Thursday, September 29, 2011

750 cc here I come!

Tonight Motorcycle Man was off early and I had Lucy out on the street warmed & ready to go. We did some stopping & starting on a hill practice & then a short jaunt by the water. On the final leg of the ride he ACTUALLY LET ME RIDE HIS 750 MAGNA!! Holy moly it is a nice ride, she sits really comfortably and I know she is going to be my next bike. The throttle is twice as responsive than Lucy's and is a completely different ride. Nice and smooth, its like driving a barcolounger. Seroiusly I never knew I would like riding this much. 9 months ago I felt daunted by the prospect of riding a 50cc scooter. Fast forward to today and I am in total bliss with my motorcycling experiences so far. I have a very healthy respect of what cc's bring to the table and that I still need to gain experience and add more defensive driving skills to my aresenal and happily lots of practice ;) (any excuse to go for a ride)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Introduction to Novice Motorcycle course

Tonight I go to the introduction session of the Novice Motorcycle course that I am taking through the Vancouver Island Safety Council.  I have been waiting weeks to start my office trip into the world of motorcycling! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cones!! To Infinity and Beyond!!!

The doggis accompanies us to our parking lot forays and this is her grandstand seat.  
Today was the day for going around cones and becoming better acquainted with the throttle, clutch and gliding.  After breakfast we went to Parking lot Nirvana and I practiced figure 8's and slaloming around the cones.  I did it!  I only put my foot down a couple of times.  At first I was muscling the steering with my arms and I was getting tired pretty quick.  Then I had an 'ah ha' moment and started working the clutch and gave it a bit of gas I was actually gliding through the turns.  It just sort of gels and makes sense what Motorcycle Man is telling me.  I went for a rip around the parking lot and Motorcycle Man moved the cones closer together and I didn't even know it.  He did that several times and I was manoeuvring around the cones with ease.  As with anything involving turns, it is all about look where you want to go.  Motorcycle man said I got an A+ for today! I was balancing Lucy and we had motorcycle zen going on.  Yeah baby!  

A little nerve wracking the first couple of times around, but in the end piece of cake
In my pictures you will notice I am sans jacket,  I gave in because it was really hot and I was sweltering. That was the first time I have gone without it when riding.  (I think it was stressed induced)  I have been riding my scooter for 9 months I find I have the balance and lean technique fairly naturally.  I start my Novice motorcycle course next Saturday for the next 3 weekends and I am so excited.  I will not be taking Lucy to the course, I decided that I would use one of their bikes, I believe they are Honda CBRs 250 & 125's.  It will be a different ride compared to Lucy the cruiser.  I think you sit more forward on the CBRs.  After my cone practice I was given the reward of a ride down Dallas Road along the waterfront.  It was a beauty day!

Round and Round she goes!  

Motorcycle Man added more cones, but didn't take any pictures.
It is pretty exhilarating to learn something new and it completely amazes me that I am actually riding a 450 cc bike.  Nine months ago I never would have thought I would be doing this, because at the time my little 50 cc vino seemed pretty powerful and almost more than I could handle.  I have come a long way since January this year, but I still have a lot to learn and skills to master.  It almost feels as natural as breathing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sell my scooter?!

At 5:30 one of my neighbors knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted to sell my scooter, because I have a motorcycle now. I have such mixed feelings about this, my scoot fits perfectly in the little bike lock-up and I don't think Lucy will fit. I am so tentative about this because I haven't done the motorcycle course yet and haven't passed and I truly do love my scooter and she started my on my moto journey. Could I still call myself Princess Scooterpie?

So for now I think I am just going to hold onto her and concentrate on passing my course.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Motorcycle salvage store - everything including the kitchen sink!

Everything and even the kitchen sink!

Today we went over to Victoria Motorcycle Salvage.  Motorcycle man was looking for a clutch lever for Lucy, hers has been replaced and its a little wobbly.  He is also looking for a side cover for Lucy. He is very particular about our bikes and likes things tuned to perfection.  There is this very funky salvage place with tons of salvaged parts, if you need something it is probably there.  It was interesting to look at the different parts in there, but sad that they aren't on running bikes.

Told ya there was the sink!

We didn't find the clutch lever so we went over to their retail outlet that sells parts, gear and used bikes.  Pretty cool place and I happened to spy this little baby in the shop and couldn't resist snapping a picture.  

The shop has a mascot which is a parrot that talks.  The parrot squawks when you walk in the door and sounds like an alarm going off.  It also was saying "bad dog" - lol I guess where she lives they have a dog that gets into trouble a lot.  The parrots name is Buckwheat.  You find all kinds of interesting things in bike shops!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Motorcycle Euphoria!

The Student
Today was an awesome day!  I spent most of it on Lucy and listened to Motorcycle Man as he imparted his many years of riding experience and wisdom to me.  He is like my Obi Wan Kenobi and I am the student grasping the teachings and craving more!  Okay enough with the Star Wars stuff (At least I didn't call him Yoda)

The teacher - Motorcycle Man.
Our daughter was away at a school function all day, so we had  plenty of time to ride.  Each time I go out I get more comfortable with Lucy.  I am adjusting to balancing her weight and finding my riding comfort zone.  I ride my scoot every day in heavy traffic in downtown Victoria, but today was the first time in traffic on Lucy.  The motorcycle is different, I am following a different master and its called cc's.  I said this before and I will say it again, there is a huge gap from 49 cc to 450 cc's.  I learned that today and realized what I have been missing with my scooter, power and torque.

Our bikes - Lucy on the left  (Honda CM 450E).  Her big brother Honda 750 V45 Magna

Motorcycle Man is a very calm and patient teacher, in fact awesome.  He doesn't rat on you if you don't get it, he just encourages you to keep trying. He will demonstrate with his bike to show me the correct technique.  I also had to get out of my head, by this I mean thinking it is different than riding a scooter, it is and it isn't.  The clutching, shifting and braking is different. I just have to apply the other driving principles I use on the scooter, such as defensive driving and common sense.  I found it a little frustrating in the parking lot because I didn't have enough of a straight stretch to 'crank open' the throttle, which to me means going faster than 20km/h. (I know I am not a speed demon, but 20km/h seems like 100 when you are new to it) After a few hours of working on stopping on hills, starting on hills, turning and stopping safely, we went for a ride.  Motorcycle Man would not have let me out in traffic if he wasn't confident in my skills thus far or if I didn't know I could do it.  We went my familiar scooter tootle route through downtown Victoria along Government Street and over to Dallas Road and along the scenic ocean drive. Here I am dealing with a mish mash of everything when it comes to riding, you are anticipating what the pedestrian tourists are going to do, the kabuki cabs, taxis, buses, horse drawn carriages and cagers.  It is still high tourist season here so downtown is  very busy.  I know the road well and what to anticipate.

There is a world of difference ripping around in a parking lot in circles and being out on the road in traffic.  I had the opportunity to get Lucy up to 50 km/h and upshift to third and back down again.  I was using my road sense and anticipating light changes and watching for goofs opening car doors, etc.  Motorcycle Man was behind me the whole time and watching what I did, we would stop at regular intervals during the ride and he would give me pointers and I really appreciate the feed back, both positive and corrective.

The parking lot Nirvana 
This was the first time that I have 'really driven' Lucy in real life circumstances and I have to say that things gelled.  Using the clutch and shifting is getting easier, I am not looking down at the shifter like I was on the first few runs, it is becoming instinctual almost.  I was downshifting properly and enjoying listening to the revs of the engine, it all made sense.  My braking is coming along, I am now getting familiar with Lucy's brakes and the amount of pressure I need to apply.  It is one thing to talk about riding a motorcycle and another thing actually doing it. 

We continued on our way by the sea wall and went down into a parking area called Clover Point.  Motorcycle Man parked his bike and motioned for me to do the same.  He asked me to get off the bike and then said, "Okay I want to see you do your HAPPY DANCE, you just rode your bike."  He was grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire cat.  We both did a goofy little dance much to the amazement of the cagers parked around us.  We finished off the rest of our ride and came home both of us happy and content.

There is a huge difference between driving an automatic scooter and shifting a motorcycle and I now know what Motorcycle Man meant when he said, "You need to learn to shift and experience riding a motorcycle."  I have to say I enjoyed having that extra power when going up hills. When I do those same hills on my scooter Vixen, she is very underpowered and it feels almost like a slow jog.  Vixen is about as fast as a bowl of oatmeal on a Sunday morning.  Those same hills on Lucy seem effortless.  When we passed by people who were walking on the sidewalk they smiled at me and a few waved, I think it was because of all the pink gear.  I also experienced the riders wave several times, I returned the wave with a lifted 2 finger peace sign a few times (I was too terrified to take my hand off the grip).  So all in all it was one of the best days I have had since I took up scootering 9 months ago and now motorcycling.  I am equally as sure that there will be more highs and even some lows, but now I know I can do it.  

A triumphant return

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Lucy Honda CM 450E (right) and her big brother Honda 750 V45 Magna

I have learned many things over the last nine months since getting my scooter at the end of January. I learned that I am not invincible and that I, Princess Scooterpie can get banged up & need to take it easy from time to time. I am not a super human road warrior princess - but I will admit to being a Moto Diva.  I learned that I love riding even more than I did when Motorcycle Man used to pick me up for our dates eons ago. This time I get to be the one who drives and don't have to look at the back of his oh so lovely shiny black helmet or have a numb patootee from sitting all cramped up behind him. I have met some really cool people who ride scooters and motorcycles and there is a kinship of the road travelled by two wheels. I have fallen utterly in love with riding whether it be the scooter or motorcycle.

At first I was so content with my little 50cc vino scoot. Bob a wise scooter/motorcycle friend pointed out that once bitten by the bug you will continually be on a quest for more cc's, he was right. After a couple of long enjoyable scooter tootles I realized I was very limited in where I could venture to and restricted to roads where the speed is 50 to 60 km/h. To go to scooter rallies off Island I would have to trailer Vixen and that seems like an awful lot of hassle. I have toyed with the idea of taking the motorcycle course over the years, but it never really amounted to anything until this year. Fast forward to today and I have been out riding my new to me old bike Lucy.

Motorcycle Man has been so patient and indulgent spending his time standing in a parking lot with the sun beating down on him, patiently talking me through shifting and encouraging me when I stall or do a jack rabbit start. Last night we went out for an hour and I drove Lucy to the practice lot with Motorcycle Man following behind in his car. I came to a little incline and had a 'moment', it is entirely different than riding the scoot. Now all of a sudden I have a foot brake, hand brake, clutch and shifter to deal with. I was paralyzed by throttle fear and clutch anxiety on this little 'bump'. Motorcycle Man came to my rescue, he hopped out of the car and talked me through the moment(we were on a quiet street)I made it through to the next stop, executed a beautiful lefthand turn & cancelled the signal upon completion. We had a so-so kind of ride night, it felt like 10 steps forward & 10 back, although Motorcycle Man said I did well.

Tonight we went the same route to my parking lot nirvana of safety riding. I didn't flinch or think twice about the 'bump' and stopped, clutched, shifted and throttled without a thought. I think I am over thinking  things and making it harder than it really is. I did several laps of parking lot nirvana until a newb car driver decided they need to share my space. Stops & starts are getting better, not so chunky or stopping too far away from the line. Tonight there were more positives than negatives and it felt like a good night. I rode Lucy home and we looped around the block with a good couple of turns and ginormous speed bumps - they should actually call them speed mountains they are huge! I even got Lucy up to 40km/h and she rides great! Lucy is really starting to feel like she is mine, I am getting familiar with how she handles and how to shift my weight and how to balance her. She may not be brand new and has a few battle scars here and there, but none of that matters because she is mine.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My new/old ride! Let me introduce you to Lucy...

My motorcycle is a 1984 Honda CM 450E, she is an oldie, but a goodie!  I have dubbed her Lucy.

Thursday night Motorcycle Man and I went to look at a bike.  I knew from the moment I saw it,she belonged to me.  I called her Lucy, it just popped into my head. I am still not flat footing completely, but it is a comfortable sit.  I decided that I wasn't going to buy new and was going to find an inexpensive starter bike. I  can always up-grade when I have been riding for a bit and am comfortable.  She has a ding on her tank and a few scratches here and there, but it adds to the Princess Road Warrior persona, after all you can't look tough in a pink jacket.  I might even decide to restore her to her original glory, she is a very nice smooth riding bike.  I had her out in the parkinglot and was working on shifting and stopping.  I got her up to second gear and downshifted smoothly.  She is a completely different ride than my scoot Vixen.  I have to say there is a huge gap between 50 cc and 450cc, but I am managing pretty well.  So my journey continues and I am looking forward to doing my Novice class and traffic course.  

Motorcycle Man is already planning some refurb projects on Lucy and he was out there detailing her today and making sure I have a safe ride.   Thank you Motorcycle Man you are the best!

9/11 Remembered

Members of the Victoria Fire Department Honor Guard.  The firefighter on the truck is ringing the bell to
mark the moment the first tower fell and a moment of silence followed to honor all those who perished

Today was just an ordinary beautiful sunny day in September, in fact it was the exact sort of day on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  This changed radically on that September day in 2001 and it would change our world forever.  It was the day that people lost their lives because someone decided that hate was more powerful than peace and love.  Two jetliners crashed into the World Trade Centre, one into the Pentagon and the fourth and final jet in Shanksville PA in a farmers field.

I was home on that day with my four year old who had chicken pox.  I was up early and my husband called me from work telling me to turn on the television.  America had been attacked and I could not believe the images I was seeing on television.  It was surreal to say the least, unimaginable.  I like so many around the world were riveted to the television and could only watch and pray that people made it out safely and return home to their families.  Then the towers fell, I cried, I didn't know what else to do.  That evening I lit a candle and put it in my living room window as my way to remember all of the countless lives that were lost.

My most single vivid memory of the day is the chirping sound of the alarms that the firemen & women wore on their uniforms. When a firefighter becomes motionless or prone these are triggered to chirp so they can be found and brought to safety. There were just so many going off and I knew these were all fallen firefighters.  That will forever live with me.

We should remember everyday and thank those who protect us.  The firefighters, paramedics, police officers and our military all stand quiet post without fanfare protecting and rescuing us in times of peril.  These people are the brave unsung heroes of our society, they run into to danger as the rest of us flee, for this I am grateful and I don't think I can show my gratitude enough for your sacrifices and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.

To the children and families of 9/11 who lost a loved one, I pray that you find peace.  There are no words that I can say to ease your pain and loss.  The children of this tragedy were struck the most because they lost the person most important in their lives, the person they called "Mom or Dad"

Today my daughter and I went to the main Firehall in Victoria and attended a service of Remembrance of the Firefighters and all who lost their lives on that fateful day.  A moment of silence was held to mark when each tower fell and the firemen rang the code 3-4-3 on the fire bell for the 343 brothers & sisters they lost that day.

Thank you for protecting us each day and may God watch over you and your families to keep you safe.

Ringing out code  3-4-3 in remembrance the 343 lost Firefighters

Friday, September 9, 2011

I feel the earth move under my feet.....

Today we experienced a temblor of 6.4, located off-shore up by Port Alice on Vancouver Island. It was felt throughout the island, Vancouver and up into the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Apparently there have been aftershocks, one about 4.9 on the Richter scale. I was sitting at work pounding away on keyboard transcribing reports and all of a sudden my chair started move, my monitor was shaking along with other unsecured office paraphernalia. I jumped up out of my chair and couldn't decide if I was going to flee or hunker down under my desk. So much for drop-cover-hold, for me it was run-right-now! The shaking was brief, less than a minute and was over before you could yell "I'm outta here". It was disconcerting to say the least. The office building I work in is only about 13 years old & was built to very stringent earthquake standards and technology. It's almost akin to it being built on shock absorbers. Still the building is very sensitive underground shaking and sometimes you can feel it shake when heavy vehicles go trundling by. I have to say I was a little skittish and squirmy the rest of the day.

Cool thing is I tweeted my experience and was interviewed by CTV Vancouver Island for their 5:00 cast..

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Motorcycle shopping continued

I have looked at several motorcycles over the last couple of days and nothing has leapt out and said, "Come on Dar, I am your bike, take me home baby!". I don't know if I am expecting too much, but my experience with buying Vixen my vino was exactly that. She was shined up and lovingly stored under a cover and clean.

I have been looking at used bikes mainly off the Internet classified websites. If there is one thing I could say to people who are selling their bikes is: detail your bike, shine it up and make sure it's clean. As a perspective buyer there is nothing more uninspiring than a dirty bike. The dirty bike gives me the perception that you don't care, and for me it starts me wondering a whole lot of different things like; 1) Was it serviced regularly? 2) Did they do any maintenance? 3)It appears that they don't care about it, so has it always been treated this way?

I know I am looking at used bikes and they are not in pristine showroom condition, but seriously spend an hour or two shining it up. A little bit of elbow grease may be the difference in full price or less being offered.

I am sure when I finally come across the bike it will say, "Come on Dar, I am your bike, take me home baby!"