I have a couple of stories and a very funny experience to share from Monday's Ride to Work Day. First, though, a little housekeeping.
A little clarification seems to be in order. It concerns my hundred mile per hour maximum braking run. Mr. Riepe made a joke about trying to duplicate the feat in a parking lot. I'm hoping it was just a joke, Jack. You never know about those BMW riders, after all. Then somebody else made a comment that made it look like they thought I was in traffic or a parking lot. Just to be clear, I was on a coned off airport taxiway. It was set expressly for the purpose of conducting high speed braking and swerving drills for the motor cops. The standard disclaimer of this being a professional rider on a closed course is literally true.
This next comment is specifically for Mr. Steve Williams. Yes, I chided you for purposely skidding the rear tire to see what the bike does. Now you know the correct way to practice. You're wasting your time on skidding the rear tire. Everyone knows that the most stopping power is in the front so that's the one you should practice sliding first! ( note: The last statement was written with tongue firmly in cheek! )
Life has been hectic, as you can see by the lack of posts. Elvira is home. However, the curse continues. I ordered a new mirror for the right side of the bike to replace the scratched up one. Three times it has come in as a left side mirror. No amount of explaining that this is the THROTTLE side of the bike seems to help. I don't think it's the dealer's fault. There seems to be some sort of glitch with the Yamaha warehouse. One of the boxes even had the correct part number on it. The mirror was still wrong. Tuesday morning will see Elvira fitted with new Metzeler Road Tec Z6 tires. I really like these tires, for whatever it's worth.
Training season is in full swing. We're seeing a bit of affect from the down economy. Where classes used to be filled 90 days out, now it's closer to 45. Good news for those who want to take training as the wait isn't as long, I guess. I taught a class last night. As I was cruising through the parking lots of the community college I spied Balisada walking towards her Rebel. We briefly chatted. I'm often at the college for one reason or another. The Rebel is almost always there. A tip of my helmet to you, girl! You're a great example of what this blog is about.
Monday found me riding for work, as usual. One of my stops was at Oregon State University. I'd been down to Medford over the weekend conducting an instructor training exercise. We were following a morning group of new riders. In the afternoons on both days there were what we call IRT ( Intermediate Rider Training ) classes going on. This class is for folks who know the basics of riding but need to get endorsed. We work on mental strategies and accident avoidance skills in the process. Students can bring their own bikes or use ours. In the class pictured above three riders brought their own bikes. Two guys looked like the ZZ Top band. They both also had Harleys. The gal in the back brought her little red scooter. It struck me as an interesting contrast. The ZZ Top guys were a little worried about image, even though I give them great credit for taking training on their own bikes. The girl was just there to learn and was having a great time.
As you can see in the photo, I caught an instructor in mid stride. His name is Alain. He's French Canadian. Alain likes to move quickly. I consider Alain a close friend and it was good to see him, again. Even if I had to travel over two hundred miles to do it!
TEAM OREGON is headquartered at OSU. I had stuff to take back to the office. There's a few curves on the route if you ride through Bryant Drive and Riverside Drive. Unfortunately, I had to hit Highway 34 to finish my trip to Corvallis. As some of the locals know, this four lane highway isn't the most pleasant place to ride. People think it's the freeway and drive like crazy while still talking on cell phones, eating, reading the paper, etc. The accident rate is pretty high.
As I neared Corvallis I was in the left lane. To my right was a small, beat up gray sedan. The driver was a somewhat plump girl. She looked to be in her mid twenties. Her passenger was a tall, thin, scruffy looking fellow. I'm immediately on alert. I would be anyway, but the beat up condition of the car suggested the possibility of less than careful driving, if you know what I mean. We're approaching a stop light where you can either go left to take the bypass towards the coast or cross the bridge into downtown Corvallis. The light is a few blocks away, yet. The sedan is coming up behind a slow moving truck. The little voice in my head tells me to roll off the throttle.
Sure enough, the girl looks over her shoulder to change lanes. Trouble is, the look happens at the exact moment she moves the car into my lane. I always thought you should look first, then move if it's clear. If you have enough attention span, you also throw in an advance turn signal. Since I'm prepared, it's a case of no harm, no foul. However, if I hadn't been ready, she'd have taken me out. It was pretty close as it was. Interestingly, there's more.
After the driver had violated my space, I gave her a slight beep of the horn. I mean, how else does a factory motorcycle horn sound? It wasn't an angry blast, just a reminder that there was actually a person on the bike she tried to cut off or run over. The horn button tap was accompanied by a sort of half shrug with my left hand and arm. Sort of, "What where you thinking, if you even were?" There was no response from the girl. At least not yet.
As we approached the bridge, the gal pulled back into the right lane as she had passed the truck. I pulled even with her. I know, living dangerously, isn't it? Her window was down. She looked over at me. Both hands came off the steering wheel in the supplicational position commonly associated with prayer. She mouthed "I'm sorry" to me. Did I mention both hands were off the steering wheel? Did I also mention that we were going over a narrow two lane bridge with concrete walls on both sides? As she was busy genuflecting her car was rapidly drifting to the right. Now I'm praying, too. Albeit with both hands still firmly on the grips. I'm praying she doesn't bounce off the wall and come back into my lane. Fortunately, it all came out okay. Hey, I appreciate the apology, but for heaven's sake use some sense, here!
Farther down Harrison street I saw a woman sitting at a stop light on a side street. She appeared to be middle aged. She was dressed just like you'd expect a mom to be dressed as she went shopping. Tennis shoes, shorts, a button down blouse, and a three quarter face helmet. Oh, did I mention she was on a scooter? I believe it was a Honda Metropolitan. Anyway, as I was approaching I waved. I'm on Elvira, a sleek black big sport touring motorcycle. The full 'Stich, gloves, and full face helmet on my body. The ultimate hard core rider. We're about a half block apart when I wave at Scooter Mom. She stares back. As her face is out in the open, I can clearly see several expressions cross her face in a very short time. There's plenty of time to watch her as the speed limit is 25. As everyone knows, I am a very meek and law abiding person!
First is the blank look. Then confusion comes in. I can see her look around a bit. Like she's searching for somebody. Then a bit of understanding crosses her countenance. Almost like it was literally written on her face, I see,
"Holy crap, he's actually waving at ME!"
A smile and a return wave end the brief interchange between us. I can't help but think I made her morning. Is she new to riding? Does she commonly get ignored by riders of shifting bikes? I don't know. I always wave at scooter riders. We're all on two wheels for one thing. Sometimes there's not much difference between so called motorcycles and scooters these days, for another. The lines are becoming more blurred all the time. Who needs divisions? Let's just ride.
This was only the start of my day. The best and funniest experience is yet to come. However, this post is getting pretty long by itself. I know how easily I can bore you all, so I'll continue it in the next post. Here's a hint. Think construction job sites, a Roadcrafter riding suit, and hard hats!
Miles and smiles,