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No substitute for practice . . .

3050 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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Thank you for sharing your stories. I love reading them and hearing how humble everyone is with their riding experience; even if you have double digit years of experience under your belt. Us newbies can only learn from posts like this. Sometimes our heads inflate way to fast and that is how accidents will happen.

One of the main things I've learned since joining this forum is not letting the excitement of riding in general or other riders pressure you into riding in a situation you are not comfortable with. I have a friend whose been riding for over 10 years and is excited that I have taken up riding. He is constantly asking me to join him on his Laughlin ride in April. For me that is just insane considering I barely finished BRC last month and just recently got my M1. To a seasoned rider, it might be an "easy" ride, and he thinks I have the skill to be able to accomplish it. However, knowing my own personal limits is key and I have yet to experience the Kung Fu moment referenced by Rory. I can't wait for that moment to hit me. :)

Ride safe everyone.
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