I got the bike.
I got the gear.
I rang the bell, and everyone cheered.
Time to go ride my new toy!
Or so I thought...
I hadn't ridden a bike in 7 years. Seven YEARS. I hopped in the saddle, turned the key and as soon as the injector light went out, hit the ignition. One of the guys from the service department is standing there cheering me on, so I can't possibly screw this up, right?
Wrong. I grab the front brake, clutch and try to put her in gear. Engine sputters out like a candle in a hurricaine. I look down. My sidestand is still down.
After puting the stand up, I hit the ignition and the engine comes back to life! Off we go! I had a friend, Josh, ride his R1 behind me to a parking lot just around the corner, where he put me through basically a 4-hour mini-MSF course. (He's a safety rep for the base I'm on) We did emergency stops, we did U-turns, S curves around the islands in the parking lot, we used our signals and did some mock traffic stops, etc. Everything he OR I could think of.
Drop #1: As I was coming around from one of the emergency stop exercises, I jammed the front brake way too hard (at low speed). Well, the bike did what I told her to and stopped. I didn't. The tank punched me right in the obvious spot to which a tank has access, and over the bike went. I managed to slow down the fall some and hold up the bike for all of a couple of seconds, but the pain in my groin area ensured that my lifting power wasn't exactly at its maximum output. *CRUNCH*
Fortunately, since I slowed the fall, nothing but a couple of scratches on a vinyl decal resulted. *whew*
After that, I'd lost a little confidence that I'd gained that evening, especially about stops. Over time, I regained the confidence and learned what to do and what not to do with the front brake. Reading Proficient Motorcycling was probably one of the best things I could have ever done.
Fast-forward about 2 weeks. My girlfriend and I are fighting over something inane, as usual. We never fight over stuff that matters, no, we yell and berate each other about things that don't make a bit of difference to either of us. Yes. We're insane.
She suggests that I hop on my new toy and go riding, "to calm down some." Now, I'm not thinking clearly at this point, so off I go in a huff. I grabbed my jacket, gloves and lid and hop on the bike. I made it all the way to the end of the apartment complex road...
When I made the left turn out of the complex road, I gunned the throttle in a fit of frustration, hoping to get that nice burst of acceleration to clear my head...
...some of you can see what's coming...
Suddenly an evil patch of sand appeared from nowhere in the hatched yellow lines I was *ahem* illegally crossing, killing what traction my cold back tire had. My reaction, and I'm still not sure if it was a good one, even though it saved my bacon, was to stomp (and lock) the back brake and emergency-stop the front one while putting my left foot down and *jumping* the bike back upright, like I would a dirtbike. I then docilely pulled into a parking lot across the street and proceeded to sulk and curse myself for being a complete moron. After calming down somewhat, I rode the bike the remaining 30 yards back to the apartment, apologised to the GF and played some Midnight Club 3.
Lesson learned? Don't ride when you're emotional. You'll do dumb stuff that you wouldn't normally do.
This last weekend was my first mini road trip with the bike and my two riding friends, Gerald (whom we call "G") and Josh. It was also the point that I really fell in love with my bike.
Some background: Josh has been riding for quite some time. He introduced G to riding back about 2 years ago when G bought his Yamaha R6 (BAD choice for a first bike). G had never ridden before, and for 3 months he didn't ride at all. He was scared to DEATH of it. Josh managed to get him out on the roads and into parking lots to practice over and over again and over time he built confidence up like any of us. Now it was my turn.
They had me lead on the way up to Auburn, AL on the interstate because I was the "new guy" and they wanted to keep a close eye on me. *shrugs* It turned out to be a HELLISH ride to Auburn that morning. The wind was kicking up really bad and we were struggling just to keep our bikes on the road from the crosswinds. For some reason the wind was really cold too. By the time we hit our exit, about 40 miles down the interstate, I was numb from head to tow and almost missed putting my feet down when we stopped. G saw that I was in dire need of a pit stop, so he led us to Chili's nearby (our destination anyways) and helped me pull in and get the bike settled in, then chewed my butt for not stopping the group sooner. Yeah, I know, dumb macho "I am a tough sunuvabeech" attitude. My muscles were so fatigued from having to manhandle the bike to keep her in my lane that I was shaking from head to toe.
It was decided that some food would help immensely, and I couldn't disagree. We ate and sat talking for quite a while, and the shakes went away, but a stiffness remained. I literally had to take about 5 minutes to stretch and get limber again before getting back in the saddle.
Josh's R1 was having troubles with its battery, so we headed over to a local Sears to see if they carried the batt he needed, so we wouldn't have to keep push-starting his bike. No such luck.
After this we decided to head back down the interstate to Tallassee (about halfway back to Montgomery) and hit Hwy 14 for a nice twisty, lower-speed ride back into town.
Where the ride up had been hell, the ride down was pure heaven. The sun had come out, warmed up the pavement and the air around it, and it was just gorgeous out. The wind had died down, and I was in the middle of the group, so I just relaxed and REALLY enjoyed the ride. Once we hit Hwy 14, I put my feet back on the pegs (not covering the controls anymore) and REALLY got comfy, and it was incredible. The road sloped and curved gracefully, and we took the curves at nice, relatively slow speeds (limit 50, we were doing 55ish). I got a question in my head about clutchless shifting on my bike so I tried it a few times while we rode and found that if you blip the throttle and put constant pressure in the direction you want the shifter t o go, it shifts nice and smoothly with very little metal-clunkage.
Anyways, we got back into Montgomery and the sky started looking nasty again, so we headed home after stopping for ice cream at a Marble Slab.
My MSF class is tomorrow, and I can't wait! It's an on-base class, and I'm going to be doing it with MY bike, so I think technically it's an ERC instead of the BRC, but they're using the BRC curriculum... *shrug*
Anyways, further updates as events warrant.