Your motorcycle riding group is planning a nice scenic ride over the Golden Gate Bridge into and around San Francisco. You want to go, but you also know that on the other side of that bridge is a big city, with big traffic and some big, steep hills. If you have ever had to stop at a light or stop sign that sits on a hill you know how unnerving it can be. When that light turns green and you let go of your front break your motorcycle succumbs to the forces of gravity and starts to roll backwards. It's a bit scary not having control of your bike in that situation. But there are a few tricks you can learn to make starting on a hill a piece of cake.

In a car you have only two feet to control three components: breaks, clutch and gas. When you're riding a motorcycle you have a bit of an advantage; the use of both your hands and feet to control the clutch, breaks and throttle. When approaching a stop light or sign at the top of the hill use your breaks as you normally would to come to a complete stop.

Let both feet settle on the ground and use your front brake to keep your bike still. Once you have your footing, put your bike in first gear, place your left foot firmly on the ground and place your weight on that foot. Now apply the rear break with your right foot allowing you to release your front break. This will be your starting position when you are ready to continue riding.

When the light turns green, or traffic is clear, slowly roll on the throttle and let out the clutch. When you feel the clutch engage, slowly begin to release the rear brake. Your motorcycle should begin to pull forward with very little, if any, backwards roll and you are on your way.

This method takes a little practice so it is recommended that you find a hill with no traffic and practice, practice, practice. It's also nice to bring a friend just in case your bike decides not to cooperate and ends up laying down on the job.

This method works great if you stop on a nice even hill with an upward slope. But once in a while you come up to a hill that not only slopes upwards, but slopes to one side. These hills are difficult enough to stop on because you are forced to lean your motorcycle into the slope on your right or left. If you are forced to hold up your motorcycle with your right foot, how are you going to control the rear break?

Not to worry. There is another technique you can master to help you in situations like this; the two finger breaking technique. This is a little more difficult and requires a bit more practice, but once mastered, it will come in handy in a lot of different situations. Start by practicing squeezing the break with your first two fingers, while rolling on the throttle at the same time. NOTE: don't practice this on a hill just yet. Practice on flat ground with the clutch pulled in or, better yet, with the bike in neutral. So, while holding the break with your two fingers grip the throttle with your remaining fingers, and your thumb, of course. Practice rolling on the throttle without letting go of the break.

Your next step is to practice taking off using this method. Practice on a flat surface free from traffic or other obstacles. Once you have mastered a smooth take-off, you are ready to practice on a hill. If you know of an off canter hill to practice on, all the better

Now, when you go on that San Francisco ride you will be ready to take on her toughest, steepest hills giving you more time to take in the scenery.