Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas and Getting the Courage to Ride Pt 1

So I decided that I needed to get some guts and just go for a good ride. Christmas was gonna be 400km away in Newcastle this year and that seemed like the perfect opportunity, not to mention I would get to show off my pretty bike
The plan was that my husband, Terry, would drive the car with the dog half way and I would drive half way, taking it in turns to ride. 100km at a time seemed like enough for me. I started and did bout 100km before we stopped for the first change over.

Hubby riding cause I'm more skilled than him
at driving and taking photos at the same time.
Somewhere on the Golden Highway.
All going well so far, I was certainly learning, trucks are not my friends. Riding on the highway presented a new set of challenges, trucks create wind, wind makes me swerve. I worked out pretty fast how to brace when I have a truck approaching me, and I did find myself  automatically moving over in my lane. The double-b that over took me was a bit different though. I had moved over, because one of the things I had already learnt was that when anyone overtakes you about 90% of the time they think that because you are a bike you don't use all of your lane, therefore it seems perfectly alright for them to not go all the way over to the other side of the road to overtake but just kinda scream along in half of your lane, scaring the bejesus out of you.

First lesson on highways:- move to the left when someone is over taking you. I had done that with the double-b, and as he got past me, his slipstream kinda pulled me towards him, towards the middle line. I let it do it rather than fight it. I had no idea the 4WD was behind him and doing the classic 'I don't have to move all the way over cause it's just a bike' move. As I'm moving into the middle of the road, the 4WD, with limited visibility because he's behind a rotten big truck, has to swerve so he doesn't kill me. I didn't see any of this hubby told me later, just the 4WD passing me, which I didn't see till he was past me. I wasn't expecting him because personally I would never pass a car on a trucks tail like that. The lesson:- expect the unexpected. I had already learnt that some drivers would do crazy things and that I am vulnerable. When I was riding the scooter, some people just had to pass you on principle, even if you are quite capable of keeping up with the traffic in town, and they would do crazy things to get in front.

Oh yeah did I mention I'm still on my L's. Yep limited to 80km/h on a country highway. I don't blame people for overtaking me, I fully expected it. The worst thing was my L Plate kept blowing off as soon as reached 70km/h, I"m sure people were thinking I was some kind of idiot riding so slow on a highway because they had no idea I was a total noob. I had the feeling I was frustrating some people, and we all know frustrated drivers lose that precious thing called common sense. The fastest I had travelled on bike or scooter up til then was 70k's, so I wasn't really prepared for ... the wind! Hit 80km/h and all of a sudden the bike is just trying to eject you off the back of the seat. I was hanging onto the handlebars so hard my thumbs started to lose all feeling about 10 minutes into the ride. My helmet was the old open faced one that had served me so well in town on the scooter for the last couple of years, the feeling of the wind at 60 or even 70k's is kinda exhilarating, the feel of the wind any faster than that just makes you feel like your face is gonna be ripped off. And don't ask about bugs. Don't get me wrong, I had a visor, I wasn't silly. Yeah right! That wind just slaps straight underneath the visor, and the bugs are just gonna get in no matter what you do. After the first bug hit me just under the eye and felt as though it had drilled a 6mm hole in my cheek bone the thoughts of full face helmets were starting to cement in my head. I'll google it when I get home.

Bumps! No seriously, you would not even glance at the bumps in the highway in a car, but on the bike, that teensy dip in the road will send you a foot off your seat! Hmm and even though I've read on forums that you can brace and lift yourself on your foot pegs, I just cant seem to get the hang of that. I think it's because this is a cruiser I'm riding, with my stubby little legs stretched out to the max it's going to be a skill to work out how to stand up a bit on the pegs.

Terry rode the next 100km's and I did the 90 or so after that. Then he rode the rest of the way to Newcastle because I was worried about riding in traffic. There was more to worry about I was soon to learn.

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