Tag archive: cafe racer
My Hope For You
I hope you continually:
Chip away at the obstacles that prevent you from doing what you love
Add to the myriad of layers that make you unique and interesting
Ignore how society attempts to define you
Seek counsel from others
Spend quality time with old folks
Listen to everyone’s opinions and then formulate your own
Learn from the negative experiences in your life as they will shape you as much as the positive ones
Embrace grief and pain but don’t let it mire you in depression
Tell and show people often how much you care about them
Roll with the changes
Let go of the past
Find new tribes
Try new things
Eat weird foods
Take care of your body
Experiment with your hair
Do things that frighten you
Expand the borders of your comfort zone
Acknowledge your fear but don’t let it confine you
Recognize that life is short; breathe each breath as if it were your last
Live in the moment and find contentment in the now
Look for beauty in the mundane
Connect with nature
Laugh at yourself
Laugh a lot
Take a stand
Defend your choices
Admit when you’re wrong
Find joy in bargain hunting
Permit yourself to spend some of that savings
Know that you are a work in progress until the day you die
Smile even when it hurts – it’s more for you than other people
Recognize when you’re not gifted in the thing you have passion for
Find passion for the things you are gifted in
Share your gifts and talents
Say NO when it’s warranted
Say YES because you can
Ask for help
Be brave and courageous
Allow yourself to make mistakes
Show kindness, mercy, and compassion
Grant others grace when they’ve screwed up
Allow yourself to ugly cry once in a while
Choose honesty over deception
Don’t let others take advantage of you
Build a reputation for being a person of your word
Give your very best effort in everything you do
Ignore both flattery and criticism
Desire to keep learning
Believe in your own worth
Build a relationship with God
Live YOUR life
And finally, a word from my dad for when that horse bucks you off and you get the wind knocked out of you:
Get up out of the dirt, brush away your tears, and
Get your ass back in that saddle!
Ducati Test Rides and Revelations
This whole thing – test riding other Ducatis – started because my friend Michael practically wrestled me to the ground and forced me to ride his Panigale.
He’d ridden behind me a few times and determined that I am a stronger rider than I believed myself to be. Make no mistake, I do feel confident in my riding, but not so much that I have a false sense of bravado. It was truly a high honor and strong validator of my skills when he insisted on making me ride his incredible machine. Not gonna lie, I was scared at first. It was so much more machine than I was used to. But when I was done, it put a huge smile on my face and it got me to thinking: it’s time I expanded my range of skills and possible motorcycle options. The next weekend I headed off to my local Ducati dealer in search of enlightenment. After spending about 30 minutes each on two brand new 2017 Ducatis last Saturday, I’ve come away with a greater understanding about motorcycles in general and learned something valuable about myself in the process:
- Motorcycle models are designed differently for a reason, and
- I am a hell of a rider.
I’ve reached the 2nd anniversary of bringing my Scrambler Ducati Icon model home (lovingly dubbed the Falcon) and in the past 2 years I’ve put over 20,000 miles on it in a wide variety of conditions, both on road and off. It’s been an incredible bike for me. I’m as in love with it today as I was the day I drove it off the lot, perhaps more so since we are now so intimately acquainted. But after my first test ride of the day on the new Scrambler Ducati Café Racer a light bulb went off in my head alerting me to the possibility that I have underestimated and undersold my own riding ability. Shortly after heading out on the Supersport S a little later I was practically banging my head and laughing because I finally fully grasped for the first time that I’m a much more accomplished rider than I had previously given myself credit for. AND I understood that I’ve literally been forcing my bike to perform maneuvers it was never designed to make with any kind of grace. It’s obviously capable of corner carving at the speeds with which I tackle them but certainly not without a great deal of effort and manipulation on my part. But, like the bumblebee who has no idea that it’s not supposed to be able to fly considering its design, I had no clue my bike is not supposed to flit around the twisties at high speeds alongside my more experienced fellow riders on R1s, GSX-Rs, Panigales and the like. I’ve just figured out how to make it work.
My sweet husband Neel, who is my main riding partner, has been signing my praises for a long time and I have poo-pooed him and downplayed his compliments because, while I feel like I’m a strong and intuitive rider, I wasn’t ready to claim any sort of proficiency in the presence of our more experienced riding associates. I mean come on, how can a 50-year old woman who’s only been riding motorcycles for 3 years, with her only formal training being 2 MSF courses and no track time, consider herself to have legit riding prowess? In the spirit of full disclosure, however; I am compelled to reveal that I’m an experienced and excellent rider – of horses! I grew up riding and breaking horses on a cattle farm. I rode barrels and other competitive gaming events and in general my ass has seen more time on the back of a horse than most people’s asses will see in a lazy boy in a lifetime. And my ass has seen a lot of time on the ground from being unseated by a mistake in my reaction to, or misjudgment of, the next twisting buck of a young colt or by not paying attention to a perceived threat which might cause a horse to suddenly shy away. We had lots of horses to ride and by switching mounts often I felt that I became a better overall rider. A person can appear to be a top rider on one horse, but if that’s their only horse, they’ll get lazy and complacent. That rider will learn that particular horse’s habits and quirks and adapt to their way of going. But throw that rider on a different horse with different conformation and mannerisms, and you’ll quickly find out if that rider has real skill or is in fact a one-trick pony themselves. To be a better horseman, a person must be able to sense subtle changes in their mount, observe upcoming obstacles, and make lightning fast and equally subtle changes to their body positioning to avoid a disaster or to simply elevate the quality of the ride in any particular situation. Not unlike riding a motorcycle.
I’d like to think that a lifetime of riding different horses has prepared me for the world of riding motorcycles. I seek to continually better my riding skills – with horses in my past and now, in motorcycling. Every ride is an opportunity to test and stretch my abilities or those of my mount; finding little maneuvers that work and revealing ones that don’t. Even short trips to the store gives me opportunities to build on my foundation and practice things; more time in the saddle hopefully translates to faster skill acquisition.
But I’ve spent 2 solid years on the same mount. I’ve only occasionally ridden a couple of other bikes, but not often enough for my liking. I’ve been worried I’ve gotten lazy and complacent even though I work hard at challenging myself on my Scrambler. When my local dealer got in a couple of demo models of interesting brand new bikes, I eagerly took advantage of the opportunity to ride them. I’ve sort of been thinking for a while that I need a second bike to handle the sport bike riding I like to pretend that mine does. Having another bike would save wear and tear on my Scrambler, which is set up perfectly for my long-distance riding on variable terrain, and I am at a point to which I feel I could give quality riding time to more than one bike. I know there is no one bike which is fully capable of peak performance in multiple riding disciplines, although, I must say that my Scrambler is as well suited to being a one-size-fits-all bike as just about anything out there is. If I could only have one bike, this is the one for me. It does a variety of things quite well but can’t really complete with style-specific bikes when pushed to their limits. So my search for a sport(ier) second bike commenced with a trip to Garcia Moto last weekend.
Scrambler Ducati Café Racer
First up on my agenda was a ride on the Scrambler Ducati Café Racer. This one seemed like the logical choice to ride first as I feel I’m more than qualified to sort out the subtle nuances that Ducati incorporated in the new model. To quote the words of my salesman and good friend Steve Rakes, it felt “intimately familiar yet seductively new”. I had already done a bunch of homework on its specs and done a side-by-side comparison between it and my 2015 Icon so I had some head knowledge of the differences. At first glance it looks like the same bike with some cosmetic changes but if you dig into the finer details you’ll see they’ve made seemingly small changes which effectively equates to significant changes in how the bike handles and performs. I discovered within a few blocks of driving off that the smaller front wheel, shorter rake, shorter trail, lower clip-ons, and higher seat, all combine to give this bike great advantages over the Icon for carving corners. This bike practically BEGS for an opportunity to dodge and weave. I hardly moved my butt out of the seat in the turns when taking some of my favorite twisty roads at the same speeds I normally ride. In comparison, I have to glide from side to side on my Icon, never really sitting down, and hanging off like a GP rider to sling it around tight turns at speed. Combine the more aggressive riding position, greater agility, and more user-friendly levers with the new fuel mapping and smooth-as-silk throttle response, and we have a wonderfully refreshing new animal in the Café Racer. It’s so different that I could EASILY own this bike as my second ride regardless of the fact that it looks so much like my main ride. However, because of the more aggressive riding position, I wouldn’t keep this bike as my #1 all around rider. I still enjoy having my Icon for that.
Ducati SuperSport S
Second up was the Ducati SuperSport S. While I had been marginally interested in it prior to riding the Café Racer, I was now only riding it as a matter of due diligence. I was THAT enamored with the Café! I don’t have much sport bike experience so it was a little intimidating at first. But when I threw a leg over it and felt the (slightly) more upright position than say a Panigale or R1, I felt more at ease. In fact, just sitting on the SuperSport S without even moving felt very comfy and cozy. While the cockpit was gently spooning me, I fired it up and its purring motor whispered to me to drop into gear and go. I took it out around the same roads as the other ride (roads I’m intimately familiar with) and again, within blocks I could feel the differences between this bike, the Café, and my bike. I instantly fell in love with the way the tank and seat formed a cockpit to hold me securely in place. And again, that smooth-as-silk throttle response which is so different from my clunky, on-off throttle, was a pure delight to roll on. BTW, I was in touring mode and kept it there – I can only wonder what race mode feels like. The S model comes equipped with a quick shifter which could spoil a person in no time. I acclimated to it so fast that had to keep reminding myself to pull in the clutch at stops! The Öhlins suspension is a highly coveted upgrade to the Scrambler suspension and boy did I feel it! Not a single bump threatened to unseat me. Speaking of which, in the turns I never once moved out of my seat to sling into a corner. It is THAT smooth and confidence inspiring. So much so, that several times I checked my speed thinking that I must have backed way off and must be only going 35 but in fact the speedo read 65. (I NOW get why my friends can go soooo much faster in the chicanes without looking like they’re expending any effort at all. While they’re seemingly putting through the turns I’m performing gymnastics just to keep up!!) Many people have reviewed that they hate the digital bar tach, but I found it to be in the perfect position, just in my periphery so I never had to take my eyes off the road to check RPM- which I was doing often. I then took the SuperSport S on the highway to see how it performed there and it was nothing less than stellar in my opinion. I left the adjustable windscreen in its lowest position and was quite comfortable with the amount of wind blast but I should have raised it to the higher position to see how it felt. My bad. When I wheeled back into the dealership, I honestly was ready to plop down a deposit on it if it weren’t for one major drawback: the inferno-like heat coming off the engine scorched my inner thighs. The heat was so blisteringly painful I was almost teary the whole ride! That was kind of a deal breaker and I’m not sure how to overcome the flame-thrower effect. The rest of the ride was so incredibly enjoyable though, so if anyone can offer a viable solution I might consider going into serious debt to buy the SuperSport S!
So, there you have it. Getting out of my comfort zone yielded valuable revelations about myself, my personal motorcycle, and the prospective ones I rode. That little exercise gave me a greater appreciation for, and inventory of, my current riding skills. Now I also understand more about how different motorcycles are supposed to perform according to their designed purpose. I’m making a vow to test ride many different brands and styles of motorcycles this year, as I feel much more confident in my ability to make an educated and informed decision!
Let the games begin!!!!
Please share your own experiences or recommendations!!Details
“Owwww, I’ve got de chilblains!!”
Who remembers the episode from the Pink Panther cartoon’s Inspector series in which Sargeant Deux-Deux spent the whole time complaining about this painful infliction? Anyone? Well I do and I always used to laugh at the pathetic little character and shrugged off what surely was as much of a real disorder as cooties were.
WOAH Nellie…back it up. Turns out “de chilblains” (you must say it in a Spanish accent – think whiny Antonio Banderas) are REAL!
And, oh man, are they real!!
I cannot believe after spending over 30 years of my life living in the frozen Upstate NY tundra (or Hoth as I affectionately call it – Star Wars Geek Alert) and having suffered mildly frostbitten feet from spending HOURS in subfreezing temperatures that I never developed this painful, itchy, and completely annoying condition. And now, after almost 18 years of living in the warm south, I get visited by the chilblain monster. What kind of twisted game is mother nature playing with me?! I haven’t even been exposed to sub-freezing temps! Or have I ….?
First, let me give you a quick explanation of the condition. I’m too lazy to write my own so here’s someone else’s description from Straitdope.com:
Chilblains, also called perniosis or pernio, are a skin inflammation, most commonly seen on the fingers and toes, caused by prolonged exposure to low but not freezing temps and damp … Chilblains form because blood vessels constrict from the cold, and when said constriction lasts for an extended time the vessels don’t respond quickly enough to rewarming, causing blood to leak into the surrounding tissues and damage the skin. Your skin doesn’t have to freeze, as with frostbite–it just has to stay cold and damp for a while. Chilblains often show up in the form of swelling and discoloration and sometimes blisters, sores, and painful nodules under the skin. They can itch something fierce and scratching can lead to a secondary infection. If they’re bad enough they can cause numbness and long-lasting temperature sensitivity due to autonomic nerve damage.
Oh and and pretty too. <INSERT SARCASM>
So, now that I have solved the mystery of what the heck is going on with my toes, I am still left with the question of “how did I get chilblains in the first place?” Then I thought back over the last few weeks and considered my motorcycle riding. While I was bundled up well and didn’t suffer too much from riding in the cold temperatures (40ish degrees) and monsoon rains, I realize I may have neglected to properly care for my feet. They didn’t FEEL cold (too cold that is). I’m getting older (if you haven’t done the math then scroll back up and puzzle it out for yourselves) and it could be that my sensitivity to cold just isn’t what it used to be – maybe my extremities don’t relay that information as efficiently to my brain as they once did. Or, perhaps I’m so hard-headed that I just don’t care when I’m cold because riding is just too damn fun. Probably a combination of the two, um … heavily weighted on the latter – my parents could attest to many (oh brother, way too many) instances of the latter.
So, according to the description quoted above, it doesn’t take below freezing temps to get chilblains – just cold temps and dampness. I’ve freely bragged about riding in those specific conditions lately. And… uh, I’ll bet the wind chill factor on my feet (especially after they were soaking wet) was pretty effin low too.
As much as I love my Gasolina Boots – which are SUPER AMAZING BTW – they apparently aren’t imbued with super powers, like say, an invisible shield which keeps your feet toasty warm and dry in storm-of-the-century conditions. I guess I need to add more than a skimpy wimpy sock to the lower limb set-up. I almost purchased a pair of SmartWool socks before the winter season began but balked at the price and didn’t bother. I’ll be ordering a pair (or two) RIGHT NOW!
So there’s that. Mystery solved. As I sit here following my afternoon ride today, G R A D U A L L Y letting my feet warm up to room temperature while still wearing my boots, I know with a little care, I will continue to ride another day. Happy moto riding in winter to me!
(Oh, you better believe I’m still riding! Stubborn, remember?)
If you have any cold weather motorcycle riding tips, I would love to hear them. Leave me a comment below!
Finding Kindred Spirits in Unlikely Places
“I used to ride for many years when I was younger,” she said to me with a wistful look in her eye. When she was “younger”, I thought – how old could she possibly be with her waist-length, gorgeous blonde curls, and her trim athletic build?
Outside the post office, I was getting back on my bike (a 2011 Suzuki TU250 that my husband artfully chopped into a killer café racer!) when this vision of a woman approached me, imparting the camaraderie that passes between riders. I couldn’t have known by her manner of dress (blue jeans, sneakers, flowing button down blouse), or by her breezy way of sauntering up to me, that she was going to start a conversation about motorcycling. Most women don’t approach me when I’m on the bike (men, however, can’t contain themselves – biker or not… ), so I just assume most women aren’t riders and I don’t take an interest in the ladies I cross paths with unless they too are on a bike or dressed in motorcycling gear.
“Why don’t you ride now?” I asked her. With great pride, she told me that she’s 64 years old (NO WAY!), still surfs and participates in other physically challenging activities, but faltered when she couldn’t put her finger on why she hung up riding. I could see her contemplating and questioning it in her mind. So I let it go, letting her think that her “I’m 64 years old” answer was sufficient, and we chit-chatted a bit more about riding, outdoorsy things, and enjoying life to its fullest. Naturally I also had to fawn over her age/appearance disconnect. I REALLY wish I had taken her picture – she was that stunning!
As she walked away, I called after her, “You know how it feels; get yourself back on a bike before you regret it.” She turned her head over her shoulder (the wind catching her luscious, long locks like a scene out of a Bo Derek movie), smiled wide and called back, “I could you know….I still surf…”
She walked away and I sighed. She gave me hope for my future. While putting on my gloves, still grinning to myself about the exchange with that beautiful woman, another woman – this one quite professionally dressed – came out of the post office. Imagine my surprise when she too approached me and started talking about my gear, specifically asking about my gloves.
“Are those Icons?” she asked as she nodded her head towards my hands, which at that moment more resembled twigs having a wrestling match with leather and nylon straps than graceful fingers skillfully putting on gloves. I looked up at her in disbelief (which was hopefully well-hidden behind my sunglasses and full face helmet) and said, “No they’re not but Icon makes great ones; my husband owns a pair.” Instantly disarmed for the second time in a matter of minutes, I excitedly conversed with her about cold weather gear and the pros and cons of different materials, some of the great deals she’s gotten over the years, and her extensive helmet collection. Prior to this conversation, I would never have guessed by her attire or demeanor that she was also a moto rider (or even a passenger) but indeed she was. She told me she loves to ride her bike all year but that her husband doesn’t like the cold. She laughed and said, something to the effect of, “you can’t keep me off the bike.” And I whole-heartedly agreed with her! We chuckled about our mutual hard-headedness, passion for the ride and said our goodbyes.
Basking in the glow of these brief, back-to-back encounters, I rode off with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. These ladies made my day. It was endearing and encouraging to have two women stop to talk to me about their experiences. As I reflected upon the scene later, I realized a few other things:
Firstly, neither one mentioned my bike. At all. Nothing!
And that is the first and usually only thing men ever talk to me about when they see me riding. It was refreshing to have meaningful conversations about the riding experience and not the particular machine under me for a change. Not that I mind talking about and showing off my TU – she’s my little mountain goat and I LOVE her – but it was unique that they not only didn’t broach the subject (even though the bike was sitting there big as life), but that I didn’t even notice the lack of it until after I got home.
Secondly, neither one of them felt the need to tell me to “be safe” or convey some other cautionary parting remark. That too was powerful. As if they both knew there was no need to state the obvious.
Thirdly, I am guilty of making assumptions based upon circumstance and appearance. Had they not said anything to me first, I wouldn’t have given those women a second thought. They would have disappeared into obscurity as far as I was concerned and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging about them now. We should all take a risk and just randomly begin conversations with strangers more often. We could learn a lot about the people we pass every day and by listening to their stories and watching their eyes sparkle as they talk about something special, we come away blessed, if not richer, people in return.
Fourthly, neither one of them apologized for anything. In any way! There wasn’t even a hint of verbal or visual communication that smacked of excuse, concession, or justification. I often find myself making self-deprecating remarks following a compliment bestowed upon me. Take my bike for instance. Instead of simply saying “thank you” when someone shows interest and proceeding to talk about its merits, I always feel the need to apologize for it’s diminutive size.
I am grateful for these two empathetic and kindred spirits who, by sharing something more than a passing nod today, taught me several life lessons and gave me something I hadn’t felt before on the bike.