Category: Fear - Women in Motorcycling
 
Have i mentioned that i have the most awesome riding mentor ever? Yeah...cuz i do. MJ took me out again last night to practice more.

We did some practice in the parking lot-- stopping and going. But we also rode with a 3rd person, so i had to get used to having someone behind me. For the most part, i forgot Sue was back there, but in the back of my head i knew she was there and keeping me safe, which somehow made me feel better. I felt protected.

We did some really tight slow turns in the parking lot, and for the most part I did ok-- I missed the final cone a few times, but also i made it around all of the cones a a couple of times too, so I was pleased.

It comes down to this: I'm scared to go fast. I'm perfectly happy at about 45 miles per hour.  I feel in control of the bike and myself at that speed. I like that speed. Any thing faster makes me nervous and feel less able to control the bike.

Is there something wrong with only wanting to go "so" fast? Does that make me a poor biker?
 
So, yesterday was the first time I had ridden again since the almost-accident. It took me a few miles before i was able to breathe on the back of the bike again. It didn't help that it was spitting rain on me too. My mentor and i went down to the lake and did a lot of practice-- primarily turning. I get very nervous about turning, especially from a stop. So we practiced a lot of turns and some stopping as well.

I'm fine in the parking lot.
I'm fine on the small roads down by the lakefront where I never get above 40mph and rarely hit 5th gear.
I'm fine on the little side streets in the neighborhood.

I'm not so fine when I start thinking about real roads.

Even though in October, I was just fine-- fine enough to do the twisties in the ravines and fine enough to ride out to a suburb on backroads and back home without major incident. My confidence is shot.
 
I'm still reading Riding in the Shadows of the Saints by Jana Richman. On page 94 she says, "The relationship between motorcyle and rider is more like an affair: intense, charged with energy, demanding a great deal of attention and an acute sense of awareness. A relatively small mistake can have large consequences"

It's this small mistake large consequence thing that makes me the most nervous about being a new rider. There's so much to remember- T-Clocs, FINE-C, clutch, gear, brake, brake, keep your head on a swivel, look where you want to go, slow look press and lean in curves. So much to remember. I'm terrified that i'll forget that ONE thing that will keep me safe.

I struggle with wanting to be "good" at this sport, and in wanting to be "good" at it, i get lost in the persuit of perfection instead of focusing on being SAFE.
 
    So, a few days ago  I was out riding and a young person in an SUV (who was probably talking on the phone or texting) came into my lane and hit me. Her tire left some lovely marks Babybike's saddle bag, but otherwise, there was no damage to me or the bike. BUT I DIDN'T GO DOWN! I got the bike uprighted, I got myself under control, and I got off the road. I didn't go down.
    The extra fun was when the driver, convinced she had done nothing wrong, followed me off the road and tried to run me down so she could take a picture of my license plate. 
    There was no damage to her car, no damage to the bike and therefore the police were not amused by the call. Afterwards, and after the requisite visit to the police station to exchange information but to not file a report because there was no damage done, it was time to get BACK on the same road where i had gotten hit and drive home.

Um? Really? I just got hit by a dumb cager on my first real trip on real roads and now i have to ride home IN THE DARK on the same road where i got hit while my heart is pounding out of my chest and i'm a nervous nellie? Really?

Yes, really. And i did it. I got right back on the bike and rode home.

I had major nightmares for 2 days and anxiety for a week or so. My heart still pounds a little bit when i think about how bad things COULD have been.

So here are some of the lessons i took away from the day.
  • keep your "head on a swivel"--always looking at what's around.
  • don't get too comfortable or too confident. Confidence is great, but don't let it control you.
  • ride with friends. Having my riding mentor nearby when this all went down is what kept me from  really getting upset or or completely paralized by the fear.
  • Wear your gear-- i was fully geared up-- chaps, armored jacket, gloves, and helmet. Had i gone down i might have had a chance at survival. Without my gear? I don't know.
Ultimately, I'm still a little shaky about riding next to giant suv's on curvy roads, but I'll keep learning and keep practicing.

AND I'll keep wearing all of my gear :)