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My First Gymkhana

Well, it wasn’t exactly my first Gymkhana, just the first one I participated in. I attended the previous one, but never found the courage to ride.

When I first saw the flyer for this event I knew I needed to attend. I needed to learn. Somehow I had to overcome the fear and just try it. I emailed Scott (postmaster) and asked if there would be opportunity for one on one instruction. He simply said “Yes”. Then…”I will see you there”. I was instantly nervous, even though it was many days away. I immediately began to think of excuses to back out.

Then, just one day before the event, I see a ride to Warm Springs GA was posted on my groups website. Now that sounds like fun. That’s what I should do, right? My wife reminded me of Scott’s email…”I will see you there”. Thanks, now I feel guilty, committed.

So, it’s off to the basement to get the bike ready. Ok, let’s take the FZ6R. It is light and the one I can maneuver the easiest. I check the bike out, it’s ready to go. Then I remember you should take the bike you ride the most. Fine, I’ll take the M50. It is my go to bike for most occasions. I check the bike out, it’s ready to go. Then I see the Victory. No way. But, I’m about to embark on a 5000 mile trip to Colorado. It would probably be smart to take it. It would almost be worth taking the Victory just to see Scott’s reaction when he sees it coming. Besides, I’m pretty sure I can’t do these maneuvers with this bike, so it will be a short day. I can say I tried and call it a day.

So, I’m off, amazingly on the Victory. As I pull into the parking lot, I see Scott coming my way. He has no reaction to me being on the Victory. I ask Scott if he can see what I’m riding. He says, “yeah, so what”. I ask him if he honestly thinks I can do this on this big bike. He says “sure, why not”. Scott then proceeds to explain to me what we will be doing today, carefully explaining the different courses. He then not only brilliantly explains the first maneuver and how to accomplish it, but demonstrates it….ON MY BIKE. Great! That took away my excuse that this big bike won’t do that, I should have brought my Yamaha. Several other instructors introduce themselves, offer some words of advice and encouragement, and I’m off. Heart rate really up there, I will have to admit, a very shaky start. For some reason, I can’t force myself to get my bike inside the freakin’ circle of tennis balls, so I stop. After some great advice from another instructor, I give it another try. I get into the circle of tennis balls. Nice! However, I am now riding over the top of every freakin’ tennis ball. Or at least, that’s what it felt like. So, time for more advice. Apparently I don’t need to be looking at the freakin’ tennis balls. Something that may seem so simple to some was a huge accomplishment for me. I DID IT!

Some of the more amazing tips I got today…
—Breathe. Wow, Scott was right. I think I just did 4 figure 8’s without breathing.
—Ease up on the grips. Wow, so that’s why my hands are hurting so badly.

I’m certainly in no position to offer advice. I don’t have the experience or talent. But I think one of the reasons this was so beneficial to me was that I checked my ego at the door. I listened to every word from every instructor. And, even though some of their advice and instruction made no sense whatsoever, I believed them, trusted them, and just tried it. And, I’m glad I did.

I have heard from day one, from the purchase of my very first bike, “Look where you want to go”. That has always seemed like the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Why would you look where you don’t want to go? But, after today, I know exactly what it means. And amazingly, it works!!

So, I would like to thank everyone who provided instruction and encouragement. It was very much appreciated. Thank you to Don and the gang for the Most Improved Award medallion. It actually meant a lot. Although most of the credit for that award goes to the instructors and everyone who took their time to set this up and offer their knowledge of experience. I rode home today a little taller. Of course, that’s not much of a challenge when you are only 5’4” to begin with. Who knew 5’4”, 120lbs could Gymkhana with a 900lb motorcycle?

After today, this is how I feel. I believe there are at least four groups who should attend Gymkhana:
1)Those who think they need to learn some new riding skills
2) Those who think they need to improve on their riding skills
3) Those who don’t think they need to learn some new riding skills
4) Those who don’t think they need to improve on their riding skills

- Jerry C. (Alabama)