This was a sticky on the old SBN site. Seemed helpful to some new riders.
When I first started riding....
Well I owned a 96 Suzuki Katana 600 It was my first sport bike I was so Happy and proud yet nervous. I had very little riding experience (and most of you know I am not very tall I was nervous about this). A friend of mine had bought a 89 Honda CBR F we can call him bill (that’s right the original hurricane) another friend had a 84 Honda Interceptor we can call him Doug. I rode with them for an yr they were not fast riders if they hit 100 that was pretty fast! They didn’t do what we call corning at least not to the level that we take it. I enjoyed riding with them for the short time it lasted. Doug bought a house and his bike needed repairs he decided it was best not to fix it. Bill has a very busy life and just isn’t a dedicated rider. He would ride to work a couple times a week and ride to volleyball leagues during the week but he was not into riding for sport. Needless to say I was a riding junkie I wanted more out of my bike than just the jaunt to get milk at the local store.
I met up with an old grammar school friend I hadn’t seen since HS. Turns out he rides!!! Man was I happy finally a group to ride with. I met up with them on a Saturday morning at 11am. Turns out they have a rule NO ONE rides without full gear…. Well I didn’t have anyone to set the example for me so I was wearing jeans and a T-Shirt. One of the guys happens to have an extra Leather Jacket. I donned the leather and off we went! As we rode I realized I was way over my head! I was riding at 100 mph + speeds in traffic for the first couple miles. My heart pounded as I whipped in between cars. It didn’t last more than 5 min and we found some twisties. Ah I thought I was finally in my element! Little did I know what I was in for! As we rode I was in 3rd spot out of 4. The guy behind me was a regular on a racetrack he was on my tire so close I could feel him breathe. I was so nervous that all I could do was keep looking in my mirror afraid he was too close he would pass me back and fourth in my lane on corners and straights alike. I had never seen such speeds in corners before I had no idea my bike could lean itself to these limits. I was being pushed to my limits at the sweat would poor down my face and my heart would jump out of my chest every corner we rounded. All I could think about was my wife at home getting the call that I was at the morgue. My mind was so confused as to what I should be doing…I was doing all the wrong things and yet somehow the bike made every corner. I had target fixation and I wouldn’t look through turns I braked at the apex of the corner…you name it I did it that day! I should have been smart and hung back let them loose me but I was too ashamed that I couldn’t keep with them. I wanted people to ride with and accept me as a fellow rider so badly I was willing to risk my life! When I got home that day I hugged my wife a little longer than usual. I thanked God for protecting me through my stupidity. I did ride with theses guys a couple more times until I was criticized for being a “Rock” in the corners. I didn’t know how to distribute my weight.
After that they never asked me back to ride again. The guy behind me sold his bike and only races on the track now. He realized they pushed too many limits that weren’t meant to be pushed. He had a close friend die on the street and saw the dangers. I too almost quit riding I was afraid it wasn’t worth it. Then one day the idea hit me that I can ride and enjoy myself without riding at 80% my abilities. Its not being faster than the next guy they made me a good rider it was being smarter! I am still in the process of honing my skills not for speed but for fun and safety. Oh believe me I go fast I enjoy a full lean at 70 but I pick the corners I know…(oh and a better bike now) ….This weekend I went down on a corner I didn’t know. The guys I rode with were very good! And Fast also I didn’t know the roads and it was my fault entirely that I went down. I should have lain back a little but I have that desire to push myself.
One thing I learned a week or two ago was no matter how good a rider you are if you are exceeding the speed for the condition there isn’t much you can do. a fellow rider and I were riding up 724 and a lady in a Van was pulling out we were going way to fast as we rounded the corner at 125 mph she could not have seen us I honked as she pulled out she hit her brakes in time as we flew past…Once again I was trying to keep up with a faster rider who may have been killed if someone pulled out in front of him. We as riders need to be less critical of the cage and realize it’s often times our fault for speeding over a hill at 80 mph when the speed limit is 45. You know the scenario grandma pulls out of her drive way! But if we had slowed on that hill to 65 we would have time to stop.
Lesson to be learned from my mistakes are..Don’t push yourself ride safe learn the skill then worry about speed don’t let the pressures push you harder just be honest with yourself and the other riders
Sorry this was long…..
I just thought it might be helpful.