You can see Sophie on the left. On the right is the ST1300 that the Director of our program rides. He was engaged in some site audit activities. Incidentally, I will probably ride his bike to Medford Friday night for an instructor update on Saturday. One of the things we're going to be covering is how to coach quick stops to riders on ABS bikes. Sophie doesn't have ABS. It doesn't appear we will have any instructors in the update who have ABS, either. Which means I will have to take a bike that does have it for demo purposes. The site is a little over 200 miles away. It will be a nice chance to check out the bike.
Was it John in his blog that wrote about "chicken strips"? Hint, they're not something you'd find on the menu at a fast food restaurant. Here's a picture of Sophie's rear tire I took when I got home. I also took a picture of the front tire but I'll save that for a little later. There's a little story with that one.
I guess I inadvertently lied when I said there wasn't any other traffic. I forgot about the two riders on old bikes. Way up in the distance I spotted a couple of riders. It took me about two miles to catch up to them. Just for fun I followed the bikes for a while. The bikes were mid-80's vintage standards. As I got closer I noticed a couple of things. Both riders stayed in their staggered formation even through some pretty sensuously inviting curves. They also rode fairly slowly. Their corners were a series of small turns instead of one smooth line. Still, they stayed on their side of the road. I was wondering how can they ride a bike and not want to "whoosh" the corners. It's a reminder that not everyone's just like me. ( thank heavens ) We all have our own reasons for riding. I'm cool with that.
What I wasn't cool with is that I kept smelling a strong gasoline odor from one of the bikes ahead. It was time to pass. I'm sorry to say I sort of stuffed them in a left hand turn. Ok, there was no "sort of" about it. This section is an "S" turn that goes right and then left. If you look at a post from March 14, 2006 called "Riding like the Wind" there's a picture of a bent sign post. This is just before this particular set of curves.
I was just in a weird mood. Grandpa always called it "feeling your oats". Remember, we're of genuine cowboy stock. I was riding a horse before I could walk. With Grandpa behind me, of course! With clear visibility I showed the riders what corners were all about and went on my way with a wave. They waved back and used all their fingers. Good sports.
There was also an opportunity to use some of those "Zen" moments. All good things come to an end and I had to join traffic on a couple of more heavily travelled roads. This one road is still curvy and comes into the South side of Brownsville. It's the luck of the draw on Gap Road. Depending upon the time of day, etc., this road can be busy or quiet. There's very few places to legally pass. I know, what did I care today? A slower driver can bog a rider down for a long time. I can usually tell how my ride will go as soon as I turn onto it. My turn is to the right. I can see traffic coming from the left. Sometimes there's nobody there. Some days I'm forced to let a car go by before I can turn. I know I'm going to catch up to them pretty soon and resign myself to that fact.
Today the vehicle I had to let go by was a dark green Toyota Sienna mini-van. It was being driven by a woman. There were two kids with her. They looked to be somewhere in that "barely teen-ager" range. Typical soccer mom set-up. I had resigned myself to my fate. In about a half hour I'd be on roads where I could stretch Sophie's legs once again. Shocker of shockers! This woman was haulin' more than the kids. She was haulin' ass, too! The woman couldn't quite manage to stay totally in her lane all the time but there was nothing wrong with her pace and rhythm. Bonus!!
Unfortunately we both caught up to a slow moving Buick. Being on a stretch of road where I could see a half mile in both directions, I decided to do the Zen thing. I pulled off to the side to wait. Farm land is appealing in the sunshine. The sun itself felt warm. Better to hang out and enjoy some tranquility than worry about running into the back bumper of the van. Worse yet, being tempted to do something risky to get around both the vehicles. Properly calmed, I fired up the bike and continued on. I did eventually catch up to my fellow road users. The soccer mom never had gotten around the Buick. My choice to chill had proved to be the best one.
Periods of sedately joining traffic alternated with sections of riding hell bent for leather. It was a totally awesome and much needed release of pent up urges to raise heck.
Weirdly enough, my only close call happened at the other end of the block from my house. There's a retired man who lives across the street and down from us. He likes to put seed and bread out for the birds. Most of the time he just throws it into the street.
I saw the bread all smashed on the road. Never even thought twice about it. It was a bunch of dried up bread crumbs. How much trouble could it be? Lots, it turns out. Just after I came around the corner to the right my front tire encountered the bread. Said tire started to slide out to the left. Fortunately it grabbed traction before anything drastic happened but it certainly caught my attention! Who'd of thought?
After cleaning off the bike's seat I took this picture. You just never know about traction do you? This was totally my fault. I'd seen the bread. Instead of changing my line I'd dismissed the threat. Wrongly, it turns out. What's that old saying? "Physician, heal thyself!" How about "Trainer, coach thyself!"?
I feel so much better now. I'll be able to maintain for a while. I think.
Miles and smiles,