The Law of (Responsible) Hooliganism

Motorcyclists have a bad reputation. You can argue this point until redline, but it always comes down to the same sentiment: The general non-riding public pretty much despises sharing the road with motorcycles. We are all hooligans to them, wether we are rolling a chromed out Harley, clad in black leather, showing off ink and cultivating the badass look or we prefer to showcase the half-naked girlfriend’s asscrack hugging a crotch rocket and looking all Little G. Stereotypes? Of course. Extreme examples? Definitely. But this doesn’t really change the fact that the worst of us pretty much leave the imprint on the minds of many who then judge the rest of us by that first impression. Even the ultra-responsible hard-pannier toting BMW adventure rider isn’t safe from being judged harshly by the unwitting individual. It really doesn’t matter what we ride or how we ride it, when sharing the road with other motorists we eventually run into a taste of said general opinion in one form or another.

We even bicker amongst ourselves. The Harley-riding Badass dislikes the  Wheelie-ing Hooligan on the latest sport bike and would rather run him off the road then yield to a high-speed pass. Adventure Riders laugh at the Rocketeers and everyone is annoyed by the Metric Cruisers, because they represent the worst of both worlds: they are slow and un-American. But that is an entirely different matter altogether and beyond the scope of what I want to get off my chest today. However, let me first state this about the bigger picture: Most of us do get along no matter what we ride and most of us enjoy responsibly and appropriately.

I’m not one of those people who believe that everything should be legislated or regulated or otherwise “dealt with” just because I happen to find it to be completely idiotic or otherwise disagreeable with my own opinionated stance. I don’t believe that we should save others from themselves. We have the rules and laws in place to do that already. We don’t need more rules and we definitely don’t need to add to the contention. However, I do believe in personal accountability and responsibility and with that I am a staunch supporter of education. Inform the people of the consequences and let them do what they will with this information by employing concepts such as personal responsibility and accountability.

You won’t find me judging the rider who makes free use of the lack of mandatory helmet laws in their state. I choose to wear my lid, they choose not to. It’s their noggin, who am I to tell them they have to wear it? Same with protective gear. I myself am a firm believer of wearing my gear, but I am not going to judge the person who decides they don’t need it. I will, however, make every attempt to educate them on the importance of being dressed “for the crash”. I place enough value on my own life to do everything in my power to increase the odds of my continued survival. But this doesn’t give me the authority (or the moral obligation) to regulate the behavior of those who disagree and by the same token, I detest being judged by the idiocy of others. I am a thinking person. I make my own decisions. I don’t need to have someone tell me what is good for me and what isn’t. I know right from wrong and I know how to behave within the social contract. I don’t need a bunch of jackasses force-feeding me. Educate, don’t regulate. You can’t legislate morality (or stupidity) anyway. But I am off on a tangent and am getting way too political for a person with a non-interference clause in her contract and a very dense dislike of politics. I hate politics, I love leadership. But that’s not for this blog or any other piece I’ll ever write.

Every time I get on my bike, I break the law. Every single time. Mostly it’s speeding, but I could have been cited for a host of other offenses had they been witnessed by the proper authority: Illegal drag racing, failure to negotiate a turn, passing in a no-passing zone, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, excessive display of horsepower, road rage, racing, evasion, lane splitting. Those are only the ones that come readily to mind. And I’m a goody-two-shoes. May those of you without sin, cast the first stone! I’m ok with that, because there won’t be a single rock lobbed in my direction. I guarantee it.

Does this make me an unsafe rider? Does this make me a squid? I don’t believe so. I am human, I make mistakes. I have had my share of bad judgment calls. I have messed up in traffic and put myself or others in danger. It happens. I ride well within my limits, I make a concentrated effort to be safe and come home without a scratch on my bike or myself. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m 100% compliant with traffic laws. Nobody is. Safe riding does not equate to legal riding and legal riding does not equate to safe riding. Sometimes you have to make the crapchute decision between breaking the law and saving your ass. And as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six. That’s how I roll and it works for me. I have my machine under full control and I know its limits and my own. I am a safe and conscientious rider. My riding style may look aggressive to some, but I have long given up on keeping up appearances. My first priority is staying alive. But this isn’t the ultimate topic of this article. I’m just setting the stage for touching on something that everybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle on the street for any length of time eventually experiences to one degree or another.

As far as our bad reputation goes? We have ourselves to blame, or those of us who can’t keep things in the proper perspective, at the proper level and in the proper place. When you act the jackass in front of a bunch of motorists who don’t ride, you are calling negative attention to yourself and I guarantee you that within minutes of your offense the phone at the police station’s front desk is ringing off the hook with calls placed by aggravated individuals trying to save you from yourself and ruin it for every other motorcyclist in that area for the next few hours. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and pull a “race start” off a stop line after the traffic light turns green and then find yourself wondering why not five minutes later you see several squad cars policing the area. That shit is called in by the annoyed cager who is already yapping on his cellphone. You don’t even have to speed, but only appear to be speeding.

I was pulled over once by a motorcycle cop on a Harley. This was one of my more embarrassing moments on two wheels. Yours truly sitting sedately on her white Hayabusa wearing a cat-ear adorned helmet with a motor officer in tow. Sitting in four lanes of traffic at the longest red light in the history of carriageway-paving mankind getting the stink eye from several seemingly offended people in their cars and being told by the copper who pulls up next to me on his Hog to please pull over as soon as safely possible. What the hell did I do now? I didn’t get a ticket. He was a sportbike rider himself, was pretty disappointed that he had to ride a Hog at work, and was more annoyed by the situation than anything else. He said he wouldn’t have even bothered to pull me over, but he had to make it look appropriate, since a lot of the cagers where pointing at me, shaking their fists and signaling for the cop to let me have it, to remove the menace that I am from their motoring society. After running my license and plate, making sure I (and my bike) came back clean, he went off-duty and we talked shop for over half an hour. He said that people called me in for leaving a red light too fast when it turned green. And there were also complaints of speeding. He clocked me doing 70 coming out of a curve, but since I had been going more or less the speed limit before and had slowed back down to the flow of traffic after and didn’t endanger anybody else, he didn’t even worry about it. As for executing the alleged drag race start? I didn’t. I left from that stop line like I always do. I asked him if this was a regular occurrence for people to call in motorcycles. He said, and I quote: “All the damn time! And we have to go chase it down and investigate. You guys don’t even have to be doing something wrong and we still get calls about it.” Proof positive that, at least where I live, there is a direct correlation of some douche pulling some asshat stunt out of his bag of tricks and an increased presence of law enforcement in the area. I’ve always suspected as much, but never had any reason to believe it to be much more than mere coincidence until that conversation with the motorcycle cop. I came to naming the phenomenon “calling in a sighting”.

BCSO Squad Car

We all want to have fun when we’re out on a ride, so please do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep it in check and enjoy responsibly. I know I am going to catch a lot of flak for this, but let’s face it: At one time or another we all like to let it hang out a little and enjoy high performance outside of the parameters set forth by traffic laws and safe driving regulations. So, here they are, my ten rules every smart Hooligan on two wheels should know:

The 10 Commandments for Smart Motorcycle Hooligans

  1. Behave yourself in traffic! For crying out loud, what exactly does it prove when you’re doing a sustained 150 mph on the Interstate, passing everybody like they’re sitting still? Or pulling wheelies in traffic or otherwise annoy cagers with excessive display of your elevated risk acceptance. It only proves one thing: You’re an assclown who is going to have a really short riding career and you risk involving others in your shit-for-brains antics by putting them into possible harm’s way. And they might get to run you over, killing you because you fucked up. Now they have to live with THAT for the rest of their lives. No seriously. That’s just stupid. You want to speed and stunt? Find a deserted backroad with little traffic and no intersecting roads and have all the Hooligan fun you want. The less witnesses the better, and please don’t use the same spot all the time.
  2. Don’t involve others in your shenanigans. (See #1 above)
  3. Don’t pass like a jackass! Don’t tailgate! Don’t make other motorists feel pressured to speed up or get out of your way. Make sure it’s safe and give them some space. No buzzing the mirrors or cutting them off by coming back into your lane too soon. Respect their space and make a clean pass. You want to enjoy your ride, let them enjoy theirs.
  4. Be courteous. When someone does pull over to let you pass (this is a frequent occurrence on mountain roads) know that this is a courtesy extended to you. Give them a nod or a friendly wave. Let them know you appreciate their gesture of good will. Again, chances are if you ride their ass they won’t do jack for you. Respect others and they may just respect you.
  5. Speed safely. Yes. There is such a thing. Don’t hold higher speeds at sustained levels. Slow down for oncoming traffic and for areas that pose severe risk at higher speeds, such as intersecting roads, overlooks, pull-offs, parking lots, driveways, and areas with limited sight distance. You should be able to come to a complete stop within your line of sight, no matter what speed you’re going.
  6. Don’t speed stupid! No speeding (or other high-performance tricks, for that matter) in school zones, residential areas, parking lots, construction zones and other populated high-risk zones. The hefty price of a ticket written in any of those places should be your guide, if safety isn’t a main concern for you.
  7. Adhere to your riding group’s rules or don’t ride with them. Period.
  8. Respect the ride of others. We all have differing riding philosophies and have to ride within our chosen machine’s limitations. Make your passes clean, don’t harass other bikers even if you do not agree with their style, and keep the safety of other riders in mind before you act out.
  9. Don’t be a freaking asshole when you get pulled over. Own your shit!!! The cop is just doing his job and more often than not (within reason), if you were not being a jackass or riding like one, you might just get away with a warning. Don’t play the victim. Don’t whine. Don’t give the officer a hard time. You knew what you were doing could have dire consequences if you happen to get caught. We all know the risks involved when we decide to partake in a little throttle therapy that goes above and beyond.
  10. Don’t be a habitual offender. Ride hard, but ride smart. Don’t ride beyond your skill or machine limit. Engage in your criminal pastime in small doses; and, please, wear all your freaking gear, especially when you’re planning on getting “sporty”. No excuses! Dress for the slide, not the ride! Full race gear is wholeheartedly recommended.

You may now cast the first stone…


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.


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)


With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

…Stan Lee was talking about ‘Busas, right?

I’m hanging with the Boss Woman at my old place of semi-gainful employment. And we’re kicking it until closing so we can go eat at our usual spot. I have opportunity to find out that my reputation precedes me: The dude working the counter, who started after I left, calls me a badass and acts all impressed. This must be respect for your elders, can’t be anything else, he hasn’t seen me ride. He does want to ride with me, after he actually buys himself another bike. I tell him he better bring his knee pucks. “No shit?” – “Yeah, you wanna keep up, right?” – “By the way, that road ya’ll told me about?” – “Yeah, Kettle Creek.” – “Uh-huh, that one… Checked it out, kinda boring.” – “How fast were you going?” – “I didn’t ride it, I looked at it on Google Maps.” – “It’s more fun than it looks.” – “Uh-huh, sure.” …and on the bike talk goes. And I wonder why I have a reputation… LOL Probably has something to do with being a skinny little runt of a girl riding a Hayabusa. A dude on a ‘Busa? Instant Street Cred +1; a chica on one? +5, at least. And they watch you, too. Yeah, some of it is definitely ass-on-sportbike admiration, but it seems that you still have to prove yourself worthy of the ride. That was very disconcerting to a borderline social-phobic geek like me at first. But I practice my slow handling, and I really don’t have to worry about embarrassing myself too much. I gotta live up to expectations, after all! ;P 9PM rolls around, the boss is finishing up and I’m getting hot in my gear, so I opt to go outside to wait. Her son follows me, probably for the same reason. Of course, it takes a while, as usual.

Alex Doing A Burnout

21 Dec 2009: Alex has moved on to practice the fine art of the proper burnout. He caught hell on FB for it, and his mom wanted to kill him after I told her how much a rear tire cost.

While her son is sitting sedately on his Triumph Daytona 675, I amuse myself with doing a little PLP in the parking lot in front of the store. Can't really get too wild, since my tires are still cold. It's only in the upper 30s, it's freakin' cold out here! As I pass in front of the store, practicing swerves, I see Mr. Bikeless make the international sign for wheelie-that-mother, and he doesn't mean me. I just shake my head and giggle. Ah, the foibles of youth. I force myself to make my favorite of all low-speed maneuvers: the Blasted Tight-ass U-turn (and that is the proper terminology, thank you!), do a panic stop facing Mr. Triumph, then take back off doing a Slow Cone Weave around imaginary cones. The Boss Woman does eventually emerge from the store and we head on over to Mi Rancho's. Over corn chips, salsa and cheese dip we end up discussing the technique involved in popping a proper wheelie without looking like a fool (standing on the rear pegs, putting ass into it and yanking on the handlebars to make the suspension bounce the front tire up). I can't believe I actually told him. To my defense, I also explained to him how to control it and how to set it back down gently rather than slamming that front end into the ground. I hope I don't regret that. (Ah shit, I forgot to tell him he better make sure the handlebars are square before he sets it back on the ground! Oops. I don't think he's a the point where he can handle a wheelie and a turn at the same time… hmmm…) He's only been riding for 7 weeks. Then again, I hope that if he knows the proper technique mentally, he'll run it through his mind between now and the time is such that he grows a pair and is going to go and actually try it. Like they say, motorcycling is 90% mental. He is asking questions, so that's good. I do my best to explain it to him, but I don't think it's really good if middle-aged biker chica is gonna push it on him… that probably would come across as patronizing and condescending, if the advice is given unsolicited. It doesn't work like that anyway. He's riding with dudes who've been riding a lot longer, so he's already operating with that silly peer-pressure induced philosophy that if he doesn't keep up he's a pussy. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that sort of thing, because I know myself. I would be right up in there, trying to keep up and being stupid. I suppose that's the difference between being 20something and 38. =D Hell, I have a hard time keeping the Inner Squid at bay now. I don't need a more experienced (or more aggressive) group to give me reason to be a complete moron. Yet, another reason why I try to stay away from riding in groups. But then again, I do like a challenge on occasion. LOL”

After having said all that… On the way home, I implore Mr. Triumph to go first, even though he clearly is waiting for me to take the lead. There’s a reason. I’m curious about his riding, and I want to stay in the back, just in case something unforeseen happens. I think I might be a tad more practiced in emergency maneuvers. Being in the rear for safety reasons makes perfect sense to me. But mostly I just want to see him ride. Off we go… we end up doing 75 in a 45. Hmmmm… right after I had told him the three places to keep the Speed Demons under control in an attempt to avoid written notice by the local constabulary. Oh well, he’s slowly gaining on me, while I decide to restrict it to 65. That’s 20 over. At least I won’t lose my license if I get busted. I catch up to him at the next red light. What happens next, is definitely worthy of my undeserved reputation! We are both in the right lane. I am behind him. When the light turns green, I decide to show him that there’s more than one way to arrive at Point B ahead of schedule and without breaking the posted speed limit by 30 miles. Think +5 average. Excessive speed is best enjoyed in small short spurts while in town. The light turns, I follow Mr. 75-In-A-45 through the intersection, and then make use of that ridiculous way-over-the-top, arm-straightening low-end grunt that comes standard on every ‘Busa. I throw her left, into the right third of the left lane, before the car behind me even knows what’s going on, I have passed the Daytona, and quickly change lanes again, then gun it past another car. I get back over, squeeze between two cars that are slightly offset to each other, then white-line it past three more cagers. I pick my way through traffic until I find myself in the clear and settle back down into more civilized motorcycling in the far right lane at speed limit +5. I check my mirrors, but the Daytona is nowhere to be seen. He never does catch up. So much for watching him ride. LOL I get gas at the Shell in town, which is conveniently located at the intersection where Mr. Triumph and the Boss Woman (who is in her car, but has no trouble keeping up… since she drives it like she stole it) would make a left to go to their house. I watch the intersection, but I never do see them come through while I’m fuelling up. They’ve must have stopped somewhere. I’m quick, but I ain’t that damn fast! ;P Now I have an excuse to go out to eat with those two again. I need a rematch, so I can observe the Daytona in action. 😉


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.


PUG Riding Revisited and Ton Up, My Squiddies!

PUG: an acronym that I’ve borrowed from the MMORPG online gaming scene, meaning ‘pick-up group’. A PUG refers to a random and informal collection of people, who usually don’t know each other, getting together for the purpose of achieving a common goal, such as the completion of a mission objective or quest. In motorcycling I obviously use it to refer to an impromptu, informally organized ride by a bunch of bikers who are more or less strangers to each other. PUGs mostly happen at bike nights or well-known biker hangouts.

Happenstance:
Ah, Tuesdays. It’s that time of the week again: it is bike night at Hooters. Why do we keep winding up at this particular venue? Because we are such classy individuals, that’s right. Classy and addicted to fried pickles. Actually, it’s the only bike night around here that is on a day Manx isn’t required to grind gears for the sole purpose of hauling simple carbohydrates to Point B. Our schedules pretty much suck that way. We’ve joined a riding club early this summer and we have yet to make it to a meeting. They never seem to be held on a day when we both have the day off. They may have given up on us it’s been so long. But I digress.

The Hooters Parking Lot

It's Bike Night at Hooters!

We show up and are promptly greeted by Goose. We park and make our way to their table on the deck. There are a few new faces, too. Sammy, the resident speed demon and drag racer starts referring to me by what is printed on my cookie sheet: ‘Miss Busa’. I wonder if he forgot my name? There is no time to eat, the boys want to play in traffic and off we go. Same as last time, somebody needs go-go juice.

This time it’s a bit more organized. We do their usual loop, which heads out of town towards the dam, where they stop on the SC side to shoot the breeze and then to downtown Augusta to finish out the night at a joint called ‘The Loft’. I really like this joint, I get to ride on the sidewalk. LOL Anyway, I’m at the back of the pack with Manx and Paul behind me. I’m trying to watch the level on my Squid-O-Meter, since Paul is an MSF RiderCoach, and I really don’t want to make a bad impression. Gawd, I’m a weirdo! Nah, it’s probably more along the lines of not wanting to give the ‘Hayabusa-For-Experienced-Riders-Only’ proponents ammo for their argument. Then there’s that whole fear-of-embarrassment-in-public thing. And if somebody can see the kinks and screw-ups in your riding, it’ll be a motorcycle instructor. This makes me a little nervous. However, I’m proud of what I have accomplished since I’ve started on two wheels. People are surprised when they find out how long I’ve been riding. Not that I advertise the fact, but I’m not going to lie if somebody asks me straight up. And the reaction is always the same: They’re amazed at a ‘little girl like’ me handling ‘such a beast’ and when they find out that I’ve only started a little over a year ago, it’s instant kudos. Sometimes it’s good to be a girl.

I’m so glad that I don’t have to defend my decision to buy a Hayabusa (as my second bike) iRL. It is what it is to most folks. I’ve come across only one negative reaction, and that was before I actually owned one, from a sales rep at a local dealer. Needless to say, I bought mine at a joint where they offered me a killer deal, were friendly and supportive of my decision and where they treated me like ‘one of the guys’. They acted like they actually wanted to sell me the bike I had already picked out for myself and made the process as enjoyable and smooth as possible. It was an awesome experience. I would highly recommend these peeps. Would you like to know more? It’s all in ‘The Busa Report’. Recommended reading for all you girls out there wanting to ride your own, but too scared to do it. On that subject, you may also want to read ‘The First Year: 13828 Miles & A World Apart’ where I talk about my fears, worries and insecurities about being on two wheels and how I learned. I’m getting sidetracked again. But it’s all good; I do eventually find my way back to where I’m supposed to be. Eventually.

And this is where I’m supposed to be: After fuelling we head on out of town to the dam. It is an enjoyable ride, less squidly and more relaxed than last time, too. Maybe that’s due to having ridden with most of these peeps before. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I have Mr. RiderCoach breathing down my neck with a watchful eye? I soon forget about ‘The Man With The Patch’ and settle into my groove. I do cross an intersection on ‘cherry green’ and leave Paul and hubby waiting at the line. I don’t know why I did that, other than wanting to stay with the group. I wasn’t even the last person and I knew where we were going. Stupid. STOOPID! Calamari, it’s what’s for dinner.

At the dam we stop to hang out. There is a lot of talk about farkles and mods from the Connie crowd, which is now up to three, thanks to Paul. Hubby is getting ideas. Can’t really say anything in that regard. I have done 23 mods to The Fat Lady so far, and I can’t seem to stop. Somebody warned me about this, but I didn’t believe it. At least I’m not ordering swingarms and fat tires and sending various bits off to get chrome-plated… in other words, it could be worse. Definitely.

Somebody comments on my riding style, how I seem to be one with the bike, how well I tuck in and ‘go with it’, how smooth my movements are. And, of course, how teeny I look on that ‘big ass bike’. Naturally. Compliments and attention make me feel awkward, and I’m glad it’s dark, so they don’t see me blushing. I smile and give thanks, as it would be rude not to; but on the inside I’m high-fiving myself and doing the happy dance. “Uh-huh. That’s right. Girl’s takin’ care of her business. Yeah. Uh-huh. You said it, brother.” Gawd, I’m such a dork. LOL

We get back to town, and it seems that half the crowd is in the process of unleashing their inner squid. We’re sitting at a four-lane intersection. The light is red. Four of us are stopped at the line. Sammy is at the far right and I happen to be at the far left. We take up both lanes. The rest of the crowd is behind us, with hubby directly behind me and to his right, Goose. There’s a lot of revving going on in the first string. I turn to give hubby a questioning look. He smiles and nods. He yells something, but I can’t hear him over those loud-ass chopper pipes and the blipping of throttles. Yup. Apparently I assume correctly, I’ve read about this. Red-light-to-red-light (illegal-as-hell) drag racing. I think to myself that there’s no way, they’re gonna do that. They’re just playing. Not on freakin’ Belair Road in the middle of town. It is late, but NOT that late. The light turns green and off they go, screaming into the night. I sit there astonished for a split-second, then collect myself and grip it and rip it, I have some catching up to do and I’m on a machine that’ll do it. The Fat Lady’s made for this! She purrs contentedly and then roars to life. The docile kitten turns into a ferocious lion. I inadvertently lift my front wheel off the ground (in my first ever baby of a wheelie), but gracefully correct that little lapse in clutch control with a bit of throttle modulation. By the time I catch up with them I’m doing somewhere in the neighborhood of 120. Holy frakking mother of pearl (splash white)!!! In a 45. In the middle of town. In a stinking 45! I slow my squidly group-thinking ass back down and decide to stay behind them (still going well over the posted speed limit) until we all come to a stop at the next red light, grinning like jackasses. Weeeeeeee! That was fun I have to admit. Riding like idiots. Loads of fun, good gawd! What a freakin’ rush!!!! I can’t do that any more. No ma’am. Holy crapola! And here I thought drag racing was boooooring… Since it lacks curvature. I need to get my adrenaline junkie self to Jackson, to the strip, where I don’t have to worry about felony arrests, complimentary body cavity searches and turning myself into a pedestrian for a predetermined length of time. But maybe that was part of the rush? I’m such a heinous criminal… We take it slow until the group is back together and I take up my accustomed and preferred position at the rear of the pack, riding sweep. We, more or less, keep it under control for the rest of the ride. Although two more incidences of redneck drag racing do occur, they’re just not quite as… umm… felonious. The speed limit is also not being observed too strictly.

I asked Sammy later when we were hanging at ‘The Loft’ how fast he was going, since I still couldn’t quite believe what had transpired. He wouldn’t say. I told him what I was doing just to catch up with them, he just grinned and remarked nonchalantly: “My bike doesn’t go that fast. I probably did around 70.” My ass, buddy, my ass!

Realizations & Lessons Learned:
I still don’t like PUG riding. I mean, I do love the social aspect of riding with a group, but I’m not sure the added safety concerns and elevated risk are worth it. I know I will (and would want to) ride in a group on occasion, but there are a few things I have to consider, and I have to be honest with myself here:

  • I’m too competitive to keep it legal.
  • Although I stay well within the limits of my riding skill, it doesn’t take much for me to get caught up in the ‘showing off’ and/or ‘keeping up’ mentality that can so easily happen during informal group rides.
  • I don’t like taking responsibility for other people. I cannot control their behavior, mostly don’t know their skill levels, their riding attitudes or their attitudes towards safety. I can control what is in front of me, by being proactive and reactive (if need be), hence I like for all the unknown variables to be in a place where I can keep an eye on things.
  • I’m too much of a control freak, that’s another reason why I prefer to bring up the rear. I love to ride sweep. That’s where I feel most in control and most comfortable. It also helps me to keep the right wrist under control. However, one’s position in a PUG is at best dynamic, and you’ll eventually find yourself elsewhere in the pack.
  • It would be too hard for me to have to tell someone that I don’t want to ride with them anymore for whatever reason (I find unacceptable to my own level of risk acceptance), so it’s best just to say no. I’ll spare myself being put in that awkward position of ‘having to be blunt’ with someone later.
  • Crap happens when two or more are gathered. The only person I really feel 99% good about riding with is my hubby, Manx. I trust him. I know his skill level. I know his attitude towards safety and his level of risk acceptance. But even then, I mostly let him lead. Unless we’re in the twisties, of course; he’s too damn slow. ;P We have an understanding, however: We don’t keep up with each other. We ride our own rides. The person in the lead will wait patiently (at a safe, visible location) for the slower half to rejoin, so there is no pressure to outride our respective comfort zones.
  • Although I can, and will behave myself and adapt to the common consensus of what is deemed ‘acceptable riding style’ to a particular group and adhere to their rules, when things get spirited, you can bet your sweet ass that I’ll be in the thick of it. When Ms. Squidlypants hears the call, she will gladly listen and come out to play. Another reason for me to keep away from PUGs. It’s a weakness that’s difficult enough to keep under control when riding alone.
  • One has to know one’s limitations and work within and around them. I’m a prime candidate for a therapy of regularly scheduled track days, so I can keep certain things where they belong: at the racetrack. I can get my speed and aggressive cornering fix in a safe and appropriate place, so I have an easier time to keep it civilized on the public roads. Redneck racing only gets a girl so far.
  • A group ride is NOT a place to practice one’s (drag) racing techniques.
  • If you have a tendency to fixate to the rear (worrying about what happens behind you), you don’t belong in a group ride. Ride your own ride. That doesn’t mean you should be completely oblivious of what’s going on behind you and neglect your mirrors or head checks. You still have to maintain your full awareness to all sides. You can’t control the front (or your own safety) if you ignore what’s going on behind you. I have a hard time with this one, but I’m learning to relax about it. Again, another reason why I like to be last.
  • Riding SAFELY in a group takes more skill, more concentration, quicker reflexes, more self-discipline, and demands you be in full control of your machine at all times, or you will put yourself and others around you in jeopardy. Newbie riders have no place in a PUG ride until they have become comfortable with their own skill sets and have freed up enough attention (from the controls and executing basic riding skills) that they are but second nature and require not so much as a thought to execute. This will help ensure that riding with others is more fun and everyone is safer doing it.

All Things Considered:
PUGs are not for me. Period. Organized rides? I’d probably give it a shot, when the right opportunity presents itself. Riding with one or two friends? Check. Going riding with a bunch of people I just happened upon? Hell, no! This ‘Busa doesn’t play well with others. 😉 Would I go to a bike week? I don’t know. To me that just seems like asking for trouble. Too many people who don’t know what they’re doing in too small an area. Add to that the cagers and the people milling about on foot. Don’t think I would want to put myself through that.

Famous Last Words:
Ride it like you know what you’re doing. The rest of the time, when the inner squid comes out to play, at least be respectful and responsible about it. Take the lives and wellbeing of the people around you seriously. Just because you like to dance with the devil on occasion, doesn’t give you the right to force others to join the music (unless they’re cagers [on cell phones], then all bets are off. Ha!)

Would you like to read about my first group riding experience? Check out PUG Hooters Style