Okay, so when we last left our Intrepid Heroine (that's me), I was practically frozen to the core. The second day of the class, Sunday, was at least as cold as Saturday. The temp was 24F when I left my house, with 10-15mph winds.
My cold-combatting strategy was multi-fold: I prepared a LARGE travel mug of coffee to take with me, attired myself in multiple layers of clothing (more on that in a minute), and pulled out some of my medieval stockings to wear under my boots. I also located a pair of vinyl exam gloves, a hat, and extra socks. HaHA! Take THAT, Winter! I was going to be warm!
At any rate, on Saturday night I ended up getting up during the night with my two year old son, who needed a complete change of clothing and bedding. I was tired when I went to bed, and tired when I got up, so coffee was a necessity.
Because we had to finish day 1 a little early due to the setting sun, it was decided that class would start as soon as all nine students arrived in the morning. I swear, I tried to get out of the house so I could get there a half an hour early, but I just couldn't manage it. I hate to be late, and hate for people to have to wait on me, so I was slightly mortified to find that I was the last to arrive. As per my instructor's usual demeanor, it was no big deal. At least that was a positive.
We went through the material for the morning, then took the written test. Fifty multiple choice questions ended up not being as difficult as I had thought it might be. Thankfully, I am a good student and test-taker. I wasn't reeeeally worried about the written test, but I did want to take that test in a hurry and get it over with. I was the first one done, and I scored a 100%! Rock!
At lunch, I finished putting on all the clothes and gear I was going to wear on the range. In case you are curious, this is what I wore, from the skin out:
my usual underwear
a pair of cotton-lycra bike shorts
a thermal longsleeve shirt
a cotton tshirt
a pair of midweight socks
a longsleeve turtleneck
a wool sweater
a fleece neck gaiter
winter motorcycling gloves
my husband's goose down parka (size: very large)
my mother's black leather combat boots (no lie, they really were my mom's)
and my full-face motorcycle helmet
THIS time, I was warm. The vinyl gloves made a HUGE difference; my fingers still got cold, but not as much as the first day.
Ok, so out on the driving range....we had the same bikes as the previous day, which was good in that we were familiar with them. The exercises consisted of a lot of turning and stopping: riding down a straight path, then stopping as fast as possible without locking up the brakes, riding in S-curves, riding over small obstacles, etc.
There was also the bane of my existence: U-turning in a confined area. Argh. I totally sucked at this. I could not control my speed, and my brain could NOT get into the groove of using my clutch to control speed and NOT the throttle. I hated it, and I knew it was on the skills test. The worst was knowing I could TOTALLY do it if I were on my scooter.
We also practiced swerving to avoid obstacles, which was a total blast! I liked the one exercise where the instructor would wait til the last minute to tell you which way to swerve. I nailed those.
After a while, it was time for the skills test. Yikes!
There are four skills or items on the test: a quick stop, swerving to avoid an obstacle, riding a curve with consistent speed, and the dreaded U-turn in a confined space.
First up was a combination skill -- ride into the U-turn box, make a figure eight and ride out, speed up into second gear and swerve to avoid the 'bus'. Then stop. Piece of cake, right? Holy cow. I sucked at the U-turning. I sucked so hard at it that I almost stalled, I put my foot down at least twice, and I went outside the box lines at least twice. Eight points off for that mess.
The worst about that was I made the mistake of watching one of the people before me, a woman who was having a hard time in the class anyway. She started her figure eight and dropped the bike and fell under it. She was done, and now I was nervous.
Next was the quick stop. I totally nailed that, stopping really well using BOTH brakes AND getting all the way down to first gear before stopping. They did say I should have stopped a little sooner, though, so I lost a point there.
Three-quarters of the way through now....last skill was riding a curve. I used all my competitive horseback riding skills for this one and it paid off -- a beautiful curve and only one point off for slowing a bit during the height of the curve.
The bottom line, though, after all the bikes were parked and most of the gear was off, was this:
They gave me my Virginia class M designation and a MSF competion card. Now I get to take it to the DMV and get my license updated!
I am so thrilled! I can ride a motorcycle!
Now, as much as I love winter, I really would like it to be just a little warmer, pleeeeease, so I can ride my scooter without a ton of clothing!