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Seasoned Rider .......new Style

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Been checking out the site a little, and what I have read, not many women rider's chatt'n it up. Where are you? ........Anyway, I am a blankity blank year old mother of two girls, married and live in Santa Barbara County.

Although I am a seasoned rider of 16 years, I have only had my motorcycle license for about a year now. Having purchased my first bike (Honda Shadow) sold it after a couple of weeks and upgraded to a 1975 Limited Edition Honda Goldwing with a single seat sidecar. Since I was newly divorced with a 3 year little girl, found this rig was necessary to include her in some great adventures to come. We joined the local Goldwing Chapter, sewed her up her own little vest and we hit the road. Having just bought the rig, the same day we set off for Lake Isabella (about a six or so hour ride). It was a blast! We did alot of chapter rides on that rig, some local some far, those were good times


Sold it a few years later, having moved I had no place to store it, and with a new gent, who could ride, has ridden, but didn't ride, I allowed a passion of mine to die.

Sooooo, it's now 2002. Married that gent (who still has no real desire to ride, would rather be hunting) and was blessed with a second baby girl, I never dreamed I would ride again....but there it was on good 'ol Ebay. A beautiful 1996 GL1500 with a Hannigan 2+2 sidecar. Rented a car, and drove down to Lake Havasu about 6 hours, having not ridden in about 8+ years, rode that baby home with my oldest daughter by my side. The rig was sound, no tipping on this one.


By now the chapter I used to belong too was no more, and still married to my gent who'd rather be hunting. I didn't get out much with the girls, and before long they didn't even want to be seen on it. (Ungrateful Brats!...LOL) Since the rig was huge, it took up alot of space in the garage, so I seperated the rig and set out to sell the car, in hopes that I could catch a co-rider spot on the GL1500. (yuk!)


Ended up that I was offered a awesome deal for the whole thing, and sold it. I was sad, but it got my husband a bit more interested, since he had grown a bit fond of riding the 1500.

I was now on the hunt for my next six hour challenge ride.


It's now 2010, still married to that same gent who is a bit piffed I sold MY bike, ended up purchasing him a K1200LT for his birthday this past September (hoping he will ride). As for me well, I was able to get a '07 F800S with the change from my goldwing sale, since I have NO desire to be a co-rider.


Drove six hours on the K1200 with my cousin (since my husband was on a hunting trip) and jumped on my basically first two wheeler to set out for home scared out of my mind.

Aside from that Honda Shadow sixteen years ago, I had fooled around on my dad's vintage triumph, the only experience I had was on three wheels.......yikes, what the heck was I thinking.....did I mention it was 104 that day.

Needless to say, we made it home safe that day in about 7 1/2 hours. Other than a few more grey hairs, and a little soreness, all went well.


Ok, not really........or why would I be on your forum.

Here's my dilemna. It's the turns!!!! They are seriously freak'n me out. I know it's stupid but I must say I could take a pretty good turn on that rig of mine, I just used to lean in hard over that sidecar, and through it I went.


I'm tell'n ya, if I keep this up not only will I wear out only the center of my tires, but I will never hear the end of it..........and this CANNOT happen.

I truly love the bike, and my new teacher...........well, let's just say I would like to stay married.


I don't really feel the rider safety course is for me, but is the super bike school the right choice either? Looks like the Willow Springs track is close enough, and it would be fun since my family has raced there before.


I looking forward to any suggestions, as well as other riders in the tri-county area.


-bmergirl out.

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Hi, beemergirl wink.gif


Your sidecar rigs had to be driven like a car, whereas your two-wheeler must be counter-steered in order to turn. This may require some practice. The best way would be to use the F800 at first, because it's lighter and nimbler, and search for an empty parking lot or similar with a clean surface. Ride in a straight line at about 25 mph and give one side of the handlebars a nudge and see what happens. The bike will change direction. Nudge harder and it turns quicker. It will not fall over. Once you relax, the bike will either carry on at the same angle of lean or, more likely, right itself and go straight again. Once you feel confident you can swerve a bit, you can start doing gentle circles at a moderate pace (around 25 mph) and once you can relax upp the pace a little. When you feel confident and relaxed turning at a pace that would be normal when driving a car in daily traffic (not speedy stuff, just normal, everyday speed) I would suggest you either join a track day for beginners or, probably even better, an AMA or similar safety course. They will be able to teach you a lot more a lot faster than you can expect to achieve on your own.


Good luck and don't be discouraged. Keep within boundaries that doesn't scare you - as long as you can relax and breathe properly, you'll be fine; the bike's limits are way ower your own wink.gif

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I'm with Eirik on this one. Try practising in an empty parking lot. You need to bend your mental limits cautiously, not break them.


I don't know curriculum of the MSF safety courses, but if they practice counter steering it might be just the right thing for you! If you had lived here in Denmark, I would have said that you were a prime candidate for our safety courses.


But over to CSS: I've seen all types of bikes at the 6 days of CSS I've done over the last two years (well, except for bikes with sidecars), so no worries there. The coaches should be well positioned to help you, but I think that practising on your own prior to taking Level 1 would be beneficial to your learning on the day.


All the best,



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bgirl: I would recommend the MSF course. Take it as soon as you can. Also, the advice to ride on an empty parking lot and practice applying pressure left and right to the handlebars is a good idea to get a feel for how the bike works. There's a lot of good material in "Twist of the wrist II," and the DVD by the same name.


Also, you might check out the MSF web site to see some of the information there, as well as get in touch with the local instructor to get into a class. I would not be surprised if you can hook up easily with some local people to help you get started.


Going out on a limb, I think trying to do a trackday while not understanding operation of the basic motorcycle would be problematic. I don't mean that you don't understand the controls; rather, how the thing works as a two-wheeler. A large empty parking lot may be a great opportunity. Put on the gloves, jacket, and helmet and go play. Please wear the gear; I've come across two accidents where riders were not wearing a jacket and gloves and their skin was just gone off of their arms, shoulders, and hands. It's not pretty. If you've heavy jeans and boots that allow you to feel the controls, those too.....even though I wear padded "overpants."

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Here's my dilemna. It's the turns!!!! They are seriously freak'n me out. I know it's stupid but I must say I could take a pretty good turn on that rig of mine, I just used to lean in hard over that sidecar, and through it I went.



I will break with the fellas here and say go to the School at Willow Springs. I say that because you're obviously proficient with the controls if you can do 6 hour rides...but you're issue as you describe is cornering. Well girl - that's what the School is all about! I've never taken the MSF course but have done a bunch of Schools and if you want to learn how to corner a motorcycle then the CSS is the place to go.



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Heeeeyyy, Thank you to all who read and replied to my very long winded story. Kinda felt it was necessary so you all knew where my experience or lack of had come from.


With that being said, your replies although helpful are a bit all over the board........and after reading them throughout the day, I called the MSF and the CSS to speak with instructors. Of course they both wanted me to take THEIR course and kind of feel I am stuck in the middle.

After speaking with a very knowledgeable girl at the CSS, I was amped up to take on level one, but this weekend is the last weekend the course will be given at Willow Springs until next spring.

I am sooo bummed given the short notice of the class I as a mom am unable to make the almost 4 hour journey to Willow Springs, ride all day and get home.

Sooooo, on the advice of Kai, I will try and bend those mental limits without breaking them or anything else for that matterlaugh.gif On the advice of Erik, I will try and remember to relax, and breathehuh.gif On the advise of Markster I will try out the parking lot counter steering manouvers, and I ALWAYS wear my gear.ph34r.gif and last but not least to Rainman, thanks for the confidence booster.....I will be first in line come spring tongue.gif .


I'll keep ya posted.


OMG it's 1:10am and perhaps I will be too tired to ride.................not!



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bgirl: I'm reading some interesting statements. It appears that I am the only one that has taken the MSF course. Hmmmm....everyone else here appears to be from a foreign country, including New York (sorry, couldn't resist that one!). It's $75, and takes a Friday evening plus a weekend. It would get you in the door as far as understanding turns/swerving/braking on a two-wheeler. They set up drills in a parking lot and have you accomplish them. You would be out there with others of lesser skill, as well as some accomplished riders that are doing it for an insurance break, etc. It can be a great confidence booster for people. I had a Honda CB450 in high school and a Z1R Kawasaki 1000(flexy flier) a few years later. The MSF course starts you off on a better foundation than trying to hack it out on your own.

Some benefits would be that your insurance company might offer you a discount for you to have taken the course-that would be worth finding out.


I consider myself to be a "novice." I've taken three levels with CSS, as well as a weekend with STAR and CLASS. For all that, I'm just now getting to allowing my bike to do its thing(reduce unwanted rider input), choosing a turn point, picking up the throttle in turns with smooth roll on, and quick turning. Those who have done the school will know what I'm talking about here.


Were I in your position, I would take the MSF course, get a copy of "Twist of the Wrist II," then consider doing levels one and two through CSS. If you just do "trackdays," you could easily find yourself doing the same wrong thing over and over again, all day long, on some track and wondering why things aren't really clicking. The MSF course lays the bare minimum, in my opinion, and then the rest is up to you.

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Were I in your position, I would take the MSF course, get a copy of "Twist of the Wrist II," then consider doing levels one and two through CSS. If you just do "trackdays," you could easily find yourself doing the same wrong thing over and over again, all day long, on some track and wondering why things aren't really clicking. The MSF course lays the bare minimum, in my opinion, and then the rest is up to you.



This is good advice and you are on point with the reading part of the learning; the two Twist Books are a must have in that regard. So much of riding especially sport bike riding is counter intuitive that if you understand the concepts before or while you're trying them they won't seem so alien. Counter steering itself is a concept that you would never try on your own but it is everything on a bike at speed.




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Kevin: Thanks for the comments. Counter steering is indeed counterintuitive. My friend at the bike shop talks about riding a bike being "just like bicycle riding, you just lean into it." (advice that can get one into trouble!)Remember the advice part of TWII? !!!!! When doing the low speed drills at the MSF, I found myself wrenching on the opposite handlebar to turn the thing(weaving part of the course), yet at speed I do more pushing in the direction I want to go. It changes......


No doubt CSS teaching is effective. I've had a couple of "ahah" moments that actually came from mild "o-sh..t" moments. I've been working on reducing input into the bike, getting into the throttle as soon as possible, and keeping it rolling through the turn once I wick it on. There's a cloverleaf type thing, (90 degree) essentially it's a banked on ramp to the Interstate, with a very wide entry. I put my body on the right side, turned it, and when tickling open the throttle just kept rolling it on, despite my normal inclination to stay out of it a bit longer. I thought: "let's just let it run its course." I left it at the lean angle chosen with the initial steering input, and kept my weight off of the bars. The bike did its thing just perfectly, going into a nice lean angle(with spare) at the top of the thing and tracking perfectly. I had road width left over. Being an on-ramp to the Interstate, I'm not going to test the limits, but that sure felt good! This was an area where JB helped considerably in Level 1.


Another instance was going into a tight right hander a bit faster than normal. Danny Green's comments in TWII mentioned "where we turn" is more important than anything. We can get into a heavy technical discussion on quick turning, yet his comment shed light. If we know where to turn, and where we want to go (two-step) we then can apply steering to get there. Instead of tensing up, I let myself relax on the bike, chose a turn point, looked where I wanted to go, and turned it. The bike tracked perfectly, kissing the apex at more lean than I'm used to, and then out. It was in and out in the blink of an eye, yet everthing was managed. I'm just hoping I can do it again!

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