What in the devil is wrong this morning? Traffic is pretty heavy, but moving along at almost the pace of a Georgia Super Speeder, which is highly unusual for a Wednesday on both counts. It’s raining, has been pretty much all night from the looks of things. I’m running late, so I’m pretty much in a hurry. Business as usual on I-20. I’m passing most everybody, a few get to pass me. Yeah, you’ve read right. It’s a privilege, one which can be revoked at any second. 😉
Once I merge onto I-520E it’s a different story, as is evident at the merge point of the two opposing I-20 ramps feeding into I-520E. It takes some seriously creative riding to get in between all the slowasses, the hesitant mergers, the leadfoots, the space holders, the distractedly engaged, and the mobile jabber junkies. Yes, I have categorized the crowd by their default behaviors when driving becomes more complicated and the brain starts running the risk of overloading. Inconveniences such as intersections, on/off ramps, cloverleaf ramps, and merge points are all prime spots to observe the Common Cager (incola communis rotae cavea) in their natural habitat.
I make my way towards another day filled with opportunity of earning Pirate Coin (read: I’m going to work to make the bike payment) through the succession of merge points that is Augusta’s own scaled-down version of Atlanta’s infamous Spaghetti Junction or Columbia’s suicidal Malfunction Junction. After slicing and dicing and duking it out with a cager crowd that is denser, faster, and more aggressive than usual, which makes the situation also more unpredictable than is the norm; I finally find myself some empty-enough asphalt I can settle into and go with the flow of traffic.
My bliss, however, doesn’t last long, and as the wild bunch behind me catches up, I find myself surrounded again. Damn! I hate this. I can’t stand being around this much metal. That goes against my rule of riding as if invisible. I don’t like being caged in (pun intended), it gives me few to no outs and not enough time to react to set an escape in motion if it became necessary. I like to control the situation. And I do that with the throttle.
I have planned my escape and am working my way towards the freedom that is a much airier stretch of asphalt not too far ahead. As I see an opening to escape the imminent clutches of a semi-truck spraying me with grimy rainwater its tires sling off the road surface and a tailgater in an SUV, and risking getting stuck there, I take it and quickly change lanes, squeeze in between two cars, ride the left side of the white line, then gas it a little too enthusiastically to take advantage of the next opening. I slide the rear wheel, it starts stepping out to the right. I don’t even have to think about it; nor is it an event that registers even the slightest twinges of panic in me, nor does it upset the Pirate, as is evident by the DTC light remaining dark. A simple acknowledgement, followed by trained action.
I pin the throttle, then dive left with a quick nudge on the left grip, aiming for the left wheel track of the left lane; as I do, the rear wheel hooks back up. I straighten myself out, pass the semi truck, and after one more set of rolling road blocks (two cars pacing each other slightly offset, taking up both lanes and backing up impatient caffeine-deprived, half-asleep morning commuters for miles) I am finally free. I feel like putting on blue face paint and showing my arse while yelling “Freedom!”.
I was kind of proud of myself. I smiled. It wasn’t too long ago where I would have had to pull over and dig out the emergency pair of replacement panties. And here I was complaining not too long ago that I can’t improve my skills on public roads anymore. That street riding has become mostly mundane, boring and uninspiring. I guess I underestimated the power of constant and conscious repetition of isolated skill practice. I definitely have increased my crap weather riding skills and my confidence must be solidified.
I noticed another thing, I have reached a milestone of sorts in my riding: I haven’t been singing in the rain. That means I am not nervous or anxious anymore and the need for intense concentration has passed. I still sing on occasion when I drag knee though, I’m pretty sure of it. 😉
As a side note: I’m rolling Dunlop Sportmax Q2s, the rear in Hayabusa size (a leftover from some long-ago tire sale): 190/50 as opposed to 190/55. I can reach the ground better in my race boots, but I think I lost 6 mph off the top end… *giggles* and my speedo reads about 5-7 miles slow now. Oh well… it won’t be on there forever. I really do love those tires. I think I might even like them better than the Metzeler Racetec Interact K3 (K3s are medium-hard) that came on the bike; and they are cheaper, too.
I finally made it happen. And it wasn’t as glorious or dramatic as I expected it to be. As a matter of fact, the whole affair left me feeling a little miffed. Left with the thought: “I so could have handled that myself!” I was on my way home from work, the roads were wet, but clean, since it had rained pretty much all day. It was still a little drizzly, but it ain’t nothing but a thing anymore. The light is green and I take the left onto the onramp that leads uphill to dump us working stiffs onto I-520W to make our merry way home at an average rate of about 70 in a 55. The S1000RR’s stock tires, which are Metzeler Racetec K3 Interact (K3 are medium-hard) are confidence inspiring in the rain. I have developed trust in their crap weather performance rather quickly. Not even the Dunlop Sportmax Q2 rear that I rolled on the Hayabusa earned my trust this easily, and I loved them puppies so much, I still have two full sets stacked in my hallway closet. (Anybody want to buy some rubber?) Anyhoo, I was making the left turn a little faster than I normally would in this kind of weather, and decided to throw an upshift in the mix, while still coming out of the lean and accelerating briskly up the ramp. Of course, I miss the shift. Doh! Blip. Click. Rip. Clunk. The rear hops and steps out and the DTC light flashes on, and the hopping and sliding stops immediately and the bike is back online and continues its accelerated journey up the ramp. This happened in a split second. As soon as I realized what was going on it was over. My muscles didn’t even have time to take their accustomed corrective action that would have been necessary on The Fat Lady. Wow. How unceremonious that whole ordeal was. And here I was kind of scared of it and dreading the moment it would come on. Yeah, I screwed up and “Arr! Arr! Matey.” said The Pirate and put things right. I was in ‘Rain’ mode. I think I’m done with ‘Rain’ mode in wet weather. I think I’m going to leave it in ‘Race’ mode from now on. I like it the best of all the modes that don’t require the coded plug, besides, the Hayabusa never saw anything but ‘A’ mode after the break-in. Given, the ‘Busa’s modes only flattened the power curve; the S1000RR’s modes change DTC and RaceABS behavior and only restrict power delivery in ‘Rain’ mode. But for some reason I find it easier to finesse the throttle in ‘Race’ mode, even though the manual says it’s more aggressive (I think they used the word “direct”) than ‘Sport’ in throttle response. *shrugs*
It’s time for me and the Pirate to have a little heart to heart. What is this world coming to when a girl can’t even drag rear brake anymore when doing slow maneuvers in a parking lot or let’s say pulling up into her driveway. Here’s the thing: I abused rear brake pads to learn how to do the ‘Slow Race’ on the Hayabusa. I could almost be at a standstill with my feet up on the pegs and hold it in perfect balance. I pride myself on pulling up into the local bike night and NOT drag my damn feet while I find myself a hole to park the bike in. With the S1000RR, however, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes you get to do it, and sometimes the bike’s electronic wizardry just tells you: “No! Absolutely NOT!” and the brake lever goes limp. I cannot describe how disconcerting that is. Not really dangerous, the brakes are linked, I could use the front brake to do the same, but damn it!!!! Who’s in control here?!? I know it’s just a matter of adjusting, but I don’t want to get used to relying on electronics to do my job for me. What if I get on another bike and ride it like it had DTC and ABS, but doesn’t. Yeah. I’ll be making payments on somebody else’s shit. I really want to continue learning as if I didn’t have all that wondrous junk hanging off my bike. I look at it as an extra safety margin (in case I screw up, it’ll give me an extra edge to save my bacon), but I don’t want it to control my riding. That’s one of the major reasons I love riding so much. Let me rephrase that: am addicted to riding; a motorcycle junkie, a two-wheeled therapy abuser, a slave to gyroscopic precession. It’s the only time I’m really in control. In control of all aspects of my life; at that precise moment, I’m the master of my destiny. The decider of my fate. When I’m on my bike. I’m the boss woman! And I don’t need that stinking Pirate to interfere with that. No ma’am. Not gonna have it. Since I am under the obligation of a promise I made to hubby that I would not turn off the DTC or ABS unless it is warranted, I need to learn how its brain works. The brake lever going limp is just a small little symptom of what is yet to come. Remember, I haven’t made neither the ABS nor the DTC intervene in any other way, and I’m riding this thing just as hard (maybe even harder) that I did the Hayabusa. That tells me one of two things: Either I’m a pussy or I’m doing something right.
On today’s menu: Experimental riding. I have the OK from hubby to turn the systems off selectively to find out if this newly discovered nuisance is by design or a malfunction. Time to go play.
It’s raining. I’m minding my own lane space as I roll in ‘Rain’ mode down Robinson Avenue, at a sedate pace of 35 miles per hour, which coincidentally is also the speed limit. I’m on my way to work, feeling fine and listening to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Traffic is pretty heavy, since it’s rush hour in the big city of Grovetown. I like the way the S1000RR minds its manners in crap weather. The ‘Busa had it together, too, but this bike screams confidence, but not overly so.
I see him sitting there, in his black sedan with his chromed-out rims. He is stopped, and not antsy, like some of the drivers trying to make a left turn onto Robinson Avenue from Katherine Street. There is a line of cars behind him, also waiting to merge into Grovetown’s main artery. I’m closing the distance to the T-intersection, when suddenly he guns it and pulls out in front of me. I don’t have time to think, all I can do is react. I quickly bring my fingers up, curl them around the front brake lever as I roll the throttle closed in the same swift, desperate movement and grab the biggest handful to date in Miss Busa’s colorful 18-month riding career. Gone is the thought of “but… but it’s wet”, all I can think of is that I need to stop this rocket before my front tire kisses this joker’s rear bumper and high-sides me into oncoming traffic. Not that I have any other options. Oncoming traffic to the left, curb to the right. I couldn’t jump that anyway, the angle of approach wouldn’t be steep enough, and I’ve really had enough of curb jumping against all odds for the time being. I’ve done killed one Peregrine Falcon with that stunt, don’t need to add a Pirate Matey to the list of things wrecked due to impossible angles. The S1000RR does its thing (or I do), because I haul myself down in time to escape calamity. Straight, well behaved, controlled, without lockups. I don’t even put my foot down, but bang it down a gear into first, then ease out the clutch, which I had pulled in at some point during this fiasco, but can’t recall doing so. Holy hell! I glance down and see no telltale lights that speak of the Beemer’s intervention. Damn! Still couldn’t make neither the ABS nor the DTC come on and help a chica out. I’m beginning to worry… if anything this should have done it! Never mind that now… I show the jerk that he rates No. 1 in my book, but the single-digit salute doesn’t really do it for me. I want to make sure the asshat gets a good look at the face of the person he just put into a do or die situation. The face of the girl who could have had herself one pisser of a bad day courtesy of his stupid ass. And this is definitely NOT how I like to start my day, no sir! When the traffic clears I speed up, cross over into the oncoming lane. I buzz him really close and stare into his window as I pace him. He looks at me like I’m some sort of wacko. Ah, I hate that look. The look of non-comprehension. So he gunned it to cut off oncoming traffic, but never looked back to his right to see the girl on a motorcycle and the giant SUV behind her. Fuck me! It would have done my psyche better if he had just been a complete jackass and had done it on purpose… I don’t know why that matters… probably because that would take one shitty variable out of this messy equation. *sigh* I shake my fist at him anyway, then leave him to sniff my fumes and make sure I’m back to speed limit by the time I do my almost daily pass and review in front of the cop shop.
Damned if you do & damned if you don’t!
What really grinds my gears is this: If there is no contact between vehicles it is not ruled an accident. Think about this for a moment. Think about how that silly, asinine law affects motorcyclists. I would have hit his ass had I been in hubby’s truck; making double-sure of there being contact, had I not been able to stop in time. It would have been ruled his fault. I was traveling at speed limit, he cut off not just me, but oncoming traffic as well. Plenty of witnesses. On a motorcycle? Physical contact between their parts and yours needs to be avoided at all costs or you’ll really be in for a world of hurt. In my case, I had no outs, but to stop and hope for the best. Couldn’t swerve left due to oncoming traffic. Couldn’t swerve right due to the curb. Either of which would have resulted in a highside… to the left into a moving object. To the right into a stationary one. Hitting the offending car would have also resulted in my soft parts being lobbed into the air. Only way out? Lay it down, separate and hope you’ll stay in your lane as you slide to a stop on your ass and further hope the driver in the car behind you is paying attention. Not really all that comfortable with these odds. This is pissing me off all over again…. ARGH! To the point: Had I avoided impact but laid down my bike in the process, it would have been ruled my fault and I would have been turned into an unwilling pedestrian, since I can’t afford another freaking $1000 insurance deductible. Not to mention my rates would be so far down the crapper… enough said.
They need to change that stupid law (at least for motorcyclists)! If someone causes you to lose control of your vehicle because they violate your right of way, it should be deemed their fault, vehicle contact or not! We only have two wheels, after we screech to a halt, we still have to remain in balance to avoid damage to our vehicle.
I’m mounting a video camera to the bike permanently, and I will run it every time I ride. I had too many close calls now. Then I will use that footage, along with witness accounts and sue the pants off your driving-skill lacking ass or have my surviving hubby do it for me. LEARN TO DRIVE!
I’m still not calmed down. And this happened over seven hours ago. 😦 And something else just occurred to me: Had I been on my Hayabusa, this day would have been one hell of a bummer, indeed. There’s no way I could have stopped The Fat Lady in time to avoid a highside. Now I’m double-bummed… or maybe things happen for a reason?!?
A few pics are worth at least a couple of runon sentences:
Joe and I play a little game most every day, called Hi-Lo. At the end of the day, he simply asks: “High? Low?” Then it is your turn to think about the day you’ve just had and answer with the best moment, the ‘high’ and the worst moment, the ‘low’. Then you ask the question in return.
After 1K, I think it’s time for some Hi-Lo with a twist. I’m going to ask it of the S1000RR. The High: It’s wicked quick and pulls like the ‘Busa. The Low: It ain’t the ‘Busa. Let’s break this down a little. It’s got some quirks, as do all bikes, no matter what you park your ass on, there’ll be problems of one sort or another to varying degrees of nuisance. How does the saying go? “If it has wheels or testicles, it’s going to give you problems.”
Me and the Gear Shift Assist do NOT get along. I can’t pin the throttle and snick it in. No-can-do. Especially under hard acceleration. Especially going from first to second. I’ve figured what part of the problem is, the lever is not at the right angle for my foot. We shall have to fix that, since I can’t get enough leverage to nicely preload the thing. As the ‘Busa did, this one, too, likes its lever preloaded for a nice, smooth little clutchless upshift. And it has to be a decisive little snick, too. Shift like an old lady and the brain of the operation just tells you to shove off and ignores your foot completely. So, I’m still doing it old school, with the little blip (for the most part). I think I’d be better off just plopping down the 100some Euros and getting the conversion kit and just reverse the whole mess. I wanted to do that on the ‘Busa anyway, since the Gilles setup just screamed for it. That way I’ll also have an extra excuse not to let anyone ride my baby without feeling too badly about it. “You know how to GP shift? No? Oh, I’m sorry, this one’s setup like weird and stuff…” Note to self: Adjust the angle of the dangle. No, really.
I have a feeling this bike’s going to just take over when IT decides that YOU are being a jackass and can’t handle your business anymore. I don’t know how to feel about all that tech. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some tech. I’m a geek, after all. But I also love me some control. I still ride it like I used to (caveat inserted here for Joe’s benefit: Noooo, I don’t do THAT stuff anymore, just as I promised.) I’m neither more careful nor more aggressive. It’s more a matter of adapting to the new bike’s handling characteristics. I’m not being stupid but I’m also not wearing my granny panties when I’m rollin’ it. I haven’t made neither the Race ABS nor the Dynamic Traction Control intervene on my behalf. I’m riding in ‘Sport’ mode, as that is the setting optimized for street rac… riding. Street RIDING. Guess the S1000RR has so far not deemed me a jackass unworthy of the controls. *snorts* I don’t know how I’m to feel about this. I’m halfway tempted to turn the crap off and ride by the seat of my pants. However, I have promised Joe I would not turn it off, unless warranted (like riding through gravel, where the DTC would really be a kick in the rear… literally); but on the other hand I’m afraid that it might screw up my skill development. After getting used to having a bike that folds space and time in fourth gear, then takes over when you’re about to wrap yourself around the next available stationary object because you done early apexed another one, freaked the hell out, went wide, got on the damn brakes way too hard, way too late, kept staring where you shouldn’t and the famous words that should’ve been the last are you verbalizing a convinced ‘holy shit’ into your helmet. It takes over at that precise moment because the bike has deemed you a jackass, works its magic with its sensors and gyros, valves and pumps, does a little digital finger counting and saves your bacon yet again and then also wipes your ass for you as you make your panicked way out of that train wreck of a turn (“hope nobody saw that”). How are you going to manage when you’re used to that for a few thousand miles, a few seasons, or whatnot and then decide to ride a friend’s bike without all the bells and whistles you’ve become so accustomed to that you’ve taken them for granted and have forgotten that you’re still riding like a n00b on a bike that just makes you LOOK like you know what you’re doing. It’s a conundrum. I want to turn it off. I have to leave it on. Best to just ride it as always. When the stuff comes on, I know I screwed something up.
Those skinny hand grips have got to go. But, as with any ergo mods, I’m going to see if I can’t retrain my muscles to cope with the stockers first. The Hayabusa’s grips were fatties compared to these tooth picks; they’re only one step above wrapping grip tape around the bars and calling it good. And, boy, do they buzz. The Beemer does NOT like to go slow… hell no! Seems like the most vibrating is experienced scooting around town. It doesn’t seem happy unless it’s over 5K. Proper gear selection also helps, although the bike doesn’t lug, it lets you know it doesn’t like being in too high a gear.
The ride-by-wire throttle system is awesome. BMW calls it E-Gas. I call it freaking SWEET! No more on/off light switch action in first or second gear, like it was on the ‘Busa. That was annoying and a complete nuisance on roads with a speed limit of either 35 or 25. What a jerky mess that usually ended up being and who wants to ride the clutch for freakin’ three miles. meh. You twist the throttle on the S1000RR, you get power delivered proportionally to your twist, ramped. Just flowing on. Not: BAM! There you are, now deal with it. LOL
Here’s something I’ve noticed that made me giggle: It has no horn. Not that I ever used the wimpy things that come on motorcycles anyway. I’m going to just have to continue using hand signals, just like on the ‘Busa or the Harley. ;P
EDIT: About five weeks later I found it: The switch for the horn is right where it should be, below the turn signal switch on the left clip-on. But it’s recessed and way down there. I can’t see it when sitting on the bike. Neither could I ever feel it with my thumb. How did I find it? I was checking something out on the front end, don’t recall what, and I looked up and there it was, right in front of my eyes, the horn. Go imagine that. Now the owner’s manual also refers to a power outlet… I wonder where that is, because I’m still looking. Found the IR lap timer transmitter plug in the wiring harness though.