The very first time I went up what I considered to be a HUGE hill, I had so many crazy thoughts. At that time, I was riding my Burgman 400 and had only gone up or down very small, very manageable hills – lol. When I saw the hill I was going to go up, I thought that I would not be able to get up the hill; I would end up going so slow that I would fall over (well, this one was a real possibility!); that I would crash on one of the curves; that if I had to stop, I would not be able to get started again; etc.
Of course, none of that happened. I did take the hill at a very slow speed with cars passing me constantly but, with my husband in front, he patiently led me up the hill, back down the other side, and home. Once I actually got on the hill, it didn’t look quite as foreboding but, it was still hard for me at that time. This particular hill is a favorite of all motorcycle riders in the area. It is a beautiful, long hill, 4 lanes, sweeping curves but – that is not what I thought the first time I rode it. Now, I love it.
What did I do to upgrade my “hill riding skills?” After I got my Harley and had to deal with a clutch, I rode to a short but steep hill, near where I live and practiced going a little ways up, stopping, holding the brake, slowly letting my clutch out while rolling the throttle a little until I felt, and saw, the front of my bike dip just a little. I could feel the engine and felt my bike wanting to move. I slowly let off the brake – had a couple of times of rolling backwards for a few inches (further scaring myself) – until I was able to ease off of the break and clutch while rolling the throttle up. Didn’t take long before I was able to stop on a hill and get going again without falling over, rolling backwards or killing my bike (which I did several times).
I can hold my bike on an incline with just my clutch and my throttle now. That provides confidence. I have been on an unfamiliar road, on a hill, came around a curve and there was a stop sign. The start was on an incline and turning but, because I have practiced, I could do it.
The moral to the story is, of course, to practice, practice, practice. This Spring, when I get out again for the first time after several months of not riding, I will go out on the back roads and just do a leisurely ride. By doing this, I know I won’t have any pressure of traffic behind me in case I feel a little wobbly at first. Usually what happens is – I back out of the garage, feel like I might not remember how to ride, get to the road out of my subdivision, and within the first mile, I remember!! It is glorious. However, it is still a good idea to go for a couple of non-pressured – very little traffic – take-your-time-rides.
If hills scare you, try to find an area where you can practice without pressure. Maybe there is a school or church parking lot on an incline and you can go there, with someone else, and just practice. It’s good to have a partner in case you do fall over. When I first started riding, I thought my road name was going to be “Stop & Drop!” Why? Because, I did it quite a few times. Everytime, I had help picking up my bike. I now have a lighter bike and can pick it up myself. Thankfully, I have stopped the Stop & Drop thing! If you need to go alone, just make sure you have your phone and call someone if you need a little help.
Some people get so scared that they just freeze up. At that point, you need a friend or fellow-rider to be with you to help you through it. But just remember, everyone has dropped their bike. Most were afraid. We ALL have to brush up on our skills and keep practicing the MSF guidelines for riding. They are there to keep you safe.
Has anyone else had an experience with learning to ride on a hill?