Watching the traffic

Something you can’t help but pay attention to while riding is other drivers. For obvious reasons, a rider’s life is much more dependent upon being aware of what the cars (and other vehicles) around you are doing.

So after a few years in traffic you get to pick up signs of what people are planning to do, often even before they even realise it themselves. The guy glancing to his right – there’s a strong chance he’s going to be changing lanes. The car slow or moving about in their lane – probably on their phone, all these signs are there and sometimes you don’t even realise you’re seeing them. But you’re slowing or checking your escape options.

So when the the guy in the ute next to me is driving along with his hand on his indicator I was pretty certain he was just waiting for a chance to change into my lane. I had only a car length a bit in front of me, so when the ute moved forward a bit and indicated right (into my lane) I was not surprised or very happy. I held my ground as there was plenty of room behind and there was no reason for him to cut in so tightly.

And I’m well glad I did, the ute dropped back and changed behind me. Immediately he then changed further right, slowing for a turn lane.

So if I had let him in, he would have immediately slowed with me less than a car length behind him, and changed lanes again. A good chance that I might have crashed into him.

Post Track Day

It didn’t go how I expected at all. There weather was warm but fine, if a little windy. I didn’t crash and that was an excellent result. I also made it up to 195kmh and I am confident that the bike could go a lot faster, I wasn’t very good at fully opening the throttle as quick as I could. 

But I hated it. 

I was terrified the whole time. Not so much about the possibility of crashing or even of getting hurt so much. 

I think I was terrified that my bike would be damaged. 

I felt a lot of pressure from the other riders and I know that was only perceived pressure, not actual pressure and that didn’t help. 

I kind of feel that it was a combination of all of the things I don’t like about group rides and the only positive was the lack of things to run into. 

There were a couple of small niggles about my bike that could have been hurting my confidence, but if it had been a ride out the Putty or something they wouldn’t have bothered me so I don’t think they were a big factor, certainly apart from a single moment in one turn the bike was flawless. 

But coming down the main straight at 190kmh looking at the turn that others were taking at probably 180kmh I was terrified, slowing ages before the turn to I guess something like 100kmh. 

It’s even got me to the point that I am considering changing bikes – getting a VFR or something rather than having a supersport. I do miss the VFR terribly (yes silly I know, it’s just a bike). 

Do I try a track day again? I’m not sure. If I did I would want to fix those couple of things and they’re easy fixes. 

See how we go. 

Track Day

First track day is in about 3 hours. Can’t find the meme I was looking for… but here’s some others that I liked on the subject.┬áSo, apparently it’s like this (I’m mostly nerves actually).

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And with the forecast today I’m all a bit

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They have a top of 33C and possible showers later. I’m hoping much later….

I am hopeful I’ll get to the end and

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(Cube!!) But ever fearful that I might do this.

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Which has been a huge part of why I haven’t done one yet.

 

Commuting we will go…

It’s dark.

It’s cold.

It’s been wet sometimes too.

Commuting has been fun the last few weeks.

Winter eh!

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We’ve had a few storms. So it’s pretty sometimes too.

But cycling to work suddenly became a challenge when it dropped to 2C. I bought a pile of warm clothes to ride in. After not riding the next week waiting for it, I headed out last Monday.

So of course it was 13C. Too warm to really test it.

Tomorrow it’s 1C again. So see how I go.

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Old Pac

It’s a day off for me, exams. After they were done though, I was torn (well not really) – go and see Captain America, go for a ride on the bicycle, perhaps even a MTB ride, or take the Daytona out.

But where? Ten Mile Putty is too far, be at least 4-6 hours and I did have be home with dinner ready. Colo was an idea but I didn’t really feel like the hour plus to get there. Google tells me that Mt White on the Old Pacific Hwy is only 1 hour away. That was a real surprise as I always thought it was ages and ages away. 

Well it’s not. 

And I always thought it sucked as I remembered 60kmh limits and loads of traffic.

Well the part around Pie in the Sky is actually 80.

And it was Tuesday, I guessed traffic would be light.

And it was, lol.

So I rode up Old Pac, completely changed my opinion of at least the 80 part. And it really did only take an hour. I left home about 10am and after riding to Mt White, and back to Pie, having a Pie and then doing a lap in the 80 zone before heading home, I still made it home before 1pm.

I wasn’t impressed though with the guy who passed outside of me in my lane around a tight bend. If I had f’ked it up we would have both gone down. Much rather he was like his mate and just blitzed past me on a short straight on the wrong side of a solid line. 

I’m still slower than everyone.

Loan Bikes – always an experience

My Daytona had a service yesterday. As always I asked for their loan bike to get to work and back. 

Getting a loan bike from a shop is always an interesting experience. First there is the initial curiosity of what exactly it is going to be. You know it’s going to be something small, they have to cater for learners after all. 

Then you wonder what state it is in. Sure it will work and have a tank of fuel, but it’s unlikely to be in perfect shape.

So I rolled out of the shop on a mighty Ninja 300 (don’t get me going, again, on Kawasaki’s naming conventions!). First impressions are sluggish (but that’s not really fair stepping off the Daytona) and small. The distance from the seat to the ground was noticeably less than the Daytona. Strangely this made it kind of awkward later when I was filtering. 

Actually, it was a pretty good little bike, and the other dramas on the day were more related to other road users. Oh and getting halfway to work and remembering that I couldn’t use the toll road on this borrowed bike and had to detour on to the slow road. However, getting back on the Daytona afterwards was like coming home again­čÖé

But I’ve had some other interesting bikes over the years. Usually a very sad looking CB250 from one shop. It seemed like every time I used it something else was wrong with it. On one occasion, it was missing the side stand. This would be fine as there was also a centre stand, but some previous rider had actually managed to bend this out of shape. Made it very awkward.

It was close to my favourite loaner though and fanging it along up to 110kmh on the freeway I did always keep waiting for it die, but it never did.

One time the same shop gave me a slightly less battered GS500. This was horrible and I asked that they never let me have that one again. I would rather hoon about on their CB250

A previous shop gave me a Honda 650 Duelsville (I think that’s it’s name) I renamed it the Dullsville. Bland and boring. Great commuter (and I later met a guy who had one for just that). I think the more recent NC750 should be much better.

I’ve talked previously about the time the shop gave me a GSX1300R Hayabusa. That was interesting. This shop had earlier given me a GSXR600 when their loaner hadn’t been returned unexpectedly.

To be honest, I’ve almost ridden more different bikes through shop loan bikes than test rides! I think I’ve test ridden the 

  • 2013 Ducati SF848 Streetfighter
  • 2004 Honda CBR600RR
  • 2013 Triumph Street Triple 675R
  • 2013 Suzuki GSX600R
  • 2015 Honda VFR800F

(Can you see where I was shopping and ended up with the Daytona)

What different bikes have you ridden from the shop?

Expecting the worst

My commute home has a long stretch where they are making the two way road into a dual lane divided road (and they’ll probably reduce the speed limit). Most of it is done now, and its pretty sweet, with several lights for me to filter through.

The patch where it’s not complete has become a bottleneck though, and even though I’m heading the opposite way to most commuters, the traffic can back up a bit (though nothing like what the people headed the other way have to deal with).

Last night I was coming up to this part when another rider caught and then passed me. He caught up to the cars ahead and sat quite close behind, much less than my several bike lengths.┬áJust as he did, the cars in front had some random (I couldn’t see why) reason to slow a lot, quite suddenly. But there was a moment that he had to brake hard as well, as I slowed. I had a heart in mouth moment that I was about to see him run into the back of the cars. It was pretty close, with him swerving towards the other lane as well.

The cars slowed like this a couple of times, as the other rider continued to sit off the back of the last car.

Expecting the worst at any moment I was slowly increasing my gap to this lot.

At this point the road became dual lane for a short period. The cars at the back who had also been frustrated at whatever the car in front had been doing, shot out into the new lane and along with the bike were racing for the merge.

Initially I did too.

But very quickly I could see that the bike was going to be stuck in the middle of a bunch of cars trying to merge before they hit some concrete walls and if I continued as I was going I would be in the middle of that too. I back off several car lengths to let them all sort it out.

One car almost merged right on top of the bike, he gave a wave, the usual SMIDSY.

It was extremely close from my POV, and looking at it, that car drove through where I would likely been riding too. Still expecting the worst.

It all cleared up shortly after, but I was astounded that the other rider continued to ride on the rear bumper of the cars, even after two near misses in less than a kilometre.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised…. the Nike shoes he wore looked expensive, but matched nicely with the red Ducati 999s….

We don’t like it when cars tailgate us…. why do some of us do it to them??

Putty Day

Mrs has the day off for a change and wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself. So I went for a ride. I headed up the Putty with another rider who had not been up that way before.

The weather was cloudy, but clearing however the cool night and perhaps some early morning rain had made the road damp around Colo. This was a little concerning, but soon after it was clear that it was just localised and with the cloud expected to clear, it would be dry later.

Grey Gums for breakfast, and a warning from someone southbound about cops further north and we’re back on the road. No real surprise that cops would be about, sunny day, Sunday and no double demerits – I actually expected more bikes around than I saw.

I was keen to get right up to 10-mile Putty so my friend could see the best part. If only it wasn’t nearly 2 hours to get there. We did make it, but I really didn’t have time to cut some laps which was a shame. It was also clear that I’d met yet another rider who was faster than me – I think every rider I’ve ever met rides faster than I do. 

We fuelled at Broke and repeated the trip down the Putty. The cop was again spotted, with a fellow rider pulled over this time.

We had Comms between us the whole time, his Sena linking into one of the phone channels of my ScalaRider. Worked fine, but I was unable to listen to music or I think take other calls (no reception on Putty anyway so who cares). 

I am more encouraged about doing a track day as well, perhaps I’ll work something out to tag along the next time he goes.

The Dusodoro

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A giant farm bike is sometimes how I feel riding this bike. I think that might be because I’ve not ridden any motards and very few naked bikes. 

While in NZ I will be taking every chance to ride this Aprillia Dusodoro 1200. Have done about 150km so far and it’s been good – it’s not the bike I would buy but it’s a good ride. 

The first time I chopped the throttle in first gear I almost bumped the handlebars and then opening the throttle I almost flew off the bike. The big v-twin has plenty of go. Manoeuvrability is excellent with the high position, wide bars (not clip ons) and vision is great too. It’s a big dirt bike seat so likely not so comfy long distance. 

But with a fuel tank of something like 14L it hasn’t got the range to spend too long before a break. And this is probably the main limitation of the bike if you’re going to be roaming about on it. 

  
  
Where any bike is better than no bike this is a pretty good bike to be “stuck” with. Not a bike that would suit me or what I ride (I’d almost need to refuel it every other day on the commute) but an interesting ride.