Sunday started in the middle of the night when tropical storm Grace crossed the Texas coast and rain started hitting my roof. I woke up in the middle of the night and I knew it was raining. I’d been exhausted Saturday and had gone to bed around 8 PM. When I came fully awake around 4:30 AM I knew it had been raining all night and I figured it would be raining into the day.
Got out of bed around 5:30 and was on the rainy road to class by 6. I felt a little apprehensive about driving in this, though it really wasn’t too bad. Arrived a little before 7. There were no bikes out and everyone was gathered around waiting. The dealership was closed on Sunday for Labor Day and the alarm had been set to holiday, which meant only the owners could get in. So the instructors had to call one of the owners, who said they’d be down but it would take half an hour. A group of us went to Krispy Kream and returned around 8.
We did the “advanced” stuff in the rain. It was a Seattle rain and not a Texas rain. In Seattle you can stand outside in the rain for hours and not get wet, normally in Texas you are soaked to the bone in under a minute. Never really noticed a problem with slickness on the range. One of the instructors said the brushed concrete of the range has more traction wet than asphalt does dry. They sometimes worried it gave you a false sense of security.
So in the end the rain mostly effected your ability to see. My glasses would get rain on them and I’d wait till right before I was to go and wipe them off.
Most of the advanced stuff was really slow. It was how to make tight turns without putting your foot down. The box. I hated the box. You have to make two consecutive U-turns in a space the width of two parking places.
Other things we learned; swerving, which was fun, and quick stopping which I did well.
I almost failed the final riding test. I screwed up the box, did the swerving fine, make my quick stop really well. But the last test is a curve test. You start up, accelerate to get into second, do a curve, then you are to speed up in a strait-away brake with both brakes before another curve. I got flustered and forgot the breaking part. So I hit the curve way too fast. One thing are never suppose to do is brake in a turn. The instructor said he was proud of me because he saw me reach for the brake and thought they were about to see their first real crash. But I didn’t brake. Didn’t make the curve either. 40% of motorcycle crashes happen in curves, so it is a big part of the test and I blew it completely.
But I passed so I could get my license.
A final update on the cast of characters. Two people didn’t finish the class. Obnoxious Guy Mike never showed on Sunday, and Marsha left in the middle of Sunday. She was having problems and apparently decided to quit. It was one of those things where we stood around while her and Jerry talked, knowing what they were talking about and acting like it wasn’t happening. Then when she left we all let her go in an embarrassed silence.
Another thing about the people in the class, the youngest were in their late twenties and the oldest were in their 50s. No young people. Don’t know what that says.
Now I want a bike more than ever, but I also know I need a lot of practice. I can’t imagine guys who one day decide they want a sport bike to look cool, go out and buy a $20,000 bike and go to DPS, get their license and hit the road. Of course I’m not sure how they would even pass the driving test, especially if it was as difficult as our final was. Don’t think it is.
This whole motorcycle license story isn’t finished. I still had to go get my license at the DPS, which is a story too.