As I’ve previously explained, my sister-in-law bought the original Bernice – my former bike, a Suzuki Boulevard S40 – and now that I’m on a bigger machine (Honda Shadow Aero) I’m having to relearn a few things to account for the heavier weight and more power. So I started thinking about the things Iwould tell a new rider that I wish someone had told me.
Maybe someone along the way did tell me some of this stuff but now that I’ve been living with it all a while, I can fully support it.
1. Don’t worry about holding up traffic if you need to slow down to feel safe. Yes, you have to be concerned about being struck – at all times! – but if you don’t feel safe making a left turn until an approaching car has passed or whatever the case may be, don’t allow your perception of how impatient the person behind you is, to push you out of your comfort zone.
2. Analyze your mistakes. If you went into a curve too quickly, ask yourself why you misjudged it. Learn from it.
3. Use the rear brake. I was under the mistaken impression that my rear brake was only to be used occasionally. I picked that up in bike school. When I was out on a ride with our friend Barry, he showed me ways to incorporate the rear brake where I previously would have only used the front one. At first, it seems intimidating to have both hands and both feet doing something at the same time but it can make for a smoother manouvre.
4. Wear your gear. It’s been well over a year since I took a tumble and my bike landed on me as I landed on asphalt but I vividly recall that my leather jacket and jeans saved me from getting chewed up.
5. Don’t ever think you’re done learning about riding. I know longtime riders who are still working on technique. There’s always something to pick up that will make the experience safer and more fun.
Oh, and a new one: A little plastic pink flamingo can look adorable on one bike and tacky on another! I’ve taken it off the handlebars of BII.