With most things I want to do in my life, I develop it into a plan and then work the plan. At this point in my life, I am a little too set in my ways to stop now. So, I've given my riding familiarization and training plan a great deal of thought. Here is how I see it:
Stage 1: I will start by first riding around my own subdivision and the one right next to mine. Due to the number of curves and low traffic I should get some familiarization with how the bike feels, stopping and starting, and shifting without endangering myself or anyone else.
Stage 2: I will expand my riding area to include the subdivision on the opposite side of mine. The subdivision is a little bigger, has several streets with stop signs, and a little more traffic. This will also help with familiarization on the feel of the bike as well as stopping and starting at actual intersections. Also, there are a few dogs and other small hazards that I know I will have to deal with there but again because the speed is slower I should be able to learn these things rather than learning by way of an accident.
Stage 3: I will expand my riding area to include not only the three subdivisions, but also a small two-lane country highway that surrounds all three of them and also has a stoplight, a section of busier suburban street, and a hairpin turn. That turn has been in my mind since I started this, because it is a great learning opportunity: it is on a small two-lane country highway and I do not have to take it at high speeds to avoid blocking other traffic or because I do not have sufficient time to slow down prior to reaching it.
Stage 4: I will again expand the riding area to include about 3 miles of busier semi commercial road. This includes several small businesses, gas stations, and fast food joints. The benefit of this section of road is that there is a complete square of it that includes four stoplights, a small section of road with curves, two sections of merging lanes, and two overpasses. The traffic when I will be doing this is not too heavy so it will allow me to take it slower and be careful.
Stage 5: I return to the site of my motorcycle safety class and run through all the exercises that we did in the class. I would use a two-lane country highway to get there and city streets to return home. It's a pretty straight shot to and from so it should not be too difficult.
Stage 6: This is where things get a little more interesting. I live a few miles from a freeway entrance, once I enter the highway I can travel for approximately 2 miles until I hit the next exit. That exit can be used to do a West Coast turnaround across an overpass and come back down onto the highway going the opposite direction and will take you to an exit that is directly opposite from the starting point. In other words a perfect square that allows me to practice getting on the highway twice and exiting from the highway twice. I actually used this when my son was learning how to drive and we did it many times over and over again until he lost his fear of merging.
Stage 7: I intend to ride the motorcycle to and from my job. Not to go to work but just to get used to the route. The route itself has some two-lane country highway, suburban neighborhoods, a four-lane penetrator, numerous lights, railroad tracks, a high steep overpass that goes over another set of railroad tracks, and downtown two-lane traffic. A lot of obstacles but nothing I should not be able to handle by this point.
Stage 8: I will do a 25 mile ride from here to the next largest city, eat a celebratory lunch, and return.
Stage 9: I consider this my graduation march: I will choose one of the top 10 rides in Michigan and ride it.
You will notice that there are no dates or limits to each stage. I will have to evaluate each one to determine whether I am ready to go onto the next were not. I do not intend to get out of any one of them in under three days. It's hell being patient.
There are a few target dates that I do have: I want to participate in the Ride to Work Day on 21st of June, I want to do endurance ride by the end of summer with my son (700 miles in two days), and I would like to participate in some of the poker runs that happen locally. By fall, I would like to have completed five of the top 10 rides in Michigan.
Now back to the search for my first bike to do all this with...