My first ride was pretty rough. Four drops, a closed parking lot, and some low speed loops around condos.
I knew that learning to ride was going to oscillate me between lacking confidence completely, and being overconfident. They say that the 2nd and 3rd years are particularly accident prone due to overconfidence. Not there yet, but something to be aware of.
I needed a confidence booster, and I needed to get back out the next day. So I started looking at a map.
My coworker who had started riding the previous year had suggested a road heading East and out of town, Kingston Road. I scoped it out on a map, and also used a satellite view to find farm land North East of the city.
My target was 45 minutes to an hour away, so it'd be a long ride. But I just had to get out of the city and ride without much stopping, starting, and worrying about jams.
So I set it, and went to sleep early.
I was awake at 4:30am to eat something quick and get my stuff together. This time it was way smoother. My nerves were under control, I was on time, and everything was going right.
Backed out of the spot and cruised out of the parking lot without incident. Fantastic.
I was low on gas, but fortunately there was a gas station down the street and on my way. It's such a minor thing, getting gas, but it was just another thing I had never done on a motorcycle. One more "first" out of the way.
The ride out was awesome. Barely any cars on the road, the sun starting to rise, and holding around 60km/h so the air flow kept me cool. On the way were the beaches, so 10 minutes into the ride I pulled into the lot there for a breather, took in the view, had some water, and put on my sunglasses.
I got back on course and 40 minutes later I was in the middle of farm country. Sun was still rising, there was a light mist across landscape, and the speed limit was up to 80km/h. There were some beautiful straight aways, some gentle curves, it was a great ride.
That was when everything finally clicked and I thought "ok, this is why people ride motorcycles".
On purpose I got a little lost up there. Eventually I stopped in a residential area that seemed to pop up out of nowhere in farm country, and plotted my way back home. Yes, getting lost is something I intend to practice.
I was on actual roads for 2 and a half hours, and it was pretty much all great.
Things I learned
- Started to get a sense of how to improve my upshifting and downshifting
- Vastly improved starting after a stop (getting used to the friction zone)
- Did one somewhat quick stop when a light turned yellow. Those emergency stop drills in training totally helped.
- Tapping rear brakes before engine braking. Engine braking doesn't signal to those behind you that you're slowing down, but normally it's most of how I slow down, so it's a good thing to practice. I had never done that before, so I practiced it a lot that day.
Overall it was a really great experience. My confidence was completely recovered, and I felt good enough to take the bike out the next day, right in the middle of the day, to deal with traffic and visit a mechanic to get the safety out of the way.