Becoming More Comfortable

It is the end of four weeks since I started this adventure. Time for another update. Ironically this coincides with a National emergency where most are being ordered to stay at home or practice social distancing if you must go out. This week was rough. Not because it was “work at home”, but because the opportunities to ride were also limited.

We (me and my coworkers) were told on the Friday before that Monday would be a normal workday. Great! Preparing to work from home if required meant CDs full of death by PowerPoint and other digital media. We were even given a schedule of who would be at the site and who would work from home as a means to reduce the number of people at the site in general. Oh, how fun is this going to be? I knew, according to the schedule, I would be working from home Tuesday and Wednesday to be ready to work at the site Thursday and Friday. Sounds like a plan. Until Murphy shows up.

Tuesday, part of my tasking was to create an instructional outline to implement on Thursday. Easy, until Murphy reared his head to “inform” me that of all the people I had created a disk to use at home, I didn’t get one for myself. Oh well. I have often heard that out of adversity comes opportunity. Chances to ride are normally what you make of them. Here was a great opportunity! I get to go to the site to get a reference disk! And it’s exactly what I needed, WIND!

Regardless of the reason you get to ride, just enjoy it. That one thing I recently heard from a friend, which confirmed what another had said: Riding became “not fun” and he decided to “give it up”. I appreciate his counsel and the fact that he did not turn “anti-bike” means his advice remains valid. Thanks Jim. Enough of this. We’re supposed to be talking about riding.

As I said, opportunities to ride are what you make of them. A ride to the work site, a ride to Jesup after the normal workday hours, and then a Saturday ride. The first one was really out of necessity for work, but I still enjoyed it! I made a trip to Jesup Thursday evening just to take a couple of pictures. Trust me, it was worth it. Saturday was a trip to nowhere in particular, but just as enjoyable and even proved a bit educational.

I always wondered why I saw motorcycles more in the morning than later in the afternoon. During my ride along, I was told about dressing for the environment. “Dress in layers” is what another Jim had said (yes, I know a lot of Jim’s). He would wear a leather jacket and vest early then stow the jacket after the first stop to adjust for comfort. Think about it, a motorcycle does not have air conditioning, so you have to dress for the temperature and be ready to adjust for it. That’s what I learned somewhat uncomfortably Saturday. I realized I have an extremely limited riding wardrobe. I have a great heavy leather Jacket, but that will be too heavy when the weather gets warmer, so I need to see about a lighter jacket and vest combo like my Ride Captain of two weeks ago. Anyway, Saturday’s ride….

The first thing I had to do was top off. As described last week about planning, this week I really didn’t have one when I started out; I only knew I was going to visit a friend in Jesup before returning home. I took the roads I knew, and rode with intent of improving the basic skills. What did I discover? The instructors were right. Trust the lean, balance and counter-balance, and feathering the clutch are all true. One thing that I’ve discovered for myself, is throttle control.

On the training bike, the throttle was roughly 90 degrees to the forearms. On mine, I find there is about a 20-30 degree cant in that my hand tends to twist rather than roll on the throttle. I also noticed that increasing the speed means my index finger rolls the throttle more than the palm. It actually feels better than what I remember with the training bike. I’m also finding that I think less about the controls. When I first started, I had to think about what I was doing: clutch, gear shift, feather, throttle, go, foot and hand brake, etc. One thing that has stuck with me more than anything else is to stay out of my own head. Think about what you want to do, where you want to go, and the bike will follow.

I know I keep talking about “look and the bike will follow”, but the more I ride and stay out of my head, the more I realize I’m beginning to feel more comfortable on the bike. Another thing is to be safe and ride smart.

Jeff Allmond

28 March 2020

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