Friday, March 28, 2008

Tracking the White Buffalo

Balance. A key aspect of riding on two wheels. All riders and non-riders alike know that the nature of a motorcycle is to succumb to gravity and fall down and the only solution to developing good balance is practice.

I have noticed that my balance at slow speeds has improved considerable over the past several months. When I first started riding, coming to a stop sign or traffic light was always going to be a battle of indeterminate end. Oh, I never fell over like the comic character on the tricycle in the old Laugh-In television series of the 1970s, but my position in my lane was always a crap shoot depending on how many wobbles this weeble made.

Well, after 2,400 miles I can pretty much place the bike where I intend and those rare times when traffic on the outer belt is slow as molasses, I can plod along straight as an arrow at 5 mph. Yeah, baby! A minor accomplishment, you say, but I choose to celebrate every victory.

All these balancing act accomplishments aside, when my wife rides with me, things change. Of course, my head knows that the added weight of a passenger changes the balance dynamics of the bike. Combine the added weight with the fact that she is, at the moment, an inexperienced passenger, and sometimes I feel as though I'm riding through a spacial anomaly where gravity changes its constant and tries to pull us a different direction. The weeble is back!

The solution, of course, is practice and training. Practice, not necessarily on the interstate highway system, but on the back roads we like to travel. (To Teresa's credit, she has placed an incredible amount of trust in my abilities, whatever they might be, and has only rarely voiced her displeasure or apprehension of a riding situation. Grace abounds.) Training can be obtained via the Experienced Rider Course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and Motorcycle Ohio. The overview of the course is interesting and looks to be an excellent resource for both rider and passenger. There are experience requirements that I don't meet yet, so this might be a course we take sometime this summer or fall.

Balance is an elusive beast that sometimes, like the mystical White Buffalo, doesn't want to be found. But once found and bridled is our friend.

Now, if I can only find the balance between my honey-do list and my ride time!

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