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.

An Acute Case Of The Rocket Crotch

Look at all this roadfaring seafood out here. It must be the Day of the Squid and I was a major participant. Didn’t plan on riding it like a jackass. I was on my way to work, on my day off no less, tooling down the road at speed limit +5, trying to get over being grumpy. This proved a wee bit difficult, however, since I decided to skip real sleep in favor of setting up for the switch back from nights to days. The one time I don’t do my usual thing, the one time I decide to just take a short nap and then get up to work on The Fat Lady so I’ll be nice and sleepy come 9PM… the ONE time… Murphy happens. Murphy. And his asinine law!

5 hours earlier:
My cell rings. It’s a coworker, asking if I could work for her since she was feeling ill and would rather find someone to cover her so she could convalesce. I am her last hope. Here I am, standing in the middle of what probably goes for about $2500 worth of plastics strewn all over my driveway, haven’t had any sleep to speak of, and now have approximately 4.5 hours before I have to badge in and work a 12-hour night. I tell her I don’t know if I can make it due to my present circumstance and that I have no clue how long this is going to take, since it’s my first attempt. She understands, but remains hopeful. I commute to work on my Hayabusa, so I have to get the thing back together before 4:30PM. No sleep for the weary.

I make it. I call her, to let her know and I’m out the door. I close in on the intersection that will dump me onto the ‘Hayabusa Speedway’ (officially known as US-278) with an expedient left turn, and to my delight the light is green, which is a rare occasion. Woohoo! I notice two sport bikes ahead of me in the right lane; they must have been already waiting at the red light. They are ahead of me, leaned into the two-lane turn. The boys are taking it like old coots. I smile. I’m in one of those moods. I get to the turn and I get my lean on and am ready to show them how you ride it like a girl. I’m accelerating out of the turn and pass them in the left lane and get in front of them. I’m back to going speed limit +5, the usual. They decide to pass and haul ass. Whatever, I don’t really care. I have to work on my damn day off. I’m still trying to get my spirits up, since being ticked off isn’t going to change anything, might as well be in a good mood.

A little while later I notice I’m catching up with them yet again. What in the world? I look down at my speedo; yup, still going 60. You have got to be kidding me. They’ve actually slowed down. Oh, well. Whatever floats your boat. I’m going around. Unlike some peeps, I have to be at work, on MY DAY OFF! Just for kicks, I speed up to [an undisclosed number on the dial] to get some distance between them and me and settle back into the less ticket worthy velocity of speed limit +5. Well, hell. They’re right behind me, although the following distance between the two has now increased significantly. Hmmm… Mr. FZ1 passes me and is gone. Hell with this. I’m in need of a little throttle therapy; maybe this’ll turn the frown upside down. I dial it in, don’t even bother to drop a gear, and quickly catch up with Mr. FZ1, but keep a safe distance, and the three of us (I am now in the middle) haul our combined asses up the road to the next red light.

Traffic is getting heavier once we pass Fort Gordon’s main gate, and it’s time for slicing and dicing. Each man (and woman) for him (or her)self. I don’t know how many cagers were pissed off during the making of this entry in the SquidlyPants Chronicles, but I’m sure there were three-digit numbers being dialed frantically on a few cell phones. Calling in a sighting. I pride myself on being able to read traffic patterns and the intentions of cagers around me fairly accurately and therefore stay out of trouble. Knowledge is power. And power is power. I make it to the aforementioned red light first. Ha! The Fat Lady digs this sort of thing and I’m starting to be pretty happy myself. Mr. FZ1 pulls up to the right of me at the line and I have to put it in neutral, flip up my visor and push the pause button on my iPod, because clearly he wants to chat. I turn to him and exclaim with a big grin: “That was fun!” He smiles and nods. “Nice bike.” I point at his silver Yamaha and reply: “Ditto to you.” The light changes and it’s off to the Redneck Races once again.

I stay behind Mr. FZ1 this time, because I just remembered a court date at an as of yet unknown future date and time. I pled not guilty to a High Performance Award and requested a bench trial. Probably wouldn’t look good if I got busted doing the ton while waiting on a court date for a previous infraction. Wouldn’t look good at all. This kind of curbs my enthusiasm, until I find myself on the I-520E ramp. Here we go again. Traffic is hopping this evening and moving along at a cozy 80 in a 55. I like it when the cagers have somewhere pressing to be and get their collective move on. Good, we’re not sticking out too much. Our friendly little race has turned into a high-powered PUG group ride and we’re now moving in unison through traffic. What a hoot! We catch up to another sport biker and now there are four of us.

I have to slow down. I can’t blend in and disappear when LEO decides to take written notice. I’m a chica on a white Hayabusa with a personalized tag. I have cat ears and a tail stuck to my helmet. They know where I live, which is why I could never run; they’ll just meet me at my house and add evasion to the laundry list of traffic violations and I’ll find myself bent over a squad car with my face smashed into the hood by a giant meaty palm and zip-ties around my wrists. No thanks. I slow down to the flow of traffic while getting into the right third of my lane and wave the dude behind me the OK to pass. He takes the opportunity and blows by me, I’m guessing at triplets. They take the next exit, we wave at each other, and I find myself behind the guy we caught up to earlier. He’s now also taking it easy, but we’re still moving about five mile per hour faster than traffic. He also disappears up the next off-ramp. I’m so lonely… oh so lonely. Traffic is light now; it usually is, once you get past this point and I slow down to 60 and cruise my grinning self the rest of the way to my unscheduled work.

I’m a squid! Still a little peeved at having to come in to work on my day off and pretty much ruining the weekend I could have had with hubby, since now we will be on opposing schedules. This falls under emotional riding, which consequently lead to an unwillingness to resist getting caught up in groupthink and turning into a giant squid. Where two or more are gathered in my name a race breaks out. In other words, get a few sport bikes together under favorable conditions and you’ll have mayhem in the streets.

Don’t be a squid.