Monday, October 11, 2010

Quartzville Quandary

I was going to write a post on Saturday while Troubadour was out on his epic off road adventure but I wasn't in the mood for writing. I am off work early today so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

On Saturday October 2nd RickRick, Troubadour and I decided to go for a little 200 mile ride. The ride route.......

We went to coffee and from there over to Albany to Premier Motogear as Rick was checking on an order he had placed. From there we took the back roads to Lebanon and then Highway 34 to Sweet Home where we filled up the bikes with petrol. We also took this opportunity to put on an extra layer under our jackets and I switched to my winter gloves. It was a little chilly out and the sun had not yet made an appearance.

We travelled through Sweet Home and turned left, headed over the dam at Foster Reservoir and then we were on our way via Quartzville Road which turns into Quartzville Drive. Rick was in the lead and Troubadour called sweep so I didn't straggle too far behind. (I have a tendency to doddle if I am the last in line) We continued east meandering our way around the river. There didn't seem to be a lot of traffic but the further we got the more campers/hunters we saw.

I wasn't going terribly fast, but I was having fun gaining some cornering experience. I was in need of a quick break as my morning coffee was making me close to bursting. We stopped at Yellowbottom for a bathroom break and a snack. Troubadour found a little critter to match his bike and snapped a pic or two.

Back on the bikes and off we went. From Quartzville Drive we stayed right and were on Forestry Road 11. A little narrower (one lane with pull outs) and a little more climbing before we headed down towards Highway 22. For some reason I could not get in the zone once back on the bike. I felt that I was fighting the little TU the rest of the way up the hill and back down again. Second gear was too low, third too high. It was really frustrating to me.

Here is a shot Troubadour took. You can see the tail lights of the TU and ZZR up ahead.

Sure was nice to see all the leaves changing colors. Riding through the swirling leaves on the road was great. It made me want to shout "whee" in my helmet.

A little further and we stopped for some photo opportunities. Here is Troubadour on his Tiger.

Rick pretending to tip him off his bike.....

and the guys goofing off....

Getting geared up to get back on the bike....

Before we knew it we were on the bikes and heading further east. More twists and turns, uphill and down, several with a decreasing radius. I was going slower than I'd hoped but eventually made it to the junction with Highway 22. Rick was already there with his helmet off.

While stopped Troubadour mentioned to me that I should have been able to take the corners a lot faster than I was and even 'lapped' me at one point. Roaring ahead to catch up with Rick, coming back and then catching up to me once again. I am sure I could have taken them faster but with the way the bike and I were getting along it was as fast as I was comfortable with that day.

I am not sure whether it was fighting the gearing of the bike, or simply the hesitancy of leaning far enough over. Maybe I need to be pushing on the bars harder to get more of a lean thus being able to increase my speed. Hard to do with an aversion to sliding out not to mention the downhill grade with the drop off on one side, yikes. Hell, I was happy to have made it in one piece. The road had several spots of moss, gravel, and just plain large pot holes. Luckily we all had radios on and Rick was good about warning us of the hazards.

These are last pictures we took that day and were taken at the junction of the Forest Road and Highway 22. Troubadour claimed he couldn't see me behind his Tiger so I promptly leaned over and stuck out my tongue for the second picture.

The ride to Salem on Highway 22 was uneventful. Little bit of traffic and we were moving at an indicated 70 mph for most of the way. The TU didn't seem to have any trouble keeping up which was nice. At one point around Detroit Lake the wind was beating us up a little and I did have my heated grips on even though the sun had come out. It was a pretty drive and I think it was the first time I'd been on those roads.

Once in Salem we stopped at Sushi Kyo for a late lunch/early dinner. Excellent as always. From there we went north a few exits on I-5 so that Rick could check on a wetsuit he was having altered. I-5 was a first for me on the bike but I managed to keep up. Then the obligatory stop at Harbor Freight. From there we went through Salem to River Road - the back way to Independence and then down Independence Highway the back way into Corvallis. By the time we were leaving Salem we were riding into the sunset. I had my Oakleys on (don't leave home without them) but was using my clear face shield because of the morning clouds. Once we made it over the bridge to Independence we stopped and Rick applied black electrical tape to the top and bottom of my visor so that I could see. Prior to that I was pretty much riding with my left hand up shielding my eyes so I could see the road. Wasn't fun.

We headed south and managed to get back to Corvallis at 7 pm, just as the Beaver game was letting out. Had a great day of riding (even though it was frustrating at times) and managed to beat game day traffic and watch the sunset. Was an enjoyable day and I look forward to the next ride.

My quandary is - when/how do you know you are ready to step up to a slightly larger bike? I feel the TU is a little too small in the way that it is geared and a slightly larger bike would actually be more comfortable to ride. I've heard that a slightly heavier bike is easier in the corners due to stability. I love how light the TU is for maneuvering in parking lots and how easy it has been to get into riding, but on some level I wonder if it is holding me back a bit with being comfortable increasing my cornering speeds and of course going uphill. (Uphill is not one of it's strong points unless leaned forward in a full tuck) There isn't much out there that is slightly heavier or larger without jumping up too far. I don't much like cruisers and do not want forward controls or to be bent over on a sport bike so that limits my choices.

I have 1600 miles on the TU so far since the end of March and I'm hoping to get several hundred more on it before spring. I know that it is more fun to ride a small bike fast than a fast bike slow but I fear I'm riding my small bike slow. Just not sure what to do, so for now I'll just keep riding and putting more miles under my belt and a smile on my face.

-Au Revoir

"Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Courage can't see around corners, but goes around them anyway." ~ Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


  1. Nice write-up. Exactly the soul food I need with the bike in the shop. With gaining confidence in your riding it is completely normal thinking about 'upgrading' your two-wheeler. Consider adding another Triumph to the family? The Bonnie perhaps? Winter is closing in and the motorcycle show in Seattle is coming soon, lots of models to check out. Maybe you'll find a few that you might want to test-ride next year... ;-)

  2. Great trip report especially since I will only be able to read about others trips for a while. I'd focus on cornering somewhere without cliffs, gravel or wet leaves. This last month, I've really been enjoying the corners but still tend to slow down when on the outside of a curve with a steep cliff. It's hard not to stare at the drop off but then again, that's just me.

    I've only ridden a handful of bikes but of all of them, my favorite so far is the F650GS. My feet reach the ground, it feels really light, the pegs are under me so it's easy to move around while riding and there is at least the potential for off-highway riding.


  3. It sounds like you know just what to do: Keep riding and putting more miles under your belt and smiles on your face.

    Since March I have logged nearly 5000 miles on my little Symba. I am just now feeling that I'm getting most of what she has to give out of her. I am a fairly new rider and so much of it has been the learning curve, but some of it is just learning the bike.

    And, I think Sonja is spot on. And, I'd remind you to discover your riding style. Not all of us love the twisties with as much passion as some of the others of us do. I've learned I love to putz around and really look at my surround. That said, I think I'd like to be able to putz around a little faster than 101cc's will take me LOL

    By the way you mentioned in an earlier post a possible upcoming 400cc Triumph. I've not seen anything about that. That could be interesting for us both.

    I really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for writing.


  4. Enjoyed the post, wish I could have ridden along. I am also working on cornering on my FJR. After riding cruisers for 6 years the FJR is a different ride. I love it, but I am not as aggressive on the curves with the FJR even though I know the bike can handle it.

  5. Thank you for the kind words everyone. The BMW f650 has been in my thoughts as I think it would be a hoot to do a little off roading with Troubadour and I know how much Sonja loves her Nella.

    Riding style? Good point Keith. What is my riding style? I know I am not a speed racer, never have been, not even in the car. Might just have to do another post and puzzle it out.

    Our local Triumph dealer was telling us of the 'future' 450 twin Triumph has in the works.... or is rumored to have in the works. We know nothing about it beyond that. My guess is a 2012 model if even that soon. Sure would be nice if there were some 450 cc or 500 cc options out there

    Regarding cornering speed, Troubadour tells me to trust in my tires. Good in theory just harder to execute. Will keep plugging away. It has been dry lately so we are hoping to get out for another ride this weekend.

  6. Great ride report! I'm glad you got to enjoy Quartzville Road. It's good for fun times in the corners or doddling along enjoying the view. Brad shouldn't complain...he got to ride that much more! :)

    I have days like that, when the cornering is fine, then suddenly it's not. Lately it's my stops and starts. I feel like I'm going to drop the bike. I know it's because I'm not being confident, and then I get tentative on the throttle, and make the bike feel unstable. Vicious circle.

    I would ditto what Richard said. Find some nice pristine corners and go play on them.

    per your comment
    Brad is so right about trusting your tires, and it's one of the hardest things I struggle with too. I do alright in perfect conditions, but I have no experience being leaned over in dicey conditions, so as soon as I suspect a questionable surface I'm slowing way, way down.

    I too would love to see more options for 400-500cc bikes. Something that isn't the cheapest build and no accessories selection.

    Ok gotta go before this comment becomes a novel! :)

  7. When you start slinging your bike around, playing with throwing it around the corners, you'll know that it's time to move up. I started with a Honda Shadow 600 and loved how low it was and how the weight of the engine was centered at the very bottom of the bike which really stuck it to the road. When I started started getting so confident that I started playing with the corners, I moved up to an 1100 Shadow Ace Tourer (my favorite bike-longer wheel base for an extremely smooth ride)and I haven't looked back once. I have a 1300 VTXr now, and every once in a while I think I'm getting too old for motorcycling, but I'll probably end up as one of those oldsters with the side car. I think the secret is working up in size gradually. Don't take any giant steps.