…On A Steel Horse I Ride

I’m wanted
Dead or alive

I needed to go for a ride. Not that I was being racked by withdrawal symptoms of PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome) by any stretch of the imagination. I have to shamefully admit, it took ten days to get off my ass and make the Beemer fit for street duty again. It’s about time, really, since I owe Matt of The Dandooligan a little product comparo.

And then I wonder why my mileage has suffered. I have doubled the number of bikes owned, but cut my mileage by half. And I look at wrenching as the culprit. I haven’t touched a torque wrench or a screwdriver in five days. I rebutted my own statement right there!

It’s more a result of the subconscious mind, rather than a definite decision made by cognitive higher-function processes. In other words, I don’t mope around, irritated by the idea that I cannot, for whatever reason, ride my motorcycle; neither do I proclaim loudly, that I will not ride my bike today. I used to suffer from the former, and the latter is really too much like quitting smoking.

It’s something else. An internal shift in focus, perhaps. When I think of motorcycling in terms of skill, my brain immediately goes to fetch some experience from the racetrack. I don’t even think in terms of roadways, surface conditions, traffic density,traffic rules and regulations, hazard recognition, and risk management anymore. Well, at least not consciously.

My brain still seems to deal with all of these factors just the same, but it doesn’t distract me anymore. Or should I say, my brain now has time to wander off and “do other things” (allowing me to be distracted) besides piloting the motorcycle and negotiating traffic.

And as I have evolved my skill set, honed my roadcraft, my attitude towards street riding has changed; and probably not for the better. How much fun could possibly be had on the public roadways anymore? It’s slow. It’s boring. It’s mundane. Routinely blah. Ugh.

You would think that slapping me on the back of the head, making me put on my gear to follow you north into the twisties, would assuage my boredom. Ha! You would think… I can’t even enjoy the “good” roads anymore, not like I used to. My motorcycle eyes have changed their focus: where once I’d seen opportunity, I now see claustrophobic ways of killing myself by sudden deceleration, if something should go wrong. If I can’t see around a corner, I can’t fully commit to it. My risk awareness is in the red, and the fear factor goes up. I am acutely aware of how vulnerable I am to ‘what ifs’ when I’m riding my bike on the street.

Long gone are the days of the Mountain Squid. The days of almost dragging tailpipe on off-camber, uphill curves in an effort to finally get that knee down. Long gone are the days of blindly diving into corners, taking the “race line” through and hanging the upper body over the double-yellow line. But a distant memory are the days of street riding having that therapeutic effect. It used to blank my brain and reset the senses. Now, I have way too much time left to think and my stressors ride pillion.

But today something was different. Today was a throwback to the “good old days.” Today, I had one of the most fun rides in a long time, on the same old boring roads. Imagine that! Could it possibly be that my brain was too preoccupied with collecting data on the various products and apps I was testing? Too preoccupied to be bothered with signaling impending narcolepsy by coma-inducing speed limits? Too preoccupied with pesky fun-killers such as deer, surface contamination, and radar guns pointed casually out of Sheriff’s cars?

No, officer. I wasn't speeding. I was qualifying.

The meaning of life? 42. Perhaps. 45? No, fookin' way!

Today PoHo data acquisition tells me one thing for certain: I had a freakin’ blast on two wheels. Sixty-four miles of unadulterated, jailhouse-worthy fun. It was balm for the soul and elixir for the senses. I feel alive. I feel giddy. I feel reset. Today, I renewed my attitude. With the correct outlook, this girl doesn’t need to be at the track to have some serious throttle therapy. Maybe it just takes a little shift of focus, seven degrees off of where it used to be.

Chased by encroaching darkness I hurried home, wishing I could play outside for just a little while longer.

~~~

It’s all the same, only the names will change
Everyday, it seems, we’re wastin’ away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I drive all night just to get back home

~ "Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi

OMG!!! 193 Ponies Worth of Felonious Fun

First of all, let me say this: EEEK!!! OMG! EEEK!!! I’m in love! >

We’re on our way home. Another onramp, same Interstate. This one is mostly straight with its own lane (no merging into traffic required, unless you want to get over into another lane). I grip it and rip it… well, not really, about half, 3/4 throttle at the most. The Pirate accelerates up the ramp like her tail is on fire. The shift light is flashing like mad (I set it at 9K to let me know when it’s time to dump the clutch during race starts) but I ignore it. I wonder what I look like flying up this ramp in the dark with this ultra-bright-white rapidly flashing LED illuminating my cockpit. I can see the light reflecting off my chest in my mirror. I continue accelerating at a constant rate and just as I bounce it off the rev limiter, I grab a clutchless second gear upshift, while keeping the throttle pinned. This is the smoothest I have ever seen the QuickShift work. The QuickShift (or Gear Shift Assist), which is an option on the S1000RR) electronically cuts power and arrests the spark to unload the transmission (or some such thing) when a shift is requested by one’s left foot, without having to blip the throttle or actuate the clutch lever. I pretty much hate the thing, and blip the throttle and do my clutchless upshifts the old school way. But this time? Hot damn! I must have given the Pirate’s brain what it needed to be the precise weapon of speed it was engineered to be. Because this, well, this is freaking awesome. I barely perceive the actual changing of gears from first to second it is that smooth (which I might add, is a regular nuisance for me, and I frequently find neutral or a false neutral on the way; which reminds me: I need to adjust the angle of the lever to alleviate this embarrassing little tendency). What comes next (during, whilst?), I am so not prepared for. As I grab said upshift the front gets REALLY light, the bike lifts momentarily (I have no clue if the wheel actually leaves the ground) and then it hurls itself forward like a shot. A freaking missile launch. Luckily, I’m tucked in and am clamped down on the tank, light on the bars… or I would have probably a) fallen off the back , or b) accidentally ham-fisted the throttle by the sudden need to hang on, resulting in a major wheelie which would have looped and dumped me on my soon-to-be-in-a-world-of-pain ass. Holy Helena! That is what it’s all about. Another clutch-foot salute to the motoring public as the bike settles back on its suspension and continues to barrel down the lane. Next thing I know I see hubby’s tail light in front of me, slightly offset since he’s in the left wheel track of the same lane. And I get on the binders to haul the Pirate (naughty, naughty girl) back down to more legal speeds.

Damn! I wanna do that again! Saturday, after I get off work, I’m going to the strip to lay some drag during their “Gamblers & Grudge Match” night.

EDIT: Silly me, I would have never looped a wheelie… even in ‘Race’ mode, the Pirate will put the front end down for you after she’s had enough of your squidly shenanigans… about five seconds worth is all she’ll give ya. Still scares me to actually put that to the test, though. So I ride like I don’t even have ABS nor DTC.


Baby, One More Time… Redneck Road Racing

I really can’t help myself. It’s on a need to know basis, and I just needed to know! I had to do another Hayabusa vs. Pirate comparison. How else is a chica to appreciate the new toy and learn its personality? I was on the dam road again, and once I’ve passed Pollard’s Corner and disappeared over the crest of a left-hand sweeping turn, with no witnesses on my tail and seeing that I had the entire road to my lonesome self, the right wrist experienced a moment of squidly possession and gripped it and ripped it. Still, the DTC remained quiet and left me to my own devices as it has since I got the bike. Maybe I’m too much for a Hayabusa, but this bike is probably snickering behind my back: “That’s all you got, girly?”

I jam through the gears, but then decide to try the higher RPM range and bang down two to end up in fourth. I’m tucking in, just as the bike wants me to and go with it. Stable. Precise. Awesome. I feel like the female version of Speed Racer on a mission. I come through a few turns and a quick glance at the digital readout tells me I’m doing triplets. Good gawd! Really?!? Not only is this thing quick as hell, it’s also deceptively fast. My rational brain, which is trying to hang on to sanity and the last shred of maturity, tries to interject a message of reason into my wicked consciousness: high velocity equals jail time; but the thought is drowned out by the ferocious growl of the S1000RR’s inline-four fire-breathing heart. Fuck it! When the shift light comes on, I comply with another snick. 130s… carving through these sweepers like they’re nothing. As stable as the Hayabusa but I’m not feeling like I’m having to work to keep things under control. This is way too easy. Deceptively so. There is that word again! This bike could spell out more legal trouble for me than the ‘Busa ever did. It’s way too much fun. Hell, it almost rides itself. Or is this just my skewed perception of things, since my progression in motorcycles is somewhat backwards from the norm. Harley Sportster 1200 Low > Suzuki Hayabusa > BMW S1000RR. I’m definitely appreciating what the Pirate Bike can do and how it handles its business. It has also made me a better rider in some ways… dare I say it, but my crap weather riding is way better than it was… so are my braking skills… both of which I probably should attribute to more confidence in a skill I already possessed, but was mainly too afraid to use to its fullest; not to mention that the brakes on the Hayabusa really were shit. I can stop this puppy in roughly a third of the distance; without RaceABS intervention. What can I say? The tech is giving me a reason to let go of some of my self-doubts and execute what I’ve been practicing all along with more precision and authority. I still have no clue if the junk really works… for all I know they fleeced me for $1480 to make the pretty lights come on during startup self-diagnositics. 😉

As I round the next turn at hugely illegal speeds, I grab a handful of front brake and haul myself back down in a hurry (damn, I really do love these brakes… did I mention the thing comes with braided steel lines standard?) since I’m coming up on a hill which reduces my sight distance drastically. I’m going 50 in a 45 as I crest the hill and to my astonishment find myself staring down the business end of a radar gun stuck out of a Sheriff’s patrol car, parked in a church parking lot to my right. I smile (not that he can see it), and give him a cheery little nod, still tucked in nice and tidy from hauling Mach 3 pirate booty on a public road, as I vanish around the next curve. Holy shite! I’m glad that worked out, since I’m all out of K-Y and I fired my last traffic court attorney for scheduling issues.


The Pirate & The Falcon

I wasn’t planning on riding today, but around about 3:00pm I couldn’t stand it anymore and told myself that productivity is overrated anyway, might as well do something fun. And the funnest thing for me? Putting miles on a motorcycle odometer. Besides, I really felt like going out for chicken strips. The Pirate’s strips are mighty fatty, still. I need to give the Arr Arr her much needed workout after being tortured for 600 break-in miles. Damn, the girl is fast. No, not fast. Quick. Freaking quicker than greased lightning sliding down a grounded…. ah, never mind, I’m getting way too uh… redneck here. She’s quick. Where the Hayabusa had arm-stretching acceleration, this puppy will launch you into space. Case in point: I was rollin’ down the Interstate, sitting bolt upright, one hand on the throttle… the other (including broken pinky) resting sedately on my upper left thigh… You know, the standard sportbike poser riding position. Yeah… I do it, too. *shameful nod* What can I say? It’s comfy. I like to add a little twist and ride side saddle, as is proper for a southern lady. 😀 Anyhoo, so I’m rollin’ down the big road, and some dude in a cage paces me for a little too long in the left lane, so I give it a little of the ol’ twisty of the right wrist as I am accustomed, and I almost fall off the back. Holy shit! That’s what I mean. She’s quick. And that was in ‘Sport’ mode. Another example: I’m coming down an onramp, by the time I’m at the bottom and have a glance at my speedo, I’m up to 112 mph. Holy shit! That took way less effort than I remember. Snick. Snick. Blinker. Snick. WTF?!? I’m still in break-in, didn’t even get close to 9K RPM. Better slow my silly self back down. Gotta watch this beast. Deceptive. I thought I wasn’t going all THAT fast.

So, I’m doing my usual loop. I have to reference this; like a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ comparison… Hayabusa vs. S1000RR. The Fat Lady vs. The Thin Mint (that’s what I would have called it, had I gotten it in Acid Green). That 90-degree right-hander? 10 mph faster than the ‘Busa. Didn’t even feel the need to hang off. Just went around that thing like I was in a sweeper curve, well not quite, but damn if I felt like I was pulling G’s like I was on the ‘Busa. Nada. As a matter of fact, I kept my reference points all the same… all my ‘Busa lines through familiar territory… they were all too tight. In the 90-degree right-hander I had my tires sticking to the very inside of the white line. I thought to myself that this isn’t going to work or I’ll risk banging my head on the guard rail. Intellectually I knew this would happen, but emotionally I was not really prepared for how this made me feel. Yes, every one told me the ‘Busa was a bus. What did they know? I became a master of wrestling my sexy Fatty through the curves, which ultimately led to her demise. The one time I could have put that knee down, I didn’t bring my pucks and dragged pipe. Go figure… all my favorite curves, they ain’t shit. So I went from loving to hang off to ‘what’s the point here?’. Now, it is blatantly obvious that I cannot ride this machine even close to the point of having to hang off (not around here anyway) without doubling or even tripling the speed limit. Not gonna happen. The days of Redneck Racing practice are over. *sigh*

The brakes are freakin’ phenomenal. No wonder I could never get comfortable with braking late, banging it down a gear or two, then throwing it in. I can do it now. Not really all that smooth about it, since I gave up trying a while ago… around the same time I sleazeballed the third corner up on US17 or was it GA348? I learned that I (and The Fat Lady) felt most comfortable having the entry speed right waaaay early. Then I still went wide, but it didn’t feel as such. Mike asked me once (during our suspension setup pow-wows) if the bike felt like it was going wide. I answered that question with a convinced ‘no’. I really thought that’s how I picked my lines. Does my little adage make sense now? “When dancing with a Fat Lady you’ll go in early and you’ll come out late.” That’s where that came from. I was comfortable with that though. I adapted to the bike without even realizing it. But what do I know? Or what did I know then? Nada. When going through the same Hayabusa lines with the S1000RR all of a sudden I find myself stuck to the white line (in the rights) and the yellow (in the lefts). Hmmmm…. so now I’m doing mid-corner corrections to reduce lean angle. ROFL What the hell! So, it follows that girly’s going to do another go-around, this time, picking NEW lines. And what do we find out? That which we intellectually already knew: The pirate knows her way around a corner. No more mid-corner corrections, no more hanging off, smooth as hell, braking later, harder, banging down gears… it’s all kind of easy now… at least in what passes for curves around these parts.

What about straight line stability? The thing positively defies the laws of physics. With those rake and trail numbers you would think the Pirate be a little unsure of herself laying some drag down the boulevard. Wrong again. I don’t know how they pulled this off, but this thing feels as stable as The Fat Lady did (tested up to 131 mph; digital readouts are awesome, no more tick mark guessing required) and gets there in a hurry! Good gawd! Did I mention she’s quick?

I think I died and went to heaven. How can Busa Girl have her cake and eat it, too? This is quite impossible. Leave it to the Germans though to pull it off.

…but I still miss my Hayabusa. I wish I could have her back. I really miss the ole girl with her sexy Pearl Splash white skirts, her deceptively sedate kitten purr and her bodacious curves. There’s nothing sexy about the S1000RR, this is the bike that speaks to my geek. I love it. I love the lines. I love its mean streak. Its purpose-built design. The tech. How well-thought out it seems to be. It even looks like it means nothing but business. Take no prisoners. All or nothing. The only proper color for the thing is Thunder Gray Metallic (aka black). It’s one awesome piece of technology. It and me are well suited for each other. So why do I still pine for my busted ‘Busa (as Stan put it in his country song)? I’m a ‘Busa girl at heart. Always will be. But I have to come to terms that my love affair with that bike is (for the time being) over. What I want and what I need are two different machines. I want my ‘Busa back. I need the S1000RR. I wish I could have both.


Evasive Maneuvers

Miss Busa and The Fat Lady

Miss Busa & The Fat Lady: We are cute and innocent. Well, ok, innocent. Totally harmless. How can a girl in a Hello Kitty shirt possibly be dangerous? Look she's got pink stickers on her bike. Totally harmelss. We even look slow. We only take it to the limit. Right there and no further. Pinky swear. 😉


Since I have nothing better to do than write about the ride, let me recount this little marvel of a tale. Wouldn’t before, since I still had this little traffic court thing hanging over me like the Fog of War in a mismatched RPG battle; and my license tag coincidentally spells out the domain name (for the more inquisitive mind) of my blog, which in turn holds all the unforgiving evidence in digital print, photographic and videographic form of the workings of Miss Busa’s criminal mind; like a cracked, filthy bedroom wall holds the beloved pieces of the shrine erected to honor a serial killer’s next victim… so does this blog give testimony to…. WAIT A MINUTE!

<!– With my newly attained legal skills I would like to state for the record: I would like to assert, at this time, that the content of this blog. — May it please the court, the definition of a ‘blog’ is as follows: Blog is Internet jargon for web log, which is akin to an online journal or diary for exhibitionist folks like myself. — that the content of this blog is all fabrication and lies! It is strictly for entertainment purposes only, and as such, needs a proper legal disclaimer, which was added as of now. Further, I am a pathological liar even when I tell the truth. A picture is worth a thousand untrue words and a staged video is worth a thousand untrue photos. I have 2x2x2 words for you: Tabloid journalism, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere. –>

I was out riding, enjoying a nice spring day in March, in full race gear (gotta stretch that damn cow hide, it’s still stiff and it’s getting on my nerves), minding my own lane space and not particularly paying attention to the instrument cluster, which is part of the reprogramming efforts of breaking my recently developed love affair between the gauges and my eyeballs. So it does not surprise me that my pleasant ride is rudely interrupted by the annoying flash of blue lights and a quick blip of a police siren. Shit! I look at my gauges. 70 indicated in a 45. Motherfrakker! Not again. And not just one cop, but two: a Sheriff and what looks like State Patrol, but I can’t be certain. What the hell is this? Somebody put out the fresh donut sign? Gawd! Not again! I instinctively slow down while I’m cussing up a storm inside my helmet and keeping track of the two units in my mirrors. Hell no! I am so not stopping! I’m not… shit! I have to! No. You should. Ah, fuck this; gawd, you’re such an idiot, shit! Stop! Get the hell out of here. Don’t stop! OMG! There’s traffic behind me and they slow, obviously looking for a place to turn around to follow me. What the hell is wrong with you? They already caught you going what? 63 in a 45? I accelerate back to my previous speed of 70 indicated. The road is sweeping curves, so I lose sight of the cops fairly quickly. My heart is entering a state of arrhythmia. I have to fight the constant impulse to speed up. My brain is going into overdrive. Holy shit! You’re fleeing. You are now risking an evasion charge on top of going something like 18 over. My anxiety rears its ugly head, so now I’m feeling shaky on the inside in addition to the pounding in my chest and the racing staccato of my brain.

I formulate a game plan… a girly one at that: “I didn’t see you, officer. I would have stopped. By the time I did see you behind me, I couldn’t find a safe place to pull over. No officer, I don’t know how fast I was going, I was practicing a riding skill I have developed problems with. What?!? OMG! You can’t be serious. {at this point I break down in sobs and then start bawling for all it’s worth}. My husband… is…. *sob* so going to….to…*sniffle*… to… oh no…*hangs head* going to be so mad…. at me. *wail*”

I round the last sweeper and am faced with a line of three cars waiting for a newly erected traffic light to change to green. Gawd! Just my luck. I briefly consider making a run for it through the gravel that will soon be a dedicated right turn lane. I dismiss the thought after the visual my logical mind is sending me of a Hayabusa laying on its side with me getting put in cuffs and stuffed into a police cruiser shortly thereafter. I envision myself sitting in a holding tank with a bunch of ugly, fat hookers… at least I’d have my knee pucks for when the jailer comes around… Not good, can’t explain that one away to leave reasonable doubt. While I wait behind the cars, I’m practically staring in my mirrors just waiting to see the coppers put in their flashy, wailing appearance. I’m so nervous, I’m tapping my foot. Oh please, oh please, change to green, I gotta get out of here. I’m starting to sweat. Bullets. The light finally turns, my erratically beating heart is still hammering the inside of my ribcage and my fingers are starting to feel numb. I can’t stand to wait any longer and squeeze by the car in front of me, while he’s waiting for cross traffic to clear. I execute my right turn, and rip it with one last look over my shoulder. No cops in sight, still. Good. My brain still racing, my eyes still searching to the rear. I can’t stay on this road, it’s five lanes, too much traffic and straight as hell, I have got to get out of here. I spot a dump truck to my left. Without so much of a thought I whip it into the suicide lane and execute a quickie left, using the dump truck as a shield. Looking over my shoulder, the rear is still devoid of my friends in gray or blue.

This concludes the evasion. I made two unobserved random turns before the chopper’s in the air. But my nerves are shot. My mental constitution borders on paranoid now and it’s not getting any better. A pickup truck pulls out in front of me and I freak out. Holy crap! Come on, man! He’s going incredibly slow, or so it seems. I got to get the hell out of Dodge! I grip it and rip it and pass him in a no-passing zone. Add one more count to the growing list of infractions. I can’t cope any more, I’m using all my remaining willpower to do the speed limit. Wouldn’t do me no good now to get noticed by some other cop on his way to that imaginary donut shop for a shot of java and a creme-filled whatchamacallit. I take the next available right. Hey, I know this road. Nine more miles of zig-zagging and I arrive at my house, fully expecting the cops to sit there waiting for me. (“Yes, Miss Busa, we know where you live. You are known, and now you are also wanted.”) More paranoia, I remind myself. I pull into my driveway, put the kickstand down, practically jump off The Fat Lady with a half-twist and yank the Bike Barn’s cover over her in one smooth motion, then sprint to my front door, punch in my code and enter in a hurry and slam the door shut. After disarming the alarm, I rip my helmet off, fall to the floor and dissolve into a mad case of the hysterious giggles and the laughter of the kind you will only hear from the insides of padded cells at the insane asylum. Haha! Take that coppers! Woooohooooo! What a rush! Way to stick it to the man! Yeeeehaaaw! Good gawd, I’m mad! Maaaaaaaaad, I tell you! After I calm down, I drag myself to bed to catch my breath and relax and promptly fall asleep in my gear. This much stress is exhausting. Being a fugitive criminal is exhausting. I sleep the sleep of the weary, a three-hour paranoia-induced coma.

Officer M. wasn’t lying about the non-pursuit policy that is in effect in the two counties that I frequent on an almost daily basis. I feel like they could have had me at the traffic light, but I have to assume they aborted as soon as it was clear to them that a.) they couldn’t turn around to follow me quickly enough, and b.) I wasn’t going to pull over.

“He who pulls over gets the ticket.”

~ Officer M. (whose wife made him sell his GSX-R1000 and is condemned to riding a Harley when on duty)


Crashed: The Hayabusa has no Curb Appeal

I’m on my way home from work. I’m three miles from the house, but I’m thirsty and to my recollection I’m out of Diet Coke. And it’s the only thing that’ll hit the spot. It’s one of those ‘gotta have it’ moments. In a last-minute decision, I get into the outside lane of the two-lane left turn to make my way into the new Wal-Mart they finished a few months ago at Exit 190 on my home stretch of I-20. Red light. First in line, car to my left, no one behind me. This could only be better if the light hadn’t changed to red. I love this corner. Brand new asphalt, smooth, sweeping 90-degree turn feeding into a nice little stretch of (as of yet) unused road that circles the entire parking lot. I call this the ”Busa Back-Forty’. The light changes to green and off I go. I out-accelerate the car next to me and get my lean on. I’m looking through the turn, have my line visualized, the tires feel solid, and the Fat Lady does as she’s told and feels planted and stable. For some reason I decided before I even turned it in not to hang off. I’m wearing my Harley-Davidson FXRG all-season textiles, not my leathers; but the difference in gear only means that my knee is either tucked in tight against the fairing on the inside of the turn or it’s sticking out. Right before I reach the apex of the turn, I hear a scraping noise. It is a familiar sound, albeit I haven’t experienced it since my Harley days. I dragged peg on my first bike, a Sportster 1200Low, all the time, especially in left turns. Nothing to worry about, really. My tires feel solid, I love that Q2 rear rubber. Next thing I know, my rear steps out and I lose my line going wide. WTF?!? My brain finally analyzes what is happening. I’m dragging hard parts and it’s leveraging the bike’s rear off the ground, shifting weight off the rear tire and causing it to lose traction. Shit! I can see the curb coming at me fast. Something tells me I should NOT, under any circumstances hit that sliding sideways. Something I’ve read in one of the skill books I’ve been devouring since I started on two wheels comes to my mind: “If a collision is imminent, do SOMETHING.” I can only see one out here: I have to jump the curb. I give it all I’ve got to try and wrestle the Fat Lady out of past-maximum lean and straighten up the bike and aim for the curb. Here is where my memory gets hazy: I remember vaguely trying to shift weight to the rear and giving it more gas to help the front wheel climb up on the sidewalk. I think I made it, but at a considerable lean. I could have sworn I was upright again, but later inspection of the ‘crime scene’ seems to tell a different story. So does The Fat Lady’s extensive wounds. Things fade to black here. I remember hearing the nauseating sounds of man-made materials under stress: plastics cracking, glass shattering, metals screeching. My last thought before I blacked out is something along the lines of: “Holy shit, I hope I don’t hit that pole!”

I come to, sitting on my bum, on the sidewalk, next to a street lamp, facing in the direction of travel. I see The Fat Lady about thirty feet further down, laying on her left side, also facing the direction of travel, taking an asphalt nap parallel to the curb in the right wheel track. She is so perfectly aligned, it looks as if someone placed her there for a little ‘how to pick up a dropped bike’ practice. She doesn’t look so bad from here. There are three dudes and a girl standing around me, asking me if I’m ok. I answer, while I’m feeling myself up, that I think I am. I take my gloves, helmet, and backpack off and place them neatly next to the lamp post in the grass. Another person comes around from my right and bends down to my level, also asking me if I’m ok and telling me that help is on the way. I nod and remain sitting in my spot. I slowly turn my head over my left shoulder and see a trail of dirt, grass, plastic bits and scrape marks. I look down on myself. My riding gear is dirty, but seems in good shape. I notice I have grass in my mouth and spit it out. The three dudes, after having assured themselves that I am indeed alright, pick up my bike and place her on her kickstand. They check out my ‘Busa, one of them remarks that he’s never seen anything like it. That this was the best freakin’ riding he’s ever seen on a Hayabusa, or some such thing. Kind of makes a momma proud; I only wish I would have landed that. Yeah, you definitely get extra cred when you’re a girl on a Hayabusa. =D A deputy sheriff arrives not too much later, with the fire department in a big-ass, huge fire truck, sirens blaring and lights flashing. First Responders, I’m assuming. The ambulance is not far behind. OMG! All this hoopla for me?!? Gawd, these people must be bored out of their minds in this town and are jumping on every call with the full-on brunt of their life-saving force. Kinda cool, when you think about it. Kind of embarrassing, too. One of the fire fighters checks me out and asks me the usual questions to ensure I’m with it and not confused. He asks me who the president is, I’m slow to respond, but finally manage an “Obama”. He asks me if I voted for him, I glance at the man sideways and give him an enthusiastic “Hell no!” They laugh and decide I’m pretty much ok in the head. The deputy asks me if I have a preference for a towing service, and I just shake my head and utter: “Whoever is cheapest.” While the wrecker arrives and starts putting my baby on the back of their truck, I’m being given the once-over by the EMTs in the ambulance. They also inspect my helmet, there are no signs of impact on it anywhere. They give me the choice of going to the ER or going home. I don’t feel all that bad, so I opt for going home. I sign some papers and they let me go. I watch the wrecker dude finish up with my bike. At least they seem to know what they’re doing. I’ve heard some horror stories about wreckers and motorcycles. My baby appears to be in good hands, though. We finish up all the official stuff, I sit on the curb and write my police report, and the deputy sheriff gives me a ride home. During the gratis ride in the back of a police cruiser (sans handcuffs) I notice my vision narrowing, greying out, and I’m starting to see those funky multi-colored spirographic images. I feel a little woozy. On my way into the house to get my insurance card for the officer, I almost pass out. I explain to the officer what is going on with me and he suggests that it’s probably for the best to call the ambulance back, but it is my choice. I agree. Several minutes later, Grovetown’s First Responders roll in: noisy, flashy, and in an awesome display of helpfulness. OMG! How embarrassing. The neighbors one by one come trickling out of their houses to watch the show. The officer just smiles and says: “These are First Responders, that’s what they do. Enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.” Good gawd. They go through the whole spiel again, then stuff me in the back of the ambulance and hook me up to a 10-lead wiring harness and a finger thingy to monitor the whatnots of Miss Busa. My neighbor peeks her head in. “You ok?” I reply, that this is just precautionary, since I’m alone and feel faint, so they’re going to take me to the ER to make sure there’s nothing major wrong with me. She tells me to call her if I need anything. I tell her not to worry and that I’m fine. Off we go…

My wreck happend around 7PM, I am released from the ER around 1:30AM with an Rx for Cyclobenzaprine and Ibuprofen, I refused the heavy artillery they wanted to hook me up with. I hate taking pills. They’ve done extensive X-Rays of my left wrist and pinky and a CAT scan of my upper body and head, but found nothing out of the ordinary. I couldn’t get my phone to work properly since my crash, and now have problems with the built-in GPS. I finally get my radio operational and get a signal and after explaining my situation to a co-worker, he texts me some cab numbers from the phone book. I walk around semi-aimlessly trying to pinpoint my exact location when I spot a bank and a pharmacy. Lucky me. I scope out the area carefully and brave the ATM to get some cash for the cab ride home. I have to be insane doing this in the middle of the night by myself. Oh well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do. I get my cash, then make my way across the street (in somewhat of a hurry) to get my Rx filled. At least I know where I am now and can call myself a cab with the telephone numbers provided by my co-worker. I’m starting to feel worse. I am in agony, feeling like I just got hit and tackled by a line backer for the New Orleans Saints. They warned me about this. I finally admit defeat and call my boss, explain what happened and she gets coverage for my shift and tells me to take care of myself and my business. Good. I sit on the curb in the pharmacy’s parking lot, in the middle of downtown Augusta, and wonder if today is the day I’m also going to get robbed. The cabbie pulls in and I’m finally nearing the end of my (mis)adventure.

Many Thanks Go Out To:

I want to thank my co-workers and my boss for being there for me when I needed them and having my backside. I want to thank all the people who stopped at the scene and made sure I was ok and kept me company until the emergency services arrived. I want to thank the police, fire fighters, EMTs, nurses and doctors for seeing me through this and being so nice to me, even making me laugh, and helping me not feel so embarrassed about my ordeal. I want to thank my neighbors for watching out for me and offering to be there for me, if I needed them. And I also want to thank my husband, Joe, for not giving me grief, but instead being supportive, taking two days off to be with me and making fun of me instead of giving me lectures. I love you, Mr. Slow.


The Redneck Speed Trials

If anything can be said about the roads around Augusta, GA, it is this: 99% of them are ‘Busa roads, redneck drag strips, straight as an arrow and as boring as a Monday night in the club. Civic engineers around these parts like to go through, they don’t believe in going around. The few curves we do have are located on what must be Monday roads (or Saturday Night Specials?). So it comes as no surprise that, as I round a sweeper curve and crest a hill and am faced with what must be the longest and straightest stretch of road I’ve ever laid eyes on in my entire life with The Fat Lady, I get an idea. Illegal. Squiddy. Irresponsible. An idea that’ll make a Fat Lady sing. I owe it to her, after all she’s been through. All that wrenching-without-a-clue she’s had to endure at the hands of a girl who hates to get her hands dirty. What we have here is an exclusive invitation to the ‘Redneck Speed Trials’. Uh-huh. Yeah. A few cars traveling in either direction, a few hills between the nose cone and the vanishing point. I don’t smell any bacon. I patiently follow the car in front of me that I’ve caught up with during my reverie. I’m in fourth gear. I’m a little low in the PRMs (around 3K), but she’s not lugging, and my gas mileage has been leaving something to be desired lately, so I’m trying to keep it between 4-5K when I’m cruising. Not that it matters anyway when I can’t keep myself from accelerating from stops like a cat with its tail ablaze (is that the definition of a hellcat? *s*). When the coast is clear I decide to overtake the car, I even wait until I get the dashed yellow to pass. Imagine that. The girl’s got a few morals left. Then I just grip it and rip it. I have to actually move my hand first to be able to do it. I don’t really know why I did it. I think it started with the thought of being too lazy to downshift. I really didn’t plan on it. Maybe it was the ‘curse of the straight road’. But my hand repositions itself and I open her up, all the way to the rusty part, until it twists no more. At first she seems slow to respond. No, not sluggish. Delayed. No, ramped. Throttle response isn’t sluggish or lagged, like it was on the hog. This is more of a ‘pre-calculated’ quiet before the speed storm. Mind you, this is all happening in the span of a few seconds. But, time (or the perception of such), for some reason, had slowed down for me. I signal and get over into the other lane, the Fat Lady is working it, then there’s a click (not audible, not physical, not real) like a switch had been thrown, like the Fat Lady decided it’s time to put on her running shoes, and she begins to roar! (Gawd, that sound is indescribable, I love it, I live for it, the kitten turning into the ferocious tiger.) I guess she’s found her groove (or the ECM kicked her in her fat ass and told her to get on with it ;)) and she starts pulling… hard. I don’t know at what speed or what RPM this is happening, it didn’t occur to me to look. My ass slides all the way to the rear and bumps up against the hump (so that’s what that’s for). My arms are stretched out and I’m hanging on for dear life, no doubt grinning like a cheshire cat. I get back over on my side of the road, I think I even signal to the right, but I can’t be sure if my thumb actually pushed the button or just tapped it. She is awesome. This is only half as violent as the first time I did this when I ‘earned my wings’. The Fat Lady is definitely digging her new lowered self. It’s either that, or I had gotten better since then, maybe a combination of both, but I have a ten that says it’s the new suspension setup. I’m trying to pull myself forward, but it’s hard to do and takes some effort. I finally manage, by using a combination of pushing with my feet and pulling with my arms, to get back to my usual spot on the seat about two-thirds of the way up. I’m quickly running out of visible road due to a hill, so I lay into the binders (I’ve read somewhere that quick-stops at speed are the same as the ones practiced in 2nd gear in a parking lot), no time like the present to practice a little of that. I get on the front brake hard, while I’m pushing myself all the way to the back, again I have to fight the laws of physics (I really need to start working out…) Probably doesn’t make much of a difference with my skinny ass, but I want to practice that whole weight transfer in the name of traction management thing… I read that somewhere, too. It seemingly takes forever to slow back down to 55. Holy shit! What a rush! I don’t think I’ve ever done full-on acceleration and rode it all the way to the redline. I still don’t know how fast I was going, but I don’t really care. It was freakin’ awesome.

I looked at my GPSr’s ‘Max. Speed’ field later, it is now displaying a 140 where it said 137 previously. My ‘Max Speed’ on the H-D Sporty was 112 mph, but the 112 on the Sportster 1200L was scary as hell, not to mention the thing developed one bastard of a head shake around 105+.

Nothing in the great scheme of things, but I think it rocks anyway!

I need to go to ‘the mile’, I want to take her to the limit, without having to worry about such inconveniences as cops and cars and deer. I’m going to slap some foam onto that hump and wedge myself in place before I attempt anything above 160, though. 😉