Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Day Ride

We were thinking of riding on Saturday but the weather forecast changed to clouds and rain showers. Sunday May 1st still looked promising so we held off.

We woke Sunday morning to beautiful blue sky and sunshine. A great day for riding. A check of the online weather stations suggested we'd see temperatures in the low 70's, definitely a riding day.

We debated about going for a ride just the two of us or to go on a group ride to the coast that was planned. I'd only put about 100 miles on Max prior to that so I was unsure of the group ride. We said why not and started to get ready. We headed out of the house about 9:30 am so we had ample time to fuel up and were aiming to meet Rick at the appointed place by 9:45 am. We made it a little early and were the first two there.

Jim surprised us and arrived on his silver Triumph Tiger and Rick arrived a short time later riding Zedward the ZZR.

Soon we were ready to head out to join the group riding up from Eugene - kickstands up at 10:00 am. The plan was to ride the backroads South to Bellfountain and Alpine to meet the Eugene crew. Off we went.

Before long we arrived in Alpine. From the posts on the forum I was expecting maybe 3 people from Eugene. Turns out more like 7. Our small group ride now totaled 11 bikes and I had the only double X chromosomes in the bunch. Yes, once again, I was the only female rider.

Little did I know when I parked behind the rest of the bikes the other two Suzukis decided to park across the street. Were the bikes banned? Are Suzukis antisocial? I don't know, never thought to ask.

Here are some random shots I took at the meet and greet.

After about a 10 minute break and a quick riders meeting we headed out. Troubadour kindly agreed to sweep but somehow we got a rider between the two of us. We had our radios hooked up and were able to communicate so that was good. I haven't ridden the route too many times and have a tendency to slow down around twisties when I don't know them and can't determine which way the road curves. I figured if Dan didn't like riding behind me he would have passed me though.

The route we took was through Alsea Falls to Alsea then West on Highway 34 to Waldport at the coast. If you subscribe to Rider Magazine - this month the Alsea Falls Loop is a featured ride in the paper magazine (I can't find the article online). We are lucky enough to have it out our back door. Thanks to Rider announcing it to the rest of the world traffic just got heavier.

Traffic wasn't too bad on the stretch through Alsea Falls. Jim turned off part way to Alsea to take a smaller less travelled route on his own ..... and then there were 10.

We took a quick regroup break in Alsea and headed west. This time I asked Dan to go ahead so Troubadour and I could go at our own pace without me worrying about holding him back.

The ride would have been great except for traffic. It was a warm sunny day after a long rainy winter so it seemed that everyone was heading for the coast. We finally made it to Waldport where we stopped for a rest.

I managed to take a few more pictures - last ones of the day.

We were starving and looking forward to lunch. We headed South on Highway 101 to Florence. Traffic again was quite heavy. We stopped for fuel in Florence and made our way to historic Old Town to the Firehouse for lunch. We finally sat down to lunch at 2:00 pm. I was so hungry by this point I was starting to shake and didn't even think to pull the camera out for any pictures. Our lunch consisted of fish sandwiches and garlic fries. Edible but bland. It was the first time we'd eaten there and I probably wouldn't go back. The Bridgewater Fish House a block down is much better.

Eventually our bellies were full and we headed inland. Turning east on Highway 126 we followed it approximately 15 miles to the junction of Highway 36 at Mapleton. A much nicer twistier route around Triangle Lake.

The faster bikes all zoomed ahead. Another rider from Eugene came out to meet us in Florence for lunch and to ride back with the group and wanted to ride sweep so Troubadour rode in front of me. We seemed to split into two groups - the fast bikes and then Troubadour, me and Jim riding sweep. Troubadour was nice and hanging back for me as a guide through the twisties. I do better if I have someone to follow. My speed is better and my lines are too.

We caught up to the faster riders at Deadwood for a quick group picture and off we went again. As we were heading around Triangle Lake we noticed the fast group stopped with their helmets off. We waved and kept going thinking we could stop down the road and have a break while they caught up.

We stopped and waited, basking in the sunshine, but the fast group never showed up. After about half an hour Troubadour and Jim started calling people. Jim finally got through to Tim, ringleader of the Eugene group, and we found out that group took a cutoff road and was already in Eugene. Alrightly then. We suited up and headed off. Troubadour and I headed North towards home and Jim headed Southeast towards Eugene.

As you know from Troubadour's blog we managed to find a spot to take his May 1st ABCD centerline challenge picture. I was so tired by that point I couldn't be bothered to find a place for a picture to participate.

We finally rolled into the garage at 6:00 pm. More than 8 hours since we'd left the house. I checked the odometer and we'd only gone 214 miles. Doesn't sound like many for an all day adventure but it tripled my miles on Max.

I am much more comfortable on the bike that when we first brought it home and love it. I sat on a Bonneville SE at the Triumph shop in Eugene on Saturday and I have to say I am glad I didn't opt for one. I like the ergonomics of Max better. Not to say I wouldn't like a Street Triple or a Tiger 800 somewhere in the distant future, but the Gladius just fits compared to the Bonneville.

It was nice that my knees were not hurting at the end of the day. I wondered if they might. And with the Gladius seat reviews on the forums I was worried about numb buttocks since I have a boney behind. Not the case. What I did notice was my right forearm and wrist were quite sore from the throttle (maybe a little carpal tunnel problem) and my lower back muscles were also sore. I was conscious of making sure to use my core to hold my weight off the bars and I think there are some muscles back there that haven't been used in a while. Feel the burn, it's good for you.

All in all it was a good day. It confirmed what I had suspected before and that is I am not a fan of group riding. Having said that, small groups under 6 or so bikes are okay, approaching a dozen, no thanks.

- Au Revoir

" Sometimes the best communication happens when you're on separate bikes." ~ Author Unknown


  1. Excellent ride report. Your bike looks great by the way. I am also not keen on large group rides. I ride with the AT club some times, but theere is a big mixture and it seems to all pan out with the fast guys at the ront and the slow ones in the at the back, I am normally some where in the middle.

  2. Nice report and I agree with you about groups. My right wrist and lower arm are still in pain after my long ride 3 weeks could be tendonitis and yesterday I fitted a set of brackets made by MV to move the bars back and up - hope it works!


  3. I have to agree with you about riding in larger groups. While it sounds fun and it looks great when the bikes are pictured in the all-important photos at the stop points, large groups never really work out well. There is always someone to wait for whenever you depart from anywhere. I am making the names up, but Fred always eats slower than everyone else and then wants a desert as well. Doug always seems to take ages to put his helmet and gloves on. John always takes a long time paying for fuel as leaves the rest of us sitting outside on our bikes ready to go. These very minor things start to become just a bit irritating and we are not even on the road yet!

    The actual riding part is not too bad, except you have riders around you that sometimes ride a bit too close for comfort, ride too fast or too slow to keep with the group, or occasionally do things that make the other riders wince. If you regularly ride with one person as you do, you grow accustomed to their riding position relative to you and you can almost anticipate what they are going to do because you have got to know their riding style. You cannot do that with new people.

    I agree with you, that a small group is better – more fun and less stressful. The occasional well organised large group ride with say 50+ bikes is also enjoyable, but only if done very occasionally.

    BTW – I love the look of your bike. The blue frame, part tank and now wheel lines all look fantastic against the rest of the bike. You definitely get the award for the best looking bike in that group.

  4. Smaller groups are much more comfortable. I always feel uncomfortable since the person behind me inevitably seems to follow to close. Due to the age of my bike, I tend to leave more room in front of me for stopping. On one local BMW group ride, we all just agreed on where to meet for lunch and everyone took off taking a variety of routes. There was never an expectation that the group would actually ride together. That fit just fine....

    I think the other Suzuki's were intimidated by the pretty blue newcomer...

  5. Nice report, your new exhaust looks awesome and I'm sure sounds really good. I'm not one for big groups either, 6 at most on long trips, shorter trips can be more. My club usually breaks into groups of 10 if there's lots of people. About the hand, maybe you holding the throttle too tight, learn to relax the hand, sometimes my hand is just sitting on the throttle not really gripping it :-)

  6. Wasn't the weather awesome last week? I enjoyed your write-up of the ride very much. And your bike looks great! Quite the looker! For the sore wrist, I can certainly recommend the throttle rocker, which helps relaxing the hand.

  7. Thanks Raftnn - The fast guys did zoom ahead and we had pre-planned meeting stops, but we find if you are in the back by the time you catch up the fast guys are ready to leave and you haven't had a break yet.

    @Nikos - Hope your arm feels better and changing the bars helped.

    @Gary - I agree there are those that eat faster or slower, or chat as everyone else is putting on their helmets and getting ready to go. We just found we ended up riding in two groups, not so much of a single group ride but several groups which was different than was discussed at the riders meeting. I would not have ridden with the group that day had I known it was going to be that big. Thanks for the kind words on the bike, if definitely does not fade into the background.

    @Richard. I like you idea of having a meeting place for lunch. Might have to suggest that next time I'm talked into a larger group ride. No one has to wait for anyone except at the lunch stop at a certain time. Good idea.

    @George - I probably do grip the throttle too tight. Part of being a newer rider. I try to tell myself to relax the grip but it doesn't mean my subconscious is listening.

    @Sonja - It was great weather. Unlike this weekend which is rainy. I tried a throttle rocker when we went to Bend. I made it to the coffee shop and ripped it off. It seemed that with the slightest bit of throttle my palm hit the rocker and was twisting the throttle for me giving it more juice than I wanted at that point at slow speeds. Maybe it is just a matter or adjusting it and getting used to it. I don't really even use cruise control in the car as I don't feel in control of the vehicle that way.

  8. An interesting read with nice pictures, we also have lovely roads to ride that are spoiled by too many motorists - you almost feel that on good weather Sundays they should ban cars from twisty roads!
    I like the rim tape on your bike, I've got it on the big red machine too and have had many favourable comments - looks good.
    Interesting to see that there were no Harleys in your riding group, here we get the impression that Americans only ride Harleys.

  9. Hi Trobairitz, sorry I am late to the party, but wanted to weigh in. Love the way the rim tape stands out in the first pic. Perfect match. Love the hearts and lips surrounding Troubadour in the second meetup photo. Too cute.

    Group rides are interesting. Seems to be a compromise all the way around, and sometimes not worth it on the road. Usually found around the lunch table or coffee shop though.

    And a little teaching, we learned in a class the other week. To help determine where the road is going over a blind rise (and no curve sign) watch the line of the trees. You will usually be able to tell which direction the road is cutting to. I can't believe I hadn't noticed it before, but works really well for me now!

    Glad you had a great ride!


  10. @the rider - I agree, no cars on sunny days. No Harleys in our group that day. I think I know 2 people with them but they don't like to hang out with those of us on sport bikes, standards and dual sports. In this area, they seem to congregate amongst themselves in formal clubs rather than casual gatherings.

    @BeemerGirl - You aren't late to the party - I just haven't posted in a while.OMG I never noticed the hearts and lips before. We were parked at an elementary school. Thanks for pointing it out, lol. Good idea looking at the tree line. Will try it. The road we were on has a lot of shade to sun and back to shade areas so it is hard for the vision to adjust sometimes.