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Well, I made an embarassing rookie mistake today...
I got my insurance coverage settled, and decided to go take the bike out for a quick ride around the neighborhood. I had planned to stop at a church close by and practice some in the parking lot before heading home.
So, I get out, go down my street, turn onto to road, and all is well. I'm feeling great on two wheels.
I slow gently to make a right turn, of course with my turn signal on, and someone in a car behind me honks because (go figure) they didn't see me slowing, braking, OR signaling... but by then I was halfway through my turn and out of harms way. Still, I was a little shaken, but continue on my way down a residential street to go past a park I live right by. I stop smoothly and gently at the stop sign, wait for other people's turns to go, and then I try to go... except I was still in 2nd gear. The bike lurches, my heart and my mind are racing and I pull a handful of clutch and flip the killswitch. So I'm sitting there, thank GOD only in the middle of the crosswalk (not the road), and some guy in a black car is laughing his ass off at me. I was just wondering "How the hell did I NOT drop the bike?"
-I start the bike back up (making sure to start out in FIRST this time) and there I go down the street like nothing happened but my pulse is racing and my hands are shaking and I'm terrified, thinking, well ****, now I have to get this thing home without dying.
Next stop sign we pull up at, the guy in the car pulls up next to me and says "Too much power for ya?", which is still irritating me as I type.
THEN in my attempts to get home safely, due to my nerves, I missed the road that I was supposed to take, and ended up on a main road with a decent amount of traffic. I barely met the speed limit, and turned into the church parking lot as soon as I saw it, not so much to practice anymore, but just to calm my nerves. I rode around the parking lot for a little while, did a few circles, and eventually relaxed, and decided to go home. I made it home through several red lights AND construction without incident, thankfully (although shifting gears I was definitely not smooth but I managed). I barely met the speed limit the whole way home.
Now as I'm reflecting on my mistakes, all I can think is "Holy sh!t I'm glad I wasn't on a more powerful bike! I would have dumped it for sure!"
I'm really glad that I made it home alright, but I'm scared to get back on the bike now, though I know the feeling will pass and I'll be itching to get back in the saddle before too long. I can already feel the urge to ride setting in again.
I'm just going to take it easy tonight, run my errands in the car, and next time I take the bike somewhere, it will be with my Dad to practice, and EARLY in the morning with little to no traffic. Operating the bike just isn't second nature to me yet, so the attention that I could be giving the idiots on the road to keep myself alive is being diverted to riding the bike. I'll practice more before I go on the road with traffic again.

Now that I think about it, I'm SO glad that I'm only on a 250cc bike, not something bigger. To all of the other new riders out there considering a Gixxer or a 600cc+ of some kind, DONT. I was being careful while I was riding and I still messed up, so don't say "I'll just be careful". Do yourself a favor and get something small. I did, and my bike made it home without a scratch on it today because of it. More importantly, I made it home without a scratch because of it.
I think I need a cup of tea now. D:
 

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My first time on my bike last year, Joe and Billy where trying to show me how to operate it. I stand it up no problem. Managed to get the bike to take off no problems. Then I start hearing Joe and Billy, as I was nearing the end of the driveway. "Pull the Clutch!!! Pull the Clutch!!!" I was so started that I had to worry about more than just the brake that I almost forgot to put my feet down and Billy caught the bike from falling over. I started panicing saying, man is there a smaller bike I can learn on? Little did I realize, they don't get very much smaller than mine, but back then it felt so big. I had driven scooters and such, balance wasn't an issue. Then after I have someone drive the bike home for me, I try practicing in my driveway. I get to the end of the driveway, I try to operate the clutch, both brakes, got confused and dropped the bike. What was funny was I was trying to stop the bike with my feet, and I looked like Fred Flinstone operating his rock car. Good thing I wasn't going anymore then 5 mph. Yelled out every curse word, swore I'd never get back on the thing again. 15 minutes later, I decided hell, one more time. I decided to take the throttle out of the equation. I live on a slight hill, so I take bike out to the road. Never started the bike, but just practiced working the brakes. Turned the bike around, started it up, and now I just had to worry about the trottle. Managed everything ok, and decided, well now, lets start off in the middle of the hill. By the time I got done, I think I was back down at the bottom of the hill before I realized it's easier to use the back brake while getting into the friction zone and then release and go. I musta stalled that bike a dozen times. But now it's so easy, don't even use the brake anymore to get going. You figure it out quick.

First time I went out of the neighborhood and to the next town over, I had such a line of traffic behind me, you would swear I was leading a funeral procession. Now cars have a hard time keeping up with me.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
My first time on my bike last year, Joe and Billy where trying to show me how to operate it. I stand it up no problem. Managed to get the bike to take off no problems. Then I start hearing Joe and Billy, as I was nearing the end of the driveway. "Pull the Clutch!!! Pull the Clutch!!!" I was so started that I had to worry about more than just the brake that I almost forgot to put my feet down and Billy caught the bike from falling over. I started panicing saying, man is there a smaller bike I can learn on? Little did I realize, they don't get very much smaller than mine, but back then it felt so big. I had driven scooters and such, balance wasn't an issue. Then after I have someone drive the bike home for me, I try practicing in my driveway. I get to the end of the driveway, I try to operate the clutch, both brakes, got confused and dropped the bike. What was funny was I was trying to stop the bike with my feet, and I looked like Fred Flinstone operating his rock car. Good thing I wasn't going anymore then 5 mph. Yelled out every curse word, swore I'd never get back on the thing again. 15 minutes later, I decided hell, one more time. I decided to take the throttle out of the equation. I live on a slight hill, so I take bike out to the road. Never started the bike, but just practiced working the brakes. Turned the bike around, started it up, and now I just had to worry about the trottle. Managed everything ok, and decided, well now, lets start off in the middle of the hill. By the time I got done, I think I was back down at the bottom of the hill before I realized it's easier to use the back brake while getting into the friction zone and then release and go. I musta stalled that bike a dozen times. But now it's so easy, don't even use the brake anymore to get going. You figure it out quick.

First time I went out of the neighborhood and to the next town over, I had such a line of traffic behind me, you would swear I was leading a funeral procession. Now cars have a hard time keeping up with me.
Yeah I had a line behind me too haha. Luckily for them it was a 3 lane road and they all passed me, and I don't blame them either. Man I never though 40 MPH could feel so fast!
I had a big problem stalling the bike I used at the MSF course. For some reason I though the friction zone was closer to the grip, not at the beginning, so after a while I'd think "Okay, it's engaged now right?" and let go and thbbbt stalled it. Took me a while to figure it out! I've only stalled my baby twice, and once was getting it up the slant into the driveway (just didn't give him enough gas..)
Glad to hear that feeling doesn't stay! I'm sure I'll be out there again before too long.
 

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Try not to let what some random jerk says get under your skin. Guy's probably too scared to get on a bike himself.

When I was learning to ride on my Nighthawk I used to start out in 2nd sometimes because there was no gear indicator and sometimes I lost track of counting gears. Also, the surprise upshift into neutral, is super fun to do right as your pulling away in the middle of an intersection. Ha.

I ride an FZ-07 now which has practically no friction zone, and I will occasionally stall it starting on steep inclines because it just needs way more throttle to get chugging than on flat ground.

Anyway. All that to say that everything you're doing is just right. Learn at your own pace and in whatever way you feel comfortable. The nerves will go away with time. I remember my 2nd day out I made it up to 30mph and felt like I'd made a huge accomplishment--and I did at the time! You've already accomplished in a short time more than what some people will do in their lifetime. So, feel proud about that!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks NoCapes! I just have to remember that it won't always be this nervewracking :)
I felt super nervous surrounded by nothing but cars, especially at red lights. Felt like the cars were all staring at me and deciding if I looked tasty enough to eat lol
 

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Keep after it, ZombieFishiez. It'll come to you. You're on the right track going with your dad early in the morning when there is little traffic. That'll be a much lower stress level.

It is intimidating to ride in traffic when you're learning. So, practice, practice, practice until you feel really comfortable before you venture out with cars.

And as for the doofus in the car, it won't be long before folks like him will be staring jealously at you at stoplights.
 

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If you haven't figured it out yet, cruising along at some speed is easy. It's slow speed maneuvers and stops and starts that are the hardest to master consistently and smoothly. What I did after a long time not riding, and getting a much bigger/heavier bike, was go around and around in the church parking lot for hours each day until my arms were too tired to keep practicing. Finally I felt I had that mastered. Just the practice in a class isn't hardly enough. Then I went out in traffic.

This is a necessary primer as when in traffic it's important to remain aware of what everyone else is doing so you can avoid contact with them. For example, when it comes to curves, you need to be concentrating on proper lane positioning and visual actions. All this precludes an additional worry about pulling over to a pullout, hills, road surface, wind, sunlight in your eyes, fuel level, body centering, contending with freeway speeds and fast cars, etc. In these situations, it's not smart to have to additionally be concerned about the basics.

So don't rush your "regular" riding on the roadway, even if it's with an experience companion. Their experience won't help you much at all.

--
 

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Another thing I will throw out there is that as a female rider (apologies if I misinterpreted your profile pic!), you are going to have to get used to being judged more harshly by others, always. Even when you go out and do a perfect ride, at best you will hear nothing, at worst you will hear how surprised "they" were you could keep up in the curves or didn't drop it or stall or some such nonsense. Sadly, it comes from other female riders as much as it does male riders. :\

Recently one of my "friends" asked me if I was ready for a big girl bike yet (something she asked me frequently every year). I just laughed, my usual response. Funny thing is I had actually traded in my 250 for my FZ-07 about a month prior to this conversation, but hadn't told her about it. I wasn't hiding it, we just hadn't talked in several months. I decided right then and there I was done being friends with her. I've ridden more miles in the past 3 years than she has in her life, and most of them were on my 250. :biggrin:

My personal philosophy about learning to ride is to ride your bike until you're no longer afraid of it, and only then think about moving up in displacement. For me it took 2 years (well, 2 "riding seasons," I do live in Chicago and all.) until I really felt ready for a bigger bike. Last year I test rode a Versys and it felt too out of control. Finally, this year, I could see where my 250 was not meeting my needs (ex. simply not being fast enough for interstates, lack of braking power, no fuel injection), and the 600cc+ no longer felt so intimidating. It just felt like a new challenge I was ready to take on. But you can bet I was nervous as hell all over again as I was learning to ride my new machine.
 

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Maybe I'm missing something, but taking off in 2nd isn't that big of a mistake and neither is going slow. Hell, one of my bikes had a problem last year and I had to cross 2 counties using nothing but 5th (and periodically 4th) gear. Taking off in 4th or 5th is a pain in the ass.
 

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I can't stand when people (drivers) mess with bikers. :icon_mad: we need to look ot for each other. :71baldboy:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
--

If you haven't figured it out yet, cruising along at some speed is easy. It's slow speed maneuvers and stops and starts that are the hardest to master consistently and smoothly. What I did after a long time not riding, and getting a much bigger/heavier bike, was go around and around in the church parking lot for hours each day until my arms were too tired to keep practicing. Finally I felt I had that mastered. Just the practice in a class isn't hardly enough. Then I went out in traffic.

This is a necessary primer as when in traffic it's important to remain aware of what everyone else is doing so you can avoid contact with them. For example, when it comes to curves, you need to be concentrating on proper lane positioning and visual actions. All this precludes an additional worry about pulling over to a pullout, hills, road surface, wind, sunlight in your eyes, fuel level, body centering, contending with freeway speeds and fast cars, etc. In these situations, it's not smart to have to additionally be concerned about the basics.

So don't rush your "regular" riding on the roadway, even if it's with an experience companion. Their experience won't help you much at all.

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I think I'll be doing a lot of parking lot practice until I have the basics down and can do it without thinking about it. That way I can pay attention more to keeping myself alive. Damned cagers.
I feel like I'm at the tippity top of the ice berg as far as riding goes... But I'm excited to learn and grow and become more experienced so I can go on adventures on 2 wheels :)
Baby steps, though. Baby steps.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Another thing I will throw out there is that as a female rider (apologies if I misinterpreted your profile pic!), you are going to have to get used to being judged more harshly by others, always. Even when you go out and do a perfect ride, at best you will hear nothing, at worst you will hear how surprised "they" were you could keep up in the curves or didn't drop it or stall or some such nonsense. Sadly, it comes from other female riders as much as it does male riders. :\

Recently one of my "friends" asked me if I was ready for a big girl bike yet (something she asked me frequently every year). I just laughed, my usual response. Funny thing is I had actually traded in my 250 for my FZ-07 about a month prior to this conversation, but hadn't told her about it. I wasn't hiding it, we just hadn't talked in several months. I decided right then and there I was done being friends with her. I've ridden more miles in the past 3 years than she has in her life, and most of them were on my 250. :biggrin:

My personal philosophy about learning to ride is to ride your bike until you're no longer afraid of it, and only then think about moving up in displacement. For me it took 2 years (well, 2 "riding seasons," I do live in Chicago and all.) until I really felt ready for a bigger bike. Last year I test rode a Versys and it felt too out of control. Finally, this year, I could see where my 250 was not meeting my needs (ex. simply not being fast enough for interstates, lack of braking power, no fuel injection), and the 600cc+ no longer felt so intimidating. It just felt like a new challenge I was ready to take on. But you can bet I was nervous as hell all over again as I was learning to ride my new machine.
You interpreted right :biggrin: Most of the time on here I get mistaken for a guy.
And I can believe it that you stayed with the 250 for 2 years. I don't think that I will be outgrowing my 250 any time soon. Bigger isn't always better :)
I will definitely practice more, and wait until I feel confident to go into traffic. I think my confidence played a big role in what happened today, I was nervous as h*ll
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Maybe I'm missing something, but taking off in 2nd isn't that big of a mistake and neither is going slow. Hell, one of my bikes had a problem last year and I had to cross 2 counties using nothing but 5th (and periodically 4th) gear. Taking off in 4th or 5th is a pain in the ass.
Maybe not for a more experienced rider, but all the experience I had under my belt was the MSF course D: It definitely surprised me and threw me off.

If it was easy and safe then anyone could ride.

I've read your posts, and I think you have the heart. You'll be okay.
Thank you Eye :) I sure hope so
 

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Thank you

Thank you for sharing. I wish I was closer, I would ride with you. It is a learning curve, and you will learn for as long as you ride.

The forum likely does not have enough bandwidth for me to talk about all of my classic miscues.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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I agree with Ron find a parking lot and practice riding around it. Stop, a lot and take back off. That will help you learn your friction zone. You will also develop muscle memory for where you controls are. Go down a lane, turn your blinker on and come to a stop, then take off and make a turn down another lane. Then when you get comfy with that, turn as you are taking off, practice turning in both directions.

Practice your emergency stops and swerves. Practice shifting to 2nd & 3rd if you can. (When I stop I always push down on my shifter a time or two before I take off to make sure I'm in 1st. Make it a habit now and you shouldn't/won't stall.)

After you feel good about all of that, you should try some roads. I don't know what kind of an area you live in but if you can ride around a few blocks avoiding major traffic, I would do that. You may want your dad to follow you in a car and act as a blocker from other traffic behind you. He knows you are new and will be looking for anything that could happen.

If you can't get out & ride spend some time watching CaptCrashIdaho's Youtube videos. The have so much great info. Good Luck to you!!!

Remember, if you get shook up try to pull over somewhere and get your nerves under control.
 

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Don't worry so much ZF. I think we all started out stalling quite often and even after many years I still sometimes lose track of what gear I'm in. After a while you will not really be aware of the clutch. When you think you are ready to move forward the bike will just go. I know that sounds completely unbelievable but you do actually get to that point fairly quickly with practice. The friction zone on my present bike is very small and I give myself a daily reminder. When I need to turn the bike around to face the street I back up with a hard turn of the bars and then pull forward slowly twice to get turned around, sort of a zig-zag pattern. By the time the bike is facing the street, my left hand knows where my friction zone is.
 
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