Two-Up Adventures

Two-Up Adventures: Girl on Girl
I finally braved riding with some extra weight on the back. 92 pounds, to be exact. That’s a good way to feel things out, with one’s skinny bike-curious twin daughter putting more traction on the rear wheel. She wanted to ride on her Mom’s crotch rocket; for bragging rights later, I’m sure. She said she was scared (a little) and didn’t know what to do, so I made her read Chapter 14 of Lee Parks’ Total Control. That would be the chapter on riding beyotch. She didn’t make it through the whole thing, the punk said she couldn’t concentrate and it was too long… I was ready to go, so I gave her my version of Chapter 14: “Don’t get on or off until I’m ready and tell you that I am. Keep your feet on the pegs at all times. Do what I do, when I lean, you lean. Go with the flow. No jerky movements and no texting in the back seat.” She cracked up laughing and mentioned the motorcycle ‘Safety Fail’ vid on YouTube. Of course, she freaked out as soon as she was required to put the helmet on. Something to the effect that it’s claustrophobic and it’s too tight. After 15 minutes of struggling and talking her through it and showing her how to pull the darn thing over her head, she had it on, but her hair was smoothed neatly over her face. It was my turn to laugh. Geez, kiddo… I’m not THAT crappy a driver, you can go ahead and look. I made her wear my Joe Rocket mesh jacket and I donned my Gladiator Armor (my Alpinestars Stella 2 bionic jacket). I got laughed at again. Great. I told her that road rash and broken bones weren’t all that funny and I rather look like a dork than a squid. Now I had to explain what a ‘squid’ was. I pointed at her feet and told her that she was one for wearing ‘safety shoes’ (flip-flops) and made her go put on the best pair of sneakers she had. She didn’t. She had to borrow her twin sister’s Pumas. My riding bottoms don’t fit her, so we had to make do with what we had. And what we had was a half-squid. Not bad, considering that the whole package would drop the average to quarter-squid. We go outside, I back the Fat Lady out of the drive and park myself on the right side of the street, parallel with the curb. No sense in freaking the kid out by making a turn from a stop, like I usually do as soon as I have enough room and apparently that bit of practice is paying off, since my turns from a stop are getting nice and tight. I explain to my daughter to step up on the peg and swing her leg over to the other side while holding on to my left shoulder to stabilize herself, she does as she’s told (for a change) and after a little swaying this way and that (now I’m REALLY glad I can flat foot the beast) we are nice and settled in, sitting on the side of the street like two hotties looking for trouble on a Friday night. Off we go. Nice and smooth. This is definitely different, but not bad at all. We come to a stop at the stop sign at the end of my street. I put one foot down. Mistake. Need two. Landing gear’s down, traffic is heavy, so I have some time to contemplate the left turn that is about to happen. Hmmmm… an unknown variable. Intellectually I know kind of what to expect (if the pillion is going to behave textbook), but in TraNceD Actual it might be… well, an adventure. I finally have a break in traffic that is large enough for my unknown-variable taste and I go for it. Dang, the incline… I’m rolling back. Shit! Front brake, foot up, rear brake. Dang, I don’t like this. Holding the bike up with one leg like this sucks now. But oh well, a chica’s gotta do what she’s gotta do when her hands are too small to roll on throttle while still on the front lever. This reminds me to get those Pazzo racing levers I’ve been drooling over (in blue please). I already have the Fat Lady’s stock levers set to the closest distance, and I still can only reach with my middle finger, barely. I wonder how many people think I’m flipping them off in an underhanded sort of way when scooting on down the road in heavy traffic, covering the front brake. I execute my turn. Not too shabby. A bit more sluggish, I guess is the word. Did I detect a slight wobble? Probably need more gas than usual. We motor on down the road, my spider monkey daughter is pressed up against me, has my gladiator armor clad self in a bear hug and I can feel her head pressed up against my right shoulder. Every once in a while I feel her grip getting tighter, especially in the curves. At least I know she’s not back there texting. At the next red light I ask her if she’s alright. She nods. I ask her if she’s having fun yet. She says yes, but she’s “still kinda nervous”. Good, because here is the left, I usually take rather aggressively, since it’s so much fun. This would be the corner I probably could put a knee down without so much of a thought, if I had pucks (which I’m not buying for that reason alone, just to keep myself from becoming a full-time squid; gotta hang on to that last vestige of responsibility with all that I’ve got). This corner’s as comfortable as an old shoe, familiar and thoroughly broken in. To put it in Code… I’ve got this corner mapped in my head with PoTs and RPs and the product is good, good indeed… and it’s getting better all the time. You gotta do what you gotta do to get your cornering practice in around here. I’m not blessed with curvy asphalt right in front of the house, I have to travel about 130 miles before I have the pleasure to encounter anything even remotely challenging and in succession. One 90 degree corner here and there or a flat S-curve really doesn’t qualify. The yellow squiggly line signs with a suggested speed posted under them are a complete letdown around here. 25mph my azz! I can take these things twice that in the car. LOL Sorry, I’m back. The light turns to the green arrow and off we go. The technique is somewhat between Metamucil and MotoGP. Brandy’s squeezing me as we get to the apex. I grin from ear to ear. She’s hanging on, at least she isn’t going anywhere and she’s doing fine as far as being smooth goes. We execute a ride-by by Hooters, because it IS Tuesday, after 7PM and it’s bike night. I want her to get a quick look, to take it all in (see if she wants to go next week). She does and so do several dudes (close to her age) in the crotch rocket section of the parking lot. She’s loosening up slightly. I guess she’s reorganized her priorities on the fly and looking cool and confident is more important at this instant than risking falling off her mother’s Hayabusa. Priceless. We don’t stop. I circle the place once and get back out on Washington Road with a nice little right-hand turn. I decide to stop at Kroeger’s gas station to have a little halftime review. I park, let her know she can get off and we sit on the curb and talk and just hang out. We have the place to ourselves for a whole 5 minutes and then we’re hip deep in Ninjas and Gixxers. Whodathunk! Leave it to shy little me to pick the one spot that serves as a staging area for bike night faring sport bikers. Good gawd. After I point out a few girls riding on the back of said crotch rockets, she asks me how to sit back there properly. I told her she should have read that chapter I told her to read, but then explain that you mostly hold on with your lower body, so your upper body is free to react to other things, like acceleration and deceleration, and that you should watch traffic just like you were riding yourself in order to prepare yourself for what may be coming, such as swerves and panic stops. She tries out the technique as soon as we leave. A few miles down the road, at another red light, I ask her if that was better, she says that it was. She’s doing better, I can tell; other than her knees squeezing the outside of my thighs it would be really easy for me to forget she’s back there. Apparently, she’s getting the hang of it all. And so am I. My shifting is starting to get smooth again, it’s been rather jerky most of the time. I don’t know why, maybe the 92 pounds that is my daughter is throwing off my timing? I dunno.

Two-Up Adventures: Girl-Man Man on Girl

Fast forward two days. Brandy ends up riding with me to Red Robin to meet the others for burgers. I concentrate on my shifting and deceleration/acceleration technique to smooth it all out as much as possible, and Brandy seems a lot more confident this time around. She seems to have her position figured out and the only time I really notice her is when she squeezes her knees a little harder while leaned over. Maybe it’s because we’re not playing in city traffic, but chose to take the highway route instead. It’s much more fun anyway. Maybe it’s because my riding is now smooth as silk and she probably can’t even tell when I’m shifting most of the time now. When we leave the burger joint, Brandy informs me that she wants to ride home in the Prius with the others. I tell her to take her helmet and jacket with her in the car, since I can’t carry it. My other daughter’s boyfriend jumps in and asks if he can ride with me instead. I tell him I don’ t have any gear for him, and he practically snatches the mesh jacket Brandy is still holding out of her hands and enthusiastically exclaims that he can wear this holding up my pink Joe Rocket Cleo 2. Hah! He shrugs into it and I just about fall over laughing. This is the gayest thing I’ve seen in a while. The twins seem to agree, because there’s a commotion breaking out around the car and Trey is posing for them. Dang! I wish it hadn’t been so dark, I would have snapped some pictures for ammo and later. “Dood! You look like a she-man in a pink corset and gay as hell. But damn, this thing really accentuates your waist.” People are going to talk. This is going to be one strange ride. I’m glad it’s dark. I crank up the Fat Lady and get ready for His Gurliness to get his six up on the bike. Holy Suzi! This almost dropped me right there, fortunately I had my feet firmly planted and as far apart as I could get them to brace myself. I almost chicken out at this point and tell Trey to get off, that it ain’t happening. But I keep my mouth shut. After asking if he’s ready I carefully pull out. OMG! Wobble, wobble. Ah shit. Come to a stop, both feet down, brace. Wobble. Crap. Ok, go. Right turn. OMG! This is going to end in an insurance claim before the night’s out. Right turn. Don’t think of it. Don’t. DO NOT WANT. I just want to get out of this shopping center and get up to speed. Downhill stop. Red Light. Waaaaaah. Wobble. Brace. Ok, good. We sit there for what seemed the longest red cycle in American traffic light history, but I’m starting to get my balance now. I can feel every move he makes. Cagers are looking at us. He could pass for a girl under his helmet, if it wasn’t for the hairy legs sticking out of his basketball shorts and the family crest warrior tattoo on his right calf. And the little fact that he’s probably close to 6 foot and 172 pounds (I asked him his weight after we got home). Yeah, we look like a couple of ‘tards on a ‘busa. Girl with tiger ears (I lost one of my kitty ones during some high velocity adventure the other day) wearing bionic armor and what looks to be Girl-Man Man in comfortable shoes. I’m loving it. The light changes and I give it a bit o’ the ole gas. This isn’t no Brandy here. This dude probably expects the works. I also don’t want him to tell his buddies that his fiancée’s Mom rides like a girl, even though he’s the one dressed like one. He hangs dutifully onto the grab rail and isn’t touching any part of his body to mine. I guess he feels awkward putting the moves on his soon-to-be mother-in-law. Ha! One of the corners on my A-List is about to come up and I decide to ride like I always do, go in fast, come out faster. Weeeeeee! Wow. Trey’s doing his thing, since I barely feel him and he’s not upsetting the Fat Lady while we are doing our thing. At speed it isn’t bad at all. We come to the traffic light at the intersection where I have to turn left (because I’m not going the highway route home… it’s dark and I don’t like venison.) Of course, it’s [drum roll please] red. I slow and stop, this time I’m not even all that wobbly. The light turns, I take off, lean into it and proceed to be surprised. I feel the suspension doing something I would expect from an old Ford LTD with bad shocks on a country road, but not from the Fat Lady. Holy shit! What’s happening? The front lifts then sags, the rear feels loose (WTF?) and seems to be doing the same thing in alternation. I lose my line and start going wide and the handlebars are starting to do an extremely slow version of the death wobble. I keep it loosey-goosey, because I don’t really know what else to do and it seems futile to try and fight it. I try correcting my line, to no avail, as soon as the correction takes place the bike is upset again and I’m on the top swing of my undulating line. I don’t really know what’s coming other than a low-side and effed up Tupperware if I don’t get this under control. So I gas it. One more hiccup and she straightens out, settles down and it’s business as usual. What the hell is he doing back there? I got half a mind to pull over and find out, but I decide against it. This has got to be a fluke, since he took that corner earlier without so much of a hint of a problem. I come up on I-20 and decide that maybe straight is the way to go and I can open her up and let him have it, according to male expectations. I granny it onto the onramp to minimize lean, but still can feel a hint of the unease in the rear, so I know I’m making the right decision here. I really should order those blasted frame sliders… but with that comes the buying of torque wrenches… not just one but TWO of those things, and I’m not in the mood for that at the moment at all. Not in the mood. Shopping for torque wrenches positively gives me a headache and pisses me off (too many options, too wide a price range, and not enough of a wrencher to make tool shopping enjoyable). I probably will pay for this procrastination eventually, in the form of scratched paint, but if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space, right? But I digress… (yet again) I lay into it on the onramp (because that’s what they are for, some of you cagers, please take note) and hit 90 by the time I get to the bottom. Shallow entry. EXTREMELY shallow, so shallow that I can actually feel the front tire slip on the white markings, but that’s something I’m familiar with, I can handle that. I’d rather handle that then a swerve with Mr. Backseat Driver sitting behind me wanting to help. It occurs to me that this is what may be happening. I told him to lean when I lean, to do what I do, to go with the flow but not to force anything or try to steer. Hubby informs me later I should have just told Trey to hang on and enjoy the ride, since it’s natural for people to just lean with it. It is hubby’s contention that if you tell people to lean with it, they overdo it and cause problems. Noted. By the time I get into the Granny lane it’s time for the first shallow lane change to go around a slow cager (I suspect he isn’t all that slow, but rather going the speed limit, however, he’s in my way). Here is the tire slip again. I don’t care. I’m afraid to lean now. I lay down on the tank to tuck in (since I don’t feel I should push my fanny back into my daughter’s hunka-hunka-burnin’-love’s private parts, it’s already established that we’re up there on the awkward meter or maybe he’s just trying to be polite?) and give it a little more of the ole twist. I let the needle climb up to about 110 or so, then slow it back down to around 85-90 all the way to our exit. A few more granny-esque turns at traffic lights and we’re home. He gets off the bike, basically rips his helmet off, jumps up and down like a schoolgirl, in his pink jacket and curly hair he looks the part up top, and exclaims that this was a total blast. “How fast were you going? How fast were we going?” – “About a 100.” – “OMG! That was totally awesome! I want a motorcycle!” Ha. Another convert. After he calms down and after bragging to his girl about the whole ordeal and how fast he had occasion to go (I could see my daughter’s jaw drop and her mouth forming a big O at the mention) I asked him what the hell he did back there. He said, that he was trying to help by leaning and guesses he overdid it, since he could feel the wobble, too, but couldn’t help himself. Turns from a stop freaked him out. I remember a time, not too long ago, a few thousand miles in the past… I introduced him to Lee Parks and said that him and Chapter 14 are going on a blind date.

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