Janathon Day 15: Rest Day and wrestling a 650cc Yamaha Fazer, oh and some bouldering too

In short, my ‘rest day’ was very full – I was out in the elements on a motorcycle all day and then went for a bouldering session in the evening. No wonder I was so knackered by the end of the day!

I was rather scared about getting back on the bike, the last lesson that I had was back at the beginning of December and was on the Suzuki GS500E. It went really well: I didn’t drop it, and I only stalled it a couple of times. At the end of that lesson, my instructor said that I could try the 650cc bike in my next lesson and that was a scary thought. So when I turned up on Wednesday, I was pleased to see the ‘little’ 500cc bike waiting for me. Mick then said that I’d be doing half a lesson on that and then getting on the ‘big’ bike. My nerves returned once more. After setting off on the 500cc, I immediately relaxed. I remembered how to change gear, I felt like my observations were good and I could even do my indicators when going around roundabouts (yay)!

We meandered around Sheffield and ended up at SMC motorbikes as per usual. I parked up next to a coppers bike and even managed to get the Suzuki into neutral. Shock. Horror. After a cup of hot chocolate and a chat, we set off back to Mosborough and the CBT pad where I was going to try out the 650cc Fazer.

When I got there, we had lunch and then I got on the bike, started it up and pulled away. It was so smooth, and easy and stable. And so very different from the first time I got on the Suzuki. I spent a long time going around in circles and trying to slow the Fazer to a stop. I could stop the thing simply using a bit of back brake and clutch. It felt really balanced and not too heavy, but I knew not to be sucked it. It’s a much bigger and heavier bike than the Suzuki.

After about 45 minutes of practice stopping and starting, I got to go out on the road. I can’t remember much of this part, other than how awesome and smooth the bike felt.

  • The gear changes were really positive, I could match the revs and there were fewer jarring changes
  • I got up to about 70mph
  • I could indicate to exit off roundabouts
  • I could do pretty good slow control
  • I loved going around corners on it
  • I brought it to a nice smooth, controlled stop a couple of times at traffic lights

Until….

  • I dropped it. At a set of traffic lights.

It was hugely embarrassing and so close to the end of the lesson as well! I was so angry with myself as I felt the bike start to lean and I tried to catch it, but by that time it was too late. I got my leg out of the way and ‘helped’ the bike down. I dropped a completely stationary bike.

Mick helped me get the bike upright and loads of cars (mainly full of blokes) stopped to ask if we needed any help. I really just wanted to say ‘fuck off’, but they were trying to be helpful and I was really cross with myself and full of adrenalin. The engine management light lit up and I had to coast the bike round the corner and down a small hill before pulling to a stop. Mick managed to get the bike started and turned around. He said that I’d brushed the front break with my finger and that dipped the front of the bike, that combined with a slightly off camber corner meant that the bike was more unsettled and leaned over more. I really need to learn how to slide my bum across in order to get my foot down – otherwise this may happen again. I definitely need more practice at coming to a gentle stop – i.e. coming off the breaks just before I come to a full halt so that the bike is settled rather than rocking. Hopefully that will be the last time that I drop the bike!

Suzuki 500cc bike. Photo: CanadianKate

In comparison, the 500cc doesn’t look that big does it?
A Yamaha Fazer 650cc. Photo: CanadianKate

After the end of my lesson, I drove to the Foundry. I was pretty damn tired by this point – I’d been wrestling bikes around all day, so wasn’t sure in what state I was going to be to boulder. In sum, not great but here’s a summary of what I achieved:

  • worked the moves of a L2 that I had not tried yet
  • started linking moves on a problem that my friends made up. It involved lots of core, strength and technique to get around the low roof and into the cave bit of the Wave
  • topped a couple of L1s

I really ought to design myself a new training program to complete – right now I feel like my climbing is a bit unstructured and it’s not that long before we head off to Font!

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