Thursday, January 19, 2006

Traps set, prey escapes!

I'm going to try to shorten up my log entries. The work of reading a long entry shouldn't offset the enjoyment of the reading. I am afraid I've had diarrhea of the keyboard. There's just so much to share.

Today has been a day of hazards. The really disgusting thing is that the very first one was of my own doing. When I push the bike out we make a turn so we are facing sideways to the house on the sidewalk. When we leave we have to make a sharp left turn out of the driveway onto the street. This puts us facing the opposite direction from where we started. Today I must have had a big brain fart because I suddenly realized that I had let the handlebars go full lock left as I was making the turn. Crap!!!!! Totally un-cool to dump my bike in front of my own house. My head and eyes snapped up, I gave it a little throttle to pull it out, and the crisis was over. Thank God for training and curse my inattentiveness.

Speaking or curses, there was no little red Geo today. Whew!

The rain has temporarily let up. The streets are still wet but it is not actually raining. All the rivers are still dealing with the water volume, though. The Willamette hasn't crested, yet. Hwy 34 is closed just East of Corvallis. This highway is the one I use to make the Eastbound run for the Interstate. There are several bedroom communities further East. These folks work in Corvallis which is a college town of about 50,000. With Hwy 34 being closed it has caused chaos on other routes. The good news is that I go in the opposite direction but today I had to dodge crazy drivers who saw the sign and pulled frantic u-turns in front of oncoming traffic.

Once on the Interstate I thought I was ok. Wrong. One thing I hate to see is a long line of big trucks. There can be 8 trucks in line and number 7 will decide they have to pass the whole line. This can take MILES! Today I got up to about number 4 and was just past the rear axle of the trailer. Suddenly I saw a single flash of a turn signal while at the same time the truck came over into my lane quickly. Hey, I'm here, you dope!!! Rode the shoulder a minute or two. I turned around and glared at the driver. Well, as much as possible in a full-face helmet.

I still wasn't done. At one of the intersections in town near the office there are two four lane streets that come together. The one I approach on has two left turn lanes. I am in the right hand of the two lanes and an older gentleman in a Toyota is in the far left inside lane with a left turn signal blinking. The light turns green and this gentleman proceeds to cut right in front of me to the RIGHT!! I avoided harm but I still wonder if he even knew where he was. Interestingly, my mood was still ok. Today was noteworthy in that so many things happened but I accept that there are dangers to face on the roads. Would some of the things that happened not done so if I was in a car? Maybe, maybe not. As drivers seem to lose more abilities and attention span it will get worse no matter what your conveyance. I will not let them rob me of my joy.

The ride home was quiet. It was raining, again, but not with the ferocity of the last few days. The farther North I got the harder it came down. It gets dark about 15 minutes into the commute. Thursdays seem to be the "You can't get there from here" days. Traffic is really heavy and there are about three times as many trucks as normal. There are so many people who drive slowly in the fast lane and just live there. Perhaps they are waiting for their mail to be forwarded to them. Even in the dark and rain, I saw one guy in a maroon colored sedan with his dome light on and a magazine propped up on the steering wheel. Sheesh!

Stopped to fuel up the bike at my usual place. The young guy who has worked there a long time saw me pull up in the rain. He said "What are you doing out riding in the rain with flooding everywhere?" It wasn't the usual "you must be crazy" thing. More like gentle teasing with a little bit of "I still can't believe you do this". Believe it.

Didn't do too well at keeping this short did I? I'm sorry, but I'm just having too much fun doing this.

7 comments:

Art B said...

Well I'm from Camano Island 60 miles north of Seattle and I also commute to work 120 miles round trip each day. I ride a 2005 Ninja 250 which is great for the distance I commute. Believe it or not I get 70-75mpg much better than my car which only get between 30-40 mpg, and on top of that I'm stuck in traffic everyday which make my commuting time longer. Compare to my Ninja I get the opportunity to use the carpool lane which cuts my commuting time shorter. I can relate to your situation as far as weather concern. I don't see any other rider that commute constantly since this type of weather we are having had appear...90 percent of my commute is freeway and I can relate to the fact that I have witnesses cager not really paying attention around them. And you are right you have to make sure that other see you. Well Just want to say Hi and I'm glad that there are other brave soul out there still riding despite what the weather throw upon us. Keep it up I enjoy your blog

irondad said...

art b,

welcome! Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I salute for your commute on the Ninja. I really love those bikes but I have heard they need to keep higher revs for highway speeds which gives a little more vibration. Is that true?

We are working on a building project in Shoreline, Washington which should be up in your neck of the woods. The contractor has not been able to pour the building slab because of 28 straight days of rain. That's wet!

Art B said...

Irondad,

Yes it is true! I change the front sprocket from 14t to 15t and the rear from 45t to 42t. With the stock gear combo (14t/45) at 70 mph the rpm is at 9500 to 10000 so you can imagine the source of vibration but with the changed I made (gear combo 15/42) at 70mpg the rpm is down to 7200rpm which is a considerable drop on rpms. I have also changed my stock tires from 100/80/16 front and 130/80/16 rear to 100/90/16 front and 130/90/16 rear. With this additional changed it drop the rpm to an additional 200rpm. I have also change my windshield from 12" tall to 14" tall. So with all those changes this bike is very comfortable cruising the highway at 70mph steady all day. Where about in Shoreline is you building project. Talk to you later

Art B

irondad said...

Sounds like you made your bike work well for your commute. Our project is a new Walgreen's. The address is 17524 Aurora Ave N. Have not been to the site, yet so can't tell you any landmarks.

Dan

Anonymous said...

Seems like Walgreen is taking over Washington just like Walmart. That's on 175th exit not far from where I work 100 street. How do you like your helmet speaker? I was thinking of having one but I'm afraid I might get distracted since I'm a new rider although I have put in 12000 mile on my Ninja since I bought it 05 July. Art

irondad said...

art,

the speakers are by IMC. The model is an HS-200. I got them from Sierra Electronics. There is also another distributor but their web site proved more cumbersome than I wanted to play with. Sierra Electronics is at www.sierra-mc.com

They sell for around $40.00. Sound is good. Bass suffers a little but in the wind noise they sound fine.
Looks like your mileage is right up there or a little more than mine. I consider anyone who consistently rides to work on a bike a serious commuter whether they ride 5 miles or 50. However, you are getting a lot of good experience.

Not sure how new you are, but beware that there is a time when you just start to feel really comfortable on the bike that you become vulnerable for a while. Kind of a confidence thing ( like " I really got it, now". But one has not been tested in a real crisis yet ) Probably a good decision to keep totally focused until motor skills and mental strategies become seriously engrained.

I am encouraged knowing that you are out there. Comment anytime.

Dan

Art B said...

Hi Dan,

Thanks for that info. I just started riding when I bought my MC. I bypassed the MSF but I am fully endorsed. I took my written to get my permit and practice riding my MC to and from work. A month later I took the riding test and pass. I read many MC books on how to ride well. I have ridden my MC when the temp was low 20's, freezing fog, rain like what we are having now. You are right about getting comfortable. There is a old saying "When you no longer afraid to ride it's time to put away your helmet". I'm not an aggressive rider like I used to when I was young and single. I'm 40 years old, I have a wife and 2 kids that wait for me to get home safe every night so that's what I think everytime I ride to get home to them safe. Have a great day again thanks for the info.

P.S. You'll be glad to know that there are other brave souls out there doing what you love doing.

Cheers,

Art