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The Bike

The bike needs a name. I'm still a bit bumbly on her, so I don't feel we're really speaking to each other yet. Josh is threatening to name her out from under me. I'm improving though, so I think she'll have a name soon.

My learning-to-ride saga has been fun. I'll admit, I was quite scared. Everybody asked me, “Well, have you at least ridden a dirt bike or Josh's mini-bike or anything?” Nope. I never even got the hang of roller blades. Balance and me have never done well. I would have started learning on Josh's mini-chopper, but it's broken.

My bike is nice though. When I first sat on it to try everything out before we bought it, I was surprised at how light it is. It's a Honda Shadow just like Josh's, but Josh's is much heavier. We thought this was a pretty good bike for me to learn on. My feet sit flat on the ground when I'm on her, and she's all dented up so I don't have to be too afraid of learning on her (unlike Josh's mint-condition bike). I thought it was light, but boy, my upper body has been feeling the work-out of learning to hold her up and steer her!

The first day was, well, I sucked. By the time we got it home and got me out on it, it was already pretty late. I only had about half an hour or forty minutes to play around before it got dark. Josh taught me the basics, and I'm pretty sure he was surprised at just how basic my lessons needed to be. Josh had at least ridden one once and looked at magazines for years, so he knew pretty well much how they worked. He had to teach me how to turn it on, the brakes, I didn't even know motorcycles don't have reverse (which is why it's such a work out pushing that thing around). So yeah, my first day sucked hardcore, but at least Josh was nice and patient about it. Keia laughed a lot, but Josh said he didn't do much better the first time he road Josh's mini-bike, and he'd also ridden dirt bikes before.

So anyways, day one was a lot of start-stop, start-stop. I couldn't control how much gas I was giving her, so once I started going, I was going. Then I'd get scared and slam the hand brake, then I'd bow up like a dog taking one, then struggle to keep the bike up &/or not hitting anyone. Finally, we just kept it in neutral and Josh held on to the sissy bar like he had to do with Ivy on her bike, and I practiced trying to steer and keep her up as we went down the driveway. Then he'd walk me through turning her around, and I'd actually drive back up the driveway. I got okay controlling the gas if I was driving up our slight little incline, but since I couldn't really stop, I could not give her gas while going downhill. It wasn't bad for the first day though, even if I felt bad about Josh holding on to us. He didn't want me to crash first thing though, and I did eventually get better at steering.

The second day, we felt comfortable enough to practice on the long stretch of dirt road just below our house. I had to get better at stopping somehow, and I needed more room to work than our driveway gave. At first, I just practiced going slowly with my feet hanging down, so I could just stop with neutral & my feet. Eventually, I got comfortable enough controlling the throttle to be able to put my feet up. I even managed to stop on my own just before getting to the hilly part of the road. Then I put it in neutral so I could coast down the hill again, and that's when we went down. It had rained the night before and washed a little groove between some rocks on the dirt road (mountain dirt roads, for those not familiar with them, always wash out in even the slightest rain). I hit wet sandy dirt and lost control. I felt myself lose control and panicked, slamming the handbrake. I went down hard on my knee (on a rock), and the bike landed on me.

We hadn't even been out there an hour before I laid her down. Only problem is, she'd been laid down several times before (all those dents that made it a good “learning bike” ), so the foot peg was a little loose already. Well it did some funky bending thing into my gears and stopped wanting to go into neutral. I was hobbling and hurt fairly decently – although going down was not near as bad as I thought it was going to be, at least not at that speed – but Josh wanted to take it into the shop to make sure it was okay. I wanted to keep going, but even he was having trouble with neutral, and he flat-out refused to let me back on it til we were sure it was safe. I'm not normally the type of lady who lets her husband make flat-out refusals on my own things, but I actually found it incredibly sweet.

So I followed him up to the closest bike shop, where we'd bought supplies but, so help me, I will never take it there for work again. It had only messed up with neutral once on the way up, but Josh still wanted to get it looked at. It was pretty busy, so they guy said we'd have to leave it. It was 24 hours before they even put it up on their rack and looked at it, and I had stopped by and called to tell them I'd pay whatever for overnight shipping on parts or whatever so I could get my bike back right away. I was so pissed when I called the next morning and they hadn't even looked at it yet. We went to go pick it back up, because I'm not putting up with that shit, and they'd looked at it and said there was really no problem. Whatever. The guy's a punk. We took it across town to MR Honda and bought some of those crash bar things, just in case, and the guy there looked at it and in like two minutes of wiggling told Josh that the connector pad thing was just rusty. He came home to put the crash bar thing on and just had to take a little sandpaper to the pad before he put it back together. Bike worked fine.

I had no idea how expensive bike stuff is, either. Ten dollars for oil? Two hundred for the piece of metal you put on just to dent up, instead of the bike? Ridiculous. I'm glad Josh already had me a helmet, and I was able to find boots on sale at K-mart for fifteen bucks instead of a hundred and fifty. It's insane!

Anyway, my pretty little bike is back and wasn't even really messed up to begin with. And I'm barely limping, so back to riding! After Josh got my training wheels crash bar situated, we went up to a wee little community center over the mountain from our house. It's one of those tiny things way out in the boonies where there are rarely cars and I've never seen a cop that far. This is my practice lot. I practiced first gear and stopping, and the dreaded turning. I say dreaded because leaning over on those things really scares me. Since it's a small lot, too, I don't have any room to get out of first even though I now want to, so doing slow turns was tricky. I mastered that shit last night, though! I am now ready to find a bigger parking lot and move up to shifting. Hopefully I can still do all right stopping when I'm moving much faster. We're going on recon today to find a suitably large and abandoned lot, so wish me luck on that for 4th of July Saturday. Ha! I may have to just wait until next week, since I was unable to make it to the DMV for my permit yesterday like I thought I would.

That's where it's at. I've gotten exponentially better each day, and I've really only spent an hour on it most the longest time. Pretty soon I'll be ready for riding the road! We're both looking forward to being able to ride together. It's been a dream of ours for years. It's going to be another year or so before we can afford sidecars, which are also way more expensive than I expected, but at least Josh and I will get some practice riding together before we attempt to take out the girls. They're anxious too, though. We can't wait! I'm so glad we're actually on our way to getting goals accomplished. It's a good thing right now.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
We taught my mom to ride a little Shadow 500, if she could do it anyone can. :)

That being said, is there a big empty parking a lot around somewhere? Dirt/Gravel is so much harder to ride on than a solid surface.
Jul. 5th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
Yeah, I quickly learned that gravel is not for me, so we've been going over to a small community center across the mountain. Their lot is really small though, so I couldn't get out of first gear. We went over to a friend's house today, and their road is fairly straight and relatively untraveled, so I practiced there today. I got up to fourth gear, and Josh even let me drive home! I'm getting it. :)
Jul. 5th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
I don't know if you got my last comment about this, but please PLEASE take a MSF course. Both of you could benefit from it. There's one right in Asheville.


Ride safe.
Jul. 5th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
I did. Did you not get mine? I definitely plan on taking the course. I haven't gotten my permit yet, but I'm going to do that Monday, and then I'll be able to sign up for the classes. I hope I can find a helpful babysitter, because I'd love for Josh and I to take the class together.

Thank you for caring so much about my safety! That's incredibly sweet. *hug*
Jul. 5th, 2009 01:24 am (UTC)
well that's pretty cool... i wouldn't know the first thing about riding a bike at ALL!
Jul. 5th, 2009 02:59 am (UTC)
I didn't either! I think Josh was surprised at my full level of ignorance, but I think I've picked it up fairly quickly. It definitely takes some getting used to, and you have to, as Josh put it, have some ass on you to be able to handle such a thing.
Jul. 5th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
heheh yeah, i'm sure it does take getting used to! go you! :D
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 5th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yeah, I was doing really well yesterday. Josh even let me drive home from our friend's house. First time on the real road! It kicks total ass. Should you ever come stateside again, I'd be glad to help you learn. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Ahavah Ehyeh

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