I Forgot The Faces Of My Instructors

Anybody familiar with Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ series, should get the literary reference. Roland Deschain of Gilead, the protagonist of this massive epic liked to remind a person who somehow had messed up that they had ‘forgotten the face of their father,’ in other words: “You should know better!”

So, here we go. Out on a nice afternoon ride with hubby. He leads, since I cannot be bothered by mundane details like picking my way through the country side. I’m here to improve my riding and taking it to the next level. I really should start doing my own routing, he likes to do u-turns, and he navigates by chance and memory, meaning, I have the GPSr mounted to my handlebars and I’m bringing up the rear. I know, I know, I know. But I need the GPSr when I’m out by myself. I’ve been meaning to get another mount for his bike, but haven’t gotten around to it as of yet. I have a terrible sense of direction. I need the ‘Find Home’ function. I also like getting ‘lost’ and then just hitting that home button when I’m ready to call it quits. Did I mention, he makes u-turns? A LOT OF THEM! Did I mention he doesn’t use his turn signals properly? He forgets to turn them off, and sometimes he forgets to use them at all… so his intentions when we come to the proverbial ‘fork in the road’ are at best suspect. I really should start to navigate my own self… *sigh*

So, we’re motoring along at a relaxed cruising speed (which mostly bores me to tears), I mean come on now! You go 5 miles over in the car, you could at least give my inner speed demon the courtesy of going 5 miles over on the bike. meh. That’s probably another valid reason why I’ve put myself behind him, to make it easier to control my right wrist. Of course, to the other gruffy black-leather clad cruiser dudes, it just looks better when the ‘b**ch is in the back’, but I digress….

He turns into a little windy road that is pretty enough, but turns out to be an unannounced dead end. Hubby proceeds to make his all-time favorite maneuver, a [drum roll, please!] u-turn! I’m no slouch, I’ve gained a little confidence in my slow drills. Heck, I pulled off a pegged-fork right-turn from a complete stop in the parking lot at work, just like Motorman Palladino showed us in his awesome Ride Like A Pro DVD. No sweat! I sat there for a few seconds, took in the situation. Rough asphalt. Good. Plenty of traction. 45-degree asphalt curbs. Bad. Gotta stay off those. Hight grass beyond. Bad. Can’t see what’s hiding there. Facit: Stay off the curbs and use all available road space to get yourself pointed in the other direction. I initiated. I tried not to look at the curb, got skittish, forgot my little dip, ate up too much room on my side of the street, didn’t crank my nose around to look where I wanted to go, started staring at the curb on the other side, and what happens? Yes, you guessed it. I went up on it, tried to power through (what a ‘tard am I?), thought better of it in the middle of it, almost dropped the bike, but recovered… put it in Neutral and backed back off into the street. I was soooooo embarrassed. This just shook my confidence. I thought I had this down? I was doing so well. I was actually proud of my slow skills… and what the heck was THAT? I’m a such a ‘tard. I couldn’t enjoy the next few miles, because I was still berating myself for sleazeballing that turn. ARRRGH! I guess I don’t deserve a new bike after all. Geez, I almost dumped it.

Make a long story short, we go on for a few more miles, he hangs a left, the road looks vaguely familiar and about a 1/2 mile later we come to the dreaded (for us) sign that reads in big, blaring, terrifying bold zombie letters: PAVEMENT ENDS! Holy crappola on a stick! WTF? Oh, now I remember… last time we were here, I happened to be riding pillion on my own bike (it was before we got him his own scoot) we had the opportunity to make a u-turn here before. He stops and starts initiating his turn-around protocol. I’m dreading it, so I keep friction zoning it on down the road, checking things out…. the road makes a sweeping right turn, I pass the last cement driveway on the left, but notice too late, and I’m going down hill. I can see that they’ve been busy since the last time we were here. The pavement didn’t end anymore (as far as I could tell), but a shiny new smooth road wound it’s snaky way up a steep hill opposing to the hill I was creeping down. The road become dirtier and I started seeing gravel lightly strewn across the old part of the road. Here I was. Pointing downhill and faced with making my all-time favorite maneuver (NOT!), a u-turn. The same maneuver I just bombed not barely 7 miles ago! AND under worse conditions. Downhill, dirty road, gravel at the edges. I get nervous. I initiate, this time I screw it ALL up. I didn’t turn my head (far enough), I wasn’t in the friction zone, I wasn’t on my rear brake, I wasn’t on the throttle. I had completely forgotten my skills. I didn’t USE A SINGLE ONE of them. I had, indeed, forgotten the faces of my instructors. Then the rear wheel starts sliding out on the gravel at the edge, I didn’t get on the throttle then either. End result? Yeah, you guessed it. I obeyed the Law of Gravity. I dumped my freakin’ bike. Hubby is still out of sight. I am angry at myself now. “You want a Hayabusa? Good gawd! You better start by taking the fairings of the Fat Girl and put on sliders, like EVERYWHERE. Frame. Front axle. Swing arm. Bar ends. Hell, I need rollover bars! Put it in one of those bubbles, so when you crash land it’ll stand back up on its own! Because THIS is going to get expensive. I was so disgusted with myself. And I was in utter disbelief that I let it go this far. I hit the kill switch, squatted down, got a good grip on the left handlebar and rear end and lifted the porker back up. I basically jumped on it. My clutch lever was funked. It kept dying on me. I put the kick stand down, got back off. I checked the cable, and pumped it a few times. Hubby still nowhere to be seen, he must still be waiting for me on the top of the hill, around the bend. I am SO NOT telling him. I get back on the bike. Crank it up again. I think to myself, I do this a few more times, I’ll also be pushing the pig home. I’m still disgusted. Here comes hubby. “What happened?” – “There’s something wrong with my bike. It keeps dying on me!” – I get a questioning look. Fine. “I also dumped it!” – “Oh.” – “There’s something wrong with my clutch!” – He turns yet again. A-hole isn’t even doing a waddle-walk routine, he executes perfectly. Showboating, I’m sure. I follow him back up the hill, but the ole girl keeps wanting to die. He notices me slowing and stops for me to catch up. I don’t. He rolls back about 50 feet and comes to a halt next to me. “What’s wrong?” – “My clutch lever’s doing something freaky.” – He looks at it, pumps it a few times, and a little pebble falls out. – “There. You had dirt all up in there!” – “Thanks.” *grumbling something off-colored under my breath* We head back up the road. I’m done. I’m really DONE! We come to the Stop sign at the end of the road, I pull up to the right of him and tell him as much.

The lesson I learned? I can pick up my 600-pound bike by myself without slipping a disk or causing myself a hernia. And I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Seriously, don’t let something you funked up earlier control what you do later. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Take each mistake as an isolated incident. Take a breather. Put the kickstand down if you have to and recompose yourself. If you’re still thinking about what you did wrong, you’re preoccupied, it will probably then lead to more silly mistakes.

I was a squid by letting a mistake rob me of my confidence. Don’t be a squid.



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