Saturday, February 23, 2008

Is It Just Me?

I am a worrier. Ever since I began riding motorcycles I have been very concerned with cornering. Usually a turn to the right is not much problem. It feels natural, as I am right handed, so my brain seems to go toward the right easier. When a sharp turn to the left comes in view, I usually panic for a split second and then maneuver through the turn. I have swung too wide on a few occasions turning left and have come a hairline away from going off the road. I corrected, in any event, and never went down.

I don’t know why it still alarms me when I approach an upcoming turn. The adrenaline pumps instantly and I instinctively guide the motorcycle safely through the corner. I am usually riding where there are a lot of cars and traffic to maneuver as well. The rules start going through my head all at once. “Look toward the direction you want to go”, “Shift down before you take the turn”, “Lean”, “Push on the left handgrip to go left, the right handgrip to go right”.

I am always more relaxed when I ride out in the rural areas, unless it gets very hilly. All you have to think about might be an animal jumping out in front of you along the way, and you can always slow down as you need to take a sharp corner in either direction.

I’ve decided that maybe everyone has a slight dread of one type of road condition, or type of route, or kind of weather to ride in. Practice is the answer so I’ve been trying to take routes that require me to corner and turn a lot.

I also have a tiny dread of riding on steep mountain roads, downhill. It’s the feeling of being out of control and can’t slow down enough. I have nightmares about it from time to time. I’ve avoided the mountains until now but will challenge myself this summer with those things I am most unsure of. That is the only way to grow as a motorcyclist, and I think you never stop learning. There are new challenges on your ride every day. That’s also what makes it fun.


Crusty's Advise.... said...

We all have fears about things. You its left hand its ATM machines. I have never used one! Don't like the idea of even trying one. I have riden motorcycles for over 30 me its like breathing, but ATM machines... nope. -Crusty

Becky said...

Crusty: Thanks Crust. That makes me feel better, because my 83 year old mother won't use an ATM either! As for riding, I think the underlying fear is what makes it thrilling to me.

Jovita said...

It's not you... I have butterflies everytime I pull out of my garage. Everything I learned in my MSF course goes through my head... by time I get to the corner I'm okay until I enter a parking lot! Something about parking lots get me worried!

Anonymous said...
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Becky said...

Jovita: Me too! I even dread the parking lot at work because alot of the spaces are on slopes. I am trying to get in the habit of always backing in.


Ronman said...

Becky I think you are so very correct in saying that we never stop learning. I can't imagine what it would be like to know everything and never again have something knew to learn. Sounds as if you're on the right track to getting over your fears. I too was leary of mountain roads but the more you ride them that fear will subside. Great blog ma'am.


Rick said...

As you know, the more you ride the better you get at it. Perhaps you should join a riding class just to build your confidence.

--xh-- said...

well, i donmt think therez any one out there who dont ahve fear while riding. a resonable dose of fear helps you to keep in line. about managing the downhill roads, i persume you are riding in proper gear. being in proper gear while comming down - judicious use of engine breaking - does wnder to control when you climb down.

iburyem said...

I have never been on a mountainous road and probably will never be since I live in Oklahoma. Does that stop me from having nightmares? No. Just the thought of it makes me nervous. Like some said before, a bit of fear is probably good for us!

Lady Ridesalot said...

Becky, My fear is in the parking lots. When I am trying to manipulate my Electra Glide, I have made a mistake a time or two. It is alot of weight to hold up. Repetitiveness is the only way to reduce fear and gain experience. I probably drove my neighbors nuts when I got on my big bike, because I drove around my neighborhood everyday after work to gain my slow riding experience. They'd say, "There goes that crazy biker chick doing u turns in the street again". Sometimes, I wonder if I put too much pre-thought into something, because I can make myself nervous! I think everyday I get out and ride, I learn something. Lady R.

Becky said...

Ronman: Thanks for the encouragement. I know the best thing is to face your fears head-on.

Rick: I've thought about it, but think through experience I can overcome.

xh-: A little fear does keep me from doing crazy things. I'm pretty sure I use the correct gear for the situation.

Iburyem: Yay, good to hear from you. I've been watching your blog for updates....Are all the roads in Oklahoma straight? Come on out to Washington and you'll get to practice on curvy roads!

Ladyridesalot: I don't blame you for practicing parking and turning with that Electra Glide. My Vulcan doesn't turn as sharply as my little Suzuki did. If everything about riding was easy it would be boring.

bikerted said...

I remember the first time Ian took the Guzzi up a mountain road, he messed up the first hairpin and Guzziesue had to get off and walk round it. This brought whoops of laughter from some nearby workmen. Cruisers might not be the ideal bike to start with on such roads, have you still got your Suzuki and maybe try on that? If you take a look at the video of some riders going up the Trollstigen on my blog that may give you an insight to the sort of line to take.
There is a sense of achivement Ian tells me when you reach the summit and stand back and admire the view.
Go on gal give it a try and enjoy the experience and keep the shiney side up!

irondad said...

This might help as a refresher on cornering. You're doing right to just go out and practice. Here's a couple of posts I did in 2006 on cornering. I train motor cops and civilians to ride. It's a passion for me. If you feel like taking the time, go to this link. Scroll down to August 22 and work your way up. There's three parts. Have fun out there!


CJ said...

I still get a little nervous just about every time I'm about to go out for a ride. I hate stopping on hills. Always afraid I will stall out and annoy the cars behind me.

Camron said...

Hey Becky, Thanks for stopping by my Blog & being thoughtful enough to say Hi.
I know exactly what you mean about the cornering and the hills. For the cornering the most important part is to keep your gaze fixed on where you want to go, not where you're afraid to go. here's a very human trait called "fixation Steering" that basically means you'll steer the bike towards wherever your gaze is directed.
As for the steep hills just remember to use your transmission to help maintain control. If you feel you're getting too fast, down shift. The bike will help you slow down, and you maneuver better in lower gears.
Take care,

Road Captain said...

The obvious answer is the basic and advanced motorcycle course. If you have already don that, how bout refreshing the correct tactics by reading a good book? See this link:

Lucky said...

Downhill curvy mountain roads are scary. Always remember that you can downshift and let the engine braking keep your speed down.

I found the best way to get over my fear of turning was to find a long TWISTY road and ride it a few times. It really lets you discover just how far the bike can lean over. Generally speaking, the bike can always outperform the rider. Before you know it you'll be dragging your knee.

And do consider training. You CAN get better on your own, but why not get professional coaching and learn faster?

Rubber side down!

irondad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
irondad said...

When I tried to put up the link for my archived posts, this comment section cuts off some important stuff. The link is incomplete and won't work. If you're interested in some cornering insight, Becky, just hit my blog and look at August 2006 in the archives. It might prove to be of help.

Sorry to take up two comment spots!

Linda R. Moore said...

No, it's not just you. I won't even begin to tell you how long it was before I got even slightly comfortable with u-turns. Even now I stuff them up.

It's all about practice makes perfect.

Btw, your curry recipe awaits. ;)

Anonymous said...
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Becky said...

Biker Ted: Thanks for the advice. I still have the Suzuki S-40...are you interested in a bike for yourself?

Irondad: Thanks for the link and support. I'll check it out. Oh, I see a correction. No problem, I'll check the archives.

CJ: I hear you about the hills! I hardly think about it any more, but when I was first riding I would avoid any route with a stop on a hill. Now it comes natural.

Camron: I appreciate the advice. I know the 'look where you want to go' works like a charm, when I intentionally think about it. It's like magic.

Road Captain: Thanks, I'll check the link.

Lucky: I tend to backfire alot when I am going downhill and in a low gear...its scary! (I'm kidding)

Linda: I'm still working on the U-turns,but doing pretty good on the Vulcan so far. Mmmmmm....curry.


Helena said...

This was refreshing !

What a nice idea and courage to see a woman riding such a big bike.

Unfortunately cars are for me, bikes scare me a lot !

Congratulations for the stories and wonderful photos !

bikerted said...

Just managed to get myself a small bike. Photo to appear in March.
Plenty of advice on this post so I hope you find some of it useful to take you to a higher level.
To try at least once is better than an if only....
We are hoping to return to Europe once again for some more mountain passes in September.

Dean "D-Day" said...

Rain and gravel do it to me. I've ridden through some pretty hellacious storms before and never had any problems but I still don't like it.

Becky said...

Helena: It takes a little courage and a lot of spunk to ride a motorcycle. Just like anything else, if you really want to do it you can.

Bikerted: Oh, I want to see your little bike!

Dean "d-day": I hear you. Rain is OK but gravel takes concentration!

Anonymous said...

Hi Becky. I'm a new rider, '95 Honda F3CBR 600. Cornering gives me pause, I try not to over-think the process and go through the steps. It is nice to know that others share similar sentiments. I have read some old physics stuff to know why I would stay upright :) I just started to read your blog, very inspirational, thanks for sharing your stories