A Taste Of The Inevitable: First Blood
The only experience I’ve had on two wheels was in 1989, when I practiced figure-eights in first gear on my boyfriend’s Kawasaki 900R, the very first generation Ninja. In retrospect, I cannot believe he actually let me ride it at all, let alone practice going around in tight little circles. His bike had this awesome midnight-blue metallic custom paint job with an airbrushed tank graphic. It was a warrior’s muscular forearm holding some sort of weapon. Also, I am surprised I didn’t lay it down. He apparently taught me clutch and throttle control and counterbalancing first. Don’t know. I rode bitch with him a lot; and boy, let me tell you, he was a giant squid with a capital S (not that I knew what a ‘squid’ was back in the day.) He rode pretty much like he drove his Mazda 929: Like a freakin’ maniac. I had nightmares about his driving. He was bad, but on the bike, I kind of enjoyed the rush (most of the time) of his obvious aggression. My dad didn’t like me riding on his bike at all, but when he found out about me trying to get my motorcycle license while I was still in driving school for the car, he told me in no uncertain terms he’d rather kill me himself than see me getting hurt on a motorcycle. That was the end of it. I wanted to learn how to ride, but I didn’t have the money to continue pursuing this particular venue. Licensing in Germany is rigorous and hugely expensive. The motorcycle license is also graduated, so I wouldn’t have been able to ride my boyfriend’s 900 anyway. I don’t know why I thought I could keep this a secret from the parental unit. Doh! I was mad at him for a while. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t let me do this, since he owned and ridden motorcycles when he was younger.
Fast-forward 20 years…
A Lifelong Dream Fulfilled: Owning An American Legend
Today is my first riding anniversary. One year as a biker chica. Today a year ago I bought my first bike: a 2008 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200 Low. Hubby and I were running around town and I told him that I wanted to go back to the Harley dealership to sit on the bikes again. I didn’t dream I would be the proud owner of a motorcycle a short four hours later. Hubby rode it home for me after we sealed the deal, because I had no clue whatsoever about how to ride one of these things. There was only one thing I was certain of: having the feet stretched out before my body made me cringe. It was explained that I prefer ‘mid-controls’ and a ‘standard riding position’. Our sales person was awesome. He listened to me talk and carry on about this and that while I parked my bum on pretty much most everything they had sitting on the floor and helped me figure out what bike would be right for me. They had just gotten the 1200L Sporty in, and when I sat on it, I knew this was the one. It felt right to this clueless newbie’s body.
Lessons Learned: To Teach A Wife
When we got home I parked the car, put on my helmet and insisted on a ride. Joe rode to a mostly empty grocery store parking lot, found a quiet, well-lit section and parked the bike. He had me sit behind the bars and explained the controls to me. Then he made me promise that I would follow his instructions to the letter, pay attention to every detail and not get mad at him, no matter what. I have a bit of a reputation of getting impatient, getting sidetracked, and taking admonitions personally. A few years ago he tried to teach me how to back in a semi-truck with a 53-foot trailer. Let’s just say, that ended in me refusing to drive backwards, stating that ‘this girl and reverse don’t get along’. I blocked four lanes of traffic for 45 minutes in downtown Chicago once all in the name of backing up.
But I digress, after I promised various behaviors to his satisfaction, he walked me through starting the bike. I did as I was told. My first lesson was focused on ‘finding neutral’. He had me pull in the clutch, push the shifter with my left foot and then lift it to put it back in neutral. No go. Couldn’t do it. I finally told hubby that I thought I was wearing the wrong kind of boots, that the chunky three-inch heels aren’t making this any easier. Defeated, I went back home. It was getting late anyway.
The next morning I couldn’t wait to go out and play. He pulled the bike alongside the curb in front of our house and parked it for me. Equipped with better footwear the lesson continued where we had left off the previous evening. By the time I could find neutral about 50% of the time my clutch hand was cramping from holding the lever so tight. I told Joe as much and we took a quick break.
The next lesson had to do with the ‘friction zone’. He instructed me to squeeze the front brake lever, put it in gear and then had me slowly release the clutch lever up to the point where I felt the engine engaging, emphasizing that I was not to let go of the brake lever under any circumstances. After playing around with the clutch for a few minutes, he said it was now time to actually start moving forward. Another round of instructions from hubby followed. Now I was getting a little nervous. I slowly released the clutch and gave it a little gas and started inching forward. OMG! I pulled the clutch back in and applied the front brake to stop, then started again. I did that a few times. Hubby told me to put my feet on the pegs. I didn’t want to. I refused, the feet refused. I tried. I couldn’t. I was scared. It took me a few minutes, but I finally took off and willed my feet up onto the pegs.
Woohoo! I’m riding! Awesome. Look Mom, no feet! My husband was walking next to me until I shifted into second gear and twisted the throttle a little more. By the time I reached the end of our street, I did 25mph. w00t! I slowly stopped the bike, turned it off and waited for a breathless hubby to catch up. Now what? He turned it around for me. I did that a few more times and then we had to take a break, because I had killed the battery with turning the bike on and off after each run down the street and he needed to jump it and let it charge. Doh!
Lesson Three: U-turns. More practice using the friction zone and trying not to give it too much throttle. Overall, my turns really stank, but at least I kept the bike rubberized side down. After a few turns that were assisted by power-walking the bike around, I finally managed to do them without putting my feet down, but there was a whole lot of wobbling going on.
Hubby decided we needed a longer road to practice on, so we went to John Deere Parkway on the edge of town, which is pretty deserted. He made me ride up and down it, practicing shifting and u-turns. By round number two I was going 55 in a 45, surely a sign of things to come; not that I knew it yet. My turns still sucked, but I was getting a little better. The only time I got nervous is when there was a car sharing the road with me, but I handled my business well enough.
The next lesson consisted on attempting a u-turn through the traffic light at the end of the street. Hubby explained that it’s nothing different from what we’ve been doing, but he wants me to get used to traffic. I flat-out refused, initially. But then my competitive side won over the argument and I told hubby that I was ready to do it. I didn’t want fear holding me back, but scared I was. I pulled up to the stop line and waited anxiously for the light to change to green. When it finally did, I already had an audience lined up on both sides of the red light. I eased out onto the road and executed my u-turn using the entire width of the intersecting road. After returning from my stint down the parkway, hubby had me do it again. This time I didn’t turn at all, for whatever reason. It’s an offset intersection, I just ended up going straight and ran off the road, cut across the dirt and grass and finally came to a nervous stop on the other side, back on the asphalt. Then I just sat there, not really understanding what just happened. Hubby came running up behind me, wondering what the hell just happened and that I was to never ever drag my feet along the ground like I did halfway through the intersection and that I am to stay on the pavement. I had had enough. We went home. Hubby later decided that I must have been fatigued and that tired hands and lack of concentration contributed to my first adventure on two wheels.
The next day we started on my private driving range again with the same exercises. Then he told me I should go and play in traffic, that I’ll have to get used to it eventually. I flat-out refused again. And it took a lot of coaxing for me to finally get the nerve up. I made him promise that he’d follow behind me in the Prius, so I didn’t have to worry about the cars to my rear. So it was agreed and I went and played in traffic. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, but it was stressful enough. The added security of someone protecting my six definitely helped a lot. I was free to concentrate on the traffic to the front and on my take-offs, which sucked about as bad as my u-turns did, but I never stalled it. I got the hang of left turns pretty quickly. Right turns gave me more of a problem and I had a tendency to run wide at tighter residential intersections.
My heart was in my throat every time I had to come to a stop. Going slow wasn’t my bag. At every light I prayed for it to stay green until I got there or to turn green before I got there, whichever, so I wouldn’t have to stop. Intersections were potential places of public embarrassment. Stalling, falling over, looking like an ass, rolling back, all those were things that were on my brain. Surprisingly, the fear of getting run over or rear-ended never really entered the equation.
(Recommended) Lessons Learned: The MSF Basic Rider Course
There were two conditions that I had to meet for hubby to give me the OK for purchasing a motorcycle in lieu of a second car:
- I had to buy the best protective gear we could afford and wear it at all times, and
- I had to enroll in a safety course.
As luck would have it, three cancellations happened and I got bumped up progressively from a December spot to a class in mid-October. The course was awesome. Our rider coaches were knowledgeable peeps who showed their love for the ride. They were friendly, engaging and made you feel at ease. They made us think for ourselves and take charge rather than drone on about this and that and risk putting the class to sleep. It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to learn how to ride. It’s invaluable and a great confidence builder.
I passed the course! I was their best student overall. I missed one question on the written exam and got docked one point on the practical test. I mention this, because I was so nervous during the hands-on, that I was shaking, was nauseous and light-headed. That stupid fear of public humiliation and embarrassment again. The bane of my existence: Stage fright with a healthy dose of performance anxiety. One of the rider coaches apparently noticed my ‘issue’ and kept me preoccupied by talking to me and joking around while I was waiting for my turn in the box. I aced the figure-eight (the first test and the most dreaded) on the verge of what felt like a panic attack. I have no problems with academics, no test anxiety whatsoever; but give me a man holding a clipboard looking over my shoulder while I’m expected to perform some manual skill, I’ll promptly turn into a quivering mass of Jell-O. My freakin’ hands go numb! Public speaking: same thing. Martial arts tournament: ditto. Dance competition: forget it. Final round in a table tennis tourney: sure to bomb.
Pushing Forward: Zen And The Art Of Working Through Fear
The first time I had to ride to work on my bike, must have been a terrifying experience. I apparently blocked it out, since I can’t even recall it. I do remember that I was scared every time I put my gear on. I was nauseated and felt like throwing up in my mouth. My nerves didn’t calm until I turned onto the main road from my street. Once I got through that, I was pretty much OK.
I remember planning my routes to avoid left turns across traffic without lights at all costs. I remember running the planned route mentally once while putting on my gear. I remember avoiding the scariest street in all of Augusta: Washington Road. I eventually braved that street due to necessity.
I remember being terrified of rain. I checked the weather report every night before I had to go to work and I got lucky for quite some time and stayed dry. When it looked like I would finally get caught out in the rain, I went online to research rain riding skills. That eased my mind but also ramped up the anxiety, if that makes sense. The first time I had the misfortune of having to ride in rain happened to be at night. I couldn’t see anything. I was scared shitless and prayed to whatever higher power chose to listen in. At one point, I think I started singing some stupid sing-along kiddie song to keep myself from freaking the hell out. Those were the scariest seven miles I ever had the displeasure of riding. Period.
There were other things that really got my heart rate up, some of which I didn’t even attempt until I was absolutely forced to. Making tight right turns from a stop, starting on a hill, riding on gravel or in sand, or backing into a parking space, just to name a few. I had a tendency to avoid situations that forced me into maneuvers I wasn’t confident of.
I spent a few sleepless nights wondering why I had done such a stupid thing as getting a motorcycle. Why in the hell had I spent over $10K, getting myself in debt for the next five years, and not have a damn car to show for it? There were plenty of nights I doubted the sanity of my decision and admonished myself: “You’ve done it now, girlfriend. More than you can handle and past the point of no return.” I never told my husband how deeply these doubts really ran. I kept most of my fears to myself.
One day, it may have been three months after buying the bike, it finally clicked. It clicked so hard it was almost audible. That’s how I refer to it, anyway. Hubby, his best friend Larry and I were out for a ride. I was bringing up the rear, as I preferred hanging out in the back (I still do, as a matter of fact.) We were sitting at a traffic light and it finally occurred to me that I hadn’t really been praying to the ‘Green Light Gods’ lately and following on the heel of that thought was another realization: I hadn’t really been feeling all that scared lately either. When the light changed to green I took off more confident than ever and that was the first time I recall that I actually enjoyed, thoroughly enjoyed, being on two wheels. The first time I felt proud of myself for being out there riding my own. The first time I really didn’t care what other people thought, because I knew I wasn’t going to do anything dramatic.
This freed up massive amounts of concentration and attention and left me able to enjoy the ride rather than being preoccupied with what-ifs and how-tos. My skills improved at an accelerated rate from that point forward. Sixteen weeks later I had my husband talked into letting me buy that Suzuki Hayabusa, which I absolutely fell in love with at the IMS (International Motorcycle Show) in Greenville, SC and been dreaming about ever since. We rode up there so I could test ride a Yamaha FJR1300 sport-tourer, which was a no-show. While I was drooling over the FJR and secretly planning an affair with a certain white Hayabusa, my husband was busy courting a red Kawaski Concours 14. The rest — as they say — is history.
The Meaning Of Life: “I Created A Monster” –Joe, ‘Busa Widower
I cannot believe how far I’ve come in the past year and how my riding has evolved into something that I honestly didn’t see coming. 13828 miles ago I was a clueless, frightened but motivated girl who wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle. Now I am a confident, safety-minded (yet sometimes squiddy) biker chica who is focused on mastering the ride, evolving her skill set and refuses to ever become an ‘experienced’ rider. I’m a second-year n00b. I will never stop learning. I haven’t seen the inside of a car in quite some time. I get restless when I can’t ride for a day. I ride rain or shine, year around. I commute back and forth to work. My life is centered on motorcycles. I live it. I breathe it. I’m a gear whore. I want to go to racing school and start participating in regular track days and compare my lap times to those of the pros. I want to break the land-speed record and be the fastest woman on two wheels. I want to drag knee, do wheelies and learn how to drift. I probably annoy people, because that is all I ever talk about anymore. I have a reputation.
Joe has watched me in the twisty bits, almost dragging tail pipe. He asked me if I had no fear. He said I made this stuff look easy and that this scared him. I told him that I did, but I choose to work through it and use it to my advantage rather than let it keep me from something I want. He normally doesn’t want to hear about my ‘escapades’ on two wheels, he’s a little scared. But I know he’s proud of me, he brags to his friends behind my back.
Fear (in its various manifestations) has ruled my life for far too long. Through motorcycling I have conquered it. Motorcycling, much like Karate, has helped me learn about myself, who I am, what I’m capable of and made me a stronger, more confident individual who knows what she wants and goes for it. I haven’t been depressed in 365 days, not really. I am finally at peace with myself and the world around me. I have overcome adversity. I am a survivor. I don’t stress over stuff anymore. When I need to find my inner balance or clear my head, I go for a ride. I don’t keep stuff bottled up anymore. I deal. I cope. I ride. I handle my business. Not a small feat for me (as those of you, who are close to me can attest.) When I’m on my ‘Busa, I feel in control. I am in control. The Fat Lady and I are one. Woman and machine. I am the master of my circumstances: Good or bad, it is I who caused it, nobody but myself to blame. Total control. Total personal responsibility. For a perfectionistic moderately control-freaked geek with a slight tendency towards the obsessive-compulsive, this is heaven on earth. At that moment, nothing else matters.
There is nothing quite like it.
Yes. It’s that good.
Life is good.
…so my hubby spent more of my hard-earned BusaCredits and made me take two days off work (which I practically had to lie, steal and cheat for, or so it felt…. like they were doing me a favor, gawd….anyhoo…) and he took off one day (Thursday), and booked us a place up in Helen, GA, which is about 150 miles north of here. A fake German town with an amusing history. Since I’m German this is going to be an interesting adventure in German words spelled wrong in neon. LOL What I really care about is that it’s going to be twisty roads to the place and all around the place. So, I’m going to take my trusty Mac, make use of the modern technological marvel that is satellite imagery and scope out some ‘worthy’ roads for myself. This is probably going to be Kittyhog’s last road trip with me, since she might be going to a new home on Saturday, to a lady who wants to learn how to ride.
I should be getting ready instead of hanging out online, there’s so much to do, but I’m such a procrastinator. I’m looking forward to going. This is my first overnight motorcycle trip that is taking place solely for the purpose of searching out windier roads. I went to the IMS in Greenville, SC in February and we stayed overnight but we didn’t do any riding. It was pretty much a two-wheeled commute. Purposeful. This is strictly pleasure. Kind of nervous, but also excited. New roads, new challenges. Hopefully, I won’t be a sleazeball in the next two days. 🙂
I will report back on Sunday, hopefully with some piccies courtesy of Papa Razzi (my 5-pound, 2-foot, red-ring telephoto-lens carrying Canon fanboi of a husband!)
Update: May 4, 2009 at 11:11pm
My first ‘real’ motorcycle trip was pretty much pushed on me by my hubby. He says: “You better get Thursday and Friday off because we’re going for a ride.” He already had gotten it off, and I had to pull out the heavy manipulation to get my days off. It wasn’t looking good at first, but the powers that be took pity on my wretched self and gave me two off in a row. Trust me, this was a MAJOR accomplishment where I work. So, it was going to happen. I don’t plan anything, because we all know what happens to the ‘well laid plans of mice and men’. I like to shoot from the hip, go with the flow, cross bridges when I get to them and deal with stuff as it presents itself. I was never a girl scout, so I don’t believe in ‘coming prepared’. Where’s the fun in that? I figure all the preparedness I need is in the form of a PDA and the trusty ole MasterCard.
Hubby basically planned the trip, what little planning there was, since he’s a trucker and if he knows anything it’s roads. I think he has an internal database inside his head where he stores EVERY road he’s ever been on, no matter the vehicle he happened to be in. I think he has photographic memory when it comes to asphalt and concrete. I on the other hand get lost in parking lot course marked by orange cones. All the moaning about the roads not being curvy enough around here was finally catching up with me. Hanging off of my Harley Sportster and trying for new ‘personal bests’ in the few good corners we do have around here probably didn’t help much either. Getting rid of the Chicken Strips on the left side of the rear tire probably had something to do with it. It was all going to come to the point where I had to put my money where my mouth was. I was pretty nervous, not scared, but a little anxious. But I was looking forward to it, too. Definitely. I was ready, just not 100% confident in my riding skills that I had accumulated over the past few months.
The trip started out two hours behind what passes around here for a schedule. That’s normal, too. I don’t care. Vacations are for not meeting deadlines, for not making a big deal out of anything, and simply just going with the flow and enjoying oneself doing it. If I wanted to meet a deadline or stay on a planned schedule, I’d stay at work. Some people don’t seem to grasp the concept. And those are the same people that need a vacation from their vacation when they get back home. Plans are diametrically opposed to having a good time, but that’s just me. I come home relaxed and recharged. But I digress… We pack up the farm animals (the hog and the cow) and I tell hubby that I want to stop by Harley to get my hands on a tinted shield for my helmet. So, we ride on over to the dealership and I go inside to make the purchase. They didn’t have any. Bummer. I come back outside and basically have to push some old dude out of the way with the door to get out. Hubby had an audience, and guess what they were talking about? Not Harleys. They were talking about the wife’s plans for trading the hog for a Hayabusa! Gawd… you leave these bums to their own devices for FIVE short minutes and here they are, gossiping like school girls. Here I was in the middle of it, feeling like an animal at the zoo, having to listen to ALL the (MALE) opinions. How you can’t go slow on a ‘busa. How a buddy had one and traded it for a Harley Road King after barely a month. How somebody got killed on one. How that ain’t no bike for a little thing like me. Puuuuuullllleeeeze! My only response was the sweetest, most ladylike smile I could muster and calmly stating that the throttle goes both ways. Then I got on my hog, stuck my Big Ears stereo earplugs in my ears, cranked up my iPod, put my helmet and gloves on and… blasted out of there very unladylike with my cat ears flopping in the breeze, hanging off on the top of the hill and dragging knee to make the corner at speed…. No, not really. But that would HAVE been cool and showed them gruffy old Harley dudes that girls can ride anything they set their mind to. LOL
So, we’re on our way. It’s business as usual, since I’ve been exploring these roads for a few months now. The way there was pretty much straight and boring. So, I concentrated on the scenery and the smells and just going with the flow. I was called a ‘Squidly’ at the first gas stop, since I passed a logging truck that was going 50 in a 55, after being behind him what seemed like forever and a day, by going 90. Not so. I had to defend my passing technique to cruiser hubby, but told him straight out. I rather get a speeding ticket, then hang out in the opposing lane of traffic, taking my sweet time getting around a semi-truck that is causing turbulence in the air currents and the driver of which may just be making a sandwich, smoking a cigarette and yakking on his CB and swerve over in the lane and kill my sorry slow, riding-along-at-speed-limit butt. When I make the decision to pass and deem it safe to do so I hustle. Sorry kids. But every one of us has to make that sort of decision for themselves. Fast forward. It’s getting curvier when we’re getting close to Helen. But the fun is taken right out of enjoying a sequence of S-curves at slightly elevated speeds by several ‘Slow Congested Area’ and ‘Limited Sight Distance’ signs that seemed to be sprouting everywhere. I’ve learned my lesson on out-riding my sight distance and the good student I am, I dutifully slow, and do the right thing. When my GPSr tells me we’re at the hotel, it’s lying. Our brand is nowhere in sight. I’m in the lead, so I cruise along in first trying to find the place. We’re on the right street, but apparently the addresses and the actual coordinates do not mesh properly, which is a common occurrence really. At least in my experience. So, I get to the end of ‘Edelweiss Strasse’, stop at the 4-way and look at Joe, shrugging. He takes the lead. What’s the first thing he does? He hangs a left over a speed bump into a gravel strewn, potholed parking lot to assess the situation. You have got to be kidding me. I pop open my shield and ask him if he ever surveys the area he’s about to pull into? This is the suckiest place to stop in all of deserted Helen (it’s the off-season, so fortunately for me, I have no witnesses if I decide to kill him or lay my bike down, or both)! He just giggles (he knows how I’ve felt about u-turns lately and I think it’s part of his ploy to engage me in some much needed practice) and then says: “Watch This!” and proceeds to waddle-walk is bike around the tight lot and comes to a stop facing the other way. He turns, looks at me and says: “There is no shame in waddle walking.” All I can think of is what a ‘hole he can be, but he’s right. However, I can’t waddle walk anymore, I found out. After all the practice of keeping feet on pegs, I’m way too fast to waddle walk. I try to do a hybrid, but I should have just done what my muscles wanted to do, but no. There is no shame in waddle-walking. This was the most miserable turn ever. Too fast for walking, too slow for counterbalancing, not in the right frame of mind. Indecision causes scratched paint. Luckily I had it enough under control (if you can call it that) not to have a visit from my favorite Uncle. Uncle Gravity, that is. So, we head back out and finally find the hotel, which we passed, but couldn’t see since the sign was covered by a bush and the front of the building was facing parallel to the street.
We pull in next to two other motorcycles, these are sport-tourers, a Beemer and a Triumph, both of which look like they’ve seen a little more than asphalt in their time. Serious bikers. Maybe we should park with the lame cagers on the other end? Nah. We mean business, too. Well, at least I do. Don’t know about my marshmallow butt husband… speaking of which, the pillion is a lot more comfy than the front seat, what’s up with that??? More on that later. I’m all excited. Mountains means curvy roads and the place is deserted. VERY good. There are people sitting out front in rocking chairs watching us. I decide to actually back in my bike, which I do without a problem. I get all giddy, bounce up and down in my seat and cause my helmet, which I had put on the right-hand mirror, to fall off and bounce across the parking lot. Yeah. You go, girl! Go show off, see where that gets ya… Oh well. I’m too excited now to be embarrassed. We go check in, drop our stuff off and decide we’re gonna go eat, on foot, since we both wanted to have a few beers. Hubby changes, I live in my gear, so I have to wait on him… we inquire at the desk where a good place to eat is and follow his directions. First place didn’t have anything in the way of veggies on the menu, so we opt for Plan B. BiggDaddy’s. I have a portobello mushroom burger, home fries, and beer. Some local brew, or something. Started with a T then Gold. Tappani. Tephani, Tiffany.. something… Not a clue, I felt adventuresome. I got drunk on two beers (I always do, since I don’t drink very often) and have diarrhea of the mouth… the topic of discussion? Bikes, bikes, bikes…. Of course, that’s all I talk about lately. Then we wolfed down deep friend cheese cake and went back to the room by detour to the local liquor store. A six pack of Warsteiner for the road. Fast forward, because we are boring people.
Next morning, we barely make it in for the free continental breakfast around 9ish. The other bikers are gone, of course. Real bikers get up at the crack of dawn, we rolled out of bed early, proud to be up at nine. Hubby is a night-shifter, I try to stick somewhat to his schedule otherwise we would never see each other. Besides, mornings suck anyway. While drinking Warsteiner the previous evening I had found myself the bestest motorcycle road ever. Almost as curvy as the Dragon, but with a lot less traffic, I’m sure, and hopefully with a more reasonable speed limit. One problem though: The weather had changed drastically, over night, and there was a storm front moving in from the northwest. Bummer. The clouds hung ominous and black and pregnant in the mountains. We scrap our plans. ☹ Neither of us has any rain gear, I have waterproof liners for my stuff and can probably hang, but Joe was in his summer mesh and would be soaked in no time. Dang it, we need to get around to buying some rain duds. I’m bummed out…. When I leave the hotel by the side door, it’s already raining. Yay! We pack our bikes, get gas and head out. We’ve decided to head southeast, but not too far south, since that would take us out of the mountains and try to stay out of the storm’s way and maybe still get some twisties in. We do. Hubby knows how to find promising roads… I found a decent alternative in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Unfortunately, the roads were wet and there were ‘tree boogers’ everywhere! Not a good combination, nice and slick. So I had to really curb my enthusiasm, but it was good nonetheless. Good practice. After we did one loop, hubby wanted to know if I wanted to go around again. I almost said Hell, yes! But thought better of it. I don’t want to be one of those ‘holes that wear out their welcome by bothering people who are fishing and camping nearby by tooling around the same stretch of road all day. We pretty much headed home, but tried to stay in the ‘hills’ as long as we could, but the weather was playing catch up. Fast forward. The last 40 or so miles before I-20 were painful. My bum was getting sore from all the vibration, my hands and feet were no better. I finally decided that riding on the pillion was way more comfy, so I tooled down the road sitting on the back with my feet on the pegs and my arms stretched out to the handlebars. Ah, so that’s how it feels to ride on a V-Rod. Glad I didn’t get one, forward controls suck. ☺ You definitely see more back here, because you sit up higher. People in cages were giving me strange looks, but a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. My hubby pulls up next to me at one point, paces me, pops his shield open and we both yell at each other: “My arse hurts!’ and then we cracked up laughing. Yeah, we’re marshmallow butts, alright. The Sporty is a great commuter bike, but a tourer it is not. Hubby is looking into getting a new seat for Mr. Spock, his 2009 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom SE (it’s blacked out like the Nightrod Special…., awesome looking bike!)
The last 20 miles were on I-20. On the on-ramp I almost became a cager sandwich, hold the mustard, plenty of pickle. What a bunch of boneheads. Hubby was way ahead of me, because I got caught waiting for traffic and a red light on the way out from our last gas and coffee stop. So, I’m accelerating down the ramp, with two vehicles in front of me: a semi-truck and a passenger car. I start slowing my approach, since the Interstate is packed around the ramps. Cars are getting over as they can, to make room, but it’s all backing up. The semi merges like a pro. The cager behind him is clearly an idiot: he slows, I catch up with him, fast. He has a hole, he won’t take it. Now traffic is going way faster than him, and it’s starting to get dangerous for me. Decision time. What to do, what to do? I see a hole, crank on some throttle to get back up to the speed of the traffic flow, merge in smooth as butter and at this precise moment Mr. Merge-I-Cannot decides that he needs my lane more than I do, since he’s started making judicious use of the rumble strip already. He comes over towards the middle third of my lane. To avoid being sideswiped, I’m now forced over the white line and now I’m lane-splitting with Mr. Merge-I-Cannot and the car to the left of me, in the passing lane. The dude to the left of me looks like he is about to freak out on me, so I do the only thing I can think of doing before he starts weaving in his lane. One erratic cager’s enough. Slowing down clearly is not an option, there’s cars everywhere. I gas it hard and extract myself out of this rolling metal and plastic booby trap. And I don’t slow down until I have the whole gaggle behind me. I wonder if somebody called in my tag for ‘(w)reckless driving’? I caught up with hubby (as I always do) and sleazeballed my exit. Yeah, I didn’t think I was as close as I actually was. I thought I had another mile to go. Passed a slow semi, then had to squeeze by a car to make it. Yeah, I had to end the trip by being Miss Squidly.
Oh, and hubby toted his entire camera gear with him and didn’t snap a single freakin’ picture! What a lamer! The only thing I got to show for are cell phone piccies I snapped of the food and beer. Ha!