To Teach or Be Taught

Several people have approached me and asked me if I would teach them how to ride. All but two were men. They have asked me about bike choices for beginners and had questions of how I overcame my fears. And it wasn’t the women who have asked the fear question. I would have never imagined a dude strolling up to me and telling me that he’s been wanting to learn how to ride for years and the only thing keeping him back is his fear. Wow! Aren’t men taught to not show fear and always appear strong, dry eyed, fearless, and in charge? I would have expected that to come from the girls. Maybe it is because amongst women it is understood that we have to swallow a certain amount of interest in self-preservation and just grow a set and do it. Without pressure and at our own pace.

I have so far declined respectfully, but impressed upon them that they are better off taking a training course such as the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) Basic Rider Course or Harley Davidson’s Rider’s Edge Course. Until now…

I am seriously considering teaching someone how to ride. I have told them that they don’t want me to teach them, because I’m a hardass. I won’t tolerate any bullshit and if I feel they are not taking riding or the lessons seriously, I’d send them packing. That didn’t scare him off. I then asked him a bunch of questions designed to feel out his interest, his maturity level, why he would want me to teach him, etc… He answered all those more or less to my satisfaction. I felt like I was giving the man a damn job interview, no an interrogation is more like it.

I didn’t hear from him for about a week. Then he resurfaced and was asking me about lessons again. I was surprised and asked him if he actually still wanted me to teach him. He answered with a yes, but to please take it easy on him, since he has kids and if I got him killed he’d be really mad. I told him that not getting him (or myself) killed is the reason why I’m taking riding skill development and education so seriously.

I wonder if I could actually be a good teacher. Yes, I have a fear of public speaking. Had, I should say. I lost that in the military when they just picked me out of the crowd in AIT and made me class leader because I pumped out the most push-ups in two minutes out of the group. They had to pick one of us somehow and I suppose, highest overall PT score is one way of doing that. They kept threatening to replace me, but I actually lasted the entire cycle, with a short hiatus; maybe the calling out the Barney Song in cadence had something to do with that one. Hail to the Cobra God! Huah!

I shall teach or be taught. I’m just not sure if I am ready for that sort of responsibility. It’s almost as if I held someone’s life in my hands. That he lives or dies by the information I give him and the skills that I will ask him to practice. Yes, there will be homework!

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

…Stan Lee was talking about ‘Busas, right?

I’m hanging with the Boss Woman at my old place of semi-gainful employment. And we’re kicking it until closing so we can go eat at our usual spot. I have opportunity to find out that my reputation precedes me: The dude working the counter, who started after I left, calls me a badass and acts all impressed. This must be respect for your elders, can’t be anything else, he hasn’t seen me ride. He does want to ride with me, after he actually buys himself another bike. I tell him he better bring his knee pucks. “No shit?” – “Yeah, you wanna keep up, right?” – “By the way, that road ya’ll told me about?” – “Yeah, Kettle Creek.” – “Uh-huh, that one… Checked it out, kinda boring.” – “How fast were you going?” – “I didn’t ride it, I looked at it on Google Maps.” – “It’s more fun than it looks.” – “Uh-huh, sure.” …and on the bike talk goes. And I wonder why I have a reputation… LOL Probably has something to do with being a skinny little runt of a girl riding a Hayabusa. A dude on a ‘Busa? Instant Street Cred +1; a chica on one? +5, at least. And they watch you, too. Yeah, some of it is definitely ass-on-sportbike admiration, but it seems that you still have to prove yourself worthy of the ride. That was very disconcerting to a borderline social-phobic geek like me at first. But I practice my slow handling, and I really don’t have to worry about embarrassing myself too much. I gotta live up to expectations, after all! ;P 9PM rolls around, the boss is finishing up and I’m getting hot in my gear, so I opt to go outside to wait. Her son follows me, probably for the same reason. Of course, it takes a while, as usual.

Alex Doing A Burnout

21 Dec 2009: Alex has moved on to practice the fine art of the proper burnout. He caught hell on FB for it, and his mom wanted to kill him after I told her how much a rear tire cost.

While her son is sitting sedately on his Triumph Daytona 675, I amuse myself with doing a little PLP in the parking lot in front of the store. Can't really get too wild, since my tires are still cold. It's only in the upper 30s, it's freakin' cold out here! As I pass in front of the store, practicing swerves, I see Mr. Bikeless make the international sign for wheelie-that-mother, and he doesn't mean me. I just shake my head and giggle. Ah, the foibles of youth. I force myself to make my favorite of all low-speed maneuvers: the Blasted Tight-ass U-turn (and that is the proper terminology, thank you!), do a panic stop facing Mr. Triumph, then take back off doing a Slow Cone Weave around imaginary cones. The Boss Woman does eventually emerge from the store and we head on over to Mi Rancho's. Over corn chips, salsa and cheese dip we end up discussing the technique involved in popping a proper wheelie without looking like a fool (standing on the rear pegs, putting ass into it and yanking on the handlebars to make the suspension bounce the front tire up). I can't believe I actually told him. To my defense, I also explained to him how to control it and how to set it back down gently rather than slamming that front end into the ground. I hope I don't regret that. (Ah shit, I forgot to tell him he better make sure the handlebars are square before he sets it back on the ground! Oops. I don't think he's a the point where he can handle a wheelie and a turn at the same time… hmmm…) He's only been riding for 7 weeks. Then again, I hope that if he knows the proper technique mentally, he'll run it through his mind between now and the time is such that he grows a pair and is going to go and actually try it. Like they say, motorcycling is 90% mental. He is asking questions, so that's good. I do my best to explain it to him, but I don't think it's really good if middle-aged biker chica is gonna push it on him… that probably would come across as patronizing and condescending, if the advice is given unsolicited. It doesn't work like that anyway. He's riding with dudes who've been riding a lot longer, so he's already operating with that silly peer-pressure induced philosophy that if he doesn't keep up he's a pussy. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that sort of thing, because I know myself. I would be right up in there, trying to keep up and being stupid. I suppose that's the difference between being 20something and 38. =D Hell, I have a hard time keeping the Inner Squid at bay now. I don't need a more experienced (or more aggressive) group to give me reason to be a complete moron. Yet, another reason why I try to stay away from riding in groups. But then again, I do like a challenge on occasion. LOL”

After having said all that… On the way home, I implore Mr. Triumph to go first, even though he clearly is waiting for me to take the lead. There’s a reason. I’m curious about his riding, and I want to stay in the back, just in case something unforeseen happens. I think I might be a tad more practiced in emergency maneuvers. Being in the rear for safety reasons makes perfect sense to me. But mostly I just want to see him ride. Off we go… we end up doing 75 in a 45. Hmmmm… right after I had told him the three places to keep the Speed Demons under control in an attempt to avoid written notice by the local constabulary. Oh well, he’s slowly gaining on me, while I decide to restrict it to 65. That’s 20 over. At least I won’t lose my license if I get busted. I catch up to him at the next red light. What happens next, is definitely worthy of my undeserved reputation! We are both in the right lane. I am behind him. When the light turns green, I decide to show him that there’s more than one way to arrive at Point B ahead of schedule and without breaking the posted speed limit by 30 miles. Think +5 average. Excessive speed is best enjoyed in small short spurts while in town. The light turns, I follow Mr. 75-In-A-45 through the intersection, and then make use of that ridiculous way-over-the-top, arm-straightening low-end grunt that comes standard on every ‘Busa. I throw her left, into the right third of the left lane, before the car behind me even knows what’s going on, I have passed the Daytona, and quickly change lanes again, then gun it past another car. I get back over, squeeze between two cars that are slightly offset to each other, then white-line it past three more cagers. I pick my way through traffic until I find myself in the clear and settle back down into more civilized motorcycling in the far right lane at speed limit +5. I check my mirrors, but the Daytona is nowhere to be seen. He never does catch up. So much for watching him ride. LOL I get gas at the Shell in town, which is conveniently located at the intersection where Mr. Triumph and the Boss Woman (who is in her car, but has no trouble keeping up… since she drives it like she stole it) would make a left to go to their house. I watch the intersection, but I never do see them come through while I’m fuelling up. They’ve must have stopped somewhere. I’m quick, but I ain’t that damn fast! ;P Now I have an excuse to go out to eat with those two again. I need a rematch, so I can observe the Daytona in action. 😉

It was bound to happen, one day it did…

Unlike our male counterparts, us biker chicas earn stars when we drop our bikes. It had been decreed, by unanimous quorum of a bunch of female riders at a now-defunct ladies-only online motorcycle forum, not too long ago in the recent past, to be added to the unwritten bylaws, the following two amendments:

  1. We will only do PLP (parking lot practice) if there’s chocolate (or a similar acceptable treat) involved as reward for our courage in inflicting possible pain and suffering upon ourselves, our egos, and our machines in the quest to improve our riding skills.
  2. We will receive little gold stars for every time we drop our mounts at speeds below 3 miles per hour. Pink stars are also available for those who support breast cancer research and believe in the power of Pink. Upon further consideration, stars can be any color, to match your bike or your fancy. However, you do not earn stars for dropping somebody else’s ride!

…yes, I am now a four-star dropper: At mile 6290, on 08/16/09, I got laid by the Fat Lady.

I have video of the event (not really what I had in mind when I mounted the camera to its mount that day). It’s on YouTube, and hubby has no problem showing it around to EVERYbody. Hell, he has no problem TELLING everybody we meet, if the conversation should lend itself to him slipping it in there. Anyway, I had a hangover, a slight headache, probably was dehydrated, hadn’t had my coffee yet (ok, enough excuses of contributing factors already) and was not really paying attention to what I was doing. Hubby forgot his phone, and he had to turn around and get it. So, I started backing up and cutting the wheel right, to set up for my u-turn to go back down the street to the house. I bumped the curb with my rear tire, while the front was still turned, which bounced the suspension, lifted my feet off the ground and she started falling over to the left. I tried to hold her, but couldn’t (the girl only weighs in at an obese 573 pounds) and when I realized that it was past the point of no-return I got out of the way. I still ended up with my ass sitting in the middle of the road, about 10 feet away from my poor ‘Busa, that was now in its natural state: laying on her left side, taking an asphalt nap. Manx came to my rescue and helped me lift her back up. I immediately hopped back on and put the kickstand down. I then proceeded picking up parts: My clutch lever had broken off at the breakaway notch and the peg feeler caused the tip of the left foot rest to break off. I stuffed the bits in my pocket, and told hubby to go get his phone. I’m surprised I wasn’t more pissed off than I was. Disappointed in my stupidity, yes. Angry? No.

Before hubby left to fetch his Blackberry, I asked him how my fairing looked, he answered with a resounding ‘fucked up!’ I could only see the top panel, which had popped out and was looking a little roughed up around the edges. The FI light was on and I was still in gear. Needless to say, the engine wouldn’t crank. After a brief moment of panic, I regained the use of my brain, killed the engine cut-off switch and put the transmission in neutral. Toggled the switch back to the ‘on’ position and the Fat Lady purred back to life like nothing happened. That was good enough for me; when hubby returned we went on to ride to his work. Only then did I get off my bike to survey the damage and took the requisite photographic evidence for posting online later. ☺

And what moron decided to make the plastics under the white paint black? That idiot needs to be taken to the town square to be properly flogged, then tarred and feathered. I’m sure there’s a bunch of engineers in Japan at Suzuki’s headquarters, in the RND department, sipping Saki and laughing their Asian asses off. Makes me wonder if the Tupperware under the black ‘Busa is white. That would be a kick in the crotch from our Saki-drinking brethren. But later I found out, and I have this on authority, that my conspiracy theory has been proven to be of mythical proportions, since the black Hayabusa’s Tupperware is black, as it should be.

Note to self: Next time, when you’re backing up, and are still in gear (like you almost NEVER are) and you’re about to lose the Fat Lady to an episode of narcolepsy: Gas that mother and you won’t have to pick up pieces off the street and use $70 worth of ColorRite touch-up paint, which is tediously applied in four layers.