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jeff10236 05-09-2010 11:39 AM

Scary moment on the road today
Today I took a dry run to work (I stopped at a gas station about 3/4 of the way there). Most of the ride there was fun (I even started to feel comfortable at 50mph). However, I didn't check the weather before I started and didn't realize we were having 25mph winds. Early in the ride I noticed it was a little windy but it didn't seem too bad, and then on a bridge (my first bridge experience) I got hit by some nasty cross winds. I felt like I had to struggle a bit to keep it in my lane. It was a little scary getting hit by winds like that at 45-50mph.

Anyway, the MSF course says to slow down and make pressure adjustments on the handlebars in high winds. Are there any other suggestions?

On the plus side, I'm starting to feel more comfortable at speed. A woman on a Harley at a red light checked out my Suzuki as I was waiting to take a left turn, and a guy on a Victory (darned nice bike) checked out my bike when he pulled up next to me at a light. Overall it was a fun ride (except for a few nasty cross winds) and I'm feeling more confident in what I do know, while being exposed to new situations on each ride. I'm loving this.

MOKE1K 05-09-2010 01:26 PM

Riding in heavy winds is just something that you'll have to learn to cope with and also the scaryness will go away after awhile. I first realized this after teaching my wife to ride. She had been getting beat up on the highway and asked me several times how the heck I delt with ridin in such a heavy winds. At first I just said loose grip on the bars, let the bike go where it wants but steer it straight.

The more we rode the more I realized it was a little more than that. It was hard to exactly explain how its acheived. After thinking about it this is what I came up with, although I still cant describe it that well.

Firstly always be aware of what part of the tire your on riding on. Also you must be comfortable and have a loose grip on the bars even when the wind hits you. If you have to ride on more of the left side of the tire and not the center because the winds hitting you that hard then so beit. You should always be driving in a straight a line as possible even when the winds hitting you.

In Florida specifically Tampabay we have four bridges and I can remember many times that stick out in my mind that were windy but one inparticular riding to Quaker Steak & Lube a popular bike night held in St. Pete. Needless to say we incountered such sever winds we rode at around 70 degree angle the entire way accross, no problems though.

Dr_Sprocket 05-09-2010 02:35 PM

I would second the thought that you need a relaxed grip on the bars, not a loose grip. There is a difference. The bike will move with a crosswind.

The rider should be aware of the wind direction and take this into account when chosing which 1/3 of the lane to ride in. For example, if the wind is coming from the right and it is strong/gusty, it will push you left. If you are already in the left third of your lane, then it will push you into the next lane over -- not good. The bike will want to wander, you need to let it wander gently, but not lose control.

MopedMarauder 05-09-2010 08:22 PM

30-35mph cross winds + my 130lb self + a 100lb moped = almost no control. I've had it happen quite a few times. Luckily I've only been pushed away from oncomming traffic.

jeff10236 05-10-2010 01:14 AM


Originally Posted by MopedMarauder (Post 241337)
30-35mph cross winds + my 130lb self + a 100lb moped = almost no control. I've had it happen quite a few times. Luckily I've only been pushed away from oncomming traffic.

What was most scary for me was I was being pushed away from other traffic, yes, right towards the edge of the bridge (and a 50-100ft drop to the South River). I corrected and steered towards the center of the lane, but feeling myself being drawn to the side, and not feeling very stable being blown around, wasn't fun. I guess it is something that you get used to, learn to control for, and it should become less nerve wracking, but towards the end of my first week of riding and on my first ride on a bridge wasn't fun.

The_AirHawk 05-10-2010 09:02 AM

It's a Steep Learning Curve, this riding thing.

jeff10236 05-10-2010 07:35 PM

So I rode to work today over that same bridge. We didn't have a wind advisory this time so things weren't quite as windy but there were some nice gusts on that bridge again (especially on my way home this afternoon). This time I was expecting some wind and I was prepared and relaxed so it wasn't too bad and I was ready to correct for the wind blowing me around. A bit less wind, and expecting it, made it a very different experience than yesterday.

jeff10236 05-15-2010 07:50 AM

Well, I figured I should put this here instead of starting a new thread. I just got back from a 50 mile, 2 hour ride (1hr 45min of actual riding, I stopped at McDonalds for 15min for breakfast). I now have 214 miles on my bike and figured I'd record some observations.

Cars: Wow, in my car I knew there were a lot of bad drivers out there, but I never realized how bad. Yesterday I twice had someone try to get past me at intersections (or in the separated right turn lanes that are like entrance/exit ramps that some intersections have) without leaving my lane. Car drivers really don't get that we are a vehicle and the lane we are in belongs to us, just like cars. I've had a few clueless drivers turn right in front of me. I have had to use my horn more in the past week and a half (I'll be riding for two weeks on Tuesday) than I have in the past 2 or 3 years in my car.

Highway: I hit the highway for a couple miles today. I'm getting used to wind gusts (and it is fairly windy today with 20-25mph gusts). I ended up at 70mph trying to keep up with traffic but when I saw that I slowed down to 60-65. It will take some getting used to, but it wasn't bad. I planned to only ride one or two exits, but decided to go a tad longer, which took me over the Severn River Bridge (for those who know Annapolis), the wind on that bridge made me decide to end my highway run for today. I'll probably hit the highway again this afternoon or evening if the winds die down a bit, otherwise, I'll wait until tomorrow (I will go away from the Severn River Bridge instead of towards it).

Bridges: I still haven't totally gotten used to the strong wind gusts you get on bridges. However, I'm OK on shorter bridges. I did go over the Severn River Bridge (probably a mile long) and the wind on it was terrible today, I decided to get off the highway at that point. I came back across the Severn by taking the Naval Academy Bridge which is just a tad over half a mile long (also very windy, but it was short enough it didn't bother me much). There are a lot of bridges around here, some a pretty decent length (there are a lot of rivers and creeks in this part of Anne Arundel County), so I'll have plenty of time to get used to it. I think it will be a while before I try to conquer the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (4-5 miles).

Wind: Still getting used to it, but officially today we have 20-25mph wind gusts, and on the bridges I guarantee they were stronger. There were times I really had to lean into the wind to keep it straight. A few more windy days (and I'm also going to go back out again later today) and I should get used to it.

General traffic: I'm definitely getting used to it and I'm almost as comfortable now riding in traffic as I am in the car (I feel like my visibility is better than in the car). That's good because we have a lot of traffic around here. I am looking forward to getting my mesh jacket for stop and go though- wearing my well ventilated leather jacket yesterday (it was well into the 80s) when I went out before the rain, my entire shirt was soaked through. While I never really like stop and go, I do like it better in my car (AC, traffic reports, etc. make it a bit more comfortable to sit in the car over sitting on the bike when not really moving).

Curves: I'm starting to really enjoy the curves and twisties, though I'm still taking them at the speed limit and no faster.

Riding to work: The weather hasn't cooperated much this week (a lot of rain) but I did ride to work twice this week. The best, most enjoyable, commutes I've ever had. I plan to ride to work a lot.

Night: I've only done a fairly limited amount of it, but I have really enjoyed riding at night.

Traffic circles: Hate them as much as I do in my car, though I think I am a little more comfortable in them than in my car (odd).

Helmet: I really enjoy the open air feeling of my half helmet. I really like the extra visibility of my half helmet (doesn't cut off my peripheral vision). It can get really hot around here, and there is plenty of traffic (so sometimes the speeds can be pretty slow) so the half helmet being open to the air is nice. I like hearing more of what is going on around me (and hearing my engine better) when under 45mph with the half helmet. I didn't like coming home last night after riding with the half helmet and having all kinds of dirt on my neck and face. I like the extra protection and noise reduction (when over 45mph) of the full face helmet. After today, I really appreciate it (I got hit in the head by a small rock or pebble at about 45mph, it was almost deafening). After the rock, I'm thinking I may retire the half helmet and for when I want a more open feeling and for hot days get an open face with the protection over the ears with a full face shield to protect my face from small rocks and other road debris.

-Shifter: My bike has the heal-toe shifter. At first I preferred shifting traditionally and not using the heal shifter for upshifts. I don't like the damage it is doing to my boot though so I'm using the heal shifter a lot more.

-My bike: I really like my bike (a 2009 Suzuki Boulevard C50 Special Edition). It is forgiving for a beginner, but has style and power that I will probably continue to appreciate for a while. Still, after the short highway run today, I definitely can see wanting a bigger engine once I'm more experienced (it doesn't sound quite as relaxed as I'd like over 55mph).

-Overall: I really am enjoying this. I am starting to feel confident in everyday situations, while also encountering and learning something new pretty much every ride. I really do love riding. I can see the draw for those of you who have gotten rid of your cars (though I doubt I will- but I can see using the car as a supplementary vehicle and the motorcycle as the primary).

JMcDonald 05-15-2010 10:36 AM

I am enjoying your progress reports! Very informative. I will be selling my car after I get settled in on the bike. Ill have another car that my GF drives, but the bike will be my primary commuter and small / personal errands bike.

Dr_Sprocket 05-15-2010 06:15 PM

Keep up the good work!

jeff10236 05-23-2010 05:26 PM

OK, I guess I've done a lot of riding this weekend, so it is time for another update. I'm over 420 miles now, and I had my first relatively extended highway ride.

-Highways: Once I got used to the speed I found that cruising the highway is quite relaxing. I went for about a 20min ride (and back) to run by the range where I took the Rider's Edge course to say hello to my instructors (I lucked out, the same guys were working this weekend) and I also did some other highway riding with no real destination. It does get loud, I was glad to have my earplugs with me (I was wearing my half helmet). My bike may be a tad small for any long trips though- at the 65-70mph range my C50 with its 5 speed 800cc engine really does vibrate and the engine doesn't sound happy. I'll still probably take a few trips on it before I upgrade to something bigger.

-Wind: I'm getting used to it, and gusts that used to blow me around aren't even noticed anymore.

-Bridges: I've been over the Severn River Bridge a couple more times. It isn't bad (and smaller bridges don't bother me at all anymore), but it isn't my favorite. I will be waiting a little bit before I try the Bay Bridge (I will try a smaller, two or three mile, suspension bridge in the next month or two). I did go over a small drawbridge today, it was only a short distance but riding over the metal grate wasn't too big a deal (I actually found it somehow easier than I do in a car).

-Downtown: I rode into downtown Annapolis today. I guess there is enough traffic around here that I've become pretty accustomed to riding in traffic so it didn't bother me at all. Actually, Annapolis is a very historic and picturesque town so I really quite enjoyed it on the bike, much more than in a car.

-The bike: I'm really liking my bike. My gas mileage is getting better and better each tank (I have not waited until empty so I've filled it 3 times- the first time, after a lot of parking lot practice, I only got about 22-25mpg, the second time I got 46-47mpg, and my last tank was over 48mpg- really getting close to the 49mpg ratings). It has plenty of power for everything I've asked of it (though the engine is loud at high speeds), but with a forgiving enough delivery that it hasn't caused me any problems as a beginner. I will probably want to get aftermarket pipes in a year or so though, the one big disappointment is the sound when over 35 or 40mph (I could care less if it is loud, but I'd like a richer and deeper sound than I get).

-Gear: The Bates boots I've bought are becoming very comfortable now that they are broken in. However, the soft rubber sole seems to be wearing pretty quickly (maybe since I'm a beginner I'm dragging my feet despite not feeling like I am and the wear will slow with experience, or maybe the relatively soft rubber sole isn't really taking the kind of treatment they get as riding boots very well and experience won't matter). My next pair of boots will be motorcycle boots (I've found a few companies who make them in EEE widths). My Joe Rocket Sonic II leather jacket is terrific, though a bit too warm when it gets over 80 (with the removable side panels I'm comfortable when I'm moving well into the 80s, but when I get home my back is soaked through with sweat from where the back pad makes contact and doesn't breathe). I have ordered some Carhartt double front work pants for when it is too warm for my leather overpants, and I will order some Brosh Kevlar lined jeans. Unfortunately, instead of exchanging my mesh jacket for the right size, Leather Up refunded my money (so, the jacket I was waiting for isn't coming, and while they don't charge shipping on exchanges, I will have to order from scratch and pay shipping again :mad: ). So, I'm in the market for a mesh jacket so I can have CE armor protection when it is too warm for the leather and hopefully have a bit more comfort. I now have a pair of prescription transition lens Harley Davidson motorcycle glasses and I love them (the removable foam is great when riding, but I can remove the foam when I get where I'm going and don't need to carry around my regular glasses, it's also great that one pair works in all lighting conditions).

-New experiences to come: There is going to be some rain this week again (the forecast is now only calling for 2 days of rain). If it does rain this week I may finally start trying to get some time riding in the rain. Some experience in the rain and some time on full suspension bridges and I will have enough experiences to start considering using my bike as primary transportation (I do need to install my saddlebags first too, I should hopefully be ordering the supports in the next few days).

-I am really enjoying riding. I may actually use it for a short (2-4 hour) weekend trip by mid-summer. I wonder if the tent I have will work (it won't fit in my saddlebags, but I can add a sissybar and sissybar bag) or if I'll need to get a smaller backpacking tent (hmm, an excuse to buy another tent :D). Unfortunately, I'll probably be ready for the 600 mile maintenance by next weekend. Hopefully it won't be too expensive.

Dr_Sprocket 05-23-2010 07:06 PM

Good stuff, Jeff. Be safe out there!

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