ladysprite: (steampunk)
So I had a first-time event today, that I knew I would have to go through someday. In particular, I dropped my motorcycle while I was out riding.

I was driving home from work, and took a hairpin turn that I've been through time and again before with no trouble. But this time I think I took it a little faster (still under the speed limit, and at a reasonable speed, but a bit faster than my usual timid roll), and I didn't have the confidence to give it enough throttle to maintain the angle of lean I needed to get through the curve. And by the time I realized this, it was too late to throttle more - I would have throttled into a minivan.

So I dropped the bike.

And... nothing bad happened. I was wearing my armored jacket and my gloves and my helmet (and I wasn't speeding), so I'm unhurt other than a bruise on my hip. My first thought wasn't to panic, or cry, or wallow in shame; it was just 'well, darn.' I got the bike stood back up all by myself, re-secured my bag to the luggage rack it had fallen from, and rode the rest of the way home. Admittedly, I didn't stop on the way to get it inspected like I had planned to; I want to make sure that nothing was damaged on the bike first. But that's it.

And now? Now I've done this once, and I know it's no big deal. I know I can survive it and keep riding. I know what it feels like when I'm going to skid out. And hopefully I'll know to roll on the throttle a little earlier next time. But most of all, I know I can fall and get back up again....
ladysprite: (steampunk)
So I've spent this weekend trying to make things better by doing as many things that I know will boost my mood as possible. I baked. I saw friends. I played around with arts and crafts, and planned out my garden. I went out dancing - Boston Swing Central is a wonderful thing, and I have no idea how I failed to learn about it until now - and, this afternoon, I took my motorcycle out for the first ride of the season.

I was afraid, to be honest. Afraid that it wouldn't be as much fun as I remembered, afraid that I wouldn't remember how to ride, afraid that it wouldn't work after having been in the basement all winter....

I shouldn't have been. If anything, I seem to have leveled up in Motorcycle during my recovery. I've never had a ride go that smoothly and comfortably, I've never felt this safe and confident on my bike, and other than needing to idle for a few minutes before I put her in gear, she didn't seem any worse for her time off.

No one warned me that motorcycles were addictive. Though [livejournal.com profile] dagibbs did warn me that at some point, no matter how much I love my little 250, my inner adrenaline junkie is probably going to want something bigger and faster, and I'm starting to think he's right. Not now, but.... someday.

Right now I just want to get back out there and ride some more....

Milestones

Jul. 28th, 2013 01:09 pm
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Guess who just rode her motorcycle on actual real streets with other cars for the first time?

I know that doesn't sound like the biggest deal, but it kind of is. My biggest obstacle to overcome in this whole motorcycle adventure has been my own fear of my inexperience and incompetence, given the knowledge that I am not the Only Person On The Road. The training class involved just riding around a parking lot, and since then I've just been practicing on our little, no-traffic dead-end road.

And as an aside, I can't get over how awesome and entertaining it is that my bike seems to be the talk of the block. I've lost count of how many neighbors have come out to look at the bike, cheer me on as I drive in teetery slow-motion figure-eights, and/or give me advice from their own riding days. I love my neighborhood.

But I've been a bit worried - what if I never get good enough to have the skill or courage to actually drive this thing? The first day I got her home, I stalled her half a dozen times and dropped her twice, just going back and forth on our block.

Luckily, I am stubborn to a fault, and loath to waste the time and money I've invested. So I've *kept* practicing up and down my block, practicing shifting and stopping and starting and driving figure-eights until I could make it half a dozen times around without stalling, having to stop and walk around a tight curve, or dropping the darn bike in a fit of 'Oh god too many things to think about shift-signal-clutch-brake-throttle-CURB!' And I promised myself when I could do that, I WOULD go out on the road, whether I thought I was comfortable or not.

And it is Sunday, and there are almost no other cars, and I know that the longer I postpone the worse the anxiety will be. So today I bravely stepped out onto real (one-lane, back-road) streets and drove out there with (two or three) other cars. I only went a couple of miles, and I think I maxed out around 25mph, but I did it. I made it into third gear, I went up hills and around corners and through traffic lights, I signalled, I only stalled once at the very end, and I didn't die or cry or get yelled at by angry drivers.

Maybe tomorrow I'll go a little further.

I can do this....

(PS - I think her name is Maia...)
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Pictures, hidden for those who don't want to see them.... )
Of course, after she was delivered, I managed to putter up and down our dead-end street about three or four times before the battery died, alas. Admittedly, I'm a timid and inexperienced rider, still familiarizing myself with the controls, and stalling the poor thing near constantly... but even that shouldn't be enough to completely drain the battery.

And the dealership is closed for the night. So in the morning I get to call the service department and, with luck, they'll get a new battery our here in time for me to practice again tomorrow night. And who knows; someday I might get enough courage to actually head off my dead-end onto a real street....
ladysprite: (DiscoTurtle)
I sort of bought a motorcycle today.

And by 'sort of,' I mean I tried to buy one but we couldn't finish the paperwork before the dealership closed for the day, so I put a down payment on it and agreed to come back after work on Monday to sign papers, dot I's, and cross T's.

I had a few different bikes I was looking at, but ultimately narrowed it down to one of a pair of Honda Rebels. The new one was... well, it was prettier. But the older one already had most of the upgrades that I would have wound up having to pay for and add on myself after the fact. And it's still pretty darn sexy in its own right, and the dealer still has an incredibly generous trade-in policy even for their used bikes.

A very kind and helpful friend came with me to check them both out, and after asking a lot of questions that I only sort of understand, poking and prodding at both, and getting down on the ground and crawling half under the used bike, he pronounced it perfectly good, so that was enough to make up my mind.

So now I am in the process of becoming the proud owner of a 2009 Honda Rebel (bright blue, because... well, because that's what they had). Monday is paperwork and calling my insurance, and then they start tuning it up; hopefully it will be delivered to me by Tuesday or Wednesday.

And then, I ride....
ladysprite: (momongo)
Second half of motorcycle class was today, and I headed out this morning with a lot less excitement and a lot more trepidation. I'm stubborn enough that I still went, but I wasn't looking forward to it as much as I had been the day before.

But I *am* stubborn, and determination goes a long way, so for the second day this weekend I hauled myself out of bed at 7am and up to North Andover to sweat and fret. The morning was spent in the second half of the classroom part of the course, culminating in a 50-question safety test that I ultimately finished in about ten minutes, with a perfect score (that really wasn't the part I was afraid of).

Then lunch break, and then back onto the bikes for Part Two of actual riding skills. Which, among other things, meant spending almost 5 hours standing around in 90+ degree weather on asphalt with no shade, in long pants, a leather jacket, boots, gloves, and a helmet. Thankfully, the teacher provided us with numerous water breaks, and I had had the foresight to freeze a bottle of water and bring it with me.

Starting off was rough; I had my confidence pretty thoroughly shattered, and being scolded (however gently) to relax and loosen up and have confidence has the opposite effect for me. But my stubborn is mighty, and eventually I realized that if I shifted further forward on the bike I felt like I had better control, and it helped me keep my elbows down. And finally, when we got to the exercise of riding over road obstacles, something clicked. I know it's fairly absurd that I'd find riding over 2x4's easier than cornering, but when I realized it was the same skill as posting on a horse... it just made sense. And after that, it got easier. And when I realized that yes, speed DID make everything else more manageable....

Ultimately? I passed the test. Not exactly with flying colors, and I still lost points for being too timid and too slow, but I passed. I am now an officially licensed motorcycle driver.

Now all I need is a bike. And a helmet. And many, many hours of practice.

Anyone want to help?
ladysprite: (steampunk)
Today was the first session of my two-day Beginner Motorcycle Training class, where they promise in two days to take us from 'never been on a bike before' to 'licensed drivers safe to release into the wild.' I have been looking forward to this class with a mixture of excitement and terror for most of a month, now.

The classroom part I have no serious worries about - I can memorize and recite things no problem. It's the actual riding that scares me. When I say I'm green, I'm utterly green. I've been a passenger on a bike before, but I don't know anything about how they work or how to drive one, and I've never driven a manual transmission vehicle of any sort before. And I am cautious, and I like to practice things until I'm PERFECT before I stop.

This has served me well in dance (I will just go into a room by myself and drill one move or one routine for hours until I can do it forwards, backwards, right-handed, left-handed, and in my sleep), and in surgery (I spent most of a year doing all of my hand-sewing using surgical instruments to get my technique right), and in just about every handcraft and physical skill I've ever tried. It doesn't work so well in a class with eight other riders, where you have about 15-20 minutes to practice a particular riding drill at full speed before you move on to the next thing.

I am overcautious, over-timid, and over-slow. It doesn't help that, when I'm the one driving, suddenly 15 mph feels like OH MY GOD TOO FAST and how the hell am I going to brake in that short a distance and swerve and freak and which hand is the clutch and which hand is the brake and oh yeah, foot brake too and TOO FAST SLOW DOWN NOW! When in fact I'm holding up the rest of the line.

But the teachers are patient and supportive, and continue to reassure me that I can do this; I just need to relax, loosen my arms, speed up, and have faith. And my classmates... well, most of them just don't pay much attention to each other at all, and the ones who do are pretty nice too. And by the end of the day I at least felt like I had the hang of starting and stopping and shifting gears, and had accepted that speeding up would not kill me, and would actually make some things easier.

I have one more 8-hour day, at the end of which I'll have to pass a test to show I've gotten all of this down pat, or at least down passable.

I can do this. I've brought living things into this world and taken them out of it; I've danced on stage in my underwear; I've walked 60 miles in the heart of July; I've taken a living creature, drugged it unconscious, cut open its abdomen and pulled out its organs and sewed it back together and had it walk away that afternoon in better shape than before I started. I've jumped out of a plane. I survived having a Saint Bernard eat part of my face, and went back to work three days later. I can ride a goddamn bike.

I just... you know. Wish I had a week or so to practice in private, at my own pace, before being tested on it....

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