Scoot Commute

Why I’ve been riding on street tires for the last couple of months

Posted in Daily Commute, Suzuki DR-Z400SM (Elsa), Weather by sbahn on 2012/01/16

The last few rides with the guys I was sorta wishing I had the S wheels on Elsa but I knew I had to ride up to Southbridge, MA in mid-January for a work event. I knew that work colleagues were also going so I suppose I could have planned to ride shotgun with one of them, but I really like the ride from PVD to Southbridge.

The day before I checked the weather and it looked ok enough, some rain in the morning, decent temps, and then partly sunny with temps taking a nosedive. I figured I’d be on the road back home around 3:30 so that would give me 1 1/4 hours of sun. By then I could be back across the Rhode Island border and just blast back, after having some time on the backroads in northeastern Connecticut.

It was pouring when I woke up but, magically, the rain stopped just short of 7:30 am. I stepped out of the house around 7:35, smiling that I was not going to have to ride 295 in the rain.

I took a new route to try to make the fastest time on the backroads, and it was really nice. I passed a mini-van parked by the side of Route 44 out in Burrillville with two kids sitting with their legs dangling out the side door who frantically waved at me. Waiting for the schoolbus.

Very foggy (as in “Man, I can’t see a thing! I sure hope I can be seen.”) and as I crossed the border into Massachusetts, I noticed white stuff along the side of the road. “Oh, I guess that’s the snow NOAA said I’d discover.

Gotta love northeastern Connecticut -- some great off-the-beaten track roads

Gotta love northeastern Connecticut -- some great off-the-beaten track roads

I walked into the convention and meeting place with someone from work I bumped into and another attendee who I didn’t know. After checking in (and hilarity all around when I mentioned I rode up with Beatrice on the back), I walked into the very large coat room to pull off my wet gear (fog condenses so it seems). I emerged and apparently I was very quick as the guy who had walked in with us noted, “That was fast.”

The workshop ended around 3:00 pm. I stepped into the large coat room to don my gear, and upon exiting, a woman came up to me and asked, “Are you on a motorcycle?” I said, “Sure thing! This ain’t for fashion!” She then told me how she’s always wanted to ride but is afraid, and her husband said it was difficult, blah blah. I asked if her husband rode and she said no. I then said, well, take the class, get your license, try out some bikes, and buy something. At this same moment, another person came up to ask if I wore a helmet (good grief!), but I’m glad she did because I had left mine sitting in the coat room! Unfortunately I started a conversation with the other person and didn’t get to finish with the first person, and I didn’t know who she was (although at these things, more of the people tend to remember me ‘cos I’m walking around in hi-viz so hopefully I’ll see her at the March conference).

I know this is an aside, but I just don’t get the “Oh, I’ve always wanted to…” conversations. I’ve always lived a life of just do it, and try not to overthink it too much. I suppose I don’t have kids so I don’t have to worry about how my actions will affect someone else who doesn’t have a choice, but then again, your kids need to see you being a full human being if they’re to become half-way decent people. So I do hope I run into her again.

I made the mistake of not putting on my rain/windbreaker under my riding jacket because when I stepped outside, it was brrrrr! cold. Too late, oh well, I didn’t want to take off my riding jacket and rethread the wiring for my gloves (my only heated gear). I got on the bike and headed back home with my analog GPS directions written on a piece of paper, hoping some of the roads were dirt.

I love this part of Connecticut. You come across these rinky dink towns that, at one time, weren’t so rinky dink and the houses are gorgeous, although many of them are a bit tattered around the edges. I found a couple of easy dirt roads that were a bit o’ fun as the dirt had gotten soft and squirmy from the several inches of rain overnight, and, with my rear tire practically gone and hating on mud, I got to squirm around a bit. Oh, and there was just a touch of snow still on the roads. I can’t believe it’s 15 degrees colder up there than in Providence.

What's that white stuff? It didn't melt all day, just sat there to make the roads that much more fun!

What's that white stuff? It didn't melt all day, just sat there to make the roads that much more fun!

My ghetto GPS was almost flawless except for the one road that did not have a name in the Google maps when I was working out my route. Note to self: if the Google doesn’t name the road in congested New England, it’s probably not a road. I wound up back on a road I knew so was able to cross the river (what river? I think it’s the Quinebaug River in Putnam, CT) and then backtrack to get on my route.

This is the first ride that I used my new-to-me GPS (thanks Santa!) in map mode. It was so nice to have something pop up and say what road was coming up. What I discovered, though, is I may call a road something but the GPS may call it something else. I’m chalking this up to the New England disease as we’re so populated, roads have multiple names. When I lived in California, I never had this issue. I remember asking someone, “What’s the back way?” to get somewhere and they had no idea what I meant.

I did run into traffic on some of the dirt roads and everyone was super-nice, slowing and pulling over so we could share the road. Everyone except that bastard in the blue Subaru on Riley Chase Road who, I really think they did, sped up and didn’t give an inch on the one lane road in the dark. You’ll get yours one day, and it will hurt.

Oh but wait, I forgot the giant gaggle of wild turkeys and the herd of deer.

I was in an area I had been in before, but off my route sheet, and I was getting ready to pull over. Good thing because a giant grouping of wild turkeys (are they not the ugliest things you’ve ever seen) was sauntering across the road. I eventually had to turn around so I got to ride through them twice. They can certainly move when they need to.

A bit further on, on a road I know so I was going fast, I see a flash of white. Bam, step on the rear brake as the rear of the bike squiggles through the mud. I pull up and look into the woods. I can see two of the bahstahds. It’s getting pretty dark now and I  had been thinking about deer, but I figured it’s still hunting season, no way they’re out gallivanting this close to civilization. I then realized it was 6 deer, not two, sheesh! I watched as the deer turned, ass towards me to show of their white tails, and bounded up the hill and through someone’s yard. It’s really rural but there are still houses. All I could think was of my poor mom, trying to grow flowers, and the nasty deer eating everything down to stubble.

I did try to get a pic, but my frozen hands were simply too slow.

Eventually I spilled out onto Route 101 and headed back into town. Lemme tell ya, it’s cold when the sun goes down and you’re doing 60 mph, brrrr.

When I got home, I actually turned up the heat (to 60F, how extravagant) and then made a cosy fire. Oh, and I sent a text to one of my work colleagues to let him know I wasn’t dead in a ditch.


2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. cait said, on 2012/02/13 at 12:11 pm

    Hi there! Just discovered your blog and I wanted to ask what handguards you have on your DRZ but I didn’t see how I could contact you outside of post comments.

    • sbahn said, on 2012/02/13 at 1:11 pm

      Barkbusters Storm. I got them Twisted Throttle (located in Rhode Island like me!):

      They’re bigger than regular Barkbusters. If I were to do it again, I don’t think there’s really much of a difference between the regular VBS and the Storm Barkbusters. The Storm only come in Black. The regular Barkbusters come in a bunch of different colors. My boyfriend has the red ones of his Transalp and they work the same.

      I can tell you that the bike has been dropped plenty of times and I’ve hit all kinds of branches, and the guards do their job!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: