Bike Lesson


elvis_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Bike Lesson
Synopsis Elvis gives Helena a lesson in how to ride a motorcycle.
Date November 23, 2008

An Unnamed Parking Lot

It was a time honored tradition, learning the drive or in this case ride in an empty mall parkinglot. Elvis had shown up a little early, taking some time to scribble out a few 90 degree turns and a big S turn complex in bright white chalk. The bike she'd brought, was clearly not roger. In years previous this GS500 had been a courier bike, then a race bike, then a first bike, then a race bike again and then a stolen bike which when Elvis got involved. It was now a familar green, Kawasaki green actually.

Quietly she let the GS500 whirr, idling with all the heart and soul of a 1998 Ford Taurus. The little bike didnt much care for the cold, and she would rather avoid running the battery down trying to show Helena to ride a bike with a dead battery.

Helena is about five minutes late, but she comes prepared, at least in the sense that she's wearing jeans and sturdy shoes, a sweatshirt, and a jacket that for once, is not Peter's leather one. If she road rashes, she doesn't want to ruin it. "Sorry I'm late." she says as she strides up to Elvis, and stares at the bike. "So this is it, huh?" She sounds a bit intimidated.

Elvis rises with a soft little smile, she'd brought a loaner helmet for this. "It is. Are you ready?"She reaches across to tap the big red button by the throttle and the bike goes silent. "Now, have you ever driven a stickshift before?"She offers over a pair of bandanas and her old half helmet, smiling softly. "Here, put these on first thing. You need to get used to being all buttoned up. it can be a little distracting at first."

"Stickshift? Sure thing." Helena she says, adding wryly, "Am I ready? Not really, but you know what, you can't always be ready for everything." She seems uncertain about what to do with the bandanas, but the helmet goes on her head, and she takes time to securely fasten it.

Elvis lifts a finger plucking the helmet back off. "here."she offers, snagging both Bandanas. One gets folded over and knotted under your chin to keep your hair situated. Then the next, over your mouth and nose. Then tuck the bottom flap from the one over your face, under the first bandan's knot and boom. Instant neenja"now, put the helmet on. All proper motorcycles, are manuals. Clutch is on the left handlebar, front brake is on the right handlebar. gear shift is left foot, rear brake is right foot. Put your left foot on the left peg, right above the kickstand and mount the bike. It wont fall over or anything I promise."

Helena lets herself be fussed over with the bandanas, murmuring something about looking like a little Russian peasant girl before the helmet goes back on her head. Doing her best to pay attention, she swings a leg over the bike and settles down it, murmuring to herself wear the breaks and gearshift and clutch are before tenatively picking up her left foot and then resettling her right. "Like this?"

Elvis nods softly "exactly, see if you try to mount up while standing on the ground instead of the peg your liable to skin your shin to the bone."now..basic controls. "Bike is totally off.."she reaches across to turn the keys."you cant accidentally turn it on. All the controls, are very responsive except for the clutch. Motorcycle clutches have more range of travel, so to change gears you need to pull the clutch -ALL- the way in and then slowly ease it out. Alright?"

"You're gonna ride with me, right?" Helena asks a bit nervously. She's getting it, but it seems more like her own nervousness will be what gets in her way then anything else. Some of the principles she understands, but practice is a different thing.

Elvis shakes her head"Nope, you should ride solo for awhile. Now this is a GS500, its not a big bike. It wont try to hurt you. If anything starts to go wierd, all you have to do is squeeze the clutch and keep your feet on the pegs. "she points out the ignition controls.."Now..neutral is in a funny place on a bike. Its between first and second gear. You cant get neutral unless your stopped. So heres our first drill. I want you to pull the clutch in, start the bike. Tap it down into first, and then slowly let first gear out. Give it a little throttle, and then when you get to that big chalk X. Slowly squeeze in the clutch, brake..walk the bike until its facing me and come back. Just stay in first the whole way."

Again Helena gets that slightly overwhelmed look - too many directions! But she does her best. She gets the gently rumbling bike comfortably under her, pulling the clutch in as it starts up and shifts the gear to first before letting it out. There's a squeeze of the clutch, only there's a little slip, and it jerks forward about afoot before she brakes, letting out a little yelp as she does so.

Elvis is immediately, right there."Hey thats ok. Your going too fast. Let the clutch out -slow-, its not like a car. You wont burn the clutch up just holding it halfway in. Let the bike go at its own pace, and dont be afraid to use the throttle. First gear is only fifteen miles an hour."

Helena's eyes are a bit wide, her grimace hidden under the bandana, and tries again. She takes the advice to heart, slower on the clutch and mindful of the throttle. The bike starts to move forward, and Helena visibly fights the urge to put her foot down to slow it, easing on the throttle instead, slowing down as she approaches the X and beginning the turn carefully. The turn makes her feel momentarily like she's going to tip off, but she manages okay.

Elvis claps her hands softly. "Very good!"She hollars, staying where she is for the moment. "That was Excellent Helena, now do it again. Loosen up a little, see the bike doesnt want to hurt you. It -wants- to stay upright and safe, so just relax. "
"The turn's a little awkward." Helena calls out. "Is there a way you're supposed to sit when you make a turn? Do you lean out of it or something?"

Elvis nods"there is, dont worry about leaning. Forget your on a motorcycle, ask yourself how you turn a bicycle. Now come back to me, and turn. If your comfortable, then just keep going. We're going to do this drill until your a little more comfortable. I'll show you how to turn hard or fast or slow in a minute. Right now, we're in a big open park so just turn as wide as you want. No rush Helena, is there?"

Helena grins at Elvis, though it's hard to see with her face covered. "You're a good teacher." she compliments, and with that, trundles off again. The transition for popping the clutch and letting out the throttle goes more smoothely this time, though she still takes the turn slow, and on the return, instead of stopping, she circles around Elvis before coming to her stop. She straightens, looking pleased with herself.

Elvis smiles brightly, beaming infact. "Good, now. I want you to do that same drill, but I want you to focus on putting your weight on the -outside- peg. It'll stabilize the bike, and this time. I want you to click up, remember to pull the shifter -UP- with your boot till it stops. Then fade the clutch out, second gear only goes to like thirty miles an hour so you wont be going very fast. Focus on making nice smooth turns, not tight. Just smooth. Do two laps, and then instead of stoping. I want you to cross in the middle and do some figure eights. Use the further chalk spot this time, hundred yards down."

Helena quirks her mouth under the bandana, and proceeds to do as instructed. The more her confidence grows, the easier it becomes, and the figure eights actually seem pretty nice and easy.

The GS500 once its moving, is a pretty light bike so its easy to sort've get it to do whatever you ask of it. Its not prone to any violent motions or anything, and indeed requires only a minimum of effort to get it to do what it is you want."Excellent work!"Elvis waves as you pass, content to let Helena run figure eights until she gets bored with that.

That'll take a while. She does little figure eights at about ten miles an hour, even letting out a comical little 'wheeeeeee!' at one point when she boosts up to oh, thirteen miles before she finally comes to a stop. "Okay," she says, "This isn't so bad. I mean, not that it's bad, but I thought it would be a lot harder."

Elvis shakes her head softly."Nope, its only hard if you let it be. Now, we're gonna do the hardest part. Go ahead and turn the bike off, I'll demonstrate the technique and then I'll want you to do it. Low speed cornering, at tight angles is super tough. Once we do that, and braking. I think we're ready to try some properly fast stuff. High speed braking, cornering, performance acceleration."

"I'm going to do all that today?" asks Helena in surprise. She makes sure the bike is stopped fully and turns off the bike, starting to lift herself off of it.

Elvis smiles, snagging her own Soumi and pulling the particularly loud italian skidlid on. "You sure are, you have excellent skills for a beginner and none of this is particularly difficult."

"I guess driving kind of agrees with me." Helena says. "Or riding a bike. Are you a good cook? I could give you some cooking lessons in exchange for this. Wow." She shakes her head, seeming surprised at how well she's doing.

Elvis climbs on the bike. "I could use cooking lessons, but Helena you dont owe me a thing."she fires the GS up, letting it warm for a few seconds. "Now heres second lesson, low speed turns. this is pretty tough, no foolin. Your inner ear, is going to tell you constantly your about to fall over but its lying. You see science says that the wheels, will function like big gyros. So the bike is mechanically inclined to staying upright. So here we go, just watch."

She pulls away some, before smoothly rolling the bike into a turn so sharp that the handlebars simply cant turn anymore. Then after a moment, she turns the bars back and heads right back the way she came. Then she does it again, like under a mile an hour. "Now, you want to try this with about 5mph. Watch me."she rises, patting her right leg as she lifts it completely off the peg. "see, no weight. "then, she smoothly pulls her hands off the bars."See what I was talking about? The bike -wants- desperately to stay up, it doesnt need me telling it what to do. Understand?"

Helena blinks. "Huh." she says as she watches. "I can't imagine my brain not telling me I'm gonna fall, but you're not even tipping over."

Elvis leans back, out of the direction she's turning. The bars slowly ease back, going straight before diving into the opposing turn. Then back, and fourth. "See, you need to trust the bike. Its a not falling over machine."she settles back down, grabbing the bars before speeding over beside Helena. She turns off, and dismounts."Now. Take a right turn, and slowly tighten it until you cant turn the bars harder. Then begin the drill in the opposite direction. Slowly corkscrew in, and then I want you to try and do ultra tight figure eights."

This isn't so easy. Helena's brain does give her the 'you're going to fall' message, and there's lots of stops and starting. Her figure eights aren't quite as tight as they should be, but at least eventually they're smooth.

Elvis watches like a hawk, staying close to see exactly whats going on."Your putting too much weight on the bars." Once the slow speed turning is handled, the rest really is that simple. Braking from 20, 30,40,50,60 and so on until Elvis is confident Helena knows how to use the stoppers effectively. Then onto the throttle and clutch work, until particularly focused aggressive acceleration becomes relatively easy. "Now..I believe its time for the best part. High speed cornering. See, I told you this wasnt going to be -that- tough. Didnt I?"

Helena is beaming under her bandana now, but the prospect of high speed cornering? "That does sound scary." she admits, her voice muffled.

Elvis shakes her head."It isnt, I want you to build up some speed. Lets say fourty miles an hour, then lean -into- the turn. Scoot your butt a little over, and then I want you to just hold the circle as tight as you can at fourty miles an hour. Then, swap back and repeat in the other direction. Then I think we're done for tonight."

Well. The building up speed part is fun! But when she turns, she makes sure to shift her body as directed, and attempts the turn at forty miles an hour. The first time she does it, it's very wide, but as she keeps going back and forth, it gradually tightens as her fear of spilling diminishes.

The GS is a wonderfully agile thing, and this becomes apparent not at low speed but now with high speed. It seems more than happy to just keep going tighter, and tighter and lean further over with every turn. Until, finally you can feel parts of the bike begin to scrape and rub against the pavement!

"Oh, wow!" says Helena at last, sounding like an excitable kid after she finally makes her last turn and slows down before turning off the ignition. She makes sure it's settled properly before she swings her leg back over the bike and stands up, starting to pull the helmet off. It's so freeing. I mean, once you get past being convinced you're going to tilt over."

Elvis smiles broadly. "Its like flying, isnt it."she return. "So, do you want me to help you start bike shopping? The bike shop I work at has some good apparel, I could get you an employee discount."she indeed, has proof. She produces a simple paper card. Chrissakes her name really is Elvis!

"I'd love to." Helena enthuses, but then adds, "Let me see if I can scrape together the money." Nevermind there's something like forty thousand dollars in her basement, it belongs to Phoenix, not her.

Elvis grins "Budget about, five to six hundred for gear. Dont skimp on riding apparel, its life saver. You can get a second or third hand bike for like, two grand for something simple. I'll help you make sure you dont get a lemon, but if you can afford it I'd consider buying new."she pets the little GS as an afterthought. "Anywho, it -is- getting just a touch late."
Helena's eyes flick upward. "Yeah." she agrees. "Listen," she says, briefly serious, "We're getting close to getting our hands on that data I told you about. The camps? But this sort of thing, it may end up having to push you to go real underground. You deserve to know the sort of consequences it can bring. Friend of mine didn't seem to realize that, and she got into a lot of trouble."

Elvis shrugs"Hey, whatever it takes. I know how things go, I didnt offer my services thinking it'd be easy. I dont want things to be easy, I want them to be right yaknow? Tell me what the plan is, I'll tell you how I can help. You just keep your head on your shoulders, and I'll be there with bells on."

"We're still gathering information. But when we start making plans, I'll let you know." Helena promises. "And if what we do works for you, maybe you'll stick around. I'd like that. Anyway…thanks again." After making sure all is in order, Helena departs with a final wave, walking off in the direction she'd come and disappearing around a corner.

Any additional notes fall to the bottom.

November 23rd: Black And Blue

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 23rd: The Plate Spinners
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