Motorcycling, one of my latest
Why do I ride? It's a difficult question for me to answer, as
most of it can't be translated into words well.
- because of the freedom and how it feels, like being a hawk flying low
over the ground, yet being intimately connected with the ground.
- because I like the aesthetic of it.
- because after witnessing my friends riding for a few years, I
realized that not all crashes end in death or dismemberment, and a lot can
be walked away from.
- because it reminds me of my own fragile nature as a human, and brings
me closer to understanding my mortality, and the value of the experience
of each day.
- because I can.
- because I can feel the power.
- because it doesn't come easy to me, and humbles me.
- because it challenges, scares, and attracts me.
That last one is probably the most relevant one - I have a long history of
these push/pull relationships with things that are simultaneously
terrifying and seductively attractive. Part of it is wanting to conquer
the fear, and part of is the very seductiveness of the fear and risk. Like
learning to dance on the razor's edge, graceful and in control, yet
being deeply aware of the fragility of the balance.
It's also something I've struggled with - I've taken the MSF (Motorcycle Safety
Foundation) class twice now (update 6/02 - make that three
times, and the ERC is coming up!), and failed both times (make that the
first 2 times) - the first, on the first of two skills test, and the
second time, on the second. It's made me think harder about how much it's
worth it to me to do this, and has given me even more determination.
At the same time, I'm still in the "reckoning with the risks" phase, and
listening wide-eyed to many tales of crashes. Doing my best to not be a
statistic, though, by taking the MSF class, reading up on technique (I
highly recommend David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling).
Musings of Early August...
August 11, 2001
The crash has recently made me re-think a lot of
this, and question whether I've really any business riding a bike. Reading
this article (copyright
by The Master Strategy Group) I found on MSG's Motorcycle Tips and Techniques
site sort of reinforced this; I am, at times, terrified of motorcycling,
and trying to decide whether or not to repair the bike has been in large
part overshadowed by the meta-question of whether I want to ride again. On
other times, like last night, when the evening was cool and crisp, and the
western sky was just beginning to glow with the sunset, I burn with
wanting to ride. If it hadn't been for my still-messed-up clutch hand, I'd
have taken her out for at least a spin around the block.
Getting my Endorsement - prelude to disaster?
July 15, 2001
And the good news is that I've finally gotten my endorsement! The
third time around, I took the Performance Based
class, which is basically the MSF Basic Rider Course taught on your
own bike, and at a faster, 1 day pace, and - almost unbelievably, to me -
I passed. So I've been enjoying riding on my own and continuing to develop
my skills, something I hope will be a lifelong venture. I made my first
tentative steps out onto the expressway with the help of an encouraging
friend (thanks, Ken; I probably wouldn't have had the courage to do it on
my own)... okay, not *too* tentative - I was up to 85mph before I knew it,
and had to work to slow down. Something about being surrounded by
18-wheelers makes me a tad nervous, and I'm finding that my tendency in
that situation is to just go faster. ;)
- 5/13/02 (Frustration),
- 5/23/02 (Eureka!),
- 5/29/02 (Darkangel Rides Again!), and ...
- 6/20/02 (R.I.P. [Darkangel])...
- 6/21/02 Summer Solstice - Bwah hah hah hah
hah! Hee hee! (call the funny farm) - I'm taking out the engine!
- 6/22/02 - The Heart of
Darkangel - the engine comes out, and heads come off (in the wrong
- A Tale of Two Trips, a funeral and a wedding, in the 7/10/02
8:10pm posting in my LiveJournal. I'll probably copy it over here, but for
now, you can see it there.
- 7/12/02 - Hope da Expert Valve Lapper (well,
not quite) - the head nears readiness, and I may actually have a
working bike sometime soon!
- Oh, I'm also officially
a 'w(r)ench' now, at least so sez David and Doug from Corsa.
8/18/02 - The Road to Devereaux (well, not quite) - I've
decided to just start using my LiveJournal
for my ride reports, so you can see this one here
- or - the annotated
version, including photos,
on this site.
You'll also find a lot of related musings on my LiveJournal
page, interspersed with other ramblings.
Musings on 8/1/016 - Well, since I've been grounded by the crash,
I've been more active in writing, mostly about the crash. I finally
finished the (long!) crash trip report, and got
my photo site ... now I just need to get the
blasted bike working (oh, and my clutch hand healed) so I can get out and
ride and avoid aggravating my repetitive strain injury any more. ;)
- My very first trip report
- Trip Report 2, wherein Hope discovers Curves are
- Trips 3, 4, 5... oh hell, a bunch of trips...
- The Crash
- Back on the Horse - my first post-crash
ride on Darkangel
- On the Road Again - I venture beyond the
- A Very Cold visit to Coldwater -
wherein I get to try out my new Widder electric vest & chaps. My first
"real" trip, I'd say.
- Look, another report! I've gotten lazy... Traipsing through the MSU Hidden Lakes
- This was supposed to be a ride report for my Lake Michigan coastal
ride, but instead it's about how I found out that Darkangel may be,
well, much as I hate to say it, a lost
My '83 VT500C, 'Darkangel'
Here's a page of photos of my bike,
an '83 Honda Shadow VT500C, 'Darkangel.' Oh, and there's also some
modified maps (courtesy of MapQuest)
showing the exact
location of the crash, some
photos of the new
fuel tank and
head pipes I bought on e-bay -
although for more than I'd hoped to spend, and an
amusing diagram of the crash, courtesy of the Brighton state trooper
who was nice enough not to give me a ticket.
Here's another page with photos of me
taking my engine out and
dismantling the heads.
(Am I obsessed? No.... not in the least...)
- I like to hang out with the folds in the RoadHouse at ShadowRiders.org. They're all
going on a cool ride to Crater Lake, Oregon, soon, but since I'm a newbie
(not to mention grounded while my bike is still being repaired), I can't
go. But at least I'm getting a T-shirt. ;)
- I also spend a fair amount of time in the Michigan Motorcycle Riders
forum on Delphi. I
also occasion the Shadow
Riders Forum , the Women Riders International
forum, and the Lady
Cruisers forum, though less frequently.
- One of my favorite sites is the PartsFish at
PowerSportsPro.com. It's an
invaluable resource for finding OEM part numbers and prices for old bike
parts (I think you can actually get most of the parts as "new old stock"),
and has complete microfiche diagrams of all the parts, exploded.
- I found my bike on CycleTrader.com, And I recommend it
highly. But be warned, check the "date posted" on ads, as they take a long
time to clear out the old ads.
has some truly incredible (essentially wholesale) prices on motorcycle
leathers - I got my v-pilot pants
(reinforced/padded knees, boot zippers, side stretch panels, the
works) for $78 - and the quality is great. I can't recommend them highly
- A lot of my friends are on the SabMag list, for folks who ride Honda
Sabres, Magnas, and Interceptors. The listmembers are known as "Maggots,"
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