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Thread: Favorite/safe roads

  1. #1

    Favorite/safe roads

    I consider myself a beginner. This is my second riding season. So far I have put a total of 3000 miles on my Ninja 300 and Honda CB1000R mostly riding after work and on weekends on County roads. Where I ride there is very little traffic and the biggest dangers are deer, gravel and myself.

    I ride conservatively but, as most of you, probably, I find myself enjoying twisties more than pure speed and acceleration. I look ahead estimating the curvature, slow down in corners and watch for gravel. I also practice counter steering and being mindful of it at all times when I ride. All that said, my current favorite road is almost all twisties but with only a 30 mph speed limit. The big plus is that the shoulder is all grass so gravel is not a problem and I can comfortably lean the bike. The Ninja 300 really shines on that road. I can throw it from one corner to another keeping the rpm at around 7000 rpm where the bike sounds nice and is very responsive despite the lack of raw power. This road is not as good of a match for the CB1000R which handles well but is better suited for higher speed. The challenge is finding a good road for it. I was on a few different roads but have not found the one with good curves and safe. Some have gravel or tar strips with unpredictable patters resulting in a ride that is kind of choppy and unpredictable. A few times I had to break hard before going into the corner after spotting gravel or potholes. Also, I felt the front end twitching while leaning the bike and riding over wiggly tar strips.

    What kinds of roads do you folks of similar experience level enjoy? Any suggestions on techniques or practice drills for taking curves with less than ideal road surfaces?

  2. #2
    RiderCoach 8000 Posts! WoodstockJeff's Avatar
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    What part of Wisconsin?

    There are a number of roads that are "decent training roads" out there. Search for "Wisconsin scenic byway" for WiDOT's suggestions. Also there is the "Rustic Road" program.

    Or pick some road that goes in an interesting (to you) direction. Today, I just decided to ride a couple of (Illinois) state highways (31 & 25) from end to end. It was a shortened version of an 8-hour ride I was thinking about a few days ago. Twisty bits in sections, discovered a trolley museum I knew about 20+ years ago and forgot, etc.

    In southern WI, highway 11 goes across the state, with various "straight arrow" sections, multiple urban areas, small towns with history, and some twisty bits out west, leading up the the roads that make up the "Great River Road", going north. There are other roads that do that, too, if you look at maps.

    The major (numbered) highways usually don't have a lot of crap on them. County (lettered) highways... different story.
    Jeff

    "The future is so much easier to predict when you have a handle on how you arrived at now.... Works with traffic just as well as the rest of life. "

    "Warning! Use of this ingredient in ways not listed on the package is called 'cooking'. Do so at your own risk!"

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  3. #3
    Thank you for the tips. I have never thought of it before but this is consistent with my experience that numbered roads are cleaner than lettered roads around here. Maybe they are cleaned more often although I never seen any of them being cleaned. The road with the 30 mph limit I mentioned in the original post is actually marked as a Rustic Road so I will look for more of these. That road is far up north where I occasionally ride.

    i am just north of Madison. Road 11 looks good on the map but it is a longer ride to get to from where I am. The other good road is 60 which follows Wisconsin river and has nice scenery and some twisties. They both, however, need a few hours of time for my typical ride after work. For short rides after work, I'm limited to county roads since the numbered roads here are generally boring. I typically ride one way conservatively looking out for gravel and open it up more coming back.

  4. #4
    RiderCoach 8000 Posts! WoodstockJeff's Avatar
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    County roads are maintained with county funds, and state (numbered) highways in Wisconsin have enjoyed (until the last couple of years) a near-unlimited amount of money tossed at them. Generally speaking, they're built to higher standards, so they don't break up as bad as the county roads, and the counties aren't adverse to using "chipseal" as a way to refurbish pavement. Chipseal is bad news for motorcycles for a lot of reasons, at least until it's "set" and the excess swept up. And that can take weeks or months, depending on traffic.

    Tar snakes are usually not as bad as we riders make them out to be. Yes, they're slippery and squirmy, but they (usually) are limited in width. Although, before Walworth county chipsealed Cty B a few years ago, they had a few 12"+ width tar patches in a big reverse curve near me. I hit it at 50, leaned over. It is not a pleasant feeling for the front end to move that far off-line suddenly, but I didn't crash because of it.

    There is a secret to learning how to deal with these sort of things.... The most succinct way of putting it I ever heard (and now use), is "Sneak up on stupid!" Gradually expand your "comfort zone" by adding a new challenge periodically. Rough pavement scares a lot of riders... but motorcycles CAN handle it. I have no issue with gravel roads, because I attacked them in stages, and periodically refresh the experience. Still haven't come to terms with sand and gravel on asphalt, though...

    Important to all of this is giving your self time to come up with a plan of attack for what is in front of you, so keeping your mind and eyes well ahead of the motorcycle will help, even with the nasty stuff that sometimes appears on the pavement.

    A properly-handled turn is a wonderful experience. A not-so-perfect one is a learning experience. The important part is to evaluate what happened, and how you can improve upon it. This is why the newest versions of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's courses put such an emphasis on self-assessment and using a strategy to stay ahead of the motorcycle.
    Jeff

    "The future is so much easier to predict when you have a handle on how you arrived at now.... Works with traffic just as well as the rest of life. "

    "Warning! Use of this ingredient in ways not listed on the package is called 'cooking'. Do so at your own risk!"

    '13 XT250
    '10 ZG-1400 (operational again)

  5. #5
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! NORTY's Avatar
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    Might want to "back off" your pace if you find obstacles and don't have time to correct for them. That, or "pre run" those roads, then go back and pick up the pace. But, things can still change in an instant. Deer have a way of making things change in an instant. At least that's what other Wisconsinites tell us.
    Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

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    Flirting With The Redline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerosum View Post
    I look ahead estimating the curvature, slow down in corners and watch for gravel. I also practice counter steering and being mindful of it at all times when I ride.
    I'm not sure if this is exactly what you meant or not but...don't slow down in the corners. Slow down before the corners. Accelerate through the corner, even if it's moderately. Load that suspension and the bike will be stickier

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Hanna View Post
    I'm not sure if this is exactly what you meant or not but...don't slow down in the corners. Slow down before the corners. Accelerate through the corner, even if it's moderately. Load that suspension and the bike will be stickier
    Sorry, I was unclear. When I am approach the corner and look at the curvature, gravel or other problems and squeeze the brakes before leaning the bike if I see a problem. The MSF class instructed to streighten the bike when breaking so I figure it is better to break before leaning. This approach relies on good visibility so it is probably best to avoid fast corners while riding in the dark.

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    Flirting With The Redline 6000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
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    The road between Tamworth and Arden been driving and riding it since it was just 2 dirt wheel tracks and I know every pot hole and loose gravel spot on it. don't even try to keep up.

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    Flirting With The Redline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerosum View Post
    Sorry, I was unclear. When I am approach the corner and look at the curvature, gravel or other problems and squeeze the brakes before leaning the bike if I see a problem.........I figure it is better to break before leaning
    Yes of course. But the theory applies far further than just eyeing a problem in a curve. The general idea applies no matter. Get your braking done (brakes or engine braking) and gear selection before entering a corner. This technique assumes you're straight up. Rolling on the throttle, even if it's oh so gently, "in" a corner settles the bike and loads the suspension. Most schools teach rolling on the throttle "as soon as possible and safe" in a corner and keep a steady "roll on" right through the apex.

    This takes practice of course but understanding the fundamentals of lean, throttle and suspension will help you not only ride smoother but ride safer as well. It'll also help you manage unexpected obstacles like gravel etc should you come across it unexpectedly in a corner. It may well be a little early to start implementing it totally into your tool kit but at least a general understanding is a good start.

    I get some grief around here for suggesting it but I still like the ideas proffered in the Keith Code videos. Both his videos and his track schools have helped me enormously over the years. Should be able to find his video's fairly cheap these days.

  10. #10
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! NORTY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zerosum View Post
    so it is probably best to avoid fast corners while riding in the dark.
    I think this would be prudent. It's very hard to "look thru a turn" into the darkness when your headlamps illuminate what's straight ahead.
    Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens.

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