Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Parking Phobia

Last Sunday was the 4th Annual Bikes on the Bay in Capitola. It was a small but awesome vintage motorcycle show in the parking lot of the Capitola Mall. I met Willy D, Carol, B.B. and Dave there and we had a great time hanging out for a little while.

As I prepared to ride to the Mall to meet them, I realized I had a huge problem. It's been creeping up on me for some time, but I had no idea it was this bad. I have developed a parking phobia. This also crosses over to my car, but I won't cover that here.

Almost every time I ride or even think of riding somewhere, the thought starts haunting me. What is the parking situation? Is it on a slope? Will the street be so narrow that I can't turn around? Will I be able to get out of the parking spot?

I know that I can back into any space, but sometimes even that is a little difficult. This problem is keeping me from venturing out to places unknown when I am by myself. As I prepared to ride to the Mall, the panic and dread hit me. Of course, once I got there I found a nice spot in the parking lot, which is partially sloped in most directions. I was a little nervous I wouldn't be able to get out of the spot, since I had gone into it forward.

I had absolutely no trouble and rolled right out of the spot. What was I afraid of? That is usually the case so I don't know where this is coming from; although I have had trouble once or twice rolling my heavy bike backwards out of a sloped spot. I am not that tall so it is always a challenge, even though my bike is pretty low. It is just getting leverage that gives me a problem. I really want to overcome this, so I will be working on it by going lots of places that I am unfamiliar with.

Is this just a 'girl' problem or does anyone else experience this?

41 comments:

B.B. said...

I had a great time hanging out with you Sunday.
As far as the parking, I think the same thing, and there have been a couple of times where it was a good thing Dave was there to give me a little push over a hump!

FLHX_Dave said...

Sheeeeeez! This isn't just a girl problem. The more you ride the better you get at this. You do have to be picky about where you hitch the horse.

I have had to get a person or two to help me out of a bad parking choice.

This is all part of the Zen of scooter romping. What goes up must come down. What is parked in must be pulled out! (Did that come out right?)

What really helped me early on was experimenting with my body position in relationship to the lean angle on the bike at slow speeds. Slopes are much easier to conquer once you have mastered this. Get good at this and you can make u-turns on those hills in San Francisco.

They teach you to sit upright on the bike at all times...this is an excellent suggestion for the new rider. However, a bike is far more dynamic than most people realize. There is a whole bunch of crap going on. Start by throwing a knee outwards in a turn. You will start to realize you have just scratched the surface so far. There is so much more to controlling the bike than what you are taught.

What the racers on the track closely. They understand the dynamics.

Willy D said...

Nope, not just a “girl” problem. FLHX Dave drops his bike all the time ;)

fasthair said...

Ms. BC: Give this a try. When I screw up and get in a spot that is hard to back out of I do this. First the bike is not running. This is kind of important since you will be kind of pulling on the right grip and could open the throttle. Next take your left hand and reach behind your left butt cheek and grab the inside of your rear fender or grab rail if you have one. Then plant your feet square and firm under you. Then all in one motion stand up while pushing back with both legs and butt as you kind of lift the rear of the bike with your left arm. As the bike moves back you will end up back in the seat which will keep you stable. Rinse and repeat until you get yourself out of your spot.

I've watched many people try to "walk" a bike backwards out of tight spot and it never works. With this technique you have both of your legs helping move you backwards together instead of one leg at a time and you have BOTH feet on the ground at all times. If worse comes to worse get off the bike and with the side stand down use your legs and butt to push the bike backwards sitting kind of side saddle.

I've taught this to a few lady riding friends (cause they are small/short) and everyone of them can't believe how much it helps. Give it a try and let me know how it works out.

fasthair

dlunt said...

Never had this problem. I only look at which way is it most likely that a car could nudge my bike while I am away. Will the nudge push the bike forward and make the kickstand collapse and the bike topple. That decides if I pull in or back in. If you are having that much trouble parking your bike then it is probably too heavy for you.

Mr. Motorcycle said...

I agree with all the comments so far, and laughed at the one about Dave dropping the bike all the time.

By no means is this a girl thing. It's all about being smart where you park, and experience. It's different for everyone based on their size, and the size of the bike you gotta get out of that parking spot.

bikerted said...

If only you could watch Ian and Guzzisue parking and setting off, It has left many people stunned/amused/bewildered. Ian is 5ft 4ins with an inside leg measurement of 24ins! He has to lean the Guzzi over to one side so Guzzisue can appear to roll off the pillion seat. Getting back on she has to take a sideways run of a few paces, lift her right leg over the seat and then spend a few seconds getting herself adjusted.
So far there has only been one mishap and that was when Ian forgot to put a foot down! This was in full view of many friends as we were just arriving on a rally field.
Back to the point in question Becky, practice is all you need. Just stop at the parking area's entrance and take a quick look around to find the best parking space available for you and go for it.

irondad said...

I don't have anything meaningful to add. However, I do want to offer support and encouragement. Like it's been said, it's not a "girl" thing. It's an "experience" thing.

I admire the fact that you are tackling the thing you fear. That's how you expand your limits.

mrs rc said...

The second day I had my new "big girl bike" I rode it to my sister's house. I was solo because it was midweek in the middle of the summer (we are both teachers). I made a stop at McDonalds for a beverage and a pee, and pulled forward into what I thought was a level parking space. When I came out, someone had parked next to me so I had no chance of looping it around, and I was definitely facing downhill.

By myself I was determined that I could do this. The Dyna weighed about 150 lbs more than my Sporty had, so it was an adjustment i was not used to. With the motor off and the bike in nuetral, i planted both feet and pushed backwards, getting the bike to move about an inch or two. Then I squeezed the front brake to hold it there while I repositioned my feet. It was a slow and tedious process, but it worked!

Disregard any advice from those who fail to acknowledge that this is even an issue and proclaim that if you have a problem then your bike is too big for you. That's nothing but macho bull$#!+.

Becky said...

Thanks for all the good tips and advice. I will try some of these when I get in a pickle.

dlunt: My guess is that you are a male who doesn't think women should be riding 'big' bikes.

mrs. rc: Thank you! Well said.

Bikerchickz

dlunt said...

Becky, I am all for women riding.
I encourage it. I wouldn't be reading this blog if I didn't think it was important. I am only 5'9" 155lbs and 30" inseam. I don't ride a heavier bike because of issues similar to what was mentioned. I have ridden all sorts of bike in the past 30 yrs I have been on bikes that are too much work to maneuver and they loose the "fun factor". If any bike is causing you to loose your joy at riding, then get a different one. I ride a 650 Dual-sport. It is a bit tall but easy to maneuver. Being a Dual-sport, I frequently have the option of pulling forward and riding over curbs or through the grass. BTW - recently rode the XR1200. Very easy to maneuver even if it is a bit heavy.

dlunt said...

By the way, the comment about the bike being to big for you has nothing to do with men or women. I see lot's of "macho" men not willing to admit that there big is too heavy for them.
I always think it is funny to see a leather clad macho guy fighting to hold his bike up because it is only a couple degrees off vertical. My apologies to all if it my comment came across insulting. We all have limitations. I wouldn't even think about owning something like a Rocket III. Too big and heavy for me. It would make riding a chore instead of the sheer joy that it should be.

Anonymous said...

I am a 200 lb male, and when I bought my last bike I was 58, now 60 years old. I used a similar test to your parking situation to decide what bike was best for me! I am 5'10" and 30 inch inseam. I loved the looks of the big Honda Cruisers so I sat on an 1800 and discovered to my surprize I did not have enough strength in my left leg to break it off the side stand! I then tried a 1300 and I could..just. Then an 1100 and it was better but I was on my tip toes. Then a 750 and ahhhh! I knew I found MY bike! ha ha This situation, as stated, is not a girl problem, it is a human problem. Smart riders recognize that some bikes just are not for them, logistically speaking. I am a much happier and safer rider on my 750 and due to the gearing on the bike I bought, can keep up with any of them! I still get a bit nervous when deciding where to park, especially in a group ride when I know there are lots of folks behind me waiting for me to finish parking! HA HA

Life On Two Wheels said...

Male or Female, unless your bike is on a steep incline, if you are not able to walk the bike, back the bike up on a small incline, etc, then its too big for you to handle and I agree with the other posters that a smaller bike is the best thing for someone who has problems trying to properly maneuver their bike. Its no different than if you had purchased a Dual Sport bike but were too short to ever touch the ground.

That said, I doubt you'll be trading in your bike anytime soon. The best advice I can give is to first go to the gym, or even at home, and start building up your thigh muscles. These are the same muscles you'll be using to push that bike back when you need to. Next, start finding empty roads and such that have small slopes. Stop your bike along the side (make sure you are NOT facing the curb or any other object) and then try pushing it backwards up the slope...easy to do? find a steeper slope. If you get stuck you simply have to ride forward. It will teach you your limits and reduce any anxiety you have.

mq01 said...

a 5' woman i met recently in jamestown, on a ROAD GLIDE, said she's always careful to park on flats because her bike is just so heavy to back up. she had an interesting trick, she duck walked, very short steps, both feet at the same time, and not bouncing or heaving, just smooth slow strong reverse steps. no kidding. i had never seen that before. and since then, i have watched another woman do it, on her street glide, locally, the same duckwalk. it blew my mind, it worked for her. and i know this hog rider, shes been riding for many years. so, try that...

KT Did said...

Boy are we kindred spirits...
I hear two things happening here. 1)"Phobia" is a word I use for driveways. I have driveway "phobia". For some reason I have to just suck it up and go for it. It works. Don't overthink it. You know its simple. My phobia goes back to the streets of S.Francisco where my dad would lock up on Hyde Street. Trolly cars behind me coming uphill. Yep, Its a real phobia. Some people just don't understand that stuff. The thing is NOT to think about it. Let it all happen.
I had my bike lowered so I could move it back at my 4'11" height. I still take my time parking it. In particular on slopes. I try to avoid them. There is usually a spot with my name on it somewhere near.
2) Use BOTH your legs and arms. If you feel your neck pulling, you aren't using the right muscles. You NEED to use your arms too.
I will add the (3) Don't rush it. Take your time. I don't care who I am with, I will make sure I park in a spot where I can get out. There are certain things each rider has to customize for his or herself. This is one you have to customize for you. Remember, you don't need to look down at all at your bike. Just balance and use both the legs and the arms at the same time. Keep the bike on... its moves easier, let it work for you, just make sure your clutch is in. You will get used to that. Concentrate. You will soon figure out how it works for YOU.
You can put the phobia to bed and be happy you are conquering it.

brito said...

i always enjoy seeing woman on bike...like Alice in Resident Evil...they are trully at their best riding their bike! good luck to you!

Funny Biker Slogan T-Shirts said...

I too have a parking phobia! I know your pain.

Julie said...

Parking phobia dissipates with time and experience. All you need to remember is that you're going to use the bike's power to pull you on any slope instead of your own steam, so you think before you park. If it means that you're parked in the opposite direction of other riders, tough! If it means doing a 5 point turn to get it right where you want it, so what! You want your bike parked where it's safe, stable, and you can use the bike's power on a slope. I know the pressure that a newbie woman biker feels, that people are looking at her critically, possibly thinking that she doesn't have any business being on a bike. Forget about appearances and just park your bike in a way that works for you. Eventually you'll become very conscious of slopes and you'll automatically and quickly plan accordingly. In other words, try not to sweat it and just enjoy the fact that you're a woman in control of a very large and powerful machine, Oh yeah!!!

DMV Hours said...

It's the same problem for us men too. It takes time and natural experience to overcome the phobia.

fuzzygalore said...

As so many others have said, its not a gender thing its just an experience thing.

You need some positive reinforcement. You need to show yourself that you can get in and out of these spaces. Negative thoughts can act like a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the flip side - so can positive ones :o)

Don't let it keep you from exploring! Worst case scenario: if you see a spot you don't feel good about, move along until you find something you find more suitable. But, girl - don't let it keep you home!

Stay positive and good luck to you!

VBecky said...

BC - I have the similar kind of fear, but I would call it "parking frontwards phobia". It doesn't keep me home but I keep going around the block until I find a space I can back into. And I'm almost 6' tall. I don't always back in smoothly, and I get some grief from the club members about girls not knowing how to back up. And it's a pain with angled parking spots. But as a club officer, I feel like I have to go if the club's going, so that's how I deal.

Rob said...

I have been riding for 10 years now and have not parked once. Usually I just ride around my block until I run out of gas. Thats an over exaggeration but I don't like to park in tight spaces during bike events. I am petrified of hitting someones cycle parked near me. I feel your pain.

chessie said...

Do this.
Leave your bike leaning on the kick stand. Move in front. I see you don't have a fairing, so this is gonna be easy.

PUSH THE BIKE BACKWARD ON THE STAND.
YOU CAN TURN IT ANY DIRECTION WITH THE HANDLEBARS! The bike will never fall over, and will always go where ever you push it. I've done it in gravel lots, on cement, on asphalt...it's something I learned while working at service department of Glendale HD in Glendale CA. That's how they push all those bikes around the yard...

dan said...

I always try to back in. Im 6' 240 lb and also have a problem backint out of a uphill parking spot. Have pushed many a buddy out of a parking spot. Anyone saying he never has a problem also hasnt done much riding. Have a great day. dan

Joni said...

Wow, lots of good information here! I recently moved up from a 350f to an 850 and it's definitely a different bike! Almost popped it up onto the curb yesterday. It's about 100 lbs heavier too and I know we've all got to think ahead about parking. Why can't they all be flat? lol

Linda Highsmith said...

I think parking is a challenge for both men and women. I really try hard to not get into that situation. I have a 08 Harley Street Bob and have put 10,000 miles on it in 15 months, riding part-time. Boy am I hooked.

Jenna Culbertson said...

Bikes are hard to maneuver when you are some like me. I am so jealous I want to get my own bike soon. Saving my pennies.

Tegwyn Ravens Wing said...

I have the same problem, I'm pretty new to riding though, so hopefully I'll overcome it, but glad to hear it's not just me!

Eileen said...

I'm a small lady and seem to have to have every bike I own lowered. If I can reach the ground I can ride it. I have to have mid shift controls also, not forward controls. My boots non slip soles. Now to watch some of the videos that I've been hearing about. "How to pick up your bike" I have rode motorcycles all my life. But never had to pick one up by myself. My Harleys have had the best center of gravity.

Cynthia Q. said...

So helpful to read everyone's comments and advice. Seems like this is a universal issue for riders. Cheers for all the encouragement and experiences shared.

AnaVar said...

Trust me, you are NOT alone in this! Take care! A.

Miss Daisy said...

In Australia, we have to park with the rear wheel of the bike to the edge which makes it easier to ride out of parking spaces as they usually slope towards the edge.

I also dropped my former bike a couple of times but was surrounded by people to help me lift her up, I am very lucky to be surrounded by encouragement from both guys and girls. from Miss Daisy Australia

Scooter 50cc said...

Keep working at it. you'll win in the end. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Don't let worries about parking take your enthusiasm away from rides. My advice is the same as Julie's above ... if you're not parking in a spot where the asphalt is flat and level, then set up your bike so the engine power will get you out of the space. Let the bike do the work against gravity.

Look after yourself and don't worry about how you're "supposed" to park. That way you can enjoy the rides ... always.

distantThunder, CA

cbbiker said...

Yes, parking a problem sometimes. But If I get in a tough spot, I'm not shy asking for help.

Cynthia said...

I think everyone has their own phobia and for you it's parking phobia and for me I'm afraid of heights before. But what I did, i went bungee jumping!!! And I think that is what cured it. Si I'm all for what you're planning to do. Meet your phobia head on, you will not regret it.

RoadCaptain said...

OK, two years is long enough to get over your parking issue and start posting and blogging again.

jik said...

Super stuff...........

Anonymous said...

I just happend to type "fear of finding parking" into a search engine and found your blog post. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person who feels the same way. Your description of not wanting to go to new places because you didn't know what the parking would be like is exactly the same type anxiety I have. Not sure how to alleviate it, though.

chessie said...

One thing you can do is get on Google maps during your planning stages. Punch in the address and get a street view of the place you plan to stop at. Check out the lot (if you can see it). That way you aren't surprised by the condition of the lot. You will know in advance if you will want to circle the lot upon arrival for the best spot for you or if you can simply ride in with the pack.