My Cross Country sucks in sand. The 04 TC was OK in sand, they had up graded the front end from the 03 TC. The 03 wasn't very good in sand.I have a harley and CC.
of the two the Harley is easiest to ride. Especially on loose surfaces.
After reading this thread I would recommend that first you page back to where there were links to Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling by Hough and buy and read both books.
That is where everyone should start.
Why learn the hard way on a dangerous piece of equipment, putting your life in danger when you have access to a manual that will teach you how to successfully ride that bike better than you can learn on your own?
The book will give you a good explanation of how to ride a motorcycle and an mental exit plan to handle most events that will be a problem while driving your motorcycle during your lifetime.
Hough rode ~600,000 miles while writing those two books with two minor incidence. The MSF course you took was based on them. They are the bible of road riding.
His book on sidecar riding is at least as vital and as good as those two books are.
The author is just a great guy. Don't know if he is still alive but I spent about and hour talking to him once at a bike event. He is/was a dedicated and compassionate rider and articulate professional writer. The books should be available through your local library loan system for very little to free.
Then I might look for a smaller bike that I could rent from a friend.
Pay for any damages too.
Small is good, 250 honda for instance. 70 top speed and only a couple hundred pounds which makes it confidence inspiring. It's not so powerful that you absolutely have to get everything exactly right. You can throw it around easily and you can experiment on it.
You only need to borrow/rent it for a few weeks though they are a lot of fun to have around. Great run to the store bike.
Also perhaps try and turn you HD into something that you feel confident riding.
If you can afford it.
You could go to the dealer and try some other models of your bike with different handlebar configurations. See if something works for you. If different risers and bars help a lot. Well there you go. It's probably doable to change stuff over as long as it is in the same model line. You might be able to get the parts off ebay once you know what you need.
New risers that bring the bars back further and higher are an option too..
On my fxr which has drag bars the risers are 9" tall with about a 2-1/2" set back. You may not be able to go that high without extended brake lines or cables and wiring harnesses.
The risers weren't terribly expensive. I had to extend the front brake line on mine. I imagine if there had been wiring harnesses I would have had to extend them too. My Fxr is old school. On a modern bike like yours if you need to extend the wiring harnesses be sure to find out what your options are before buying bars or risers. Make sure you understand completely what it will take before you take your wallet out and start buying parts. Modern bikes can be a piece of cake or a nightmare to change around.
Maybe a different seat. They come in different configurations to move you forward, move you back, lower, higher. Again go to the dealer, bring your bike ask them to put the different seat on your bike so you can sit on it and see if it is worth the $$.
Mainly you are looking to take the bike from feeling awkward to something that feels solid and is confidence inspiring.
Personally I would then take the bike to the nearest school parking lot and practice what is in those books until it isn't a chore. Take a few bottles of water and work at it. Plan on going back until you absolutely are sure that when you hit the road it will be a pleasurable experience.
Riding a motorcycle isn't easy but it's incredibly rewarding. If you get it wrong it is also a life changing or ending experience.
PS Spend some money and get some good safety gear. You often buy it on Ebay used if you know what you need. It cleans up.
"I will stop the motor of the world" John Galt
John Galt for president in 2020
I had a 04 tc also and as you say it was OK on dirt roads except it was scary watching all the plastic move and shake when the road turned to bad washboards. But it would like to stay upright and as long as you didn't over drive the street tires it was just a rough but stable ride.My Cross Country sucks in sand. The 04 TC was OK in sand, they had up graded the front end from the 03 TC. The 03 wasn't very good in sand.