Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On Any Sunday

Last Sunday was a spectacular day for riding! It was about 70F and the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds. My Dad and I started the day with a two hour ride up Azusa to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. For those who aren't familiar, this is a winding mountain road that offers miles and miles of beautiful views and fun curves. There was a huge highway patrol presence there -- catching many squids who felt that the road was their own personal racetrack.

Returning home, my wife jumped on the back of my FJR and we sped off to a friend's birthday party. My Dad stayed home with the kids, and it was nice having the opportunity to socialize with other adults.

We left the party a bit early in order to ride to our local Ducati dealer who was having a BBQ party of its own to celebrate the Japan leg of the MotoGP tour. There is no finer way to enjoy the MotoGP than to do it surrounded by Ducatis. We were delighted to see Yamaha take first and second place, though we wish that Rossi would have won.

All in all, a terrific motorcycle-centric Sunday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT)
The grand-daddy of all mantras: wear all the protective gear at all times. Even if it is 105F and you are just going a mile to the store. It is pretty much agreed that leather offers the best overall protection but nothing beats textile for versatility and features. I have covered some of my gear in previous posts, and will be filling in the missing bits soon.

Every day is an adventure!
This is a personal mantra of mine and is a reminder that some days just aren't going to go the way I expect. My attitude on those days is the most important factor in determining how well I make it through. Every single day offers the possibility to learn something new, meet a new friend, try new food, look at old haunts with new eyes, or just acknowledge the grandeur of the world around you.

The single best overall line to take through corners is to start from the outside edge of your lane, pass through the apex of the turn near the inside edge of your lane, and end up on near the outside edge again. This path maximizes visibility -- both yours of oncoming traffic and corner conditions, and theirs in seeing you. Coupling this with smooth braking before the turn, and a gradual roll on of throttle through the turn, and you are on your way to corner mastery.

The bike goes where you look.
I cannot count the number of times I have fixated on a pothole or crack in the road ahead, and ridden right into it. It takes conscious effort to note a hazard and then fixate my gaze at a distant point that takes me past it safely. This is also the reason the MSF classes tell you to rotate your head as far as it will go when making tight turns. If you fixate on the middle of the curve, you will run into it. Looking at your exit point will help you complete the turn.

Tight on the bottom, loose on top.
This was actually the first piece of advice after ATGATT that really improved my riding. It means simply to use the lower half of your body to grab the motorcycle, and keep the upper half of your body relaxed. I used to ride the exact opposite way and quickly wore out my arms as they bore my weight. If your arms are rigid, every single bump will jar your whole body. I have almost been thrown off the bike hitting a large unexpected pothole with stiff arms. Now I try to support my weight with my legs and abdominal muscles and ride much more smoothly. This is another one for the application of conscious effort. Periodically during my rides I try to take a moment to wiggle my fingers, check on the stiffness of my arms and shoulders, and grab firmly but gently with my lower half.

As with all advice -- take everything with a grain of salt and a pound of personal experience. The best advice of all is simply to remain open minded and continuously look to improve your riding skill. And wear the gear!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Split Personality

I am not the guy splitting lanes at 80 MPH. But I am definitely willing to take advantage of my single-track profile when traffic slows to a stop. And that is exactly what happened yesterday as I left my office to head home.

Bumper-to-bumper stop and go traffic for miles made for a rather onerous commute. I was delighted to be able to split lanes and just make progress. I also learned two important things: I can only split lanes for about a mile or two at a time before I have to pull into lane and rest. Splitting lanes is a rather stressful activity; cars cutting over without warning, the gap widening and narrowing without notice. So I take regular rest breaks.

The second thing I learned is that diesel fuel is quite possibly the slipperiest substance known to man. Forget teflon and graphite! Put a boot down in a greasy stream of diesel and you are suddenly the guest contestant in a game of keep-the-shiny-side-up.

The cause of my afternoon adventure eventually slid into view: a semi truck in an unnatural position. It was bad enough that emergency crews had sprayed the entire area with white foam. I gingerly navigated the last of the frothy obstacles and smoothly accelerated into the wide open road beyond.

I happily stayed in lane for the rest of my ride home.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Protection x Infinity

One of my larger purchases arrived today: a Rev'It Infinity one piece touring suit. The suit is absolutely spectacular, lighter than a 'stitch, and loaded with the latest in space-age fabric technology.

The Infinity has four torso vents, two on the chest and two on the back. It does not have vents on the legs or arms. The zippers are TiZip storm-proof zippers.

I am 5' 11.5", 185 lbs., and have a 36" waist. The XL fits me perfectly. My local store was able to order one so I could try it on before purchasing. Unfortunately, the one they ordered was the all-black suit. Besides not wanting to roast in the California sun, I wanted much higher visibility. So I plunked down my coin (well, $1200 anyway), and they ordered the light grey suit for me. In my opinion, it is very stylish. My wife's reaction upon seeing it for the first time was: "Why don't they make these for women???" Good question. Anyone at Rev-It want to answer?

Here's another pic of me on my bike:

It takes about twice as long to put on the Infinity than just putting on my Cayenne Pro riding jacket, but considering it is offering the same level of protection for my legs too, I am not disappointed.

Is the Infinity expensive? Hell yeah. Is it worth it? A much harder question to answer; I hope to never find out.