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Minimum things I need to know before venturing into traffic

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Opal, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. I’ve had my bike for a few months now and I’m still very reluctant to leave the relative safety and comfort zone of my local streets (i.e. 50 km/hr zone, no traffic lights, hardly any traffic). I know I should have ventured onto busier roads by now (i.e. 60 km/hr zone, traffic lights, medium traffic), but don’t feel like I know enough yet.

    As per the learner course/test I can do the basics i.e. start, stop, corner, change gears (albeit not very smoothly) and, to an extent, feel confident riding around my local streets (as long as I don’t come off again :( ). However, what I want to know is what people consider the minimum things I should “master†prior to venturing further from home?

    One of my biggest concerns is turning into a 60 km/hr road with traffic. I still take off very slowly (at least I don’t stall as often now) and I’m worried that before I get up enough speed all of the traffic will be upon me. Equally, at traffic lights, I’m worried that when the light turns green, before I manage to get going, they will have turned red again!! Whilst thankfully some other road users are nice enough to give learners a bit of slack alas, there are some who do not, and I’m not keen on being tooted or yelled at.

    I’ve now managed to ride to the local shopping centre so have an area that I can practice in. Another Netrider member suggested I practice quick stops every time I go out, so this is one thing I now practice when I can. But what else?

    I have two possible challenges looming … one to get my bike serviced in Ringwood (at this point, I’ll have to get them to pick it up) and I’m booked for an Instructed Ride in the Shire of Yarra Ranges in March (at this stage, no chance of that happening!!).

    Perhaps my best option is simply to book into a lot more practice sessions at HART?

    Thanks all.
  2. Opal, sounds like you're doing great. keep at it, as often as you can. The next thing to practice is take offs, and acceleration.
    If your local shops has a long carpark with no-one in it, line yourself up, and pratice your starts.
    Try more revs, and quicker clutch release. You might get a little surprise if you dump it, but if i remember correctly you're on a Virago, so you shouldn't get into to much trouble.
    If you have your quick stops under control, be confident the bikes not going to run away from you.

    Good luck
  3. its not as bad as you think! most drivers are considerate although you do have to stay alert as there's a few idiots. I had my back street circuit then ventured out onto a main rd for a few k's then snuck back in to the backstreets. Eventually it feels OK. Take your time, leave plenty of space around you and have fun. If you feel hassled pull over and rest.
  4. As it points out in the Victorian Rider handbook Keep a 3 second gap and that will allow you alot of time to react to other vehicles around you.
    Look ahead into the distance as much as you can. Head up.
  5. What I think you need to do is get ot a shopping centre and practice getting up to speed quickly.

    Practice starting like you did on hte L's course and practice giving slightly more revs and quicker release of hte clutch. It sounds like you have forgotten about the aprt where when you release the clutch the motor starts to take hold. Find that spot and get to it quicker.
  6. Sounds like you've got a good head on your shoulders. Nice and steady learning is the way.

    I've been riding for 18months now and have really enjoyed the learning process.....still am!

    Before venturing out on the busier roads i'd definitely make sure you can start quickly, brake hard, corner comfortably, change gears.

    Reason being is that on 60kmh+ roads its important to turn into a busy road and quickly get up to speed, overtake, merge, quickly decelerate, turn. You want to flow with the traffic....otherwise drivers may get frustrated and try dangerous moves on you.

    You gotta be very alert of what's going on around you as well. Keep thinking who's gonna merge without indicating, is the guy in front gonna suddenly brake, is the guy behind gonna stop in time or rear end me, is that car waiting to turn into my road going to cross my path, is that parked car suddenly going to pull out, when the lights go green and i'm at the front am i going to be collected by a red light runner?

    I sh*t you not when i say i try to think about all these things when riding. Concentration has to go up more in heavy traffic. I've found that thinking of unexpected things happening has saved me sooo many times.

    Hope this helps, safe riding
  7. :grin: Have you got someone who can take you out for a ride in the quietest part of the day? I have found having a ride whilst it's middle of the day and lots of people are at work is the best time. Having someone with you is fantastic as you can take turns being in front so they can critique you and then being behind so you can watch that persons use of the road and their body movements on the bike.

    My stops and starts were pretty messy and slow so I practise like hell around my suburb in the day - all the basics that you learn in your L's course are invaluable like make sure you look through corners! We all learn at different paces and it's good to hear that you aren't throwing yourself into busy traffic until you are more confident with the basics.

    good luck with it.
  8. There are a few NR in Melbourne that do mentoring...don't be shy and ask. :wink:
  9. Or just say the magic words...

    "I'm 20/f." :grin:
  10. Anytime you need mentoring luv, I'll ride to Sydney. :wink:

    Scheff :p
  11. Thanks to all for the advice. I’ll be sure to keep practicing quick stops and work more on take offs and acceleration.

    I’ve had a few people offer assistance but I’ve been somewhat reluctant to accept at this time. Firstly, although you could use many words to describe me, extrovert would not be one of them. Meeting new people is always a bit stressful (you would think being in my 40’s I would have gotten over that by now but alas, no).

    Secondly, and this is more the reason, I’ve never felt like I know enough. Admittedly although people are offering to help I’ve always felt that I need to be more comfortable with the basics first eg. trying to work out what I’m doing plus following someone at the same time all seems like a bit too much. Also, I feel a bit guilty requiring the person to come to me given I can’t get to them and I am never sure how they will feel getting up to a top speed of about 45km/hr!!

    Anyway, I’ll give myself a week or so and if still not improving beware all of those who have generously offered help. :) (Chef … I might be asking for a lesson on how to take off at a reasonable speed!).

    Once again, thanks for all of the responses.
  12. unfortunately, i don't think age has anything to do with it :) i'm also in my 40s and took my daughter with me to my first coffee night - just so's i'd know someone.......

    but these guys here are great - and they offer help without any problems at all. so go ahead and ask..... :)
  13. Mate i live just down the road, so anytime.
    I'd start you in a carpark somewhere close to your joint.
    And when you are up to it, i'll happily deal with the cars for you. :wink:
    Having someone show you the ropes will bring you up to speed quicker and safer than on your own.
    And don't worry about smelly NR's scaring ya, they all live above the border.
    Flame Suit On

  14. Hey Opal,
    different people learn different things at different speeds, it took me 3 years to learn how to links my turns on a snowboard, yeah I didn't have all year on the mountain... but sounds like you don't have everyday on the bike either.

    Don't get me started on surfing... still trying to stand up. Best advice is to take it at your own pace... if others have offered to mentor you take a chance, but remember to ride at your own comfort level. If you like maybe even drive to a coffee night to meet some friendly faces before meeting up with them one-on-one. Yes it's daughnting meeting new people and I think, the older we become the harder it gets.

    chef is right, learning from another out there on the real roads are way quicker than on your own or in a controlled environment. Don't get me wrong... the HART courses teach you a lot but you never have to give way or react to cones.

    You got my number, I'm just waiting until you feel ready. ;)
  15. HART at kilsyth run 2 hour practice sessions for $60. i did one when i switched from a scooter to a bike. you tell them what you want to practice and they help you.
  16. Re: Minimum things I need to know before venturing into traf

    Just ignore them. The cars that are tooting at you now for being slow are just going to be the slow moving objects getting in your way once you get your confidence up :grin: . Shyness at meeting new people is understandable (espeically considering some of the weirdos that hang out here :LOL:) but if you get the chance to ride with other people then take it. Having other bikes around you as a safety buffer in traffic is definately going to help you gain confidence on the roads.
  17. "take it eeeaaaasy, take it eeeaaaasy....."

    dont push yourself, let it happen and comfort will come.

    riding is a thing we do for ourselves, it soothes the soul and makes big problems small.

    i'm going back to the nice place that is beer.....carry on ;)
  18. Nee.. I've got your number too.. I am always ready, baby... :LOL:

    Opal, looks like you need more practise on the take off and quick stop.. not necessary quick stop or emergency stop.. but better control on the brake and also the throttle.. tho knowing emergency stop is a must.. :LOL:

    Keep practising around your area and build up those confidence.. you will be ready one day...
  19. Re: Minimum things I need to know before venturing into traf

    [ Having other bikes around you as a safety buffer in traffic is definately going to help you gain confidence on the roads.[/quote]
    I was very nervous going out for a ride on country roads, still on my L's too. But having someone else with me made all the difference! Even more so in heavy traffic when another rider behind you can give you that extra bit of space that makes you feel comfortable or, without it, harrassed.

    Go for it at your own speed!
  20. Hi Opal, I can sooooooo relate to much of what you typed as I have been there and done that & still struggling with some of my demons :LOL:, but like others I am going to suggest you keep going at your own pace, practice & utilising a mentor or buddy when you feel ready. Can vouch that both Chef & ImOnIt would both be patient & non-judgemental when you are ready to ask for their help.

    Further to this, I dont know if you are the type who maybe needs to read some things first to get an idea before practising, but you could take a look at the VicRoads Discover Safe Riding booklet http://tinyurl.com/yavseg as it has some exercises to practice & also maybe get a copy of the TAC RideSmart CD http://tinyurl.com/ykxuvz (if you dont already have it) for simulation practice before doing the real thing. Just thought these might help take some of the scaries away :wink:.