Friday, March 16, 2007

Spirited not Dangerous

When I was young I sometimes rode dangerously. Well by my standards today I would think so. Back then it was nothing to rely on quick reflexes and utterly trust my motorcycle to come through in the clinch. I would skip the tires, pour the bike into turns and throttle out with the dual forty millimeter Mikunis sucking in as much air and fuel as they possibly could. I hung her low and I was proud of it.

Over some years I mellowed but on occasion the young me, the former Rb would need to take the controls and set the tone. I've always been reading and listening to what skilled riders taught and I employed more and more of it. One day it felt like I was trying to duplicate the edge of my seat feeling I used to get, but it wasn't there. I realized I'd crossed some invisible line where I employed skill instead of hope and a little prayer. I was doing the same things I had in the past but the fear was gone. I also felt smoother through that turn. Confidence and more knowledge caught up with sheer youthful bravado. I'd made it this far with a bit of grace and luck. My style changed and improved over these many years and instead of the gritted teeth and bare knuckles, I was reading the information the bike and road were feeding me.

This was new...?

I began paying attention to the feeling I was looking for. The sensation of the right lean angle combined with the right entrance speed. Ahhhh that's the thing I was looking for!

When you do it right you get that same rush without the adolescent's anxious impatience. Sound familiar? A boy.. a girl... a passionate embrace leads to... (ahem) where were we? Oh yes. Attention to detail and practice brings about skill. Skill leads to being able to draw out the moment with (hey, you... stop thinking about the two young lovers. It was just an illustration) better self control.

I learned to slow a little more and build up more gradually in the turns. As my confidence increased I realized I could pitch the bike per speed and ride through the way I wanted. Not that all out crap, but really soak up the moment in a broad sweeping bend. Make it last.

Kids swill beer and coffee. Adults know what it tastes like.

I used to pour it on in the straights too. Looking for a natural high. But there's something about going the speed limit. You know, it really is about the right speed for this road.(ohmygoddidIjustwritethat?) Well, I suppose my attitude is improving and that's a good thing.


I bet in some ways I ride as hard as I ever did but those times are farther in between now. There's more skill in the saddle and its employed being smooth rather than trying to be blitzkrieg fast. Scooters are nimble little machines but they're not "fast". You can swing them into decent lean angles without much effort and throw them around a little bit. Its that near effortless compliance which allows me to enjoy them so much. Like the little bikes I grew up around. As happy with the ride now as I was then.

The Roadbum


Combatscoot said...

That feeling of getting a corner RIGHT, that's a hard goal, and very fulfilling to make.

American Scooterist Blog said...

Riding for control with all the sand that's been laid down over the season has put me behind the ball again as it does every winter. I really need to relearn how to go through those turns the way I'm supposed to.


Bryce said...

If you're ever down this way and have a bike, I'll take you along a road where there is no way to ride but in a spirited manner.

American Scooterist Blog said...

One day, Bryce, one day ;)


Biker Betty said...

I'm still learning the zen of the curve. There are times when I feel I've finally got it, but then there's other times when I must take it a little slower and try to figure out why it doesn't feel right. The zen is missing. That is frustrating. Great write up.


American Scooterist Blog said...

Every season I have to relearn the zen of the curve.