We went out to the practice parking lot again so Margaret could get a bit more riding time in. It's been a month since we were able to make time for her to practice due to weather and work. I will be fair on this point, some of the days we could have gone out for her to practice we went to a chapter event instead.
Setting Up The Practice Course
Upon arrival, she just rode around regaining the feel for the bike again. She practiced starting, stopping, and shifting for about an hour. While she did that I set up the cones for a 24-foot U-turn, a stop zone, and some cone weaves. I ran out of cones for the stop zone and weave so I walked along the roadside and found a bunch of empty soda bottles, aluminum cans, and a styrofoam cup that I filled with dirt so they wouldn't blow away. Gotta do what you gotta do right? It worked well, and when I got it all set up for her she kind of looked at me googly-eyed like I was crazy.
I hopped on the Kawasaki and went through a couple of demo runs on the course for her. She didn't look very confident about it. Off she went, trying her best but not quite getting it all. She did fine on the weave. In the stopping zone, she did ok on. Often stopping too short and having her rear tire outside of the zone. The U-turn was the main point of focus. I knew it would be a challenge for her. Even at HOG skills day, you'll see riders that have been on the road for years having difficulties with this. One reason behind the U-turn is to be able to safely and effectively turn around in the street. A typical 2-way street is 24 feet wide and a rider should be able to turn around in that space without issue.
Riders Struggle Performing A Proper U-Turn
I was on a ride once where a few of us were separated from the main group due to one of the riders having mechanical problems. We took a wrong turn and needed to go back. I watched them both, feet down, shake and wobble while attempting to get their bikes turned around. Neither of them was able to turn around in the street even with their feet down. They both ended up off the road, past the gravel edge, now struggling in the grass to get back on the pavement. They simply lacked the riding skills to make the u-turn properly. I whipped my Harley around in the road and stopped to wait for them to continue their struggle in the grass. Fortunately, no cars came along during this.
This was a good situational example of how important it is to take time to learn your bike and practice riding techniques. It is my goal to be sure that Margaret has good riding skills before she gets on the open road. As I mentioned a couple posts back, what you learn on skills day on the closed courses you WILL utilize on the road.
Angling Towards The Middle Cones
Following a few failed attempts I was able to figure out why she couldn't make the turn. As she came into the turn zone she would angle in towards the middle cones. Then she would turn the handlebars and plow through the cones at the end of the turn. She was losing about 4 feet of turn space because of angling in before making the turn. I showed her what was happening and the very next attempt she maintained her straight line into the zone and made the turn successfully. After that, she had little difficulty completing the u-turn every time.
Winning A Free State License Class
She had planned on taking the state-required riding class in June and had saved the money to pay for it. We went to the Ladies of Harley event at the dealership a few weeks back and one of the raffle prizes was a paid riding class. It was really kewl when they called her number out and she won the class. Hahaha, she jumped up screaming and hopping up and down like a kid. Talk about excited, Wow!