Looking across to the snow capped alpine mountains seen from the back seat of a motorcycle

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Confidence Where Art Thou

After spending over 2 weeks on my little Keeway 125 cc around the Netherlands I was once again scared of the idea of riding the Kawasaki Z 250 SL. 

Since my last blog I have been out on Envy again before going abroad on my Keeway. I clocked up the 600 miles required to take her to the first service and I had begun to settle a little on her. However in the 3 weeks since I rode her last fear once again was making me reluctant to ride her.  

I have seen a few posts recently from other lady riders having problems with confidence and asking questions as where to find it? Well if there is anyone out there how knows a magic cure for confidence please share because there is a lot of us who would be grateful for it. Failing magic or finding it under a cabbage I only had one choice to find confidence on my bike...I knew I had to get on the damn thing, I had to ride it to find it.

Ride it to find it? Sounds simple but when you're scared of your own bike it is no mean thing to swallow that fear and swap your wish bone for a backbone. I was not about to give up yet. I had a long weekend booked off work, a rare thing for me these days having 3 blessed days off on a row so this was the perfect opportunity to get some needed miles on those tyres.

The weather however was not playing too nice but there were small patches without rain so I decided to go sun searching. Wales was the safest bet on Friday with the Lakes looking dry for Saturday. It was a great plan I just needed to get on my bike...

Fear is a funny thing, well no it is not funny, it is usually a horrible feeling but what I am trying to say is there are often times when our fears are greater than the reality. I feared I would have forgotten completely how to handle the Kawasaki, that riding her would be like starting from the beginning all over again. The day started with rain and I was scared that the report about the Kwak's tyres not being great in the rain would prove true. However reality was far more brighter than the grey skies above my head and the fear inside me. The tyres coped just fine in the wet no problem at all and riding the bike was actually not a start over but more a case of where I had left off. 
Where I had left off was still a bit shaky and unsure but it was not the terrified feeling I had at first. Soon enough I settled down and began to appreciate all over again just how well this bikes rides. How solid and stable it feels on the road and how thrilling it can be. 

During the course of the weekend I got to take the Kawasaki Z250 SL on some motorways. Now I have always said I am not a fan of the motorways on a bike. But this weekend I learned that they are a great way to simply get you to where you want to go. On my 125cc and keeping to A roads there was no way I could have explored Wales or the Lakes as I did this time around. By the time I got there it would have been time to come back. Using the motorway got me where I wanted to be. 
The bigger engine size of the Kawasaki 250 also made life much easier. The Kawasaki had no problem cruising at 65mph. It reaches 70 mph and beyond with amazing ease. Despite only being a single there was little vibration and I felt very comfortable and happy on the motorway on this bike. I really appreciated having that extra acceleration as back up when I needed it for a overtake or to get away from another vehicle. I also got quite a thrill in playing around with the throttle and seeing just what the bike was capable of. It did not disappoint me, it put a great big grin on my face. The Kawasaki has a lot of torque for a small bike, twist the throttle and bam the power is there straight away. So much so I had to be careful to reel it in a bit. Steady now Sharon I wanted 50 not 56 .. careful on that throttle lady :-)

Modern white posh tea pots and cups in the sunshine at a cafe in the LakesPosh tea and sunshine on a pit stop ...sometimes life is great.

The lack of gear indicator began to be less of a issue the more miles I rode. I am beginning to feel the gears more than seeing them on my dashboard. The lack of leg length became less terrifying but still remains an issue. It still unnerves me knowing I can not flat foot. There was one point on the ride that due to a bad camber I found myself holding the bike up at a junction with my toe. Arghhhh it scared me feckless but the fact I could actually do it began to grow the little seed of confidence I so needed to germinate.

There is something rather special about the Kawasaki when it come to corners and bends. The handling around bends boarders on magical. This is where this bike comes into its own and excels. You do not have to haul this bike around a bend. Counter steering is totally unnecessary. All you have to do is see the bend and you feel that the bike sees it with you. You think it and the bike responds beautifully gliding around corners with seeming no effort at all. It is great feeling and I am loving it...a lot. I am not totally at ease yet but it is feeling good right now. The weekend brought great roads and lots of bends to practice on.

While in the Lakes Ren wished to visit the Sky Hi cafe which is on the Honister Pass. He was aware I am still a little nervous and unsure on my new bike and suggests I wait at the bottom of the pass while he checks the route and reports back. No I say, waiting will make me nervous, over thinking makes me worry so I just say no lets do it. The Honister Pass is narrow and steep. The main problem was cars thinking that my bike could manage just fine if they gave me a inch of tarmac at the edge of a drop to ride on. This made me sweat but I had to concentrate so hard I had no time to think about being too scared. 
The car park at the Sky Hi cafe is gravel and I still feel nervous on gravel after my off on the 125cc but I had to park the bike so I gritted my teeth and rode on in. Phew I made it and I was really chuffed with myself.

Sharon on her Kawasaki outside the Sky High Cafe on Honister passSharon's Kawasaki Z250SL set against the stunning honister passFeeling on top of the world at Sky Hi Cafe 

Leaving the cafe was a bit more lairy. The exit is pitted and uneven, not good for a shortie but once again I managed it and found myself actually relaxed enough to enjoy the descent. 
With confidence now at last beginning to take root I even successfully led Ren and I to the Bowder Stone and took on its steep and gravely car park with only a small pause at the bottom to strengthen my backbone. 

The massive Bowder Stone, a huge boulder with wooden stairs up the sideThe Bowder Stone perched precariously ... reminds me of how I felt getting onto the Kawasaki

I had an amazing weekend. I added over 500 miles of confidence onto the bike. I really enjoyed the scenery and the roads we took. I appreciated Ren's good company, his route finding skills and the posh tea he bought me and I really appreciated my new bike. I had great fun seeing what it was capable of. What it is clearly capable of is far more than I have the confidence or ability to truly discover yet. But this is a good thing, I have plenty of room left yet to grow with this bike, Envy still had lots more to teach and show me yet I am sure.

This weekend did not bring forth my confidence into full bloom but it certainly put down good strong roots. I like Envy the Kwak a lot now. Most importantly I am not fearing our next ride together I am looking forward it....wahooo!!  

Reader's Comments

Rachel said :-
I feel your pain. Struggle with confidence all the time. Rode from Northamptonshire to Yorkshire (including your nemesis Sutton Bank) without a problem. 40 miles away from home today and I drop my CBF 500 whilst trying get a 360 round a little roundabout (bad camber, lost confidence, grabbed a handfull of front brake). Gutted. Good friendstuff picking me up, dusting me off and setting me going again. Hang in there, we'll both make it! :-)
12/8/2016 6:30:54 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Hi Rachel, thanks for you message. I hope you and your bike did not suffer too much damage. I also hope that you confidence is not too badly bruised and will soon recover. I think woman can be overly harsh on themselves and often dwell on our mistakes. Bikes are by their very nature unstable and most bikers will drop their bikes at one time or the other. The important thing is as you did to dust yourself off and get back on. Keep at it and have lots of fun. The more we ride the more the confidence grows bit by bit.
14/8/2016 7:48:47 PM UTC
Tom McQ said :-
Sharon, I have no idea why you should lack any confidence because after following you on that ride out to North Yorkshire, I can tell you that you have fantastic control of your bike and ride a whole lot better than a lot of other bikers out there who've been riding for years!!
17/10/2016 10:57:15 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Thank you Tom for that confidence boost. Muchly appreciated. It is hard to know yourself if your good rider or not so when someone such as yourself says I am then it means a lot.
18/10/2016 10:39:36 PM UTC
Andy said :-

I feel identified with you.

I had a 2005 yamaha r6 as my first bike, and I only could stand with it on my tips, I had if for 2 years and every day it was a challenge. I sold it because it was on bad shape and spent too much on repairs. But I still miss that bike.

But I learned to enjoy the challenging mood at every commute I made, as I dropped my r6 countless times.

But my confidence came one time my bike dropped on me while waiting on a red light, I lifted it up with help of a polite car driver, then I got up on my bike again as nothing had happened and I realized it wasn't the end of the world. I always could stand up and ride again.

By the way I am just thinking in getting a z250sl as a second bike, because it will be very useful to sort out traffic in Mexico City.
6/1/2017 6:04:00 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Hello Andy,

Yes short person problems are tricky to balance. :-).

You are right about actually gaining confidence once you have dropped your bike. The terror of that first drop is over and if you successfully get the bike up and on the move again then you know is was no where near as bad as you first feared.
That was certainly true of my Keeway but that does not mean I wish to repeat that with the Kawasaki. Too much shiny new paint and body work to put to ruin there.

I would highly recommend the Kawasaki Z250SL. Perfect for nipping about in Mexico City. It will not disappoint on the open road either. Plenty of torque and top end speed. Its performance is most impressive for a 250cc single.

Which ever bike you get send us a picture of it in Mexico City. Love to see readers photos.

10/1/2017 10:38:03 AM UTC

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