New Female Rider….any Suggestions, Experiences or Words of Advice?
April 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm #3914Korny12Participant
I am a new rider. Received my license after taking the MSF course last year in August. Got my 1st bike, a 2009 Lifan 250cc, thought I would start small and to be quite honest cheaply. I initially thought I would wait til this year to look for a bike but my husband wanted me to get riding and not wait a season and not use or lose what I was just taught etc.
Started out riding the back roads etc and was doing great- I thought. Lo and behold I made the biggest beginner mistake possible. Something reflected in the woods, I turned my head to look and off the road I went at 40mph into a culvert, the bike popped back up onto the road! My husband was in front and when he looked in his mirror and saw the dust cloud he freaked. I was OK- very shaken up and bruised and sore! BUT I got back on her and rode her the 10 miles home! Very proud of myself.
I am 5’10” and a big girl. Not obese but built and athletic! This bike seemed a bit small for me but a great smaller starter bike. After I healed I wanted to go out again. We headed out and ended up on a road which was newly oiled and stoned. This freaked me out. My mind was playing games. Season over…
Now this year – I have a different bike. A Vstar 600- great great deal I could not pass up. The bike is larger and I think better suits me. Anyway I have gotten out twice so far- and been practicing my starts and stops in the driveway and back side roads.
For some reason I cannot get my mind to stop playing head games and as my husband says I can do this (I know I can) and just need to not think about it so much and do it. This bike has a heel shifter which was not something offered at the MSF course or the Lifan. New to me…
Anyway just trying to see if there are any other newbies out there who have had similar experiences or can offer any support or suggestions. This is something I want to do and know I can do this. I ride four wheelers and snowmobiles also. I know not the same but I can do this!
My husband thinks I start out worse or more shaky on the back roads driving slower rather than getting on a 2 lane road and doing 40-50mph. Not to worry he is being great and not pushing me- and he is right I need to get out there and just ride!April 28, 2010 at 3:59 pm #26027briderdtParticipant
…but I can relate to the head games.
Back in ’91, I was just starting bike (bicycle) racing. I’d had one season with a few races, got to where I could hang with the pack, and was looking forward to the coming season. Took a tri to Moab with a friend, and we decided to return early and catch a mountain bike race in our locale. It started on a rubberized running track, and it was a mass sprint to the single track. One rider bumped my right side, and then another scraped by on my left, taking my bars with him. Crashed hard, shattering my collar bone, cracking my helmet (which I didn’t discover until 3 days later), and ending my season before it even began.
The next year, I found myself freaking out every time I had riders on both sides of me. I’d hang towards the back (bad placement in bike racing) or at the side, and if the pack swarmed around me at all, I’d just lose strength, and even though I was still riding hard, I’d find myself at the back quickly.
Took me a good three years to completely get over that feeling. Part of it was getting around a group that I trusted again (my team mates and people I raced with ALL the time), and part of it was making more GOOD memories and mental images to overwhelm the one bad experience.
For you, the best thing is that you KNOW what you did, what caused the mishap, and how to correct it. But there’s no way you can NOT think about something. Just try it.
I DARE you NOT to think about a pink elephant. Whatever you do, do NOT think about a pink elephant! NO! I said NO pink elephants!
See how that works? So concentrate on what you know to do, positive self talk (don’t tell yourself to NOT do something, tell yourself to DO the right things), relax a bit, and you’ll be fine.April 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm #26029eonParticipant
What you are experiencing is normal. Happens to everybody who has some type of incident. I think the only way to overcome it is as briderdt says, through time and more good experiences.
I had a low drama 20mph low side in damp conditions. At the time I got up and rode home without worrying about it. But it had a HUGE impact in my head. Next time I took a corner in damp conditions I immediately remembered the image of me flying through the air! I had zero confidence in my grip level and I would start drifting wide on corners as I did not want to lean. For the first time I started knowing real fear when riding. Made no sense as my actual fall could not have been less dramatic. 6000 miles later and I still have problems in the wet. Nowhere near as bad as now as I was then but I am certainly very cautious when the road is wet. On the plus side I have not fallen off again and I’m sure my caution has helped keep me upright.
So my advice is to just keep at it and you will get better. Take it easy and never be afraid to call it a day if your head is just not in the game (that can happen even without a bad experience).
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.April 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm #26032owlieParticipant
I started riding about the same time last year as you. The guys that were on the board when I did can tell you that it was not an easy experience for me. I tried pushing myself too hard too quickly, and nearly gave up altogether in less than a month of riding. However, like you, I knew, absolutely knew, that I could do this. I just had to get over the hump.
You know what you did wrong, now you need to move past it. I think that the other guys are right- build positive memories and set your own pace. I would throw out a couple more suggestions-
1) take another riding course. Especially if you are at the start of the riding season, this will force you to practice the basics that might be rusty and give you some confidence. I don’t know about where you are, but the group that I took the BRC from also offers a course for riders with their own bikes and a little experience.
2) tell your sweetheart that you know he loves you, and you appreciate his support, but you’d like to do some riding on your own for a few weeks. This will completely eliminate him as a factor in your rides. You aren’t going to be trying to keep up with him, and you don’t have to think about whether you are doing what he wants you to do (speed, route, cornering technique, etc). If he is worried about you, tell him your route, how long you’ll be, and let him watch as you put your cell phone in an easily accessible pocket.
Best of luck,
owlieApril 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm #26030Gary856Participant
I’d like to caution you against wanting to “prove” something to yourself, or your husband, or anybody else. You cannot force confidence. Confidence is built slowly with competence.
Recently there was a story of a 40 something woman from China, Maine, mother of 3, got killed during her first ride, with her husband and brother-in-law riding in front of her. On a straight country road, she swerved in front of a truck and had a head-on collision. A real tragedy. The news story does not say why she swerved, but many in a motorcycle forum “guessed” that she might have paniced at the sight of the truck, tried to steer away from it, got confused about counter-steering and ended up steering into the truck. Again, that’s just a guess. I had a similar (but not nearly as tragic) experience when I was brand new. I had ridden a couple of hundred miles and thought I knew counter-steering well, so I headed into the hills. The first time I hit a serious curve in the hills, I went wide and nearly crossed the double-yellow line into oncoming traffic, because my left hand was fighting my right and resisted the turn. That was a holy-shit moment. I made it thru that ride, but it was very uncomfortable. I had to pull over to let faster cars go ahead of me.
As a brand new rider, following an experienced rider could be very bad. That experienced rider may think he’s slowing down for you, but he may not know how slow he really needed to be. If you really had to ride with your husband, ride in the front and set your own pace. Don’t ever go fast on other’s account. Let your husband bring up the rear. If you really can’t keep a comfortable pace on the street, get off the street and find a parking lot to practice. Think of yourself as a baby – learn how to walk (ride slowly, very slowly, get the techniques right), and then learn how to run.April 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm #26039pixiedustParticipant
I found it helpful to ride with another woman. Luckily, my friend/neighbor rides and has a couple more years of experience than I do. It was a very different experience riding with her vs. my husband. We found all the gentle, quiet roads and it really boosted my confidence.
Not saying all women ride for the same reasons, but I feel like we may appreciate the ride differently than men and can be each others best allies.
Good luck!May 3, 2010 at 12:21 pm #26135Korny12Participant
and KILLED IT THIS WEEKEND. Thanks for all the support and words of wisdom. Got on the bike this weekend- though I only did 45 miles- to get gas and back with the husband- I rocked it. I told myself I can do this and did it! Although I narrated my entire trip to myself -reinforcing what I learned in my MSF course and what to do etc.. I did awesome. I felt so confident after that and know that now I am ready to get out there and keep practicing! Hey if I have to talk to myself so be it right?May 3, 2010 at 4:34 pm #26138MunchParticipant
Whatever it takes to get it done! Besides….unless you have blue tooth and its turned on ….. your the o nly one in your helmet…. chatter it up!May 3, 2010 at 9:23 pm #26145owlieParticipant
I talk to myself all the time– even when there are people around to listen.
Congrats on the great ride and keep it up!May 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm #26147pixiedustParticipant
I’m a helmet talker too. Sometimes I even sing.May 4, 2010 at 4:42 am #26154OvertimeParticipant
And yeah, I talk myself through lines on twisties. No shame in thatMay 5, 2010 at 5:32 am #26187megaspazParticipant
crashing sucks. it plays head games afterwards even with experienced riders. The first best thing you can do after a crash is to try and analyze what exactly happened. What you did, what you were looking at, etc. When you find the real reason why you crashed, it helps mentally getting back in the saddle. The crashes where you don’t know what the hell happened are the ones that completely fuck with your psyche.
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