Sunday, April 6, 2014

Learning to Ride

This winter some friends (aka Team GU) put a bug in my ear about riding a motorcycle. Then I watched Long Way Round and Long Way Down on Netflix about a couple friends exploring the world with their bikes packed and lots of obstacles along the way. Sounded right up my alley! But then I remembered I had never even sat on a bike before and maybe I should think in baby steps....

And this weekend was the first step. In early March, I signed up for a beginners rider course available through the motorcycle safety foundation. It has lots of locations and is only $20. The hardest part is registering online before the classes fill. The first session was last weekend and I got the second session (4/4 - 4/6). They also take place across the state but the first one I could get was near my parents at NIU, so I stayed with them for the weekend. 

The class was Friday night 6-10 and Saturday and Sunday 6:45am-4pm. Luckily we got out an hour early each day, which helped. Friday was in the classroom learning the basics. The class is meant for people like me with no experience. We had a good variety of students though - younger, older, men, women, previous riders, newbies. I was glad there were others in my same situation :). 

My classmates

The bikes lined up on the range (practice course). 

Saturday we started off with the bikes and worked with them until noon and finished in the classroom. Same on Sunday except Sunday included our bike skills evaluation and the written evaluation. 

Saturday went well. We started really slow. Turn bike on. Shift between neutral and first. Rock bike back and forth. Feel the pull/friction of the clutch. Walk bike across the parking lot. Finally, pick up feet. I could then, no longer say I've never ridden a bike! All was going so well. Then I braked wrong, stalled the engine and slowly started to tip right.......until I couldn't control it and the bike and I slowly drifted down to the pavement. It was pretty harmless except that my boot was stuck under 300 lbs of metal that I couldn't get leverage and lift off of me. I had to honk the horn and even then it took a while to get the instructors' attention. Once I did, he got me back upright and the rest of the morning went really well!

Will need to be getting my own helmet along with other gear. Any suggestions on a biker name for me?? :)

My trusty Honda Rebel for the weekend! I'm still bike illiterate but this one seemed to work for me (250cc engine I hear). 

Sunday started a little rocky as well. I needed to be warmed up I think and I had somewhat forgot what I learned the day before. I could not stop stalling.....until I realized I had shut off the fuel valve (goes to carborator I think) and forgot to turn it back on. Gas would be a good thing :). The rest of the morning exercises went better with gas and then it was evaluation time. I was third to last and tried to take deep breaths so I wouldn't over-think things. We had to do two tight u-turns in a small box, then speed up to swerve and miss a car, brake at high speed (we pretty much maxed at 20mph all weekend) and take a 135 degree turn. I finished knowing I made some mistakes but hopeful that it wasn't too many. Had to taken the written test first and then got my results....

And I PASSED!!! With this completion certificate (to officially arrive in about four weeks), I can get my M license in Illinois and be street legal. Until then I'm parking lot legal :). 

Now to find myself a bike.....

1 comment:

  1. First of all, you are awesome, and crazy, and will look super cool on your bike : ) As far as nicknames, I am not very creative so did a littel searching online. Found a motorcycle nickname generator believe it or not. Your's is Bar Fly. I like it : )