Friday, August 27, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

ART Class

A group of us from Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon went to ART this week. Advanced rider training that is. It was a fun, overwhelming, exhausting, informative day. Brad, Rick, Eric, and I rode up together, while Stacy and Stacey joined us at the track.

We started in the class room going over the day's objectives, reviewing techniques, and discussing all things related to riding safely on the road. Irondad was our instructor for the classroom portion of the day. He kept the discussion lively with  class participation. After class we had a lunch break. Those who stayed at the track for lunch were treated to the instructors having fun out on the track.
Boys and toys
Towards the end of lunch students began moving their bikes to the staging area. Gulp! I don't want to go out there. I'm really starting to believe this is a big mistake. I start Sam and we ride into staging. This is really a big mistake!! I don't calm down until we move out onto the track. Not that I get much calmer, but I'm distracted with the tasks at hand, moving at a pace I rarely set for myself. There isn't much time left for nerves. We worked on braking, swerving, stopping in corners, cornering and linking corners, and probably a few things I've already forgotten in all the happenings for the day.
Sam Glam shot. Check out the hottie in front of her.
I learned that the bike can lean over much farther than I thought and still stick to the road. I mean, I knew that the bike can lean, but now I've  experienced it. It's an important distinction for me. Pegs remain unscathed (this is not a complaint). Now I just have to believe that the tires are as sticky out on the road as they are on the track. This wasn't an "Ah ha" moment accompanied by fireworks, but a progressive running through the corners, leaning a little more as I go around. Throw in a few too hot ones...(must press more)...damn the bike didn't even flinch. Later in the day one instructor said my lines weren't bad...Really? Really?? This after going for a ride with one of the instructors, and then following the instructor around the track for a lap or two. I'll have to take his word on it, they didn't feel that good to me.

My only complaint is I never did catch on to some of the tighter turns. Thinking about it later I realize it's tight right turns that challenged me the most. I think I took them six ways from Sunday, and never the same way twice. By the end of the day I'm obsessed with them. I struggled with linking turns as well, but I think I caught on enough to continue practicing on the road.
Photo blatantly stolen from Musings of an Intrepid Commuter, who probably stole it from God knows where...cuz I don't believe that tree story for a minute, and photoshopped with cheesy graphics, also stolen from someone online, not associated with this bunch of right-click happy, copyright flouting,  thieves. :D
As much as I distrusted the differing textures on the track, I liked learning that the bike didn't mind them at all. She sticks to any of the surfaces and seams she rides over. This was also nice to experience on a track as I've been suspicious of surface changes, too much so at times.

A couple of times I caught myself using the rear brake in a my mind not as a brake, but as some kind of control/modulator? I don't know how to explain it exactly, and I don't know when or why I started doing this. I don't do it often, but It's a weird thing I picked up somewhere along the way. Dumb question probably, but is that what trail braking is, sort of?

Quick Stops...
I loved having a chance to practice quick stops. I've been afraid to try it out on the road all alone. On my last try at the quick stop I had some rear wheel chatter. I guess that's what it was. First off, I didn't know I could get feedback like that  from the tires. I just figured the tires stick until they don't, then you slide. My best guess is maybe I need to lighten up on the rear brake a bit more at the end of the stop. I'm jazzed that I even used the rear brake. For most panic stops in real world riding, I'm not sure I use the rear brake. 

Swerving was fun. The only cone I killed was during the swerve and it was at the starting line, not the swerve gates. I swung wide on the turn (big surprise) and nailed the little varmint. I was sure I'd mix up the signals during swerving/braking. I'm not good with signals. It's like with old sayings...I always get them wrong,  mix them up. I watched all the signals to riders in front of me, brake-swerve, swerve-brake. I thought I'd mess up  and take someone out, but I didn't.

Quick stop in a corner...
I almost dropped Sam on the first quick stop in a corner. (bars not squared.) She got a little sideways, but we stayed upright. Somehow I think a motorcycle clunking down on the track would reverberate across the county followed by deathly stillness. (someone dropped another one, Martha...) I didn't want to go there.

Sam never missed a beat. Whatever I asked of her she paid back in spades. That I come nowhere near the bikes capabilities helps. I always have plenty in reserve. (Would that it worked that way with my bank account). Come to think of it, she never missed a beat even when I blew it. I'd press in more and she just hunkered down and went for it. Good little bike!
Maybe it's a good sign...
The corners on the road home were easy (excepting one right hander). I hope that's a good sign. The were a piece of cake after the track. Almost...sedate.

Dan, I'd probably never tell you in real life, so if you read this, you and your fellow instructors did an awesome job instructing and coaching the class. I'm again impressed with the caliber of Team Oregon classes. There is a nice consistency of teaching coming from a variety of instructors, and the quality of instruction is top notch and well presented. That's true of my earlier classes and this one. More fun here though, without the threat of "a test" hanging over our heads, and once I could relax just a little. You've mentioned ego a few times. I saw no egos from anyone, but rather a passion to share experience, training and knowledge. I don't know if it's simply a heart for teaching, or a passion for the subject. Most likely it's both of these things.  Whatever it is, it shows. A big thanks to you and all the instructors at the track!
K - hallmark moment over...turn off the smarmy muzak, and cue a little ZZ Top!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To the Coast via highway 34

Finally, we rode Highway 34 to Waldport. We knew it would be a good ride from all the ride reports and videos we've seen. Pity it took so long to make this trip.The day started with gear shopping. I finally bit the bullet and ordered a heated jacket and controller. I don't think I'll make it through the winter on the Ninja without some heated gear, and it's time to start thinking about the fall season (and winter to follow).
Highway 34
Alsea Bay Bridge
Afterwords we headed out on highway 34 to an annual family campout/reunion. First is a stop in Waldport to add some layers against the cool air, and just to take a short break before heading towards Newport. Lunch will be at Flashbacks.
We manage to get a snapshot of the drinks, but plunge into lunch before getting the pics of lunch, so half of lunch it is.
Lunch at Flashbacks
Next stop is South Beach to visit with family. Ron gets talked in to giving a couple of rides. Cousin Brenda goes for a quick ride down to Ona Beach and back. She is too cute in the gear. I'm not sure if you can see it, but she has a big smile in both pics. 
Bob (with a mean left hook - really!) looking tough in his Joe Rocket jacket. Dot, his new bride thinks he looks quite hot in his gear. I would love to have a photo of Bob in my flowered helmet, but alas, it does not fit. He and Ron sneak a quick ride around the camping loop anyway. Bob and Brenda are father and daughter.
Uncle Bob - One bad biker dude!

Where are my footpegs?
Incriminating photo
 We return to the valley by way of highway 20. Boring and crowded, but we manage to find a nice spot in the flow of traffic just ahead of any towables. Thank you to the rider who gave us a head's up on the "vehicle sitting on the side of the road up ahead". We keep it at a saintly 55 mph while enjoying watching all the cages in front of us hit their brakelights. I need to remember to watch the motorcycle signals even when I'm in the car. We pass the cages on the next hill. ;)
Waldport Oregon

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lurking in the tall grass...Just another day on the commute.

I had a scary moment this morning. Not the run off the road-hit something painful-I'm gonna die moment, but more of a oooh, this could hurt the pocket book moment.

One County Sheriff nestled back alongside a tall grass field, right between a couple of nice corners, where I've never seen one before...
                     a cop that is - sneaky fellow!

He worked better than coffee (but not as good as deer) to wake me up. I let Sam slow to a pleasant (looks suspiciously guilty) 54 indicated.

Usually I'm cooler headed than to be that obvious.
              Off my game I guess...
Glad I didn't target fixate. Hello Officer, just thought I'd drop in...nevermind the bike in the front seat...

       He didn't pull out.

               YAY - He didn't pull out!!

       Wait a minute...
Now I'm insulted! The ninja green barely got a nod.
                                Maybe I wasn't going as fast as I thought!  
       Just how fast was I going?

                  Maybe I should go faster? :)

Be careful on Kamph Road...who knew that they knew that more than farmers pass that way.
                 No Pics cuz I was busy looking innocent.

I did get a couple nice pics from our walk this evening. Ok, I'm grasping here. I wanted to blog and I got nothing...It was a pleasant walk though. :)
A sweet little Suzi
Black and White
As it should be...out in the open where it can be spotted from way, Way, down the road. They should always park this way. Makes things much easier.

Have a good rest of the week!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Put Your Butt In Good Hands

For some time I have been contemplating getting the ninja's seat shaved. I knew that Don Weber of Mr Ed's Moto did custom motorcycle seats. Stacy/ has a post here about his work on a seat for her SV, but I've also heard other testimonials from across the U.S. Why not take advantage of having a talented seat builder/customizer  close to home.

A couple weeks ago I stopped by to visit with Don at his shop, and discuss what I needed done with the seat. Don knew just what I needed and was sure he could get me closer to the ground and shape the seat for more comfort as well. A date was set. I was fully prepared for a long wait, but he could get me in on a Friday afternoon in two weeks - Yes!

This won't be a full seat rebuild, but rather an alteration to get me lower to the ground. The original foam will be used, though trimmed and reshaped. When it's all said and done, the seat will have minimal padding, but be more comfortable and give me a little firmer footing. I arrive on Friday afternoon and after getting the bike set up the first thing Don does is get the seat off the bike, and pluck the hand strap from the seat. He asks if I want the strap. I say it doesn't matter, and he promptly tosses it in the trash. I do believe that strap offended his sense of style! :)
Measure and Trim
He removes the cover and begins the process of measuring, marking and trimming. Put the seat on the bike, sit on the bike, measure this and that, take the seat off, trim and slice some more. It's an interesting process. He trims the original foam down close to the seat pan and narrows the sides. Next he shapes the seat, flattening out the rounded shape of the seat, and leveling out a better sitting area. Throughout all of this Don discusses custom seats with another customer and myself and tells stories of his and his wife, Deb's riding adventures.
Shaping and sculpting the seat
Adding another layer of foam
Shaping the next layer
Once the seat  is sculpted and formed to satisfaction, Don adds another type of foam over the top. I don't recall what type of foam, but I think it's to help smooth out the seat and add comfort overall. Whatever, the butt can tell the difference! The seat now has a minimal amount of padding, and Don says I may feel the seatpan underneath. Over all the seat is very comfortable. More comfortable than before, even with less padding. That would be the master touch.

Another part of the process is getting the bike set up correctly for me. This includes adjusting the preload to get the seat a little lower and having it set correctly for my size. We also discuss handlebar reach. Don shows me about where my hands should be while sitting on the bike. My bars are a little forward, but they might work. He recommends using them as they are and see how that works for me. Almost forgot...I was given a lesson on manuevering the bike while standing beside it. A still somewhat scary exercise, but I'm working on it.

At first I wasn't sure if I had gained much footing, but as soon as I went for a ride I could tell that I had better  reach to the ground. I spent most of Saturday on the bike for a 100+ mile ride. The sitbones never got tender or achy as they had in the past. The seat shape itself was a perfect cradle. No pressure anywhere. I'm anxious to try a longer ride, but that may not happen for a few weeks. For my commute (just under 70 miles each day) I'm finding the seat just gets better. I used to get a little achy by the time I arrived home, but no problem now.
Your butt's in good hands!
Don has a saying: Your butt's in good hands. I'm very pleased with how the seat has turned out. I'm closer to the ground and the seat is much more comfortable than before. I have a feeling I'll never be satisfied with a stock seat again.  Nothing beats a nice cushy seat!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More from Paulina Lake

Saturday morning came early, and breakfast was a simple affair. How ever did we camp with all the kids!!!? A quick meal, a quick wash up, and we're ready for our hike around Paulina Lake.
Paulina Lake appears to be clearer than East Lake.
Little brown frog
 At one point we walk through Little Crater Campground. This is a nice campground. The sites are right along the shore. Once past the campground the trail takes up again. This is an especially nice section of the trail with rocky outcroppings into the water.
Paulina Peak and Paulina Lake
We hike past another obsidian flow. This one separates Paulina and East Lake.
Obsidian flow
I wonder why I'm getting out of breath (and the guys have fallen behind, hehe). We're gaining some elevation. Suddenly were are much higher than the lake. It's not long until we drop back down closer to shore.
 We arrive at Paulina Lake Lodge. The total hike is about seven miles. We scope out the restaurant and make reservations for dinner before heading back to camp and lunch.
Horses at the lodge.
And another.
My coworker and fellow rider, Randy informed me that we must go up to Paulina Peak. That was the plan for afternoon. It's a four mile drive or a two mile hike. 6,000 ft to almost 8,000 ft. Yeah, we'll drive, thank you.
Paulina Lake from Paulina Peak
Stunning views in all directions, and a wonderful, rugged landscape.
Big Obsidian Flow
It's hard to get a picture that does justice to the drop off along this side of the peak.
I think the one of the mountains in the background is broken top, but I'm not sure.
We did a whole lot of just staring...
Back down to the campground there is one more trail we need to explore. Little Crater trail is a short hike up to a vewpoint of Paulina Lake. About half way up the guys decide to return to the car. It's almost time for dinner, so they'll drive the car to the end of the trail, while Jeanette and I continue to the viewpoint. It seemed like we got to the view point quickly. Too quick. Now we wonder if we didn't hike far enough. But it looks like a view point, and it's time to turn around...dinner is waiting.

Dinner is at Paulina Lake Lodge.

Vegetarian Lasagna.
Smoked Pork Loin
There, see. I can remember to take food pics! The food was very good! Hiking, like bicycling seems to  create montrous appetites.
The view from our table.
After dinner we returned to Paulina Peak in hopes of great sunsets. The drive up to the peak is on a washboard, gravel road. Of course the washboard is in the corners, right where it can add the most thrill factor, along with the drop off at the edge of the road.
We have a short wait until sunset. No one stays outside of the car for long. There is a bone-chilling wind. We pass the time wagering on how long the latest arrival will defy the cold wind before retreating to the car. Some take less than a minute. I'm here for the sunset, but it doesn't look like it will amount to much. No dramatic clouds tonight.
Waiting for sunset
I'm jazzed about one arrival on the peak.
I'm not sure, but this looks to be an older bike, maybe? I would have loved to follow him up that gravel road...or back down. He came prepared with camera and tripod strapped to the bike.
My brother in law, who is known for sunsets, set my camera up with his settings. Sadly the sunset was anticlimactic after last nights show.
It was time to head back and get some sleep. We wanted to be up early to get packed up and head back to Bend for breakfast at Black Bear Diner. 
 Only one photo on Sunday; frozen water. I checked the thermometer and it was about 35 degrees F.