Continued challenges for new riders
November 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm #3568
There is so much more learning to do beyond the very, very basic MSF course. I started riding in January and learned a lot from reading books, magazine articles, internet forums, Total Control Level 1 riding class by Lee Parks, and by being out on almost every weekend riding different routes in the hills. What’s cool about riding a motorcycles is new challenges keep coming up, and there are a lot of techniques to learn. First it was up hill start, then u-turn in traffic, riding on the freeway, gusty wind, twisty roads, steep downhill turns, sand/gravel, steeply crowned/narrow/broken/wet pavement, night rides on twisty/hilly roads, etc. They really keep things interesting. I’ve ridden about 8,700 miles so far, and I still get a little nervous before I go on a long ride on some challenging roads/conditions.
Oh, I haven’t practiced enough in a parking lot, haven’t ridden in the rain, haven’t taken track school or done track days, can’t keep up (not even close) with the faster riders when the roads get difficult, etc. There’s so much more…
What are the challenges that you had to overcome, and what are the new ones you’d like to take on?November 16, 2009 at 8:12 pm #23349eonParticipant
You’ve ridden 8,700 miles and not been rained on? I need to move to where ever you are
Riding in the rain isn’t so bad if you have gear that stops you from getting wet and cold. Visibility is my biggest problem with it. You very quickly miss having wipers to clear the water away. Wiping it away with your hands tends to smear it and make things worse (though there is something called the finger squeegee I have yet to try).
In the beginning my biggest challenge was not chickening out half way through a corner and hitting the brakes. Having the confidence to roll on the throttle and lean when I already think I’m going too fast was hard. Then later having the maturity to slow down and work on proper technique instead of barreling into corners so as not to look like a slow poke.
I sucked at the box in the BRC so I spent months working on that. Made sure to practice at least once a week. Literally took me months to get perfect at it but got there in the end and it felt good
My biggest challenge by far is overcoming the fear I developed after a low side. I still struggle with that today on damp roads. Are the roads really as slippy as I think they are, are my tires shot that explain my lack of grip, or is it all in my head? (I think the answer is A but it is something I struggle with).
Lee Parks Total Control is on my must do list but I will probably take an offroad course before that. Someday soon I hope.November 16, 2009 at 8:18 pm #23359November 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm #23360briderdtParticipant
Who ever invented that thing… I hope they’re living a life of earned luxury for the rest of their life. Yeah, it’s THAT good. I keep one in my tank bag. I try not to ride in the rain, but there are times when it starts raining during a ride. I’ve made it 6K miles in the last year and only been rained on maybe 5 times.
I still have a HUGE pucker factor on wet pavement. But at least I can see.November 17, 2009 at 12:55 am #23368jcwhiteParticipant
That’s impressive, to say the least.
I wonder how many hours those guys have logged to get that far, because I doubt I’ve ever met someone face to face who could do that stuff clean.November 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm #23382
I’m in San Jose and it only rains in the winter here. When I first started riding last winter, riding in the rain was out of the question due to my newness and safety concerns, and it had only rained a few days so far this year. Lately I’m beginning think it would be fun to do some rain rides. I still have this mental block of not wanting to get my gear and bike wet, partly because I’m lazy with maintenance and just don’t like the idea of having to clean up, dry up and lube the bike after wet rides. Neverthelss, I think it’ll be hard to resist the urge to ride when the rain does come.
Seeing in the rain is one thing, but I’m much more concerned about being seen by drivers when its raining. I imagine a motorcycle is practically invisible to most drivers on a rainy night.November 18, 2009 at 2:07 am #23389Speedy RodriguezParticipant
and been through torrential downpours. Have the right duds ready and slow down a little. In the summer it’s almost fun…November 18, 2009 at 3:05 am #23392owlieParticipant
My next big challenge is going to be getting back on the bike after 5+ months of winter. They don’t have the schedule posted for the ERC, but it is high on my to-do list.
I’ll skip rehashing my trials and tribulations from the first few weeks that I owned the bike, but unfortunately, as late in the season as I bought it, I didn’t really move beyond them (at least as far as I would like).November 18, 2009 at 6:30 am #23395
You guys know I’m a fan of the track, and I personally have spent TONS of time in parking lots. My problem is that I tend to psyche myself out when I’m no longer in controlled environments. Tight u-turns that are cake in a parking lot suddenly make my heart pound when there are cars to hit if I get it wrong. Corners that most other riders will take at 35-40mph I take at 25 in 1st because I’m worried about gravel or sand or oil. I wouldn’t really have a problem with calling this prudence, but the truth is that I sometimes go into “scared” mode in situations where a better street rider would just be careful. Know what I mean? It’s not that I outwardly do the wrong thing, but rather that I loose mental clarity and leave everything to my muscle memory and reflexes.
Anyway, I’ve gotten a lot better about this since I first started riding. When I first started I’d puss out and put my foot down in a u-turn, despite the fact that I had plenty of room to finish it out. Now I might get worried a bit, but I’ll force myself to crank my head harder and muscle it out. Ultimately though, developing better mental discipline and control is my next big step, both on the street and the track.November 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm #23399
My local BMW riding club has a parking lot gethering in the beginning of the riding season every year. All it takes is a decent size lot with some safety cones. Object is not speed, but smooth.. clutch control and balance is key.. fun to watch old timer BMW riders scraping pegs and side luggage in a parking lot.
There is even a slow race, riders go head to head against each other on a grassy field bowl shape circuit with elevation change, rear tire may slip on the uphill section if you give it too much throttle; too little throttle you have to put your foot down and DQ. Fun event to master your bike…November 18, 2009 at 10:18 pm #23406
Having never lived in a place with true 4-seasons, i.e., severe winters, the notion of putting the bike away at the end of a “riding season” is alien to me. Stop riding for 5 months and loosing some of the hard learned skills from lack of practice? What a bummer deal! But I guess people find other things to do, like ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing? Again, those are all foreign concepts to me.November 18, 2009 at 10:50 pm #23407
Actually, this is what I do sometimes in the winter:November 18, 2009 at 11:10 pm #23408
Lots of guys say once they’ve experienced track riding, going fast on streets looses its appeals. But I always thought track experience makes one a more confident street rider, so I find your account of being comfortable on the track but being psyched out on the streets (due to traffic/gravel/sand/oil) interesting. Can you help by explaining more on the “why”? What’s your background like, such as how long you’ve been driving/riding, do you live in the city or a small town, do you have off-road riding experience, etc.?
It takes some blind faith on the streets to think you’d always have adequate traction, especially after reading the occasional crazy stuff like people dumping oil on off ramps and curves deliberately to “get” motorcycle riders, and the more innocent spills that cause bikes to crash. Riding a mountain bike for years made me fairly comfortable with a little bit of sliding on loose terrain, although I’ve been told that’s nothing like dirt bike riding where you slide big time. Somehow traffic never bothered me, even when I was on a bicycle, and when driving in congested foreign cities in Asia and Europe where traffic are said to be much worse than here in the States. The exception is a local highway (hwy 17 in Santa Cruz) which goes thru the hills with tight curves and all the cars never slow down (many go 60-70 mph or more, in a 45 mph zone) and are always nearly out of control. That highway scares me a little even in a car.
I’ve experienced the staring at the guard-rail and road-side gravel wobbles. I’ve tried hard to discipline myself to look where I want to go, and now I trust myself about 95% in this regard. I don’t trust myself 100% when the road gets very twisty and the turns come up in quick successions, so I slow down to add safety margin whenever I need to. On a hilly road where I’ve only been on twice, there is a sign that says “extremely slippery”. Now, “slippery when wet” I’ve seen often, but “extremely” slippery? Like ice (actually it’s not)? Both times when I rode past that sign, my upper body tensed up so much I had to slow to almost a stop to make a curve that could probably be taken at 25mph safely. That sign really psyched me out.November 19, 2009 at 12:31 am #23409
Track riding DID make me a much more confident street rider. I feel like I have reflexes and subtle control over input that I would not have had otherwise. This makes me very confident on, say, a sunny day on a nice windy well-maintained road, the super-slab, cruisin’ around town. But I live in Seattle. We haven’t had a day without rain in what feels like weeks. The roads were utterly destroyed by our last winter (idiots using chains on snow-free pavement for a week). And it’s fall. There are leaves, especially wet leaves, everywhere.
And again, I’m not sitting in traffic quaking in my boots. It’s more that if I have ANY reason to doubt full traction (wet road, cool tires, debris on road surface), I turn into the world’s biggest whimp. Like I’ve said, I’ve done track days in the rain, but at the track falling is an option. That’s not to say you WANT to fall, but you have to avoid focusing on NOT falling or you’ll waste valuable attention that is better spent on other things. Moreover, a lowside because of failed grip in the rain is no big. Just $$$. Yeah, hurts the wallet, but you don’t get run over by a pickup or slide into a sharp and heavy object. The problem is that on the street the consequences are severe, so I’m not willing to risk my reflexes recovering from a slide, so instead I go 3mph Not literally of course, but like I said, I’ll take a corner that can be reasonably safely taken in the given conditions at 30mph at 20mph, just because I have no confidence in my traction.
As far as my background, I used to race road bikes (i.e. bicycles) and did a lot of mountain biking as well, and on those I’m definitely comfortable slipping and sliding. The main difference, and part of the reason I’d really like to have a go at MX or Supermoto, is that with the added weight of my sportbikes I no longer have the confidence to test my luck. Also those pretty body plastics are bloody spendy! Again, this is something I’m looking to fix with a light, low-power bike that I don’t care about falling off ofNovember 19, 2009 at 12:32 am #23410
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