me, has already bought a bike.

    We do a classroom session first, studying the anatomy of a bike and what all the levers, switches and levers do, and then we’re downstairs and gearing up for our first ride. This will be the second time in my life I have ever turned a motorbike on, the first time being just 2 days ago when my new toy was delivered. This will be the first time I have ever taken a bike off its kick stand, and the first time I have ever been in control of one which is actually in gear. I’m excited, but also scared I’ll do something wrong, chuck a wheelie and break my neck within the first 5 minutes. Our instructor is amazing, so, so patient and answered every question without a snicker on his face... even the simplest of questions. And yes, I ask most of the questions, the guys in the group are generally pretty quiet; but I notice that many of my questions a few of the guys nod and listen intently to the answer, so I think I’m asking questions that the others don’t know the answer to either. I feel like a newbie, but I don’t feel like a dumb newbie if that makes sense. We’re learning on Honda CBR125’s, the baby brothers to my beast at home. We pop our bikes into 1st gear, keep our feet on the ground, and learn about clutch biting points, just clutch in and out, and feel where it starts to move. OMG! I’m moving forwards! Then we walk them around to face the other direction. Now we’re adding a touch of throttle, and putting our feet up on the pegs. And brake, and remember to pull in the clutch. I don’t stall mine, but others do, so I’m not doing too bad :) After 3 lengths of the training ground, we park our bikes up, switch them off, and go back inside for a break and some aircon and water. That was fun!

    Next we’re back downstairs and this time we’re going around and around in circles. Weeeeeeee I can do this! Accelerate on the straight, slow down into the corner, wobble around the corner, then accelerate into the straight again. Woohoo! Okay, got the hang of that. Now, ever heard of second gear? Here’s how you change gears, give it a go... up to second on the straight, then brake and down to first before the corner, look where you want to go, then back up into second out of the corner, rinse and repeat. 5 more laps, got the hang of that? Okay, how about up into third and take the corners in second? Ness, you have to go faster, you’re cornering too slowly. Don’t be scared of your throttle. *sigh* I am absolutely the slowest person on the “track” we’re riding. I start out at the end of the line of the 5 of us, and within 2 circuits they have all caught up to me and I’m leading the pack. If they were allowed to overtake I’m sure they’d have all hooned past me. But I don’t care, I’m here to learn, just as they are, and if I’m a tad slower on the throttle than them, oh well.

    Lunch break, phew. I have learnt so much! In just 4.5 hours I have learnt to accelerate, brake, move without wobbling, go round corners, and change gears. I can even get all the way up to 4th gear (by accident!) :) I can also stall it, immediately after said accidental change up into 4th when I had intended to go down into 2nd hahaha

    After lunch, more theory/classroom sessions while it’s still hot outside. Now let’s go outside and practice some other skills. A couple of quick laps just to refresh ourselves as to how our clutches work. Now let’s practice some REAL skills. Here’s how you ride at walking pace. I’m a superstar at this one! Finally, something I rock at! Next, slaloms. These, I’m not so good at. I go through them a bit too slow, I’m constantly getting the “speed up” hand signal from the instructor. We’re supposed to slow ride down one straight, then accelerate up into 2nd, take the corner, accelerate out of it and keep my speed steady going into the slalom. I get everything done except the steady speed through the slalom part. I roll off the throttle a bit and take it slower than the others. More practice required! Okay, next practice? Figure 8’s. These aren’t too hard. Next? Pretend you’re coming up to a stop sign or a traffic light. Come out of the corner, change up to 3rd, get up to a good speed, then brake, change down to 2nd, brake again, change down to first, come to a complete stop, and remember to hold the clutch in so you don’t stall. I start braking about a bajillion miles too soon and straight down to second, gear change not smooth, and I crawl in to the stop sign at just-about-slow-enough-to-stall speeds. A lot more practice required! OK, I get the hang of that after a few more tries, I don’t conk out as I’m stopped, only now I keep stalling it as I’m taking off again. Somehow I have started popping the clutch out way too fast and it’s a habit I’m finding hard to break. The instructor talks me through what I’m doing wrong, I have a lightbulb moment, and I never make that mistake again. Okay, clutch is allowed to take 3-4 seconds to release, it’s not a race to let go of that lever Ness! Next up, emergency braking. I make all the newbie mistakes. I look at the instructor, I look at his hand making the stop sign, I look at the ground, I look at my hands on the handlebars... I look everywhere I’m not supposed to. LOOK STRAIGHT AHEAD NESS! Okay, I think I’ve got that one now. Maybe.

    It’s 4pm. We’re all knackered. It’s stinking hot and we’re all on brain fry overload mode. Instructor cheerfully tells us that he wants us all to come back tomorrow for the assessment day. He’s happy with what we’ve shown him, he doesn’t think any of us need extra coaching before taking the assessment. Yay! I was sure my head was on the chopping block.

    After everyone leaves, I’m invited to stay back, and the instructor gets out one of the school’s CB400’s for me. He wants to show me the differences between the bikes we’re learning on, and my bike. Oh my god, it is so much bigger. And heavier. And scarier. But way cooler, and way faster, and way more responsive, and she purrs sooooo much more sexily than the 125’s we’ve been on today. I do a few laps. I get her up to 3rd, but there’s not really enough room for 4th. I think I’m probably only doing 30km/hr but it feels like I’m flying around a racetrack. I take a corner line so sweetly, and really lean into it. Okay, so my version of really leaning into it, and an experienced rider’s version, are no doubt poles apart, but to me it feels amazing. I giggle to myself, scream WOOHOO into my helmet, and do a little dance on the bike. The bike wobbles, and my instructor shakes his head at me and laughs, he saw what I was doing and correctly guessed that I was a happy little bunny. So then we repeat a couple of today’s exercises, only on my bike. Okay, so it’s not truly *my* bike, but it’s the same model. Slow riding, check. Slaloms, check. Figure of 8’s. Uh oh. I don’t keep the revs up high enough, and I stall it. And what happens when you stall a bike and you don’t have a foot on the ground? Yep, that’s right, you crash it. Oops! Thank god for roll bars, I’m not crushed to death and the bike suffers nothing more than the indignity of being laid down softly. My instructor checked I was OK, explained why that happened, and lifts the bike up. He won’t let me help, but he talks me through what he’s doing as he does it. I don’t want to do figure 8’s again. Okay, a couple more speedy laps around the outside, and then let’s try some stops. First one, pretend I’m coming up to a stop sign. Brake, change down, keep looking up and straight ahead, stop, clutch in, foot on ground, executed perfectly. Second one, emergency stop, keep looking up and straight ahead, again executed perfectly. Third one, emergency stop again. Only this time I am going a lot faster when his hand comes up. I set up the brakes fine, apply them (possibly a smidgen too hard LOL), and all the weight shifts to the front of the bike. I mean ALL the weight. I shift forward too, and my head goes down. Therefore, my eyes go down. Uh oh. Look where you want to go... I didn’t really want to go to the ground, but that was where I was looking, so... this time it happens really slowly, like a cartoon character sliding down a wall. *sigh* I feel like a total muppet. This time I was very ungraceful and I bump my head, ever so softly, on the bitumen. Damn, now my helmet has an itty bitty graze on the surface :( Neither of us wants to end the session on that note, so we do another couple of laps around the outside of the compound and then it’s time to put the bike away. I am so very, very grateful to the instructor for doing this for me, it was so nice of him and he honestly didn’t need to do that. Above and beyond, such a nice guy.

    Instructor offers me to take the assessment on one of the school’s CB400’s, but he does think I’d be doing myself a disservice and suggests I stick to the 125’s as that was what I’d spent the most time on. I have to agree with him, he’s the expert (and the testing officer!). I asked him about a 1-on-1 session or three after I’m licensed, as I know that just because I may pass the assessment tomorrow that doesn’t necessarily make me a safe road rider, I will absolutely need to learn all of this all over again on my own bike. He said he’d be happy to do some coaching sessions with me, or even take one or two rides out somewhere for a couple of hours, have lunch, and a bit of a debrief. I head off home, mentally and physically exhausted, and with bruises beginning to form on the insides of my legs from dropping the 400. Hot bath to ease my muscles and early to bed for me.
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  3. Sun 22 Dec - Q-Ride Day 2

    Had an awesome night’s sleep and woke up bouncing with energy and ready and raring to go for today’s assessment. This time I’m all kevlar’d up ready for our road session this afternoon. A few practice laps and then straight into testing. We get to do each of the exercises a couple of times to refresh our memory and then our instructor says “Examination begin!” and we have to execute perfectly 3 times in a row, or 3 out of 5, or something like that (depending on the exercise). The thing I was the best at yesterday, the slow riding, I suck at today. I am borderline slow enough on each of my first two passes. I hold my breath on the last 3 passes, hoping if I starve my brain of oxygen then perhaps it’ll make me stand on the rear brake just a little bit harder. Apparently it worked, as I passed! Slalom today was much better, I was doing it at a good speed and only got the “speed up” sign once in practice (he’s not allowed to give any feedback during the actual assessment so we need to get it sorted before the assessment begins). Apparently I’m feeling more comfortable on the bike today as I pass the slalom test no problems :) Figure 8’s, my left-hand turn was great, my right-hand turn not so good. I had to forcibly flap my arms before starting the turn in to relax them, and I did each right-hand rotation by singing to myself “Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax! Relax!” hehehe I’m glad nobody could hear me, or see my lips moving! One last exercise, which we didn’t learn yesterday, it was only introduced today. A countersteering manoeuvre – I suppose to replicate swerving for a pothole or to avoid a collision. My first two attempts sucked, but after helpful feedback from the instructor on what I was doing wrong, I completed it fine after that. Apparently, look/push/go really does just mean look slightly to the right... not a 90° head turn! Hahaha Not so comfortable with those, so need to practice them at home some more.

    Okay, everyone off their bikes and park them up in the shade guys. You’ve all passed the practical assessment! Yay! Upstairs for another classroom session, this time on roadcraft. A short written skills assessment, then we go over our bikes and do a pre-ride check. Out of everything on the course, this is the only thing I wish I had a handout on. I wish we’d been given those lists to keep. Now I can’t remember everything on them, and I want to do up my own pre-ride checklist (yes, I am *that* kind of a person LOL I like lists and routines). Oh well, I’m sure I can locate one online somewhere! Next up, lunch break. Before he and I take lunch, the instructor again is kind enough to take me to one of the school’s CB400’s and quickly show me a few things which are different on my bike to the 125’s we’re learning on. He even shows me how to pop it up on a stand and how to oil the chain. Like I said, above and beyond, and really kind of him. Lunch was heralded by the arrival of butterflies. Gigantic big flocks of them, each the size of elephants, galloping around in my tummy and bumping into other internal organs. I text my sensible, scientific reasoning friend. I’m not sure I’m ready for the road. Response? “Don’t be a dick, you wouldn’t be allowed out on the road if the instructor didn’t think you could do it”. So, that was that. Gear up, head downstairs, don very unattractive fluro vests with gigantic L’s on them, and cue wanting to throw up.

    First up, hill starts. We learn these on the ramp heading out of the training compound. I’m second in line. The guy in front of me has a bit of trouble but I think I must have learned from his mistakes as I did fine. Okay, out of the gates and onto the road, and park up and wait for the instructor. I’m so nervous I’m shaking, and so glad I have a helmet on so nobody can see how pale I must look right now. I’m so pleased the instructor never looked at me and asked me if I was ready, because I think I would have said no, and backed out. So, on your bikes guys, off we go! I’m doing okay. Third set of lights we get to, a right hand corner, I’m not looking at the right place and I run too wide. I’m heading towards the corner because I’m looking at the corner. I don’t actually hit the kerb but gee I come close. LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO GODDAMNIT NESS. We’re now separated by about 5 sets of lights, but I correctly remember the directions and I meet up with the guys in front of me shortly afterwards. We follow the instructor a bit further. We come to a set of lights. The instructor and the first student, the guy in front of me, make it around the corner. I don’t want to run an orange arrow so I stop. Around about now is when I remember reading on NR about how traffic lights don’t always register a motorbike. I’m at the front of the right filter lane. The lights change, there’s a green arrow for traffic going forwards, but a red right turn arrow. It doesn’t go out, or change to green. The lights go red. One set missed. Again, when the lights change we get a green light for straight through traffic, but the red arrow remains lit. I have 3 other learner riders behind me, and a couple of cars behind them. I am starting to sweat. I know that if I break the law, I fail the test. Two sets missed. As soon as the lights turn red again, I try something. I put down my kick stand. I leave it down as long as I dare, maybe 3 seconds, I’m petrified the lights will now instantly change to green and I will be sat here on a bike with a kickstand down, that I can’t turn on or get into gear... I whack up the kickstand, turn her back on, check I’m definitely in first, and try to stop my hands from shaking too much. I decide that if the filter light doesn’t change to green this time I will illegally run the red if it is safe to do so. I’ve observed 3 light changes at this intersection now, I know what the traffic will do. The lights change... AND WE GET A GREEN!!! :) I wobble off around the corner, breathing the biggest sigh of relief I have ever breathed, and see the instructor and first learner rider up ahead waiting for us in a lay-by as expected. I did it! I made the lights change! Yay me :) I don’t know if I really did make them change, but I’m gonna take credit for it regardless hehe

    Now we’re all expected to take turns in leading the group. The guy in front of me goes first, and somehow we speed off and lose the others at a T-intersection. I now know I should have waited until I could see the bike behind me in my mirrors, that way he would have seen which way we’d gone. I beep at the student in front of me and flash my headlight. I don’t think he gets why I am beeping him, but he pulls into a side-street. Some 3-4 mins later, the instructor hoons past and I beep my horn to get his attention. He sees us, chucks a u-ie, goes back for the other students who were waiting a few blocks back, and they catch up to us. Instructor goes back to leading, and takes us to a parking lot on the edge of a rural area. We all pull in, he encourages us, gives us a little bit of feedback (a couple of indicators left on – so hard to remember to turn those suckers off!), and then announces it’s my turn to lead. Gives me some pretty easy instructions, reminds me that I must get the bike up to the speed limit in order to pass, and off I set, like a Mama duck with 5 little ducklings following her. The bastard! He knows I’m not so comfortable at anything above 50km/hr, and so what am I doing? 60km/hr for the first 200m. Then 70km/hr for the next 3km! Phew, finally back down to 60km/hr. I turn left at the T-intersection I’m waiting for, and pull over on the side of the road. Yaaaaaaay! I did it, I got up to the speed limit and stayed there, for about 5 whole kilometres! Thank god that’s over. Quick chat with feedback for each of us from the instructor, move the group around, I’m back to the rear again thankfully. Directions given to the leader of the next section, and we’re then told... shock horror... we’re going on the motorway! We are reminded again “You need to get up to and stay at the speed limit in order to pass”... he’s looking at me when he says this, and I start shaking in my boots. 100km/hr, on a motorway, with death-defying traffic surrounding me on all sides? OMG I don’t think I want a motorcycle licence this much. Someone kill me now. But everyone else sets off so I have no choice, I follow. I get to the lights for the motorway. I turn onto the onramp. I take the corner well, I get up to third quickly. I get up to 4th. Now we’re getting serious. Throttle on full whack, release, clutch in, up to 5th, clutch out, on the gas, and feck me, I’m on the motorway, in 5th gear, doing 100km/hr. That poor little bike, I don’t think 125’s really like motorways hahaha. I was uber-conscious of all of the traffic, but seeing 5 learners in a row in yellow vests they were all pretty conscious of us too, and nobody tried to cut in on us. We take the first exit, I brake and change down gears again perhaps a little too early but there was nobody following me too closely. The lights at the top of the exit ramp were green so I only had to change down to 3rd and 60km/hr, over the crest of the hill and there was the group. We all followed the instructor back to the school, rode inside the compound, parked up and switched our bikes off... and we heard those magic words, Congratulations, you have all passed!!! Best 5 words I’ve ever heard!

    Signing paperwork was actually kinda tricky, my hands were aching from gripping the handlebars so hard (newbie error!) and shaking from adrenalin letdown, so my signature looked a tad shonky :) Before I left, the instructor gave me his mobile number and said to go home, practice for a month, and then give him a call if I want some sessions after that. Phew, I’m not totally on my own, there is a professional I can call upon if I feel the need. So that’s that, then. As of tomorrow when I go into Main Roads, I am officially allowed to ride my new toy on the road solo!
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  4. Sun 29 Dec - Losing my virginity

    So after going away for Christmas etc, I’ve been home for 3 days and haven’t gotten out on the bike yet. I’m nervous. She’s so big and so heavy, and all I can think about is how I kept on dropping the CB400 I rode at the HART training centre. And this time I’ll be on a road. With real obstacles, and real traffic, and real pedestrians, random cats or possums lying in wait to leap out in front of me and make me crash my new baby. And this time I don’t have anyone around to pick it up for me. And my bike doesn’t have roll bars, so I could hurt myself. Or worse, I could hurt the bike. God, what if I dropped it on the right hand side? I don’t want her to have scars on both sides of her body :(

    Okay Ness, stop being such a big girl’s blouse and get out on the frikkin bike you big chicken.

    So I do.

    It’s 6.30am. It’s fine, there are no clouds in the sky, there’s no wind, it’s not too hot yet. I gear up. My hands are shaking as I do up my laces. Remember, I haven’t bought riding boots yet, I am still wearing hiking boots for now. And they have laces... I pop her into 1st gear, and go to put my foot on the ground in preparation for taking off. And wouldn’t you know it, I can’t get my foot down. My laces are caught! On the gear shifter or the left foot peg I can’t quite tell, but I panic, and almost drop the bike, there on my driveway. Oh my god how much of an idiot can I be? I haven’t even taken off yet! My right hand is on the front brake so hard I feel I’m going to snap it off. I wiggle my laces clear and exhale the breath I didn’t know I was holding. Bike on stand, I get back off the bike and sort out my laces. They’re now tucked into my boots, and I have rolled my socks down over the top of the shoes and cover up the laces. It looks ridiculous, but I know I’m safe from repeating that one today. Phew, got a Gumby move out of the way early! I’m a little bit jittery as I get back on the bike, but determined to shake it off and get out. Even if it’s only 5 mins, I have to get this First Ever Solo Ride out of the goddamn way. I inch her down the driveway, conscious of that moment where I will have one tyre on the road and one on the driveway and so it will be officially impossible to put my foot down at that exact moment. How scary is that little moment? Knowing that I can’t brake at that exact second, or she’ll go down. But she doesn’t, all is well, and I halt on the side of the road waiting for oncoming traffic to pass. Then I’m off and racing! Well, not racing, putting along more like it. Up to second, up to third, and I’m doing 50km/hr on a 60k road. I don’t want to do 60 just yet, and there is no traffic, so no reason to rush myself. I drive 1km down the road to a park, and turn right into the sidestreet. I go down to the carpark, expecting it to be empty. Only it’s not. It’s 6.30am on a Sunday people, what the hell are you all doing here? Agghhhhhh! I circle around the carpark, slow riding and negotiating speed humps which I had forgotten were even there. I do a really wide u-turn, exit the carpark, find another little sidestreet, and practice slow riding all the way down it. At the end I attempt a u-turn but don’t do so well, so pop the brakes on and turn the bike the rest of the way by foot. I can’t flatfoot with both feet on this bike, but I can flatfoot one side and tippytoe the other, or I can toe-walk on both sides, so I’m not quite as secure walking this bike as I was on the 125, but it’s pretty close. It’s just so much heavier. I just Googled it, and the 125 weighs approx 130kg and the 400 weighs almost 200kg. The difference, 75kg, is more than my bodyweight. So I’ve gone from a bike which weighs twice as much as me, to one that weighs over three times more than me. I knew I wasn’t imagining it, but it’s sobering to know the numbers.

    Right, so I’ve ridden down the road, gone to a carpark which wasn’t as empty as I’d hoped, and done 4-5 mins of slow riding and 2 u-turns. What else am I supposed to do now? I have no idea. I get back onto the main road. Again with no traffic. I head back down towards my house, and turn left into a sidestreet and head to the waterfront. I follow the road around the right hand corner and I’m on the waterfront, but just as I enter the corner there’s a whizzing noise on my left. Oh my god. How embarrassing. I just got undertaken BY A CYCLIST! Oh the shame. He must have taken that corner at about 30kph, I only took it at about 15! Hehehe So I ride along the waterfront for maybe 10-15 blocks, the road has lots of traffic-calming slaloms and roundabouts and I cope with them all just fine. I’m probably averaging 40-45km/hr and the limit is 50 so I think I’m doing OK. I have no cars behind me, and I am no longer being under- or over-taken by mental cyclists with a death wish. By now I’ve been out about 25 mins. I don’t really know what to do next, and I’m starting to head into town centre, which is somewhere I don’t really want to be. I pull over on the side of the road, park up, engine off, sidestand down, dismount. I go and sit down on the sea wall and enjoy the early morning breeze, the sun on my skin, the smell of the sea and the view of the bay. I have that “happy to the bottom of my heart” joy which many adults don’t get the pleasure of feeling very often. I’m so lucky, so blessed, and I know it. I review the ride so far. Nothing bad has happened, I’m operating the bike just fine, I’m keeping aware of my surroundings and what I’m approaching. I need to take more care at roundabouts, I worry that I am looking too much up the sidestreet and thus turning my head that way, therefore starting to get a lean on the bike... must find out from some of my biker mates how they approach roundabouts which they’re going straight through. I left one indicator on about 50m too long into a side street. I really need to stop doing that, I want any cars around me to be as certain as they can be of my intentions... and forgetting to cancel an indicator could pose a big problem in traffic. Overall though, I am stoked with this first ride.

    With a new spring in my step, I kit back up and clamber aboard. I turn back up the road the way I came, following the waterfront all the way to the end of the road, and then head back up to the main road. By now it’s after 7, and there are a couple more cars about than before. I turn left on the main road, head down past the shops, past my house, and continue on another 10 blocks or so. I turn right into a quiet back street, and go around a couple of blocks, practicing my indicator on and off and my gear changes and stops/give ways. I’m setting off well each time, I haven’t accidentally dropped her into neutral, I haven’t stalled her. I’m really stumped as to what to do next, I’ve been out almost an hour, I’m feeling great, and I decide to call it quits while I’m ahead. I’m a trainer in my day job and I know how important it is to end things on a high note. I head back to the main road, turn left and head back the 6 blocks or whatever it is to my house. I indicate, slow down, take the line into my driveway pretty straight and gun it up the driveway. I didn’t realise quite how steep it was until I’d begun, and the last thing I wanted was to not have enough grunt to get up it.

    I’m parking the bike in the back garden, under cover and out of sight from the road, behind a padlocked gate. All things that I hope will protect it from prying eyes. The only downside to this is that there is a step I need to get it up to get it into the back garden. I attempt to roll it up the step about 6 times and give up. I can’t get it into the backyard! I’m too scared to sit on it and ride it in, in case I get the angle wrong and tip the bike over. I need someone to show me what to do. A friend puts it away for me a few hours later, but he’s a “let me do it” kind of a friend, instead of a “let me show you how you can do it yourself next time” kind of a friend. Need to get someone else to show me how. All in all though, I am stoked that my first ride went so well!
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  5. Wed 1 Jan - Nervous Nellie

    I posted today in the Newbies forum to ask if I need a riding instructor. It’s been 4 days since my first solo ride, and I’m coming up with excuses in my head not to ride. Why? Coz I’m a chicken. A great big gigantic chicken. I know I suck at riding and roadcraft, so rather than starting out sucking at it, practicing, and improving, and then being less sucky at both, and eventually being a passable, and perhaps even a good rider... it’s emotionally easier on me to just not go out. This newbie nervous stuff sucks. Honestly, I’m not a chicken in real life. Just around the bike. I think Rick’s nagging me about hurting myself is starting to get to me, I’m starting to believe him that I am destined to have a horrific motorcycle crash like his and never walk again. And yet, I have 6 friends/family/acquaintances who ride regularly, and he’s the only one who’s had a bad crash. A bit of quick math tells me that out of those people I know who regularly ride, I have roughly an 85% chance of NOT having a bad crash like his, although with such a small sample size it’s probably not the most reliable of statistics. Still, the statistician in me is happy with those odds. I need to just drink a glass of harden up. But mostly, I need to get out on her, I will never, ever beat these newbie chicken nerves into submission the more I let them fester.

    I got some great responses to my thread, including a suggestion of a school on the south side where I can go and practice on a fake “road” the school have set up. Sounds fab, but I can’t ride there, it’s way too far away! Am still wondering if I should call my Q-Ride instructor and ask him to come to my house for some extra lessons... but he said he wanted me to get out and ride a bit and call him in a month or so... so I think he wants me a bit more comfortable on the bike first. *sigh* it’s a chicken and an egg scenario, and I know who the chicken is!

    I also had some great PMs and offers from people to come for a ride with me, but I don’t even feel ready for that yet. Baby steps, Ness, baby steps.

    The absolute best offer I had was from someone who offered to come see me in a mentoring capacity. From reading a bit on these forums, I think he knows what he’s talking about. I read a diary rather like this one that Raid posted some 18+ months ago, and he mentored Raid, and he raved about him, so I think it might be a good idea. I just don’t know if he really wants to be bothered by a gigantic chicken like me... but I suppose he is absolutely free to go home after our first meeting and decide I need professional help and give me the number of an instructor if I’m totally useless! J So, we’re going to strike while the iron’s hot and meet up tomorrow. I hope I don’t scare him off with my newbie-ness...

    Thurs 2 Jan – Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee...

    Today was my second ride on my new toy. Today is also the day that I met the amazing fabulous wonderful superstar, Bumblebeeman1150. I’m yet to ask him how he got that name, but I really need to know, it’s a cool alias. And he is a cool guy, seriously cool as a cucumber. I left the house about 10 to 3, we were meeting at 3 at some shops just a few hundred metres from my house. I rode up to the end of the road to the park and popped in to the carpark again to do a quick bit of slow riding practice. Again, there were too many cars in the carpark so I went down a nearby side street instead. I just did one length of the street at walking pace, chucked a u-ie, went back up it at walking pace, got back out to the main road, and headed down to the shops. I managed to get into the carpark and over the speed hump no problems, I saw a guy next to his bike, parked rather perfectly, and reminded myself to LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO and not at him LOL. I pulled into a carpark space very awkwardly and left my bike parked in backwards. First rookie mistake! Hahaha Oh well I’ll learn :) I parked up, locked up, and introduced myself. We were meeting there so we could go to the coffee shop and have a coffee and a chat before we headed off to a quiet area so he could watch how bad I am... Only we get to the cafe and they’re closed for renovations :( I feel like a muppet. So I suggest a different coffee shop about 10 blocks up the road. We head there, BBM leading and me behind. I indicate for the coffeeshop street a block early in the hope that he sees my indicator in his mirrors, but I don’t think he does. He sees the coffee shop though and makes the turn. We park up, again. We de-glove and de-helmet, again. We cross the road. And the coffee shop closed 5 mins earlier. Now I feel like a gigantic muppet-o-saurus. The only option now for a coffee shop is to head into the next suburb. But that is (in my mind) fraught with danger as there will be traffic, pedestrians, crossings, dogs, kids, blah blah blah. So I leave my bike where it is and I pillion in on BBM’s bike. It’s like the granddaddy of my bike so it’s cool to ride on the back. We head into town and park outside Coffee Club and head in for a well-deserved drink, and to chat. We spend probably 45 mins in there just gassing, and I explain to him exactly why I’m so nervous on the bike. It’s not easy to talk about but he needed to know. After our chat, we head off to the industrial area that BBM found on Google Maps last night, where we were intending to head. It looks perfect, so we head back, pick up my bike, and cruise down there together. (BTW, I didn’t tell you this at the time, but that was the first big down-hill ride I’ve ever done and I was packing it! Hahaha) So we park up and chat about what we’re going to do today, and then we begin. Start, stop, start, stop, start, stop. For a block. Clutch control, and braking without stalling. No problem-o, passed with flying colours. Around the block, regroup. A few laps of the block now, up and down gears, stopping and giving way, all going well so far. Now, cornering. I park up and we go and study a corner. He explains the “Apex” of a corner, and we walk the corner maybe 2-3 times, discussing the optimum lines to take (and why), entry and exit speeds, and the beginnings of how I can read the road as a biker. From way back here, what can you see about this corner? Look at everything around it, what do you see? Skid marks? Power poles? Fences? Road width? Road edges? Line markings? The ditch behind it? So many things that I can use to help me to read a corner before I’m anywhere remotely close to it. How smart is this guy?!? This is definitely the thought processes I want to begin developing. I can learn so much from this man.

    A few more laps (I swear I must have done 30 laps?) and I’m feeling a lot braver. “Brave enough to follow me on a little wander around the suburb?” Yes, yes I think I am. I just want to avoid that road down there. It’s peak hour now, and I know what the traffic is like around here at peak hour. So where do we (accidentally) head? Hahaha oh well, I had to face it sometime! BBM proceeds through the stop sign, and I move forward and stop. It’s a weird intersection. There’s a big roundabout just before it and people hoon out of the roundabout way faster than I’m happy with on the bike. I don’t set myself up properly when I stop, and I spend so much time looking for oncoming traffic, that when I eventually do make my move, I do what a car driver does. I move out while still looking at the oncoming traffic. Of course, you can’t ride a bike like that... I turn my head, but way too late, and end up in the middle of the road, right where I didn’t want to be, sat on the white median strip paint in the centre of the road. Oops. Now I must sit and wait for traffic again to clear. Oh well, at least I didn’t drop it! Hahaha Eventually I have a gap and move out and meet up with BBM up the road. The rest of our ride is uneventful, he takes me mostly through quiet back streets, though we do have to negotiate a couple of large roundabouts and a 70km/hr zone, neither of which I would have even attempted on my own. But being with BBM I was willing to give it a go, and I don’t think I did too badly. At least, when we stopped for a drink and a debrief after our little pootle, he wasn’t white as a sheet and vowing to never return :) All up, we were out for almost 4 hours, and sure probably 2 hours of that was sat around talking, but that means 2 hours was spent riding, and that’s pretty damn cool :)

    Thanks so much BBM for your help today, I really got a lot out of our time and look forward to catching up again soon!

    I’m aiming to get out 3 times this week, I’ve scheduled riding time into my calendar, if I don’t do that I’ll never get on the damn bike. Now it’s an appointment so I have to make time for it. I won’t get better or build confidence without practice!

    Sat 4 Jan - New Boots!

    So the hiking boots really weren’t working for me on the bike. They slipped on the pegs when I wasn’t expecting them to, and they have laces... OMG the laces! Scariest 3 seconds of my life was the morning that one of my laces got caught on the gear shifter. Huge lesson learnt :)

    For Christmas my brother gave me vouchers to AMA Warehouse, so today I got to go shopping! This place is huuuuuuuge, and had tonnes of stock and sizes and heaps of sale items. I didn’t take my previous shopping friend with me, but we had talked and I knew what he considered to be bare minimum requirements for riding boots – high boots with shin armour, plus heel protection. I had a big wall of boots to choose from. The “ladies” boots weren’t what I was looking for, so over to the men’s section it was. I tried on a couple of pairs, including some which were half price on sale, but they didn’t meet the two basic requirements that I needed. A bit more looking and I found some Berik GPX Road boots. Okay, I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself as being a Berik girl, but these boots were a good price, they fitted well, they had everything I wanted in a boot... plus they have toe sliders so if I eventually do a track day or two, I don’t have to go get different boots! Sold, to the chick who might be becoming a bit of a Berik fan-girl...

    Tues 7 Jan - Scuppered again – stupid Brisbane weather

    I can’t believe it’s been 5 days since I spent time with Bumblebeeman and I haven’t gotten out on the bike yet to practice! :(

    Friday I was really busy, Saturday was over 40C, Sunday morning when I had time to go out it was raining, then I worked all afternoon/evening, Monday after work I had scheduled in 2 hours but we had massive storms, and then today I came home from work early especially to ride, and we had horrendous winds! Like, buffeting-my-car winds... and since my car weighs probably 4 or 5 times my bike, there was no way I was going out on the bike in that weather! So fingers crossed for tomorrow evening. I need to get out on her more, I’ll never shake off these newbie nerves if I only get out on it once in a blue moon! BBM messaged me tonight and asked how my practice was going, I expected him to be disappointed in me not getting out again, but actually he understood. He also encouraged me to post this diary up, so I’ll post it tomorrow and then I’ll have somewhere public to keep track of my progress. I know I’ll progress slower than other riders: I’m not fearless, I don’t commute on it, and I lead a very busy life with 2 jobs, 2 dogs, and a hectic social scene; so I can’t see myself riding more than 2-3 times a week as a learner, and probably just once a week on weekends when I’m confident. But I’m happy with slow & steady. Didn’t the tortoise win the race? :)
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  6. lol good onya Ness
  7. Well done!
    Great read and great job to progress the way you have.
    I reckon you were born to ride. Over that gateway Bridge next me thinks. ;)
  8. Sheesh, you type fast! Whipped all that up in 5 minutes, good job!
  9. I like your choice of bike - I seriously considered the CB400 when I regained my m/c licence, but it was a bit small for my lanky frame. And that's a great report - keep on riding (& writing) …
  10. Great read.
  11. Wow that's very well written and entertaining
  12. Excellent write up , Ness - you've got a real flair for pulling the reader into your story . Keep up the good work , you're a natural , even if you don't feel like it yet !
  13. Amazing post!
    I started riding for the first time within a day or two of you so I know how you feel!
    Keep up the good work!
  14. Hi Ness,
    Firstly, l love your concept for your blog (y)
    I must admit, l just skimmed over it.

    However; l like how you have had to breakdown each step of your riding experience, for which you can refer back to later in your riding 'career'.
    And, posting it here allows others to relate to it and perhaps analyse their own experiences.
    This is part of motorcycling, wether a newbie or an old hat...sharing knowledge & experience.
    Well done
  15. Well done Ness, that was a great read. Best of luck in the future ;-)
  16. I enjoyed reading that. Brought back memories of myself a year ago. I had rider friends helping me make choices including the bike and gear.

    I remember thinking there was nowhere I could learn to ride as at the learner course we didn't go above 30 and all the local roads were 60-80km. It took a rider friend and 1 hour to get me on the open roads happily doing 80km. Happiest moment of my riding life.

    There's still so much I want to do and so much I have to learn, but I get the feeling this is the kind of lifestyle where you can always learn something no matter how skilled or experienced you are.
  17. Great blog Ness - found the "disagree" blog button and removed it - must have clicked the button in error. Anyway, love your posts - keep riding, have fun and stay safe.
  18. Nice work, well written.
  19. Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to read it, it was a mammoth blog to read in one sitting! Updates from herein won't be anywhere near that arduous :) Looks like the weather is holding so I'll be gearing up again this arvo for a little pootle...
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  20. Try a big pootle, I've heard they're better :)
    Good blog.