Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taming the Twisties

Since my grandson’s arrival into the world is now five days overdue, I have had time to reflect on our Catskills adventure last weekend. There has been a considerable amount of chatter on the forum. Folks had a great time and are sharing small tid-bits about their adventures.

Before I go forward and tell you about our route home, I need to back up a bit and mention an observation my friend Dave gave me on our ride back from Americade the weekend before.
“Pat, you have to stop breaking in the turns like that. I nearly rode up your fender back there.”

I’ve heard this before of course when I rode Jade. While I loved my 650, she did have her limitations. One flaw was that her suspension was not ideal. Second, I could never find the right gear to be in when following Andy’s 1500 Vulcan. I was never in synch. With Dave’s comment I thought I might be treating Blaze yet again with my Jade mind. So I spoke with Andy and Lee about the twisties and how to manage them better. Then I spent the week practicing alone on my commutes to see where the flaws were talking place.

Fast forward to the Catskill’s Weekend. Andy and I decided to follow EasyEd home along a route he had planned out. I downloaded the route into my GPS and showed up at the departure time. Highlights included the Helderberg Pike (Route 443) in NY, the Toborton loop (NY), the Taconic Pass (NY), and the Mohawk Trail with a break for lunch at the Freightyard Pub in North Adams Massachusetts. With all the socializing between rides I never fully examined the route. The snapshot below should give you an idea of what I encountered. If you look closely, you can see the squiggly route. Can you say “twisties!”

From Catskills with NER

I was the fourth bike in the group, which is to say, not at the back where I can adjust my pace at will. When I encountered the first set of twisties I gave Blaze a pat on the tank and said, “Ok girl, here we go,” and gave her free reign. To my amazement, she obeyed each command as I looked through the turns, pushed on the grips and discovered that her suspension handled bad sections of road with much less tooth jarring than Jade. Her wider tires helped keep me from being pulled into cracks in the road surface as well. With the extra power the 1300cc provides, I was not constantly kicking from gear to gear to stay with the crowd. Hey, this was actually fun! At the lunch break, I asked Andy how I was doing. “Fine!” he said. But is was the more elaborate (and unsolicited) feedback I got from NomadBob that let me know for certain, that I am finally on my way to taming the twisties.

“Hi Pat!! :- ) Hey, I rarely ever get a chance to talk to you face to face, but I want you to know I think you're a good rider. Following you and Andy back from NY last weekend, you did a "mahvelous" job going through the twisties and corners all the way back to MA. :- )"
"You've taken well to riding and it would seem you and Blaze have been partnered up for a loooong time. When you were winging through the corners on rte. 2 after lunch, you were dead on in your groove (where you like to ride) in the road. I always look for things like that when I ride with people. Some stay right in their zone, and others are all over the lane. Swerving for road hazards doesn't count. I'd much rather see some one swerve around a bad bump in the road than hit it and kill a tire or rim."

Thanks NomadBob, you made one girl proud, and shows that practice and determination can work wonders. Not to mention keeping me out of the gutter.


mq01 said...

great post. i am in the same place and so i take this as a special reminder. you see, i just converted my bike to forward controls and removed the floorboards with heel/toe shift. the lean and handling are completely different with new riding position. and i am doing much better and adjusting, but have been practicing greatly because i know my riding has been affected. thanks pat, those were words of wisdom.

Baron's Life said...

Totally different riding style and skills....
great write up girl...
BTW...You're uch too young to be a Grand-ma...Congrats.