Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Night Stalking Merge Lanes and the Joy of Tipping In

It’s been an excellent eight months living with the GS, I’ve done a fair amount of different kinds of riding on it, and it has never once let me down.

Quite the opposite in fact. It has shone. In every situation and oh the joys of tipping in!
When Steve and I took off for the mountains in November on Day 3 of ownership, planning to conquer the first one thousand kilometres in a single round trip straight back to the dealership, I had so much fun and I have never felt so comfortable so quickly on any of the bikes I have owned, and I’ve owned a lot. Earlier this year he took me on another mapped out journey across the West into the badlands of Ballarat for a good forest fossicking.

The Faux Trials Rider

I hadn’t tackled trials-like tracks like that since I was a kid, or maybe once many moons ago on my one and only Vinduro trip where I seriously thought I might die.

But Blackie just lapped it up. Over mound, under dale, through trenches deeper than my knees forward and onward we pushed across crazy looping trails that are the stuff of my boyhood dreams… I think I got air, I think I found traction lost, I know I kicked up some roost, and I found out just how good the Ride Modes are, and that the Traction Control is a really amazing beast that can be counted on and works like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

It lets you spin the back wheel and just as it steps out a bit too far, pulls you back in. I have no idea how.

Long Haul Freeway Cruiser

Later on I had to take an unexpected ride back to SA, I spoke of it here, in short it was another round trip broken up over four days covering around 1,500 kms of boring commuter style freeway slabbing it.  

That was my second experience ‘living’ off the bike; I took two helmets with me to try out the different styles of road going and adventure style while I tried to decide on my new lid - after much thought and trying different lids, I finally did here.

It never protested once, chewing up the highway with aplomb. On my return it rained cats and dogs sideways for two hundred kilometres. I was leaning sideways into violet rain with all three panniers on and the top box extended housing the second lid. No bother.

 Just kept going and going until it finally cleared, and the only downfall to speak of, of any kind, were my Dainese Gortex gloves and my hypothermic blue fingers.

Kicking Arse in the Twisties

It’s successfully taken me on the tenth annual Australia Day Ride (ADR) which are a bit of blur to me to be honest, it wasn’t the best time of my life for personal reasons, but I know the bike never complained and never felt inadequate in any sense.

I was in heaven in the Snowy Mountains. She stuck to those roads like crap to a blanket.

Hypothermic

But of late, Melbourne has turned GoT on us, and the cold has been setting in... and so the ride frequencies have been less and further apart.

But I have found a new found love of riding in the night. Even when it is blue finger cold.

Night Stalker

I don’t particularly like riding or driving at night, as my eyes are slowly deteriorating with age, and I’ve been having trouble focusing on things like Speed Signs… a visit to the Optometrist has fixed that and I now wear glasses pretty much full time. It has been a blessing on the bike though, making me feel so much more comfortable being able to see clearly.

Here we go loop-de-loop

In particular I have found a series of loops that circle my hood, no less than maybe 20 or 30kms in distance, in an excellent ensemble of merge lanes that tip and turn in both directions - perfect for trying to scrub chicken strips from a GS - which is no mean feat I tell you.


I accidentally discovered this loop on a mad dash to Costco which is a whole other story, but I basically changed my mind twice on which way to go and discovered these merges onto the freeway both speed limited at 100kmhr.

A crazy and pointless switch of direction, doubling back on oneself, one way with the city behind me, the other looking directly at it and the big wheel, each careening a different way, both offering the exciting option to go from whoa to 100 as fast as you can, tipped in as far as you dare.

It’s the most fun you can legally have on our roads in our nanny state. I like to go out and practise, and it’s been an excellent exercise in persistence as I gradually get more and more confident, and push it harder and harder, tipping in more and more. I might even scrape a peg one day.

 I dunno if it’s the extra clearance with the 19” hoop up front or the general all round setup of a more adventure style bike than I’ve owned before, but oh the joys of tipping in!

This pic has nothing to do with tipping in, apart from the amazing Great Alpine Road where it was taken.[/caption] This bike just EATS corners. The advantages of all the latest electronic wizardry is not lost on me either, I barely ever leave Dynamic Mode, but as I practise these silly loops I have noticed a bit more interaction with traction control and wheelie whatsamacallits, and cornering ABS even.

 I went in way too hot at one point, and hesitantly tapped on the front brakes with the knowledge that I could, and amazingly it just slowed me down without standing me up. The mind boggles.

Now I’m used to the berm and how acute each corner is, I’m feeling more and more like Rossi each time I attack em (would Rossi even bother riding a GS?) and gradually buy surely I am totally getting further over and it feels AWESOME.

Damn dem Chicken Strips

Alas the chicken strips still exist but the tyre is basically a square so I’m not sure I’ll ever truly find the edges… or is that just my lame excuse? I don’t really know.

What I do know is that the bike inspires me to ride harder and better than any other bike I've owned. If you think of the stigma of a GS being an old man's bike, you are seriously mistaken. Do not cross one in the twisties and dismiss it, it might surprise you.

The feeling of being so planted whilst tipping in, is something I have never felt on any of my other bikes.

The closest I can recall is actually the DRZ Motard with a Goldspeed Hoop up front, that is planted no matter what the conditions. Those tyres are ridiculously good. And while the GS is a big bike, it certainly doesn't feel like one while hauling ass. It is direct, you can feel everything and you point it, and it goes. Straight up most inspiring ride I have ever owned.

However, a Ducati-riding-bastard completely out-rode me the other night as I went out for my night stalk of the merge lanes.

Getting the Jump at the Lights

We scratched through the traffic to the front leaving the city - and I caught him unawares (I’m particularly good at starts and counting the light changes - 5,4,3,2, 1 - GO!) smashing him off the lights, which apparently he didn’t like at all as he slalomed through the next set of lights, pushing his Multistrada out in front of me, cutting in and across to jump onto the merge lane. My merge lane. Prick.

I say he got the jump on me, which he did, but seriously once he got into that lean on the merge ramp, he shot off much quicker than I could have. I tried, I really tried but my eye just wasn’t in, and I didn’t have the feeling, that ballsy-fuck-it-all-to-hell kinda feeling to push it much harder and catch his ass.

So he got me, but not by much. A couple of bike lengths, but a convincing dressing down nonetheless. Next time mofo...

Nothing Else Matters

Flying like a lunatic up outta that merge lane auto blipping up through the gears, and back down through the gears off at the next, I cackled like a maniac inside my encapsulated noggin' as the bike crackled and popped outside while I lined up the next return merge lane - and popped a tiny standup as I hit the gas hard taking off into the night...

Until next time, tip it in people! Don't forget to subscribe for more of the same drivel if that's your thang...