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Took a ride on the Dragon yesterday and I sucked!


ShovelStrokeEd

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ShovelStrokeEd

I'm staying the weekend up in Lenoir City, TN and figured I'd go take a pass on 129 just for giggles. All I can say is my riding was terrible. Couldn't find a tempo, misjudged about 40% of the corners in terms of speed mostly too slow but I was too hot on a couple of them. Lost focus a couple of times and got my body position all catawampus. In general had a bad time. Blood sugar may have played a part as I got there about 1400 and hadn't eaten since 0700.

 

It was bad enough that I elected to ride 140 miles out of the way to get back rather than the 60 or so it would have taken me to return on 129. I was comfortable on 28 and felt fine on 74 and 441. I may have been detuned by the guy sliding across the yellow line on his Honda cruiser with the rear wheel locked up on the second turn as I entered the damn thing or the 5th Corvette in a line of them all the way on my side of the road as I entered a turn about 1/2 mile later.

 

I really wasn't ready to ride that road that day. I haven't done anything like twisties on the Blackbird and it is certainly not the ideal bike but I was much better a couple of years ago on my K12RS. 40K on the springs and shocks probably wasn't helping either. Looks like I better get myself a tuneup.

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steveknapp

I'd blame the blood sugar and the others on the road more than the bike. Seems like your head wasn't in the game. Shocks won't fix that, or at least they never have for me. ;)

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ShovelStrokeEd

True dat. Might be the least fun I've had on a motorcycle in quite a while. My confidence was gone by the first mile and I wasn't really able to ride well slowly. I just wasn't "seeing" the road. Focus way too close to my headlight and as a result, unable to anticipate the road ahead. I did better when I had somebody to chase but couldn't seem to set my own pace when I let them go.

 

I'll give it another shot another day but two things are gonna happen first. I'm gonna do another school day, pennies in the jar starting right now, and I'm gonna spend a lot more time on my conditioning. I was worn out by the time I got to the store.

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I have days like that just going out for a cruise. It is usually on my way home that I get back in my groove.

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I'll give it another shot another day but two things are gonna happen first...

 

Odds are, things will go much smoother and more efficiently next time. The fact that you recognize a problem speaks well of your inherent skills. I particularly worry about those I ride with who are clearly not in control of his/her bike and don't even realize it or place all the blame on something or somebody else.

 

By the way, I am heading out to the Smokies tomorrow with my Dad, and we are looking forward to challenging the Tail of the Dragon ourselves (his first time).

 

Jay

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I went to the Dragon yesterday, too. I was looking for practice, and got it. After two runs, I felt much better about the handling of my ST.

 

Your head has to be in the game. I have been before, and could not get in the groove. I just rode to the end and went another route.

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Slow way down, lock both knees into the tank, leave your butt centered in the seat, and concentrate on visual skills. You're a good rider with excellent instincts--it'll come back, for sure. thumbsup.gif

 

Extra credit: leave it in second gear and run through the corners always with a tad throttle on, even when braking.

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Stormrider
I have days like that just going out for a cruise. It is usually on my way home that I get back in my groove.

 

+1 thumbsup.gif

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.....and don't ride The Dragon on the weekends.

 

There are other equally challenging roads to brush up on your skills without risking your life with the dopes on The Dragon.

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ShovelStrokeEd

Actually, it was pretty clear with the couple of exceptions I already mentioned. I caught and passed a couple of kruisers and allowed 2 others to pass me. Once you get away from the prime time, around 10AM, it seemed to be pretty clear. The store was really slow by the time I got there. No more than maybe 50 bikes and the majority of them were guys on sport bikes and dressed for the ride.

 

I don't worry about fast guys, I'll always swing wide and give them a left arm up signal when I can see clear road and a passing opportunity for them. With the exception of the guy who lost it as I was just getting on, everyone coming the other way was well in control and a good number were moving right along. I won't discuss the asshat in the Corvette, may his male member shrivel even further and fall off.

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Mark_Turner

 

Here's a couple of videos that I sent to Youtube of my

ride through N. Carolina. Don't feel so bad as I was a little tentative riding through there my first time last month. Just got lucky that the road had little traffic that day. I hate how these bike clunk so much when shifting no matter what you try to do.

 

 

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I don't know, that road kind of scares me. I've had very successful "in the groove" runs and some so-so ones. But two things consistently happen to me when I run it. (1) I end up going faster than my intentions because it fun and things are going well so the speed wicks up and (2) I realize that if you go on the weekend the chances of being a hood ornament go up and during the week finding a semi across the entire road goes up....

 

I like the comment about other roads that are just as good an attracting a lot less attention.

 

Also, like you, I've been there when on entering the first turn you see a bunch of cruiser guys trying to pull a bike out of the ditch. These things play havoc w/your psychology and are bound to just mess you up.

 

Chris

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I went through there about two hours after you on my way back to AR. I'm guessing I saw a lot of locals at that time of day, because there were a number of high speed groups and plenty of draggin' knees. Pretty awesome to watch as long as you weren't meeting one around a blind corner (tends to raise the pucker factor blush.gif).

 

I can relate to the lane crosser concerns - I see at least one on every run. The most memorable this time was grandpa in his white Impala taking the inside line on a right-hander.

 

Every time I run the Dragon I swear it's going to be the last, but those curves are mighty addictive. It's hard to pass by there and not make a couple of runs. There are lots of great roads in that area, but I still haven't found one I like as well as 129.

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SteveHebert

I had a similar experience at El Paseo on the Saturday ride. The three previous days were great on the Cherohala, 28 and War Woman,. We headed out Saturday with Mr. Ed and and his buddy and met up with Randy Shields and his buddy somewhere up north of Asheville. I blew every corner and could not get into the groove at all. I blamed it on Thelma of course and the very different brakes that I was used to with the RT, and the lack of engine compression available for entry into the corners. It was the most miserable ride I have ever had and at the 120 mile mark or so, I was finished. We stopped at a gas station and parted ways so the big boys could go have a great time. I was physically and mentally exhausted. My back and wrists were sore as hell!

 

Maybe Thelma is not meant for that type of riding either, but I was in over my head and saw no good end to the continued ride. The leisurely ride back to the hotel was just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes we just need to sit back and realize when enough is enough.

 

Thanks for posting.

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KrazyHorse

Me too!! I did it for the first time last summer on my Vision (had only been riding 4 months)

I figured I did a great as long as I kept the shiny side up!! lmao.gif Which I did. Can't wait to do her again in t-minus 20 days, but on Blue this time!!!!

 

My criteria for success is still the same though. Like the pilots say, any landing you can walk away from is a good one.....or something like that. grin.gif

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ShovelStrokeEd

Well, my criteria was a little higher than just keeping it on two wheels. I really was trying to maintain a brisk pace and that was my undoing. I found myself attacking the corners and then not reacting properly to the resulting bad feelings. Plain and simple, I was riding beyond my ability to focus. I have ridden through there faster with less effort. I figure my expectations were too high for my condition and level of training. Instead of doing the smart thing and just backing it down a notch or so, I persisted and wound up miserable. Stupid really, a few mph less and I probably would have found a groove by the 4 mile point and enjoyed myself, instead, I never gave myself a chance.

 

Oh well, another lesson learned. You do need to practice this stuff and work up to a road as technical as that. The road isn't all bad but, there are a double handful of turns that really require good technique and ability, I displayed neither on all of them.

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JustKrusen

I think living in South Florida hurts our skill level a lot. I use to ride twisty roads every weekend before moving here and was very good at it. Now I go up to the mountains about 4-5 times a year. It always takes me about 3-4 hours to really get into my groove. I've learned to accept the fact that it takes time on every trip to get into it. If I know I'm going through the Gap I usually do it later in the day. Lately I just stop at the store and head east on 28 thus avoiding going through the Gpa on a weekend. The Cherohala is a great road to warm up on. thumbsup.gif

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KrazyHorse

"I think living in South Florida hurts our skill level a lot"

Tell me about it!! Can you imagine what it was like (and I'm sure we all can) that my first experience with any real curves at all was 28??? LOL I'll never forget riding in the truck on the way to Fontana Village, thinking "What in H*ll have I gotten myself into???" Naturally, we didn't do the Dragon the first day, took 28 to 129 and then went down the mountain and tooled around. We got up early the next day, stopped for gas at the store, and kissed my husband goodbye, feeling like I was going off to war. lmao.gif

 

By the time I hit the state line I was smiling from ear to ear. grin.gif I was never so sad to go home at the end of a vacation as that one.

 

Btw, just found out that I can leave for the RA Rally a few days earlier than planned and will spend a couple of nights in Knoxville with a horsey friend. Husband isn't too keen about the idea, but he knows if the rolls were reversed I'd let him go. And I'll just point him to the thread about Jacki (sp? sorry) if he's worried about my little ole trip to NC. wink.gif

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tom collins

steve: my only experience on the dragon was with an r100rs that i was very familiar with. unfortunately, for me, that bike seemed like it needed a gear between 1st and 2d as i could not get it to settle in and be happy. about those bikes, you must really be mentally ready to ride one if you are going to take on a challenging road. it is a very demanding bike that can really reward you if you are ready to be very physical with it and very mentally prepared. almost like the old 2 strokes were about keeping them on the power band. enjoy it, i sometimes wish i had mine back - best looking bike ever made though.

 

tom collins

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Oh well, another lesson learned. You do need to practice this stuff and work up to a road as technical as that. The road isn't all bad but, there are a double handful of turns that really require good technique and ability, I displayed neither on all of them.

Don't berate yourself so much. That little thing we call skill also needs that liitle juice called adrenaline to make it work. You were mentally prepared but physically unprepared. We don't run high on adrenaline all the time, hence the need to work up a tempo.

 

I'm sure that given the right circumstances, you would be passing lame ricers. Next time just have a friend slap you really hard like the boxers do before they enter the ring. That should get the juices flowing. That's an exaggeration but you get the point. Or get a Frap at Starbucks!

 

And while mental preparation before the ride is necessary, it is also necessary during the ride. Do not waste precious mhz self diagnosing the previous curve in real-time. Focus on the curve ahead. I've been there myself. If you feel the urge to self-diagnose on the move, don't. Stop, diagnose, proceed.

 

And finally it takes a lot of skill to lead and lot less to follow. So don't look for a leader. Be the leader. If you feel you did bad the first 2 miles, make a U-turn and go back and do it again till you feel you have reached your limit.

 

$0.02 clap.gif

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Ah Ed, don't sweat it. On another day you'll have a different ride. Some time the biorhythms are just down.

 

I hate days like that. Makes me feel like I haven't gained an ounce of experience in 30 years on two wheels. My confidence gets shaken and I go home depleted and depressed. But.....the next time is a whole different day thumbsup.gif

 

"I think living in South Florida hurts our skill level a lot"

Ah yes, like my friend in Florida sez....Deal's Gap; 318 turns in 11 miles....Florida; 11 turns in 318 miles.
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All I can say is my riding was terrible. Couldn't find a tempo, misjudged about 40% of the corners in terms of speed mostly too slow but I was too hot on a couple of them. Lost focus a couple of times and got my body position all catawampus.

 

We all have good days and bad days in whatever venture we might find ourselves "enjoying": golf, photography, swimming, work, etc. I had a day on my bike this yesterday. I couldn't find the groove and it seemed like it was my first week on a bike. I crossed it up going into one tight curve too fast, managed to stay upright and in my lane despite a momentary skid. I thought of this post more than once. The important thing is you recovered and didn't make any catastrophic mistakes. The next ride will be better (at least that's what I'm telling myself). wave.gif

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ShovelStrokeEd

OK, thanks to another post, I went looking on Killboy.com and found a couple of pics of me riding not so smart.

 

Attachment above.

 

Looks like I need to move my tank bag forward a bit and it would appear I forgot to exercise very much of the "riding smart" stuff. Foot position is wrong, my mirrors are in no danger of a kiss any time soon and I'm too far forward on the seat. The arms have more bend than would appear (jacket is 3 sizes too large since I lost 50 lbs), but still not where they should be. No wonder I felt like the bike was steering like a truck. To be less harsh on myself, this was the exit of not much of a turn.

862171-pic1.jpg.1f0907fdce5943c78649c6c15531c428.jpg

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I think the tank bag assessment is spot-on. Just bungee it on the back seat while riding the Dragon. This way you will have no restriction. Other than that, I don't see any other visual cues. Check your tire pressure before the ride. It can make a whole lot of difference.

 

862171-pic1.jpg

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wrestleantares

It appears that his foot is too far forward. The middle of the foot seems to be on the peg rather than riding more on the balls of his feet.

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OK, thanks to another post, I went looking on Killboy.com and found a couple of pics of me riding not so smart.

 

Attachment above.

 

Looks like I need to move my tank bag forward a bit and it would appear I forgot to exercise very much of the "riding smart" stuff. Foot position is wrong, my mirrors are in no danger of a kiss any time soon and I'm too far forward on the seat. The arms have more bend than would appear (jacket is 3 sizes too large since I lost 50 lbs), but still not where they should be. No wonder I felt like the bike was steering like a truck. To be less harsh on myself, this was the exit of not much of a turn.

 

ShovelStrokeEd, if you are usually happy with your riding expertise but just upset with this particular day then just blow it off as a bad day.. If you dwell on one bad outing & overthink the situation you might start to doubt your basically sound riding ability & try to think your way through the twisties in the future & that isn’t a good practice.. It must be second nature & based on sound past riding fundamentals.. You just don’t have time to think it out as you lay it over in a curve, it must be subconscious so you can keep your concentration on the road/next curve..

 

We have all have off days.. Just go find another good twisty road (probably one you are familiar with) & get that good feeling back of perfect timing & can’t miss apexes..

 

Once you make a good solid run then all the bad from that one off-day will be forgotten & you will have that subconscious trust in your riding abilities back..

 

It’s hard to tell from just one snapshot in time but it looks like maybe you weren’t keeping your eyes parallel with the road surface on that day (maybe it’s that darn tank bag forcing you to hold yourself in a different position).. If you are used to keeping your head straight & eyes level & for some reason didn’t that day that in itself will really screw up a good run.. Just try walking around with your head tilted to see the difference..

 

Twisty

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My criticizing your riding is truly preaching to the choir, but most of this from the photo you already know Ed... Balls of feet, butt back more, torso down more, almost laying on your tank back maybe. Arms bent and elbows down more, wrist too. Although it's hard to tell from this particular pic, and you were in an exit, it looks like you could have been inside more with your upper body.

 

Still, your bad day will kick the _hit out of my good day, so quit beating yourself up and go riding dude!

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