Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Learning Things

When I got the Piaggio FLY 50 six years ago I knew next to nothing about riding short of whatever I'd learned as a kid on a bicycle.  There were subtle skills that needed to be discovered, learned, and mastered, and some outright doozies that should have been, but weren't necessarily obvious.

I learned, for example, rather quickly after nearly tipping over a few times not to yank the yoke hard to the right when coming to a stop before making a right turn.  I came to know with time that I could bank in a turn steeper than I thought I could without making the drivers in the cars behind me curse with my loss of speed in  a curve in order to remain mostly upright.  There were some things, also, that I learned in the motorcycle safety course, such as leading the bike with your eyes.  And, unfortunately, there were some things I learned the hard way like not trying to come to a complete stop by slamming on the brakes at 55 mph for no good reason other than wanting to keep going fast for as long as possible.

It's while I'm actually out riding when I start to form in my head some of the posts that I'll eventually publish here, roughly coming up with a general topic and then sort of sketching an outline as I'm cruising along.  Such was the case yesterday when I glanced at the thermometer, slipped on a fleece jacket, and headed out to nowhere special.  In spite of the daily high being only in the fifties, I was warm in the house and wanted to cool down a bit before settling down to watch Jeopardy, so I figured a quick spin around town would be just the ticket since what had been an all-day rain had finally stopped at that point.

I wasn't two blocks from where I hang my hat when I knew what my next post here would be about.

After that Eureka moment in which I knew where I'd take this post, I scootered down to a place I'll never forget, just a little south of the center of town where I learned one of my first and harder lessons.  It was only a week or two after I'd traded in the FLY 50 for the BV 250 when I found myself on the phone in that same parking lot.  I don't recall if I made or received the call, but there I was with the phone in my left hand with my right draped over the handlebar to keep the yoke straight while I yapped away.  I'm supposing as I think about it, that I received the call and pulled into the lot to take it, because where I'd stopped, in the middle of the parking lot, would not have been the spot of choice if I'd initiated the call.  It was midway through the conversation that I decided I'd be better off a little farther down in the lot, rather than smack, dab in the middle of things.

I thought it would be child's play to keep talking with the phone in my hand while gently giving the bike a little gas and walking it a few yards to the side.  All was going well until I had to cross a speed bump. (That's the very one in the picture above.)  Down went the scooter, off I went flying with the phone skittering across the pavement, losing its back and spewing out its battery in the process.  The bike was down on its side with the engine still idling and the back tire still spinning as I sprang to my feet, quickly assessed that I was okay, and then scrambled to recover the phone, plop the battery back in, the back, on and redial the person to whom I'd been talking to assure her that nothing horribly major had happened after she'd heard me exclaim a choice profanity in a tone of great horror and then got disconnected.  Only after telling her that did I upright the scooter and survey it for damage.  There was none save for the fresh scratches, but they made me nearly sick because I'd not even had the bike for a month yet.

And so began in a harsh lesson a series of things I would come to to learn in the school of hard knocks (and falls) because apparently common sense isn't all that common to me.

What happened yesterday specifically to inspire this post about learning things, was my choice of that light fleece jacket.  I've done the same thing dozens of times - glanced at the thermometer and then deliberately chosen something that I should have known would be inadequate for the temperature.

And so I was, less than a mile from the house when I said to myself, "You're an idiot!  Again!"  I need to learn and lock this into my brain:  Regardless of how warm you feel right now, you need to dress for the actual temperature and not for how warm you feel.  But will it happen?

1 comment:

kz1000st said...

That's why they make leather jackets. Good for all kinds of weather, hot, cold and in-between. Also for the moment when you have the slip and fall you didn't plan on.