Hey Casey, welcome to the Assylum! Like others have said, it takes me back to my beginning days of riding (about 50 years ago
- when did this happen??
). The little Honda looks to be a SWEET bike, a bit different than what I started on
. We didn't have no stinkin' fuel injection, disc brakes, electric start, sealed bearings, 6000 mile service intervals, etc. Ah, the bad old days.
I think you are being very wise in your approach to this sport - take it easy, ride within your limits, learn something every time you swing a leg over, take the lessons, be cautious and thoughtful, etc. I think by the time Summer rolls around you'll be surprised at the progress you've made. Crawl before you walk, walk before you run, run before you fly, then look out WOOOOOOOOOT!!! Riding with other folks with more experience is a wonderful way to learn, so don't be afraid to take some of these guys up on their offers, but remember the cardinal rule of riding with others is "ride your own ride". Pick a rendezvous place and meet there, don't feel you have to ride over your head to keep up.
I've been riding so long I don't really remember what it feels like to be a beginner, but I've had several friends and family members take up the sport later in life. You have identified low-speed handling as a concern, and this is a very important skill to build. Good for you for all your parking lot practice! I've bought several copies of the Ride Like a Pro videos for n00bs in my life and can highly recommend them. https://www.ridelikeapro.com/
They are a little sappy at times, but the guy is a motorcycle cop trainer and knows his shite about low-speed maneuvers on big, bulky, heavy bikes. Those techniques won't translate 100% to a smaller bike, but the concepts are universal and some of his tips are truly eye-opening, even for old guys like me. Watching a 100 pound lady pick up an 800 pound cruiser is testimony enough for the validity of the lessons. Using his tricks (slip the clutch, slight rear brake pressure, stay upright) I can turn my 1150GS in a full steering lock circle inside the width of two parking spaces without touching a foot down. You can look up some of his lessons on YouTube.
I started riding in the dirt, it's still my first love, and I can tell you that the skills you learn there will translate very well to riding on asphalt. I don't think it necessarily works so well in reverse. So keep up the practice (Winter riding - good for you!!), the thinking, and watching for idiots in cars and I think you'll be thrilled with your progress once the warmer weather gets here!