One of the things I enjoy doing while riding is taking note of the odd things you see on the roadways. Last summer it was a sleeping bear near Sudbury, then an emu wandering down the side of the road, and the next day about 12 peacocks in the ditch. This year has not been near as interesting with the only unusual spectacle so far being Knights in shining armour jousting in a parking lot just off the side of the road.
Each year of riding I gain more confidence and this year was no different. I think much of my confidence was gained by just riding and riding and riding even more. Abilities that I would constantly focus on are coming more naturally with each outing. There is still the slow turning in parking lots that challenge me and will take a bit more experience or training to be more confident with.
This past July at the International Hog Rally, I turned into the chrome filled parking lot at Rocky’s Harley-Davidson in London and cringed. Much of the lot was roped off for the entertaining stunt riders to perform in, so space was very limited. About 30 feet into the narrow path between hundreds of bikes we came to a complete standstill. Nowhere to park! Now, if you are a confident, experienced rider this would pose no problem. Simply turn your bike around in the narrow space and park elsewhere…but for me…not such a happy camper. My bike weighs about 730 lb and I’m only 5’2” and a bit. My bike is a perfect fit for me and has a low centre of gravity, but, sometimes especially in parking lots I struggle with slow manoeuvres. I found that this is a common issue for some of my friends as well who have started riding in the last few years, and some of those who have been riding many years. With practice and proper training we can overcome these issues but it all takes time.
Trying to figure out my best escape route with bikes lining up behind me and really nowhere to go in front…I simply did the only thing I felt comfortable doing…got off the bike and walked away, besides no one was going anywhere for the next 20 minutes anyway. In all honestly though, I knew I was copping out and someone would come to my rescue, and it didn’t bother me one bit. I know what riding skills I feel confident with and what I don’t. It amazes me how some riders can wheel bikes around like they weigh nothing, but for a lot of women it is not that easy. I get by 99% of the time, but sometimes I just say a couple nasty words and walk away. Works for me!
For the most part having a riding partner is great because you can rely on following them and hopefully they will not lead you into tight situations, like this one (Glenn). On the other hand it is also great to get out on your bike by yourself to gain your independence and confidence. Believe me, riding alone really makes you think twice about where to park so you can get out easily.
During the next couple of months I plan to investigate what bikes are out there specifically designed with women in mind. In July, I was fortunate to be able to test ride the new Harley-Davidson 1200 Nightster…now that is one sweet looking bike and once again, a low seat height that fit me perfectly. I think we will all be surprised to see what the manufacturers have in store for us in the coming years.
My husband keeps telling me that we need to go to a parking lot to practice slow turns, but I keep coming up with excuses. I know I can get by most of the time, and when I can’t, I don’t see anything wrong with expecting a Knight in shining armour to help me out… now that I know where to find them, and I’m keeping it a secret.