Monday, May 11, 2009

Ten Days of Rain Finally Ends

That's Baltimore for only rains when you want to go outside. After ten solid days of rain, we finally got a break this weekend.

They actually changed the forecast on was supposed to thunderstorm all day, so I stayed up late Friday and slept in. Saturday morning, I wake up at 10AM and there isn't a cloud in the sky.

After running some errands, I went up to the Squid Tank and saddled up my R1 for her first ride since the oil change. I still short-shift the hell out of it, though...I don't need all that power where I'm riding.

Checking Out your Driving Skills

The hardest thing to do when riding on the street, and what's driving me more and more toward some days at the racetrack, is getting a good pass down one of these local roads without running up into the back of a stack of cars.

There's always that old guy in the Buick who is going for a weekend cruise and really has nowhere to be. That must be a nice life, but they don't take into account that other people are on the road.

They must think I'm weird...I'll back off the gas and start putting along at a startling 20MPH down the road, giving them plenty of time to get ahead of me...then when I have two or three cars stacked up behind ME, as I come up on a nice set of corners, I take off and am right back up in Grampa's rear-view again in no time. Then I disappear again...30 seconds later, there I am.

The other thing I like to do is cruise along behind drivers and evaluate their driving skills.

The biggest thing I watch is where they're using the brakes. The better drivers will get their braking done early. The clueless ones grind 'em on halfway through the turn when they suddenly realize that things are tighter than they had distractedly anticipated.

As far as "lines" through a corner, it's hard to tell with a car. With bikes it's a little easier. I was behind a cruiser the other day and didn't feel like making an enemy by trying to pass him, so I sat behind him and watched. Maybe he was going slow because he had his girl on the back, but damned if he wasn't taking some good line through the turns...lines that showed he not only knew the road, but had an intimate knowledge of the corners he was riding.

Double Yellows

One thing I've gotten into the bad habit of doing is apexing turns very close to the lines. Now this is great for right-handers as long as you've got good pavement all the way to the white. The yellows are another story. If you put your wheel a couple inches from the yellow, chances are your helmet's hanging over into the oncoming lane. Also, you never know when a driver coming the other way is gonna be a little wide.

I had a scary corner Saturday...blind left-hander. Just as I was turning into it, I saw a line of oncoming vehicles, so I widened my line a little to let the first one past and then tightened up. Problem was the turn was straightening out already, so I ran right up on the yellows. I was kind of embarassed, because the next truck in line felt that he had to jink out of my way. I'm pretty sure I would've cleared him just fine, but the idea that I was close enough that he felt like he had to move...I don't want anyone else to have to do that. I shouldn't. So I guess I need to keep some more space from the yellows on those left-handers.

Man in the Stone House

I feel bad for the poor guy in the stone house right on the best corner on my favorite road. Apparently, there are enough people doing "spirited" riding on that road that he's taken a dislike to us sport-bikers. He flipped off my buddy Chris the other day, and Chris was stuck between a couple of those aforementioned Buick drivers, so he wasn't even "hauling ass". I've also heard that he was out watering his garden when a couple of bikes came by and they almost got a spray from the garden-hose.

That's one of the reasons I don't have any intention of getting an aftermarket exhaust. With 180-or-so horsepower, the R1 doesn't need any help. They say "loud pipes save lives", but I think that's just an excuse. All they do is piss people off.

I imagine I'd get upset after a week or two if bikes with modified pipes (cruisers too, not just the sportbikes) were constantly roaring by my house. It's a beautiful house, too...a nice stone house back in the woods just off the creek. I've often said I'd love to own that house. But it's RIGHT on the road. I guess if you're gonna live there, you have to put up with some noise.

I don't think he's enough of an asshole to "accidentally" drop some gravel out front, but I'm gonna sight that corner out before I get frisky in it from now on. I thought about giving the guy a fruit-basket or some Ravens tix or something just to see if I can change his attitude.

That IS the best corner in that series, though. I can't deny myself a run at it as long as it's clean. I can be patient and take my time through any other turn on that road, but that one I just MUST have.

...and the Rest

Roy got his bike back on Tuesday. We dragged it home in the back of his Dodge in the driving rain. He's scared to death of it now. He lost the front wheel braking too hard at like 10MPH over some slick pavement and now he thinks the brakes are going to kill him. Just as well...too much brake is a dangerous mistake. But it seems like he can't find a happy medium of respect for the bike. Either he feels like he has to dominate it, or he has to live in fear of it.

He and Chris went out for a night ride a little while after I got in. I don't like the idea of riding the R1 at night, when I can't see the road. I've been thinking about buying an FZ6 for night-rides, cruising, and long trips.

Don't get me wrong. I'm comfortable on the R1, but only when I'm moving...hanging off the bike or tucking and putting on speed. Cruising on a sportbike is an exercise in patience...I don't know why all these urban riders do it. Maybe they're small enough to where they're comfortable. If I'm gonna go for a long cruise though, Skyline Drive or something, I'm not doing it on an R1. Balls to that.

I'm trying to get Chris to do a track-day. (I know Roy isn't going to do one until he stops having his hyperbolic attitude toward his bike)

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