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Well it's six weeks since I got my motorcycling learner permit and I've been getting out on my bike as much as I can (mainly at weekends cos I work long hours during the week) ,and am starting to feel much more comfortable with it.
A couple of weeks back, I met a really nice guy who definitely fits the "adventure motorcyclist" category! He's got a ginormous V-Strom and has been all over the world on it. He'd just got back from the Outback and I was very jealous of his stories of adventures.
A couple of times, he's asked me if I want to go riding with him, maybe for a couple of long trips out on Sundays, to build up my riding confidence. Whilst my heart said yes definitely, my head wasn't so sure. Is this a good idea? Would riding with a more experienced rider help boost my skills? Or will I just be out of my depth and make an idiot of myself when I can't keep up or go everywhere Mr Adventure Biker wants to go? He's a lovely guy and genuinely wants to help me, but I'm worried I'll just be out of my depth if I go riding with him. Then again, it might be just what I need to get to the next level with my riding...
If he's experienced and by the sounds of it, he certainly is and patient then he can probably see your lack of experience and wants to help. Riding on your own is good but also encouragement from fellow riders with 'on the spot' tips and techniques really does help.
Don't let yourself think your looking the fool, your not and he'll see that. As long as your patient with him too. We all started sometime, this is your time and I certainly benefitted from the 'old and bold' helping me out.
As someone who hates riding in groups I'd say go try it. If this guy suggests a three day four thousand miler you know he's probably a bit of a muppet. If the plan is a few miles to a local cafe and back try it. Start small, go longer. You BTW should ride ahead of him certainly at first. You need to set the pace, if he can't live with your pace he's no good as a teacher. Once you get a speed you can both do, then maybe he goes ahead so you learn the lines, but you don't want day after day at 101% you'll learn nothing except what it's like to be frazzled to the point of needing to stop. You should BTW always be able to complete the run on your own. If someones having a bad day far better to agree to differ, have a few hours on your own and meet for the first as mates than spend all day wanting to kill each other and do recriminations over the evening meal.
It is a rare occasion when I agree with every post on a thread. I really have little new to add.
If you are comfortable with the guy on a personal level, he seems an ideal guide and mentor.
Don't take on too much at once - but once you are happy with bike control in some conditions just push it a little more at a time to find out what happens next and learn from 'muscle memory' so that reactions become so natural and automatic that you don't even think about it anymore. It's how we learned to ride a pedal cycle - or even to walk!!
BUT NEVER PUSH YOURSELF INTO TRYING TO KEEP UP.
If he is good he will not let you. Better to be safe and alone on the road/track than unsafe concentrating on trying to keep him in sight.
For inspiration, follow Sherri-Jo's ride last week along the Road of Bones in Russia. She is another girl from Oz, who had only had an hour or two's experience off road before tackling the very section that Ewan & Charley gave up on!! And they had the benefit of receiving super-star guest treatment at Off Road Courses, unlimited budget for equipment and support, additional support personnel and trucks prearranged at almost every river crossing.
S-J had nothing to help her except one rider and her own self-will and determination. It works!
There are many personal factors involved which make answering this question a bit difficult. So much of the success and benefits of the ride (for both) will depend on both your personalities.
First I would have a very frank and open discussion with him. Express your fears and potential concerns beforehand. His responses could be a clue to his personality. Don't worry about making a fool of yourself. We were all new at it once. If he has an issue with you making a fool of yourself, consider it a blessing and give him a wide berth in the future. Besides, even the most experienced rider makes a fool of herself every now and then. And I doubt that he would be an execption :-)
I agree with you riding at the front. Not only will you set the pace, but he can watch you and give you pointers ...if that's what you want. If he does ride in front DO NOT TRY TO KEEP UP! Ride at your own pace and comfort level. When I ride with my partner, who's new to motorcycling, and I'm at the front, it's my responsibility to check behind me and slow down if she falls behind. If he is in front, maybe you can watch him for some more rider education. Remember that you are already able to ride by yourself. If he disappears out of sight you already know you can make it back on your own. Also, don't be afraid to just pull over if it's getting to be too much. He'll eventually turn around and come looking for you. If not, refer to the second last sentence in the paragraph above.
I would say there's probably no harm in giving it a whirl. But make it clear that YOU will decide when it's been long enough. Maybe you could pick some predetermined spots to take a break and assess if it's time to turn back ...at least for yourself. Look at what your longest ride has been and maybe do one just a little longer than that to build your endurance. If your longest ride has been an hour, I wouldn't recommend an 8 hour ride. Maybe two hours will suffice.
Just remember that YOU are driving that bike. Not the person in front or behind you. Simply put, for safety's sake, the more experienced rider is the one who should adapt to the less experienced rider's pace. Any experienced rider who expects you to push yourself beyond your abilities is someone to avoid.
Everyone is talking sense. Only one thing to add -
If he does ride in front and suddenly drops a couple gears and hoons off, don't panic - he's just having fun and will probably be waiting for you at the next obvious junction / layby / stopping point etc.
Make sure you have a grin on your face when you stop too
Is this a good idea? Would riding with a more experienced rider help boost my skills?
Sit behind him and maybe ask him to exaggerate his body position and learn of him (on dirt road as it's a different technique on the road). You'll learn heaps faster with someone else. It doesn't help to worry about short comings or any negative views of yourself. It just holds you back. A good quote from the 'Dual sport riding techniques' DVD. "Envisage success".
In the end you're the only one holding your throttle.
Wow, thanks guys for your all speedy responses! Too many to comment on individually (!) but suffice to say I will be putting all your good advice into practice.
My inclination is to try a medium-length ride with my newfound buddy and see how it goes. But as many of you said, I should set the parameters - or at the very least let him know what I feel my strengths and limitations are so we don't end up doing Oz's equivalent of the Road of Bones half an hour in, hahaha!!!
Really encouraged by all your positive advice - as ever, thank you HEAPS!
Everyone has given great advice here and I think that if you take most of it, you will learn much quicker and have a lot of fun. As you will notice, most if not all are talking about learning to ride the corners and curves because that is what we bikers look for and live for.
One suggestion that I haven't seen or I have missed, is that the experienced rider will appreciate your effort if you try to catch up to him on the straight stretches. Obviously, don't go out of your comfort level, but that effort will be noticed. There are experienced riders that like to push the corners a bit to increase their fun factor and wait for newer riders to catch up on the straight stretches. If you make the effort to catch up when safe to do so, you both will enjoy riding together much much more.
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