September 2004

Labor Day Weekend

What a disappointment!! I went to the Mtn. View/Los Altos Adult Education website to check on the MSF class I want to take, and the class is full! But wait – aren't people supposed to wait till a week before the course to sign up?? Well, so much for being the good little girl and waiting to sign up. I'm peeved!

I've started looking around and there's a place in Hayward that has classes year-round, which is very nice to know. I'm going to call them this week and see when their next opening is. My problem is that now I've decided what I want to do, I want to do it NOW. No waiting. No delay. (Here's where my being a "youngest" certainly shows through!)

I've spent much of my weekend finding different websites that are geared towards beginners. I've found some great sites, with lots of info. I even found a site that has a forum especially for women. I like that. I feel like I can ask questions that are really beginner ones but no repercussions.

So, we'll see what happens when I call Two Wheel Safety in Hayward. Keep your fingers crossed!

September 7, 2004

WhooHoo! I totally lucked out! I called Two Wheel Safety in Hayward and they have a class starting on September 30, so I signed up instantaneously. I send in my deposit and they send me a course packet. The course is 5 hours classroom time on the 30th, then two 5-hour sessions on October 2nd and 3rd. It's pretty intense, but that's OK by me.

September 10, 2004

My copy of "Proficient Motorcycling" arrived, so I've started to read it carefully. Usually I just fly through books, but I really want to read this and retain the information. Hmmm ... retain the information, what a concept!

I keep wanting to just go out and buy a motorcycle. I know I should wait till after my class, but again, I want it all NOW. Patience is a virtue; it's painfully obvious I'm not virtuous.

Craig found a 1988 Honda VTR 250 for $800. Great deal, so we're waiting for the seller to respond to some emails. He'd like to go see it and see if it might be something I can ride. It looks very nice, but I think I'll want a new (or newer) bike, because, as a new rider, I don't want to have worry about the state of the bike (will it always start, etc.) Sounds snooty, I'm sure, but there you are. I'm probably snooty.

The Honda also has a seat height of 29.9", which is 1/2" higher than the Kawasaki Ninja 250R that I've been coveting J. So why is seat height important? I'm only 5'3", so I need a bike that I can sit on that will allow my feet to touch the ground. 29"+ is about the max I can have. One thing I might do after I get my bike (whatever model) is to have a custom seat made that will drop the height an inch or so. That will allow me to "flat foot", instead of just balancing on the balls of my feet.

September 14, 2004

So where's my information packet for the MSF class? *Sigh* It's true: the waiting is the hardest part. In the meantime, I bought some motorcycle magazines and Craig bought me an "Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycling". I'm really learning a lot from all these sources. Some stuff I don't quite understand fully, but as I remember reading once: if you want to be an expert at something, read about it every single day. I don't necessarily want to be an expert, but I do want to have a good grasp of the basics. And one day, all the stuff I've read will make sense. It just takes time to sink in.

I've decided I'm going to buy a new bike, rather than a used one. Used ones are selling at roughly the same price as new ones, so why not spend just a little more and get the warranty, etc.? I'm starting to scout out good dealers, since half the purchasing battle is to find a dealer who knows his/her stuff and doesn't try and oversell you. Luckily there are online forums all over the place and motorcycle riders aren't shy about providing their opinions!

The internet is really an amazing thing. For whatever your interest in life, you can find a forum of people who share that interest. I use forums to find out lots of stuff about motorcycles, but I also use them for work related things. I manage some complex applications at work, and I don't always know the answer when there's a problem, but someone in the forums has usually come across it and voilá! I have an answer. (AND I look really intelligent! J)

If you're interested in forums on virtually any topic in the world, a good place to start is Google Groups.

September 16, 2004

When I say I'm going to do something, I do it! Today we brought home my brand new 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250R.Can you believe it? I mean, just 2 days ago I was still tossing around new vs. used, and now I have a brand new on in our garage! Craig rode the bike home, because obviously I can't ride until I have my motorcycle license. (2 weeks and counting to my class...) He took me on a ride after we got home, though, and man, it's a great bike. It's shifts really smoothly, has a nice sound and feels quite comfortable. Craig really liked it, which made me feel good, too. He knows so much about bikes, and I trust his opinions.

Phyllis and her brand new 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 250R

The Kawasaki Ninja 250R Odometer at purchase: only 2.6 miles!

The Ninja 250R is in the sport bike class, but is definitely one of the smaller bikes. It's got a 248cc twin-cylinder engine. It's got an electric starter (no kick start for me!) and a 6-speed transmission. You can read all the specs on the Kawasaki website, because I feel pretty artificial writing specs that really don't have meaning for me yet.

So I've spent this evening going through the owner's manual (you have to do *something* when you can't ride the bike yet!) and just getting familiar with all the various parts of the bike. Since I've never owned one before, it's probably a good idea to know where all the bits and pieces are, even if I'm not 100% sure how they make the bike run. J

September 22, 2004

So it's been nearly a week and I haven't been out on my bike yet. We had an out-of-town guest for the weekend, so we spent Saturday and Sunday doing tourist things. Luckily the weather cooperated, but it sure didn't give me time to have fun on my bike!

I've named my baby: Bruiser. Kind of like "Bruiser Woods" from the movie Legally Blonde, but also because he's black-and-blue. I ordered a personalized license plate for him, too. It'll be BRUIZRR. It'll look kind of like this:

Boy, it's easy to order personalized plates. Everything is done over the internet now and you can check all sorts of combinations before ordering.

This weekend, Craig and I are going to take Bruiser over to a parking lot to let me practice a little starting and stopping. I've actually not ridden the bike at all, so it would be nice to get a little familiar with him and with riding a bike before starting my class. [7 days and counting to my MSF class...]

In the meantime, I keep reading books and magazines on riding and motorcycles. I hope I can just keep cramming my brain full of info that will come in handy at some time.

September 26, 2004

Go, Speed Racer! Go, Speed Racer! Go, Speed Racer, GO!!!

HOLY COW! I actually rode Bruiser today. It was SO much fun! Craig and I went to an empty parking lot and he showed me how to: get on the bike, release the clutch (s-l-o-w-l-y!), balance when you're stopped, use the front brake, change gears (done with your foot, unlike a car where gears are shifted using your hand). It was a blast! Now I *really* can't wait till my MSF class.

Craig was master photographer again, so here are a few pics of the day. There are captions under each photo; you can also see the caption if you mouse over the picture. Click on each thumbnail picture to see it in a larger format.




Look at that form!

But wait! There's more! J Craig's camera can also take little movies. So here are a few little scenes of me riding a motorcycle for the first time. These are in WMV format and can only be viewed using Windows Media Player, version 7 or higher. If you're running a pretty up-to-date Windows system, you should be OK.

1. My first ever ride. My feet are nearly dragging on the ground because I wasn't sure if I was balancing correctly or not. Better to have my feet ready to hit the ground than fall over!

2. This is about 10+ minutes later. Not bad, huh? If you listen closely, you might even hear me shift from 1st to 2nd gear, a huge accomplishment for me!

On to October 2004.