Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Ride

The first day on the range started out drizzly.  It eventually turned to rain so we spent most of that first morning in rain gear.  I was little nervous about being on wet pavement and trying  my first maneuvers on a motorcycle on the slickness but, because we were in a parking lot and not on a road there was little to fear from dripped oil and road gunk.

There had been four of us in the classroom but when they got to the range portion of the course an additional student joined us.  There was me, my son, Premed- a med student who had been riding his Ninja for several months without a license and decided he needed a class, Silverwing - middle-aged gentleman who had just upgraded to a Harley from his Honda and got the class for free, and Blondie who had taken the course a year ago and had not ridden since and wanted a refresher before starting.  Our instructor, EMT, had been riding for a number of years and rode year-round regardless of the weather.

Our first few exercises were: inspecting the bike, safely mounting the bike, starting the bike, and figuring out where the friction zone was on the clutch.  The bike I used had a very narrow friction zone that was right at the beginning of the clutch release process.  Therefore, as soon as I started to release the clutch the bike was in the friction zone.  As a result, I had to be prepared to throttle it as soon as I released the clutch to keep from stalling it out.  The next exercise was power-walking the bike which amounted to straddling the bike and moving it forward slowly under bike power while walking along with it.  Doing all of this in raingear on a warm humid day with full safety equipment on was sweaty to say the least.

The next exercise was where it all started to come back.  We walked the bike a few steps while balancing it and then accelerated while bringing  our feet up and finally riding about 25 or 30 feet or so.  It felt like the first time I rode a bicycle.  I didn't have any problem keeping my balance and even though I was probably only going 10 miles an hour or so it felt pretty cool.

But, it was during the next exercise when I remembered what I love about riding.  For this we rode the bikes down to the opposite end of the range, made a turn, and then on the return trip slalomed the bike through a series of cones.  We ended the circuit with another turn and then got back into line for our next run.  The first run I made was kind of slow, I don't recall getting out of first gear; but the second run I shifted into second in the middle of the curve and came out of it at about 15 to 18 mph and then did the slalom.  After the slalom I downshifted again prior to going through the final turn and getting back into line.  It was a great feeling, something I haven't felt since I was on a pair of skis.  A combination of connection with the equipment I was traveling on and full control over power, lean, speed, and balance.  Freaking awesome. 

That took place at 10 AM on 26 September 2009.  I was back in the saddle again!

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