The Next 90 Miles

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The Next 90 Miles

Iím writing this in diary format as I progress through my next 90 miles. Each entry contains the more memorable or interesting details of the dayís ride(s). I try to make each ride a learning experience. It seems thereís always something to be learned, especially when your experience level is basically non-existent.

March 28. 1.4 miles. After one of the most rotten winters I can remember having in a long time the bike came out of its winter hibernation cave and moved to its summer home. Keep in mind itís March 28 in Northeast PA. The chance of overnight frost may not be gone but SNOW. Nah. Never gonna happen this late in the year. Two days later what do we get? Snow and cold. I wanted to get my daughterís car off the road and in the driveway so that meant getting the bike sandwiched between my car and my wifeís car in a two car garage. Tight fit but my car got a short reprieve from its outdoor exile.

April 1. 9.7 miles, 11.1 miles total. First things first -- gear. Since last season, which was a whopping 91 miles and 18 hours, Iíve acquired gear. ATGATT, right? In the fall I was riding in a regular jacket and denims, helmet and gloves. It now takes considerably longer to get dressed to get on the road. Put on Armored jacket, put on armored pants, fill the pockets (keys, wallet, cell hone, garage door opener, etc.), put on helmet, put on gloves. Total time seems like 15 minutes.
After the 4.5 month hiatus from riding Iím worrying about getting back on the bike and back on the roads. Itís kind of like the first time on the bike after getting my license. Worrying about riding in traffic. Worrying about screwing up and getting hurt. Worrying that I wouldnít remember the basics I learned. Worrying about, worrying about, worrying aboutÖ.. Turns out, there was no need to worry. Well there was MOSTLY nothing to worry about. Got a bit of scare when pulling out of a side street onto a main road and target fixated on pickup truck passing in the opposite direction. Almost ran wide and into his lane which would have resulted in *shudder* the bike and me hitting the side of the truck. A quick self reminder to look where you want the bike to go and right back on track. A bit of a scary lesson, but a lesson nonetheless.

April 2. 16.5 miles, 27.6 miles total. Had some errands to run and decided to take the bike. Had to pay a bill, stop at the bank and then the post office. Itís a good thing there are a lot of pockets in the riding jacket since you canít just throw the mail and other paper work on the dash like you can in a car. A bank drive thru on a motorcycle somehow just feels wrong but apparently itís not too out of the ordinary because I didnít get any comments from the teller.
I have a meeting this evening and decide to take the bike. Since Iím having problems with starting out on hills I plan a route that has only one stop sign on a small incline and uses mostly back roads. I use this route on a regular basis and itís usually not heavily travelled. Murphyís law was in full force this night, however. There are two stop signs on the road each about a block apart. The second one requires the uphill start. I just get to the first stop sign and a jacked up wreck of a pick up truck ,grey primer paint and all, comes around the corner behind me. I think ďAwwwww crap!Ē He stops behind me at the next stop sign and after much clutching, braking, throttling, and sweating I manage to start on the hill without stalling. Further up the road is another stop sign but on a level. I plan a turn to get rid of the cars behind me. I give the bike gas, start to engage the clutch and the bike stalls. I realize I forgot to shift into first gear when I stopped. I arrive at the meeting in one piece and itĎs dark outside by the time the meeting is over. Time for another first, riding in the dark. Iím not crazy about it. Keep in mind this is around town so there are street lights and other traffic so itís not completely dark. Even with this ambient light, I can see why they tell you not to outride your headlight. The road just disappears into one black mass. Itís not easy to see the difference in colors where potholes occur, or where there may be loose ďstuffĒ in the road just waiting to low side you.

April 6. 9.0 miles, 36.6 miles total. This is the first REALLY nice day we've had for riding this year and what am I doing? Replacing steps on a deck : and listening to all of the other motorcycles going by the next block over (a main road). Every time I hear one you know I HAVE to stop what Iím doing and watch it go by. Oh well, at least I was outside all day. Got finished much later than I anticipated (why does every job have to turn into a project?) and went out for some parking lot practice and some "off the main roads" practice starting on hills. Ran cone weaves, stops, "The Box", and tried out some rear brake dragging/friction zone work in the parking lot practice as well as some general "cruising" around the parking lot. Need to get more of this practice in over the next two weeks before the BRC2 course. I really don't want to go out there and look like a total idiot. Iím getting better at the hill starts and I'm finding it easier to use all hand controls and ignore the rear brake for hill starts. I tend to stall the bike using the rear brake. Using the front brake, I can feel the front fork dip when the clutch starts to engage. That tells me it's ok to start releasing the brake. Now if I can just get the throttle control fine tuned with these starts I'd be good to go. 9 miles (really wish it could have been more) today going mostly in circles! Looks like the rest of the week may be decent, with some showers on and off, hopefully more practice will be in the cards.


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