That’s it! I’m arming myself with marshmallows!

WARNING: The profanity-per-word ratio in the following post is way above average (even for me). You have been warned. There’s liberal and generous use of the f-bomb and various other of my favorite swear words are excessively employed. Also, superior use of name-calling. You have been warned.


Good gawd! What the hell is wrong with people? I mean really? Who the fuck died and made YOU so important? Take the cell phone outta your ear and shove it up your ass, you’d probably drive better… I swear!… so I make a left turn onto the I-520 on-ramp, I have a green arrow, when this right-turning car decides that he absolutely positively HAS to be in front of me, so he guns it to stick his rear bumper square into my path of travel. Nothing to it, I have the left lane, so I swerve over. He then neglects (or forgets) to get on the damn gas, so he’s creeping up the ramp at a cozy 35mph. WTF? DUDE! What part of ACCELERATION ramp do you not understand?!? Fuck this, I’m not in the lane that ends shortly, so when I twist the wrist to get around, he decides that he’s not gonna have none of that and speeds up. Fuck you! I rip it open and proceed to fish-tail that puppy at 9K RPM in first gear all the way past him and then some. One angry upshift later I finally get that shit back under control. Damn! Cold tires. Ooops…. forgot about that. Shit, now I’m mad, because (as much fun as that is) I now left about 1,000 miles worth of rubber on the damn ramp, because of this stupid idiot. Shit or get off the pot, man! I get up to the dashed white line and it’s busy as hell up there. Freakin’ more slowasses who don’t know what ‘accelerate to the speed of traffic’ actually means, and merging is a bit of a challenge for most of the bunch. I’m pissed off now. I got this ‘tard behind me catching up and a cluster fuck of Cracker Jack License owning assholes to the front. These fuckers are everywhere! Fuck this! I’m outta here! A little bit of creative riding, and a few semi-lanesplits later, I’m doing about 100 in a 55, and am clear of the sheet metal retard party. I settle back into speed limit +7 and am starting to feel calm again.

Then I get cold… what the heck is going on here? I reach for the temp controller that’s hanging off the left side of my mil-spec vest and fiddle with the knob. Shit. It’s on its max setting, isn’t it? I can’t tell. I lift it and hold it up where I can see it in my mirror. The light’s on, which way to turn it? Crap. I think it’s upside down. It takes me three more miles of fiddling until I finally got it figured out, but my fingers are already getting chilled. Shit. Gawd! I’m really not in the mood for this. I’ve had a day of getting my ass kicked at work, I’m dehydrated, hungry, and have a headache coming on. I’ve been going pretty much non-stop for the past 2.5 hours and I’m drained. 12-hour days are shit anyway, what I need is site traffic to pick up at the gate when I’m by myself, already brain-dead from a long day, bouncing around like a mad woman… arrrrgh. What else?

Then some asshole flicks a burning cigarette butt out the window which bounces off The Fat Lady’s nose fairing and disappears into the night behind me. *sigh* If I had a buck for every time that happened, I probably could buy ‘Judge Dredd’ on Blu-Ray. Inconsiderate basturds!

I’m getting to a busy part of I-520 again, traffic is getting denser and I get stuck behind this assclown pacing somebody in the right lane. Pass or no pass, get the fuck out of my way, you’re the reason all these jokers behind me are so impatient and driving shittier than they already are. Suddenly my visor gets wet. What the hell? Rain? No way, what… no… something isn’t right here… this is different… water spray? Nope, roads aren’t wet. Where the hell is this coming fro…. no you didn’t! No you didn’t just fucking throw some liquid out your damn window, you lousy son of a three-titty whore! Holy fuckeroo!!!! I’m covered in some clear crap, I will be spending the next five miles trying to identify…. fuck, I hope this is Sprite or something. Shit… what the hell. it doesn’t smell like Sprite… it’s slightly tacky… OMG! Don’t think about it too hard. Just don’t think ABOUT IT! Now I’m double-pissed…. I pass the Liquid Bomber on the left, and high-tail it out of there. At this point I really don’t give a shit about High Performance Awards or the Popo, all I want to do is get the fuck away from these morons on four wheels.

Ah… the cloverleaf ramp onto Gordon Highway… finally I can get away from this chaos and exchange it for a chaos of a different kind. I’m in 2nd gear, behind a car, I keep my distance, but when he decides to just slam on the brake right at the point where the ramp tightens up on itself, I get to practice hard braking while leaned over. Ah, fuck this! I straighten her up, slam on the brakes, and a wobble and several f-bombs later, I’m creeping up the ramp going what? Like 15 mph? Screw this. When we get to the top, we have another merge situation. I’m catching it today on EVERY fucking ramp!!!! What institution armed their patients with licenses and opened up their gates to let these idiots play in traffic? I had it, twistie-twist, I pass the asshole on the right, because I have no intention to mingle with all those rolling speed bumps at the merge point. I cut him off and am gone. I briefly wonder if I’m gonna hear about this at the next red light. Fuck it. He made me do a brake test. He’ll get an earful, I’ve already decided. Think the dude in ‘The Fugitive’: I’ve had a really bad day!

I finally made it home, sticky wet, but pretty calm again. It’s beer time. I need some chillaxation.


24 Hours Later…

The Hayabusa Is Just A Cry For Help!

I must be looking kind of desperate, forlorn, and lost while I’m sitting sedately on my white ‘Busa, minding my own gas cap and getting some 93-Octane premium to turn into forward velocity. I notice this white car slowly pulling up beside me. No big deal, this happened before… some dude wanting to tell me how much he likes my bike, or take a pic of me with his phone or just tell me that he too rides a ‘Busa or some such thing. So I almost drop my nozzle when he pulls up next to me and hands me a little slip of paper while telling me: “Take this, honey, and stick it in your pocket you may be needing it tonight.” I take the folded paper, and with a glance I recognize the accusing words printed upon the half that is facing up: “If You Died Today…”, I recognize it for what it is. I’ve seen these before. I somewhat blankly look at him and reply rather flatly: “Well,…” a brief pause, then: “…thanks…”, trailing off. I guess. I’m too flabbergasted to serve up some awesomely funny one-liner in retort or give him a piece of my mind, not that I would have argued the point anyway. I find it best to go with the flow when it comes to people of the religious persuasion. Anyway, he pulls away (his job here is done) and I shove the thing into my jacket pocket so I can finish fuelling. I sit there for a minute and I can’t believe what I had just heard. I must be looking rather badass tonight, or my aura is of the ‘soon to be dead’ color. Hmmm… I wonder if he saw me ride?!? Nah, I wasn’t doing anything supremely squidly tonight, after all I have slightly new geometry to get used to. Maybe the Hayabusa just looks like a suicide machine, or maybe her newly lowered ass really makes her faster than a pack of Imps on their way to… where exactly!?! What are those little demons up to anyway? The girly skulls on the side probably didn’t help… and the pink skull & crossbones kitty with the No. 13 in the middle pretty much sealed the deal. Dressed all in black, on my white horse, I suppose I could be mistaken for one of the Reaper’s minions, but the butterflies on the Shoei really mess with the image…

The audacity, though, especially considering what he said when he gave a girl on a motorcycle a pamphlet that starts off with: “If You Died Today would you go to HEAVEN?” Welcome to hell. My soul doesn’t need saving, thank you very much, but I appreciate the vote of badassery. Now, excuse me while I go practice some more, because apparently my riding skills are slipping into the ‘soon-to-be-dead’ level.

Protestant Propaganda

A girl needs to know where she's gonna go after she breaks the sound barrier on a Hayabusa and doesn't land it... ;P

To answer the question: If I died today (on my bike), I would be dying doing what I love doing, doing what I’m passionate about, doing what makes me feel ALIVE and I probably had a fucking blast up to the point of impact. Now go tend to your flock, because this chica isn’t going to die today. Because today is not a good day to die. Besides, I’m Catholic. 😉

Singing (Off-Key) In The Rain

Got crapped on by the Weather Gods yesterday evening on the way home from work. It’s been steadily raining all day, moderately heavy. The kind of rain that shows up light to dark green on the sat map the weather frogs give us to look at when we’re curious about outside conditions. Dark and wet and rainy: my favorite combo; it could only be worse if it had also been cold, but I lucked out: it was comparatively warm at 48˚ Fahrenheit around 18:30hrs. I decided to shove my iPod Shuffle into my waterproof breast pocket on my riding jacket, instead of its accustomed place in the front pocket of my mil-spec hi-viz vest. Didn’t want it to get wet, even though I do have a two-year replacement warranty on it. That was a mistake. As I roll along the Interstate, at about 70mph indicated; I guess that would be in the neighborhood of 63mph actual… I need to get that fixed. I hate subtracting 9.9% in my head… well, I do round up, but it’s a nuisance. Why do they do that? It’s another one of those stupid things corporations do in the name of… what? Politics? Lawsuit prevention? Gentlemen’s Agreements? Meh. Fuck you, Suzuki! I don’t need some corporate joker or dumbass politician saving me from my perceived idiot self, I can manage that on my own, thank you very much. I value the (dying) concept of personal responsibility. Harleys have accurate speedos… why can’t imports? It’s another one of those things that I need to rectify as a matter of principle. Add that one to the list of derestricting the bike, and replacing the top triple clamp with something that has holes in it big enough to slide fork tubes through. * crosses arms in front of her chest * I’ve had my say. Rant complete.

Anyway, shoving that Shuffle down my coat wasn’t a good idea as I am about to find out. Apparently the chest strap of my backpack is hitting the buttons on the inline control module when I move. The first indication of bad-idea-ness comes in the form of a voice-over announcing the song currently playing. Hot Doggie! It enunciates German properly. Cool beans! Kudos to Apple, I suppose. Then the volume gradually rises, one bump at a time. Ohoh! I try to remember if I have the volume limiter set and I think I do, but I set it with the Apple earbuds and I’m wearing my Big Ears now… Oh crap! It’s really blasting my eardrums now. I can’t hear anything anymore! The world has drowned in a German ‘80s Punk Rock song. I debate on whether or not to pull over to fix it. I quickly dismiss the idea, since that would mean having to stop and taking one of my gloves off, in the pouring down rain. And when one stops on a faired sportbike, the water droplets that usually get pushed up the sleeves and blown off have a chance to make their leisurely way down your arm and into your previously dry gloves. I get enough of that at the red lights. :/ I try to adjust the chest strap, but don’t really know whether to go up or down with it. I don’t experience any more volume increases or voice-overs, so I either guessed right and moved the strap in the proper direction or my little iPod has reached its noise limiter. Either way, I’m definitely down with that.

I hate Gordon Highway in the dark when it’s raining. The entire road looks weird. It looks as if there’s standing water everywhere, but I’ve been down this road so many times, it’s just the coloration of the asphalt, something about the texture, and it tends to show up in the wheel tracks mostly. It’s also smooth in spots and water and light refracting off its surface makes it look ominous. But who’s to say that some of these areas haven’t actually collected enough water to make for a nice hydroplaned sideways trip to the hospital? When I have to concentrate and be at the top of my game, I either talk to myself or sing out loud into my helmet, depending on the skill level required of the task at hand. For instance, I talk myself through unfamiliar twisties; I sing in the rain, off-key I might add. I sing in heavy traffic when I’m engaged in what I refer to as ‘combat commuting’. I can’t sing worth a hoot. My singing voice is so embarrassing, I stop singing at red lights for fear the cager next to me might hear me. Anyway, I’m almost to my turn-off, I’ve already decelerated to 45/55 in preparation to get into the right turn lane that will open up shortly. I’m in the right lane, nobody behind me, somebody’s passing me in the left lane, and there’s a car waiting to pull out up ahead. I don’t see a turn signal, so he must be going right. As soon as I notice him, he pulls out in front of me. Asshole! I get on the front brake. Hard squeeze, release, hard squeeze. I am unsure of myself. A fleeting thought of doubt rears its ugly head and sticks it through the mental formulation of my escape plan. My body wants to tense, but I order it not to. Stay smooth, relax. Stay smooth, relax. The passing car is out of my way and the left lane is clear. I’m in the left wheel track and the emergency has left this situation, other than the would-be frustration of having to miss my turn and going straight. But I don’t have to evade. I manage to slow down to the car’s speed before I even get close to kissing his bumper. I opt to hold my position and give the asshole the finger instead; not that he can see me, it’s dark, my headlights are on, and he’s probably not even aware I’m even behind him. Had it been dry I would have swerved, gassed it, and swerved back over, cutting his inattentive little tail off while initiating a hair-raising right turn, and giving him the single-digit salute with my left hand all the way through it, in a blatant display of my utter dissatisfaction and as the perfect excuse to get my kicks in and my lean on at an intersection. I may have done that… if it had been dry… and daylight. Traffic was light, favorable; it was the perfect setting. Had it been dry… and daylight… DAMN!

However, this whole mess revealed to me one VERY IMPORTANT deficiency in my riding skill set: My crap weather skills are not up to snuff. They are not honed to the point where reactions are automatic and spot on. I need to work on that. Seriously. This just won’t do.

The Pacers, the Ice Queen, and the Bubble Goose

This is probably overstating reality, but I don’t know if I could claim that this commute falls into the ‘still better than caging it in’ category. I knew it was going to be cold, it was around 34˚ F when I left the house. Low 30s is manageable, I’ve done it plenty of times before. I don’t like it, but it’s really no biggie in the great scheme of things. Uncomfortable? Yes. Still better than caging? Yes. Would I rather not? Yes. It’s a mixed bag. The forecast predicted a low of 18˚ F, and the hour-by-hour had it pegged around 20˚ F for the morning commute home. That had me a little worried. At least it wasn’t threatening to rain (or snow, as it would manifest in this case). I had recently discovered that my two-piece leather suit seems to keep me warmer than the textile gear I’m wearing when commuting to work. I opted to wear it instead. Yeah, I look like a dork rolling down the Interstate in full race gear, but who cares. It is better protection than my commuter garb by a generous margin. Anyway, when I hit Gordon Highway, which is a four-lane divided highway, I get treated to an episode of ‘The Pacers’. Why? Because people around here still don’t know how to drive. I’m behind these two cagers, and I get on over into the left lane, since the vehicle on that side is slowly gaining on the one in the right lane in a freakishly slow attempt at a pass. No biggie. We are going speed limit, and we are making progress. Still it is painfully slow. Something happens, though. As soon as I take up position in the left lane, slightly offset, the car in front of me ceases his passing maneuver. Now they’re pacing each other. This goes on for about a mile before I lose patience and take the next opportunity to split between them and am gone. This pisses me off. One of my road-rage inducing pet peeves. It’s almost like a slap in the face. Yeah, I get it. You’re both using your cruise controls. Yeah, I get it. You’re both preoccupied with your phones, nose hair, makeup, sports page, etc. But damn! Shit or get off the pot. Either speed up, complete your pass, then go back to the inattention you were previously engaged in or better yet, slow your silly ass down and get in line behind the other moron who’s had the audacity to select the same speed as you on his cruise control. Which also doesn’t make sense, because you WERE passing him, weren’t you? At one point, the asshat in front hindered your preoccupied progress and you made the unconscious decision to go around. What happened? I mean really. Don’t you people know that this is highly unsafe behavior even for cagers? Can’t fix stupid, I suppose. Let Darwin sort this out. However, I don’t have to participate. Get out of my way. Yeah, stuff like that always makes me very happy. But I digress into the profane to express my extreme dissatisfaction with your lack of driving skill. I do 90 indicated for a few seconds to get some distance between me and the rolling speed bumps and slow back down to speed limit +5. Next thing I know, I see both of them catching up in my mirrors. First one, then the other. WTF? Mr. Incomplete Pass is gaining on me rapidly and is actually passing me, at a moderate clip. Oh. You found your gas pedal. I’m excited for you. Kudos. But really? What the hell… Did I wake your ass up and pissed you off enough to risk one of Georgia’s new additions to the High Performance Awards: the Super Speeder Category? Well, you’re nominated, and so is the clown who’s now glued to my tail pipes. I give it a little of the ol’ twist just to show him that I prefer a greater following distance, but he wastes no time to catch back up. A little more tail pipe raping and then he decides he’s had enough and passes me, ever so slowly. Apparently I’ve made two new friends this morning. Ha! Up yours. They leave me behind and I can continue unmolested at my merry way to work.

I get there, I decide I’m not going to go to the restroom to change into my jeans, but to do it right there at my desk. Nobody here. I’m wearing UnderArmour. There’s nothing to see here, even if somebody walked in on me. So I slip out of my leathers and try to put on the pair of jeans I’ve grabbed out of my closet at home and stuffed into my backpack. I have one foot still in my leathers, while I’m trying to put on my jeans. I think they’ve shrunk, or I’ve gotten fatter over the holidays, or the UnderArmour tights are hindering the process of gaining enough slippage, probably a combination of all three. So here I am, one leg up to the knees in jeans, while I trip over the shin armor of my leather bottoms, while lifting up my leg in an attempt to insert it into hole #2. Shit. I barely catch myself, regain balance and, as luck would have it, land right in the uncooperative jean leg I’m currently battling. Now I’m half-squatted, on my tip-toes, hunched over like a fat girl version of Ghost Rider on an invisible sportbike, trying to get the waistband of those blasted lowriders over my JLo-sized butt cheeks, which – I am sure of it — are hanging out the back like two bowling balls in a hammock swing. I look up and I see a driver looking at me through my inbound window. Drat! I hobble on over, with jeans still at half-mast, across my office, turn on the mic and flatly state: “Of course, you would sneak up on me like that, just to catch me with my pants down.” He cracks up laughing. Which isn’t hard, since he probably already has a bloody lip from biting on it to stifle a salvo of the snickers. I want to beat him with my knee pucks. It never fails. Oh well, I play it cool, check him in, give him his paperwork and send him on his way, hoping he’ll get lost on site and I’ll get to sic security on his laughing little ass! Strip search, baby, strip search! Teach me just to grab a pair of jeans without looking at them first; just like the day when I had to wear my daughter’s size 0 rue21’s which I had mistaken for my size 4 Bongos. That made my day though, because I fit. Barely, but I fit. 😉 I treated myself to Ben & Jerry’s that night…

He does make me feel better when he comes to the outbound side and tells me that I made his day, and he really needed a good laugh after the crapper of a day he’s been having. I tell him that he’s welcome and that this is just another service we provide down here in Augusta, Georgia. He’s impressed with my ‘Busa, too. So all is forgiven. =D

Fast forward. It’s about 12 hours later, and I’m gearing up to go home. I’m dreading having to go out there and brave the coldest mother of all mornings I’ve yet to experience on my bike. I think my record so far stands at 28˚ F, or something very close to that. 18 degrees… I shiver just thinking about it. I’ve been cold all night long. I’ve had the thermostat cranked up to 80, but the highest it ever climbed was 76. I had a little space heater blow hot air in my face, trying to stay warm. It felt like my core never quite got back up to its proper operating temperature. I’m anemic, maybe my blood pressure is low. That’s what N., a coworker, suggested. She’s also anemic, and that’s what goes on with her when she can’t seem to get rid of the chills. I should check it when I get home. Anyway, I’m getting my gear on and I think it’s a good idea to just leave my tight ass skinny jeans on under my suit. The more layers the better, right? I should have gotten a clue when I noticed that my knee/shin armor was riding a little high. Another clue should have been gotten for the fleeting thought of not quite having the usual amount of circulation in my feet. Another hint was thrown when I had a really tough time to get the boots zipped up, and when it took a little grunting and sweating to get that accomplished. Clue #4 arrived in the fact that I couldn’t quite bend my knees as usual and my feet started getting tingly. I was beginning to sweat, so I stepped outside to prevent my body from perspiring. I didn’t want to start sweating and then have it evaporate. No thanks. That was a big mistake. I should have just turned the thermostat down to 70, which I did. I got the chills again, so I put on my jacket and zipped the two halves together. I was ready to go when N., who was relieving me, showed up. I decided to get fully dressed inside before leaving. That was one of the better ideas my tired, bored, and underworked brain came up with this morning. I had developed a headache one hour before I was to leave, took an Advil and guzzled a Diet Coke for the caffeine. Didn’t help. I was really dreading the ride home. I badged out, walked to my bike, took the cover off, stashed it in my backpack and cranked her up. After throwing a leg over, I notice that either The Fat Lady had grown an inch or I’ve shrunken over night. Crap. What the hell? Then it hit me. Those damned jeans. I should have taken them off, I knew better, but I ignored all the signals. I could go back inside and change… Nope… I’m already here, I’m tired and I want to go home! I’ll just have to manage on my tippy toes. I ease out the clutch and slowly pull out of my parking space and find that I am unable to get my damned feet up on the rearsets. Crap!!! I’m glad it’s dark and there’s nobody around to see me, because I must be looking like the wicked drag racer from hell, with my feet stretched out behind me, struggling to gain enough leverage with my upper body to hoist those puppies up far enough to get them on the pegs. I finally manage and stand up, stick my butt way up in the air to stretch everything out a little. I friction-zone it on down the drive to time the traffic just right, I don’t want to put my feet down again. I succeed and utter a sigh of relief. This is going to be interesting to say the least. I have eight traffic lights ahead of me on my way home. The wind is biting. I get unlucky at traffic light #3 and have to wait. I tilt the bike and just put my left leg down. This seems to work slightly better, since I can scoot my left cheek off the edge of the seat to gain more slack for movement. I really do feel like a kid in a snowsuit. If I fall over, I don’t think I could get back up. I hate being bundled up and restricted in my movements. Always have. I used to not wear long sleeves for that same reason. I get on the loop and try to settle into some semblance of a comfortable position. No go. I end up sitting practically on the tank, with my back hunched over so I can still hide my torso behind the wind screen. This makes my neck hurt, since the angle is all wrong. The edge of the fog-free lens insert is now right in my line of sight. I’m getting cold. I can feel the warmth slowly leaking from my chest. This is not good, the core gets cold the fingers and toes will be ice cubes in short order. I duck back down, cringing at the pain that it causes in my neck and shoulders. I find myself staring at the ground in front of me, off and on, to relieve the neck strain, and have to make a conscious effort to force myself to look ahead. It hurts. I have to cut the wind chill so I slow down. I’m at speed limit now, and it’s amazing how much difference 5mph can make. I keep telling myself that I need to ride proactively. There’s no way I can muster the skill required to get myself out of trouble with my fingers increasingly getting colder and my mobility restricted as it is. I may not make it home. I may have to pull over and warm up somewhere. Gawd! I’m too tired for this shit! I make it to the cloverleaf ramp that will dump me onto Gordon Highway and take it like Granny on her Rascal scooter. I really don’t feel like leaning. Oh noez! Mark your calendars, ladies and gents: Miss Busa does NOT feel like leaning. I had a car catch up to me… how embarrassing is that?!? Miss Busa is holding up traffic on a ramp! Ha! I get on Gordon Highway, get lucky at all three traffic lights, and notice a marked increase in wind chill. This road always feels colder than I-520 for some reason. Maybe it’s accumulative, maybe it’s the road surface, whatever, this road is freaking cold! My fingers are starting to hurt. I keep catching myself looking at the odometer, counting down the miles I have to go until I can park this rig and get under my blanket, a duvet, and the heating pad. I’ve already have this planned out. I’m tired of freezing my ass off and waking up cold. I want to wake up sweaty and cozy. I’m all caught up in my frozen reverie when I get treated to yet another episode of ‘The Pacers’. Not again. An annoying rerun of yesterday evening, really. It’s too cold for this shit. Same crap as before, my patience is fairly thin in my current hypothermic condition and I have to fight the impulse to just white-line it between the two. I really have to fight. I almost do it, too. For some reason this seems like a really good idea right now. Never is, though. I don’t squeeze by them when they’re even. They have to be offset for me to squeak on by. These jokers, though, they take the cake. These guys don’t seem to want to pass each other. I flash my brights at the pickup truck in front of me. Maybe I can wake his ass up. No luck. He keeps even with the car to the right of him. This goes on for about two miles. I’m riding the white line behind the two of them, all the while giving them a helmet lecture on their lack of driving ability. There is also occasion for some moderately mild name-calling. I finally get my offset and rip on through. Again, same thing as before. I keep up $200 worth of speed until I have a nice lead and settle back down to speed limit. Damn! That was cold! But now I’m warmed by the heat of my anger. Again, they both speed up and catch up with me. At my turnoff, one follows me into town, the other goes straight. I’m too cold to even care. I’m getting quite leery when he stays behind me for several turns, though. When I get to my street, I already have formulated a plan. If he follows me onto my street I’m going straight to the copper’s house, park it, and give him an earful with the invitation to let the Popo sort it out for us. Lucky for him, he is not following me, but he knows now what neighborhood I live in and it isn’t that hard to figure out which house belongs to Miss Busa. Ah, who cares? It was probably just a coincidence anyway. My frozen brain is getting paranoid. I park The Fat Lady without much grace, and as I put her Bike Barn cover down over her I notice how badly my fingers hurt. I’m also shivering all over. I can’t enter the code at the door correctly, and I’m getting frustrated. I claw at my gloves to get them off to be able to hit the buttons on the number pad correctly. The pain is almost unbearable. I manage to finally let myself in and can barely get my helmet off. The pain is so bad I drop to my knees, trying to shove them under my armpits, which I can’t reach due to being restricted by too many layers. There is no good place to put them. Everything is cold! I think of running hot water over them as I wreathe around on the floor in pain. Bad idea… I override the impulse… and I just lay there, curled up and have myself a little tearless girly cry of pain. This is almost as bad as giving birth. No it’s worse. I had anesthesia then… I just want the pain to go away. I finally manage to free myself of my backpack, and slowly get out of my gear. Every touch hurts. I leave a string of motorcycle apparel behind me as I make my way down the hall and to my bedroom, grab the heating pad and duvet on my way and make myself a nest. My final thought: “Screw this shit, I’m taking the cage tonight!” I fall asleep not long after that.

I broke down and spend more money (even though I haven’t completed my list) on Gerbing heated glove liners and a temp controller (they didn’t have the vest in XS, so that’ll have to wait). Set me back $200 incl. S&H. The price of a High Performance Award in the Super Speeder Category. I have earned it. I was going speed limit, after all. Yes, you heard right. For the first time in Miss Busa’s 8-month romp with The Fat Lady, we were actually going the speed limit more than we were not. That’s a milestone, I think I award myself a level-up for that. =P

Go Ahead, Accelerate! Live A Little! … Please?

Merging 101
What part of merging do people not understand? It’s called an acceleration lane for a reason. Here is how it works: We get on it, we step on the accelerator and by the time we reach the dashed white line, we should be travelling at approximately the same speed as freeway traffic, all we have to do now is turn on our directional signal, find a hole, fine-tune our speed to align and nicely fade into it. If done properly, nobody has to get on the brakes, and traffic remains moving smoothly. What is so difficult about this? You usually have and unobstructed view of the freeway for the whole length of the lane to judge speed and traffic density and form your plan of attack.

The 4-Wheeled Slow Race?
So why is it that I find myself creeping along behind two cars, going 22-23mph down a straight with medium-light traffic? This shouldn’t be a problem. No apparent reason for it that I can discern. By the time we get on the freeway, car #2 immediately moves over one lane and starts pacing car #1. What in the name of all that’s holy? I’m behind them; car #2 has executed the maneuver I was planning on resorting to as soon as I go to the dashed white line. I actually had to abort my lane change and stay behind slowpoke #1. They are still… wait for it…. wait for it… going 30 and pacing each other! What is this? The cager version of the Slow Race? They must be accelerating by cruise control alone. Look Mom, no feet! Since they are in no real hurry to get their move on, the cars from behind us are approaching fast. And I’m in the rear, with a car on my tail (the one that followed me and the slow-moving caravan down the acceleration lane). He’s biding his time, it seems, probably unsure of what to do after witnessing my aborted lane change. I need to do something. I have a bad feeling about this. In a few more seconds I’m going to be surrounded by cagers dodging right and left – in a reverse version of Moses splitting the sea – to get around these rolling speed bumps. I have to act. I extract myself with a quick lane change to the left across two lanes, pass the offending motorists, then back over one lane, dodge two more cars and I’m in the free and clear. There’s something about hard acceleration while leaned over, throw in a shift from 2nd to 3rd gear, and Miss Busa’s inner squid rejoices. Yeah, separate the actions… who cares, sometimes you just have to, because it feels good. But I can’t do a wheelie (on purpose) to save my life. Go figure. I give it some more hell, just for the fun of it, find myself a nice airy spot between the packs and settle back down into speed limit +9, because that’s the going rate on I-520E this evening. I’m still wondering if that front tire saw any sunlight… it sure felt like it. And speaking of tires… I sure do love my Dunlop Sportmax Q2! I can’t wait until I get my front rubber on, which currently calls the Ottoman in my living room its home.

Look What You Made Me Do…
Some would argue that I should have stayed behind the slowpokes and went with the ‘flow’. I disagree. ‘Flow Actual’ was about to catch up. In the car I would have, but I gave up “riding it like a car” a while ago. What I mean by that is that I used conduct myself on my motorcycle like I did in my car. I selected the proper lane early on, stayed in it, went with the flow of traffic, and rode defensively. The catalyst for change came with almost being run off the road by some dude in a car who suddenly decided he needed my lane more than me so he could make the upcoming left turn into the gas station. I had nowhere to go but forward. I was in the right lane, with cars to the rear and no shoulder, just the edge of the road dropping off into grassy dirt. The car came over, I immediately dodged right and with no other option but to go forward, I gripped it and ripped it. When right-turn lane started I was able to move further right,  which I wasted no time doing and thus barely got out of his way. I took the time to turn in the saddle to fly the double-breasted eagle. Yes, I will let go of grips and face rearward to let them know with both hands how deeply my dissatisfaction runs. I really should quit the single-digit sign language. But damn, sometimes it’s just too freaking intense. I don’t give the finger lightly; and the flying the double-breasted eagle is reserved for those extra special occasions. This was another one of the times where I was grateful for that notorious over-the-top power the Hayabusa is known for. I barely made it on the ‘Busa. On my H-D Sporty I would have been a heap in the ditch, I’m almost sure of it. I believe this to be the incident that changed my riding style from ‘cautious defensive’ to ‘aggressive evasion’. Three degrees of separation. I believe distance between them and me is VERY important. I can outaccelerate and outmaneuver any car out there and I’m using that to my advantage to stay out of their way. Ride it like you’re invisible and be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Always. Don’t assume. Stay alert. Read the pattern. Look ahead. Keep your wits about you and be sure of your skill set and the capabilities of your machine.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Two’s A Crowd (In The Same Lane)

I must be a glutton for punishment, because there is no other reason for me to go play in traffic around 4pm to duke it out with the crazed Christmas shopper cager crowd. But that’s me. Hardcore. I don’t “plan around”. I was on a mission to exchange my DOA Jawbone BT earpiece for a new one and I had to get some gift cards for the teenagers on my Santa list. Yup, hardcore and procrastinator extraordinaire. I was burning up a clutch tooling down Washington Road at painfully slow speeds, practicing the Slow Race. For about a mile, I was riding the friction zone, with my feet up on the pegs, to see how slow I could actually go before the Fat Lady decided she might rather take an asphalt nap instead. I was so absorbed into the task that I neglected my mirrors. I know, I know. Situational awareness is everything. I shouldn’t be rolling down the street blissfully unaware of my surroundings. La-dee-da… Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when this blue sedan slowly eased up next to me in my lane space. I was riding the right wheel track, looking down the dashed white line, between the long lines of cars. The thought of white-lining it all the way to the next red light occurred to me briefly, but some of the vehicles where too offset to grant me safe passage. I fought the impulse to squid it on down the boulevard being the envy of every cager stuck in the jam without options. So, here I am, being squeezed by two old ladies in their old-lady car and am completely speechless. No, I’m not. I put my foot down. Literally. I had to or I would have fallen over, maybe I should have. Fallen over, I mean. Right into that shiny blue passenger door of theirs, with my helmeted face plastered against the glass. Heh. The good ideas always occur to me after the fact. I could have gotten myself some new Tupperware on the left, which is marred from that unfortunate incident of temporary dumbassery we’re not going to further mention here. Tupperware, a new stator cover, left side mirror, and throw in a new can on that side, too. A repair upgrade due to a ‘not-my-fault’ happenstance after the original fact. I can see it now… stating my case between sobs: “But officer, they nicked my mirror with theirs, scared the shit out of me and I fell over. I AM entitled to the entire lane, no?” with tears streaming down my face and the most innocent and sad Bambi look I could possibly muster without cracking up. Damn! Another missed opportunity… But I digress, so I’m sitting there, inches away from a mirror-to-mirror kiss and I can’t help but stare at them and yell something to the effect that I would like to know where they think they are going to go. The driver is saying something to her passenger and she rolls her window down. I flip up my shield and yell over my ear plugs and tunes: “You know that I am entitled to the ENTIRE width of my lane, right?” while animatedly waving a pointed right index finger in front of me, indicating the lane we were currently sharing, “Just like a car.” The driver is starting to look a little shocked. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. I watch them talk animatedly, hands waving in the air. After they fall silent, I add: “You know, it’s stuff like this,” more finger waving, “that can get me killed!” I almost regret it as soon as the words leave my lips. Almost. They both now look very apologetic and a little bit shaken, the driver more so than her friend. I think I’ve made my point. I ease forward, power-walking The Fat Lady into a spot between them and the car in front of them. I don’t want to look at them anymore, because now I really do feel bad. And I’m sure they’ve had enough of me, too. I figured it’s better I move before somebody is having a heart attack. Why do I feel bad? Old age doesn’t excuse their behavior. Was it their body language that seemed to express honest apology? I’m sure the lesson was well received and they will never do this to another person on a motorcycle. But why am I not really all that enthused about it? Here I am complaining about all these driving-skill inhibited ass clowns and I finally score one for the home team, and it’s a hollow victory. Would I do it again? Affirmative! I’m not going to let stuff like that slide. I can’t help myself. I think it is imperative that other motorists understand that motorcycles need their space. That we are very vulnerable, considering we aren’t separated from potential disaster by the relative safety a car has to offer its occupants. That our only defenses against calamity are separation by distance, situational awareness of our surroundings and our riding skills.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

The Fine Art Of The Two-Lane Left Turn

Or: What’s Mine Is Mine And What’s Yours Is Mine, Too

I’m coming to a slow civilized stop on the top of my exit’s off-ramp. It’s a two-lane. The right lane is for right turners and also serves as the outside left turn lane, and the left lane turns left onto a two-lane highway. You know, a standard multi-lane Interstate exit ramp, complete with traffic light. I’ve started using the outside lane at intersections like these, because I feel it’s safer although not nearly as much fun than the inside lane. Today, this theory of mine is proven faulty, at least partially.

I’m sitting there, waiting for the light to change. The lanes are filling up behind me. To my left is this huge white Ford F-350 extended cab, full-sized pickup truck. I think nothing of it, just take notice, since I can’t see anything to my left. Next to him I feel like a little kid on a mini-bike. The light changes, and since I can’t see anything I let the pickup move first, then I ease out into the intersection preparing to turn left. By the time we’re in the middle of the turn, I am leaned over and in the process of accelerating out, when I notice that monster of a truck fading into my lane. Holy shit! I have nowhere to go. There are cars behind me, cars behind him. I’m still in first, on the gas, and leaned over. If neither of us files a change in flight plans, my head and left shoulder are going to say hello to his passenger-side door. I’m searching for an out. Obviously a panic stop is out of the question, since the guy behind me is going to hump my rear, even if I had the room to straighten out the bike and lay on the skids. I could maybe slow enough and swerve left to squeak past the F-350’s rear end and the following car? Nope, no time nor room for that, and I might become a speed bump for the person who’s directly behind Mr. I-Need-Your-Lane-Too. As I straighten up the bike and let myself fade wide to stay out of the pickup’s path, hoping he’ll see me in time and cut back over into his lane, my frantically searching eyes momentarily lock onto the opposing edge of the road. There is the 4-foot wall of the bridge, with it’s obligatory suicide fence mounted on top, and the curb. Well, at least if I high-side into that I won’t get thrown over the bridge. In my mind’s eye, I see not my life flashing before my eyes, but the image of a cat stuck to a screen door. I want to puke, but all I can do is giggle at the image. I’m not scared (that usually comes later, when I’m out of the danger zone), I’m in this weird state where everything slows to a crawl. I’m in fight-or-flight time-lapse mode. Then I see it, as I’m still fascinated by the curb and my imaginary cat sliding down the imaginary screen door. The little guy on a bicycle, wearing what looks to be a dǒu lì (but is supposed to be a helmet), painted between two solid white lines. The newly added bicycle path. We make fun of this iconic dude of Chinese origin every time we come through here in the cage. Of course! I have found my out! And just in time, too, since the pickup is now very, VERY close. He’s invading my bubble, my personal space. I gotta get out of here and fast. I straighten out more, aim for the edge of the curb then throw The Fat Lady back to the left and twist it. I don’t know how close I came to being clipped by his front end. But I see him, in my mirror, now fully over in –what used to be — my lane, skirting the solid white line that marks the division between the car lane and the narrow lane dedicated to bicycles. I’m still in first gear, and The Fat Lady is roaring, I shift into second, not bothering with the clutch lever. I turn around to give dude the finger, I can’t help myself (I know, I know), and notice he has already – get this! — changed lanes again and is back over on the left. WTF??? I don’t know why, but now I’m pissed. If you wanted my lane this badly, at least you could give me the common courtesy of staying in it! You jackass! When I turn back around, I find myself practicing maximum-effort braking, since the light on the other side of the overpass has decided to inconveniently turn red. I come to a front-end diving squeaky stop at the line, in first gear, with both feet on the ground, with the lane-hogging bastard parked next to me. I give him THE LOOK, the entire time we’re sitting there I stare him down. I imagine smoke coming out of my ears and death-rays shooting from my eyes. When the light changes I give her hell and have a difficult time keeping the front end down. Damn. I must be pissed, because I can’t do that on purpose. I guess under normal non-road-raged circumstances my mind overrides the impulse of the wrist.

Same type of off-ramp/multi-lane road interchange. Same Interstate. Different exit. I’m on the inside left turn lane. A car is waiting to my right in the outside lane. The light changes to green. We both go, but apparently I must be slower than usual, since the car manages to overtake me and cuts directly in front of me. This isn’t a matter of inattention; this seems to be a deliberately executed lane change in the middle of the turn. Wow. I’m still musing on how this could have possibly happened. They must have really punched it. Pedal to the metal. Good gawd! No time to think. I briefly get on the brakes, as I straighten up, to scrub off a little speed and throw the Fat Lady into a right-hand swerve. I clear the car’s rear bumper (hmmm, Richmond County tags), then immediately push hard left. The Fat Lady responds to my input like an obese Tango dancer: slow to get started but graceful and precise in execution. We barely make it and are in the clear, now in the outside lane. Damn! Wrestling a ‘Busa around like this reminds me: I have to start going to the gym and hit the weights. I pace the car for a moment, looking at the driver. A Blonde, be-bopping to whatever is playing on her stereo, lost in her own little world. She looks at me, with a bemused expression, vague. She doesn’t even have the obligatory cell phone glued to her ear. I suppose the stereo is distraction enough. One has to know one’s limitations. Instead of indicating to her, that I think she’s No. 1, I simply shrug, lifting both hands up in the air in a WTF? gesture; then I get the hell out of Dodge at an accelerated pace, like I am apt to do after an ‘incident’. Frakkin’ people in this town don’t know how to drive.

Is A Good Offense The Best Defense?
I don’t know what it is that is so difficult about staying in your own lane. All you have to do is follow the little dashed line, and it’ll guide your automobile nicely around the curve and dump you onto your merry way. But no, your brain’s blocked or you simply don’t care. It is really getting tiresome. I tried the inside lane, I’ve tried the outside lane. There’s only one thing that I’ve found works to stay out of possible trouble: You have got to stay one step ahead of the lane-stealing cager crowd. Since they can’t catch up with a motorcycle, or outmaneuver one, it’s probably safest to just get the hell out of there before they even have the chance to roll over the stop line. And that’s a ton of fun, too. Just stay in the outside lane, in case you lose it… See, who says you can’t be a little bit squidly and be safe all at the same time? =P