Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finding Joy On Two Wheels

After our slalom runs we took a break. There was a small picnic table and EMT had a cooler with drinks. Since the rain had started to subside we all stripped out of our rain gear as we grabbed drinks. I looked around and everyone except Blondie had a smile on their face. I related my feeling that the slaloms had reminded me of skiing and my son nodded in agreement. Both Silverwing and Premed agreed it was the most fun we had since the class started. Blondie gave a short nod along with a shy smile.

We were given a small riding notebook of tips and information that also included space in the back for notes. Whenever we took a break EMT would ask us a question to answer there but we were not asked to provide any of the answers later. As I thumb through the book now I wish I had written down the questions as well as the answers. I can guess at some but the only thing I can tell for sure is when I stopped being scared of dropping the bike and started enjoying the riding and learning new skills.

After our break we hit the range again doing more slaloms and something called how slow can you go. That exercise was to show you how much control you could have over the bike by just using the clutch and how slowly you could go without falling over. I could do it well, but ended up at one point getting stuck behind Premed. He may have been riding a bike on his own for awhile; but he had a lot of problem stalling out the Buells we were riding. So I ended up spending a lot or time waiting on him to get it started and moving again. Silverwing did not stall out as much but seemed to be doing everything in slow motion. Blondie was the exact opposite doing things quickly like she had somewhere to go. My son was doing a great job and seemed to be picking it all up quickly and enjoying it. Overall I felt like I learned the skills and was doing okay, I did stall out now and then, but that went away after a bit.

One of the most useful things I learned that day came at the end and that was the quick stop. You rode up with the bike in second gear, then at a point you down shifted and hit both brakes bringing the bike to a stop in about 15 feet. The first time I used too much front brake and it jerked to a stop. But then I got the balance of front and rear brakes down along with synching the down shift and was able to stop in about half of what was allowed – and it was a solid stop without skid or losing control. It felt very good to be able to do this without fear of dropping the bike or going over the handle bars.

A little after 1 we packed up and went to a late lunch, then we all headed back into the classroom for some more book learnin’

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