Motorbike riding lessons
A quarter past three in the afternoon, and I'm ready to go again. There's a heavy overcast, and it looks like it's going to rain, so I put on my rain gear. The streets are still dry, temperatures are a great 18C and there is some wind from the north west. Not a bad day for a motorbike training.
Frans told me that we had a 20km trip to Hoorn ahead of us. We would do some excercises there, and be back in Edam after 90 minutes or so. Sounded good to me, so off we went. Just a few corners and we found ourselves on the large regional road N247 to Hoorn, where the speed limit is 80km/h. We cruised 90km/h, and Frans, who was behind me all the way, never peeped about that. He must have considered that 'fair enough'.
I didn't suffer any pain in the hips and legs like the previous time, and felt pretty comfortable right away. After the first 10kms, I started feeling the inside of my hands. On the Elystar, you sit upright, but on the ER-5, the rider leans forward and puts some weight on the hands. But it was not too bad.
When we reached Hoorn, we stopped, and Frans summarized a couple of things. He thought I had been a little too close to cars in front of me on several occasions. Also, he rightfully pointed out that I could have looked further ahead of me, especially in long corners. That would enable me to slow down just a bit earlier, instead of using the brakes when approaching junctions.
Apart from that, things went just fine, so we were now ready to ride the small streets of the old town of Hoorn.
Through the town of Hoorn
The constant "turn right" and "turn left" commands in my ear steered me through small streets. On one occasion, Frans obviously tried to set me up for something, when we suddenly approached a street with a one way, don't enter, traffic sign. We had to turn right here! Frans said nothing, though. I smiled, turned right, and in my mirror I saw him think: "Darn!" ;-)
A little later, we passed a group of bicyclists while approaching a traffic light. "Right turn", Frans said, "and watch out for those bicyclists to the right of you, who will go straight ahead. Better stay put when the light turns green, so they can go first." The very next moment, I saw the bicyclists pass me on my right, run the red light, leaving me with nothing to wait for anymore. "Ahh...they don't have a clue", Frans said, disgusted.
A little later, we arrived at a parking lot, where several other motorbike riders and their instructors were practicing. We simply joined them. Frans set up another exercise, and everyone started using each other's cones areas, which was fine. Today, I practiced slowing down and stopping quickly from 30km/h, the 'eight turn', the 'circle exercise' and the 20km/h cone dance. Honestly, I hit only one cone, and just once!
On our way back to Edam, Frans ordered me onto the highway. This was a first time for me, and I felt quite uncertain about this. The Elystar is only a 50cc scooter, and this was a 500cc motorbike, capable of doing 180km/h. The highway speed limit is 120km/h. Well, no time to think about all that, here we went. "Make sure you increase your speed decently", Frans said in my ear. I did, but found myself next to a truck at the time I should leave the ramp. I had to slow down a bit in order to get onto the main road, and now I was right behind the truck. What to do? Our speed was 90km/h here, and Frans told me to get off the highway at the next exit. I decided to stay behind the truck, because I didn't know how far that next exit would be. Only 500 meters further down the highway, I saw a first road sign saying, that the next exit was to be found 1200 meters from there. Twelve hundred meters...that should be enough to still overtake the truck! But no, now there were some cars in the other lane, so I stayed behind the truck all the way.
We came off the highway nicely, and cruised back to Edam. Back at the school building, Frans told me that I could have overtaken that truck easily, but also acknowledged that most riders don't do such a thing their very first time on the highway. Darn! This feels like a missed opportunity, and I feel a bit pissed for not having tried it right away. But next time, I certainly will!
We didn't have any rain after all, and the weather stayed fine. I enjoyed this training very much again, and told Frans that I decided to try for the licence. He smiled, saying that he expected me to say that last week already. Anyway, this means weekly training, a theoretical test in the last week of September, and hopefully the practical exam at the end of October. But first, I need to get much more confident on the bike.