The one-on-one tutorial was *great*. The instructor, Jeanne Vicario (www.dovemotorcycle.com) is an ex-MSF instructor, and a former Ed Bargy School instructor (www.edbargyracingschool.com). She’s maybe 5′ tall, but she wields her little cruiser like it’s nothing. Very patient, with concise instructions. In just a bit over an hour, I improved my u-turns (turn that head! Turn farther! You can turn it farther than that!). Think Linda Blair, and you’ll improve your turning, too. I still can’t whip it in a figure-8, but I could turn painlessly in the practice parking lot, which would’ve been a wobbly challenge just the day before. I know it sounds so silly, and I realize that mindset has a great deal to do with all of this. If I think it’s hard, it becomes hard. I know I overthink things in general, and riding in particular. I suppose it’s the notion that I can compensate for lack of experience with “book learning.” Not that it hurts to read, but it’s not always helpful to be in analysis mode. Sometimes you should just relax and let your body do the right thing. “Try hard to relax,” y’know.
Learned a seemingly small — but very important — trick about turning from a stop. She said to cock the front wheel just a bit in the direction of the turn. I thought that was a no-no, but now I realize that, rather than unsettling the bike, it prevents tipping over at start-off speed.
Another tip she offered: unlock the bike before you get on, so the handlebars aren’t immobilized when you mount up. That way, if you have to move the bars to hold your balance, you can.
But I was mortified when I looked at the exit driveway that had been the scene of my double fall 2 weeks before. It seemed so flat. I can only assume that I was right at the edge and fell prey to top-heaviness coupled with my timid throttle. I didn’t try it again, and took the coward’s way out, exiting the “enter” driveway. The instructor said, “Oh, I never go out that way. You can’t see who’s coming. Don’t feel guilty!” I still did, a bit.
Note: since then, I’ve pulled out of steep stops involving sharp turns with no problem. I know now that my belief that I’d dropped my foot in a hole is probably not the story. If I give it enough throttle, it’s stable and doesn’t tip over. I’ve mastered the two-finger-throttle-plus-two-finger-brake, and I’m less timid.