Yup, this was her 3rd time EVER to ride a motorcycle. And I have to admit, not because she is my wonderful wife, she did fantastic!
It can be difficult for us seasoned riders to grasp the concerns, fears, and issues that beginning riders have. We simply let the clutch out, roll on the throttle, let off the brake simultaneously and zoom away clicking up and down our gears without thought. The new rider however has a completely different perspective on this process. They are not familiar or acquainted with how all that works together. They also mentally dwell on each task that needs to be performed just to get the bike moving, all the while being concerned about keeping their balance, tipping, or falling. To the new rider taking off is like a task list where each action needs to be checked off and accounted for.
1) Slowly release clutch until engagement
2) Slightly roll on throttle
3) Keep my balance
4) What if I let the clutch out too fast?!
5) Let up on brake
6) What if I give too much throttle?!
7) Release more clutch
8) Keep my balance
9) What do I do if I start to fall?!
All these things and more are going through the new riders head and it can easily create a fog of thought that makes it even harder to get started. New riders will overcome these issues at various levels, some are never able to get past them and consequently, and unfortunately, never ride.
The very first time I took her out to learn to ride she was able to grasp the basics of clutch and brake. She wasn’t zooming around the parking lot, but she did ride and stop. I would jog beside her, coach her, and be available in case of emergency. I got my exercises in for sure that day and lost a few pounds! Only one time did she fall, and fortunately when she started going over, she pulled in the clutch and held it in place to keep the bike from propelling forward.
The second time we went out her skill level went up tremendously. She just caught on to all of it. By the end of the day she was taking off and stopping without help. She rode around the parking lot for a couple hours practicing clutching and braking. She did topple a couple times, once due to popping the clutch and having the bike jolt forward, the other time she came to a stop and turned the handlebars which caused her to topple to that side. No harm done though, she hopped right off and just let the bike go over. It was a good experience for her to topple though. In her own words, “Now I know I can fall over and not necessarily get hurt”. She had a great fear that falling over automatically meant broken body parts. Toppling safely helped over come some of her preconceptions about that.
The third time we took her out to practice was totally exciting. Again she took a huge leap forward in her learning so I began pushing her riding skills. By the end of the day she was shifting up to third and back down, weaving between buckets (I bought cones for future practices), and coming to quicker stops at a parking lot line. It was quite impressive and I am very proud of her.
We have gone out a fourth time and again she accelerated her learning and skills. I closed the cone weave to be a bit tighter and had her perform more shifting patterns to accustom her to having to shift more due to traffic situations. I also shook her up a bit by having her take off facing upwards on a slight incline. That gave her some problems because she couldnt just let off the brake without rolling backwards. It did help her learn to feather the clutch with more accuracy though and taking off on an incline is a real world situation that she needs to be able to do. We’ll be working on that next time as well.
Going back to her third ride, I took the GoPro that day and shot a bit of video of her. I did it so she could see how well she was doing. Sometimes its not evident to yourself when your the one riding. I had fun with the clips and put them into a short video with some music. Its not some ultra exciting movie but that was not the intention. I guess I’m just proud of how quickly she is taking to riding.