Nails To Put On The Screws

Showing Team Spirit

That's right. Miss Busa is showing some Team PLD Racing Team Spirit. =D These nails apparently are good for an extra 2 foot-pounds of torque and 6 HP on the top end.

After a 90some mile ride with Mr. Slow I went to the mall, sweaty and no doubt smelling like a real biker chick, to get my hair done. On the way home I decided to stop in and get my nails done, too. Promptly was talked into a pedicure. Truth be known, my dawgs could use a little TLC; they’ve spent the better part of the past two years in motorcycle boots. Now they are all nice and soft, and sort of womanly looking. My little monkeys haven’t looked this good in a long time. Two hours after entering the salon, I was standing in the parking lot hoping I could get my race gloves over my newly acquired claws. Tight fit. I should have had her trim them shorter. Texting is a pain in the arse and so is typing. Not to mention I have to take my track tires off tomorrow and put the street rubber back on the Pirate’s feet. We shall see how strong this gelled-in acrylic-bonded stuff really is. My cats do seem to enjoy the new finger weapons. Better belly scratches. 🙂

Of course, I get caught after dark on the first day I’m using my new tinted face shield. This ought to be interesting to say the least. There’s a dude across the parking lot watching me as I get my gear on and my bike warmed up. What the hell? Well, I suppose those nails and the new do, all coordinated in team colors, are already working their magic. Another dude pulls up, waiting for me to back out of my space so he can shove his car in. Uh, dude? There’s an empty one two spots down. It’s the American way, can’t risk walking an extra 12 feet and burn all those extra calories.

The dark smoke face shield isn’t all that bad at night and if it wasn’t for that huge pile of bug guts front and center I could see just fine. It’s cold again, so I cruise along tucked behind the windshield with my chin resting on my tank bag. Yeah, going 35 mph doesn’t really do anything for me. But it’s cold, the line is a double-yellow and I’m feeling a little funky about the levers. Those nails act like little tension springs every time I curl my fingers. Eh. This will take some getting used to.

A few miles down the road I make a huge error in judgment. I’m cruising along at 5 miles under the limit behind a car and finally run out of patience. These people really should know that this road has a posted speed limit of 55, but no… the majority of motorists traveling this stretch of asphalt insist on doing 45 all the way through. That’s just unreasonable. There’s gotta be some sort of electromagnetic interference in the area that short-circuits everybody’s need to go 5 over. Oh well. As I reach the start of the dashed line, I see headlights up ahead, but judge them to be of no concern, since they are still quite a distance away. Wrong! As I lay into the throttle my error in distance/speed calculation becomes quite self-evident. I give it all she’s got and get back over on my side of the road just in time, but not before I make the poor bastard I’m passing activate his brake lights. Now I’m slightly embarrassed, so I keep up my speed a while longer just to make sure the dude behind me doesn’t get another chance to read my tag. Gawd! It’s been awhile since I had a brain fart of this magnitude. I’m only human, too. I consider making an unobserved right turn and lose the guy but then decide against it. Hell with it. I screwed up. If he should catch up with me at the next red light and give me a scolding I’ll just have to apologize and tell him that’s a lonely one point for his team since I’m already two points ahead in the stealing of right-of-ways and attempted vehicular homicide by inattentive driving, in the past four days alone.

At the next intersection the light changes to green as I downshift into first gear, so I get back up to speed when a pickup truck turning right onto the street from my right decides to prematurely exit the turn lane and occupy my lane space instead. I swerve into the yellow striped no-zone that divides the two lanes of traffic and immediately get on the gas to clear the danger before I run out of space and find myself in oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, the sand that the county tossed all over the main intersections during our Annual Snow & Ice Day was still there, collecting in all the places where traffic doesn’t disturb it any further. I probably would have seen it, if it hadn’t been for that blasted tinted visor. The rear immediately stepped out, loosing traction due to me being hard on the throttle and I ended up in a violent fishtail.

All I could think of was how weird it felt; as if the bike was anchored by its front end and shaking its rear back and forth; all I could manage to do was not think about it and stare up the street where I wanted to be, all the while musing at how snappy the entire motion really was. I thought that if I hadn’t trained myself to hang onto the bike with my knees and thighs pressed up against the tank and keeping my upper body loose, I probably would have been bucked off. Yikes! I don’t remember really, but muscle memory must have modulated the throttle enough to keep it under some semblance of control until I cleared the sand and made it all the way past the offending vehicle and back into my lane. I found myself turning around in my seat, looking at the dude in the truck, as soon as the rear was back in line and behaving itself. That’s the second time today that someone really envied me my lane space and decided to take it over.

Earlier, on the way to the mall, I had to use the shoulder to get away from another moron, this one of the female persuasion in a huge SUV. Lady, if you can’t see over the damn steering wheel, you should consider downsizing. Seriously.

Thank god for 193 horses and 83 foot-pounds of torque. I freaking love this bike!

Tomorrow I’m going to get my foils done and I’ll have my newly renewed Girl Card ready for Tuesday’s photo shoot with Papa Razzi. Go Team PLD!


Westbound and Down and Dirty

So, I’m on my rocket propelled Samsonite, looking for an early morning with Miss Busa. Love of my life waiting for me (read as sleeping). So I’m westbound on I-20. There are three lanes of traffic. I’m in the granny lane, the license plate DOES read “Mr.Slow.” I see a white Lexus coming onto the interstate, so I move to the center lane to allow the car ease of entry. In other words, white paint transfer on my Connie won’t look very nice. See, I’m a nice driver: make room for others, mind my manners, all that bull shit that is about to go out the window.

Mr. Lexus, with the now visible aviator sunglass, decides that the granny lane is not good enough for him anymore. He wants my lane now. So without a glance at me, he comes on over. Of course I do notice this, mostly because I’m allergic to road rash. Screw that, I dodge to the hammer lane, and look dead at the guy. He must ‘feel’ me staring at him, because he looks at me and throws both hands into the air in the “WHAAAAT?” gesture.

That pissed me off a little, so I decide to show him what for! Ok, squid warning. I know that this makes no sense, but I’m really ticked off now. So I decide enough is enough, I pull my bike hard toward the Lexus piloted by the aviator sunglasses wearing, cool breeze jerk. I think I surprised him a little. Maybe. He pulls his luxury Toyota into the right lane, surprising me; then really astonishing me, he goes all the way to the shoulder. As I accelerate away, I’m laughing so hard, that I have tears running down my face.

The Lexus driver got back on the road, I made it home with a tale to tell: everyone happy. Just so no one is worried, no Lexus drivers were harmed during the making of this blog entry. If the bastard had pulled over, it may have had been different.


Brake Check!!!

It’s raining. I’m minding my own lane space as I roll in ‘Rain’ mode down Robinson Avenue, at a sedate pace of 35 miles per hour, which coincidentally is also the speed limit. I’m on my way to work, feeling fine and listening to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Traffic is pretty heavy, since it’s rush hour in the big city of Grovetown. I like the way the S1000RR minds its manners in crap weather. The ‘Busa had it together, too, but this bike screams confidence, but not overly so.

I see him sitting there, in his black sedan with his chromed-out rims. He is stopped, and not antsy, like some of the drivers trying to make a left turn onto Robinson Avenue from Katherine Street. There is a line of cars behind him, also waiting to merge into Grovetown’s main artery. I’m closing the distance to the T-intersection, when suddenly he guns it and pulls out in front of me. I don’t have time to think, all I can do is react. I quickly bring my fingers up, curl them around the front brake lever as I roll the throttle closed in the same swift, desperate movement and grab the biggest handful to date in Miss Busa’s colorful 18-month riding career. Gone is the thought of “but… but it’s wet”, all I can think of is that I need to stop this rocket before my front tire kisses this joker’s rear bumper and high-sides me into oncoming traffic. Not that I have any other options. Oncoming traffic to the left, curb to the right. I couldn’t jump that anyway, the angle of approach wouldn’t be steep enough, and I’ve really had enough of curb jumping against all odds for the time being. I’ve done killed one Peregrine Falcon with that stunt, don’t need to add a Pirate Matey to the list of things wrecked due to impossible angles. The S1000RR does its thing (or I do), because I haul myself down in time to escape calamity. Straight, well behaved, controlled, without lockups. I don’t even put my foot down, but bang it down a gear into first, then ease out the clutch, which I had pulled in at some point during this fiasco, but can’t recall doing so. Holy hell! I glance down and see no telltale lights that speak of the Beemer’s intervention. Damn! Still couldn’t make neither the ABS nor the DTC come on and help a chica out. I’m beginning to worry… if anything this should have done it! Never mind that now… I show the jerk that he rates No. 1 in my book, but the single-digit salute doesn’t really do it for me. I want to make sure the asshat gets a good look at the face of the person he just put into a do or die situation. The face of the girl who could have had herself one pisser of a bad day courtesy of his stupid ass. And this is definitely NOT how I like to start my day, no sir! When the traffic clears I speed up, cross over into the oncoming lane. I buzz him really close and stare into his window as I pace him. He looks at me like I’m some sort of wacko. Ah, I hate that look. The look of non-comprehension. So he gunned it to cut off oncoming traffic, but never looked back to his right to see the girl on a motorcycle and the giant SUV behind her. Fuck me! It would have done my psyche better if he had just been a complete jackass and had done it on purpose… I don’t know why that matters… probably because that would take one shitty variable out of this messy equation. *sigh* I shake my fist at him anyway, then leave him to sniff my fumes and make sure I’m back to speed limit by the time I do my almost daily pass and review in front of the cop shop.

Damned if you do & damned if you don’t!
What really grinds my gears is this: If there is no contact between vehicles it is not ruled an accident. Think about this for a moment. Think about how that silly, asinine law affects motorcyclists. I would have hit his ass had I been in hubby’s truck; making double-sure of there being contact, had I not been able to stop in time. It would have been ruled his fault. I was traveling at speed limit, he cut off not just me, but oncoming traffic as well. Plenty of witnesses. On a motorcycle? Physical contact between their parts and yours needs to be avoided at all costs or you’ll really be in for a world of hurt. In my case, I had no outs, but to stop and hope for the best. Couldn’t swerve left due to oncoming traffic. Couldn’t swerve right due to the curb. Either of which would have resulted in a highside… to the left into a moving object. To the right into a stationary one. Hitting the offending car would have also resulted in my soft parts being lobbed into the air. Only way out? Lay it down, separate and hope you’ll stay in your lane as you slide to a stop on your ass and further hope the driver in the car behind you is paying attention. Not really all that comfortable with these odds. This is pissing me off all over again…. ARGH! To the point: Had I avoided impact but laid down my bike in the process, it would have been ruled my fault and I would have been turned into an unwilling pedestrian, since I can’t afford another freaking $1000 insurance deductible. Not to mention my rates would be so far down the crapper… enough said.

They need to change that stupid law (at least for motorcyclists)! If someone causes you to lose control of your vehicle because they violate your right of way, it should be deemed their fault, vehicle contact or not! We only have two wheels, after we screech to a halt, we still have to remain in balance to avoid damage to our vehicle.

Lesson learned:
I’m mounting a video camera to the bike permanently, and I will run it every time I ride. I had too many close calls now. Then I will use that footage, along with witness accounts and sue the pants off your driving-skill lacking ass or have my surviving hubby do it for me. LEARN TO DRIVE!

I’m still not calmed down. And this happened over seven hours ago. 😦 And something else just occurred to me: Had I been on my Hayabusa, this day would have been one hell of a bummer, indeed. There’s no way I could have stopped The Fat Lady in time to avoid a highside. Now I’m double-bummed… or maybe things happen for a reason?!?


Two’s A Crowd (In The Same Lane)

I must be a glutton for punishment, because there is no other reason for me to go play in traffic around 4pm to duke it out with the crazed Christmas shopper cager crowd. But that’s me. Hardcore. I don’t “plan around”. I was on a mission to exchange my DOA Jawbone BT earpiece for a new one and I had to get some gift cards for the teenagers on my Santa list. Yup, hardcore and procrastinator extraordinaire. I was burning up a clutch tooling down Washington Road at painfully slow speeds, practicing the Slow Race. For about a mile, I was riding the friction zone, with my feet up on the pegs, to see how slow I could actually go before the Fat Lady decided she might rather take an asphalt nap instead. I was so absorbed into the task that I neglected my mirrors. I know, I know. Situational awareness is everything. I shouldn’t be rolling down the street blissfully unaware of my surroundings. La-dee-da… Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when this blue sedan slowly eased up next to me in my lane space. I was riding the right wheel track, looking down the dashed white line, between the long lines of cars. The thought of white-lining it all the way to the next red light occurred to me briefly, but some of the vehicles where too offset to grant me safe passage. I fought the impulse to squid it on down the boulevard being the envy of every cager stuck in the jam without options. So, here I am, being squeezed by two old ladies in their old-lady car and am completely speechless. No, I’m not. I put my foot down. Literally. I had to or I would have fallen over, maybe I should have. Fallen over, I mean. Right into that shiny blue passenger door of theirs, with my helmeted face plastered against the glass. Heh. The good ideas always occur to me after the fact. I could have gotten myself some new Tupperware on the left, which is marred from that unfortunate incident of temporary dumbassery we’re not going to further mention here. Tupperware, a new stator cover, left side mirror, and throw in a new can on that side, too. A repair upgrade due to a ‘not-my-fault’ happenstance after the original fact. I can see it now… stating my case between sobs: “But officer, they nicked my mirror with theirs, scared the shit out of me and I fell over. I AM entitled to the entire lane, no?” with tears streaming down my face and the most innocent and sad Bambi look I could possibly muster without cracking up. Damn! Another missed opportunity… But I digress, so I’m sitting there, inches away from a mirror-to-mirror kiss and I can’t help but stare at them and yell something to the effect that I would like to know where they think they are going to go. The driver is saying something to her passenger and she rolls her window down. I flip up my shield and yell over my ear plugs and tunes: “You know that I am entitled to the ENTIRE width of my lane, right?” while animatedly waving a pointed right index finger in front of me, indicating the lane we were currently sharing, “Just like a car.” The driver is starting to look a little shocked. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. I watch them talk animatedly, hands waving in the air. After they fall silent, I add: “You know, it’s stuff like this,” more finger waving, “that can get me killed!” I almost regret it as soon as the words leave my lips. Almost. They both now look very apologetic and a little bit shaken, the driver more so than her friend. I think I’ve made my point. I ease forward, power-walking The Fat Lady into a spot between them and the car in front of them. I don’t want to look at them anymore, because now I really do feel bad. And I’m sure they’ve had enough of me, too. I figured it’s better I move before somebody is having a heart attack. Why do I feel bad? Old age doesn’t excuse their behavior. Was it their body language that seemed to express honest apology? I’m sure the lesson was well received and they will never do this to another person on a motorcycle. But why am I not really all that enthused about it? Here I am complaining about all these driving-skill inhibited ass clowns and I finally score one for the home team, and it’s a hollow victory. Would I do it again? Affirmative! I’m not going to let stuff like that slide. I can’t help myself. I think it is imperative that other motorists understand that motorcycles need their space. That we are very vulnerable, considering we aren’t separated from potential disaster by the relative safety a car has to offer its occupants. That our only defenses against calamity are separation by distance, situational awareness of our surroundings and our riding skills.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


The Fine Art Of The Two-Lane Left Turn

Or: What’s Mine Is Mine And What’s Yours Is Mine, Too

Inside-2-Outside:
I’m coming to a slow civilized stop on the top of my exit’s off-ramp. It’s a two-lane. The right lane is for right turners and also serves as the outside left turn lane, and the left lane turns left onto a two-lane highway. You know, a standard multi-lane Interstate exit ramp, complete with traffic light. I’ve started using the outside lane at intersections like these, because I feel it’s safer although not nearly as much fun than the inside lane. Today, this theory of mine is proven faulty, at least partially.

I’m sitting there, waiting for the light to change. The lanes are filling up behind me. To my left is this huge white Ford F-350 extended cab, full-sized pickup truck. I think nothing of it, just take notice, since I can’t see anything to my left. Next to him I feel like a little kid on a mini-bike. The light changes, and since I can’t see anything I let the pickup move first, then I ease out into the intersection preparing to turn left. By the time we’re in the middle of the turn, I am leaned over and in the process of accelerating out, when I notice that monster of a truck fading into my lane. Holy shit! I have nowhere to go. There are cars behind me, cars behind him. I’m still in first, on the gas, and leaned over. If neither of us files a change in flight plans, my head and left shoulder are going to say hello to his passenger-side door. I’m searching for an out. Obviously a panic stop is out of the question, since the guy behind me is going to hump my rear, even if I had the room to straighten out the bike and lay on the skids. I could maybe slow enough and swerve left to squeak past the F-350’s rear end and the following car? Nope, no time nor room for that, and I might become a speed bump for the person who’s directly behind Mr. I-Need-Your-Lane-Too. As I straighten up the bike and let myself fade wide to stay out of the pickup’s path, hoping he’ll see me in time and cut back over into his lane, my frantically searching eyes momentarily lock onto the opposing edge of the road. There is the 4-foot wall of the bridge, with it’s obligatory suicide fence mounted on top, and the curb. Well, at least if I high-side into that I won’t get thrown over the bridge. In my mind’s eye, I see not my life flashing before my eyes, but the image of a cat stuck to a screen door. I want to puke, but all I can do is giggle at the image. I’m not scared (that usually comes later, when I’m out of the danger zone), I’m in this weird state where everything slows to a crawl. I’m in fight-or-flight time-lapse mode. Then I see it, as I’m still fascinated by the curb and my imaginary cat sliding down the imaginary screen door. The little guy on a bicycle, wearing what looks to be a dǒu lì (but is supposed to be a helmet), painted between two solid white lines. The newly added bicycle path. We make fun of this iconic dude of Chinese origin every time we come through here in the cage. Of course! I have found my out! And just in time, too, since the pickup is now very, VERY close. He’s invading my bubble, my personal space. I gotta get out of here and fast. I straighten out more, aim for the edge of the curb then throw The Fat Lady back to the left and twist it. I don’t know how close I came to being clipped by his front end. But I see him, in my mirror, now fully over in –what used to be — my lane, skirting the solid white line that marks the division between the car lane and the narrow lane dedicated to bicycles. I’m still in first gear, and The Fat Lady is roaring, I shift into second, not bothering with the clutch lever. I turn around to give dude the finger, I can’t help myself (I know, I know), and notice he has already – get this! — changed lanes again and is back over on the left. WTF??? I don’t know why, but now I’m pissed. If you wanted my lane this badly, at least you could give me the common courtesy of staying in it! You jackass! When I turn back around, I find myself practicing maximum-effort braking, since the light on the other side of the overpass has decided to inconveniently turn red. I come to a front-end diving squeaky stop at the line, in first gear, with both feet on the ground, with the lane-hogging bastard parked next to me. I give him THE LOOK, the entire time we’re sitting there I stare him down. I imagine smoke coming out of my ears and death-rays shooting from my eyes. When the light changes I give her hell and have a difficult time keeping the front end down. Damn. I must be pissed, because I can’t do that on purpose. I guess under normal non-road-raged circumstances my mind overrides the impulse of the wrist.

Outside-2-Inside:
Same type of off-ramp/multi-lane road interchange. Same Interstate. Different exit. I’m on the inside left turn lane. A car is waiting to my right in the outside lane. The light changes to green. We both go, but apparently I must be slower than usual, since the car manages to overtake me and cuts directly in front of me. This isn’t a matter of inattention; this seems to be a deliberately executed lane change in the middle of the turn. Wow. I’m still musing on how this could have possibly happened. They must have really punched it. Pedal to the metal. Good gawd! No time to think. I briefly get on the brakes, as I straighten up, to scrub off a little speed and throw the Fat Lady into a right-hand swerve. I clear the car’s rear bumper (hmmm, Richmond County tags), then immediately push hard left. The Fat Lady responds to my input like an obese Tango dancer: slow to get started but graceful and precise in execution. We barely make it and are in the clear, now in the outside lane. Damn! Wrestling a ‘Busa around like this reminds me: I have to start going to the gym and hit the weights. I pace the car for a moment, looking at the driver. A Blonde, be-bopping to whatever is playing on her stereo, lost in her own little world. She looks at me, with a bemused expression, vague. She doesn’t even have the obligatory cell phone glued to her ear. I suppose the stereo is distraction enough. One has to know one’s limitations. Instead of indicating to her, that I think she’s No. 1, I simply shrug, lifting both hands up in the air in a WTF? gesture; then I get the hell out of Dodge at an accelerated pace, like I am apt to do after an ‘incident’. Frakkin’ people in this town don’t know how to drive.

Is A Good Offense The Best Defense?
I don’t know what it is that is so difficult about staying in your own lane. All you have to do is follow the little dashed line, and it’ll guide your automobile nicely around the curve and dump you onto your merry way. But no, your brain’s blocked or you simply don’t care. It is really getting tiresome. I tried the inside lane, I’ve tried the outside lane. There’s only one thing that I’ve found works to stay out of possible trouble: You have got to stay one step ahead of the lane-stealing cager crowd. Since they can’t catch up with a motorcycle, or outmaneuver one, it’s probably safest to just get the hell out of there before they even have the chance to roll over the stop line. And that’s a ton of fun, too. Just stay in the outside lane, in case you lose it… See, who says you can’t be a little bit squidly and be safe all at the same time? =P