Dear Diary,
First a little background: as a kid, I often rode my brothers' motorbikes around the farm. That, as it turns out, was a very long time ago.

When the opportunity arose to buy my first real motorcycle, I did know how to shift, and clutch, and countersteer. It just took a little practice to reacquaint my brain with the controls, and using them in synchronicity . The biggest issue was the bike's weight, and my own strength and confidence.

After posting my experiences to the honda cbr email list, I decided to put them together in the form of a diary. It may prove useful to those other newbies like myself, and might provide some mild amusement for the veterans who've been on a bike too long to remember what "the first time" felt like.

Check back from time to time for updates. I promise not to leave anything important out, no matter how embarrassing it may prove to be. (Unless of course, it involves my rd350, nudity, and two or more consenting adults.)

"Don't feel bad. You're not the first 750 rider to get blown off by a Yamaha 350."

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2000 17:42:24 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate >
Subject: First ride.

So, after skimming through my nifty little booklets that SGI gave me, I drove to town to write my learners exam. It was an error to skim them. For example, does anyone on the list know how far one must stop from a parked vehicle on the opposite side of a secondary highway?

Oh well, passed it.

So, got home, got the gear I have on - my old hiking boots (for now), jeans (bidding on leathers on ebay), leather jacket, helmet and my Joe Rocket gloves (a little short for my taste, but they had to do - only set of small, kevlar padded, ones available.

It was not easy to start it, due to the fact that I immediately flooded it, only to have the local gas jockey from the Co-Op stop by and flood it worse.

So, went inside to gather my wits again, and cool down (it's f'ing hot here today to be wearing lined leather jackets!) and gave it a few minutes to regroup.

It started great on the second attempt. I picked up the kickstand, slipped it into gear, checked for traffic on my quiet street, and promptly stalled it.

No problem. I'll just kick it again.

Thus began a slow descent to the left. I was able to control it well enough to prevent so much as a scratch (not that it matters, cause there's lots of scratches)... laying on the side of the road in front of my house.

I picked it up, first attempt, by myself. I rule.

Got it running and into gear and drove the length of the block to the parking lot of the hockey rink. (All Canadians are mandated by Federal Law to live within walking distance of a hockey rink). Fiddled around in there learning slow left and right turns, starts, my braking, so forth, and after 10 minutes of that, hit the streets in town. I obeyed more stop signs in the past 60 minutes than I have in the past 10 years.

The RCMP followed me the last block and a half home. Didn't stop me. I guess the noise level is acceptable at 2000 rpm, at least...

I now know why you guys wear full face helmets.

It keeps people from seeing the stupid grin on your face.


Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 17:11:45 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate>
Subject: RE: [cbr] First ride - pic

On Fri, 25 Aug 2000, Belzelbub wrote:

> Looking sexy perched on top of a bike in leather.

I sort of thought I look like a grinning idiot, but that it was allowed, considering the circumstances.

There was one reaction I had not counted on. As I drove up and down the streets, practicing, I realized that for the first time in my life, I am the envy of every 10 year old boy on a bicycle.


Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 13:56:34 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate >
Subject: [cbr] Day 3

This morning I decided it was time to do a little highway practice. So, I headed out to have lunch at a friend's house, 25 miles away. To get there, I took a secondary highway - decent pavement, and except for one grain truck, no traffic at all the whole trip.

Saskatchewan is the perfect place to practice - being able to concentrate on position, keeping one's knees tight to the tank (see below), watching for distractions and the inevitable gravel at intersections, without the complication of having traffic around you.

So, I arrived on time, had lunch, and headed home. Well, after picking it up a second time, I headed home. A combination of being parked on gravel while kickstarting, a kickstand that wasn't in proper position, and inexperience. Ouch. Oh well. Picked it up again.

During lunch the wind had picked up - big time. The road runs as flat and straight as an arrow, and there isn't so much as twig for 20 miles. Before me was 25 miles of 40mph headwind.

It took a while to get used to being blown around, and learning to get low, but, good practice, and again, the only traffic was a grain truck and a couple of geriatric-driven Oldsmobiles with hand-crocheted seat covers, none of them moving faster than I was.

As I battled my way home, I discovered a Truth[tm] not mentioned in the Saskatchewan Motorcycle Rider's Handbook:

"Grasshoppers suck".


Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2000 14:32:06 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Day 4

On Sun, 27 Aug 2000 wrote: > I know the feeling bro, everything on my bike is polished and its a bitch > to clean and up-keep!!

Looking at the daunting task of cleaning this old Yamaha, I think I'll just continue the grunge look that the previous owner has so lovingly maintained....

Did clean the spark plugs though. Ich. Maybe that will help the right cylinder fire a little more predictably. Going to pick up new plugs and filters this week.

Oh, and I discovered that the lower lock nut holding the clutch wire guide was off. I didn't consult the service manual, but took the liberty of screwing it back on.

James showed me how to tighten the chain, and that went well, except now there's a nagging little rear wheel rotational squeak at low speed. I am sure we didn't get it too tight, and it doesn't seem to cause any binding, but I'm going to try to figure it out later this afternoon.

But, I did take it out to the potash mine highway for some practice. There is a real problem out here finding places to practice highway curves, without being in the path of semi tractors and being overtaken continuously by faster traffic. The mine access highway has 3 s-curves of diminishing radius in about 3 miles. No traffic, and an good aggregate surface, so did a little work on my moderate speed turns.

I have to say, though, the 5 miles on the main highway, getting there and back is really hairy at the moment. This 50mph speed limit learner's permit places the new rider at much higher peril than if another 10 mph were allowed. You spend as much time watching the mirror for the drivers overtaking you as you do concentrating on the job at hand.

I'll be sticking to the secondaries, except when absolutely, for the time being.

I know this may sound silly, but I'm sort of keeping a diary. Might be amusing for those of you who have been riding so long you can't remember, but I'm having fun, so forgive me these reports if you think they're stupid. ;-)


Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2000 16:54:21 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate>
Subject: [cbr] This town is so cool

As some of you are aware, I live in a very small town - 800 people. I'm a block from my bank, health clinic, hardware store, bakery, pizza joint and pub, two blocks from the post office, my carpenter, my insurance agent, a bad hairdresser, a good repair shop, groceries (and booze outlet), and gas. The guy who's making my bike cover, and redoing the seat this winter lives across the street. There's a church on the other side, but we don't go there....

So, now, how far do you suppose I live from a experienced 2 stroke mechanic who's both sold and worked on Yamahas?

3 blocks. (Meaning he's on the edge of town)

Jim's Sport Shop. It's in for a badly needed tuneup and to have the rear wheel looked at. Both minor, but as a new rider, I don't need mechanical stuff distracting me, (and I can make more using my time working than I can save by fiddling away at it myself.)

About the only thing I can't get in Delisle is laid.



Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 16:47:28 -0600 (CST) From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Shop day

So, Jim's been working on my bike. It's cold and wet out, so the timing is perfect, if there is such a thing as perfect timing for spending money on parts and repairs.

Anyhow, the good news - after taking off the carbs, and cleaning them, and adjusting the idle, the bike starts great, runs REALLY great.... har har! Both exhaust pipes are now contributing generous blue clouds of greenhouse gases! Wahoo!!! This is not, I repeat, NOT California. Nobody gives a f'ck.

Even better news - compression is good on both cylinders. :)

Bad news, he won't let me have it back until he puts new rear brake shoes on. Oh well. I figured that was coming, looking at the wear indicator when I was trying to adjust the squeak away. Badder news - it's supposed to go to -4 C tonight, but warm up for the long weekend. There is less than a 5% chance of my parts being in by then.

PMS just took on a whole new meaning.


Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 23:58:30 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Got my bike back!

And perfect timing it was - it rained all weekend. Jim phoned this afternoon - he installed new rear brake shoes, cleaned and synchronized the carbs, reset the kickstart to add a few more degrees of rotation,fixed the oil dipstick that was thoroughly mangled, popped on the taillight and oil pump cover I'd picked up.

Total labour - 117$ tax in. (My parts were under $100.) So my guess was pretty much right on.


Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000 12:02:47 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Re: [cbr] Re: Expensive cars vs. bikes

On Wed, 6 Sep 2000, Kysh wrote:

> As Carlos Alvarez was saying:
> > >My EX500 has quite the kill list. :> But nobody's raced me on my ZX750 or
> > >my F4. :< Maybe it's 'cuz my EX looked like such a rat. :>
> >
> > My girlfriend's Interceptor 250 has a nice list, especially the
> > Firechickens and Mustangs.
> My 750 did lose to a 5.0 race-prepped mustang once..

Not to brag, or anything, but, suffice it to say that in *this* town, the kids on bicycles know better than to f*ck with my RD.


Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000 15:58:19 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Day 5

...and Kate learns a new word.




Date: Wed, 6 Sep 2000 19:25:06 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Re: [cbr] Day 5

On Wed, 6 Sep 2000, Belzelbub wrote:
> So now you understand what we meant all this time. Pretty cool, huh? Be
> careful, Kate, these things have some bite.

Quote from my truck mechanic, who was working outside while I practiced ripping through the gears on the (new!) blacktop facing town;

"You're getting brave, aren't ya?"


Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 19:18:09 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
To: cbr
Subject: Re: [cbr] Jetting help

On Fri, 8 Sep 2000, Ralph Townsend wrote:
> Maybe this is why I can't wheelie worth a darn. Yea that's it.

Hey, Ralph. Have I got the bike for you. No, wait - I don't. I'm keeping it.

I was playing around yesterday and shifted to 3rd at about 8000 rpm. No, it didn't come off the ground ...

But it tried.

:) :) :)

Date: Sat, 9 Sep 2000 18:41:45 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Day 7 and I think they're out to get me

Today, I did a little more street practicing, u-turns. whatnot. I had three Close Encounters of the Vehicular Kind.

Encounter One: A farmer in a Suburban stopped at the stop sign, then proceeded to pull straight out in front of me. I was on a through street. He did stop a second time, with lots of room to spare. As it turned out, it was a harbinger of things to come.

Encounter Two: An octogenarian stopped at her stop sign, as I signaled my left turn from the through street I was on, planning to cross in front of her. It's an odd, awkward T sort of intersection. Looking right at me, she pulled out into my path, in one of those endless boats they used to make in the mid-70's. I had to hit the brakes and came to a dead stop in the middle of the intersection.. Evidently, rights of way do not apply to two wheeled vehicles.

Encounter Three: Taking a left corner on a residential street, I immediately had to brake and swerve to my right. The approaching car was driving on the wrong side of the road.

So, as well as having decent paved streets on which to practice, it seems that Delisle is also well stocked with idiot cagers. (My first use of the word cager, by the way - I have earned that right as of today). A fertile training ground for new riders, to be sure.

Or, perhaps they are tired of the two wheeled machinegun on their quiet streets, and are determined to hunt me down.

I went home after that. Decided it was safer to type and drink beer.


Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 22:50:19 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Day 9 - Controlled stops

I decided today that it was time to begin working on my high speed stopping skills.

The stretch of highway that runs through the edge of town continues for about a half mile, is divided, and newly paved. There are three intersections along the way, all of which have clear visability to give plenty of advance warning, should a vehicle decide to pull onto the highway. Although a heavily travelled throughfare by Saskatchewan standards, there is still ample opportunity to pull out and enjoy it all to yourself every minute or so (Saskatchewan standards being what they are).

It is nearly ideal for such practice sessions. I can pull on to the highway at one end of the run, accelerate to about 60-70 mph and then, pull it in under hard braking in time to make one of the exits - a worthy and valuable exercise, to be sure.

There is only one drawback. To get the bike up to a brisk speed over such a short distance forces me to drop low over the tank and invoke a hang-on-for-dear-life use of the powerband.



Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 09:44:30 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] early morning ride

In an attempt to avoid the high winds plaguing us the past two weeks, I decided to take an early morning ride to a park some 18 miles distant, to get in a little "twistie" experience. The highways around Delisle head out in perfectly straight lines for miles in every direction. Pike Lake is the only place I could think of accessable by secondary road and comlete with lots of paved curves. And park season being over, I had it basically, to myself.

The ride out was uneventful, as was the practise session. Had some nice fun, playing in the campground and around the cottages, without the complication of other vehicles and pedestrians. Big black dog tried to chase me. Har Har.

Nearly got sideswiped by a passing car on the way home, but that was my own fault. I was paying more attention to some gravel at an intersection than I was to my rear view mirror, and moved a few inches out to avoid it - only to realize I was being passed at precisely that moment. Not a really close call, but an educational one.

I made it home in record time. I'm beginning to feel accustomed to the wind, and the relatively bumpy road surface throwing my bike around a little.

It wasn't until I went to stop, to cross the highway into town, that I realized how cold I was. I had trouble operating the front brake. In the 18 miles home, I thought I was feeling warmer - I was wrong.

I am sitting here in a blanket, my fingers pecking away numbly, shivering.

Holy shit. It's cold out there. :)

And of course, there's no still sign of the wind I was hoping to avoid.


Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 15:14:32 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Day 11

On Fri, 15 Sep 2000, James Jackson wrote:
> Everyone, Kate survived her first trip to a semi-big
> city on her bike!!

It started out as another trip to Pike Lake park to practice twisties. But instead of turning right towards the park, I took the highway to the city. 10am and the wind was holding to a dull roar, and the Pike Lake highway is smooth and very lightly travelled. A perfect spot to practice taking Aretha past my comfort zone (which was about 50mph).

OK. So much of my day I spent illegally, on roads I am not supposed to travel on as a learner. But, unfortunately, the roads I can travel on legally are in such shitty condition that even 50mph is pushing it.

I did take the side roads through the city, residential streets, and so forth - stayed off main arteries as much as possible, and it was a good decision. My automatic riding skills were not so automatic when I was dealing with the distraction of traffic. Good point to remember in the future. For the first time ever, I shifted into neutral to pull a left turn into a parking lot. No biggie, but it was a wakeup that I should probably relax and let the riding part come naturally.

I found excuses to stop frequently - to buy some missing engine cover bolts, complain about my Rocket gloves coming apart at the seams already, at some of the body shops I work with, to prove to James that I'd made the trip, etc. Since we are going to do a paintball night game tonight, it was time to head back. I picked a different secondary highway for the trip home, and ended up at a heavily frequented motorcycle wateringhole - the Vanscoy Hotel. (Vanscoy has a population of about 250 - 325, depending on what is showing on the big screen tv in the bar.)

I was sorely disappointed to pull up and find I was the only motorcycle there. Generally, one can expect a half dozen Harleys to be lined up at this time of day in beautiful weather such as this - but there were nary a one to be seen. So, I stopped at the feed store and chatted with them a little (everyone seems to have bike stories! The proprieter told me of going down in Costa Rica), before going over to the bar, parking my bike and partaking of a Ceremonial Diet Coke to celebrate my achievement. Riding in Saskatoon, parking my Not-A-Harley at the Vanscoy bar - both milestones.

With the wind still breezing along at an acceptable rate, and an 8 mile trip home via the main highway (the one that has scared the bejezuz out of me every other time I've ridden it) vs a 40 mile roundabout via secondaries, I decided it was now or never.

Got on Aretha, and headed out. The practice on the secondaries earlier paid off, I finally got it up to proper highway speed (nobody passed me!!) and figured out how to deal with the turbulence thrown up by the semis - being on the upwind side of the road helped, muchly, I suspect.

A big confidence booster.

One thing that I had not fully appreciated prior to today, are the acoustical properties of concrete buildings, when a 2 stroke outfitted with barely legal exhaust goes blasting by. Wahoo! I get noticed - though not as much as when I pull off the helmet to gas up. ;-)


Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 20:21:20 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Re: [cbr] Maiden voyage

On Wed, 18 Oct 2000, JeF4y wrote:

> Well, I finally got the bike out for the first time since
> destruction/rebirth as a race-only bike.
> Awesome.
> Didn't put on more than 2-3 miles in the town I live in, but was enough to
> bed in the brakes, get somewhat of a feel for the riding position & test
> the power a bit. 1st gear power wheelies, easier than imagined. 2nd gear
> power wheelies, no problem. Didn't have enough gear on to try 3rd, but am
> sure it would come up without much effort.

Congrats Jeff.

But even better than that - 40+ hours on the road, I'm home, and the weather here is still warm and dry!

And - my leather bike pants arrived and fit. A little loose around the waist, but not bad. I ripped them out of the box, dropped my jeans and put them on, in the middle of my living room. Which wouldn't be a big deal, except I do not own any curtains, and the leaves are gone. Oh well. What can I say. I rock in black leather.


Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 14:59:42 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Re: [cbr] memorable ride!

On Thu, 19 Oct 2000, Belzelbub wrote:

> "david lafrance" wrote:
> >My 4y/o daughter begs me to take her to preschool every day on my F2
> That's cool. You've got a great little girl there. BTW, since Christmas is
> coming up, I know of a cool little RD350, that you could have for free. The
> owner is half a continent away, and you could just pop up to Saskatoon, and
> load her up. :)

Not anymore, I'm not. As soon as the sonofabitchin wind dies down, that RD will be between my leather-clad thighs and God help the man who tries to pry them apart.


Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 18:23:18 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] heated grips

I rode to town today. It was a few degrees above freezing. 25 miles of open prairie, transport trucks, high winds, wind chill. For no good reason at all. I had coffee with a friend, then turned around and went home.

I am in the market for the following:

heated grips
heated footpegs
heated vest
heated helmet
heated seat


Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2000 15:28:31 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: [cbr] Chain cleaning

My conscience finally got the better of me. After throwing a little oil on the chain yesterday, I decided I should really make a little better effort and actually clean it.

So, armed with kerosene, 10w-30, rags and a toothbrush, I sat down to begin. It took only 15 seconds to shatter one of my previously held assumptions.

Motorcycle parts are not black.


Date: Thu, 2 Nov 2000 10:53:54 -0500 (EST)
From: kate
Subject: Travel advisory

beep beep beep....

The local station just interrupted an interview on Canada AM with Barney The Dinosaur.

Travel is not recommended for southeastern Saskatchewan. Zero visability due to blowing snow. Icy roads. I figure I have one afternoon left to ride, depending upon which way the wind is blowing.

Oh well. Goodbye red stripe job and decals, hello custom paint.

... in west central Saskatchewan.

Date: Sat, 4 Nov 2000 22:07:25 -0600 (CST)
From: Kate
Subject: Re: [cbr] 7 hours of Aretha

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Kate
> > Sanding sucks.

> I think this says it all!
> Brian

Actually, it doesn't even scratch the surface.

Note to self: When a licensed bodyman offers to spray your plastic parts with SEM Bumper Stripper, ask him to do a test patch first. Arghhhh.

*bubble* *squelch* *bubble*

At least he had the decency to repair them for me. And do some extra fiberglass repair. :) :) :)

So far, it's 1 hour to disassemble the parts, _8_ hours of prep work (not including Dave's volunteer time - about 2 hours) and she's in primer and ready to paint.


I am vascillating about the paint scheme though. Something in me leans to painting her a bright cherry red with a little custom lettering. Dunno. May experiment with some black and various pearls, too.

A long night of pixel painting ahead, me thinks.


From: George Brown
Subject: Re: [cbr] Kates' RD 350 pics


Bike looks great in the posted photos. Say, is that your Ghetto Crawler Pimp Mobile parked behind the bike in the photos? :-))


What a difference a day makes!

The day I brought her home from the shop it was -20C. We rolled her out of my truck, and into the livingroom/studio. And until spring breakup, well, I'll have to be content with this. At least, I don't need gear.

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