F and I were invited to his friends' house (D and his wife Cy) for dinner. D recently bought two used motorcycles, the same year and model, which he is excited about fixing up so he and his wife will have matching rides. Only one currently runs, but he and F both thought it would be "rennie-sized". Eager to try out my new skills, I hopped up on the bike when D offered to let me try it.
I think guys with long legs just have no idea how short mine are! Anything smaller than them must be tiny, especially since they're so used to riding. I was barely able to get the thing upright, and once it was, my toes were only just touching the ground. And when I say "toes", I mean precisely two. I could only touch with the tips of each of my big toes.
I was able to walk it and keep it balanced by literally tip-toeing along. It made me kinda nervous, but the guys both assured me I should give it a try. Like I said, I was eager to try a non-school bike. It was a quiet little subdivision, and I had no intention of going fast. So I agreed to let F drive it into the street, then I climbed back on and gave it a shot.
I believe the scenario from the spectators went something like this. I toed it along in first gear and, once I got the feel for the bike and the balance, eased on the throttle and put my feet up on the pegs. I started tooling down the block, and F and D turned around and walked back to the sidewalk where Cy was watching with their little girls.
F: "I don't know why I'm so nervous!"
Cy: "Well she just fell over...."
F: "What?" (F and D turn back around and run over to help me out.)
The scenario from my perspective was more like this. "Yikes, this is huge. Okay, I've got it balanced pretty good. Yeah, I get the feeling now, it's centered nicely. Hey my feet are up, I'm riding! Wee... this isn't so bad. I can do this! Oh look, a stop sign. Well I've figured out how to make it go, I guess it's time to try stopping. No problem, just take it slow, do it just like they taught in class. Clutch, right hand brake, right foot brake, now stick out the left foot, yikes it's tipping oh my God this thing is heavy!" *tumble*
Fortunately I was already stopped when it tipped, so I just rolled right away. I was wearing gloves/jacket/helmet, and I was completely unharmed. I stood up and saw my friends hurrying toward me, and I started apologizing profusely. D was very cool about things though, which was nice. (He also told me he dumped that same bike before he even owned it! Which made me feel better.)
"The problem is," F told me, "you were going too slow."
"But I was trying to stop."
In class, they told us to stop with both the hand and foot brakes together -- in particular, for an emergency stop, because that'll stop you the quickest. In fact when we were drilling that, the first time I stopped with only my hand brake. Both my feet were on the ground. The instructor demanded of me, military style, "Which foot do you put down first?"
"The left foot!"
"Then why are both feet on the ground?"
"No good reason!" I felt like I should end my response with "Sir!" But I resisted.
So anyway, that's my lesson learned. Never try to stop a big bike with just one foot on the ground. Especially if only your big toes reach the pavement!
I was all ready to turn the bike back over to its rightful owner at this point, but both guys insisted I get back on and try again. "You gotta get back on the horse," they stated. So I did. I took it down the street, turned it completely around, then went around a whole block. I didn't get past 3rd gear, (in fact I'm not even certain I went up to 3rd gear), but that's okay. I wanted to keep in nice and slow.
Once I was aware that stopping would be a challenge, I just made sure to give myself tons of time and stop very slowly. I let my toes reach for the ground while still moving, and tip-toed along until it was balanced and motionless. Less than ideal, at least in my opinion, but it worked.
So that was my little adventure last night! I felt really bad about dropping D's bike, but he and F both treated it like it wasn't that big a deal. F even congratulated me, saying that now that I'd dumped I was really official. So, um, that was cool I guess. And D said he'd learned a lot of valuable information about getting the bike ready for his wife. So hey... maybe I even helped out!
The rest of the evening was delightful. Friends, kids, grilled chicken, s'mores, music, and good conversation. A nice way to end a rather exhausting weekend.