Learning to Ride with Training Wheels

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I am now an official H.O.G. chick (that would be the Harley Owner’s Group kind of H.O.G… not the  farm animal variety)!

Last Fall I bought a new model Harley Davidson three wheel motorcycle (trike).  I wasn’t planning on buying one last year, but I had set an intention earlier in the year that I would own a trike by the time I was 60.  Apparently the universe did not think I should wait four years and the perfect bike was placed in front of me. I decided to go for the gusto and just buy it (even though I had never ridden a bike or had ever driven a car with a clutch).

The bike was in storage through the Winter and then the time came this Spring for me to get the bike from our dealer.  This put me in a bit of a dilemma because the bike was a good 40 miles away from our home and I did not know the first thing about it…, seriously, I barely knew where the starter button was! This is where I had to become a student, and thankfully I had a great salesman who came to my rescue.

Paul met me in the dealership’s parking lot on his day off to teach me how to ride.  Let’s just say that my first two hours of training had to be extremely painful for him to watch, and even more painful to be jerked back and forth as he sat on the back while I revved up the engine and then killed it…,  revved it up and then killed it several times throughout this mini-training session.  However, Paul was kind and patient, telling me that I was doing great for my first time. He gave me the confidence where I had none.

I did not drive the bike home that day, opting to go the safer route and have my experienced rider of a husband get her (my motorcycle feels like a “she”) home so I could practice some more.

For the next few days,  I was out in a local church parking lot just starting and stopping, starting and stopping, starting and stopping and then all of a sudden I felt it…! I felt that sweet spot on the clutch where the bike is rolling and the clutch is let out just a “tish”. I stopped killing the bike and I was on a roll (literally).

I also trained on the open road with my husband sitting behind me…, guiding me…, and giving me direction and support.  Was I scared at first?  Absolutely! However, my fear was not going to stop me because I had a commitment to myself that I was going to be a great rider once I learned the ropes and practiced…, practiced…, and practiced some more. As I am learning to ride, I realize that there are some key elements to being a good student that can be applicable in so many areas of personal and work life:

  1. Being honest with what stage of learning is needed.  I had to be honest to myself and to those who were instructing me that I was at the absolute beginning stages of learning. I was a beginner… starting from scratch.
  2. Making sure the trainer is good fit for type of learning required. I had to be given such basic training by people who were willing to be patient and teach me versus making any negative comments about how I was doing.
  3. Not allowing ego to get in the way.  Ego can be dangerous when one is a student.  To think I knew what I was doing when it was evident that I was clueless would have been a drastic mistake.  If my ego got in the way,  I would have stopped listening and started taking chances that could have been detrimental to the safety of myself, my machine, and to others.
  4. Needing to listen and watch.  It meant keeping my mouth shut from nervous chatter so that I could hear and see what I was being taught.
  5. Knowing what are the limitations.  I knew that I would not be comfortable on two wheels so I chose a machine that works for me.  I think this is true in careers too. How many times have you seen someone who believed that they had greater capabilities than what they actually could handle in terms of work or thought processes?
  6. Not worrying about looking good.  I had a few instances this past week where I could have freaked out because I killed the engine… in a busy area, causing other drivers to have to go around me while I tried to get the bike back in neutral and restarted. When one is stalled in the middle of a roundabout, it would be easy to get unnerved and make mistakes.  I chose to consciously not allow myself to get all wigged out and as I remained calm, all of the other drivers were calm as they slowly maneuvered around me.

I am happy to report that I rode my trike all weekend and was able to get it out on the open country roads, and worked my way through stops and starts as we rode through small towns. I feel more confident and relaxed, while still knowing that I have a lot more practicing. Yes, I need more  experience in the saddle, before I am ready to take my road test.  It will take more time and effort before I can consider myself at the intermediate learning stage in becoming a proficient rider.

When have you been a good student? Do you agree that the above six points are needed to be a good learner?

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Contact me at: www.patcoach.com

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