Turn, Turn, Turn

Well, it’s been nine days since I made an entry, here, thanks to the press of other business. I suppose I should catch everyone up.

After dropping the bike, then having to wait a few days to heal up a bit before getting back on, I found that I was building up a real fear of turning. Not all turns, you understand. Just turns to the left. (That was the side I fell on week before last.) It was getting to the point where I was refusing turns, and going straight, or going so wide I had to stop the bike before hitting the curb.

Then, three days ago, at the left turn right in front of my house, I was going really wide, hit the brakes, and low-sided. The bike scraped along the ground for about a foot. It scratched up the crash bar-noticeably this time, scratched up the left edge of the windshield, and bent the pylon and bullet housing for the left turn signal.

100 feet in front of my house, and I wrecked. I picked up the bike, and rode it to work anyway. Then at the next left turn, I went wide again, but this time I stopped the bike, and walked it through the the turn.

OK. It’s clear that I’m just psyching myself out. I’ve become gun-shy of turns. I’m refusing turns I’ve been making a couple of times a day for over a month!

That can’t stand. I have a brand new bike. I certainly can’t stop riding it and paying for a bike I’m afraid to ride.

Well, one of the commenters to a previous post advised me to get the Ride Like a Pro DVD. He said it contains a wealth of information about slow-speed, tight maneuvering, and lots of exercises and techniques to use. So I ordered it, and it should be here in a day or so.

Meanwhile, at the website, there’s a brief exercise guide you can download. That guide gives you the basics of making slow, tight turns using the friction point of the clutch, throttle, and rear brake in conjunction to retain control. It’s a very brief explanation, but at least it was something I could try.

I downloaded it during lunch yesterday, an read it. After work, before I went home, I went to this parking area on base that’s always empty. And started to practice. There’s a small building in the parking lot that actually has traffic lanes painted around it. So, for a half hour, I drove around that little building, first going to he left, then to the right, practicing the one technique the exercise guide has in it, making turns over and over again.

On the way home, I practiced some more. Then, instead of gaing home, I went to this new subdivision they are building a few blocks from my house. There aren’t any houses yet, but all the roads have been put in and finished. for another 40 minutes, I went around and around the block–again, both ways, so I could turn each direction–and to make each direction change, went into a cul-de-sac to make a U-turn to change directions, again, U-turning to a different side each time.

Today, during lunch, I went back to parking lot, and spent the entire lunch hour driving around the building, turning, turning, turning, never going faster than 15 miles per hour. I just used the friction point to control the power to the rear wheels, and feathered the rear brake.

Driving home today was just 1000% more comfortable. I hit all the turns–even gong through a residential section instead of my regular route, simply because I knew there were some tight turns there on narrow roads.

I hit all the turns just fine, and felt way, way more comfortable.

Now, I don’t know what else is on that 2-hour DVD. But, I can say that just exercising for an hour and a half on this one technique has pretty much stopped me from psyching myself out about turns. If the rest of the techniques are as useful, then this DVD may be one the best expenditures of thirty bucks I have ever made. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing again at lunch tomorrow.

None of this stuff, by the way, was covered in the MSF basic course, although I am reliably told by a friend who’s been through it that the Advanced Course teaches this technique, among others.

I wish I had known this technique a month ago. It probably would’ve saved me some grief–and pain.

I expect I’ll review the DVD when I’m one watching it, and poviding further riding reports based on my experience with it.