A couple weeks ago we found an old section of highway that we didn't know existed. This has become our new regular haunt. It only takes about 20 minutes to get to and begins with gentle sweepers out through the farm land towards the Blue Mt.'s. The sweepers climb up through the foot hills and then in drops abruptly down into a canyon via 15 and 20mph hairpins. Then it follows a river for a while on 35 to 40mph (posted) sweepers. After that you've got a few miles of rolling straights and then the climb up cabbage hill.
Cabbage hill is pretty interesting on the four lane main highway, but on this old highway it's downright nasty. I need to take a picture from the top because you can see the road snaking down folding back on itself and winding its way to the bottom. It's fairly technical with several places where blind 40mph (posted) corners will tighten up and then immediately snap into a hairpin going the other way. And it's bumpy in places with lots of blacktop patches on concrete. Tons of fun once you learn it (or think you have). And once you're up there in the mountains it just gets better. They don't plow up there in the winter so it doesn't get chewed up or graveled. It's smooth and clean. A constant rhythm of 30-40mph sweepers one lined up after the other with very little straight anywhere.
Since last year my buddy Jim (used to be one of many racers at the club level) has been helping me out a lot because I had a bad habit of leaving the throttle closed through corners. This made the bike want to push wide which makes you want to go slower which pushes the front even worse which......you get the idea. Once he got me to crack the throttle a little as soon as my braking was done and then roll it on from the apex things have gotten better and better every ride. These hairpins are a real test for someone like me and after a few weekends up there I can almost hang with the front guys (meaning almost keep them in sight) while staying within my comfort limits. You don't realize the pace is steadily increasing until you stop for a break and find out that some are getting power slides coming out of the first gear hairpins.
Anyway ,yesterday, once we'd had our fun we started back down cabbage hill. We were still up top with Jim and Jeff out front, 900rr and 929 respectively. Then me and then Chris on his Mille and Todd on an FZR400 (wink wink). Jim and Jeff were pretty much already gone, that's fine, Chris and I usually run a similar pace so I had company. Todd can go very fast when he wants to (actually Todd, Jim, and Jeff have all spent a lot of time on a race track) but Todd is also happy to spend time at the back just enjoying the road.
Approaching the first hairpin, a right hander, I brake hard, the stupid Linked Braking System on the 'bird has the ass end dancing around like Ben Bostrom on this downhill entrance, happens all the time so I'm used to it. Ease off the brakes and crack the throttle. The bike settles and I flop it onto it's right side for the hairpin. Crack the throttle a little more because it's downhill and carve my way to the apex. Fine, good, so I start screwing on the throttle when I see a blacktop patch in the concrete right where I want to be. No big deal, they're all over the mountain, you can't help but hit them occasionally. I'd gotten used to the squirmy feeling the bike gets as you ride over them, even feeling both ends drift a few inches and then catch a couple times on the way up (remember what I said about the pace freshening without you realizing it?). I decide I'm not going to do anything hamfisted just to avoid this patch so I hold my line. As the front hits the patch I'm on my way out of the hairping sneaking up on 55mph in second gear and the front starts to squirm and push out, pretty normal so far, don't do anything stupid like shut the throttle and load up the front. "Stay smooth" I tell myself under my breath, "leave everything right where it is and let the bike to its thing." As the front finishes its slide of what felt like three feet (probably more like six or eight inches) the rear starts to go. But this time the motor spins up and it went big! Oh f**k got it sideways huge this time! Left foot's come off the peg and slam she catches, swinging violently the other way and highsiding me up onto the tank, ass out of the seat and thinking, "Damn, the high beam is bright," as I'm staring back at the front of the big 'bird. The force of being thrown onto the front has now slammed the throttle shut and the back end is chirping and chattering all over the road. As it swings back to the left side again, the bars cross and the front tries to fold, nothing I can do now, either it's going to sort itself out or I'm going to scuff my new leathers. The front doesn't fold, the rear makes one more swing to the right, a little tank slapper and then it was over, leaving me coasting down the road laying up on the tank with my chest on the windshield.
I pulled to the side of the road and stopped, partly to collect my thoughts but more so because I had smashed the step children on the tank and I thought I was going to throw up. Chris pulls up on his Mille with a big grin on his face and a big thumbs up. He says, "great save man, I thought you were gone for sure!" Now when I think of great saves with a car I think of someone actually doing something, whether it be with the steering or throttle or both, to catch a car and save it from crashing. Apparently, in Chirs's mind, a great save with a motorcycle means; do nothing but hang on and load your shorts until everything settles down.
The rest of the ride down was no good. I was stiff, my confidence was shot, and every corner I entered felt like it was full of gravel. Every little twitch was magnified and nothing felt good. So I did the only thing I could which was to back way off the pace and basically coast the rest of the way home. Hopefully things will be better next weekend at the track. At least the track will be a good clean place to rebuild my damaged confidence.
So that was my weekend. Hope yours went better.