I am one ridiculously happy Birthday Boy today. Turning 54 and this morning I went down to my local Kawasaki dealer to take ownership of my brand new 2014 Vulcan 900LT!
Took the MSF course two weeks ago to refresh my skills after 30 years since last on a bike.
All I can say is that after my first ride on my new bike, I am SUPER PUMPED right now. Like, totally silly and a bit obnoxious, walking around the house hooting, hollering and fist-pumping. After my dealer spent a few minutes going over the features again, it was time to swing my leg over my new baby. I spent 20 minutes tooling around the dealer parking lot getting a hang of the friction zone doing quick stops and starts, and getting used to the weight. (I was nervous about handling her 600+ lbs. after only having ridden a Honda Nighthawk for the MSF class!) But she is balanced real nice and in no time I had it down pretty well. Then it was time to roll onto the busy street -- I'd be lying if I told you my heart wasn't flippity-flopping a bit.
Headed out of town a couple miles and turned into a bigger empty parking lot, which I'd scouted out earlier in the week. Then really hammered away on practicing starts, stops, swerves, clutch/downshift/brake, etc. - all the stuff I could remember from class. Eyes up. Hand flat on the throttle. I told myself if I could start from 1st for 20 times in a row without stalling, I'd be ready to head back onto the road and deal with traffic. And so I did, quite easily.
Then it was down the road a bit further, then back home, for a total of 26 miles. The weather was crystal clear & sunny, just a bit breezy. Lucky birthday boy.
- I was anxious about using the heel-toe shifter, but was relieved when the sales guy told me I could ignore it while getting used to the bike. Heel-toe could get mastered later. I did play around with it to shift up a few times as I was approaching home. A matter of time and muscle memory.
- After engine was warm, I found I had to roll on a bit more throttle when starting from first than when engine was cold.
- In high gear I took her only up to about 55mph and was buffeted by the gusty wind. Will have to get used to that kinda scary feeling.
- I enjoyed the fellowship of riders -- the wave as riders passed was something I'd forgotten. Comforting somehow.
I feel exhilarated to now be back in the saddle after such a long time away. But above all, I feel a keen sense of HUMILITY. Respect the road, respect the bike, respect the community, and always stay within my comfort zone. I have a feeling it will be a LONG time before I will no longer consider myself a novice. But oh - what a feeling!
Have fun and be safe, everybody!