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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 09:12 AM Thread Starter
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New rider thoughts

Itís only been a short time since I took the riding course in March. Two months later, I am amazed when I compare how nervous I was then with how I feel now.

The first Saturday morning after I got my bike registered, I got up at sunrise so I could get out of town an onto the country roads before traffic got heavy. It was a big thrill to be out doing the stops and turns on real roads. I took a few turns too wide, and I stalled the bike a couple of times, but things got better. Every maneuver connected with something we had done in class. I kept thinking, I know what to do! I can handle this.

I got lost, but I knew I was south of a highway that would take me back home, so I just headed north until I found it. There would be no sneaking back home on side roads. The highway put me on the busiest road in town during morning traffic, which I was really nervous about. Itís one thing to take a wide turn on an empty road, but to have cars on all sides and at every intersection was overloading my brain. But, I made it home without anything bad happening.

The next day, I took the car out to visit friends. They asked where the bike was. I told them that I felt like I needed more practice before I wanted to take it into Kansas City, but it made me feel like I had let them and myself down. So I decided to force myself to take the bike every time I needed to leave the house, unless there was a reason I needed to take the car, like grocery shopping or rain.

I didnít intend to use the bike to commute to work, but every day it hasnít rained, Iíve taken the bike. And now this morning, I even rode it to work in a light rain, because I have the gear, and itís supposed to be clear at quittiní time.

And one more thing. I started on kind of a big bike, and I donít have any regrets. There hasnít been a single time Iíve felt like I should have gotten something smaller to learn on. A couple of my friends tried to talk me out of buying a 1500, the dealer expressed concern that I was getting too large of a first bike, and the guy that delivered the bike said a prayer over me and the bike when I told him I hadnít ridden before. Iím glad I didnít let them talk me out of the bike I chose.

Yeah. I guess I just felt like sharing.

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 09:17 AM
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Great story, Frank, thanks. Heavy traffic certainly does force the alertness level up, but the country backroads more than make up for it.

Have fun, and ride safe.

Keep the Shiny Side Up!
'09 900 Custom SE on the Darkside
"Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 09:55 AM
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Commuting is certainly the best practice I ever did.

It's relatively easy to negotiate an empty road. While any seat time is better than none, I found myself not learning much or encountering situations that made me think very often. Then I started commuting. Within days I'd encountered more obstacles, teaching moments, and awareness lessons than I'd had in a month of lonely back road riding. You're exactly correct too, everything I came across was something that was covered in depth or at least touched upon in my MSF course. That gave me a great amount of confidence to handle new things as they appeared.

The more you ride, the better it gets. As long as you're mature enough to know that the throttle doesn't need to be wide open all the time, the only drawback to a big bike over a little one is that it cost more, and it's heavier to pickup if you ride beyond your skill. Otherwise, go for it.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 10:00 AM
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Great story, and I agree that commuting has helped me, experience-wise, more than anything else. My favorite rides are those back country 2-lane highways, but the skills in watching traffic and riding safe have all been EXTREMELY boosted by my daily commutes.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 10:26 AM
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Great post Frank.......I think u have touched on .....What riding is supposed 2 b about.....Good luck and take care....Ride safe......

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 10:27 AM
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I'm in the same boat as you, Frank. Bought a 1600 Classic as my first bike having never ridden before. I am currently in the middle of my safety course so hopefully in two months I will be where you are right now.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-18-2010, 12:29 PM
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I did a similar thing - I got my bike, got it fixed up, THEN went and took the MSF course. Passed it, and the next day went and got my license. Decided to take off that afternoon and get the bike inspected, then went to hang out with friends. My gf called later on and asked if I was still coming down to her house (involves DC-area traffic on 495, 270, GW Pkwy, and Cabin John Pkwy, if you know the area at all). I said I had the bike, but sure, I'd be down. The next day I started commuting!

Originally, I was going to take the bike out on weekends/evenings until I got really comfortable, but I'm glad I did what I did, because I learned a lot that first day, and used all the skills they taught us in the MSF course!

Good luck and keep the shiny side up!

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-18-2010, 12:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing, Frank. It's always a good thing to be out on the bike. I ride to work as much as possible, and everyday I do, I experience something new. Riding in traffic, I'm always on high alert. You never know who is going to change lanes without looking. It has happened several times to me. Once, a lady (on the phone) got close enough that I actually had to slap the side of her Suburban before she realized I was there!

Anyway, I'm glad you shared your experience with everyone and hope you continue to get the enjoyment out of your new found hobby. Ride safe.

Matt "MO" Moore
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-19-2010, 08:09 AM
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Frank, thanks for taking me back to my beginning. I was feeling the stomach twisting as I was reading along. It will take no time until you're feeling comfortable enough to get a little stupid. Just remember to not forget your gear. I'm sure most of the people in this forum have had to lay down their bike at some point and I, for one, am glad I was wearing my leathers when I laid mine down on 34th street in Manhattan. Not to scare you, but be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. I hope you continue to love riding as much as I do.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-20-2010, 01:11 PM
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Frank, very descriptive...took me back to my first days of riding too! I can't imagine the doubts you must have had after having so many people second-guess your choice of bike size. I too heard the advice to buy a small bike first and then move up to a bigger bike, but didn't heed it after my boyfriend convinced me (and I do so trust his judgment) that my natural athleticism and driving skills would allow me to do just fine on a bigger bike. My first bike was an 1100 V-Star. Kept it for 2 summers and traded it in for a 1700 Classic LT last fall. I'm a 47 year-old female, 150 pounds, 5'7". Am so glad I didn't listen to the naysayers! Stay safe!!
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