Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lessons from Day 1 of Motorcycle Riding Class

My first day of motorcycle riding class went well.  If all continues to go well, today will be my last day, and then I'll have the certificate which means I can update my license--a trip to the DMV, hurrah!

It was an interesting class:  1 guy, 5 females, and me.  Our two instructors are also female; they commented on the unusual gender balance of the class.

I felt bad for the guy, who has already been riding several years.  The state of Florida now has a law that to get your motorcycle endorsement, you need to take a class like the one I'm taking, and that's why he's here.  He must be terribly bored.

The rest of us had never ridden before yesterday.  It's amazing to me that you can take a group of people and after 4 hours, have them riding.

There was only one real mishap--and it was mine!  At the end of one exercise, we were supposed to line up.  I was slowing down, braking--and I'm not sure what happened.  Suddenly I speeded up a bit.  I bumped the guy on the bike in front of me.  Happily, it was at low speed, and no one was hurt.

I'm still not sure what happened.  Our instructor tells me that I let out the clutch, but my instincts were right--I immediately put the clutch back in.  I suspect that I thought I was in Neutral, but was really in first.

I learned a lot yesterday.  Here are some of my insights:

--What I assume would result in catastrophe may not be that big a deal.  So I zoomed ahead and hit a parked motorcycle--no one was hurt and the bikes stayed upright.  In some ways, it was a success, since I didn't get spooked and stop.

--We learn a lot from mistakes.  I knew that, but it's interesting to learn it again, to see it firsthand.

--We would try to master a riding lesson, and then we'd analyze it.  What did we learn?  What did we do right?  What are we still working on?  It's a good way to solidify ideas in our head, and it seems like a process that can be used in other aspects of learning.

--The body and the bike will go where your eyes are looking.  I first learned this lesson from swimming, but I've heard many an instructor across disciplines remind us of this basic fact, from yoga to spin class to boot camp class.  It seems true on a metaphorical level too--where are we looking in terms of our creative lives, our spiritual lives, our work-for-pay lives, our relationships?  Again and again, I'm reminded that I need to change my vision.

--It's good to be a complete beginner.  I think that all instructors should force themselves to learn something completely new every few years.  It's good to remember the terror.  It's good to remember that most things can be broken down into a series of processes.  It's good to see other instructors in action.

Today after learning more skills and theory, we have a riding test and a written test.  Wish me luck!

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