diary of a rider: Epilogue
July 22, 2008 | 400+ miles
So, on weekends, John gets off at 8pm. This weekend, we loaded my (new!) bike up on the trailer before he left for work, and I drove up to my sil’s while he was at work. She and my brother watched our son for the evening so that John and I could go for a ride.
It was cool, but also little bit mildly bone-numbingly terrifying. It's the first time I’ve ridden at night, mind you. We spent a bit hanging out with my sil and brother, just talking and smoking before we finally took off. Then we weren’t sure exactly which route we’d take, so we kind of rode around for a little before finally settling on Old ’99. Which meant we were heading out in the dusk, arriving home in full dark. First time I’ve ridden in the dark.
The really sucky part is that my clutch was all funny, and my bike kept killing at stops. Of course, I blamed myself and didn’t look at my bike any closer – hey, brand new bike. Why would it have anything wrong with it? I’m the newbie rider.
I’ve really got to learn to trust myself.
Anyways, today John and I went for another ride, through town, down Old ’99 to Yelm, then up through Roy and Spanaway to stop in Tacoma at Eagle Leather. Tenino, by the way, is a freaking insane town full of insane people of the insanity. This blue truck barely missed pulling into me by the train tracks; I swerved around his front end. Maybe (maybe!) two minutes after that, some crazy woman started to walk across the road – between John and I! Who crosses the road between motorcycles? Who does that?
And once again, my clutch wasn’t quite right and I kept accidentally killing it at stops. John didn’t notice so much today, because instead of getting flustered and rattled, I’d just shake my head, swear, press the start button, and go.
We stopped at a Safeway in Yelm for drinks and a smoke, and John asked how I was doing. I mentioned that I was having issues with getting used to the clutch, and he looked at it and tries it a little, then says, “There’s too much play in this clutch – it’s too loose!”
He adjusted it, and we got going. It was as easy as that – my problems with the clutch stopped. Then I felt kind of dumb, because I didn’t trust myself. I mean, after the initial learning period with the Ninja, I had no issues with that clutch. I didn’t have any issues with the MSF bike clutches. Why would I suddenly have issues with a clutch, unless it wasn’t adjusted properly?
We made it to Eagle Leather just fine. No problems with all the stops and starts through Spanaway. After a mind-numbingly frustrating and fruitless amount of time at Eagle Leather, we got on the freeway and slabbed it to Oly. It was on our way to Oly that I was cut off by a red minivan. I was hanging back a little from John, although I was going the speed limit. I’m used to the mindset I have in a car, which is “don’t tailgate”. John told me later that on a motorcycle, when riding with someone, stick close to them on the freeway.
Anyway, there was a space – not big enough for a car, but big enough that I was probably in the car’s blind spot, come to think of it. And she probably looked in her mirrors, but didn’t do a shoulder check. I saw her turn signal flip on and saw her start to make the lane change while I was still in that portion of the lane, so I slowed down to let her in before I became part of the minivan. Then she sort of continued to drift across several lanes of traffic, all the way to the far left, cutting off several cars as she did.
John was seriously p.o.’d that she cut me off, and gets up next to her, revving his (not inconsiderable) engine. She did not even notice. This woman was completely and utterly oblivious to the world around her. I looked over; she was talking on a Bluetooth headset of some sort, and was gesticulating with her hands, obviously involved with the conversation. Her eyes were straight ahead, fixated on the road, and she was not paying attention to anything except what was immediately in front of her. It was actually kind of scary.
We got off at the next exit and met up with some friends to hang out for a bit before heading out for our next Great Adventure with the Freeway.
Oh My Freaking Betsies. That is some scary stuff. I mean, boring as all get out (long, straight, and uninteresting as far as scenery goes), but it’s windy. I mean, a semi would whoooosh by, winds buffeting me at what felt like a thousand miles per hour, and my center of gravity felt all funky and off. I felt like I was drifting out of my line of travel, and the lane didn’t feel . . . right. It was just . . . I didn’t like it. Then, about 9 miles from home, John waves me into lead. I’m thinking “WTF, you’ve got to be kidding me!”
Obediently, I got into lead position, however. I didn’t even bother actually trying to lead; we were on our way home, we both knew the way and both knew where we were heading. I just concentrated on staying in a visible lane position and all that kind of stuff. I think I did all right.
Actually, I think I did more than all right. I kicked butt throughout the day. I took corners at or above speed, I did well with stops and starts, and the only issues I had were with clutch control (before it was adjusted) and when I tended to overthink a situation as I approached it. Simply reacting to or acting on muscle memory, I do fine – but when I see, say, a stop sign twenty or thirty feet ahead, I tend to think, “Oh! A stop sign! I should start downshifting!”
I was glad John had me take lead on the freeway during that last bit in one respect, though. That white minivan that was riding my a$$ like I was a playbunny at a Hugh Hefner party was no longer my problem. What I didn't realized was that John noticed them, too.
About that. Aha ha ha. Um. Don’t make my husband angry.
All in all, a good day. :-)
March 24, 2012 | Coda to an epilogue
I've been riding for almost 5 years now. I've put more miles on my motorcycle than I know off the top of my head. I'm no longer afraid of riding in the rain or as terrified of corners. In 2010, John and I rode out to Idaho and back, a 1,278 mile trip. Our son, who had been staying with his grandparents, rode passenger with his dad for the last leg of the trip (500 miles). He now has his own gear and often rides passenger with one or the other of us. I love riding! This is one of the best decisions I've ever made.