Thursday, April 9, 2009

Brushing up...

I arrived today at the Moonah DECA training centre fifteen minutes early like I was suppose to, passing through the high wired gates, and parked. I took off my normal boots whist I was still in the car and replaced them with the riding boots. I was trying to focus on the music that was still playing on in the car, on trying to get my heart rate down, and also get the boots on rights. They were on. With a sigh, I steeled myself, took the keys out of the ignition, and went, slipping my riding jacket, and grabbing my helmet bag from the back of the car. In all my fluster I did just remember to lock the car.

I strolled purposefully to the training centre; I could see a coupe people packing away gear into the nearby shipping container. One of them came up to me, a woman, strongly built and probably in her late 40’s. She was about my height, dark haired with a weather-beaten but friendly face. She smiled, exaggerating the weathering of her face, but not in an unpleasant way. The woman held out her hand, and I shook it and smiled, her grip was firm.
“I guess you are Gwyn?” She nods, “I’m Izzy, here for the private tuition.”

Gwyn offers me a drink, and I go for water, my nervousness making me thirsty, as is the warmth of the autumn day. Foam cup in hand she leads me to the classroom where we sit down and discuss what I have done before riding wise, and what I want to get our of today’s session. In all this time she is re-assuring that it is common for people needing extra experience after doing their pre-learners course, as it is sometimes hard for people like myself who haven’t ridden before to pick things up straight away and so failing h course the first time. She also said the “odds were stacked against me” with the type of class I was put in. After our talk and some initial paperwork, it was time to “play” and Gwyn put it.

Outside I had a choice of bikes, two types of dirk bikes and the 225cc Scorpio, the last of which I had ridden in the intro course and pre-learners. Gwyn said her preference was for the dirt bikes, but others like the “Scorpie”, which is the heaviest of the lot. A dilemma, to go with the bike that caused so many problems for me in the pre-learners, but it was something familiar and closer in style to the one I own. I went for that one, and if I had too much trouble I would try one of the dirt bikes.

Gwyn went through with me what I remembered after not riding so many months, but things were surprisingly still there. She saw my tension and kept telling me to breathe. Her style and teaching manner I noticed was similar to my own when I teach pracs, which made me smile and relax even more.

Unlike doing the pre-learners course, there wasn’t the pressure, I did things at my pace, and I picked things up reasonably well, or so I was told. I was encouraged to go beyond what I had done before in each step, but only to what I was comfortable and I knew I could back down, but I didn’t feel that I needed to. There wasn’t the macho testosterone thing that went on the last course that applied so much pressure. This time when I did do something wrong, it was explained to me, logically; not only how to fix it, but why mechanically it made sense to do it that way. That logic made me understand the machine better, understand how to handle it better and stuff up less. In over and hour I only stalled it twice. Once when I didn’t have enough revs when I went into second, and the next was when I accidentally went into third.

By the end I was having so much fun, the buzz was amazing going as fast around the tight corners as I felt I could, controlling the bike with the rear break and even staring to lean into the corners. Shifting up and down seemed so much easier. Sometimes I would make it a little messy and jittery, but other times you could hardly hear when I was up-shifting.

It all had to come to an end, but I didn’t want it to, I wanted to ride longer, but my time was up and I think Gwyn sensed I needed a bit of break before I started making mistakes and then left on a low rather than on a high. With a warm handshake when I was still on the bike she beamed, “I know you will be grinning like that for the rest of the afternoon. I know how you feel, I feel like that every time I ride.”

What a way to feel! It was like a drug that I wanted another hit later this afternoon. I know tomorrow will be worse.

Feeling more confident again, I have booked myself into the pre-learners for the 22nd and 23rd of April for the afternoon sessions. It will be with Gwyn. I hope after that I will have my ticket to ride. Being mid-week I will have to flexi work, but I like Gwyn’s thoughts on this, it is for “my health”, my mental health :-)

Cost for a one-hour session of private tuition at DECA: $120.00
(using their bikes is included in the fee)
Distance covered: about 2 km

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