August 12, 2017 My Thunder is now my reliable partner.
July 22, 2017 During the month of July, we rode a lot over the weekends and after work. There were many scary moments where I would sweat like crazy on stop signs with right turn, even on flat roads. Needless to say uphill roads would literally give me nervous jitters, and a few times I almost got myself into the ditch on the opposite side of the road. I noticed several things that I was doing wrong which caused these situations: I was giving too much throttle out of fear that the bike would slide backwards when I released the break, I was looking at the opposite lane (instead of the one into which I needed to make the sharp right turn) out of fear of riding into that lane and crushing into the oncoming traffic, and I was using my steering wheel to make the turn instead of leaning my motorcycle to the right which would make it easier to enter the turn. I knew that all of this was out of fear, and I knew that I had to work on it if I wanted to become a good rider. As my number one objective in my quest of killing that fear inside me, I chose to learn to relax. This was absolutely necessary – it was like a prerequisite for all other things, but also needed to work in conjunction with all other objectives to ensure that there is a combinatory approach to problem solving that targets all angles. In addition to learning to be relaxed as I knew I was approaching the stop sign and would need to turn right, I needed to set my mind on the things that I would do next:
– Throttle lightly, and as you disengage the clutch, adjust your throttle if you are too fast. Additionally, do not release the clutch fully until you are sure you are riding in the correct direction (keep it half-engaged to control the speed which engaged throttle will generate). If you are accelerating uphill, use your legs to hold the motorcycle in place between the point at which you release the hand break, and the point at which it’s held in place by clutch/throttle combination. (Yes, I knew that there was the foot break too, but I need both my legs to keep the bike standing. I will learn).
– Look to where you want to go (to the right, and not to the opposite lane) to ensure that is where your bike will follow. They taught us in the motorcycling course that the motorcycle will go to where you are looking – that is why when you are making the right turn, you do not continue looking to the left as you do in the car.
– Instead of using the steering wheel to turn, lean your bike to the right as you start moving – this will counteract the force that pushes the motorcycle outside of the lane into which you are turning if its corpus is kept straight and will ensure that the bike enters the sharp turn smoothly.
Let’s see how fast I can get rid of my fear and improve my skill.
July 1, 2017 There is danger in stop signs. This danger lurks around and waits for you, and catches you in the most unsuspecting moment. I discovered today that for me, the most dangerous Stop Sign is the one located at the end of an uphill road, when there is no continuation of the road on which you are approaching it, and when your partner who is leading your pack has decided to turn right, and now you have to follow. Add gravel to that situation, and I will be stuck on that Stop Sign for a while. Add a car behind me waiting for me to turn, and I am blushing of shame all over my face. No, I am not kidding. This just happened today. Exactly this situation, my partner is waiting for me on the perpendicular road because he already made his right turn. There is no way for me to go straight because the road has ended, and I am standing there thinking how to get myself out of this situation. My motorcycle’s front break is engaged; my feet doggedly rooted into the gravel slightly behind my torso so that when I release the break my motorcycle does not slide to the back. Literally, folks, I need to learn proper leaning of my bike when I do right turns, especially in situations described. I think the root cause to all my trouble is not knowing how to properly lean my bike so that it enters tight turns without encroaching onto the opposite lane (which I, to my dismay, have done several times today – today was a particularly bad day for these). I need to speak to my subconscious.
June 21, 2017 Who said riding with a partner is the only way? Who said riding cannot be done solo? I experienced solo riding for the first time today. The feeling of independence is amazing: you feel like a queen when you roll your own bike from your garage onto the driveway in the morning. The morning’s cool air and bleak sun rays hit your cheeks briefly before you put your helmet on. You mount your iron horse, pat it on the side of its gas tank, turn the ignition on and put your gloved hands onto the handles of the steering wheal. Give it a bit of gas once, then one more time, engage the clutch and switch to first gear. That stuff gives me smiles from ear to ear: when you are just to embark on a ride… This ride was epic. It is only a bit more than 10 minutes to the GO station, but these 10 minutes were pure glorious. I was my own boss, solely responsible to deciding my own strategy on the road, solely accountable for following speed limit. Solo Queen on the road – how cool is that!
June 20, 2017 Riding after work provides an amazing chance for a change of atmosphere in the middle of the work week from work-home-work routine to something bigger, exciting and more pleasant. Riding after work is like bathing in the rays of a lazy sun as it shines upon you just before retreating for the night. Riding after work means being caught in magnificent sunsets somewhere in the middle of the road surrounded by endless fields, stopping on the curb and sitting quietly to observe the slow motion of the clouds on the horizon and the ever changing pattern of light that the setting sun emanates. Riding after work means feeding your imagination with so many beautiful views, so many great positive emotions, and so many happy thoughts that enter your head as you ride your bike, that your brain rewards you with some of the best dreams that you have ever had. Riding after work is… simply a great thing to do…
June 16, 2017 Aside from a 1.5 hour ride from home to Wasaga Beach (which was very enjoyable by the way because we rode with the sun shining upon our right shoulders), what did breakfast in Wasaga Beach cost us that day? How about getting caught in a pouring rain about 10 minutes after leaving homebound? And how about the rain water pouring down the sides of the gas tank directly onto our knees, down the jean material and then directly into our boots? How about getting our socks wet inside our shoes to such a degree that we could squeeze the water out as if we had just washed them? And how about wishing that you had windshield wipers on our helmets? These should be invented! We were the rain catchers: fast and wet but happy.
June 30, 2017 The beginning of my riding career was full of criticism from my biking partner. My knees and legs, apparently, were flying all over the place when I tried to ride my own bike for the very first time around the neighborhood. The streets seemed extremely small, the turns seemed cruelly sharp, and the stop signs seemed simply unforgiving. The two circles I rode around the neighborhood would probably take me 2 minutes to do by car, but on a motorcycle they seemed like a real torture. I literally sweated all over at how scared I was to do it on this big bike! Then my partner said that I was ready for the big road. I hesitated, but then made that crucial left turn from our small street: the speed limit changed to 50 km/h. Then I made a right turn onto another street: the speed limit changed to 80 km/h. And I flew! I flew like a black bird in the wind! I flew Northbound, followed by my vigilant partner, and I was catching wind on my face and hair, tangling my ponytail, sneaking underneath my jacket! I flew and did not want to stop until I saw my partner waving with his left arm to me through my rear view window. Then I stopped. 40 minutes had passed, and I never noticed.
June 28, 2017 Apparently, choosing a name (or, rather nickname) for your motorcycle is pretty important. Whomever I tell about my new bike asks me “Have you named it yet?”. But what name should I choose? Should I pick a real male name (because my bike is a guy), or should I just find a name that is not gender specific, and actually is not a name at all? Google was consulted and he told me that most people choose non-human names (like no one would name their bike “Mike” or “Roger” or anything of that sort. I learned, however, that BB King’s bike’s name was Lucile (funny me thinking that it was the name of his guitar!!!). Mine and my partner’s bikes are “Vulcans”, and when I asked my partner what he will name his bike, he said: “Two options: either Naboukhodonósôr (who, apparently, was king of the neo-Babylonian empire) or Eyjafjallajökull (which is a Vulcan in Iceland)”. I knew he was joking. I named my motorcycle Thunder.
June 24, 2017 Over 100 km travelled. 3 viewings. 3 absolutely different options. One win. Option 1 A dark-red 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. The owner bought it new in 2011 and was the only owner ever since. At first glance, we thought that it would be a good option: the bike had been in use 3 years less than it might have been, so it should be in good condition. However, when we came to the viewing, we were up for a disappointment: the bike had not been taken good care of. It had scratches on the tank, its exhaust pipes were dark yellow (odd for a bike that had been in use for 6 years), and there was rust on the mirrors. ((( The price was $3,300 which was the best price on the market. Option 2 A black 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. The exhaust pipes were nice and shiny, but the bike itself was quite worn out: it had chips on its tank that were rusty; it had a paint stain on the black leather sit, and it had scratches above the front wheel. The price of this bike was $3,450. We thought it was a bit unjustified for the condition of the bike. This one was a so-so. Option 3 A black 2008 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. Condition was pretty good (except for the chain that must have never been cleaned), and it came with the back rest and black leather saddle bags. There were no scratches or stains on the seat. The only thing that was iffy was the left mirror: the original had been stolen from the bike, and the owner replaced it with another mirror which he had bought in a scrap yard. This new mirror had a few scratches. The price with all of that was $3.500, and the guy would deliver it to our door for $50 extra. Needless to say, we went with Option 3 and, after giving the guy $200 deposit and signing a brief agreement, we had it at our door in 1.5 hours! HELLO BABY, COME TO MAMA
June 21, 2017 For a week now I have been walking around my biking partner with a frown face and (jokingly of course) complaining that I cannot be his passenger and am losing my skills while he is riding his bike almost every day after work. Today, as my GO train was pulling into the station, I noticed him sitting on his bike waiting for me. “Will you ride with me tonight?” he asked. I ran into his hands and said “I will!”. And here I was – a passenger. He took me on some really nice roads along Dufferin Street north of Major Davis Drive. That portion of the road is extremely pleasant: small, wavy, smooth, and runs along farmland and wooded lots and small houses. At one moment, I closed my eyes and smelled the air. The bouquet of smells was remarkably sweet, probably due to the amount of greenery and spring flowers that are in abundance at this time of year. Being on a bike is so different from being in a car: you are on the road, exposed, you are IN the scenery around you; there is no metal cage that serves as a boundary between you and the nature, so all smells, sounds, movements of air have direct impact upon your senses.
June 19, 2017 Motorcycle shopping has started. My biking partner has had his bike for a week now, but I still do not have my own. Oh when, oh when, oh when!??
June 11, 2017 They lined us up into single file and took our names. They told us that each of us had only one chance. They measured our time and observed our performance, noticing every minor deficiency and giving our penalty points. Those of us who would have 11 penalty points or more would fail. I was number 7 in line. 6 people before me went, one by one, to perform challenges they had set up for assessment. The second person stalled his bike. The fourth person could not complete the first exercise and crossed the line, did not shift gear and took more time than allowed to complete it. The fifth person was too slow and did not stop on the cross marking. Then it was my turn… I walked out free, with no points awarded, feeling like a winner with a million dollar smile! I did it! Folks, we did it! We are an awesome crew!
June 10, 2017 Helmet is on, hands are locked into wrist-high leather gloves, ankle-high Dr. Marten’s boots are sill shiny. I have learned where the controls are. I have learned to feel the clutch release in first gear and getting the bike to roll slowly. I have learned how gear works, but only in theory. The challenge is that by end of this day, I have to have leared much more than that, and that includes operating a bike while simultaneously using clutch, throttle, gear shift and breaks. Let the fun begin o_O. Summary of the day: – Number of times I stalled my motorcycle: 20. – Number of times I was able to start it properly (after 20 times of stalling): 50. – Number of times I was able to shift to Second Gear: 30 – Number of times I was able to apply breaks, engage clutch and shift down to First Gear: 50 – Feeling: AWESOMNESS!
June 9, 2017 Never touched a motorcycle before. Never even smelled it. Never even come close, aside from being a passenger once when my date took me for a ride at 150 km/h (Ouch!!!) on a Highway. We stopped dating right after that. No explanation required. And of course, that was the end of my motorcycle encounters. Then my husband has a crazy idea which sounds something like this: “Let’s get motorcycle licenses as a gift for me for my birthday!”. Then the next millisecond, my answer comes (without due consideration of course): “Let’s do it!” And so, here my journey starts. Today is Friday evening, and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what is going to happen because my next two days will be spent learning to ride motorcycles in full gear in the middle of a parking lot in an scorching 35-degree heat. Yep.