Back in the saddle!

I finally got my Bike back today. They even washed ‘er up for me. And, since they fixed the bent tail-light post, she looks as good as new. The problem with the oil leak went farther than the oil pump, however. They had to replace several hoses, clamps, and O-rings to stop the leaking.

But it was great to ride for an hour bringing the bike home. tomorrow, the truck stays parked!

Still No Bike

Yeah, it’s still in the shop.

On Friday, they replaced the oil pump, then ran the engine for a while, and set it on some cardboard to be sure it didn’t leak. Unfortunately it was still leaking. So they had to crack her open again, and this time found a seal that had to be replaced.

But, of course, they didn’t have a replacement part in stock.

So, I’m still on hold, waiting for the bike to get fixed.

I’m missing out on some really great riding weather.

No Bike

For a couple of days, it’s back to the truck for me. I noticed the bike had developed an oil leak, So I called to see if I could get it into the shop.

Biggs Harley couldn’t schedule an appointment for me until 12 September. I called San Diego Harley, and they told me they just had a cancellation, so I could bring my bike in today.

As it turns out, it was the oil pump. So, hopefully, if they have one in stock, they can fix it, and I can pick it up tomorrow night.

Ride Like a Pro DVD

I got the Ride Like a Pro IV DVD a few days ago, and watched it that evening. It’s a pretty good instructional DVD.

First, though, a negative point. Cops are not funny. If they were, we’d pay them to make us laugh. That isn’t what we pay them to do, though. We pay comedians to do that. So, I could do without the lame attempts at humor. I’m sure Jerry “Motorman” Paladino provokes howls of laughter from his fellow deputies in the squad room, but on DVD, for the rest of us…not so much.

The other thing I’m sure of is that he certainly has the techniques down for controlling your motorcycle through slow speed maneuvering. He goes through each of the exercises, demonstrates them, then shows both experienced and new riders doing the exercises. They are also shown from a variety of angles, in regular and slow motion, and even from the rider’s point of view via a head cam.

I’ve been practicing the techniques on the road, and I’ve overcome my fear of maneuvering the bike at slow speeds, turning, maneuvering through parking lots, etc.

The techniques are just amazingly helpful, and make you feel like you really do have much better control of your scoot.

If you really want a challenge, the DVD also includes all the exercises contained in the Florida Motorcycle Patrol officer’s course, too. Although, Motorman warns you quite strongly that it will take at least 8 hours of solid practice to do them without error, and that you will drop your bike a few times when you do them. Also, at least one of them will injure or kill you if you screw it up.

One of the things about the exercises is that you really need cones to mark out the paths. I went to Big 5 Sporting Goods, and picked up these Nike soccer cones. They’re made of soft PVC, and are about 8 inches wide and about 3 inches tall. They look like little, round, hollow pyramids with a hole on top. The great thing about them is that they’re very visible, and are designed for doing agility drills with your feet without turning your ankle if you step on them, so if you run over them, they simply flatten out, and pop back up. They’re perfect, and they only cost $10 for a set of ten cones.

I highly recommend the DVD. Also, if you live in the LA area, they do RLAP classes in Los Angeles, so for those of us who live all the way across the country from Florida, we have a chance to actually take the RLAP course, too.

Turn, Turn, Turn

Well, it’s been nine days since I made an entry, here, thanks to the press of other business. I suppose I should catch everyone up.

After dropping the bike, then having to wait a few days to heal up a bit before getting back on, I found that I was building up a real fear of turning. Not all turns, you understand. Just turns to the left. (That was the side I fell on week before last.) It was getting to the point where I was refusing turns, and going straight, or going so wide I had to stop the bike before hitting the curb.

Then, three days ago, at the left turn right in front of my house, I was going really wide, hit the brakes, and low-sided. The bike scraped along the ground for about a foot. It scratched up the crash bar-noticeably this time, scratched up the left edge of the windshield, and bent the pylon and bullet housing for the left turn signal.

100 feet in front of my house, and I wrecked. I picked up the bike, and rode it to work anyway. Then at the next left turn, I went wide again, but this time I stopped the bike, and walked it through the the turn.

OK. It’s clear that I’m just psyching myself out. I’ve become gun-shy of turns. I’m refusing turns I’ve been making a couple of times a day for over a month!

That can’t stand. I have a brand new bike. I certainly can’t stop riding it and paying for a bike I’m afraid to ride.

Well, one of the commenters to a previous post advised me to get the Ride Like a Pro DVD. He said it contains a wealth of information about slow-speed, tight maneuvering, and lots of exercises and techniques to use. So I ordered it, and it should be here in a day or so.

Meanwhile, at the website, there’s a brief exercise guide you can download. That guide gives you the basics of making slow, tight turns using the friction point of the clutch, throttle, and rear brake in conjunction to retain control. It’s a very brief explanation, but at least it was something I could try.

I downloaded it during lunch yesterday, an read it. After work, before I went home, I went to this parking area on base that’s always empty. And started to practice. There’s a small building in the parking lot that actually has traffic lanes painted around it. So, for a half hour, I drove around that little building, first going to he left, then to the right, practicing the one technique the exercise guide has in it, making turns over and over again.

On the way home, I practiced some more. Then, instead of gaing home, I went to this new subdivision they are building a few blocks from my house. There aren’t any houses yet, but all the roads have been put in and finished. for another 40 minutes, I went around and around the block–again, both ways, so I could turn each direction–and to make each direction change, went into a cul-de-sac to make a U-turn to change directions, again, U-turning to a different side each time.

Today, during lunch, I went back to parking lot, and spent the entire lunch hour driving around the building, turning, turning, turning, never going faster than 15 miles per hour. I just used the friction point to control the power to the rear wheels, and feathered the rear brake.

Driving home today was just 1000% more comfortable. I hit all the turns–even gong through a residential section instead of my regular route, simply because I knew there were some tight turns there on narrow roads.

I hit all the turns just fine, and felt way, way more comfortable.

Now, I don’t know what else is on that 2-hour DVD. But, I can say that just exercising for an hour and a half on this one technique has pretty much stopped me from psyching myself out about turns. If the rest of the techniques are as useful, then this DVD may be one the best expenditures of thirty bucks I have ever made. In the meantime, I’ll be practicing again at lunch tomorrow.

None of this stuff, by the way, was covered in the MSF basic course, although I am reliably told by a friend who’s been through it that the Advanced Course teaches this technique, among others.

I wish I had known this technique a month ago. It probably would’ve saved me some grief–and pain.

I expect I’ll review the DVD when I’m one watching it, and poviding further riding reports based on my experience with it.

Back in the Saddle!

My arm felt well enough to ride the bike today. It still twinges a little bit when I twist my wrist in a certain way, but other than that, I can grip the clutch level with no problem, and steer the bike properly. It felt great to take the bike instead of the truck.

Anyway, I’m on the mend, and riding again, so all is well with the world.