Blindspots

Sunday was one of those days when lots of little things added up to a less than stellar ride. I had hoped that the ride would be the culmination of a great weekend worth of riding. But unfortunately it wasn’t. The bad vibe started right away just a few minutes after I got up to speed on to the PCH. A gray Acura decided to do the LA lane swapping dance right ahead of me. Swinging from one lane to the next and finally coming back into my lane right as I was accelerating. In fractions of a second the Acura nearly ran me off the road and while I’ve gotten to the point where most moments of concern on a motorcyle don’t get my heat rate too elevated – this certainly did. It was one of those moments when you realize that most folks in cars (or cages) don’t take note of where a motorcycle is when they’re around. The fellow driving had absolutely no clue where I was or that I was even there in the first place. Luckily the 9 has a tremendous amount of stopping power and fortunately I’ve religiously gotten into the habit of covering the front brake while I’m riding.

The next minor moment was when I realized that the battery in the lipstick camera was dead. I thought I had checked it before I left for the ride, but apparently it had escaped my mind. Thus no wonderful riding footage today even though I hauled the camcorder and the lipstick unit up the coast.

Finally the weather was just spotty at best. The cloud cover was so scattered that I kept popping in and out of sunny spots and into dark gray matter. The weather was decent, but just cool enough to make moving around in the saddle cumbersome rather than smooth.

Being smooth interestingly enough has been a topic that’s been riding surprisingly high on my mental list lately. Having now shot several hours worth of riding footage (and having uploaded only a fraction) I’ve been some what shocked by my reactions to watching it after I wrap up a ride. My inital reaction has been that it’s simply amazing to see and hear how much power the 9 truly has – but the downside, which to be fair I guess I always knew, is that because the bike has such a vast amount of power that’s on hand it seems I tend to shift less often than I would have thought. It’s very apparent that the bike is geared very tall – you can hear it and you almost feel it. Watching the video it seems that I spend most of my time in first or second gear. Popping into third when I’m in an open area and getting on the gas. It’s occured to me that the downside to all this mayhem on demand is that if I were to ride a 600cc high revving sportbike I imagine I’d have to learn how to ride all over in many respects. The upshot however is that having now watched and listened to several of the rides, I get the sense that the 9 does a tremendous job teaching you how to be smooth. You have to be. Otherwise it’s a rocky ride. The bike forces you to become smoother and more adept in two directions. Both in terms of delivering the power to the ground and also stopping the bike. Ultimately I think the bike has made me a much better rider.

3 thoughts

  1. It feels very wierd that you’re writing about people not watching their blindspots now. Yesterday, I was on a nice ride through Central Austin, and a car tried to change lanes on top of me sending me to a very unpleasant meeting with the road surface. Fortunately, I was geared up, and was treated and released with minor injuries. Take care, and watch out.

  2. Hi, my name’s KC. I’m 17 and considering getting a “cruiser” motorcycle for around-town use. I’ve been doing some research on motorcycle riding and there seems to be an equal amount of pros and cons. As an experienced motorcycle rider, would you say the risks outweigh the benefits? Or should I stay with my car? Any advice you have a for a new rider would be greatly appreciated and beneficial.

    But in response to your article, it sounds like you had a fairly good time on your trip. It’s good to hear you made it back safely, and without any injuries.

  3. Hey KC – you’re quite right that motorcycles offer both risks and benefits compared to cars. I would suggest you should check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, they run ‘intro classes’ for motorcycles across the country and they provide the bikes, so it’s a great place to learn how to ride safely, which lowers the risks associated with motorcycles, plus it’s an inexpensive way to see if riding a bike is for you or not.
    Dylan

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