You Meet the Most Interesting People on a Sportbike
I joined a riding group I found on Meetup last year. Honestly, my expectations of finding like minded friends that ride and share my sensibilities was low. It's a huge group. 650+ enthusiasts, and my distinctly
I'd be lying to say that I am not a competitive rider. Mainly the competition exists with myself. I just want to be the most skilled person I can be at this thing. This is for my enjoyment of the sport as much as for my own safety. However, I cannot deal with squidliness.
From Urban Dictionary: "Squid"
A young motorcyclist who overestimates his abilities, boasts of his riding skills when in reality he has none. Squid bikes are usually decorated with chrome and various anodized bits. Rear tyres are too wide for their own good, swingarm extended. Really slow in the corners, and sudden bursts of acceleration when a straight appears. Squids wear no protection, deeming themselves invincible. This fact compounds intself with the fact that they engage in 'extreem riding'--performing wheelies and stoppies in public areas. Squids wreck alot. Derived from 'squirly kid'
I have met some truly skilled riders through the group-the people you gravitate to when you want to learn a lot about bikes and who are willing to share their knowledge to help a new guy out. There are some members that have been riding for 50 years (!) or more who have raced, traveled incredible distances, and who have lived through periods of motorcycling "technology" that thankfully are history now. Their help is key when choosing the right tires, bleeding your brake lines, or figuring out the best way to clean your chain. The fast guys, I mean the really fast guys, the front of the "A group," are often in their late forties or early fifties. They've been around, and their focus is sharp.
So much of sport riding is unnatural. Staying off the brakes, deep lean angles, keeping calm and simply staying on your line require training to overcome your body's instinct to resist. This is the part of motorcycling that is at once glorious and frustrating as hell. Having someone around that can say "yeah, that's a little freaky." is valuable enough.
My First Little Tour
I got some saddlebags and took off for a couple of days last month. All I can say now about touring is-I get it. I finally get it. I am now able to pardon those guys on big touring bikes. It's tough to avoid all the cliches here, but heading out on unexplored two-lane is so good. I have always liked to drive, and never mind taking on a long day behind the wheel of a car, so I guess this is a natural progression. Sure there are limitations to big miles-the comfort of the machine (about three hours before butt-burn sets in) and the weather. You're in it, for good or bad. But then, you can always stop and get a cup of coffee and chat up the locals, and that's a great thing in itself. There are so many riders out there that someone is bound to ask you about your bike and start recounting their own tales of cycles past. If you're on the road for three hours, take a break, and get back on for three, that's a solid day of riding. I am truly impressed with people that log 8 or 12 hours in the saddle. Never mind the Baja 1000 riders that tear-ass through the desert for 12, 16 or even 18 hours at a time. See Dust to Glory and racer Johnny Campbell if you want to take a look at a truly hardcore rider.
Johnny Campbell, Baja 1000 Footage
New roads present new challenges as well. My little trip offered up a bit of mountain asphalt unlike I have had a chance to ride before or since. For that stretch of highway 191 (formerly hwy. 666), my style was forced to adapt, and I gained a new technique for the quiver (even though I almost puckered a hole in my drawers while learning it). Most of the riding I have done after this experience has seemed "easy" by comparison. Now I sit around and dream about new terrain.
Updating the Stable
I've had the good fortune to take a few track days on the FZ as well. Nothing can catapult your skills forward like riding at the track. You focus all of your technique, knowledge and physical strength on the singular goal of making that lap time just a bit smaller each time around. The result of this effort for even a few hours at the track is more confidence and control on the street... And a huge desire for more and better bike! As I found with every other sport-there's always a sharper tool for the toolbox.
My problem is, I want the best, and I can't afford it. No way, no how. So I will wait patiently, save a few bills here and there, and wait for something good to pop up on the used market.