A group of us at work decided to take friday off to go rock climbing — Paul, Orin, Tyson, and I. I didn’t feel so bad about taking off since I had worked 9 hours last sunday trying to get a code review done. We went up to Cathedral Ledge and climbed Refuse. Paul is the strongest climber amongst us and the one who knows the area best. He had picked out the climb. It was supposed to be a fun 5.6. Orin had apparently never managed to buy his own climbing shoes, but had just rented. He hadn’t managed to rent this time, so he was in sneakers. We sort of split into two groups — Paul leading Orin. And Tyson and I. Paul got off route on the first pitch, so Orin had some interesting climbing to follow. He left the pro in which made it easier for me to then “lead.” Although admittedly I chickened out at the top bit where there were two off width cracks and got a top rope belay from them. When I got up to them, they were discussing a conundrum. The guide book which Paul had, described the next pitch as requiring some scrambling up a fir tree. The problem being that the fir tree wasn’t there any more. The other option for that pitch was what the guide book described as an “off width, slightly overhanging crack […]. It is usually dirty and poorly protected.” It was listed as a 5.8. After a good bit of discussing Paul decided to try for it. Mostly it was a corner climb, with two usable chocks in the crack. The first one wiggled alarmingly, and the second was so far back I couldn’t fit in the crack and move. We all made it up. I didn’t do particularly well. Surprisingly (at least to me), Tyson made it up quite easily despite the fact that he can rarely climb better than 5.6 in the gymn. The next two pitches were nice and easy. In fact the hardest part was the traffic jamb of beginners and guides climbing up along side us. Because it looked so easy, we suggested that Tyson lead it for his first lead climb ever.
That evening started the in-class part of the NH basic motorcycle rider course.
Saturday we got to start working on how to actually drive the things. Despite the fact that we spent over half the day just riding around in one small parking lot, it was quite challenging and lots of fun. We started out at the “how to turn on your motorcycle” stage, and got all the way through some modest turning and stopping skills the first day. It took me a little bit to get the hang of turning. Finally thinking about the cone weaves as a down hill ski slalom helped. And then I started having too much fun leaning my motorcycle way over. Coasting along straight at slow idle wasn’t so hard. And shifting wasn’t so hard — except getting my motorcycle into neutral. Half the time I couldn’t get it from first gear to neutral, but had to go up to second and then back down. I am going to blame that on the condition of the motorcycles. These are motorcycles that are used every weekend by a set of new students. A number of them squeaked pretty badly.
The second day we worked more on slow turns and swerving. For a while in the morning I was getting the hang of slow sharp turns, but then I lost it again later in the day. It took me a while to get swerving, but that stuck better. In the afternoon we had the riding exam which caused me to get even more nervous, especially since the first course was the double u-turn inside a box the width two motorcycles. I completely flopped that one, but the rest of the courses I did just fine on. So at the end of the day I got a little piece of paper redeemable for a motorcycle driver’s license! I kind of want to go out and practice again tomorrow, except I have lots of work to do and it is supposed to be rainy.