…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

Reviewed To Write

Reviews, reviews, reviews. I can’t bring myself to write them. I don’t know why. Is it boring drudgery? Probably. Would it help other riders? Definitely. Would it bring in some swag? Maybe. There is really no negative point about reviews that I can make. So why do I find it so hard to do them? I really don’t know, but writing product reviews just seems like such work. I don’t want writing to turn into work. I have my job for that. It’s uninspiring. It’s boring. I have to actually go out and take pictures of my stuff, too. I thought I’d never do how-tos or walkthroughs and some have already crept into my blog. But I’ve had fun doing those, for some odd reason. Or it just turned out to be a pseudo-walkthrough as I was writing without intention of doing so. Sometimes it just comes and it’s better not to fight it or you end up hating the whole mess and quit for several weeks, because “IT” is looming over your head.

I don’t want to write reviews, but I have been told that I need to. That it would be in “my best interest”, that it could eventually turn into another source of revenue to fuel my racing passion. I’m not a technical writer, though. I don’t know what kind of writer I really am, since I never thought I would be writing as regularly as I do now. I wasn’t aspiring to become a blogger. It just sort of happened and I’ve quit several times. Yet here I am. And from the looks of it, I might be more successful at writing than I am at riding. That is a scary thought. One I will not even entertain past this sentence.

I’d rather make people disappear for money.

In Photoshop. I’m good at that. I have a six-pack of beer, one completely pissed off client and a very satisfied customer to tell me as much. 🙂


Silenzio! Ruhe! Pass the earplugs!

Loud Pipes Save Lives. A statement a lot of bikers swear by. I have never really cared one way or the other about this heated and controversial argument. Roll what you feel good with. If you believe that your 110dB eardrum shattering ass end will keep you alive and well, go for it. I myself am of a more stealthy persuasion. I like my bike to purr like a kitten rather than sound like the end of the world is nigh. Although I wear earplugs most of the time when I’m riding, I couldn’t stand having to wear them because my own pipes are so freaking loud that I can’t hear myself think. It would annoy me, break my concentration, rob me of my inner peace. My bike isn’t really all that quiet in the upper RPM ranges either, but it’s not like I hang out there very often, given the kind of riding that I’m engaged in 90% of the time. I wear earplugs on the track, even though I hate it, because I can’t understand what people are saying unless I’m looking directly at them, which causes a lot of “Huh? What? Could you repeat that?” and a fair share of “I have not a clue what the hell is going on!”. Once I’m out there I prefer to have my ear canal blockage in place. It makes the world eerily quiet, but not completely devoid of sound.

Why don’t I like loud pipes? Personally, I don’t believe excessive noise saves our heinies. Cagers are too engaged in their own little bubble of cranked stereos, cell phones glued to ears, and engaged conversations with their passengers. They don’t even hear your thunder until you are right on top of them. Too late to be of any good other than to piss them off because now they can’t hear what their buddy on the other end of the 3G connection is saying. I also don’t want to listen to myself roaring down the street all the time. And I don’t want to attract any unnecessary attention. Needless to say I would wake the neighbors leaving home for work on my horrendous schedule about seven mornings per month. Even though one of my neighbors told me to blast my horn when I come home, since she can’t hear me ever since I got rid of my beautiful Harley Davidson. She’s an awesome woman. Always watching out for me and making sure I am safely inside my house in the wee hours of the night. She’s seen “some stuff” go down in her time, let’s leave it at that.

Have I considered getting a race exhaust for some performance enhancing fun? Sure I have. But I can’t find one I can live with and give me the performance increase that I would want to see when dropping that kind of money. I suppose the loud pipes will have to wait until I can afford a dedicated track/race bike.

I don’t really follow politics or am I a “motorcycling activista” but I think that the state of affairs is such that all that noise generated in honor of “loud pipes save lives” or “stupid fast performance for squidly street fun” is awfully close to turning into “loud pipes kill rights”.

When the douches wearing pinstripe suits and ties that are cinched way too tight, who never even rode a motorcycle, finally get around to banning our aftermarket pipes with the sweet exhaust notes and the delicious performance increases that come with those triple-digit decibels, I will cry in my beer next to the fella whose conviction was settled on the loud end of the noise spectrum. At least I can say that I wasn’t part of that particular problem. Maybe when they finally get to ban literbikes for public street use, you could point a finger at me… maybe.

I don’t think “majority rule” isn’t quite what the motorcycling public or the “biker subculture” need. The majority doesn’t even ride anything more than maybe the subway or the commuter train, yet we are ruled by them. Oh no… I’m getting politic! I need to leave and wash my mouth out with antibacterial soap! Stat!


Why Race It If You Can Roll It?

Suzuki GSX-R600 (BMP)

Miss Busa rocking "The Wedding Cake"

What is so damn important about racing that I spent most every waking minute thinking about it? And it’s worse than just thinking about it, everything I do anymore is in line with racing. Before, I modded mainly for bling. Well, I have to amend that statement, since I have never just put something on my bike for looks alone, but it had to add functionality or performance in addition to just looking good. If it was ugly, it wouldn’t go on my bike no matter the benefit. During research, if two parts were essentially the same in any other aspect, I would spend more to get the part that looked better. However, the main reason I would want to add something was to make my bike look different and stand out from the crowd. That seemed to have changed. Everything I do to my bike now has an additional underlying condition, before it is approved and the order button is clicked: Is this going to put me in a different class? How is this going to affect the overall performance? How is it going to affect my riding?

I tweet about motorcycles. I talk about them, my life has become centered around them. My living room currently reeks of gasoline, and a lot of the time it looks like a garage with tools and parts laying around everywhere. I write about motorcycles and ever since I’ve decided that I don’t care about the remainder of my bike’s warranty, I openly blog about wanting to race it.

When did my thought process change from just wanting to be the best street rider that I could possibly be to wanting to be a racer? I really have no idea. Maybe it is some subconscious attempt to prove to myself that indeed I have found something (finally) that I’m not just mediocre at. Something that has always been bugging me, all my life. I am mediocre in a lot of things (and I mean a LOT of things), but excel at none. I always envied people with talent. Musicians, artists, dancers, singers, strippers,… I had a lot of friends who had “their one thing” that they made look like it came so easily to them, with hardly any effort. Truth be known, that’s probably all they spent their mental focus on, even when they weren’t outwardly engaged in their craft.

Is racing some sort of measurement for me? A way to find where I stand in my development as a rider? Is it the scientific experiment that will prove some sort of hypothesis of mine and turn it into theory and hopefully, with repeated reproduction will become fact? Maybe. I have always wanted to know where I stand with things. I need to know; I suppose that is part of my competitive nature. I really don’t know why, maybe it is to ease my insecurities or maybe it’s an attempt at shock therapy. Get out there, be visible, get all that unwanted attention (whether it be good or bad) and prove that you can cope and won’t drop dead from it.

It’s definitely not for the money (that’s a laugh there) and it isn’t for the fame (yeah, that’s another good one), and it isn’t because I’m being pushed in that direction, although Mr. Slow has prevented me from quitting twice already, telling me in no uncertain terms that this is a team venture and it would be selfish of me, not to mention that he knows better, I wouldn’t really want to quit. He is spot on right, I suppose he knows me better than I know myself in a lot of ways.

I do not have high aspirations either, nor any expectations aside from that one minor detail: I don’t want to get lapped EVER and I would like to not come in DFL. However, I could probably live with the latter, since someone has got to play that position, but I’d rather it not be me. Seriously.

Comes to thinking about it, I do better when I don’t have any people around me on the track. I have a tendency to want to focus on the bikes in front of me rather than my reference markers, and I get slightly annoyed when someone’s way too slow for my tastes and I can’t get an opportunity to pass and make them eat my dust. So, what does she do? She wants to go racing… yeah.

I really don’t get it. I thought about sticking to just track days, but it doesn’t seem enough. It doesn’t scratch that weird itch I have developed. That rash that requires the kind of medicine that drains the bank accounts and leaves not much for anything else. But I seem to be cool with that.

Maybe I have finally realized that my lack of talent isn’t due to me not being blessed with one; that maybe it is due to my getting bored fairly easily with stuff and moving on to “the next thing” when I have reached a certain degree of sufficiency. When growing up I drove my Dad crazy with this tendency. Every time I asked him to let me join some club or wanted him to buy me this or that, he just threw his arms up and reprimanded: “Mädchen, Du fängst alles mögliche an und machst überhaupt nichts fertig!” (“Girl, you start all sorts of things and finish none of them.”) But eventually he succumbed to my insistent begging and pleading and I got what I wanted and end up doing exactly what he was afraid of: not sticking with it past mediocrity.

Maybe the answer will come to me when I’m sitting on the pre-grid with Mr. Slow holding the bucket for me. That’s right. I won’t be needing an umbrella girl, I need a bucket dude. =D


TGIF! Why Are You Happy?

I typed this up in the ‘We Ride’ forum, because that’s what we do there… and I thought to myself that this is good enough to share on my blog, because as I was typing it I got that warm and fuzzy feeling inside and I came to realize that I have it pretty damned good, all things considered. And that alone makes me smile on the inside, too. Too often do I forget that and get mired in the dark hole and feel like shit and all depressed, because the weather sucks and we don’t get enough full-spectrum light. Yeah, here it goes:

I am happy…. well, let me think on that for a moment. I have to go to work tonight after my 7-day weekend, and I never feel up to it, and it’s raining like crazy, so I’m going to get drenched on the way to work and just to rub it in the weather will be good until I’m off, then it turns to low 40s rainy crap weather again. Then the ENTIRE weekend it’s gonna be sunny and in the high 50s… guess what? I have to freakin’ work!!!!! So why am I happy? I suppose there’s the fact that I have a job, can moan and groan about the dang weather because I’m lucky enough to own a bike. Well, crap. Winter time is too depressing… and the few days of reprieve we get don’t quite hold you over…. so let me put on my big girl badass biker chica leather pants and say this:

I’d like to have a problem like that, and I do.

Oh, and I just remembered I get to meet Kevin Schwantz in person come June…. won’t get here soon enough. That dude’s one expensive date, too. What an awesome BDay gift. I suppose I’m finding my TGIF happiness now, because I have a hubby that supports me 100% rather than having to worry about him giving me crap about stuff because he rides differently. I’ve read a lot of complaints along those lines from women online… they don’t ride hard enough for their hubbies, don’t learn fast enough, are too slow, too fast, ride too hard, too whatever. So I’m glad I have a husband who lets me do my thing and I can happily let him do his, unless he’s dragging his size 11s through a turn, hanging five on the inside peg… then it’s off… 😉 I’m lucky I only catch crap from (mostly) women whose opinions don’t matter jack anyway. Jealous wenches! Yeah, I have an awesome partner in crime. He makes me smile, he’ll buy me tire warmers if I ask him nicely and be my one-man pit crew and track photographer… *giggles* yeah, it’s that good… now about that S1000RR… we’ll talk about that next Friday. =D

Yeah, all things considered I should be and am pretty damned happy.