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It’s 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. It’s 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 didn’t intend to use the bike to commute to work, but every day it hasn’t rained, I’ve taken the bike. And now this morning, I even rode it to work in a light rain, because I have the gear, and it’s supposed to be clear at quittin’ time.

And one more thing. I started on kind of a big bike, and I don’t have any regrets. There hasn’t been a single time I’ve 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 hadn’t ridden before. I’m glad I didn’t let them talk me out of the bike I chose.

Yeah. I guess I just felt like sharing.
 

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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.
 

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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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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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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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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!

-John
 

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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. :):)
 

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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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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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Great story Frank. I have been riding for 5 years now and just recently started commuting with the bike. Part of the delay was my old bike didn't have any storage and working 24 hours shifts I bring quite a bit to work with me each day. I also give you props on riding to work in a light rain, I look at it the opposite direction; as long as it's not raining on the way to work I ride. Not a big deal if I get wet on the way home but getting soaked on the way in is not my idea of a fun day at work.

It may sound crazy but if you have an opportunity find a way to practice laying a bike down. We have a large sand pit up on our hunting land, we will sometimes go and practice controlled laydowns with our old beat up dirt bikes. A skill I have not yet had to use on the road but there will be a time that it's your only option left and most people never get to learn or practice how to do so in a controlled fashion. I know that when the time comes I need to lay it down I can do it as gently and safely as possible.
 

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Great Reading ~ reminiscent of days gone by.

Frank, I started the hard way. Back in the day all I knew to have two wheels and a motor was a Honda 50 Scooter. First night out and I darn near rolled over a lady on the sidewalk when a bus helped me over the curb. To be totally honest I was just stupid. Long story short I've been through all the sizes and many of the manufacturers, my 1600 Classic came at the end of a search that took some time. My last bike was over 15 years ago and two kids a divorce and a recent marriage. First time on Angus, "Black Kaw" i was elated and nervous. Darn thing was so heavy I thought I was pushing a blocking sled again. Then came the test, yes a legal legit license (both my sons are LEO's). The course here in Georgia would have been a cinch on a 50 scooter but on a 700lb plus Classic it was just plain nerve wracking until it was over. Certainly appreciated your story, probably more than some. Have a great ride and keep on keepin on.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all the good words, folks!
 
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