First Ride

I am now the owner of a Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS motorcycle! The bike shop delivered it today at 3:30 and at 3:45 I was taking my first motorcycle ride.

At first, I just worked on getting a feel for the clutch. I’d let it out until I felt it catching (and the engine slowing down) and then I’d rev the engine and get going until I reached the end of my driveway. Having done that 10 or so times, I got out of my driveway and puttered to the end of my street (a private lane). Finally, having some confidence that I could get into gear and stop successfully, I ventured out on the street.

In retrospect, it was probably not a good idea to be doing this during rush hour traffic. There was a good stream of cars on my avenue and I had to wait a minute or two before I saw a good gap. I took a somewhat wide turn but got myself into traffic, got up to speed and shifted up through third and fourth gear. Honestly, it was somewhat terrifying.

The speed limit by my house is 35 mph, and traveling 34 mph is punishable by death. With cars trailing close behind me, I did find it necessary to pull off the side of the road once to let some cars go by. Mostly, I did this because I hadn’t thought about how far I was going to go and where I was going to turn around. After a minute wait, I merged back into traffic and got up to speed again. At this point, I was so hyper that my visor started to fog up. WIth about 50% visibility, I slowed down, downshifted and turned into a nearby housing development. I opened up my visor and turned myself around.

Again, I got back into traffic and reached the speed limit. As I approached my house, I downshifted, slowed down, turned on my indicators and made it back to my garage without injury. I even remembered to shut off my turn indicator.

There is no question that riding a motorcycle is exhilarating – especially with the visor up! Motorcycles have very responsive engines and you can most definitely feel their power even puttering along at 35 mph. I can see why all the books and motorcycle sales people encourage you to take a safety course, however. Riding a bike, safely, requires good concentration and total awareness of what’s around you. Today, I was so intent on working the controls that I would have surely killed myself if I’d encountered a pothole or someone unexpectedly crossing in front of me. I look forward to taking the safety class next week and to becoming experienced enough that the control of the bike becomes second nature and that my attention is free to focus on keeping my safe.