The thrills, the excitement, the dangers, and the hazards
Riding is always fun. Even after riding all day I still enjoy it. Although certain parts of my body can get sore and tired I still want to get out there and go. When I stop for periods of time to update my web site or to get something to eat or even to sleep I still have that urge to get out there and rid some more.
There are a few things that I like to do to pass the time while I'm riding. I certainly wouldn't suggest this but one of my favorite things to do is to secure the throttle, stand up on the foot pegs, let go of the handle bars and extend my arms all the way out as if to fly. This is even much more fun without the helmet on. I don't do this very often as it does tend to draw a little attention to me from other drivers on the road.
The Yamaha Seca was actually designed to be a small sport bike but with a shape that enables the driver to sit upright more for a better posture. This sure helps for those really long rides.
The seat does still tend to get a little uncomfortable after a long period of riding and I find myself seeking an exit or rest area to relax for a while.
This happens quite often. The bike, with its constant, smooth vibration attempts to hypnotize me to sleep. Along with the constant rush of wind its almost like a soothing message threatening to bring me to a nice level of unconsciousness. Having fell asleep on the bike once before a few years ago I do keep a much better frame of mind while riding now. That on time is all it took and I definitely am never going to allow that to happen again. Now, if I feel the slightest bit tired I pull off, even if its on the side of the highway I will stop and regain my composure. If I find a rest area I might get off the bike walk around for a while or even lay down on a picnic table for a little while and take a nap or two. This is usually just enough to put things back into perspective and convince my mind that I've rested.
Other bike riders have tried to ride with me. After all, its always much safer to ride with somebody than alone. However, not very long after we begin our joint ride they soon get bored and discouraged when I pull off of the road too often to take pictures or I start looking for a place to connect to the internet. I do enjoy the camaraderie of motorcycle riders. Usually, no matter who you are or what you are riding there is always that wave from across the highway or street or even the freeway. If you stop on the side of the road you can be sure that another rider may follow and stop to see if you are okay. This happens quite often as I stop on the side of the road to take pictures.
Drivers vs. Riders
Now here lies probably the worst part of riding. Other drivers and their misconceptions of a motorcycle's abilities. Having driven a car or two in my past I am aware that it is easy to assume that a person on a motorcycle can maneuver much easier than a car or larger vehicle. This is often time true but not quite as much as we would like to think. To achieve a sudden maneuver on a motorcycle is not always a quick and simple task. depending on the circumstances it may even be more difficult than a car. Even though, other drivers may abruptly cut off a rider in assuming that they can immediately and will gladly move out of the way. There are also those drivers that don't particularly care for the rider and are not courteous at all. I don't think that its important that they like us or care about us but they need to understand how much more vulnerable the rider is. Although they think it may be a simple harsh gesture to cut off a motorcycle they need to understand how quick and easy it could cause harm or even kill a rider. Bumper cars aren't so funny if your on the outside of the car.
Something that really is awkward that drivers don't seem to take into consideration is toll booths. With both hands busy on the bike it makes it a little difficult when it comes to the toll booth and getting the money out of your pockets.
So the sequence of event has to go; Throttle up, let off the clutch, ease up to the next slot as the head car pulls out of the booth. Throttle down and pull in the clutch and stop. The same for each car leaving the booth until it is my turn. Then I have to put the bike into neutral, let off of the clutch, stand up, reach for my money and hand it over. Then sit back down. Bike in gear and let off the clutch. All of which is much easier in a car, with the left arm free to handle the money.
With the left hand controlling the clutch while the right is busy with the throttle there's not much time to stop and reach in and get the money out, ready for the toll booth. Of course the normal rule of thumb, as in any line waiting to pay, you get your money out ahead of time so that you are ready once you get there and don't annoy the drivers behind you. Well, it would be nice and on several occasions, while all the cars begin to approach the booths, I have stopped off to the side way before the cars reach the booth and get my money out. Then, of course, is the problem of where to put the money till you get there. Then you still have to take almost the same amount of time.
Trucks vs. Riders
Truckers on an average seem to be a little more considerate and aware of the rider. However, this still doesn't account for what they have no control over and that's the massive size difference between a truck and a bike. Upon approaching the back of a truck there is that tail wind that creates a radical turbulence. The wind behind a truck tends to flip back and forth from left to right causing the rider to have to compensate. Like being hit back and forth with a pillow the blast of wind takes you to the left, then to the right and back and forth. This constant jerking can wear you out quick. As you approach even closer to make your pass the tail wind changes the closer you get to the truck. At the very close rear of the truck the wind actually is pulling towards the rig almost trying to suck you into the back of the trailer. This has to be compensated by leaning to the left quite a bit. Closer along side there's actually a nice calm. A dead spot where there's a void of the blast of wind. But like the calm before a storm this is just as intense. Directly at the front of the truck a sudden blast of wind is being pushed to the outside. Leaning to the left at the rear of the vehicle, then upright towards the center, at the very front you have to compensate the opposite direction as the wind tries to push you away. You lean in and hold on until you are finally able to break free from this huge ship's invisible force field. I sometimes feel like that helpless little butterfly that you pass, barely missing it. Then you look in the rearview mirror to see it being thrown all over the place as it tries desperately to regain its flight path, trying to figure out, once again, what planet it is even on.
The trucks are, more than anything, intimidating. Justifiably so, we have to recognize the obvious as to the dangers of being that close to such a large vehicle and remember, once again, how vulnerable we actually are.
Wind, Weather, and the Elements
Wind is a challenge when it picks up. Sometimes along the freeway, the rush of vehicles creates its own pattern and has a somewhat constant breeze flowing along the road. This is really obvious in tunnels. All at once you feel the wind guiding you along inside the tunnel. However, there's often winds from all other directions. I have learned that the wind has been somewhat fighting with me most of my trip. This I finally realized why. As I traverse the country at this early stage of my trip I am primarily heading west. The trade winds come in from the west coast and drift across the continent to the east, thus maintaining an almost constant head wind. I should have an easier trip back and get much better gas mileage on my way back across to the east, later in my journey.
Day and night also have a dramatic effect on the wind. It seems that the wind normally dies down a considerable amount at night. This makes for a much smoother ride. Unfortunately it also is when more animals come out and start trying to cross the road. Making it much more difficult to see them at night, I sometimes decide against the night riding.
Along with the wind comes all the other adverse weather conditions. Being on a bike you definitely realize how much the weather can affect a vehicle and rider. Low spots or areas close to water tend to create much colder areas. The temperature can drop drastically and become extremely cold. While other times you can suddenly drive right up into a hot spot. Sometimes I enjoy the change while others, not so much.
As in any vehicle this is always a concern but on a motorcycle this is a life threatening hazard. A collision with a deer, in a car is very dangerous. On a bike can more often be fatal. Even birds can so severe damage to a rider. Insects are very uncomfortable and some even painful.
Rocks freeing from tires, rocks and gravel falling off of work trucks, pieces from poorly maintained vehicles and scrap vehicles are al dangerous and can maim or even kill a rider. Even dirt and sand is quite painful when passing through it at the normal highway speeds.
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