Monday, April 27, 2009


Ever have one of those days where you get out for a ride and nothing seems to go right?

I got out of the gym at maybe 6:00 PM yesterday. I went upstairs and took a shower and started debating whether to take a ride. I was feeling a little lazy from just having worked out, but it was such a beautiful day that basically every bike in the state of Maryland was out on the road. I had had a hell of a ride the day before, but I felt like I "ought" to get out on so nice a day. That was my first mistake.

By the time I got to the garage, I was pressed for time. It was about a quarter to seven and the sun was low in the sky. I quickly laced up my gear and jumped on the bike with only a minor stretch.

My throttle free-play had been way too large on the last ride and it was giving me fits, especially when shifting, so that, stacked on my already pressed-for-time feeling made things even worse.

Then just as I got to the turn-off on to my favorite stretch of twisty road, my gas light comes on.

Oh well...the closest gas station takes me down that particular'll give me a good chance to warm up and have some fun. Wrong...I get stuck behind a Buick. Sometimes I feel like the county purposely dispatches old people to maintain speed limits. Oh well...their road too, right?

I finally arrive at the gas station...only to find that it's Sunday and the station is CLOSED. So I have to drive another 2-3 miles into civilization and traffic to fuel up. Then the pump doesn't want to take my credit card, so at this point I'm fuming.

Deep breaths...maybe it just wasn't meant to be. The one thing I don't want to do is ride frustrated. It's very hard to contain my ire, though, as the sun continues to fall.

So I FINALLY get gassed up and head back north to the twisties. As I'm about to dive into the first really gnarly turn of the run, I notice DIRT streaked right across where my line would be. It looks like someone drove a truck full of dirt down this road and dumped some of their load. It was only a small streak, nothing heavy, but enough that I felt better adjusting my line. Then as I came into the next turn...dirt, next turn...dirt, next turn...dirt.

After that, I had changed my line so much that I couldn't hit turns for s**t. Don't get me wrong...I was clearing the corners just fine. But I couldn't put the bike on the line that I wanted to save my life. My entire rhythm was thrown off.

I turned around and tried to run down the road in the other direction, since it was clean in that direction, when BAM, another Buick in front of me. 7:30PM on a Sunday and people just don't seem to have anywhere to be.

Deep breaths...don't ride frustrated. It just wasn't meant to be today, I tell myself as the sun begins to set in earnest. I may as well turn off on a back country road and head home.

As dusk starts to settle in and I'm cruising along, suddenly....*tick*....*tick*..*tick*.*tick*.....*tick*.......*tick*...*tick*, the sound of a billion insects rising from the grass to plaster themselves against my visor and windscreen. *tick*...OW! That one got me in my neck.

By now, I'm tired, frustrated, the throttle free-play is pissing me off more than usual, and I'm taking awkward lines through every corner on the road. I catch my route back to home-base.

The last traffic light on my trip is an intersection with a major highway that I have to pass over. And wouldn't you know it? It's red.

I try to position my bike along the road sensors. One cycle goes by, then another. No green light. I wait for a car to come up behind me to trip the sensor...but every car that comes up the road simply turns right and takes off.

Deep breaths...

I finally just bust a right and take off down the highway to an alternate turn-in. I pull into the garage, frustrated as hell and go searching for wrenches to fix that damned throttle free-play.

Some Days Just Don't Go Right

I've had days like this before, but it had been a while. Every now and then you'll get out on the road, only to find that things just aren't lining up the way they ought to. Whether it's a cruise up and down the highway or a brisk jaunt down a back-road, some days things just don't feel right.

Usually it's a combination of circumstances and the rider's state of body and mind. Feeling pressed for time, slow drivers, dirt in the corners, no gas, bugs, mechanical issues...they all add up. Sometimes it's something more subtle. I've had days where it felt like I was just out of touch with the road.

Sometimes you try to drive harder to escape the frustration. That's one of the best ways to get yourself into trouble on the road.

The best thing you can do, I've found, is to just take it a little easier than normal, take a deep breath, and accept the possibility that today's ride was just not meant to be. It's OK to keep riding and see if things don't straighten themselves out...often they do. But I always have that voice in the back of my mind (and believe me, that voice was formed through many hard lessons) that there are times when it's time to just settle down and go home. It was not listening to that voice that contributed greatly to my mishap on the Dragon last year.

For what it's worth, I finally sorted out that throttle free-play. Next time I ride, I'll likely have my new gloves as well. I'm hoping for a much better day. :)

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