As I’m getting closer to the date of my first official race, I’m starting to see things that could use a lot of improvement. And, mark your calendars, for once I’m not talking about my riding. My wrenching could use a speed boost. Let me clarify that, it’s not the quality that’s an issue (most of the time) it’s the speed with which it drags on. I’m moving slower than a snail crossing fly paper. If you observe me long enough in my driveway you might actually see the wrench moving.
I know why wrenching usually pisses me off:
Exhibit A: I spend half the time looking for shit! Lack of organization in my driveway has something to do with it, stuff gets kicked and rolls downhill. Screws get dropped, washers disappear into the treacherous void between fairing panels. The screwdriver isn’t where I left it. Who the hell stole my socket extension? Where the fuck are my calipers? What asshole used the last of my blue Loc-Tite? You get the picture. And I am the culprit who is to blame. Mr. Slow doesn’t turn wrenches unless I make him. He damn sure knows better than to touch my toolbox unless I’m having him fetch a tool for me.
The more I have to look, the longer it drags on, and what should be an hour job turns into a three-hour metric nightmare. I hate that. It pisses me off. The other thing is that I usually run out of daylight because I never consider my tool-misplacement problem when I decide to start a project in the early afternoon. And in the dark stuff happens. Unspeakable horrors. Horrors such as scratched up clutch levers mounts and bent springs and stripped out threads on front master cylinder brackets due to over-torquing and a host of other calamities. I have finally learned to pack it up and leave it be when it gets too dark to see the little engraved numbers on the sockets.
Exhibit B: I hate it when I don’t have the right tool for the job. And what I dislike even more is my inability to just recognize that I need to buy (yet) another tool and do that, instead of trying to rig something that will do. Most of the time I end up going to the hardware or auto store anyway, but in frustrated state of mind. Why can’t I just learn not to do that? The rest of the time, the job looks lousy, ends up in stripped fasteners, rounded out bolts, bent retaining clips and other such nonsense, not to mention the scratches and marks it leaves behind on my baby. Shame on me.
So what is a girl to do? The reason why I’m putting myself through this hell? Because I have to. I can’t afford to constantly run to the shop and have it done for me. I don’t have any friends who can help either.
For example, to mount tires on rims that are still attached to their axles when you bring your bike in rather than just the wheels, they’ll charge you $90 and that does not include the rubber which is purchased elsewhere. If you bring in the wheels it sets you back $50. I spent a small fortune to get all the proper tools for changing my own tires. And now that I have them, it’s a matter of just doing it to get better and faster at it. I change a few more sets and I probably have recouped the cost of the tools. I tried my first tire change lacking a few essentials that I didn’t know I needed until I was actually doing the job. For instance, I needed a longer, heavier tire iron since I’m lacking in oomph just a little. But how could I have known that? Everybody warned about using too long of one and strong-arming it and bending a rim or damaging the tire’s bead. I don’t think I’ll have that problem. That was not a pretty scene, let me tell you. There’s a post about it on here somewhere. Rather embarrassing and revealing, I might add. Yikes!
Proper tools. No rigging, unless it’s an emergency. I’ve made myself that promise and I’m doing a lot better with it. For example, the tether kill switch install was the first wrenching job that I did right from start to finish. I planned. I thought aobut it. I thought some more. Ran it by Mr. Slow, who had no clue or didn’t want to get in the “middle of it” and kept his mouth shut; then ordered the proper tools that I was lacking; patiently waited until they arrived. Then methodically worked it out. Not a single profane word was uttered during that install. Nor did I screw anything up. That one is actually save for kids under 17 to read. 😉
Now, I’m thinking about racing and what kind of wrenching is done and how fast it has to be completed… and how it would go over so well if Miss Busa threw a temper tantrum in the pits. Yeah. I can see it now… No! That’s the stuff Lifetime movies are made of, because somebody’s gonna get killed by a low-flying wrench and then the poor victim’s family spend their entire lives hunting down the killer and bringing (big twist in plot here) HER to justice.
To avoid this I’m doing something very typical of the anal-retentive borderline pathological perfectionist that I am: I’m making a list. More of a spreadsheet type thing, really. A list of tools that are needed for each fastener on the bike, with torque values, tool type and size, quantity and location. A list of items needed to affect emergency repairs that would most likely be required during a race. I only bring what I need (plus a few emergency items), neatly organized, so I cut out all that time I waste hunting down the #12 socket and the #14 box wrench. I want one of those magnetic wristbands you can stick stuff to… no, make that two and a magnetic bowl to keep my nuts in (when I’m not using them).
I know this. In order to improve my riding skills I have to hit the gym, hit it hard, hit it regularly and give this organic machine what it needs to be up to the task. I’m always thinking about and working on giving my machine what it needs to not leave me sitting on my ass on the outside of some corner but I rarely want to spend time on “that other thing”. As those of you who know me can attest: Miss Busa hates working out! She hates it so much she has a sizable list of legitimate excuses to draw from should the unthinkable happen and I hear someone say “let’s hit the gym and pump some iron.” ~ “Yeah, that sounds fabulous! I would love to, but [insert appropriate excuse from aforementioned “in case of imminent exercise” list]. Maybe next time?”
I had an excuse this morning. I had one yesterday. I’ve had one for every day since I signed up for the Ed Bargy Racing School. I always feel this need to go hit the gym before I hit the track. But rarely ever actually follow through.
This procrastination until it’s too late needs to stop! I need to make myself do this. I get slow after five laps. I’m so slow after eight that a pro racer can pass me on the OUTside pushing his machine. Yeah, it’s pathetic.
Lessons learned and worth remembering: Do NOT under any circumstance learn track layouts in your head while on the elliptical. Last time you tried that you ended up falling off.
Luckily I caught my balance and didn’t fall on my ass… people still stared. Thank heavens, I couldn’t hear anything through my tunes. I’m sure there was snickering involved coming from the back row. Those three dudes had been watching my cheeks wiggle for the better part of the past 35 minutes…
Afterthought: What kind of exercises do racers actually do? I wonder… in the mean time it’s cardio until I drop for endurance, weight lifting and a ton of squats in various flavors. My thighs are usually on fire after riding hard. I need to look into that… see if I can’t develop myself some sort of workout routine.
- Using an Elliptical Machine for Interval Training (brighthub.com)
- Avoid these Exercises (maplewoodbootcamp.com)
- 5 Tips for Excuse Proofing Your Workouts during the Holidays (self.com)
My birthday, as you might know, was three days ago. Papa wired 200 € to celebrate the occasion. Cool. What to spend it on? What to spend it on? The money arrived on the 5th and I’ve spent over a week trying to decide where to unload it. So many toys, so little cashola! Bellypan for the the Priate? Color-matched OEM seat cowl to get rid of that superfluous seat cushion that mars the beauty of my S1000RR’s awesomely fast looking tail? Carbon fiber case guards? Or some shark fins? Maybe I could buy that canopy in red and black I need for the track? Ahhhh… so many things… but what I really want, but necessarily don’t need, is a waterproof Dainese textile jacket for cold weather riding. I want something I can zip to my Dainese Hooper pants I scored for $100 less than MSRP but a few weeks ago. I’m such a Dainese gear whore. I ME. Yeah. I’ve wrestled with options and then finally settled on the Xantum Lady D-Dry in Nero/Rosso to match my bike’s colors, the truck’s colors, the team’s colors. Painfully obvious that this broad color-coordinates. Now if someone could tell me where to get a (cheap) roll of 4-inch wide, no-residue removable, medium tack, 10mil vinyl tape in red or black, I’d be a happy girl.
Of course, I can’t find the blasted jacket anywhere. Dainese.com wants $40 for S&H and I’m not down with that. So off to Kneedraggers.com to special order it, which ends up in an email telling me that this specific item is backordered indefinitely and Dainese in Italy is currently only manufacturing the jacket in either blue or black. Yeah. No thanks. I have the order cancelled.
This money is positively burning a hole in my pocket!!! And rightfully so, because if I hang onto it too long it ends up getting wasted on more responsible things like bills. No! Birthday money can’t be wasted like that, it’s just not proper.
I end up aimlessly clicking around the Interwebs and just so happen to come across the JenningsGP track schedule and amuse myself with finding a date that coincides with one of my Saturdays off; Mondays are cheap, but then Mr. Slow can’t come with me, and I don’t want to go by myself, not to a new track. While checking dates I remember that I had previously thought about taking the Ed Bargy Racing School there, because it would count as one of the two required race weekends to rid my Novice Racing License of that annoying PROVISIONAL tag. Construction Worker Orange is so going to clash with my leathers AND my bike. That’s just hideous! I can’t ride if I don’t feel coordinated. ;P As a matter of fact, I was planning on going to the Ed Bargy school in October of 2009, when it was still at Road Atlanta (I think it was Road Atlanta anyway), but they ended up canceling it, moved it to some track in Tennessee (if I remember correctly) and the rescheduled dates were all on days I had to work. Every single one of them! That’s how I lucked into getting to go to the Kevin Schwantz School the following June; hubby must have felt a twinge of compassion for my sorry ass and bought me a slot for my birthday last year.
Eureka! I now know what great cause my birthday cash was supposed to support all along. Hmmm… I could do a three-day track special for $50 less. I dismiss the thought. What I need right now is three days of unsupervised track time to grind in some more bad habits, like I did on the Hayabusa when I was left to my own devices and a stack of motorcycle riding skill books. It took Kevin Schwantz and his team of instructors to help me unlearn all those bad “Hayabusa Habits”. I have a proper supersport now, I might as well ride like I have one and look like I kind of know what I’m doing. Ed Bargy it is. Click. Click. Click. Ca-ching!
The next day I had to call the school and ask if I could get a $100 refund. I found out not five minutes after registering that I am eligible for the upgrade price since I graduated from the Schwantz School. I actually talked to the man himself. He sounded nice and made me feel at ease, he was very friendly and eager to help; he even answered a question I had about the WERA licensing rules, then issued my refund and told me to just bring in my certificate when I come in. Cool. It is confirmed! Wooohoooo! I jumped up and launched into a how-low-can-you-go, hip gyrating, arms waving little solo dance number to celebrate the occasion and got promptly caught by some dude looking through my window. I straightened myself, brushed my tousled hair out of my face, smiled and asked if I could be of assistance.
Now I better hit the gym, race prep the bike, finish my suspension tweaks, take it to get the 12K service performed which is hideously overdue, finish the safety wiring to bring it all up to WERA’s liking, study the track map, watch some sighting lap videos for both directions, since I don’t know whether they are going to run clockwise or counterclockwise that day, and re-read A Twist Of The Wrist. Hopefully I can break through this plateau I have hit in my skill development, gain some more confidence by having my riding evaluated (and maybe even validated), maybe even shave a few seconds off my game. Definitely need to do that. I know where most of them are hiding, too. I ride like granny drives her Oldsmobile. Do we really have to come to a complete stop before turn-in just so I can stomp on the gas again? I really don’t know why and what, but I can’t bring myself to go in deep, slam on the brakes, pound it down a gear or two and crank that puppy over. Shit, I’m already finished braking and completed downshifting before I even hit the “3” of the brake markers, then I realize I’m just tooling along (la-dee-da) and I have to get on the hammer again, just to make it worth my while to actually push on the bars. *shakes head* No wonder my knee sliders skim over the pavement only barely coaxing a kiss out of the asphalt. Of course, that in turn leads to exit speeds that are probably not quite optimal and way too early, since the bike sill has way too much lean angle. Not that it matters much at my average speeds… I only slide it a little… more or less, sometimes, here and there. I have to admit, though, that is quite the guilty pleasure when it happens. Gawd, I can be such a damn squid!!! It’s a kink and I need to correct it before it starts to matter because I’m starting to ask too much of my tires.
I have a little over a month to grow a set. Better get to work on my mental game to pull out the stoppers and reduce the length and improve the timing of my approach. If I can’t set my entry speed quicker and later, I might as well quit ripping on that dude in my KSS class. I got stuck behind him on several occasions and it was frustrating because I had to either brake really hard while mid-corner or go wide to offset myself so I wouldn’t stick my nose up his tailpipe. Sometimes I had to do both. I just about fell out laughing when he let loose with the following little gem during the after-session review, and I quote:
“I don’t like to haul ass in the straights. I don’t see the point. You just have to slow down again when you get to the end of it. As a matter of fact I don’t really like to go fast in the corners either…”
I just couldn’t help myself and piped up from where I was standing towards the back by an industrial strength fan that was almost as tall as me, cooling my sweaty ass (and arm pits) sipping on a bottle of water: “I noticed! I was right behind you! And I’m a Hayabusa girl, I happen to like speed.”
I want to get to the lower 1:30s, but I’m not going to make that a goal. I know myself, I’m going to fret over crap I need not worry about. Speed comes naturally with increased skill and improved application. Worry about being good, not being fast. Yeah. Mwah. I’ll try.
I can’t wait! I hope Mr. Slow gets his vacation day because I want him to be there with me and this time he better actually watch me ride my scrawny bum around the track. Not like he did at Barber, where he elected to be a no-show because it was “so unbearably hot”, but in reality it wasn’t the heat that got to him. He finally admitted after I graduated that he was too scared and he didn’t want to watch me wreck. Well… Thanks for the vote of confidence, buddy!
Saturday, February 19th, 2011 is the date. Jennings, Florida is the place. Just a little over a month… finally something to look forward to in this drab winter existence.
OMG! I’m so excited it took me almost four hours to write this thing… I can’t keep focused. I keep getting sidetracked, I keep thinking about what I need to do to the bike… holy crapola! Woooohoooo! I’m…. damn! Finally…. yeeeeeeeaaaaaahhhh! Somebody got a Valium?
A Taste Of The Inevitable: First Blood
The only experience I’ve had on two wheels was in 1989, when I practiced figure-eights in first gear on my boyfriend’s Kawasaki 900R, the very first generation Ninja. In retrospect, I cannot believe he actually let me ride it at all, let alone practice going around in tight little circles. His bike had this awesome midnight-blue metallic custom paint job with an airbrushed tank graphic. It was a warrior’s muscular forearm holding some sort of weapon. Also, I am surprised I didn’t lay it down. He apparently taught me clutch and throttle control and counterbalancing first. Don’t know. I rode bitch with him a lot; and boy, let me tell you, he was a giant squid with a capital S (not that I knew what a ‘squid’ was back in the day.) He rode pretty much like he drove his Mazda 929: Like a freakin’ maniac. I had nightmares about his driving. He was bad, but on the bike, I kind of enjoyed the rush (most of the time) of his obvious aggression. My dad didn’t like me riding on his bike at all, but when he found out about me trying to get my motorcycle license while I was still in driving school for the car, he told me in no uncertain terms he’d rather kill me himself than see me getting hurt on a motorcycle. That was the end of it. I wanted to learn how to ride, but I didn’t have the money to continue pursuing this particular venue. Licensing in Germany is rigorous and hugely expensive. The motorcycle license is also graduated, so I wouldn’t have been able to ride my boyfriend’s 900 anyway. I don’t know why I thought I could keep this a secret from the parental unit. Doh! I was mad at him for a while. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t let me do this, since he owned and ridden motorcycles when he was younger.
Fast-forward 20 years…
A Lifelong Dream Fulfilled: Owning An American Legend
Today is my first riding anniversary. One year as a biker chica. Today a year ago I bought my first bike: a 2008 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Low. Hubby and I were running around town and I told him that I wanted to go back to the Harley dealership to sit on the bikes again. I didn’t dream I would be the proud owner of a motorcycle a short four hours later. Hubby rode it home for me after we sealed the deal, because I had no clue whatsoever about how to ride one of these things. There was only one thing I was certain of: having the feet stretched out before my body made me cringe. It was explained that I prefer ‘mid-controls’ and a ‘standard riding position’. Our sales person was awesome. He listened to me talk and carry on about this and that while I parked my bum on pretty much most everything they had sitting on the floor and helped me figure out what bike would be right for me. They had just gotten the 1200L Sporty in, and when I sat on it, I knew this was the one. It felt right to this clueless newbie’s body.
Lessons Learned: To Teach A Wife
When we got home I parked the car, put on my helmet and insisted on a ride. Joe rode to a mostly empty grocery store parking lot, found a quiet, well-lit section and parked the bike. He had me sit behind the bars and explained the controls to me. Then he made me promise that I would follow his instructions to the letter, pay attention to every detail and not get mad at him, no matter what. I have a bit of a reputation of getting impatient, getting sidetracked, and taking admonitions personally. A few years ago he tried to teach me how to back in a semi-truck with a 53-foot trailer. Let’s just say, that ended in me refusing to drive backwards, stating that ‘this girl and reverse don’t get along’. I blocked four lanes of traffic for 45 minutes in downtown Chicago once all in the name of backing up.
But I digress, after I promised various behaviors to his satisfaction, he walked me through starting the bike. I did as I was told. My first lesson was focused on ‘finding neutral’. He had me pull in the clutch, push the shifter with my left foot and then lift it to put it back in neutral. No go. Couldn’t do it. I finally told hubby that I thought I was wearing the wrong kind of boots, that the chunky three-inch heels aren’t making this any easier. Defeated, I went back home. It was getting late anyway.
The next morning I couldn’t wait to go out and play. He pulled the bike alongside the curb in front of our house and parked it for me. Equipped with better footwear the lesson continued where we had left off the previous evening. By the time I could find neutral about 50% of the time my clutch hand was cramping from holding the lever so tight. I told Joe as much and we took a quick break.
The next lesson had to do with the ‘friction zone’. He instructed me to squeeze the front brake lever, put it in gear and then had me slowly release the clutch lever up to the point where I felt the engine engaging, emphasizing that I was not to let go of the brake lever under any circumstances. After playing around with the clutch for a few minutes, he said it was now time to actually start moving forward. Another round of instructions from hubby followed. Now I was getting a little nervous. I slowly released the clutch and gave it a little gas and started inching forward. OMG! I pulled the clutch back in and applied the front brake to stop, then started again. I did that a few times. Hubby told me to put my feet on the pegs. I didn’t want to. I refused, the feet refused. I tried. I couldn’t. I was scared. It took me a few minutes, but I finally took off and willed my feet up onto the pegs.
Woohoo! I’m riding! Awesome. Look Mom, no feet! My husband was walking next to me until I shifted into second gear and twisted the throttle a little more. By the time I reached the end of our street, I did 25mph. w00t! I slowly stopped the bike, turned it off and waited for a breathless hubby to catch up. Now what? He turned it around for me. I did that a few more times and then we had to take a break, because I had killed the battery with turning the bike on and off after each run down the street and he needed to jump it and let it charge. Doh!
Lesson Three: U-turns. More practice using the friction zone and trying not to give it too much throttle. Overall, my turns really stank, but at least I kept the bike rubberized side down. After a few turns that were assisted by power-walking the bike around, I finally managed to do them without putting my feet down, but there was a whole lot of wobbling going on.
Hubby decided we needed a longer road to practice on, so we went to John Deere Parkway on the edge of town, which is pretty deserted. He made me ride up and down it, practicing shifting and u-turns. By round number two I was going 55 in a 45, surely a sign of things to come; not that I knew it yet. My turns still sucked, but I was getting a little better. The only time I got nervous is when there was a car sharing the road with me, but I handled my business well enough.
The next lesson consisted on attempting a u-turn through the traffic light at the end of the street. Hubby explained that it’s nothing different from what we’ve been doing, but he wants me to get used to traffic. I flat-out refused, initially. But then my competitive side won over the argument and I told hubby that I was ready to do it. I didn’t want fear holding me back, but scared I was. I pulled up to the stop line and waited anxiously for the light to change to green. When it finally did, I already had an audience lined up on both sides of the red light. I eased out onto the road and executed my u-turn using the entire width of the intersecting road. After returning from my stint down the parkway, hubby had me do it again. This time I didn’t turn at all, for whatever reason. It’s an offset intersection, I just ended up going straight and ran off the road, cut across the dirt and grass and finally came to a nervous stop on the other side, back on the asphalt. Then I just sat there, not really understanding what just happened. Hubby came running up behind me, wondering what the hell just happened and that I was to never ever drag my feet along the ground like I did halfway through the intersection and that I am to stay on the pavement. I had had enough. We went home. Hubby later decided that I must have been fatigued and that tired hands and lack of concentration contributed to my first adventure on two wheels.
The next day we started on my private driving range again with the same exercises. Then he told me I should go and play in traffic, that I’ll have to get used to it eventually. I flat-out refused again. And it took a lot of coaxing for me to finally get the nerve up. I made him promise that he’d follow behind me in the Prius, so I didn’t have to worry about the cars to my rear. So it was agreed and I went and played in traffic. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, but it was stressful enough. The added security of someone protecting my six definitely helped a lot. I was free to concentrate on the traffic to the front and on my take-offs, which sucked about as bad as my u-turns did, but I never stalled it. I got the hang of left turns pretty quickly. Right turns gave me more of a problem and I had a tendency to run wide at tighter residential intersections.
My heart was in my throat every time I had to come to a stop. Going slow wasn’t my bag. At every light I prayed for it to stay green until I got there or to turn green before I got there, whichever, so I wouldn’t have to stop. Intersections were potential places of public embarrassment. Stalling, falling over, looking like an ass, rolling back, all those were things that were on my brain. Surprisingly, the fear of getting run over or rear-ended never really entered the equation.
(Recommended) Lessons Learned: The MSF Basic Rider Course
There were two conditions that I had to meet for hubby to give me the OK for purchasing a motorcycle in lieu of a second car:
- I had to buy the best protective gear we could afford and wear it at all times, and
- I had to enroll in a safety course.
As luck would have it, three cancellations happened and I got bumped up progressively from a December spot to a class in mid-October. The course was awesome. Our rider coaches were knowledgeable peeps who showed their love for the ride. They were friendly, engaging and made you feel at ease. They made us think for ourselves and take charge rather than drone on about this and that and risk putting the class to sleep. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to learn how to ride. It’s invaluable and a great confidence builder.
I passed the course! I was their best student overall. I missed one question on the written exam and got docked one point on the practical test. I mention this, because I was so nervous during the hands-on, that I was shaking, was nauseous and light-headed. That stupid fear of public humiliation and embarrassment again. The bane of my existence: Stage fright with a healthy dose of performance anxiety. One of the rider coaches apparently noticed my ‘issue’ and kept me preoccupied by talking to me and joking around while I was waiting for my turn in the box. I aced the figure-eight (the first test and the most dreaded) on the verge of what felt like a panic attack. I have no problems with academics, no test anxiety whatsoever; but give me a man holding a clipboard looking over my shoulder while I’m expected to perform some manual skill, I’ll promptly turn into a quivering mass of Jell-O. My freakin’ hands go numb! Public speaking: same thing. Martial arts tournament: ditto. Dance competition: forget it. Final round in a table tennis tourney: sure to bomb.
Pushing Forward: Zen And The Art Of Working Through Fear
The first time I had to ride to work on my bike, must have been a terrifying experience. I apparently blocked it out, since I can’t even recall it. I do remember that I was scared every time I put my gear on. I was nauseated and felt like throwing up in my mouth. My nerves didn’t calm until I turned onto the main road from my street. Once I got through that, I was pretty much OK.
I remember planning my routes to avoid left turns across traffic without lights at all costs. I remember running the planned route mentally once while putting on my gear. I remember avoiding the scariest street in all of Augusta: Washington Road. I eventually braved that street due to necessity.
I remember being terrified of rain. I checked the weather report every night before I had to go to work and I got lucky for quite some time and stayed dry. When it looked like I would finally get caught out in the rain, I went online to research rain riding skills. That eased my mind but also ramped up the anxiety, if that makes sense. The first time I had the misfortune of having to ride in rain happened to be at night. I couldn’t see anything. I was scared shitless and prayed to whatever higher power chose to listen in. At one point, I think I started singing some stupid sing-along kiddie song to keep myself from freaking the hell out. Those were the scariest seven miles I ever had the displeasure of riding. Period.
There were other things that really got my heart rate up, some of which I didn’t even attempt until I was absolutely forced to. Making tight right turns from a stop, starting on a hill, riding on gravel or in sand, or backing into a parking space, just to name a few. I had a tendency to avoid situations that forced me into maneuvers I wasn’t confident of.
I spent a few sleepless nights wondering why I had done such a stupid thing as getting a motorcycle. Why in the hell had I spent over $10K, getting myself in debt for the next five years, and not have a damn car to show for it? There were plenty of nights I doubted the sanity of my decision and admonished myself: “You’ve done it now, girlfriend. More than you can handle and past the point of no return.” I never told my husband how deeply these doubts really ran. I kept most of my fears to myself.
One day, it may have been three months after buying the bike, it finally clicked. It clicked so hard it was almost audible. That’s how I refer to it, anyway. Hubby, his best friend Larry and I were out for a ride. I was bringing up the rear, as I preferred hanging out in the back (I still do, as a matter of fact.) We were sitting at a traffic light and it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t really been praying to the ‘Green Light Gods’ lately and following on the heel of that thought was another realization: I hadn’t really been feeling all that scared lately either. When the light changed to green I took off more confident than ever and that was the first time I recall that I actually enjoyed, thoroughly enjoyed, being on two wheels. The first time I felt proud of myself for being out there riding my own. The first time I really didn’t care what other people thought, because I knew I wasn’t going to do anything dramatic.
This freed up massive amounts of concentration and attention and left me able to enjoy the ride rather than being preoccupied with what-ifs and how-tos. My skills improved at an accelerated rate from that point forward. Sixteen weeks later I had my husband talked into letting me buy that Suzuki Hayabusa, which I absolutely fell in love with at the IMS (International Motorcycle Show) in Greenville, SC and been dreaming about ever since. We rode up there so I could test ride a Yamaha FJR1300 sport-tourer, which was a no-show. While I was drooling over the FJR and secretly planning an affair with a certain white Hayabusa, my husband was busy courting a red Kawaski Concours 14. The rest — as they say — is history.
The Meaning Of Life: “I Created A Monster” –Joe, ‘Busa Widower
I cannot believe how far I’ve come in the past year and how my riding has evolved into something that I honestly didn’t see coming. 13828 miles ago I was a clueless, frightened but motivated girl who wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Now I am a confident, safety-minded (yet sometimes squiddy) biker chica who is focused on mastering the ride, evolving her skill set and refuses to ever become an ‘experienced’ rider. I’m a second-year n00b. I will never stop learning. I haven’t seen the inside of a car in quite some time. I get restless when I can’t ride for a day. I ride rain or shine, year around. I commute back and forth to work. My life is centered on motorcycles. I live it. I breathe it. I’m a gear whore. I want to go to racing school and start participating in regular track days and compare my lap times to those of the pros. I want to break the land-speed record and be the fastest woman on two wheels. I want to drag knee, do wheelies and learn how to drift. I probably annoy people, because that is all I ever talk about anymore. I have a reputation.
Joe has watched me in the twisty bits, almost dragging tail pipe. He asked me if I had no fear. He said I made this stuff look easy and that this scared him. I told him that I did, but I choose to work through it and use it to my advantage rather than let it keep me from something I want. He normally doesn’t want to hear about my ‘escapades’ on two wheels, he’s a little scared. But I know he’s proud of me, he brags to his friends behind my back.
Fear (in its various manifestations) has ruled my life for far too long. Through motorcycling I have conquered it. Motorcycling, much like Karate, has helped me learn about myself, who I am, what I’m capable of and made me a stronger, more confident individual who knows what she wants and goes for it. I haven’t been depressed in 365 days, not really. I am finally at peace with myself and the world around me. I have overcome adversity. I am a survivor. I don’t stress over stuff anymore. When I need to find my inner balance or clear my head, I go for a ride. I don’t keep stuff bottled up anymore. I deal. I cope. I ride. I handle my business. Not a small feat for me (as those of you, who are close to me can attest.) When I’m on my ‘Busa, I feel in control. I am in control. The Fat Lady and I are one. Woman and machine. I am the master of my circumstances: Good or bad, it is I who caused it, nobody but myself to blame. Total control. Total personal responsibility. For a perfectionistic moderately control-freaked geek with a slight tendency towards the obsessive-compulsive, this is heaven on earth. At that moment, nothing else matters.
There is nothing quite like it.
Yes. It’s that good.
Life is good.