I Got My M1!                                                              






Yikes, you just got your m1 (m1 is the motorcycle certification that California gives you after you pass your motorcycle drivers license test)  and your bike is sitting outside your house (apt, workplace etc).  The DMV sez, 'Yup you know how to ride a bike' yet your brain is saying 'no f….ng way!' .  Maybe you are lucky enough to have a friend that rides, maybe not.  Here are some thoughts to help you keep the shiny side up!


1) Think about your first ride.  Is there a quiet neighborhood or park nearby that you can get to or you can have someone ride your bike to?  Monster parking lots that are empy are always good.


2) Is there a time of day and/or time of week when the traffic is really light? That the parking lot is empty?  That the kidies are not playing outside on the streets?


3) Once  you have gotten to that 'safe place' you need to do a little practiceing.  Some real simple stuff first.  Like going straight! Doing a wide radius turn to the left and to the right.  Stopping at a line you made or a line you choose (be sure to mark a line you want to use though, no cheating).  Do this for 15 or 20 minutes to get used to the whole clutch, brake, throttle, foot planting thing. 


4) Practice the art of parking a bike which is not covered by the DMV or your riding course.  Yea, right.  There is a knack to parking a bike.  Here are a few things to remember:

    a) Don't park nose in if the parking space is down hill!  You will never get the bike backed out without help!

    b) when backing your bike into a space, dont' look back while you are moving, you will probably lose your balance and drop the bike, worse, you'll drop the bike into another bike! (you know, that nice shiney Harley worth $30K)

    c) until your good at this, don't even think about parking on a hill, that is a whole nother art!


5) To practice parking, find a convenient curb where you can kind of swoop in, face your nose into the street, stop, with both feet planted on the ground, look back (don' move yet!) and kinda guess where the bike is gonna go as when you start moving backward.  Yes, you do have to turn the front wheel to get that tail backed up against the curb.  Okay, look foward and start letting the bike go backward.  If  you think you have to look again, stop moving, plant your feet and then turn and look.  You can repeat this till you are against the curb, or if you need to re-adjust, you can look forward, and feather the clutch with some throttle to move the bike away from the curb enough to maneuver!  Remember to get the bike into neutral, stand down, kill switch off and ignition off.  The key thing here is the STAND DOWN!  Even veterans manage to get that one wrong!


6)  Okay, so now you are against the curb and ready to roll out of your spot.  Think its easy?  Think again.  Most newbies will let the throttle out thinking they can  get it leaned over to go up or down the street.  Not so kimosabie!  See that car across the street from you (okay, so there is no car this time, but there will be!)  You are gonna slam into that baby! Unless you follow the first rule of motorcycling.  Ride within your limits.  Wait, you say, I don't even know my limits.  Well, here is lesson one.  Your not gonna zoom out of that space.  You gotta walk that beast under you out of the space and get it heading in the direction of open road. Yup, feather that clutch, keep both feet down and walk it out till you are safely facing the direction you want to go.  Is someone honking at you?  Forget that a….ole,  this is riding within your limits 101.    BTW, if your at a stop sign and want to turn left or right and dont' feel comfortable then just walk it through that curve from a well planted stop!


7) So now you know how to start, stop, take some easy turns, get going in the direction you want to go in from a dead stop and stay between the lines.  Your ready for your first open road experience.  Choose something easy, with no, or little traffic, lots of stop signs and lots of turning from stops.  Pracitice this for 15 or 20 minutes then you have passed the newbie outa the garage course.


After this sort of practice I've taken a newbie on a ride through parks like the Presidio in SF and out onto some of less trafficked avenues in SF.  You are even ready for a boulevard with light or medium traffic!


Then, its practice practice practice. 


When I first got started, I planned out my route before I even fired the engine up on my bike.  I had a real good idea of the traffic I would encounter, where the stop signs and stop lights were and where I could open it up a little.  It was a good 500 miles worth of city riding before the tension in my shoulders began to release! 


Most of all, have fun and ride safe and remember the rule ‘ride within your limit’!




Cc 2004