What do you mean it’s gonna snow?Posted: January 7, 2010
They called for snow… a blizzard… people were actually stocking up on food at the market, or so I’ve heard. I’m sitting here, tweeting, sipping on a cup o’java, and the thought of riding doesn’t even occur to me in earnest. Because it’s pretty much been too damn cold to do anything other than commute. I look at the radar image on Weather Bug and just about fall out of my chair. It’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit out there! Screw this! I gotta RIDE! Three more tweets later I’m in my full racing gear, for I am about to have some serious fun. Did you hear me!?! SERIOUS! Yeah, on a public road, too. Uh-huh. Yeah… gonna hang off the side also… probably bust a few safe driving regulations, and definitely violate posted speed limits, too. Yeah. Bring on the SQUID! Muhahaha…. no seriously… All joking aside, I have to work out some kinks in my body position that have been introduced with the addition of those Gilles rearsets, and for that I need a curvy road. Hanging off in the straights can only tell you so much, after all. So, off I go… at speed limit +5, my usual pace when in town. I don’t have much time, I have to be at Mom’s to help her with her eBook reader software, so she can get herself more books. She’s out, and when Mom runs out of books and/or wine there’s going to be trouble for somebody somewhere. Anyway, I’m making my way to the SC state line and I feel like a dork rolling down the road at 55ish, in the racing position. Tucked in, snug as a bug… but it’s warmer down here behind the Double Bubble, so I’ve been riding like that, more or less, on my way to work, too. First thing I notice is that the sliding isn’t as annoyingly pronounced as it has been. Those textile overpants I wear for commuting have got to go, all that slippy-sliding around is killing my wrists, and doesn’t really help with being smooth either. I also notice during my take-offs that the shifting has improved, it’s nowhere near where it was, as far as speed and smoothness go, but it’s slowly getting there. The Sidis definitely make it easier than the clunky Harley boots, but dang those racing boots have nothing in the way of insulation! Maybe I should get myself a pair of those waterproof Dainese jobs I’ve had my eye on. Those have got to be warmer! I hate to see those Harley FXRG boots go, they are so comfy on and off the bike, but with the new rearsets they violate the FLPD (Fat Lady’s Prime Directive), they interfere with performance. And I’m a geek, if it isn’t working together, it’s got to go, I don’t care how much it hurts. I can’t bring myself to ‘just make do’. Not when it comes to riding. No. No. NONONONONO. Sorry. Can’t do it. As I’m going down the road at annoyingly slow speeds (school’s letting out), I have occasion to play with the shifter a little. Up, up, down, up, down, down… slow race it. I have to remind myself that I need to be patient, until muscles are retrained and muscle memory takes over. I’m still fighting the ‘but I already knew how to do this’ whine in my head. The shifter travel is shorter, and when I nail a sequence, it’s pure heaven. So much better than the clunky stock lever. I’m so going to have to teach myself the reverse shift pattern, but right now I have other things to worry about. But it’s added to the ever growing list of goals and milestones. I’m not going to get bored anytime soon, that’s for sure. I do a few aggressive lane weaves, just because I can, and they feel good. I try to feel the bike. More than usual, I try and focus on everything that she’s telling me. Trying to sort stuff… that suspension tweak is still top priority and I’ve neglected to really pay attention. I’m starting to hear the Fat Lady’s song now, though. I love the way she feels, to me she turns quickly. However, I know that this perception (borne of the fact that I’ve only ridden humongous bikes so far) will be forever altered come June, when I get to play with Kevin Schwantz and his crew on nimble 600s. But for now, the perception is what it is. I have no real-world reference point. I’ve learned on a H-D Sportster 1200L, then got the Hayabusa, and ridden my husband’s Concours 14. I’ve sat on smaller bikes, and they feel like bicycles to me. And intellectually I understand, just not in reality. I’ve never understood, when people refer to the ‘Busa’s cornering ability or the lack thereof, what the problem is. And I always say, it’s like dancing with a fat man, you gotta go tell them your intentions early and then put your back into it, that is if they’ll let the woman lead. 🙂 If my thinking is correct, I would have put my knee down on a 600 7 months ago. My excuse: The Fat Lady is too wide and I’m too short, my knee barely sticks out past the tail pipes. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it… 😉 but I digress… I get to the long stretch of straight road that leads over the river into South Carolina. The car that has inconveniently hindered my progress through the few preceding curves (no time like the present to practice some braking while leaned over) has turned off and I find myself all alone with one car way ahead. I smile to myself and then I let the Fat Lady off her leash. The purring kitten turns into the roaring tiger, we quickly pass the cage and as I hit triple digits I stick my left hand into the air current, down by my side with only one digit extended. I laugh and scream into my helmet: “Take this, coppers! UP YOURS!” as I cross the GA/SC state line. Weeeeeeeee! That was fun. Nothing like doing the ton! Recharges the spirit and cleans out the mental funk!
I turn off a little while later to get to the stretch of road I’ve picked for my practice runs. There’s trash everywhere. Arrrrgh! Sucks. I take it slow, in 2nd, I’m not here to beat my record, I’m here to feel things out. Body position, foot position, suspension reactions, that sort of thing. I’m focused. I’m concentrating, I’m collecting data for analysis later. There’s nobody around. Not a single soul. It is a deserted stretch of passable heaven (it’s not curvy enough for my tastes, but a girl has to work with what she’s been given.) Inadvertently I nail the only 90-degree corner on the stretch. And it felt sexy as hell! And the pavement was so close… strange line of sight if you avert your attention down with nose and eyeballs focused through… tilted, but not… I love it. It’s not even scary, even though my mind tells me that I probably should be. I live for this, I am an adrenaline junkie after all. For some reason ‘down here’ close to the road, things feel safer, more under control. More controllABLE. And still, no knee down. Oh well, can’t be far now. Those dudes with the long legs and skinny bikes are cheating. LOL Definitely, because I know that both my butt cheeks are hanging in the breeze, too. I don’t think I could hang off more if I tried. I remind myself not to force it. It’s not a means to an end. It happens when it needs to, that’s all. Do your thing, don’t worry about it. Force stuff, work against the bike, and risk going down. Simple as that. So don’t. I do another pass… another thing I’ve noticed is that my outside foot still wants to lose contact with the peg. Before it was no big deal, I had my anchors and I trusted them. Now? Anchors are shifted, still need to get used to them and develop trust. But the foot sliding off like that, it kind of worried me.
All in all, a good ride. I’ve learned a few things. I need a few more outings. I’ll sort through it and take it slow. One change at a time. I’m in listening (data acquisition) mode, as I should be. And I think I just might learn a little patience, in the quest to become one with the machine again.
P.S. God bless blizzard warnings in Georgia. And the paranoia that goes down when ‘inclement weather threatens’. People stay home and I can play largely unmolested.
P.P.S It still hasn’t snowed. Just as I thought.