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No substitute for practice . . .

3053 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  MotoMike
What is it about Motorcycling that we find so enjoyable? Sometimes it's hard to describe. The experience means different things to different people. For me it's a time to clear my head and enjoy the outdoors (no matter how hot or cold). Since I'm a returning rider and old enough to be honest with myself, I will also say that motorcycling is a skill best practiced on a regular basis.

As you may already know, I came back to riding on a scooter and traded up to a regular motorcycle because 50cc twist-n-go scooters, as fun as they are, just don't cut it in traffic (at least not around here). The first time back on a motorcycle was at MSF while I was there for the basic riding course. My Coach remarked that he could tell that I had ridden before (I tried not to stand out as some of the students were on the bikes for the very first time). I wouldn't let it go to my head though. I loved riding motorcycles years ago but the fact of the matter was I hadn't been on one in years. When I got my license, I traded the scooter in because it just wasn't cutting it in traffic (we'll talk about that in a minute). My first ride on my CBR250R was quite the experience. It felt big and powerful and it might has well been a 1000RR as far as I was concerned. I stalled it probably half-a-dozen times on the way home (usually from missing a gear change or forgetting to down shift).

Since I've had the bike I've been able (fortunate enough) to ride almost every weekend, at least one day. Early on, in spite of already having a license , I would spend time in a parking lot practicing some of the drills from MSF and starting and stopping smoothly. I was still stalling at least once a ride, missing a shift from time to time and was a little wobbly off the line. I'm like a lot of people on this board as my legs are short and sport bikes are not made for people with short legs. Backing the bike up without being able to get your foot flat on the ground can be especially hard but eventually you develop a technique. I persevered, once you are up and running the feeling is great.

About a month ago there came a day that I got on the bike for my usual Saturday morning ride and I felt noticeably different. The bike didn't feel gigantic any more, it felt normal, it felt like my bike. The shifting was much smoother and for the ride was always in the right gear instinctively. I couldn't remember the last time I stalled the bike. My gear, helmet gloves, boots etc, felt comfortable. What changed, did it happen over night? No . . .

Nothing magical. Just the practice of riding the motorcycle paying off. Well maybe it was sort of a kung-fu moment like Kwai-chaing Caine when he mastered walking through walls. But it makes for a much nicer ride when you no longer have the death-grip on the handle bars or you have smoothly up-shifted to third by the time you've cleared that intersection or you're riding down that road with the switch-backs without drifting into the oncoming traffic lane when coming out of the turn.

My rides have not been without challenges. Saturday, two weeks ago I had someone pull out in front of me four separate times (as if I wasn't there, even with the lights and horn). I bought a Fiamm Low-tone horn but haven't mounted it yet; it will be on for this weekend's ride. The biggest payoff is being able to handle these situations with urgency without panic. One of those car pull outs could have put me straight into an oleander hedge, the practice helped me handle it and no one ended up in the hedge. The other day I lost traction on the back wheel while I was in traffic (silt . . in the center lane). I ended up 6 inches from the bumper of the car in front of me. That was better than landing on their trunk face up.

Now, you might remember in an earlier post regarding posts we love to hate: "Hello all, I'm ditching the CBR250R because I've just outgrown it . . .". I can see and understand the temptation perfectly, there may come a day when CBR250R will just feel downright puny. It certainly has for some of us but not yet for me. For those who have I sincerely hope their new bikes are giving them the reliability and satisfaction they expect. Personally, I think I have a ways to go with this bike and I'm not in a hurry to move up. After all, if one needs to practice riding, for me there's nothing better.
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Yeah, I guess I do kind of date myself with the Kung-Fu reference.

For any of us, young or old, riding for years or riding for weeks all we can bring to this forum is our knowledge, thoughts, opinions and experiences. If mine can help someone then I'm happy to do so.

When I started out MSF existed . . but nobody seemed to know about it (and I worked at a motorcycle dealership). I taught myself how to operate the controls on the motorcycles and ride them but lacked the benefit of any coaching or encouragement. It could have gone horribly wrong. When I returned to it and needed to get the license again I took the basic riders course and feel it was money well spent. I've got a lot to work on still. I haven't gone on any group rides yet but I can imagine that there is an expectation from your fellow riders that you will have a certain level of skill and attentiveness.

Anyone out there just starting out, I'm here to encourage you . . . Anyone been doing this for a while, I appreciate hearing from you.
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@jsonder, along with this bike (my very first real motorcycle) came my very first full face helmet . . actually the helmet preceded it by a couple of months. When I went back to riding on the scooter I bought a half helmet and put a visor with a full face shield on it. Way back when, I had a pair of goggles and no helmet. I personally wouldn't think of riding without a full face helmet and my armored mesh jacket but I've seen plenty of people who don't wear either. My mind was changed by not by a personal event but education; I hadn't ridden in years, I wanted to get back in to it . . . how do I do it and be safe was my approach.

@L2R There may be a 500 in all of our futures. It's at least a fine looking bike and Honda did do something to address the ugly exhaust dilemma. For you I hope it's everything your 250 was and then some. I looked at other bikes before this one and if the circumstances were right I might even get another motorcycle just to have. I say, if you have two bikes, good for you!

I wish a safe and fun ride for everybody and sincerely wish everybody that 'moves up' to that bigger bike can handle it for their sake and maybe mine as well. Every day on the way to work on the freeway I pass three things in the center lane: A piece of a red honda fairing (600rr or 1000rr), A single Alpine Stars glove and a shredded Icon Motorcycle Jacket. I don't know the circumstances of what happened but the impression I get is that they didn't walk away.
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