A few days ago we finally rented our own scooter. It was an exciting moment because I have fantasized many times about owning a scooter and driving around in Italy (kind of different to India). So, yesterday I attempted to ride it for the first time. I had never tried to ride any kind of motor bike before, but I thought it was pretty easy to ride a scooter.
Little did I know, how frickin’ different it was to ride a scooter to anything I’ve ever driven before. I was unpleasantly surprised. The first time, I tried it in our Indian front yard which is surrounded by brick walls and barbed wire. Also, the ground is completely uneven and rocky. I was unsuccessful.
The reality of driving a scooter was so far from my expectations that I quickly became frustrated and embarrassed in front of my husband and Shekhar, our Indian friend. The first two times I attempted to drive the scooter, it would shoot off towards the wall and two seconds later, the scooter was on the ground. Thankfully, I had quick enough reflexes to not run into the wall and not fall into the ground along with the scooter.
This was clearly a really bad place to ride a scooter for the first time. So, Josh drove me to a very-low-traffic-road to practice. I did better this time. In spite of Josh saying that I did pretty good (and meaning it), it was 100% not good enough for my expectations. I definitely thought I would be able to just hop on and drive off instead of having to practice for several days to get the hang of it.
The biggest surprises were weight and steering. The bike is a million times heavier than I thought, and steering is not as easy as I thought. Apparently, leaning and head turning is big part of the steering, which I did not know. Nobody told me these things. I wrongly thought it would be very similar to riding a jet ski.
I also think I had more fear now with walls, uneven territory, and barbed wire, than in the vast ocean. It seems that fear and confidence have a lot to do with driving a scooter. Pretty much anything is like that I guess.
I was absolutely disappointed and frustrated about my first experience, to the point of tears. (I hate to admit.)
The pictures are from the second day of driving in our front yard. After knowing what to expect this time, I gained confidence and did better. But it was still quite hard to maneuver in a small rough area, and I was still almost running into walls and barbed wire when turning. This led to several times letting the scooter fall off. Picking up the darn scooter added to my frustration because, as I said, it is quite heavy for a girl that weighs less than 100 pounds.
I definitely had excuses. “I am so small”, “I have very little control because the bike is so much heavier than me,” “nobody told me what to do.” But I’ve read that if you go to Thailand, you’ll see tons of very short Thai ladies riding their scooters around. So, why wouldn’t I be able to? These Indian roads (and front yard) really don’t help.
So, my scooter experience hasn’t been a happy one so far. I am looking forward to being able to take the scooter out on my own into these crazy dangerous Indian roads. Though, I wish I was learning in Italy. And I also wish our scooter was a nicer color than silver.
How To Ride A Scooter
1. Get on the scooter with confidence. Place your two feet flat on the ground if you are tall enough, and one foot on the scooter and one foot on the ground if you are short. Grip the handlebars.
2. Set the key to on.
3. Hold the brake/clutch and press the starter button to start the engine.
4. Give it a little gas if the engine sputters or stalls.
5. Accelerate steadily by turning the right handlebar. Scooters don’t like sudden, they like progressive and steady.
6. Balance the bike with your weight, like on a normal bike. Turn with your head and body by leaning into your turn and slowly rotating the handlebars.
7. I am still a little confused about braking. In several websites, it says to use the front brake about 70% of the time and for slowly breaking, and to use the back brake to completely stop. And both simultaneously for an emergency stop. But other people tell me to use the back brake because if you use the front, you will flip over (which makes sense). I would appreciate any thoughts and input, and advice on this.
8. Finally, when losing control or before a crash, always let go of the scooter; you are more important than the scooter. (My husband had to repeat this one to me many times when I was struggling and attempting to save the scooter from falling to the ground.)