November 2004

November 7, 2004

On Saturday of this weekend, Craig and I went to the motorcycle show up in San Mateo. The big motorcycle manufacturers were there showing off all the new 2005 models. Some interesting stuff, but too many cruisers, in my opinion. Well, I guess I'm more of a sport bike girl! Some of those bikes are SO big, it's amazing that anyone can ride them. I had hoped that some riding apparel dealers would be there, since I really need some good riding pants, but no luck. I guess I'll have to buy from the internet after all.

Today was the best, though. Craig and I went on a much longer ride than before, going up Highway 84 to Alice's Restaurant. This is the place to go to if you ride motorcycles. Every weekend, at just about anytime, there are at least 20-30 bikes there, so we went.

The biggest challenge for me was going through the twisties. Now here in No Calif., we've got varying levels of twisties and I would say the ones I rode were medium-level twisties. It was not nearly as bad as I had been envisioning. We drove the speed limit, i.e., not faster and not super slow, which is annoying to the people following. I let a few bikes pass me, but that's easy. Lots of the curves are blind, but I just kept saying to myself "look through the curve, look through the curve" and it worked out OK!

(For those who live in the SF Bay Area, we rode Hwy 84 up to Alice's Restaurant, continued on 84 to San Gregorio Beach, then took Hwy 1 north to Half Moon Bay, Hwy 92 to 280 and back home.)

We stopped at a few places for pictures (and for me to shake off the dead hand syndrome on the throttle!) and really had a wonderful ride.

On the last leg home, I decided I would be able to ride on the freeway. Big step for me, since it's by nature very speedy. However, I'd been riding quick enough during the rest of ride (on straights, of course) that Craig thought I wouldn't have a problem. So, up the on ramp we went and it was great!

THEN ... oh THEN! I start losing power. I'm throttling like mad, downshifting and upshifting (and this is on a section that goes slightly uphill) and all I'm doing is losing speed. 70 mph, 65, 60, 55 ... finally I just pulled over to the shoulder and stopped. Craig was ahead of me but was watching and so he also pulled over and walked back. Turns out I'd run out of gas. *Sigh* We switched to reserve, let the fuel run through the lines for a bit and then Bruiser started like a charm. We hopped back on our bikes, sped up in the shoulder, merged into traffic and went to the first gas station!

So, what I learned on this ride:

1. Twisties aren't bad, they're rather fun. Keep looking through the curve and keep your head up, and you'll be fine.

2. CHECK YOUR GAS! We had checked it halfway through our trip, but since it's a new bike, we don't know the true range of one tank yet, so I'll be watching out from now on.

3. Freeways aren't difficult, as long as you keep your speed up. In some ways, freeways are less scary than city streets, because everyone is driving in the same direction and you don't have to worry that someone will suddenly pull out of a driveway or alley.

Here are a few pictures of the day's ride.

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This is me at Alice's Restaurant (you can see the sign in the background).


November 14, 2004

This weekend, Craig and I had a guest visiting (Craig's friend Barbara from Texas). I originally thought that we wouldn't be able to ride but Barbara's a real trooper and put on Craig's extra gear and rode pillion (the motorcycle term for "passenger") on his Honda CBR1000F while I followed on Bruiser. Craig's Honda is a big bike and has no problem carrying 2 riders. It's a fast bike, too, but that's another story.

We did a lot of twisties, some on recently paved roads, so I got to experience some bits of gravel here and there. Craig was riding in front and he continually pointed out the icky sections of the road so I was able to avoid them. On one bit of gravel (going through a hairpin curve!) I definitely felt my rear wheel jiggle a bit, but I just remembered to "keep on keeping on", meaning I didn't brake, didn't throttle, I just coasted through. No problem whatsoever. (Craig's bike stuck like a piece of gum to a shoe, which just shows you how a bike that's twice the weight of mine works!)

After the "super twisty", we rode to the beach (for those "we have a guest and we were at the beach" pictures!), then up the highway along the coast. I suppose there were beautiful views, but I was so concentrated on riding that I don't have the courage to look at them yet. From the coast highway we rode up to the freeway and I rode about 10-15 miles on the freeway to home. Speeds around 75mph, although I jumped it up to 85 once just to get past this car (I didn't want to sit in his blind spot). Yes, speeds on the highways are fast in California.

(For those in the SF Bay area, we went up 84 to Alice's again, continued on 84 to Stage Road (the super twisty repaved road), then to Pescadero, up Hwy 1 to Pacifica, over Sharp Park to Hwy 280, then home.)

So, what I learned this weekend:

1. I could hear Craig's bike over mine, which at first was distracting, until I started to listen to when he throttled down in a turn and throttled up, etc. I started to use that as an indicator for my throttling up/down in a curve. I throttled down more often than he did, but I figured if he was throttling down, I'd BETTER throttle down!

2. Keep your eyes moving all over the road. Mirror checks (if your mirrors show you something other than your elbow!), head swings left and right, etc. I found I did that more and more as I got comfortable riding.

3. Continually be aware of your lane position. When I'm following Craig and we're the only people on the road, I don't think of it that much, but when it gets busier and there are more and more cars on the road, I'm constantly changing lane position to a) make sure I'm seen and b) stay out of anyone's blind spot.

4. Regardless of what other people are doing on their bikes, ride your own ride. I told Craig that, so when we were at a stop, turning left into busy traffic, he had no problems going much earlier than I did. He has more confidence and experience on his bike, so I just waited until the traffic cleared up more. He was waiting for me farther down the road, but the important thing is I never felt rushed trying to keep up.

I've gotten a lot more comfortable with my bike controls, turning off my turn signal after turns, etc. Just last month, remembering all the controls, etc., was an "information overload" situation for me, but now it's getting easier. As I persevere, it'll start to become 2nd nature.

I enjoy riding a *lot*. It's very relaxing, in a way, because when you're on a bike you can only think about riding the bike. There's no room for worrying about work or paying bills or anything. All you can do is concentrate on making the right choices and using the right skills to ride. It unclutters the mind and destresses you. Maybe I should ride every day!

On to May 2005.