Saturday, September 17, 2011

Motorcycle Euphoria!

The Student
Today was an awesome day!  I spent most of it on Lucy and listened to Motorcycle Man as he imparted his many years of riding experience and wisdom to me.  He is like my Obi Wan Kenobi and I am the student grasping the teachings and craving more!  Okay enough with the Star Wars stuff (At least I didn't call him Yoda)

The teacher - Motorcycle Man.
Our daughter was away at a school function all day, so we had  plenty of time to ride.  Each time I go out I get more comfortable with Lucy.  I am adjusting to balancing her weight and finding my riding comfort zone.  I ride my scoot every day in heavy traffic in downtown Victoria, but today was the first time in traffic on Lucy.  The motorcycle is different, I am following a different master and its called cc's.  I said this before and I will say it again, there is a huge gap from 49 cc to 450 cc's.  I learned that today and realized what I have been missing with my scooter, power and torque.

Our bikes - Lucy on the left  (Honda CM 450E).  Her big brother Honda 750 V45 Magna

Motorcycle Man is a very calm and patient teacher, in fact awesome.  He doesn't rat on you if you don't get it, he just encourages you to keep trying. He will demonstrate with his bike to show me the correct technique.  I also had to get out of my head, by this I mean thinking it is different than riding a scooter, it is and it isn't.  The clutching, shifting and braking is different. I just have to apply the other driving principles I use on the scooter, such as defensive driving and common sense.  I found it a little frustrating in the parking lot because I didn't have enough of a straight stretch to 'crank open' the throttle, which to me means going faster than 20km/h. (I know I am not a speed demon, but 20km/h seems like 100 when you are new to it) After a few hours of working on stopping on hills, starting on hills, turning and stopping safely, we went for a ride.  Motorcycle Man would not have let me out in traffic if he wasn't confident in my skills thus far or if I didn't know I could do it.  We went my familiar scooter tootle route through downtown Victoria along Government Street and over to Dallas Road and along the scenic ocean drive. Here I am dealing with a mish mash of everything when it comes to riding, you are anticipating what the pedestrian tourists are going to do, the kabuki cabs, taxis, buses, horse drawn carriages and cagers.  It is still high tourist season here so downtown is  very busy.  I know the road well and what to anticipate.

There is a world of difference ripping around in a parking lot in circles and being out on the road in traffic.  I had the opportunity to get Lucy up to 50 km/h and upshift to third and back down again.  I was using my road sense and anticipating light changes and watching for goofs opening car doors, etc.  Motorcycle Man was behind me the whole time and watching what I did, we would stop at regular intervals during the ride and he would give me pointers and I really appreciate the feed back, both positive and corrective.

The parking lot Nirvana 
This was the first time that I have 'really driven' Lucy in real life circumstances and I have to say that things gelled.  Using the clutch and shifting is getting easier, I am not looking down at the shifter like I was on the first few runs, it is becoming instinctual almost.  I was downshifting properly and enjoying listening to the revs of the engine, it all made sense.  My braking is coming along, I am now getting familiar with Lucy's brakes and the amount of pressure I need to apply.  It is one thing to talk about riding a motorcycle and another thing actually doing it. 

We continued on our way by the sea wall and went down into a parking area called Clover Point.  Motorcycle Man parked his bike and motioned for me to do the same.  He asked me to get off the bike and then said, "Okay I want to see you do your HAPPY DANCE, you just rode your bike."  He was grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire cat.  We both did a goofy little dance much to the amazement of the cagers parked around us.  We finished off the rest of our ride and came home both of us happy and content.

There is a huge difference between driving an automatic scooter and shifting a motorcycle and I now know what Motorcycle Man meant when he said, "You need to learn to shift and experience riding a motorcycle."  I have to say I enjoyed having that extra power when going up hills. When I do those same hills on my scooter Vixen, she is very underpowered and it feels almost like a slow jog.  Vixen is about as fast as a bowl of oatmeal on a Sunday morning.  Those same hills on Lucy seem effortless.  When we passed by people who were walking on the sidewalk they smiled at me and a few waved, I think it was because of all the pink gear.  I also experienced the riders wave several times, I returned the wave with a lifted 2 finger peace sign a few times (I was too terrified to take my hand off the grip).  So all in all it was one of the best days I have had since I took up scootering 9 months ago and now motorcycling.  I am equally as sure that there will be more highs and even some lows, but now I know I can do it.  

A triumphant return


David Masse said...

Dar, that was the route I took on my very first scooter ride. That's the ride that got me hooked. I may eventually move to a motorcycle, but I doubt it. The scooter format works best for 90% of my riding. I am seriously planning for more cc's though, probably in the form of a Vespa GTS, maybe an MP3.

Dar said...

David - I love this ride, it's my favorite and like you it was what hooked me into scootering. I love my scooter, but I have to say now that I have experienced more cc's my scoot feels wimpy in comparison. The metal grated bridge that I usually hate was a piece of cake on the bike, I think it's because of the large tires and suspension. I actually even felt more in command of the road too because I was more visible. At first I was worried that 450 was going to be too big, but now that I have ridden it a couple of times it feels just right. Who knows maybe I will end up with a larger cc scoot for my daily commute. The scoot is so convenient for getting groceries and errands, can't carry many groceries on a bike without bungies, etc. For now I am totally lovin' my new ride.

I highly recommend getting more cc's under you, gives you more range.

bobskoot said...


I think I met Motorcycle Man at the meet and greet Saturday night during the Rally in May. You are so brave to post a photo of him. Your photos are soooo sharp.

Nothing substitutes for larger cc's, not only does it increase your range, but now you can Tour . . . I really like to shift gears and be incontrol of the machine, rather than an automatic.

I see you are getting more confidence with each practice.

Riding the Wet Coast

Dar said...

Dear Bob,

My confidence level soared when my hub congratulated me and said "You are now a motorcyclist". We did a little happy dance and I whooped for joy. He also told me he has never doubted that I would get it. He's taking me out tomorrow again.

Unfortunately you didn't meet him, he wasn't at the scoot rally. I think I am going to love touring and I can see a trip to Tofino in the next year or at the very least to Parksville.

When we went my scooter route I noticed the difference right away when going up this enormous hill, my scoot slows down to oatmeal speed & the bike did it without even breaking a sweat, it was effortless and it was easier to drive. My shifting is coming along, I had a couple of mis-shifts, but I am totally getting the concept. One day once I am all legal we will have to meet up for a ride. I love my bike and am so glad that 3 weeks ago I wrote my learners on a whim.

Thanks for your encouragement it means a lot.
Snicklefritz :)

Strega_Rossa said...

I really enjoy reading your posts. Wish I was up that way to ride and encourage you :D

The second photo looks like you have a bit of a lean going on - how awesome. Control at slow speeds is what makes a good rider. Like when you see a motorcycle at a stop sign and the don't put their feet down. They hover nit rolling through the stop - that's throttle control ;)

RichardM said...

This was a really fun read. You can just feel the joy as you are starting to master new skills. I've never tried a scooter before but I think that I would miss shifting. Good luck on your next ride.


Dar said...

Strega_Rosa - I re-edited the blog post & moved the pics around, but there was lean going on. I have found that the most natural part of scooting/motorcycling. I guess its because I have been a passenger for 28 years - lol. Your encouragement is awesome and I find it comforting to hear from other female riders who know the joy of riding.

Richard M. Thanks, I was writing from my heart, it is weird how emotion just pours out and I can express my experiences here. I find the whole riding thing still mind blowing that I am doing it. I am totally kicking myself for not doing it sooner, but as with all things, there is a time and place for everything. I think I was meant to wait and do it now. Scooter are great in heavy traffic where it is stop and go all the time. You probably would miss shifting. I hate driving automatic cars and haven't had one ever so a manual tranny is all I have ever known. Maybe that is why I am enjoying shifting. Thanks for the good luck wishes!

Belkwinith said...

Lucy is a perfect bike for you.
Me... I will stick with my scooter for now. BV 500 has plenty of power for me and I HATE shifting in heavy traffic.
But I envy you. You are doing great!