May 2005

May 27, 2005

Yes, it *has* been this long since I've last written ... and ridden! Life got in the way, as well as weather, to the point that no weekend seemed OK for riding. I'm still too new to feel comfy riding when it's even a bit wet outside, so with all the rain we've had in Northern California this past winter, I just couldn't go out. But I went out last weekend and had a GREAT time.

I was a bit concerned, being that I hadn't been on my bike since last November and I wondered if I'd remember everything I was supposed to do. I considered going to a parking lot and spending an hour or so trying things out but decided I'd go around the block first and see how I felt. If I was shaky or uncertain, I'd go to the parking lot. Well, after going around the block a few times, I was fine. I remembered how to shift and brake, how to accelerate and how to slow down. So rather than go to a parking, Craig and I went straight out to the streets and started riding.

We rode up some roads that I'd been on before, and then, instead of continuing on a "known path", we went on a road I'd never been on before. It was beautiful, not too many cars and you're right in the middle of some gorgeous trees and hills. Lots of twists and turns, but I handled them fine. I go a bit slower than Craig, but he lets me "ride my own ride", just as long as he can still see me in his mirror. We rode a few more quiet roads (by quiet I mean few cars, but they're still very twisty) and ended up down by the beach. It was very cold down there, but since it was hot at our house, we'd forgotten to bring our jacket liners. Typical! We didn't stay at the beach at all, just rode back home.

I'd say we went about 80-90 miles on this ride, which was great, considering it'd been over 6 months since I'd last ridden Bruiser. He handled well, I felt confident (but not overly confident; I don't want to get cocky!). I again enjoyed myself so much. I can't wait to get on my bike again!

(For those who live in the area, this is the route we took: Caņada Road, which turns into Whisky Hill Road in Woodside. This turns into Portola Road, which we took to Alpine and then up Alpine till it sort of dead-ends. Back to Portola towards Whiskey Hill, then left into Old La Honda Road, up to Skyline Blvd., then on to Alice's on 84. From there down to Pescadero Beach, then Hwy 1 to Hwy 84, back up to Alice's then back home. Great ride!)

May 30, 2005

What a great way to spend Memorial Day! Even though we didn't ride for a long time (just about 30 miles total) it was a gorgeous day for the ride. This time, I drove some freeway, some I-think-everyone-is-shopping-today-at-this-mall parking lot, some downtown traffic, and some twisties. Just wonderful!

One thing I hadn't done before was start from a dead stop when going uphill. I've done it in a car with a manual transmission a million times, but in a car, you don't need to balance like you do on a motorcycle. So, the first time I stalled the bike. It happens to everyone, so I felt much better. Later Craig told me the secret to getting the bike moving. It's similar to what you do in a car (with a manual transmission) on a steep hill. First, you keep the clutch pulled in and make sure you're in 1st gear. You also have to have the front brake on. Start letting out the clutch, keeping the front brake engaged, until you feel the bike straining against the brake. Then let out the brake as you throttle a bit and let out the clutch some more and you should start moving. At another time during our ride, I was again stopped on a hill and again I stalled the bike. This time, I did exactly what Craig said and while it sounds like you're really revving up your bike and not moving, the bike doesn't stall. I was pretty proud of myself!

Another item that Craig mentioned after our ride is that I don't downshift enough as I'm starting to stop. I have a tendency to downshift once I'm nearly stopped. What you need to do is match the gear to the speed your going, so if you're starting to slow down to a stop, you need to start downshifting to a more appropriate gear. There is a reason for this: imagine if you were slowing down from approx. 50 mph to 10 mph (heading towards a full stop) and you haven't downshifted, i.e., you're still in 5th gear. What happens if the light turns green and you can go? If you're still in 5th gear, you'll only putt-putt-putt and could possibly stall your engine, because you're in the wrong gear. So, downshift and continually gauge your speed, to match the gear to the speed. Another great lesson learned!

(For those who live in the area, this is the route we took: Hwy 280 to Hwy 92 towards Foster City. Exit in Foster City to the Metro Center shopping center. Then, drove city streets from Foster City to downtown San Mateo (3rd Street), through downtown to El Camino to Crystal Springs Road. Rode Crystal Springs to Caņada Road to Edgewood Road, then back home. Short but sweet!)

On to September 2005.