Motorcycle Journal

Chapter Begin

This is a journal of my experience of riding a motorcycle. First, a little background of my riding experience. I know how to ride a bike and I learnt riding a scooter (only 45cc) a few years back. honda-zoomer-provaLast year, I decided to challenge myself and I went and learnt to ride a motorcycle. I took a riding course (6-day lessons)….before the road test, I didn’t have much confidence but somehow I did pass the test. There you go, officially I got my motorcycle license. Yes.

I didn’t have a motorcycle so I didn’t ride much. A few months later, Ducati has a new model, Monster 696, and it caught my attention. I rushed into getting myself my first motorcycle. I know I made a huge mistake of getting such an expensive motorcycle and I am only a new (I mean very new) rider. But it’s too late, I was commited to buy already. And there was no refund! 696_dark

Well I talked to myself…okay this is serious. I have to practice riding. The motorcycle was delivered to my home 6 months ago. I began riding it little each day. Sometimes I had a good riding day; but sometimes it was just horrible. I had some successful riding but had a few unsuccessful encounters when I dropped the bike 3 times. It was a huge number for me already. I dropped once while turning and stopping at the same time; the second time when I was stopping at the red light on an uneven road; the third time happened when I was riding slow and forgot I was in 4th gear. The motorcycle stalled and I dumped it. Every time I needed someone to help me lift up the motorcycle because it is so heavy. It was very heart breaking because not only the motorcycle got damaged, but also I was so discouraged….also terrified.

I took my bike to the shop and I began to question myself. How on earth I could get my motorcycle license. Honestly, I really don’t know. Two months have gone by, my motorcycle is ready and it looks new. It is waiting for me to ride again. However, I am hesitant and have butterflies in my stomach.Tomorrow I will begin my challenge again…okay this is serious. I gotta pratice riding. So here I go again…

New Challenge
DSC01714My challenge began today. I gotta be honest…while I was putting on my gear, all I could think of was the history of myself dropping the bike. I have to overcome that in my mind. So I took the bike for a ride around my neigborhood. It wasn’t easy because my neigborhood consists of up and down hills. It is a bit scary for a new rider like myself. So I need to be selective in choosing the certain blocks for a easy ride. The blocks aren’t long, so stopping at the stop sign or making turns were my major tasks. And these are the stuff I want to practice. I was pretty shaky at the beginning, but I managed not stalling the bike. That’s a good start I guess. In fact, down to a point while riding, I had a rush in my head…maybe a panic attack I would say. I parked the bike near a curb; turned the engine off; and sat on the bike for awhile thinking what that was. I guess I gave myself too much pressure. After that, I rode a few more times around the neigborhood and called it a day. Well, to sum up today’s effort…not stalling the bike was a surprise for me already. Good start. See you tomorrow!

Out of Gas, Really?

The weather is awesome so I continue my practice today. I decided to ride the bike on a new route. Afterall, just riding within the neigborhood could be a bit boring. I rode around my neigborhood once for boosting up my confidence level…..then exit from there. I felt less nervous than yesterday. So the ride was steady and smooth I would say. So there I continued enjoying the ride. It seemed a pretty smooth ride. After 20-30 mins ride, I parked my bike and chill out a bit. But when I decided to ride some more, the engine didn’t start. Then I saw the yellow light was on. It was the gas light. OMG, out of gas. I was so concern on my riding technique and got carried away. At that moment, I could only think of calling my hubby to bring me gas. Luckily I didn’t drove off very far from home. It took 15 mins for him to arrive and put gas in the tank. My bike starts again. Then it was getting dark already so I drove home. Thankfully it didn’t happen in the middle of the road. I couldn’t imagine what would happen. I considered myself being very lucky. Well, lesson learned. Make sure I have gas. I did have a good start…but didn’t have a great ending. can1boarder

When I got home I took the manual out to read about out of gas issue…turns out I can still ride certain more miles after the gas light on. So what happen that the engine didn’t start….don’t laugh…it was because the bike was still on gear 1 and the kick stand was down. That’s why. Dumb me. Second lesson learned.

Shifting

I want to talk about shifting today. While I was learning to ride motorcycle, I remembered my teacher said “gear shifting” is easy. 1. Clutch 2. Roll off throttle 3. gear up/down. Sounds simple…but to a person like me with no experience of driving a stick shift car before is a different story. How to master is well and smooth is another question. Okay, I did manage to complete the simple 3 steps that just mentioned. To do it smooth and clean needs practice. I am still not having the right feel. Like when to disengage the clutch, how much throttle is required for smooth acceleration and how much effort the shifter needs. I need to eliminate the popping sound and jerking motion. A few times I couldn’t get into the right gear without trying two times. I even happened to ride in a neutral gear. I need to master well how much foot pressure the shifter needs. Need more practice. What can I say. I searched on the web for shifting tips and this what I found in About.com. Good educational tips.

“Q: How can I shift more smoothly?
A: The most effective way to shift smoothly is to pay attention to your bike’s behavior: if your motorcycle jerks while you’re letting out the clutch, you’re probably doing too abrupt with your left hand. If you’re lurching ahead during shifts, you might be applying too much throttle. And if your motorcycle slows down during shifts, you might not be revving the engine enough between gear changes, which will allow the engine to actually slow down the bike. Smooth shifting is all about paying attention to the way the clutch, the throttle, and the gear selector interact, and orchestrating the three with each other.”

Same Route No More

With riding the same route last few times, I decided to ride on a new and longer route. So I map out a little longer road to ride beforehand. My shifting ability certainly got better today. Most of the ride today feels much more enjoyable and less stressful. Although the route is longer, I didn’t feel as much exhausted than the rides before. Overall, I feel a little bit natural instinct coming out from me. I guess this is a good news on my part. And thanks goodness for a good riding day. A little note that I made a sudden stop at a red light. Shifting down from a 4th gear to 1st gear until fully stop. Next time I should be more careful of anticipating of a red light change.

Group Riding

I only rode by myself in all my previous rides. Not because I don’t like group riding, but I don’t have the confidence to ride with a group. I don’t want to become the whole group’s burden. You know I may not follow close enough, miss the light or even too slow etc. But I am sure there’s certainly a fun there. Today I had a chance to be riding with a group. And I have my eyes open. I learned that riding in a group isn’t that dangerous and scary. In opposite I felt safer and relax. Being so easily noticed by other traffic is an added benefit of being in a group. At first, I did have the initial feeling awkwardness when riding with others. I haven’t done the staggered formation for a long time after in the riding school. Another thing that caught me was that I required to stop next to another biker at the red light. It was a bit shakie at the very first red light. I found that the width of the road suddenly cut in half for me. And I was on the right hand side of the road which is closer to the curb….and the the road is slanting to the curb (I dropped my bike before in the same situation). Although there are still many things to experience, having somebody in the front leading me allow me to copy his riding moves and techniques. Honestly I enjoy every bit of it. Thanks to the lead rider. The excitement and companionship of group riding is something different comparing with riding “lone wolf”. But both have different excitement and fun. Honestly I like both!

New Roads

There are roads or places that I always imagine where I ride my motorcycle….way before I learnt how to ride. Such places like downtown, West Van and Sea to Sky. Downtown is where you see a lot of people crowded around and crossing at intersections; West Van is where I think the roads are up, down and narrow; whereas Sea to Sky hwy consists of high speed curves.

Honestly I would not dare to ride those roads alone for the first time. Luckily I got another chance to ride in a group. Besides being safer and more relaxed with riding in a group, I found out another great thing is that by following an experience lead rider I didn’t need to navigate so much. I found this pretty awesome for a road blind like me.

OK, the downtown area gave me new ride feelings. I did feel nervous at the beginning…especially on Robson St. since I haven’t ridden before. I saw so many people at every corner of the intersections, stopping and going. Are they looking at me? Do I look cool? It felt a bit out of hand. LOL. But overall, I made it through.

DSC03336West Van is a place that I seldom go, so I am not familiar with the roads and it gave me new challenges. Marine Dr. is great for riding motorcycle. We rode in single file seeing the great scenery. The road is long, narrow and with a number of curves. Some curves have restricted visibility too. Right now I can manage a curve at a “moderate to slow” speed, maybe a little bit slower than the speed limit. Finding a safe speed when handling a curve is something I need to practice a lot more. But I am looking forward to try Marine Dr. again soon.

Sea to Sky hwy…hmmm…. I would not be ready for it yet. But I know it is just the matter of time for me to ride there.

From now on, more and new titles will appear in the motorcycle categories. Click “MOTORCYCLE” in the Categories.

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