Sunday, August 13

The Countdown continues...

Woke up around 1 a.m. Saturday and couldn't go back to sleep. Got up, made a list of things to pack for the fully-loaded dress rehearsal today. Surfed the 'net for the umpteenth time on packing a motorcycle. I know, I know, just pack the bike and be done with it! I wanted no surprises on the road so I had to do research. Again.

Well, I ended up getting a later than ideal start. Reason? I'm beginning to believe I'm having some mild (hopefully) episodes of adult onset attention deficient disorder that kicks in at odd times. By 8 a.m. I am multi-tasking a million disparate things and beginning to feel fatigued. Didn't get out of the house until 2 p.m.!

The luggage had been packed with all sorts of things I'm likely to take. Every usable pocket carried something. In one pocket, I placed The American Heritage College Dictionary (Third Edition)--all 1,630 pages! Even though it would stay home and I would take instead, The American Heritage Dictionary handheld electronic doohickey, I figured it would be a good test for one of the saddle bags.

The night before, I had packed the empty luggage atop a bar stool, which made a nice back end bike substitute; that packing went well. Saturday's packing wasn't as easy. This was my fault. I forgot the instructions and couldn't remember where all the hooks and clips should be inserted. When finished, I had a few dangling straps and left-over loops. Long before the packing frustration set in, there was the dreaded centerstand. I'm not quite ready to cry uncle. But I've been unable to get the bike on its centerstand! I've tried every thing and nothing works. I hate making excuses but here goes my best one...Getting the bike on the stand requires me to use considerable wrist action!--the same wrist and lower right arm I shattered last year.

Wrist curls? I've done them faithfully. The joint feels strong. I'm declared "healed." Even told I've regained more use, flexibility and strength than expected. So why can't I get the bike on the centerstand? I tried many times. A few times the bike almost tipped over in the opposite direction, snatching my breath away. After repeated failed attempts, I started to feel the titanium implant protest. The location started feeling tingly and stressed. I responded by having a mini-meltdown--including a few tears, while sitting on the ground rubbing my aching wrist.

All I could do was pack the bike as it rested on its side stand--yes, I know that people pack this way all the time because they don't have a centerstand. BUT I DO HAVE A CENTER STAND--a very useless one at this point! This forced me to eyeball the saddlebags to see if they were loaded and balanced properly. On a few occasions, I leaned the bike as vertical as I could to check the hang of the bags and sure enough the left one seemed to sag lower than the right one. I could have returned for the instructions but would need to lug the luggage with me as I was loading stuff in an apartment garage where "the management is not responsible for lost or stolen property." I'm not *that* much of a risk taker!

Nelson-Rigg claims that extra bungees cords are optional. I had three just in case. I will do a practice packing session again before leaving, but based on this dress rehearsal, my packing looks nothing like the picture in the brightly colored spec sheet that came with the luggage. The luggage is perfectly balanced and the glossy ads are devoid of extra cords. I've never liked the bungee look, but hey, if it'll keep the bags adhered, I say... get over it -- get the extra cords!
With the bike finally packed, I was left to wonder where the two long, pliable cloth covered, soft-metal-like panels were supposed to go. Originally, I had placed them over the bike's tail and placed the saddlebags over them, thinking they were some sort of protective cover. This worked about as good as using butter in place of crazy glue. So, I placed them behind me, rode around the building, parked the bike in front where the door staff would keep an eye on the bike and stashed the two panels in the apartment.

Later that night, I learned that these panels are "padded plastic stiffeners" that are placed inside the saddlebags to help them retain their shape. DUH!! Sagging problem solved! Then I remembered reading about this in the instructions when I first received the luggage.

The ride was smooth, didn't feel any extraordinary weight, really. I was a bit tentative doing the first wide left hand turn, but my worries proved unnecessary. I did notice that while on LSD (aka Lake Shore Drive) my bike's back end didn't seem to react to the windy conditions as much as usual. The bike seemed more solid and stable back there. Usually the SV wiggles when facing, or shall I say, butting a wind. Often it has felt as if Queenie and I were about to recreate the motorcycle version of the scene from E.T. where the kids are peddling their bicycles fast and furious and eventually become airborne, riding through the sky. This time, however, the bike swayed ever so gently in the wind--hardly a wiggle worth recording.

But the dress rehearsal with the moto gear didn't fare well. Donning one my Joe Rocket Mesh jackets (one of my favorites), HD boots, and the Sy-Max HJC helmet and lightweight leather gloves--(the new Icon Mesh gloves failed miserably! --more on that later), I headed out for a short (less than 100 miles ride). Getting the wickable shirts was a smart decision--felt cool the entire time and no tell-tale sweating even though it was warm. Before leaving the garage--did I say I dropped my helmet? Chipped paint and a slight cut--but looks more surface than anything; yet, the impact of that hit concerns me. I rode with my mind split. Part of it on the ride, the other on the luggage. Just didn't like its looks; it had a teetering appearance and it made me uncomfortable. Yet at every check stop, the bags were fine, solid to the touch, nothing pressing against hot parts. Eventually, I managed to get my mind back into the ride and tried to ignore my luggage issues.

Arrived home late evening, exhausted and a bit wobbly when I dismounted--BTW, thanks to all those from the forum. They offered excellent advice--some requiring funny super human tricks--on properly mounting a fully loaded 'cycle. Climbing aboard from the right side worked best. A few times I mounted from the left by using my hands to help my leg up and over--that might work if you're not already tired and aching from fighting with a centerstand. It just made me feel ancient.

Dress rehearsal evaluation= good, but rider needs more practice packing--aesthetics matters. I need to figure out how to do this in a way pleasing to my eyes and rendering the whole process less labor intensive. The countdown continues...