Woo hoo! You passed your MSF course, passed the written test at the local DMV, and the helpful person behind the counter just handed you a shiny new license with a motorcycle endorsement. Now what do you do? Well, if you're the love child of Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, you hop on a supersport and take right off. If you're me, you spend a fair amount of time crawling before you start to walk and eventually run.
What does that even mean? Well, once the mister brought my shiny new bike home, I spent a lot of hours in a nearby parking lot working on the drills I had learned in class. One reason was, having never ridden my own bike prior to the class, I needed all the seat time I could get. The second reason was to get to know Ninja a lot better. If you can comfortably control a bike at slow speeds, you'll have a much easier time controlling it at faster ones. My practice lot was a scant quarter mile from home and I still wasn't comfortable riding over there. Oh my, 35 mph felt like the speed of light at the time.
After many hours in the lots near home, my husband rode my bike over to a nearby state park so I could ride around the camping area. It was mid-week and not the height of the season yet, so it was mostly vacant. Once again I followed my sexy bike in the car. Once again I was extremely frustrated to not be the one behind the bars. The park had a lot of speed bumps, less than perfect pavement, a lot of turns from stops, and a little oncoming traffic all while keeping the speed limit at 25 mph. It was a perfect place to practice real world riding in a safer environment. After a few times in the park, I was just itching to get out on the street and put my new skills to the test.
Finally it was time for my first real street ride! I was a complete bundle of nerves and excitement. My husband took me on about a 20 mile ride and I think it only gave me about the same number of new white hairs. I went into a tight, gravel covered traffic circle way too fast and accidentally turned down a gravel road instead of into a paved parking lot. I never dropped the bike, though he was convinced I was going down when I hit that traffic circle. When we talked about it all, I did a lot of things right and a lot of things incredibly wrong. It was a learning process and I still had a lot of walking to do before I could run.