Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday and the Art of Motorcycling

I had what must be pretty close to the perfect day today. Perfect weather around the mid twenties (Celsius), mostly clear roads and as much time as I felt like in the saddle. Nothing in the calendar except a stop in at a pre 90s motocross ride meet and the road ahead.
So it was today that I hit the road for a blast up some of my favourite Melbourne roads through Whittlesea into Yea; it's maybe an hour and a half ride really once you get out of the traffic but it's the superbly smooth wide single lane roads that wind and climb up into the ranges before coming to the little coffee town stop of Yea that I like the most. Corners, lots of nice corners. With nothing much but riding in my head and thinking of only the ride, I realised something important. I had somewhat lost my confidence on the Hyper. It's a weapon of a bike with more torque than anything I have ever owned, especially after the WaspWorks PUK install, and I respect that. But after a stupid spill in the wet a few months back followed by weekends of other obligations and quite frankly really crap weather, the only time I have spent in the saddle was commuting. Which isn't riding. It's commuting. I'd openly dispute that the two are not the same thing. One is not the other. That is where the problem lies with scooter riders, they aren't motorcyclists, they're commuters. Scootin' isn't the same as motorcycling. Sure it can be a cool mode of transport from A to B but it doesn't compare with the type of riding I did today.
 
View Larger Map A gorgeou 20+ something degree day a 'no pace' ride up the mountain and down the other side with nary a car in sight  was all I needed to try and find my groove again. And these kinds of roads are where the Hypermotard is most at home. Smooth and warm bitumen roads that climb gently upwards inundated with 60-70km corners, nice long sweeping corners with the camber on the right side that you can just roll power on gradually and evenly pulling out of every one like a roid raged Bull. Pity about that 80km speed limit, if it was a closed road I'd like to ride it a lot faster. Like Pikes Peak fast; actually that's what the roads reminded of today, climbing up those hills it reminded me of all the videos I've watched of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, except heaps shorter distance.



But racing or speed wasn't what today was about, I needed to find my confidence again, and while this was all as perfect as it sounds on paper, it just wasn't coming back to me on the journey there. On the way back it continued to bother me - I was thinking about everything too much, my head was full of rabid rabble about being uncertain of my style, my ability, my technique and my bikes capability; the chatter goes something like this.
For some reason I prefer left handers, why do I prefer left handers? Why don't I tip the same way right that I do left? Is that a melted pot of bitumen just up there on the left or a shadow? Am I in the right gear for this corner, am I going too fast, too slow, what is the apex, where is the apex, what does LPOV mean and how do I measure it while I'm currently thinking about which gear I'm in and if I am at the right speed for this corner that is in front of me right now?
That was about 2-3 nanoseconds worth. It's unending. Sometimes I think I'm quite mad, maybe partially I am, but I've read other biker stories that note this inner-talk so I guess I'm good for now (in my own Universe). I think we all slightly crazy to some extent, or crazed at the minimum, when it comes to motorbikes. Anyway, it was at about that normal melting point moment, when I want to drill the voices and chatter out of my head with a Ryobi, that the air cleared and the chatter stopped and I just remembered to ride, focus on the now, the moment and nothing else. You know how to ride this thing, just freakin do it for godsakes man. It was like that cliche warm rush of blood to the head and all the drivel just drained away, the sun peaked at me from over the hill and I was climbing up, sweeping gently through each corner, lightly on the throttle in fourth with more than enough down low, plus plenty in the middle (and up top) to handle every corner without changing gear, and the moment just came. Perfect clarity and connection with the bike. I love it when it happens, it's like a Tron light cycle moment where the bike melts away and what is left is this new thing, not man-and-bike, but something else, something new. It sounds like this;
Gloves and fingers loosen up and the bars are floating loosely in my hands but, connected instead at the elbows. Knees pull my weight forward and grip the tank a bit firmer, weight shifted forward I tuck my chin down and push my forehead up just a touch, almost turtle like, I'm leaning forward more over the tank and the bike just disappears. I can't see any sign of of it at this point and I feel like I'm floating or flying. That's the best excuse to keep bar end mirrors right there I think to myself. I like this forward position more push/pull  action, more than knee down style, I guess I am riding a more motard style at this point, and it feels exactly right to me, this is my moment of flow and I know exactly where my limits are.The air temperature is perfect and the air cooled twin is singing beneath me, it urges me on, forward, up and away into the stratosphere. Like a lick of petrol and a whiff of burning rubber I could transcend all consciousness and just disappear into a puff of exhaust smoke right there and I'd evaporate quite happily.
  It's those moments that remind what I love about motorcycling the most, those gems of clarity and connection with your motorcycle when the concerns of life like Steve said, just melt away and you can think of nothing else that you'd rather be doing.
 


 I ache for those moments sometimes while I'm 'trapped' at work, like a pig in a cage, saying yes to the man and earning my way in the world, when in all honesty I'd rather be riding my bike. More hours in the saddle, more riding, more experience means better skills. That's all I need to remember most all, experience is the only thing that can make me a better rider. All kinds of experience. I don't particularly like swearing on my blog and try to keep it to a minimum so you'll forgive me or just skim over this next bit, because there is just no other way that I can explain it with emphasis, without it. Fuck I love motorcycling.  

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