I successfully passed my ICBC motorcycle road test on June 15. It was, like all tests, pretty stressful, but once I was finished the effort disappeared into my rear view mirrors surprisingly quickly. I’m planning on taking some sort of “advanced” training in a year or two: my feeling is that simply riding can improve confidence, but that there are some skills that require specialized practice and a knowledgeable instructor.
I’ve been gradually personalizing my bike since I first bought it, but with my licensing behind me the brakes are off. I’ve replaced the grips, added a license plate frame, installed chrome trim on the fenders, put a gel pad on the seat for my aching behind, and acquired a sissy bar bag for when I need to carry a ton of gear. This is only the beginning of my list, which extends to include a new saddle, an air horn, new mirrors… I’m pretty sure, though, that I won’t be adding a cup holder (and yes, they are available).
I’ve been posting updates on Facebook after most of my rides (Update: I’ve added my ride photos in the gallery here) and as I add shiny bits to my bike. I’ve put over 2,500 kilometres on the odometer so far, and effectively didn’t start riding until the second week of May. Most weekends you will find me out on the road for a longer ride, quite often with my nephew Shane and several of his friends. The most I’ve ridden in a single day is just over 500 km: that was a trip up past Hope to Manning Park and back. I’ve even ridden to and from work in rush hour traffic: my clutch hand is still sore from that trip.
In general, though, what I do is hop on my bike at the end of the day and go for an hour or two ride. Lately I’ve been ending up going along River Road east of Fort Langley. Typically I stop at a park along the way, pull a book (electronic or paper) out of my saddle bag, and read for a while. Then I hop back on my Vulcan and continue my ride, gradually casting off stress and frustrations as the kilometres flow under my wheels. I’ve seen more of the lower mainland in the last five or six weeks than I did in the ten years previous: and I’ve still stayed exclusively in the Fraser Valley. There is a whole province out there to explore.
Riding my bike is probably about as close as I get to a “zen” state- I am very firmly in the moment, vastly more so than when I drive my car. Motorcycling is also much more physical than driving a car: my arms, legs, shoulders and back all have stories to tell me after even just a couple of hours of riding. Even with a face shield and wind screen, I’m buffeted by wind, pelted by rain, and regularly half-blinded by bits of dust and debris. Cornering isn’t just turning the wheel- it’s setting up for the corner, looking for bumps or potholes, counter-steering, and picking an apex. Stopping isn’t just putting on the brakes: it’s setting up lane position, picking when to gear down, and deciding whether the footing is safe. When I get back into my car, I feel totally disconnected from the world outside- it is a weird feeling.
It is pretty safe to say that I’m having a lot of fun with my motorbike, both when I’m actually riding, and when I’m planning/thinking/scheming about my next ride or next upgrade to my bike. I expect to take several longer (multi-day) trips this year: although I’m not sure if I’ll make it out east to Edmonton this year, I am certain I’ll see a lot more of B.C.