Motorcycle Lessons: Maneuvers (Day 2)

Day 2 begins with riding on the back of a bike with one of the instructors; this helps us discover how far we can counter-lean without the bike falling over. I continue with Sally the Marauder and a recap of the previous day’s serpentine course and figure eight. Counter-lean, counter-lean, counter-lean; the bike won’t fall over. This goes through my head over and over again as I make each slow turn.

I notice that there are only 10 people remaining in the class. The previous day was gruelling; 8-hours on a motorbike is not easy and the palms of my hands are bruised from the bike controls.

After a good sleep, I’m able to process most of what I learned on the previous day but I can’t seem to put it all together. After the drills, we continue to practice shifting. It feels better but I can’t seem to get rid of an annoying rev; it’s like a dry hacking smoker’s cough that just won’t go away. I also have problems remembering to tap down when I stop and sometimes shift into neutral.

At the day’s halfway point we are given new bikes. This is so we can get the opportunity to experience other machines. In this case, I get a Kawasaki Ninja. I think back to 1984 when the Ninja first came out (1984 GPZ900R) and my friends talking endlessly about this “amazing new motorcycle” that goes really really fast… and how it starred next to Tom Cruise in Top Gun. They weren’t as sleek back then as they are now.


This one handles differently. I’m a bit cautious at first but do better after running through the controls of the bike and moving it a few bike lengths forward to get a feel for the friction point and whether or not it will throw me off like a wild horse. It’s much easier to do a serpentine and figure-eight course on the Ninja and I suddenly feel like a racer (even though I’m only going 10km per hour). Counter-lean is really easy on a sportbike.

We continue the day with FRC drills (a.k.a. turning a tight corner): Friction point, rear brake, and counter-lean. I’m really wobbly and work so hard at looking in the distance that I forget to relax. By the end of the day, I’m feeling better with the basics (starting, stopping) but I’m afraid of tight corners.

Shifting has also descended into a deep dark place that I don’t want to talk about. I spend the evening trying to put the shift sequence into order: clutch in, gas off, shift up and hold, clutch out, gas up, foot off. It’s a circle that I unconsciously start doing with my hand and foot. Then there’s the down sequence: clutch in, gas off, tap down, rev rev, pause, clutch out, gas, and foot off.

At the end of day two, I don’t feel good about my skills; I dropped the Ninja once. I think that there’s no way I’m going to safely be able to do a long road ride on the next day.

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