Thursday, June 20, 2013

Head Shake Flats

On Labor Day last year, I took a ride down to San Isabel on the 748s. Partially just to enjoy some of the last days of Summer and partially to give myself some perspective on the aforementioned high speed wobbles. I tried leaving at 8 but it was 8:30 before the Ducati barked to life. That worked out well. My first break came 35 miles down the road at the Coyote Den in Penrose for some coffee and coffee cake. I sat on the patio and pulled out a copy of Peter Egan's book Side Glances. I opened it up to the next story which was about Peter and Barbara's first trip to the Isle Of Man. Hmm, couldn't of planned that one any better. While thoroughly enjoying my break I kept noticing a cowboy in period clothing walking around. He didn't seem to be working there. Then I realized that he'd come in on the Harley out front. Oh, that's why he didn't have a hat.

I'd texted my riding buddies the day before to see if they wanted to go but everyone was busy. Riding alone is an interesting experience. It's nice because you're not hindered by anyone else's riding abilities or schedule, or riding faster than you should be for fear of holding someone back. Just you and the ride, which is nice. However, as you go along, you keep seeing things and wanting to share them with the other rider but you just have to keep them to yourself.

The next day my friend Steve texted me saying that everyone got to ride the day before except him. I texted back saying, " yeah all day long I kept looking back thinking where is that guy he is so slow. Then I'd remember that he'd had other things to do." Steve responded, "That. Really hurt." You can see why we get along.

The sound of the L twin is interesting. It always reminds me a little of the mechanical clack/slap of a semi automatic pistol. The mechanical noise almost drowns out the exhaust growl. Like 750 little Italian hammers all tapping away at the same time. Maybe it's time for some Termignonis. Steve has a 900ss with the pipes on it. It's not as loud as my old Z1 was but it's pretty loud. I was riding it one time and some guy pulled up next to me at a stop light and gave me the, "your bike is too loud glare." I gave him the, "Nice Mini Van, your wife help you pick it out?" look back. I really should of said that except I didn't think of it until later.

Well I suppose it goes without saying but my 748s just loved that road to Lake Isabel. The tight little canyon leading up to Hardscrabble is fun. It even has a sign that say's,"Motorcycles use caution!" However, after you turn south at the junction the road is curvy but opens up enough so that the Ducati really began to stretch it's legs. You drop into a long corner and if you need to change lines you just move one way or the other. No complaints. I'm not too fast of a rider but the grand composure of that bike is starting to give me more confidence. I don't want to hang off the seat when I'm in the corner. However, I find I can tighten my line up a little by dropping my inside leg down. It's a nice micrometer adjustment.

Big American bike vs little Italian bike. Mine doesn't have a radio.

On the way back I came upon a couple of new riders. Their clothes were shiny and the newly purchased bikes were being ridden very carefully, meaning, slow. I followed them for a while being content, but soon I couldn't stand it anymore and when I found a suitable straightaway I opened up the throttle and zipped past. Well, mostly past. I'm hoping I didn't upset them. As I was passing the lead rider a bike came around the corner towards us. It wasn't startling as we could see them coming for a bit. However I ran out of space to get by so I just eased in next to our newby until the bike got past and then I completed the pass. I didn't feel like it was dangerous but I fear the guy next to me might of freaked a little. Oh well, now he has a story to tell.

After passing through the town of Wetmore I came to Head Shake Flats. The notorious straightaway that gave me that monumental spook on the Z1. I was interested to see how the Ducati would feel through that same high speed bumpy curve. This time I was traveling alone so I just had to imagine that I was blazing past my friend Steve. What a difference 37 years of development makes. I opened the throttle on the Superbike and watched the speedometer climb. I managed 110mph before traffic slowed me down. In a straight line, around the bumpy corner, sitting up, tucked in, the Ducati tracked like it had dropped into a slot.

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