Friday, July 20, 2012

A Perfect Curve

I suppose that every rider experiences times when he has more difficulty riding well than at other times.  I sometimes find myself 50 pencing around a curve, taking the wrong lines, or doing something else not quite right.  Most of the time I recognize this, and make a mental note to do better.  And, frequently, I consciously practice some specific skill when I go out riding. 
English 50 pence coin

Other times, I feel as though I am in the groove: The lines are right, the actions are smooth, and as a result, it feels good mentally -- and in the seat of my pants.

While we're discreetly talking about the latter, I think many sports including motorcycle riding are exciting and enjoyable because of that feeling you get there.  The engineer in me believes it is the acceleration we feel when we put the bike into a corner with some gusto, or when we turn a finely-suspended car sharply into a curve, when we twist the throttle or mash the accelerator, or when we begin down the first hill of a roller coaster.  That feeling we get in the seat of our pants, and in turn, in our brains, gives us a rush. 

Well, the other day, I went for a ride along a familiar road nearby.  It was one of those days when I felt much more in control.  There is one curve on this road that is preceded and followed by straight sections, so there is plenty of time to prepare for it.  The sight distance around the curve is very good, without trees or mountainside obscuring the view around the bend.  The radius is constant, the road is clean of debris, and the surface is as uniform as it can be on a public road.

The curve in question is the one near the arrow on the map below.  
(Note the similar curve, in the opposite direction, further on from that one.) 

I usually take the curve at forty miles per hour.  That day, I did it at fifteen higher.   ...and it felt good.  Very good.  The lean angle was greater, of course.  There was no 50 pencing.  I looked through the curve toward just the right point of exit.  I leaned my upper body earnestly in the direction I was looking.  I opened the throttle a bit on the way in, and accelerated on the way out, thereby causing the bike to straighten up nicely.

Come to think about it, a while back, I wrote about the fact that looking where you want to go works for other activities besides riding a motorcycle.  FastFred, the motorcycling/kayaking writer of a couple of quotes I cited there, has recently posted a video of him riding his Electra Glide Standard, pulling a trailer with his kayak on it, up the crookedest road I have ever seen.  I wrote about that road, Green River Cove Road, earlier, too.

Here is a look at the 1.4 mile twisty section of that road:

View Larger Map

It is uphill going to the south.

FastFred's video is taken using a camera mounted on his kayak on the trailer, so it shows his actions from behind, particularly the lean angle.  On the map, it begins at Pushpin "A" and concludes at Pushpin "B."

(By the way, notice that FastFred's stylish rat tail is infinitely longer than mine.)

Since this road is, shall we say, somewhat twisty, Fred has to swivel his head tightly to the right or left so he can look where he wants to go.  Since he also has to lean the bike a lot on many of the turns, and he is going uphill, he has to look up to look at the road ahead.

That combination of having to look to the side and up means that some neck exercises would be of benefit.

This video, narrated by someone from New Yawk, shows what you can do to limber up those old bones:

I feel looser already!

I hope I remain "in the groove" for many a curve in the future.

How about you?  Do you get into the groove, too? 




Ben Mosley AKA ben2go said...

HAHA!LOL! I live in an area close to Green River Cove Rd.It is an interesting ride going up.Come on over and we will run all the switch back roads around.

Charlie6 said...

Taking a curve, at speed, doing everything right and then powering out of it, a great feeling....get's the blood going don't it?


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