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I was so excited for my first MSF Course this weekend. The classroom portion was good and I passed the test easily. However, it was 97 degrees that day. Once we started really getting into 2nd gear and turning, I got scared...psyched myself out. Weaving around the cones was horrible. I mentioned that I was really scared and felt 3 laps wasn't enough. They moved on anyway. Looking back, that was the ONLY exercise that I didn't do great at. By the end of day 1, I was 100% scared. Within an hour, I realized I was in full blown heat stroke. I think I was way too sick to have performed well but didn't recognize what was going on. Obviously, I didn't go to day 2. (I should have been in the hospital but wasn't capable of logical thought) I can retake the course for free later on. But, now, I'm terrified of my bike. Slow speed stuff is tough and I wanted to be good...wanted to rush it. I know that's not realistic. Any tips on conquering the fear?
 

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Hi Rice Girl
The advice for the heat stroke is easier than advice for the fear of the bike.馃槈
I think you need to find a beginners riding course. See if your dealer or maybe a local riding club knows of any in your area. The cure is practice practice and some practice. If no courses are available to you see if you can find an instructor who can give you some training.
Low speed handling is something we all struggled with and some still feel uncomfortable with our heavy bikes in those slow turns. Check out the forum here on dropping the bike or picking it up. Tells you it happens more than folks like to admit.
Don't fret, you will learn and it won't take much time to get over the fear and have confidence. We all did...

WEG
 

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+1 to what WEG said. Try early Sunday morning rides to the local High School parking lot and practice as much as possible. Practice will help create muscle memory which is where your confidence will come from.

Ron
 

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Hang in there. When I took the course it was also unbearably hot. Need to plan on being in a concrete world for 2 full days. Hydration is key! Our course provided the bikes. All under 250cc for easier handling. This would be what I would suggest for you. The courses here don't let you use your own bike until you get into the advanced course. Need to learn the technique and be comfortable with it on something you CAN handle before you try it on a bigger bike. And our course was mostly women believe it or not. And most had NEVER ridden, ever. Many bike were dropped and tipped over that day. BUT everyone passed!

Also we had a great instructor who listened, and gave good pertinent advice. That was also very beneficial. Try to ask around for things of this nature. Maybe find someone who has taken a specific course and get some feedback. Good luck!
 

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I had never ridden a bike when I took the BRC and I failed the first time. It was late August in Georgia and over 100 degrees both days. I got my bike before that, so I practiced what I learned until December. The 2nd time I took it, it was below freezing all day both days. We had 4 slides and spills, including one of the instructors. They really should have called the session off. But I managed to control the bike every time I slipped (big pucker moment during emergency braking for the final test!!), and I passed.

Even now, 8 years later, I still get tense during slow maneuvers if I haven't practiced enough.

DeputyLoud is right, hydration is key. That goes for anytime you ride, at ANY temperature. You loose a lot of body moisture on a motorcycle.
 

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Any tips on conquering the fear?

yes, I have a tip, but haven't tried it yet myself, only heard of it from someone else, we get fears naturally when we sense danger, but to just face your fears and do it anyway
 

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Practice, practice, practice. If you can, find a friend who rides. See if they will spend some time in a parking lot practicing with you. Get some cones and set up some drills. It doesn't matter what skill level you are. Even seasoned riders could use the practice time. I think it will help your fear having a buddy there.
 

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I've been riding for nearly 50 years and having to take that sort of proficiency test under those blisteringly hot conditions probably would result in my failing as well! Suggest that you write off that particular testing session, get back onto your bike and just do some simple straight line riding to start, then slowly move on to riding around some gentle bends to rebuild your confidence. Then you can gradually move on to riding around cones, again beginning with them being widely spaced and gradually tightening the spacing.
 

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When I practice I always found the cones themselves intimidating and even the small ones were hard to take to an empty parking lot so I started using tennis balls I cut in half on my bandsaw 5 tennis balls made 10 "cones" there easy to pack into a small drawstring bag and if you do hit one it won't lodge under the bike you just roll over it and continue on. I still don't understand how some riders scrap there floorboards I'm just not that comfortable leaning over that far. But like I say some of us run in bigger circles than others 馃槂
Just keep riding
 

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Don't take this the wrong way, but If you continue to be afraid of your bike, you may want to sell it. A friend of mine who bought a 1500 after not riding anything bigger than a 50 CC scooter before was terrified of his, and he almost killed himself on it twice by freaking out on it. When we'd go riding, even on rural highways with no traffic, he could not seem to go faster than 50 and he kept a death grip on the handlebars at all times. He would panic going into turns and almost went off the road a couple of times because he had no sense of how far he could lean it over.

Take it to some empty parking lots and use parking spaces as a slalom course, and practice turning and leaning. Chances are good you'll get over the fear and start to get more comfortable on it. It's always good to have a healthy respect for what these machines can do and how quickly things can happen, but fear of it will ruin it for you and might get you hurt.
 

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Rice,,practice practice practice prac prac pra pra and so on
fyI went over on my 9,,and that was in my garage,we all get scared,Think something is wrong if your not
Don't give up
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Don't take this the wrong way, but If you continue to be afraid of your bike, you may want to sell it.

No offense taken. I joined and posted to get support. I know plenty of people have been in my shoes. I think the heat stroke making me slightly delusional has clouded my thoughts. My rider coach was very supportive and sent me a text to say she thought I did great in our class. Obviously, I couldn't do day 2 and they are more than happy to let me take the course again later at no charge. I am confident in stopping, starting, shifting, pretty fair at low speed clutch control. I just have to practice those cone weaves. We have lots of large parking lots to go practice. I also let the dealership tell me I didn't need the reduced reach package which is wrong. I've got the shift rod ordered and hubby will be moving the foot controls closers as soon as that gets here. I had an unrealistic expectation that my basic rider course would be all I need for real rad practice and I know better now. I just want to be safe and keep my bike scuff free.

Thanks for all the encouragement!
 

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Nice to hear that you're not going to give up. Does that extended reach package do anything for the handlebars? One thing you might be able to do to practice cone weaving (I do this) is on a street with no traffic, find markings (indents, reflective sticky things, paint spills etc) and use those as markers to weave thru.

Don't take this the wrong way, but If you continue to be afraid of your bike, you may want to sell it.

No offense taken. I joined and posted to get support. I know plenty of people have been in my shoes. I think the heat stroke making me slightly delusional has clouded my thoughts. My rider coach was very supportive and sent me a text to say she thought I did great in our class. Obviously, I couldn't do day 2 and they are more than happy to let me take the course again later at no charge. I am confident in stopping, starting, shifting, pretty fair at low speed clutch control. I just have to practice those cone weaves. We have lots of large parking lots to go practice. I also let the dealership tell me I didn't need the reduced reach package which is wrong. I've got the shift rod ordered and hubby will be moving the foot controls closers as soon as that gets here. I had an unrealistic expectation that my basic rider course would be all I need for real rad practice and I know better now. I just want to be safe and keep my bike scuff free.

Thanks for all the encouragement!
 

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I teach multiple levels of MSF courses and some more advanced curricula from other vendors, in each class I tell all my students controlling a motorcycle requires two things; the proper technique and smooth application of the technique. While we can explain and show proper technique it is up to the rider to make it smooth and that takes practice. The BRC class is fast paced by design. The pace is necessary to develop motor skills without allowing much time to overthink the process. When facilitated properly it works extremely well. That said, every person develops at their own pace and extreme weather, hot or cold, is always a factor that can impede development.

Fear, tension, and anxiety will prevent you from performing any smooth operation of a motorcycle. Here is an example to try....take a sheet of paper and sign your name. Looks as expected right? I'm certain it was easy and smooth to complete. Now try flexing your shoulder, bicep, forearm muscles and squeeze heck out of the pen while signing your name. Amazing how your signature got short, small, and very dark; it also took a lot of energy. The same thing happens when controlling a motorcycle. You have to be more relaxed in order to manipulate the controls smoothly. Even experienced riders struggle with this when fear or anxiety creeps in so you are not alone here. The secret to overcoming fear is to concentration. If you are focusing your concentration on something (i.e. technique) you cannot be afraid at the same time as each takes place is separate places in the brain. If your focus slips you can find that fear again so this too takes practice.

The offset cone weave on exercise 6 is not an easy one, however, it can be made easier with just a few tips. First, understand motorcycles do not ride well at idle. Too many riders attempt to control their low speeds through this exercise with just the throttle......very hard if not impossible to do smoothly. It usually results in too much throttle and missing a cone or two, then the tension rises and steering becomes difficult....not good. A better technique is to make plenty of power available by applying more throttle than you need and holding it steady throughout the weave. Then all your speed control is done by using the friction zone; make small movements not large ones with the clutch. As you move through the weaves the clutch should not released all the way, again remember to maintain the steady throttle.
Second, look further ahead. When you look at the cones you will have a very difficult time going around them. Looking further ahead slows your sense of speed (how fast it feels like you are going) and the body naturally relaxes making steering easier. Sense of speed is also why anyone with poor vision drives slowly and those with good vision slow down excessively when going over a bridge or through a tunnel.

Lastly, to reiterate what everyone else has said practice. Practice steady throttle while using only the clutch adjust speed. After you feel more comfortable in a straight line start with some weaves gradually increasing the difficulty as needed.

It takes far more rider skill to go slow than to go fast.
 

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I know plenty of people have been in my shoes.
That's correct, I know of a friend who went to take her motorcycle course and got intimidated by the bike she was on and decided to quit the course half-way thru, but since I was nearby watching, the Instructor asked to go get me because he wanted to talk to us both. He told her she was doing well and could use another bike she was more comfortable on to take the course, he convinced her she could do it, so she re-entered the course using a different bike which made all the difference. She told me later that the boost was the Instructor giving her permission to do the course at her own speed which gave her more confidence. She was afraid at first but after returning with a new sense of confidence she passed the course test and got her motorcycle license.
 

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I just want to be safe and keep my bike scuff free.
Napom gave me a good idea for practicing. If you have engine bars, get some of the foam rubber pipe insulation tubes sold at Home Depot. Cut them to the right length and put them on your engine bars like you would a pipe. If you do go down while practicing, they will help to prevent scratches to the bars and also cushion the fall for the bike. It comes in several sizes. I couldn't find any 1 1/4" on line, but they have it and 1 1/2" in my local store.

Everbilt 1 in. x 6 ft. Foam Pipe Insulation-ORP11812 - The Home Depot
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Oh, Gearhead, I hope I didn't sound like I have anything bad to say about my course or my rider coaches. The whole experience was really my flop for not being cautious about the weather. I think I was already way too sick even an hour in but didn't realize it. I think that part of it is what let my fear set in. When you're boiling from the inside, there's no way you'll retain much info. I'm excited to try again in a couple of months.

That said, I had a GREAT practice session yesterday morning. My turns are nowhere near as tight as I want them to get but I have realistic expectations now. I know there's only one way to eat an elephant and I took a starter bite yesterday. Felt good and I'm happy to slow down my pace. Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement!
 

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I agree with practice, but you need to practice the right techniques. Gearhead provides some good tips.

I suggest getting a copy of the Ride Like a Pro DVD and a copy of the Twist of the Wrist book by Keith Code. Ride like a pro is all a out low speed manovering. Twist of the wrist explains why motorcycles work the way they do with a lot on proper cornering. I think there is also a twist of the wrist video on you tube that is about 1 1/2 hours long.

WB
 

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I'm a 23 year MSF instructor, and a 43 year rider up here in Wisconsin with close to 260,000 miles under my butt. Over 23 years I've taught thousands of students. If anyone wants to PM me with questions about the BRC, taking the course, getting over the anxiety, whatever. I may be able to help.

I just completed a class yesterday, as a solo instructor with eight students. Of the eight, six were brand new to riding, so it took a lot of work and patience. But we all made it through. Heat during the BRC is a very tough issue to deal with, even in Wisconsin. It was near 90 both days this weekend. In the southern states it must be terribly hot, and I know some southern states run the class very early in the morning to avoid the heat. Drink LOTS of water, more than you think you'd ever need or could take in, because you shed water and dehydrate SO fast, especially under the stress of learning riding.

I saw on an earlier post about four students dumping their bike, and an instructor dumping the bike. That class should have been held up well before that happened, especially if an instructor dumped a bike. Don't take this wrong, but from an instructor point of view all of the BRC exercises are easy to do on any bike. If an instructor dumped a bike during any exercise something was definitely wrong. Instructors do make mistakes, I have too, but an instructor dumping a bike makes me really question the riding abilities of the instructor. Perhaps the heat and a physical issue affected the instructor.
 

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Oh, Gearhead, I hope I didn't sound like I have anything bad to say about my course or my rider coaches. !
The experience you had was your experience, good, bad, or indifferent. I do not want to change that. The only thought I would like to impart is that when it comes to any learning environment, success and failure are one in the same. Even if we do not succeed in what we set out to do....a lesson has been learned; sometimes it's as simple as what not to do next time. I'd say you were very successful in learning many things during the course, not the least of which is the effect heat can have on one's body and mind.

None of us were born with the ability to walk, it took practice & lots of it. In this way riding is no different. Keep at it and your practice sessions will be filled with many victories, some small others larger, much like your last one.
 
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