Saturday, April 24

Two (rides) a day--keeps the doctors away!

Recently, I received some sobering news about which I will blog about in the near future. I wrote it up and then just didn't feel like making it real just yet. Now that the weather had “broken” I am on the bike as often as physically possible. Like Chris, in Everyday Riding, I'm aiming to ride each day; it's a great goal but when it doesn't happen, I'm learning to let it go. So far, I'm able to ride to work two days a week. The only reason I can't on the other three days is that my place of work on those days is only four blocks away. I've decided that on those mornings, I will get up hours before needing to prepare for work and take a ride somewhere to watch the sun rise, which is always a grand way to begin any day.

Now, when I say the weather has “broken,” let me be clear. The snow has vacated! The cold remains much of the time. *Sigh.* Thus, my mornings begin in the cold but depending on when I return, the day usually has warmed to the mid 50s—perfect riding weather in my opinion. Last Thursday was a perfect riding day—at least it ended that way. It started off cold enough to use my heated hand grips on “high” and by the time I reached the campus, where I teach a couple of days a week, my hands were definitely a bit cold. But four hours later the weather couldn't have been more perfect with an azure sky that dotted heavens with small puffs of clouds.

As I've mentioned before, I'm charged with babysitting Dave's '09 BMW F650GS. He's only has about 4900 miles on it and a chunk of those miles I claim. Last summer, when his knee surgery prevented him from riding I stepped in to help ;-). This year, it's his shoulder that will keep him off the bike until June; I'm encouraging him to take as long as he needs to heal—his bike is in good hands! Yesterday, I rode my bike to work and back downtown, unloaded bike and rode off to the suburbs. I superslabbed it most of the way but it was great just to be moving along on two wheels. I was able to get in a good 50 miles even before I decided to take the F650 on a spin.

The F650GS is definitely an easy bike to love. The one thing I usually need to adjust to is the the distance from the ground to the pegs. Compared to my ST, it is a short, lift of the feet that requires only a minuscule tuck of the legs. I am always missing that and tucking up my legs way too high before lowering them to the pegs. I left our winding suburbs and headed toward the back roads. While riding, I thought of how much easier it might be to do a SaddleSore on the F650 because the legs and seating position are quite relaxed. I will probably never get to take it on a SaddleSore given Dave's belief that such long distances are “dangerous.” Of course, as one who has done two SaddleSore rides, I totally disagree. But it is his bike and therefore, his call. I think his attitude may be changing. I've been a BMW owner longer than he has and I have yet to get the urge to job the club. He has and he's hearing a lot of LD riding adventures and that notion of such rides being “dangerous” may be shifting.

I only did about 65 miles on the bike but each mile was fun and it made me think about how a bike's set up can help or hurt one's skill development. Those little Honda Rebels in the training classes are confidence building little bikes. I love them. One doesn't have to worry about weight of the bike too much and when you sit on one, it just feels friendly. That's how I felt while on the GS. It makes for easy maneuverability. For reasons I don't understand, doing a u-turn on the GS is easy. Think about it. And it happens! Part of this may be that it is a relatively light bike? U-turns on my bike are easy only because I practice them and I'm very used to the bike. But each execution on my bike takes a bit more thought IMHO. The friction zone is also different on the GS. It seems to have a wider tolerance for silly mistakes. Like pulling off in second gear—it does so without hesitation.

The one yucky thing about the bike is no longer an issues because Dave has installed a Sergeant seat that is not only more comfortable (anything would be) it is taller, which means I no longer can get my heels on the ground. When the new seat is broken in, I don't anticipate this being an issue. It's also, I think, the lightness of this bike compared to mine that I makes the GS a breeze to push around as in back peddling it out of the driveway.

I took the back roads to Kankakee River State Park. It made me think about how I need to get the helmet camera mounted as it has collected dust since I bought it two ride seasons ago. I'm even thinking of selling it and getting something newer. The problem has been not being able to find a screw long enough to mount the thing and the one that came with it doesn't fit around the thingy that goes circles the handlebar. I should have returned it but who would have thought that finding a screw would be difficult. Yes, I've been to hardware stores that specialize in European screws and a little elderly man from Poland, I think, who owns a great little neighborhood hardware store, searched old bins and couldn't find anything that would fit either.

The roads leading to the park are lined with farms and tall prairie grasses and the occasional subdivision tucked in. The smell of manure is overwhelming in places. Mostly, however, there is old, small town life. My route took me through Manteno, IL., a place I thought, as a child, was where insane people were sent to live out their days. I remember overhearing adults say things like, “If he keeps acting out, he's going to get himself sent to Manteno.” It was always described as a snake pit of sorts. Yet, I glance at the few people on the Manteno streets. They look like you and me. Still, I wonder about their mental state. It's a perfectly good looking, quaint town, in spite of the labels that adhere to it.

Time on the GS flew by. The bike sang with a pleasing engine hum marred only by a slight, but unmistakable. rattling of the newly installed V-Stream windshield.

Kankakee River State Park was virtually empty, which is in stark contrast to lazy summer days when the place is packed with visitors.

By the time I arrived it was early evening, the Kankakee river that runs through the park moved swiftly and the bright setting sun shone brilliantly on the darkening water. I parked the bike several times and looked around and stared at the foliage. Finally, I stood along the river's edge and daydreamed into the water.

I wished I had come earlier; I wished I had brought a book and a blanket and one of those Kashi Honey Almond Flax bars that I've developed a slight addiction to. I wished it was warmer to spread a blanket and rest on the grasses and read and lose myself even if just for an hour so I could shelve all the world's problems and all the personal little dramas that make up a life, my life.

I left the park reluctantly. But not before dismounting at the gate one last time and looking back at the ground I had traveled. A mirror image captures a bit of the tree-lined winding road. Only when I left the park did I realize just how cold it was turning.

The warmth of the setting sun strained against swiftly moving clouds that made it dark one minute and light the next. The ride home was uneventful. For miles nary a car was behind me. I passed through Manteno again and thought perhaps I ought to visit that State Hospital on the next outing that brings me this way.

F800ST = 55 miles

F650GS = 65 miles

Ride total: 122 miles o' smiles!


Anonymous said...

Wow, I really enjoyed this post, Sharon. I love your descriptions of how it feels to ride. Such freedom, I imagine. I never really thought about riding on my own but I loved it as a child, with my dad.

I took a deep breath of contentment after reading your post. It just felt good, to read it. Sounds to me like miles well spent. Thank you for sharing the joy of it.:)

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Roni, thank you so much for visiting! I'm glad I was able to take you with me on my short ride. I never thought about riding alone either until my husband bought a bike many many years ago. Within a few days I demanded he teach me--Unlike you, I was not a good passenger. ;-)

Unknown said...


I somehow sense that all is not well and I worry for your well being but I am glad that you managed to enjoy some freedom and to relieve some stresses.

Wet Coast Scootin

SonjaM said...

Thanks for taking us on this short and sweet ride, although other things seem to worry you. Wishing you well. Cheers from Vancouver, SonjaM

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon:

Remember the movie "Starquest." (It will make you laugh. Trust me on this one."

One of the more useful pieces of gear I have is a licensed Harley Davidson product. (Imagine that.) It is a beach sized blanket with velcro tabs to keep it rolled. It is waterproof on one side, and fleece on the other. It is great for stretching out in grass that ma be a bot to cool, or slightly damp, to start with. I got it at a Haley dealer's free when I bought a pair of gloves.

Speaking of gear, did you ever get the EZ Tire pressure gauge? I was wondering what you thought of it. I have ordered a new voltmeter like yours.

And Sharon, I was surrised to read that you were fillig up your tires at the gas station. Don't you have a tire compressor with your tools? Ask bobsoot about the one he has in the garage, no bigger than an electric drill, with a built in pressure gauge. I have a Cycle Pump unde my seat for those days when the rbber needs a little topping off.

I hate going through the motions down at the gas station.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

chessie said...

This whole report made me smile...what a really good day that is....two bikes, two different kind of rides, one joyous time!

Chris said...

Thanks for the mention Sharon! I enjoyed reading your post and the photos. At first I was jealous about your opportunity to ride two great bikes, then I remembered I already have a couple... :) :)

I also find my dualsport much easier to do a u-turn on than my sportbike. I think it's the handlebar layout.

Nice title too... Riding is such a great stress relief.

Anonymous said...
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davidaid said...

Hi Sharon - just checking in since I hadn't seen you post on f800riders for a while. Glad to see you are doing well. Take care.

irondad said...

I, too, hope all is well with you. There is a certain amount of melancholy that hangs in the air after reading this.

Life with two bikes is complicated. The variety is great but giving both equal attention can be a burden! :)

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

bobskoot, thanks for our words. All is not well but I think it's going to have to be how I look at it. I'm trying to look at all th things I do have going for me. More later...

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

SonjaM--thanks for dropping by and the well wishes. I appreciate that!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Jack, I finally pushed the button removing the EZ tire pressure gauge from my wish list to the "ordered" list. I expect it any day. And yes, I do have an air compressor--a small portable one that is easy to transport. But a lot good it did me 'cause I didn't have it with me at the time. I even have access to the little Slime thingy that Chris L. has (Dave has one). At the time, I just needed to get on the bike and ride.(This is in reference to my ST, not the GS I was riding and writing about in this post). I didn't think of what to take. Since getting my bike back from winter camp I haven't reloaded it with the standard stuff--although I've been riding enough that i should have done so by now.

I need some "laugh" movies. I will check out Starquest. What I'm really looking for is a really silly movie that I can't recall the name. The woman, who is either Japanese or Chinese, rides a BMW 650 that can fly, start itself up and come on demand. I've seen it about 100 times but can't think of the name. Oh well...

Thanks Jack. I'll let you know about the EZ air...

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Thanks, Chessie. Thanks for visiting!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Hi Chris,

Yes, you of all people, have no room for being jealous! ;-) You have enough bikes to keep a soul happy! I'm envious of your videos and I've doing my best to get this feature resolved! Thanks for your inspiration!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

davidaid, thank you so much for dropping by. I'm hanging in here. I miss the F800 forum and hope to peek in soon. Thanks again!

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

irondad, Thanks for peeking in...sorry to sound so mysterious about myself but I'm getting use to a recent diagnosis--still can't believe it. I wrote a blog about it but just can't bring myself to post it.

Yes, two bikes is a nice chore to have to try to manage. We have the SV650 up for sale 'cause with three bikes, and me being the principal rider--I just couldn't keep up. Besides, I really prefer my bike over them all so the others were a tad neglected.

Scott said...

Loved the post and the pictures. I'm sorry to hear things are not as you would like them, however I'm sure daily rides and sunrises make anything a bit better. The pictures really take me along with you. I look forward to your next post.


Anonymous said...

may the blessing be with you.........................................

Sojourner's Moto Tales said...

Dear Scott,

Forgive my delay in getting back to you. Things have been challenging. But I appreciate you for stopping by. I'm better and hoping to enjoy (hopefully) the rest of the ride season. Stay safe, stay positive.