Saturday, September 6, 2008

On Wheels

At the end, only 7 of the 12 in my Motorcycle Safety Class actually walked away with their licenses. I was one. It wasn't easy.

We all aced the written test. I was thanked for everyone getting one particular question correct due to my overly-thorough presentation. Granted, I misunderstood and wrote out the answers to all 126 (I only remember because it's my birthday 1-26!) questions in the study guide. Now when I ride these facts sometimes pop up in my mind giving me some confidence, so it's not necessarily an awful mistake.

During the class, I didn't think I was doing all that well. I'm sloppy. I push everything as far as it will go. I was going too fast.

Added to all of these naturally-wrong instincts was the fact that I fell over with the bike the first time we had to ride it in a straight line. The bike fell on my leg - bad. My elbow was bleeding and took a few bandaids. My fingers weren't working because of a bicycle accident two weeks earlier. If I doubted how serious this excursion was going to be, I found out right away.

After we had to do tight turns, the instructor gave a speech about how only a few people could really control their bikes at slow speeds. For some reason, he spent the whole speech staring at me. I just figured I must be the worst in the class.

I spent the night after my first day on the range concentrating on every single move we had to make. The last thing I did before leaving the class was ask my instructor why I couldn't stop. With frustration, he explained that he couldn't really tell but it was one of two things. All night I thought about how to correct both, just to be on the safe side.

On the second day of range practice, I kept up the speed but had more control. I stopped perfectly and the instructor sent me on to practice other skills.

During the test I aced everything. I was surprised that most people in the class couldn't do the tight turns. I guess the instructor looked at me because I could handle the bike at slow speeds.

Each step of the process on the range took all of my concentration, strength, and courage. It's worse on the street with traffic.