The Progression Of ProgressPosted: January 24, 2010
How does one rate progress? How do you know that you are where you should be in your development of a skill. I am not good with physical skills, I have always been more of an academic. The theoretical comes fairly easy to me. I’m a quick study. Try to teach me a manual skill that involves motor skill and coordination, and I’ll be arriving on site in the short bus. Martial arts, ballroom dancing, Jazzercise, Tai-Chi, DDR, you name it, I’ll have a time of it. I will eventually learn it with persistence and repetition, but it takes me longer than it should on average… way longer; but once I’ve torturously climbed my steep learning curve, I’ll be fairly good at it, comparatively speaking, of course: on the top end of mediocre for the most part. There’s one surprising exception to this personal status quo: motorcycling. After overcoming my initial fear, I was playing in traffic by myself within a few short training sessions under the tutelage of my hubby. I eventually took the MSF and finished that at the top of my class overall, while nearing a panic attack during the range portion; but I surprised myself. I always do. The nerves during a practical test are legendary and well known to me. But yet, I remain focused and calm under pressure, it’s not a fun feeling though. One of the reasons I haven’t made it to the drag strip or a track day yet… I’m just too damn nervous when people are watching me. I get a serious case of stage freight with a healthy dose of performance anxiety thrown in. But I digress, after initially learning and reaching the first big milestones of riding, how do you measure your progress. At first you could tell, even with limited knowledge of the subject matter, it was blatantly obvious: not going wide in right turns anymore, no more stalling at lights, no more wobbling through corners, no more dumping the bike in the parking lot while trying to make a u-turn, etc. All the newbie firsts conquered. Now, milestones are hard to come by and the progress indicators seem infinitely more minute. I keep asking my husband, if I’m where I should be in my progress. He used to tell me I’m way ahead of the curve, but now he can’t even answer the question anymore, he doesn’t know. I’m the kind of person who NEEDS to know. So where should one be after almost 16 months of riding and a little over 18K on the clock? Am I working too hard at it? Not hard enough? I don’t even know why this really is so important… I know the important bits at the moment: I need to work on my shifting, it’s crap lately (used to be smooth as butter, too), especially between first and second. WTF? Embarrassing as hell when you’re showing off to some dude parked in the lane next to you on some chromed out ‘Busa and you’re leaving him at the line, and miss the upshift in the corner… UGH! Yeah…. One only can hope he didn’t hear that. LOL Still spanked his ass, though. ;P I need to work on my throttle control, it’s been a little more jerky lately, too. But I think I might just be able to fix that with a little chain adjustment, the slack’s at 30mm but I like it around 25mm way better. That could be a contributing factor. My cornering has gone to pot, too. Well, in comparison to what it was… my lines aren’t as decisive as they once were… way too many midcorner corrections going on! But I blame all this stuff mainly on it being so damn cold… no real opportunity to go out there and joy ride for honing one’s skills, when you’re preoccupied with shivering and numb fingers. I shall see in the springtime, whether or not that’s what it is. My riding now is mostly perfunctory, gets me to Point B, but I’m not really ‘working at it’ or ‘listening in on it’. They say these are all soft skills. It stands to reason, then, that over the winter we get rusty, since we’re not putting nearly as many miles on the clock. But all this makes me feel like I’m going backwards. And I don’t like it. Maybe that’s where the preoccupation with the learning curve is coming from. I need to know that I’m not slipping. I want to improve not regress.
I have a definite tendency to over-think stuff, which is a blessing and a curse. On one side, I think it’s a contributing factor why I haven’t wrecked myself and why I have taken to motorcycling so readily (it is, after all, a skill which is 90% mental); on the other hand I think it holds me back a lot of the time. I don’t know, really. I think and think and think… and I get so tired of thinking I end up ‘winging’ it a lot of the time, because I’m sick of thinking about it… but I can’t help myself. I’m over-analytical, too. I have to find meaning in everything. Cause and effect… And I will dissect something I screwed up in my riding until I’m sick of that, too. Maybe I need to loosen up a little and chill. Maybe I’m taking this all too serious. Nah. I do take it serious, and it has kept me rubber side down so far. Shouldn’t fix what isn’t broke. I suppose I shouldn’t try to fit myself into some perceived norm; some progress chart to follow. I’m who I am: a quasi-perfectionist, a thinker, a geek, a dork, compulsive, spontaneous, aversed to meticulous planning, an adrenaline junkie, and a bit on the squidly side. I should really ride my own ride in this aspect, too. I just have to find another way to measure my curve.