Sunday, 17 March 2013

Chicken Strips & Tires

About two months after I started to ride my bike, I noticed a disturbing wobble one day going over railroad tracks. The whole back end felt like it was out of control. So after double-checking that the tire was not going to imminently fall off, I made a bee-line for home in a very slow fashion.

My husband checked it all over and discovered the rear tire had lost a lot of air since we had left that morning! It's supposed to sit at 36 psi, and it was down to like 18 psi. He started rolling the tire to see what had punctured it and sure enough, there was a nail stuck in on the inside of the tire. Now this baffled me as I do not ride that far over to have hooked one, but maybe I was more daring than I thought and did it without thinking!

So, that was the end of riding that day and made an appointment to get a new tire installed. 

You all know the size of motorcycle tires, but...check out these tires:

That's my husband (in 2009) checking out everything under the vehicle. These are the "buses" that take tourists over the Columbian Icefield between Jasper and Banff in Alberta. 

Anyway...a week and a half later, I was good to go again...I know, they were very busy that July.

I was told to ride very, very carefully that day until the compound applied to the tire at the factory had worn off (about a tank of gas - 160 km in my case) as it made riding pretty slippery until then...Oh great, just when my confidence was getting better, now I had to tip-toe around on my bike like I was riding on ice!

Looking back, I think it took me a few days of riding to use a tank as my Suzuki has seemed to get better gas mileage the longer I own it. As of the beginning of the season last year, I could ride for 200 km before it needed a tank fill. Someone told me that the engine is still "being broken in" and that affects your mileage. Good to know.

Once the new tire had been "scrubbed" as I've come to know the term to mean, I continued on my self-imposed training of learning the nuances of riding. 

My "chicken strips" are very slowly getting smaller, but have a long way to go. Every time we start out on a ride, I use the same route in my neighbourhood before I hit the city streets. I devised the route to incorporate a number of tricky "to me" manoeuvers that I felt are important to master to be a safer rider and build muscle memory. If I am feeling like I need more practice, then I do it again and again.

First up is a tight lean to leave the driveway so as not the hit the parked cars that take up most of our residential street (can't see very well around them if you know what I mean without sticking the front tire out very far into the main road).

Then, it's watch busier traffic going left and right to find a suitable entry point to get into another road without taking a too wide turn into the other side of the road. Yikes! 

Then it's accelerating on a sharp curve with a lean (and some clutch shifting to gear up) while watching for vehicles backing out of their driveways.

Then a stop at a "T" intersection without sliding forward on the seat, and taking a double right-hand check for traffic squeezing up beside you and then cutting you off (yes, some stupid woman did this one Sunday morning, and if I hadn't done that second check, I would have ridden right into the side of her as she pulled in front of me from a lane she should never have been in).

Then it's through another curve watching for "tar snakes" that are the bane of motorcyclists. Carry on down a straight stretch to another "T" intersection, with more tight turns and stops.

I found two cool little places to practice my u-turns, and had to make a fast decision one day when a little boy on his tricycle came roaring out of his driveway to watch me and then try to follow me. Well, at that point, I stopped, gave him a wave and left as I didn't want anything to happen. 

Another day when we were out, we rode by a house with the garage open and full of sport bikes and there was this little boy waving at us. His parents were laughing as we waved back at him and I smile just thinking about it now. He was so excited to see more motorcycles. (Aren't we all though?)

Back to the route - lots of stopping at intersections  
(with dirt, gravel, uneven road surfaces, water, leaves) that tested my observation skills and really trained me how best to start out on my Gladius. More throttle, but slower release of the clutch to get it moving without launching myself. If I don't give it enough throttle, I tend to kill the engine when the clutch is released slowly. Then there is a  3 kilometre stretch of just riding in a circle to get the speed up and do some leaning (both ways) while changing gears.

By the time I've done that whole route a few times, I feel like I'm warmed up for the city streets and ready to "set sail".
(Taken from Goosespit Beach near Comox on Vancouver Island, British Columbia)

Also, just heard that our insurance is going to be capped at a $150 annual increase, instead of the ridiculous amount that had been proposed. Yay! Now I can still justify shopping for that mesh jacket in the spring I've been thinking about.

Out the window, the snow is blizzarding down again and the temp is -14 C (7 F) with a -25 C (-13 F) windchill. Looks like it will be a few days yet before I can go riding...

Have a good one...will bundle up later today to go dog walking and recharge with some Vitamin D.







  1. Hooray for capping the insurance increase. Glad someone had some sense talked into them.

    And as for chicken strips. Kathy, aka ToadMama prefers to call them 'swaths of sensibility'. I agree. I'm to chicken to lean over enough to get rid of my "chicken strips"

  2. Yes, now I'd like to see some mandatory training put in to keep riders safer...early days...I know my motorcycle instructors were pushing for better standards 3 years ago but weren't getting far with the insurance company, maybe now this will do it?

    I do like that term "swaths of sensibility" much better too! ToadMama is a smart woman and I suspect lots of women riders would agree with her thinking!


  3. I'm also glad your premium increases were capped but really someone should figure out who causes these accidents. Most are caused by cagers turning left in front of riders.

    Don't worry about chicken strips. Just ride the way you want to ride. No one looks at your tires anyway when there are more curvacious things to look at (wink)

    When were you in Comox ? do you have family there ? will you be riding out here to visit them ?

    so sorry about your non-riding weather. Spring should be here soon

    Riding the Wet Coast

  4. We do have a little family on the island that we pop out to see occasionally. And what a trip that would be on the bikes! Going through Calgary would be insane (traffic) as well as the strip of highway between Golden and Field (narrow roads and overhanging rock). But it would be fun to boot it up the Coquihalla, and get to park the bike (with the other bikes) on the deck of the Queen of New Westminster - I was on that as a child with my grandmother, man that ship is old, and still going strong!

    Spring...coming soon to a region near you...enjoy your rides for me, we'll be able to get out there eventually. Yesterday afternoon was spent moving snow away from the house so there's no flooding when it does warm up...usually about April 15.

  5. Suzu:

    I just checked Google Maps. It's about 2,000 kms each way, Regina to Comox. So a gentle 3 night 4 day ride will get you there. What a nice ride that will be to be motorcycle touring and perhaps diverting through Creston, Nelson then hwy 6 to Vernon and south to the Coquihalla . . .

    It would be a trip you will remember for a lifetime. You could even ride down the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. It is a distance and it would be a nice trip. I need some luggage for my bike and to get my husband a bigger bike...then it will be feasible. You never know, it could happen!

  7. Suzu - I live on the Island in Victoria, it would be cool to meet up with you if you come here! Glad your insurance thing has been settled. I too like Toadmama's "swaths of sensibility" I got a new rear shoe for Scarlet last year and had to wear off the coating, but it didn't take too long to do. I think I am going to need a new front tire soon too. I bought mine first one from Canada's motorcycle last year and was very happy, bought a Metzler. I am looking for a new mesh jacket with better armor in it, mine is pretty wimpy and isn't going to do much in a drop. I am thinking Olympia Airglide.

  8. Hi Dar, thanks for stopping by! I've read a bit of your blog, but have lots to catch up with. Loved that your hubby presented you with your bike for Christmas! What a guy!

    Yes, it would be cool to meet other moto-bloggers the next time we head out for a little island time - I'll see what I can do when planning holidays for the future.

    I'll be looking at jackets in either Calgary or Edmonton as there is a much bigger selection there for women's moto wear - everything here has to be special ordered in and I do not know what's going to work best. I just know it gets too hot some days in my Joe Rocket in plus 25 C weather. Now that the insurance thing has hopefully sorted itself out, I can do some online browsing again...

    Enjoy your rides this spring!

  9. Hi Suzu,

    Chicken strips were one of the first things I learnt about, when I bought my bike brand new they gave me all sorts of warnings, and scared me too. I haven't even looked at them and dont care if they are still wide, I ride carefully all the time anyway.

    We recently had visitors on Shadows, so there were four cruisers pulling into our driveway last Saturday and yep we were watched by the cutest little boy you've ever seen, he was facinated .. made me smile too :)

  10. Hi Brenda,

    I ride so carefully all the time that people pass me because I'm doing the speed limit. I don't want to wreck my bike trying to look cool, it's too beautiful and gives me such a feeling of accomplishment every time I pull up in the driveway after a ride - as I know it does for you too.

    Kids watching bikes reminds me of us watching Super Bike racing or MotoGP, we can't believe they can do that!

  11. Suzu - I hear old man winter is still hanging around out there, even more than here in the east.
    Hope you see some sunshine and warm weather soon.

  12. Yes, old man winter just does not want to go away and I even saw two robins already! This morning we were greeted with more falling snow when we checked out the window. My husband said a not nice word - he is getting antsy to get out on his bike too...hope you are getting more spring-like weather out your way!