Archives for category: moto

I’m so fucking pissed off at myself, so I’m leaving this note here because sometimes, “all’s well that ends well” isn’t enough and because I’m still processing what happened. Today, I almost wrecked on my bike (and it would’ve been a bad wreck) because I wasn’t paying enough attention and I was on auto-pilot and I made a stupid assumption that I shouldn’t have. I avoided a bad collision by about two inches by the grace of timing and my immediate responsiveness, but the whole thing was entirely preventable and nobody’s fault except my own.

This is un-fucking-acceptable.

I can deal with other people being sloppy on the road; yeah, it sucks that some people are too self-absorbed to care about whether other people live or die, but I know it’s not personal. The only thing I can control out there is what I do, so I’m never allowed to lazy or complacent, not with the kind of devastating consequences being careless can lead to on a motorcycle. My approach to riding is “ride today so that I can ride tomorrow,” but apparently, I forgot that shit today.

Goddamnit, I’m so angry and so sorry all at once. I need to go practice.

I don’t want my partner to share everything that I do. Even the hobbies I do share, I still need time to work on alone. Things like bouldering or learning to play the uke or guitar — I need to be alone to figure out my body positioning without getting shitty beta [and let’s face it, I stand well below average at 5’1″, so most of the beta out there is shitty (to me)] and to swear at my hand as it still refuses to make a barre chord. (Look, I know I’ve only been playing for three weeks, but conscious incompetence is painful and it feels endless.) There are things that can only be done with persistence and nobody needs to watch me bang my head on the wall as I work through the minutiae.

But riding (dirt, in particular)… Riding is like sport-climbing to me. It’s something I want (and perhaps, need) to do with someone. I want someone there to laugh at me when I get thrown off my bike and to ask if I’m okay before helping me pick Herbie up. I want someone to share in the fixing of flats, to share in the well-earned view at the top. I want someone to have my back out there and I want that someone to give me snuggles after I’ve unintentionally done leg day because I’ll be dropping Big Herbie a lot and this Herbs is kick-start only. (Godspeed, legs.)

It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things — it’s a blessing enough to have a partner who wholly trusts my capability and decision to ride at all — but damn, sometimes, I really miss having a partner who rides.

I bought the OGIO All Elements backpack in May 2016. It’s a simple bag — a waterproof and spacious single compartment with a laptop sheath and a few zippered pockets — and it works great. Until it doesn’t.

In November, the waterproof seal started coming undone, so I had them send me a new bag under the one-year warranty. The customer service was speedy and I had my new bag the next day. Then, in April, the seal on the new bag started coming undone, so I got on the phone again. Even though I love the All Elements bag for its roll-top (=expandable capacity for lots of groceries), I was pretty fed up with needing a new bag every six months. I used it as a commuter bag, so it was carrying my lunch and maybe a binder and an extra pair of yoga pants five days a week with an occasional grocery-store trip. Yes, I used it frequently, but not enough to warrant external damage from the inside.

I asked if they would be willing to send a different bag since the seal was clearly not a one-time issue. They are and they approved a different bag even though it’s at a higher price point. Stay tuned for my adventures with the Mach5!

Summary: It’s great bag until it’s not. Order at your own risk. On the bright side, to make up for a crappily-constructed bag, they have amazing customer service.

Edit 5/16: The Mach5 is too big for me. It’s probably too big for anyone under 5’5″-ish or has a short torso. OGIO continues to have the best customer service, so I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again should the right item appear. The perfect backpack hunt continues!

Motorcycling is like any other thing that is perceived to be cool: There are times when it is desperately uncool.

I wear gear year round because I’m terrified of road rash, so there’s a lot of sweating happening under the cool leather facade once the summer temperatures kick in. My gear is a size too big and quite functional (read: padded) so I waddle a bit in my full suit. Trust me when I say that these are not the skin-tight sexy pants you see on models — I am not going to turn anyone on bending over in these leather pants and bulky motorcycle boots. 

Today, a guy stopped me in the parking lot and asked for a hand in push-starting his bike. As a helper, that means sprinting while literally pushing the guy’s bike from behind, trying to get him up to speed, 10-15mph, so that he can kick it into first gear. We got it after the third attempt (turns out, not only is his starter on the fritz, so is his battery), but after three awkward 50 meter dashes in my gear over my normal clothes, my sweat glands were fully engaged and I could feel it: crotch sweat.

Alas, crotch sweat is a part of motorcycling life, as is freezing your ass off some days and having an aching back and neck after a long freeway ride. It’s one of the minor annoyances that weeds out the casual riders because ugh, motorcycling is such a hassle. It’s what makes that breeze on your face feel borderline euphoric once you get up to speed because it’s your quiet little secret: There was crotch sweat, and it is worth this.

There are certain perks to syncing your work email on your phone: a car guy moving overseas having a fire sale so good that you embarrassingly reply-all to the entire list in your hurry to call dibs. (Shame, shame.) But guess who has two thumbs and can work on her own bikes again and finally fix that towel rack that’s been broken for ages? (Not pictured: Power drill, torque wrench, metric wrench set.)

And the guy was kind enough to include this gem for my tiny hands.

I braced myself for a crash today. I hit a rough patch of road at 60mph and I experienced severe front tyre wobble at speed for the first time in my ten years of riding. The wobble lasted for what felt like an eternity — there was enough time for all the scenarios to run through my head — can I save this? Am I going to crash today? Where will I crash? Can I bail? Can I tuck and roll? Is there someone behind me?

There’s no real textbook answer on how to save a tank slapper (there is, however, a ton of debate, I’ve found) and I can’t say for sure what I did to ride through it except what my body already knew: easy on the grips, ease up on the throttle, off the front brake, grip with the legs, no sudden movements. Oh, and luck. I believe in luck.

All’s well that ends well for this morning.

(I think I need to go change my undies.)

The damage: Headlight bracket chipped from contact with the radiator bracket. 

It’s nearly March and I’m antsy, antsy, antsy. Big Herbie isn’t ready for the season and we’re already having some beautiful spring days out here in between the showers.

A lot of people start on dirt as kids or teens and find their way onto the street. I spent almost a decade riding street only, afraid of dirt and its rough-and-tumble-and-snapped-collar-bones reputation, but last year, I finally found my way onto dirt for the first time on a little XR100 and it blew my mind.

Everything was brand new to me. Let the bike fishtail under you. When in doubt, more throttle. Don’t touch the front brake. Let the handlebars wobble. Lean away from the turn. Sand? More throttle. Small rocks? More throttle. Medium rocks? More throttle. Big rocks? Okay, put a foot down, knock it down into first, and take it one boulder at a time (for now).

But the one lesson that street riding taught me still applies here: tenacity. Get up. Pick it up. Keep going. No one else is going to ride your bike home for you, so you better get back on and make it back to the trail head. I love hiking with the Doofus, but there is nothing else in this world like brapping up a hill to the crest, cutting the engine, and feeling the breeze whip around me as I revel in the silence.

Time to call my mechanic!