Monday, February 25, 2008

My motorcycle training journey

My Training Journey

It all started last Summer (2007) when my husband made the decision to buy a motorcycle and was looking at which one he wanted. I told him I was OK with it with one stipulation; I get one too. Maybe not right away, but eventually. To me it would be the ultimate way for us to have quality time outside the house together; something we both like & enjoy.

So, in July 2007 we went and he purchased (got a loan to pay on time) a new Buell XBR12 Firebolt. You can see it here.

Paul's father visited the last week of August 2007. They rented a Harley-Davidson cruiser for him to ride while he was here visiting. Paul took him on a looong ride. Then we took the bike back to the dealership where it was rented. Whilst there waiting for them to finish I tried on some bikes to size them up. I came across a 2003 Harley-Davidson V-Rod 100th Anniversary model. It was all silver with saddlebags. Very nice bike. I sat on it and sized it up. I was in love. I had my mind made up that I wanted that bike or a similar one. It was too early for me to buy one. I had to prove to my husband I wanted to ride bad enough to have one. So, he told me that if I bought all my gear and paid for my MSF class he would get a motorcycle for me for Christmas.

I went online and researched and found the gear I wanted. I bought a helmet, jacket, gloves, chaps & boots. After the gear arrived I discovered the chaps were way too big. I shipped them back and got a refund. I had to purchase a pair on a different website that had a size chart to go by so I got the right size. I was able to have the chaps trimmed to my leg length at the dealership where my husband bought his motorcycle.

I went online to find the MSF classes nearest me and when they were available. I had to come up with $125.00 to pay for the class before I signed up. So, I worked hard to come up with the money. As soon as I had the money I went online and got the info and mailed a check to MSF. The part that's the coolest is I was able to find a class with all women. That turned out to be in November 2007.

A sad thing happened. On October 25th, 2007 my husband was involved in a motor vehicle collision with his new motorcycle. The insurance company totaled it. He was injured enough to miss work the next day. The other driver was in a Cadillac Escalade and was performing an illegal u-turn where my husband was unable to avoid the collision. You'll see later that it didn't deter either of us from riding.

The time came finally for my class. I went to the 1st evening's class. I went the 2nd day. Half was range riding on a bike (MSF provided a bike) and half was class. I took my written exam and aced it. I came the next morning for all day practice riding on the range. At the end we were evaluated on four skills for the exam. We did u-turns, quick stop, swerving & curving/cornering. One thing that was taking place during all my riding is that I had troubles with my foot lever for changing gears. I had to reach with my foot so much I had troubles shifting. So, on the swerving I went too slow twice. On my u-turning I touched my feet to the ground twice & on the quick stop my timing was way off. I failed miserably. One of the instructors talked with me about it and explained that I could take the additional novice training class and retest then for only $100 more! I thought to myself, what a gimmick! So, I went home upset.

The next day I called complaining to the MSF main office. It was a waste of my breath. I was pretty much pushed into taking the next class, in February. So, I went online and signed up for that class.

At the end of November 2007 my husband & I went to look at a Harley-Davidson model that we found online like the one I tried on at the dealership in August. It was in Seattle owned by an individual. On Tuesday when the dealership was open we went to have them check out how much credit we could get a loan for. While there the sales guy chatted with us and started helping us look at pre-owned bikes online at their other store. Then he looked at the price of one they had that was still brand new in the shop because we could get a better loan for a new bike than a pre-owned one. They gave us a really sweet deal. Since it was the last one and it was end of the year they gave us a great big discount on the price. So, I ended up with this for Christmas, early Click here to view. Since my husband's bike was gone he didn't have a motorcycle to ride for a while. He hi-jacked my VROD. He claimed he was helping me break it in, but he rode it until January 15th when he acquired his brand new motorcycle to replace the wrecked one. Click here to see the new one.

Guess what happened on my 2nd MSF skills evaluation? I failed the second time by one lousy point. However, they offered me the opportunity to retest once again in a basic training class (like my 1st class). I called the main office the next day, Monday. They put me on the schedule for February 24th. That gave me two weeks to practice until the last test.

We went out and rode a few times in two weeks. The part that made it so much better for me is that my husband went out for a ride with me on the 23rd, just before my 3rd try for the endorsement, so I had a chance to practice again. He gave me one very valuable tip to help me with my exam. Using the back brake as a drag on slow maneuvers to stabilize the bike better.

Sunday, February 24th came and I went to the class to retest. I got on the bike MSF provided and did the practice run of the skills evaluation. The only thing I was frustrated with is my quick stopping. I did the retest. I felt confident that I did well. The time came for the instructor to hand out completion cards for the course. I wasn't sent away without a completion card this time. "I PASSED" Yay!!

So, now begins my journey on two wheels.