I have a confession to make, I was beginning to hate riding my motorcycle. I dreaded riding with anyone and I rarely go out on my own. Why you may wonder? Well I was scared. Scared of wrecking, cornering too fast and over running a curve, dropping my bike if I am by myself or slowing other people down if they are riding with me. I have only been riding for 5 years, and the 1150R that I ride is the only bike I have ever owned or ridden. I knew my riding skills were not progressing and I was tired of not getting any better. I needed new skills. I received some welcome advice from a friend and club member after we arrived in Bailey following our last club meeting. He had followed me and offered a tip I could quickly utilize. I never knew that I could control my speed going into curves better using RPM rather than the brakes. I practiced this on the way home, and although still slow, I was much more secure going into curves and accelerating out of them. I had a glimmer of hope that I would be able to rescue myself from giving up.
The following weekend, six members of the Pikes Peak BMW riders met in Denver to attend an advanced rider class at Iron Buffalo Motorcycle training with Marsha Hall, teacher extraordinaire. They have a wonderful training facility within Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. We spent the first 4 hours of the class inside. We talked about riding perceptions, reactions and choices made while riding. There are some great studies out there and I can’t speak for any of my classmates but I learned a lot in the classroom. It was fast paced and interesting material; we also had some nice discussion time, to compare stories and ideas.
After a quick lunch, we met out on the parking lot to begin the on-bike portion of the day. We started with some basic swerving maneuvers, some emergency braking and then began to add the skills together with cornering and body position. As the day progressed I was so glad to have my club members with me to be learning new skills and fixing some bad habits. Marsha brought it to my attention that I was fixating on the objects I was trying to avoid, which of course caused me to hit it almost every time. Once I learned to recognize the object and then look where I wanted to go, I stopped hitting the cones. I began to trust the bike and the tires and my own skills. I felt more prepared to handle the bike at slower speeds, corner, avoid objects in the road and stop in an emergency. I had some new tools I could try out and add together to build my confidence. I left the class feeling glad I had gone and even more hopeful.
I came home ready to put my new found skills into action. Going riding with Wayne the next weekend, I could feel my confidence growing. When the club ride up Independence pass came, I was still worried about holding people up but knew I had to go. I think I did pretty good, was more confident and knew I had better control.
On the way home I had an opportunity to use a number of the skills I learned. A vehicle had come up the wrong way on Highway 24, heading at us, head on. As the truck in front of us swerved, and Wayne avoided the vehicle, I too was able to look away, brake, and swerve between the oncoming vehicle and the car next to me. It all happened so fast I had no time to think, only react. I have no idea what the vehicle even looked like because I refused to look at it. We immediately pulled over and took a few moments to collect ourselves. Although scared and shook up, I knew at that moment that although I may never be a fast rider, I will continue to ride, take more classes, and try to ride better.