09/18/11 Dark Skies & Bridges

Today we did a 215 mile ride with some good friends that included breakfast in Annapolis at Sofi’s Crepes and lunch at The Captain’s Table in Solomons Island.

The weather was much cooler and while the clouds looked threatening we had only a few sprinkles early in the day.

Here are a few quick shots from crossing the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge:

03/03/11 Basic Rider Course Days 2 & 3

I’ve been sitting here in tears while writing this…feeling quite upset, let down, and disappointed. And that I’m going to end up disappointing a bunch of people including myself. I really did try though.

Day 2 of the course was pretty much the same, the only difference was that we got to sit on the bike used on the range. Still keeping a good attitude…

Day 3: up at 5am, no problems finding the range, a bit cold. Riding was scheduled from 8am to 5pm. We started on time with 14 bikes available for 10 students; by 10:30 or so only four were still running for one reason or excuse or another. Do classroom work for a few hours while the mechanic worked on the bikes, back outside just after 1pm. By 3:20pm there had been so many additional problems-including safety issues-the decision was made to end the day. Personally I had been thru six bikes in that short afternoon session alone!

I looked at their faq this evening, particularly the reason why this class was superior to those given at community colleges: a 25-hour course compared to a 17-hour course given by other providers. This gives us more time riding the motorcycle and we have time for more one on one teaching for those who need it.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to start an hour early, run thru the exercises at a pace that when it seems we’re ‘doing ok’ then we’ll move on to the next. And be able to pass the riding test. The morning forecast is 10° less than today, what reason is there to feel that the bikes will be running any better? I’m not a kid, I need the extra time and not feel rushed. As I write this I have no desire to wake up and drive for an hour only to end up in the same situation. And honestly, I feel that even if the bikes are running I won’t be able to pass.

The course, gas money, and my time have added up to over $400. I went in with a positive attitude, worked hard, yet feel like I wasn’t given a proper chance. But I don’t know if I’d even accept an offer to re-take the riding sessions. I don’t know if I want to go thru that again. There was never a burning desire to ride, just comments from others that formed into an idea. I think I’m a good wife and mom, decent photographer, struggling writer, and the face is that I enjoy the back of the bike. I don’t think that’s giving up…it’s accepting and being happy with who I am and not feeling that I have to prove myself to anyone.

On a positive note we took the written test today that had been scheduled for tomorrow. Without reading the book I scored a 94%.

No photos from today but I don’t like posting without one. This morning while driving on an almost empty section of the highway I saw an absolutely gorgeous sunrise. I have a small collection of ‘sky’ photos and in keeping with the motorcycle focus I’m sharing this shot that was taken last summer on a local ride after a particularly bad thunderstorm. Not fantastic quality but I thought it was an interesting shot.

03/02/11 Basic Rider Course Day 1

I left the house at 3:30 to give myself a lot of time and not feel rushed. After dealing with an argumentative Garmin Squirrely, pouring rain, slowed traffic, and a longer than necessary route, I finally arrived at 5:10. I’d only been to two Harley shops prior to this. I’m sure there are others similar in size if not larger, but to me this place was on a Walmart Supercenter level.

Ten people in the class, three women including myself. We did an ice breaker introduction-type exercise with a partner, our tables were set up as teams followed by a ‘think outside the box’ exercise. After some routine paperwork we toured all the departments of the store, including the service area with its motorcycle elevator to access second story winter bike storage. We saw two videos. The first was basically ‘The Joy of Motorcycling’ and the other was ‘Why I’m Glad I Took The Course’; both more appropriate from someone considering the class rather than for people already signed up and there.

I don’t feel like I walked away knowing anything new. I realize it was the first night, but with only four sessions that was 25% of the course. My previously mentioned anxiety? We were told a grade of 80% is required to pass the knowledge test. With very little preparation I’ve consistently scored 90% or higher on the course review. So I think after classroom instruction I should do quite well on that. Remaining nervousness is more focused on actually learning to ride and passing the skills test.

In trying to remember everything I needed to take I forgot the camera so unfortunately the only pictures I was able to get were from my phone.