Friday, August 22, 2008

A really wet ride in Aug-tober!

I don't know if you remember this picture from February. It was a rainy day when I posed the question and it was another rainy day when I got the answer. I had wondered in this post who the rider of the bike was. If ever there was a dedicated motorcycle commuter, this rider was it. Whatever the weather or time of year, I'd see the old Yamaha parked in the same spot. My guess was that the rider was an employee of this Best Buy store. I never really pursued it to any degree, though. God forbid I should be seen as some sort of stalker, or anything!

One day I saw that the bike had changed. Instead of the old Yamaha I saw a newer KLR with the aluminum panniers. Since I no longer saw the Yamaha and the KLR was parked in the same place, I figured it was the same rider with a different bike.

There came a day when I had business in the store. The KLR was parked in its accustomed spot. As usual, I was in riding gear, helmet in hand. Store security people tend to get a little uptight when you do that, which means I really like doing it. I casually asked who rode the bike to work. I always find that people are really willing to spill their guts if you act at all interested in them. A young woman told me the guy's name was Cass and that he worked in the media department. That's the part where they sell music and movies, I guess. Wandering over there, I asked for the guy. Turns out he had the day off. I was told that Cass would park in that spot but go to a movie on the other side of the mall.

Since it was really only casual interest on my part, I let things go. A rainy day this week started the ball rolling again.

The weather guessers had told us a Winter-like storm was rolling in. I was actually looking forward to the rain. It would be great chance to see how much weather protection I'd have with Elvira. The rain was substantial so it was a good test. I'll tell you about the comparison in another post. Suffice it to say I didn't drown!

As chance would have it, I was near the mall and decided to stop for coffee. Sure enough, the KLR was there. So I parked next to it.

This time I went into the store and actually met the guy. He's about 35. I have to tell you, the guy looks like he'd be a lot more at home in a library than on a dual sport bike. Cass was pretty busy with a freight shipment so I didn't ask for his photo. I did tell him about the blog and how he'd fit right in with us. Cass wrote down the url for the site so I hope he sees this post. You're setting a good example, Sir!

Cass took our training class as a teenager. He's been riding since. The old Yamaha is still in his garage. When the chance came to buy the KLR for a good price Cass decided to try it out. The KLR is working really well for him. No surprise there, is it?

What's neat is that besides riding a bike to work all the time, Cass has encouraged some fellow employees to do the same. He told me to go look in the parking lot for a couple of specific bikes. When I left the store I looked around. Sure enough, I found the bikes he told me about.

No, it's not Stacy, but the bike looks pretty similar doesn't it? I believe Stacy has put turn signals from a GSXR on her bike, if I remember correctly. You'll have to refresh us on that, Stacy!

At least one of the riders ( the SV rider ) knows how to properly park a bike. I'll have to ask Cass if he's the one teaching the "pull in frontways" method. I parked nose in because I wanted Elvira to be facing the same way as the KLR and it was there first. Although it pained me to do it!

So I made a new friend, saw there was some growth in the riding to work movement, and generally had another great day on a bike. I can also tell you that you won't drown in a heavy downpour if you ride an FJR. By the way, ABS rocks on wet pavement. It takes a little courage to get into the ABS on purpose when the road's soaked. Just have faith and stay smooth! Whatever extra you pay for ABS it's well worth it!

I encountered Clinton in his pickup when I got back close to home. He recognized me as I was catching up to him. Then the little turkey flashed me a rude gesture and a smile. Is that any way to greet your father, young man?

Miles and smiles,



Steven said...

Dan, what's the reasoning behind parking nose-out vs nose-in? I'm a believer in parking in the outermost end of the spot, so drivers see the bike before pulling into a spot they believe empty otherwise, but am curious about any preference for direction.


irondad said...


Great question!

The backing in thing is about more than just being cool! In some cases it's the best way to stabilize the bike. Parallel parking on the street that slopes down beside a sidewalk, for instance.

There's also those times when a spot slopes downhill. It's just physically easier to back in letting gravity pull the bike backwards. Using engine power to pull out uphill is easier than pushing the bike backwards uphill.

The main point is rider vulnerability when leaving the spot. If a rider backs in, they can chose a clear spot in traffic to make the move to park. It also allows the rider to see and be seen more effectively.

Now imagine backing out of a pull-in spot into heavy traffic. Or crazed drivers at a mall parking structure. The rider's vulnerable because they are pushing the bike backwards. For one thing, it's an awkward position with sketchy balance. Visibility is down for the rider because it's the back end of the bike going out first.

By being able to pull out frontways, the rider can nose out, see farther, then make a decisive move under power to get going.

Does that give you the answer you were looking for?

Steven said...

yes, that's an excellent explaination. I've only been back in the saddle for 28 days, and with a 14-year break I'm sure there's a lot that I've forgotten (or never learned). The only lot I've been parking in so far (at my office) is flat and I've been using spots in a quiet corner, so I'd not realized the reasons you pointed out. This was a good lesson, thanks.

Conchscooter said...

The other interesting thing to me is that the dedicated ride to work people are doing it not necessarily with the most horsepower, most accessories or most weatherproof motorcycles. It's the rider not the machine.Well, in most cases because some pansies need super duper sport tourers of course.

irondad said...


Earl Thomas said...

Be weary of the oil drippings too. I once witnessed a rookie motorcyclist effectively back his brand new bike into a parking space on a rainy day, only to set his foot in a fresh slick of oil, I never knew that the human body could contort it's legs in the position that this poor fellow found himself in.

I've given in and decided that sometime this winter to purchase those Aluminum panniers for my bike. I've procrastinated about it all Summer long and decided the security and functionality of the big bags far outweigh the aesthetics of the "KLR" bags that I purchased at the Kawasaki dealership this spring. Also, I don't think that the textile bags were meant to be used by those of us who ride in all of the elements day in and day out.

Ride Well


Allen Madding said...

Surely Clinton meant no disrespect. He may have aligned with the adventure rider forum (ADV) and was giving you their salute :) I'm almost sure of it!

Stacy said...

Yay, another blue SV! And yep, I swapped out my turn signals from one off a GSX-R. I'm sure that added at least 20 horsepower right there. ;)

I also had my seat redone by Don in Albany -- best money I've spent short of buying SV in the first place. The designer who thought angular edges would be a great idea on a seat should be forced to sit on their creation for the next week or so.

Dan, I really need to start bringing a camera with me to work so I can show off the "creative" parking jobs I've seen over where I park on campus!

Bryce said...

The following is what is received when I try to
send an e-mail to your address!

Diagnostic-Code: X-Postfix; host[] said: 550 Mailbox
unavailable or access denied - (in reply to
RCPT TO command)

and I might not the e-mail address is broken in sections on this posting otherwise would've been unable to post.

fasthair said...

HI Dan,

I'm one of those people that ride to work everyday also, or at least until the snow falls. I just put on the rain gear and go. I don't need no stinkin' windshield... I jest of course.

A lady friend just picked up an '02FJR1300 and I'm impressed. I had always rode Yamahas' until I got my first HD years ago. So to see Yamaha had made such a nice bike was refreshing.

I taught my friend who rides a BMW about back in parking years back. Once he seen the advantaged he stated "I thought you Harley riders thought you were just being cool."

Nice blog, added to me feeds,

Kano said...

That looks like the "Lancaster Mall" to me. I go by their pretty often and will have to stop-in one of these days and hunt down the KLR owner you mentioned. KLR's are one of the bikes that I would like to find out more about directly from their owners. From what I can tell they seem to be a great bike for a very reasonable price. I did sit on one a couple of times and it's easy to get altitude sickness. -Oh, the backing in to parking spaces is a lesson I learned the hard way. Earlier in my riding career I pulled straight in to a downhill parking space right in front of a coffee shop with sidewalk seating and there were a bunch of bikers yucking it up when I went to leave. I must have turned six different shades of red on that day!

Jeff In NY said...

There is a daily commuter at my office who started parking sideways at the end of the parking space! I have not seen him since that started to find out what the thinking is there. All I can say is it looks really odd...leaves practically the entire space empty. What is particularly odd is the spot he uses has a fire lane right next to it so there is only ever a car on one side.

Dean W said...

Earl- Aesthetics? on a KLR? I don't think that means what you think it means...

I used to own a KLR that had (when I bought it) duct tape for grips, the carry bag for a camp chair (forest camo) cut open and stapled on for a seat cover, and had been painted in pickup bed-liner (which, it turns out, was the only reason the gas tank didn't leak). Ugly makes a KLR, and this one was their king.

If you really want to have authentic KLR panniers, you have to find a couple military surplus mermite cans...

Allen Madding said...

KLR doesn't offer milk crates from the dealership any more? :o

irondad said...

I always worry about the "foot slip" thing, too. There are frame sliders available for the FJR. I'm really tempted to get a pair, just in case!

The aluminum panniers seem to be the choice of those who are totally into utility. It must be presumed that they work really well.

Clinton told me he did that to all his friends. I guess it should be a compliment to be included in that group, huh?

I hear good things about Don. His shop is within a mile or so of me. How long did it take to get your seat done?

It would be fun to see the pictures on your blog, for sure. Let me know and I'll add the link here.

I've sent myself several test e-mails from other accounts. Other messages are getting through. I'll send you a reply so you can see if the address got corrupted.

It's good to make your acquaintance! Interesting what we learn when we actually study the reason for something instead of making assumptions, isn't it?

It is Lancaster Mall. I totally agree with the KLR being the biggest value for the money.

Why is it that we tend to make the most embarrassing mistakes in the most public places?

That does seem strange. If you ever find out, would you let us know? It might be reasonable. It might be laughable. Either way, you can't leave us hanging, now!

Phil said...

ABS...... Jealous. :)