Jul
23
2008

  I Love My Dirtbike!

I got my dirtbike today! I'm thrilled! Here are the photos from my very first ride!

After we came home from looking at the bike yesterday, I read all about dirtbike safety. I determined that I would need a new helmet, but that was about all I needed that I didn't have already. So today we went to the bank to get the cash to buy the bike, then had lunch at Otto's. I drank a beer at lunch since I felt like a badass motorbike rebel.

Then we went out to Jarman Sportcycles (they're no longer on 10th St, but in a large new building out 250E just past the I64 exit). I had to try on several different kinds of helmets to find one that fit. The adult small helmets were a little too loose, but the youth large helmets weren't proportioned quite right for an adult head and the pads hit in the wrong places. But eventually we went through their stock and found an adult size extra-small helmet in blue. It had to be blue, to match my bike. I would've driven to Richmond to get one in the right size if Jarman's couldn't have found one for me in blue. We also got some tie-downs so we could take the bike home in our pickup truck.

We were right on time to make our 3pm appointment to buy the bike. The previous owner, Matt, went over the location of some of the controls, and how to get it started. Matt and his friend helped Terry load it onto the truck and get it secured. Then we headed home.

But since we were out on Rt. 53, and were in no particular hurry, I asked Terry to stop by Brix on the way home. I had never stopped in there, but have been curious about it for years. And it was time for my afternoon coffee. The coffee was good, as was the oatmeal raisin cookie I got. Really good. And the place was not pretentious in the least, I thought it would be, but except for the sign out front, it was like a regular country store, very simple. But with delicious gourmet treats. I like that.

But I digress. We didn't have an official "ramp" to use to get the bike out of the back of the truck, but we made do with a plank of wood we found with the construction materials piled up in front of the garage, and a couple of cinderblocks to keep it from sliding.

After I tried to start the bike a few times without success, Terry reminded me I had to pull out the choke. That worked. Then I practiced putting it into first gear and going forward a few inches (well, a few feet until I figured out I shouldn't have so much throttle starting out). Then I'd put the clutch in and roll the bike back to the start. I did this about ten times to get a feel for the friction point of the clutch, and how much throttle I needed to keep the bike from stalling without taking off too fast. Not much, actually. The bike is far more responsive than my manual-transmission truck. Which is not surprising, but it hadn't occurred to me before I actually tried the bike.

Anyway, the little clutch-familiarization drill worked like a charm (I had read about it when I was reading safety info last night), and I was ready to ride. I was already wearing jeans and work boots, but I put a long-sleeved work shirt, helmet, goggles, and gloves. Then I backed the bike to a clear area and gave it a go.

I originally intended to turn right and circle around the oak tree, since the front field is fairly level, but I felt nervous about turning right. So I just kept going straight until I felt like turning left. I didn't feel any apprehension about turning left, so I just stuck with that and went all the way around the house. Then I headed toward the front field. It was to the right of where I was, but I didn't really have to "turn" right since it was far enough away I just headed that direction. When I got to the end of the field, I didn't remember where exactly the best place to cross the stream was, so I turned back. But it was downhill, and a right turn, so rather than risk accidentally going into the stream I slowed way down and put my feet down and kind of walked the bike through a tight right turn with the clutch in. That was pretty easy.

After that, I headed out to the other two fields. Mostly turning left, but by this time I was getting more comfortable turning right, too. I kept the bike in first gear the whole time. I was still struggling to keep the throttle steady. I was trying to use good technique and keep two fingers over the front brake, while the rest of my hand gripped the throttle. But that required some repositioning of the hand while rolling the throttle, and sometimes I wound up going faster than I had anticipated. But I was in first gear, so it was not a big deal.

I was surprised how tired my hand got. That's kind of a strange position for my hand, and I guess I had to use a lot of muscles to steer, hang on, throttle, and brake all with one hand. Since I wasn't shifting out of first, all I had to do with my left hand was steer and hang on. So after I had toured all my fields and my hand was getting tired, I came in.

And so I have left the life of non-biking behind. I am a happy woman.