By July 21, 2006

A Robotic Riding Experience

What do the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica and my FZ6 motorcycle Cylon have in common? They are both one-eyed, efficient mechanical wonders who don’t give a damn about humanity.

I rode from Richmond to Rockville today and back again this evening. This was the longest time I’d spent on my bike in one day. The heat wasn’t a factor as much going up as it was coming back down (I lost the slight breeze of the mid-morning and the humidity was higher), but either way I was well-equipped with my arsenal of wicking garments.

What really got to me was the motorcycle seat. After about fifty minutes, my butt got sore and my left foot became numb. Stretching my leg out towards the front of the bike helped. However, I don’t think doing this multiple times a trip at 100MPH is a good idea. The saddle of the FZ6 is known for being as comfortable as a church pew; I had just never put enough miles on my bike in one day to really notice. I guess I know what I’m getting myself for my birthday ;).

Of course, my sore ass didn’t deter Cylon one bit. He soldiered on, unconcerned about my pansy nerve endings. I was very pleased to find that even at cruising RPMs he was able to overtake cars at 85MPH+ without a downshift. Every day I ride I realize more and more I’m not even close to utilizing this bike to its full potential.

I surmised a few other things on ~4.5 hours astride Cylon today:

  • Wind used to affect me a lot, especially cross-winds. They didn’t phase me at all today. My core muscles are in much better shape than when I started riding. I think my upper body was too weak to stay upright and would lean with the wind. The bike would hum out, “BY YOUR COMMAND” and do exactly what I told it to do: ease windward. The double counter-punch of experience and conditioning really helped my confidence today.
  • I might need to install “highway pegs,” footpegs that are mounted on the front of my bike. My buddy Fish Sprout has a Japanese cruiser, and the position of her pegs are better suited for longer time on the road. Hopefully a new saddle will alleviate my achy leg problem; I think the riding geometry of the FZ6 suits me just fine otherwise.
  • I noticed that my right hand (throttle hand) was giving me pins and needles on the way up. I am pretty sure this was due to the Vulcan nerve pinch I was giving my handlebars. I told myself to relax several times on the way home and didn’t have this problem at all.
  • It’s official: my saddlebags and tailbags won’t fly off at high speeds. Good to know. I did wonder what the launch would be like if my saddlebags broke free and got caught in my rear wheel. Maybe next time.
  • A motorcyclist armed with training and situational awareness will overcome an inattentive SUV driver. Where 495 and 270 split I encountered a fellow who put his right turn signal on and moved over one lane to the right. So far so good, eh? Right blinker still on, he began to ooze towards me. I saw his tires creeping towards the dividing line and by the time he as in my lane I was already out of danger. I saw that he was READING A MAP. I beeped my horn to get his attention, and gave him the BAD KITTY head-shake. +1 for my Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and reading up on common crash scenarios.

I covered 278 miles today, or about half the distance to my Mom’s place. I’m going to need to make some changes to my single-minded steel companion if I want to make it all in one day.

Posted in: motorcycling

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