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Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

08 June 2008

Motorcycle diaries

No, I am not talking about Che and his wanderings around South America. I am talking about me and a motorcycle. I got one awhile back. A 1981 Honda CB750. I have since discovered through research that I probably paid more for it than I should have and, more importantly, that it is “…not a motorcycle for the first time rider.” (Not the CB750 itself but that general class of bikes) Joy.

I took it out and rode it around the field behind my house a few times and around my yard some but hadn’t taken it on the road because I didn’t have insurance or a tag for it due to lack of cash. But I finally got the cash as a birthday gift and bingo; I have a registered and legal bike. (Interestingly enough through shear random chance the last two letters on the license plate are MI) so I took it out on the road earlier this week. I had been having trouble keeping it going sitting in my yard so I had been fiddling with the idle. About 1.5 miles into my first real ride, the engine got good and warm and that fiddling turned against me with a vengeance. All of a sudden the bike was idling at about 4000 rpms. I didn’t have to touch the throttle control at all and I was accelerating up to 50 mph. Needless to say this got a bit hairy at stop signs. I stopped at one point to try and adjust it down which was difficult to say the least with the engine being very hot. I did eventually take my shirt off, wrap it around my hand and turn it down some, but not enough. It made the ride a bit nerve wracking. I tended to take corners WAY too wide but eventually finished the loop I had set out for myself and was heading home. Now, to complicate my life more I live on a dirt road. A friend who rides had told me that my road was going to be hell on a big road bike. I can see why. Soft sand is not a friend. But I took the .5 mile down that road an a creeping 10mph (with the engine still howling at its high rpms) and was having no problems. Until that is, I tried to turn off the road into my driveway. I was going too slow and the engine began to sputter and stall (I hadn’t down shifted properly) so I tapped the throttle and bingo……

Well, they say that there are those who have laid their bike down and those who are going to. I got that shit out of the way right quick. The back end kicked out in the sand and I was on the ground. Luckily it was slow and there was no damage to the bike or me (except a small cut on my left thumb of all things) Not a great success but it could have gone much worse. It had been about a 13 mile ride. On Saturday morning I got up early and went out to do it again. I had spent Friday evening fiddling with the throttle again and seemed to have it down now. I started off and got down the dirt road and out on the paved road with no problems at all. Took ,y first corner fine, not too wide at all then blew the second corner completely. I felt so uncomfortable that right as I started it I aborted and went straight. But I am going on a big P shaped route so, says I, “I’ll just do it the other direction at the next corner”. But my confidence had been blown at the first won and I aborted this one too. So I was headed off down a road and off my planned track. I quite easily turned into the parking lot of a small church (why could I turn here and not before? Who knows) turned around and went back. Made the corner this time easily (the left turn seemed easier than the right) took the next corner ok but too wide again. (This one is a bit more than a 90 degree turn and it is obvious from the wear on the side of the road that many vehicles fail to negotiate it well) This was why I am doing this riding in the morning when there isn’t a lot of traffic out. Now I am coming up to that first corner that I had aborted out of but from this side there is a stop sign which makes it easy. (Especially since my engine wasn’t howling like a demon every time I engaged the clutch.) then another corner with a stop sign and back to the dirt road. Turning on to the dirt road worries me. There is a LOT of sand right there at the intersection and I know I can’t go in at too much of an angle or too fast, but I cut it nicely and am once again creeping down the road at 10mph. This time I make the turn into my driveway with no problems and wrap up the ride. Much improvement.

The cornering situation interests me. I know HOW to do it in theory. Hell, I have down the same thing on Bicycles for years. But the weight of the bike and the absolutely unforgiving nature of ramming yourself into a ditch if you screw it up throw me off. It will take me awhile to get the feelings down right I suppose. I think it might be easier if I was riding with someone who could take the corner ahead of me and I could follow their line. We’ll see about finding someone to do that with. I am slowly getting the whole hand clutch foot shift thing down. It is coming faster than I thought it would. I still have problems remembering that my main brake is with my foot, not my hand. My years on a bicycle do not serve me well here. Needless to say I do not feel comfortable with the idea of driving in traffic yet but it is coming. I do think this would have been easier if I had gotten the first bike a looked at, a 250 instead. The smaller lighter bike would be easier to maneuver around but it is too late to worry about that now.

I do want to get this down well because I am very serious about that Mongol Rally thing I mentioned. And I think it might be cheaper and easier to do on a bike than trying to get a car. (Then again, in a car you have someone to talk to and a place to keep spare tires and gas cans.) We shall see.


Blogger opit said...

Oy. I've laid down in the dirt too many times. Ice or piles of loose surface are not a biker's friend. Neither is the front brake when you're on them.
I'm riding a 1973 CB750 with Windjammer III !
Startup. Choke on full. Some throttle still needed to get things percolating. After a couple of minutes, you can think about a bit less choke. After five it should be completely off.
The old UJM ( Universal Japanese Motorcycle ) lasts just about forever but is top-heavy. Pavement corners can be a chance to learn 'counter-steering', where you gently move the 'contact patch' so as to deliberately bring the bike back up rather than relying upon weight shift. Cautious experimentation is recommended. Push gently in the direction the wheel doesn't want to go.

9:59 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Thanks for the advice. This matches advice received off line from another friend who rides a lot.

2:34 PM  

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