Motorcycle rider with confidence issues...any suggestions?
I'm wondering if anyone on here rides motorcycles...I need some advice and/or suggestions. (Thank goodness for off-topic days!!)
I've had my license for a few years and am still on my first bike, a 2006 Kawasaki Ninja 250. I've always loved sportbikes (some of you may know them as "crotch rockets" ) and finally worked up the nerve to take training course, get my license and get a bike. It's one of the neatest things I've ever done - I'm usually NOT a risk-taker and this is something I've always wanted to do.
HOWEVER. I find that I'm still not comfortable going out by myself...I'd rather ride with someone else. I haven't had as much seat time as I would have liked, due to illness and injuries in past few years, so I don't have as much experience as 3 seasons would indicate. I've been on several 100 mile+ rides with a friend and just truly love it, but I don't have many friends who ride and it's often hard to coordinate our schedules.
There is a big group of sportbike riders in the area (complete with a great online forum, similar to COTH). 95% of this group is guys, many of whom are younger than me (I'm 34). I haven't been super involved with them, in large part because I'm a big girl (tall and plus-size) and they are incredibly harsh when it comes to "fatties". I'm totally working on the weight issues but don't want to really open myself to that kind of criticism right now.
So, any suggestions from fellow riders? Any thoughts about finding other people to ride with? Should I tough it out and ride by myself? Or is this anxiety a sign that I probably shouldn't be on a bike?
Some people never feel totally comfortable riding by themselves, and that's OK. I'm lucky in my area that when I was starting out, there's a local forum that would organize "rookie rides" a few times a year where the speeds are reasonable and there are more experienced people on hand. Is there any sort of additional rider training in your area? I know where I am there is a course that you can take on your own bike that goes a little further than the licensing course, that may be an option. Are there any 'biker hangouts' in your area? (Ours all revolve around conveniently located Tim Hortons' ) It's hard but just go up and talk to people. I've met pretty much all my riding friends that way.
Have you done a basic safety course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation? Very often they are offered at community colleges or you can find a course here. Getting a bit more formal training can often help with confidence, even if it is a review of things you already know.
There is also an advanced course, which sometimes gets you an insurance discount as well.
My husband (who used to take me on motorcycle rides in exchange for riding lessons when we first me) recommends them highly.
As a bonus, you will meet other safety-conscious riders in your classes, and maybe find a new riding buddy.
Proud Member: Bull-snap Haters Clique, Michigan Clique, and Appaloosa Clique!
Baby steps! I'm not a bike rider, but when I first started towing, it worried me a little bit. I got past it by doing the things I was comfortable doing, plus a bit.
So for the first few weeks, I only went to the bottom of the drive, turned around and came back. Then I got bored doing that, and started doing a loop of the village, and so on, until I was happy driving 250+ miles while towing.
I know they really aren't much alike, but maybe you could do a version that works for you? Say, spin around your street or do a route you know really well until you're bored with it, then start changing things?
I'm quite jealous of you too- I would love a bike, but I'm banned on pain of death by hubby.
OOOH! a baby Ninja. I used to ride (and race) a 500cc Ninja.
So you are comfortable riding long distances- just not comfortable riding by yourself? Do you know what it is that bothers you? fear of falling? fear of mechanical problems?
I happen to believe that, with bikes as with horses, you need to "fall 7 times" before you can call yourself a rider. There is nothing magic about "7", but you get to the point where falling is something you don't worry about.
ALWAYS dress in the expectation that you might fall. I cringe when I see people on motorcycles in shorts. You don't need to wear full leathers, but , no matter how hot the weather, always wear long pants, long sleeves, solid shoes, gloves and a helmet. And accept that you are, at some point, going to fall.
In terms of riding alone, I agree with starting with short trips, in circumstances where someone is expecting you (either where you are going or back at home).
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).
My husband decided to get a bike a few years ago and as a show of support I went and took the basic safety class at the local community college with him. There were a couple other women in the class, people of all ages and sizes, and even some who turned out to live near us (the college was 30 miles away). I learned a ton and by the end of the second day was whizzing around and enjoying it. I got my license, but didn't really have the desire to get into it more, so he continued riding and I never did ride again, except as a passenger occasionally. That said, he took a bunch more classes, such as for off-road riding, over the next year, and he started out just going around the block and gradually going further and further. He met a lot of diverse people in the classes and built up his comfort level slowly, to be safe.
And there is a hangout in the next town - not just for the guys on Harleys, but all kinds of motorcycle riders make a habit of having breakfast there on Sunday mornings, and meet each other for rides and such. If you search online, even sites like meetup, you might find more like-minded folks to ride with.
Find a new club. I would look which is more focused on activities rather than sport bikes. The sport bike crowd tends to be younger, and more pretentious.
For example, I have found great folks on the advrider.com board, which is focused more on cross country touring. Many go out for for Friday night cruises, weekend gallivants or plans to for the world adventure . Most couldn't care what you are riding (even a furry yak), and long as the wind is in your hair. There are also quite a few boards that are dirt bike/camping oriented if that is your thing. Most have dual-sports, so you could always ride out and then just hang at the camp ground while they toodle around trails. Additionally, I have found the vast majority of BMW owners are also older and thus you could have a respectable time with them. The Fredericksburg BMW shop is PACKED on the weekends, with everyone (even non-BMWs) and tends to be good place to hook up.
Lastly, have you considered a female sport bike crowd?
Experience is what you get, when you didn't get what you wanted.
I have taken the MSF basic rider course, and I might look into the advanced course now. I love the suggestions about going a little further each time...I hadn't thought about that, but I love that approach.
I think my biggest fear is of having something happen - either mechanically or accidentally - and being by myself. BUT, 1) I never ride without leather boots/gloves/jacket and a full-face helmet; 2) I always carry my cell phone in my jacket; and 3) people are inherently nice - someone would eventually stop to help me. (And I do know that I'm going to go down...for every rider, it's a matter of when, not if.)
I'm also really understanding that maybe I just need to find a different group of riders to know...sportbike riders are a different breed, and perhaps it's time that I make a concerted effort to find a new group of riders to get to know. I don't care about the kind of bike, just the kind of people. Not sure why I haven't really thought about that before. DUH.