Sunday, May 9, 2010

There is no "cruise" in me.

I've been thinking about this lately...maybe I'm just an outlier among sport-riders, but there is no "cruise" anywhere in me.

You'd think every once in a while, I'd want to just jump on the bike and cruise around on the local highways like everyone else. But I have no desire to "cruise". Not on a sportbike.

I look at these machines as "tools". They're built for a purpose, and that purpose is "spirited" sport-riding or racing. NOTHING about them suits them to cruising around.

If you're not moving around on the bike, hustling it through the corners, the seat quickly starts to wear on your arse, the hunched-over position gets your back and wrists aching, and you find yourself doing stupid stuff like standing up mid-ride or using your frame-sliders as "highway pegs" to try to stretch out.

R1s are especially bad...they're geared so tall that riding at a leisurely pace makes it hard to find a gear that seems to have good pull without jerking. I find myself constantly shifting.

The tires on these bikes are designed to stick. Even dual-compounds aren't designed for a lot of straight-line touring. Every long trip I take, I worry about squaring off my tires...they're only good for so long on these bikes, and replacements are expensive. I can only really justify a long straight ride to get to a particular set of twisty back-roads. Then at least there's some anticipation of a good time. Taking a long cruise without at least hitting some good sweepers at speed...well, it's like a porno with no money-shot.

I get bored and sore on long cruises through the open country. I don't do it for "the scenery" or "the open air"...I'm clad in leather and a wind-noise-beaten helmet. If I wanted "open-air scenery", I'd roll down the windows in the car...or buy a convertible. That's a nice open-air ride. A cruiser is a nice open-air ride. A sportbike cruising is like going to a cirque du soleil for your bachelor party.

What bugs me even more, though, is that when I'm in a "cruising" group, it's usually not to tour some chunk of countryside, but on a blast down some highway or other, or rolling through some populated urban center.

In a venue such as that, the purpose becomes not to "cruise", but to "be seen cruising". To say to others, "Hey, look at me...I'm on a bike! Aren't I cool?" To me, that's the epitome of squiddishness.

As much as I take pride in bike ownership, I don't really EVER care to be seen riding by the general cager populace. I have no desire to impress ANYONE with my bravado, or the fact that I wasted 10 grand on what is essentially a dangerous toy.

I cause enough shenanigans when I "tear it up" on the back-road. For that reason, and just out of respect for the cagers who are gracious enough to let me get away with it without calling the police, I try to make my presence go as unnoticed as possible.

I don't have an aftermarket exhaust, and I likely never will, because that extra 5HP just doesn't matter to me. The R1 is powerful enough with the stock system to give me a rush...and there's no podium and no umbrella girls waiting at the other end. I'm not going to make noise. It doesn't sound good on those Honda Civics with fart-pipes...just because it's a bike and it revs to 13 grand doesn't make it suddenly something I want to hear.

I'm not going to cruise through a parking lot at a local social gathering place or fly up I-95 at 100 miles an hour, subjecting myself to the whims of cagers who are distracted and not looking for me, just to impose my presence on the world. I don't get any joy from "look at me". Anyone can go out and buy stuff for a bike and make it look pretty. It's just as likely that my bike will be wrapped around a tree the next day...I would rather people shake their heads in sympathy than look at me as an arrogant a-hole getting what he deserves.

I don't like going "out to eat" on my bike. It's already hard enough to squeeze my back protector velcro strap shut around my fat gut on an EMPTY stomach. Who the heck wants to park your bike out in a lot where people are walking in and out, opening doors, cutting between cars, and free to f**k with your ride while you're not looking if they're feeling particularly ignorant? Who wants to cram into a booth trying to find a place to stack a helmet, gloves, leather jacket, and back protector, without being able to leave them on the bike or set them on the dirty-arse floor? Who wants to come out of a restaurant feeling bloated and then hunch over a crotch-rocket for a long cruise home? Not me, that's who. We did it for meals at Deals Gap because none of us brought cars...then it was by necessity. But locally...why??

Why not finish riding, park the bike and get a car? The only reason I can think of is because you want the little 14-year-old girls to see you in the restaurant and say, "Oooh look he rides a motorcycle!!"

Sometimes what bugs me the most is the "group-think" that starts going on during cruise-style rides. When you get a group of sportbikes together, riders who are usually very careful and sensible start making silly mistakes, like making aggressive and ill-advised moves in traffic to try to "stay with the group". Or they start riding in aggressive ways, interfering with cager traffic to preserve the group format, or acting like being in a group of cruising motorcycles entitles them to "own the road".

It seems like with sportbikes, cruising is all about EGO.

When you're in the twisties or at the track, there's no TIME for ego. You have to be focused on the road in front of's just you and the pavement, and the pavement won't lie to you about exactly where you stand with it. Ego makes you crash in sport-riding. Pride never helps.

To me, it's all about a fundamental respect for the machine, the road, and the people on it. It's something I almost hold sacred...and to go around "cruising" on a sportbike, to me, it just feels like "taking the lord's name in vain". I'm reminded of some of those High-Life commercials, where the beer-man takes the beer back because he feels that it's not being used in the "spirit" it was intended.

I mean, maybe I'm just an outlier when it comes to this kind of thing. I try to maintain an open mind and let everyone ride for his or her own reasons, but it's hard for me to relate at all to "sportbike cruisers". I end up feeling the same way about them as I do about all the D-bags at the club wearing the same powder-blue button-down striped shirt.

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