20 December 2009

Two-wheeled Adventures (Motorized, that is)

My two-wheeled adventures began in early September. The first motorized vehicle I rode was a scooter, owned by my buddy Lee. For some reason, he actually let me attempt to ride it around, and I (somehow) didn't crash his only way to get home that day. I had a lot of fun, but not nearly as much fun as when I stepped it up. I went from a 150 cc scooter, to a 400 cc, dual-sport motorcycle, and I'm sure pretty much everyone reading can guess whose that was, but I know he keeps a low profile, so I'll not name him here. As far as the riding of the dual-sport went, lets just say its lucky I'm 6'2", with long legs, and a quick left hand to grab that clutch, because my throttle control was, in a word, nonexistent. I attempted to ride my first motorcycle in an alley full of cars in DC. I did say attempted, right? What actually happened was, me dropping the clutch at the same time as I applied WAY TO MUCH FUCKING GAS, and a wheelie ensued, my only wheelie to date, in fact. We now return to my long legs and quick left hand; I grabbed the clutch, saving me from eating a barbed-wired fence, and wrestled the bike back to the ground, ensuring, once again, that a trusting friend would have a ride home that day. Needless to say, my next lesson was not anywhere near an alley, or any cars whatsoever, much less any barbed-wire.

I'll save the somewhat dry description of the motorcycle class I took for another time, if at all. I will say, however, that taking that class was one of the most intelligent things I did in the process of becoming a motorcyclist. That class taught me a great deal, and gave me a much more inside look into the why and how, rather than just the what of motorcycle riding.

My next big adventure was on 5 November of this year. I rode from Woodbridge, VA, out on I-66 to Front Royal, VA, where I had lunch. I then spent about a half-hour trying to find the entrance to Skyline Drive, which has plenty of signs, but those signs seem to all be behind light poles and trees, because I blew by each one before finding it on the way back to find out where exactly I had gone wrong. Once I found the entrance to Skyline, and paid my fee to drive on it, I was off! Now the speed limit on the SD (Skyline Drive for the rest of this posting) is 35 MPH. I started out following that very closely, well for me anyways. I didn't let my speed get above 40 for a LONG time, AND I stopped at many of the little pull-offs to take a look at the wonderful fall views of the Shenandoah Valley. Like the one below, for example.
The problem was, in November, in the mountains, darkness was coming on fast, never-mind those clouds you can see in the upper left of the picture, just beginning to threaten. I took a picture at the highest point on SD, and you can see how nice and sunny it was at the time. Shortly after the picture below, I stopped at the Big Meadows Lodge, where the Rangers on duty were very nice and very surprised to see anyone on a motorcycle riding SD in November. As I was getting ready to leave Big Meadows, roughly the halfway point of SD, I looked at the sky, and at the map, and decided I wasn't going to stop anymore. Remember how I said the speed limit is 35 MPH? Yeah, I think I hit that on a few turns that were a little sharp, but otherwise I was running 60. I was cold, and tired, and did NOT want to be on a motorcycle anymore at that point in the day.As you can see below, I made it.

Yes, it was darker Buck Nasty's momma when I got off SD, but I finished. Of course, that was roughly the half-way point of my little adventure. The southern end of SD is near Charlottesville, VA which, for those keeping track, is NO WHERE NEAR Woodbridge. All in all, the trip took almost 11 hours, though I did stop just short of my destination to make a Chipotle run, of course. I did 333 miles that day, and someday will best that, but not until it gets warmer.

I had intended to include more recent adventures, but those will have to wait. Call this a teaser. And no, it will not be 11 days again before I post. Hopefully.

1 comment:

  1. It has definitely been longer than 11 days now...next post please :)