Motorbike riding lessons
The third training
Four o'clock in the afternoon. Bright sunshine, 20C, and little wind from the North East. Awesome weather!
I had only been waiting for a couple of minutes when Frans arrived at the traffic school with someone else who had just finished training. "Hi Erick", he said when he put off his helmet. "Has the other rider arrived yet? There's going to be two of you today." Because I hadn't seen anyone else, I shook my head. After a quick phone call, Frans told me that Jan had forgotten about classes, but will get here as quickly as possible. "So let's meanwhile do some exercises", Frans said.
I did a couple of "eights", then a few "circles". Frans occasionally said something like "try keeping your shoulders upright just a little bit more", but in general, I managed to complete these drills relatively easily. After ten minutes, he put away the cones. "That was it?", I asked, "is this good enough?" Frans nodded, leaving me with a sad feeling that I should practice a lot more to do these drills comfortably, but at the same time satisfied that I apparently sufficiently master them.
Here was Jan, the other participant. A younger kid, I would estimate between 18 and 20, he was further advanced then I was: this was his eighth or ninth training session. "Let's just enjoy this rideout", Frans said. "Here we go".
Then we were on our way. About five kilometers to the North on a Provincial Road, then getting off and onto really small local roads on top of dykes and through the typical Dutch meadowlands. This was a thrill! I was riding in front, doing corners on these small streets while tremendously enjoying the environment. The ride was very much like the scooter rideouts I have reported about at this website before, but the feeling was different. Motorcycles accellerate much faster, and the corners feel a lot more solid. It went great, except the one incident where I had to halt at a junction and then wanted to start riding from second gear. A very noticable mistake, because the engine died and I had to start it again. Darn!
After half an hour, we reached the town of Hoorn and did some local riding. The typical stop-and-go traffic during the afternoon rush hour. After ten minutes, Frans made us stop and summarized the ride. He talked a bit about what to look for well in advance when touring on meandering dyke roads, etcetera. There was no real new information we received, but still, it's wonderful to be reminded about small things which can improve your riding style.
The Highway again
Of course, we were directed onto the highway once more. This is where I still feel least comfortable.
Getting onto the highway went reasonably well and I used my mirrors like a pro, but I failed to look to the left of me. I accellerated, gained sufficient speed, and got onto the main track. By this time, Jan was riding out in front, and I saw him ride away from me. I was doing 100km/h while the maximum speed at this highway was 120km/h.
This was scary! I felt like I could be blown off the bike any minute now, but seeing Jan still gaining speed, I just opened the throttle a bit more. Definitely not enjoying the strong wind, the forceful roaring sound of the air around my helmet, and the car drivers looking angry at me, I decided that 115km/h was my today's limit. I simply didn't feel like going any faster on this small Kawasaki. After five long kilometers, we took the exit at Avenhorn. *sigh*!
The rest of the ride was a piece of cake. Local roads, speeds up to 90km/h but not any faster, and not a lot of traffic on the road. Here's where I could relax again.
Folks, if you're used to riding an Elystar 50cc, you'll find that doing 120km/h at the highway on a bike without a wind screen is not funny!