Curb Your Enthusiasm

Yeah, I admit it.

I get bad PMS.

What are you looking at, buddy?

I have all of the symptoms and warning signs that medicine generally recognizes.

Irritability.

Mood swings.

Inexplicable crying jags.

The violent extremes of overwhelming emotion caused by PMS are irrationality carried to their illogical conclusions.

I think we’d all agree that Parked Motorcycle Syndrome is a terrible, awful thing that decimates families and destroys lives.

And if such a thing is possible, its even worse when the motorcycles in question are parked in the sweet creamy center of North American Summer.

***

I’ve been doing a lot that isn’t motorcycling for the last 2 weeks. Some camping. A college visit with Finn, my youngest. A lot of hiding — with varying degrees of effectiveness — from a widespread heatwave that has made any outdoor activities challenging.

So when I finally had a destination and a mission that was motorcycle friendly, I jumped at it.

Mount Phillip Road is one of the most enjoyably technical roads anywhere within 100 miles of home, and it’s right between my house and the west side of Frederick City. A lovely rural road with big elevation changes, some loose stone walls, and corners that apex off the tops and bottoms of hills.

Its not the sort of road that one should seek out if you have more enthusiasm than sense, and in my then-current state of moto-withdrawal, it is possible that label temporariliy fit.

***

My ride up to town was fairly restrained.

I may have been diverting 10-15% of my overall available attention to the problem that needed solving, and I knew I had about 10 days worth of skill-oxidation to account for.

The ride back, though, was another matter entirely.

Trivial Life Problem Solved, I had 100% of my attention available on what was a perfect warm sunny day — road conditions and visibility perfect — with a perfectly fettled vintage sport twin.

Ain’t this always how trouble begins?

***

It’s a good thing I got in the habit, a long time ago, of hanging my feet off the ends of the pegs so my toes would first touch down to warn of the limits of lean.

mount phillip 2

My favorite section of Mount Phillip has a tight left at the top of a hill, a sharp drop to another left, and then a medium straight to a decreasing radius right hander that exits down the side of another steep hill.

That decreasing radius turn is always a hoot, but today I was going for it — I was hungry.

It felt so good to be back in the saddle, I was asking for more — a few more degrees of open throttle, held for a second or two more, leading into harder, more deliberate corner entrances and a few more degrees of lean.

All things considered, maybe just 1 or 2 less of everything would have been all right.

As I got to the apex of my favorite corner, the outside of my right boot touched down hard.

The view in my right rearview mirror was showing a fairly enthusiastic display of sparks out behind.

I’m pretty sure that this is why one doesn’t see a lot of Brown’s ‘RideOff’ centerstands fitted to bikes that are headed to the track.

After sucking up the little unplanned adjustment to my cornering line, the R90S continued through if only 10 or 12 inches left of my original intention. Having left enough buffer and having been headed for the inside stripe at the time, I was able to gather things up without ending up somewhere where someone else might have been.

Thus chastened, I dialed my 20% over attack mode back to about 15% over and enjoyed the rest of the ride home with a big smile on my face and without incident.

***

What’s in your head is still the most important ‘rider aid’.

That assumes, of course, that your head is what’s in control of the rolling physics problem, and not one’s emotions.

Head and heart both have a role to play in making fast progress down a road — the head is ‘running the numbers’ and keeping all of the dynamic parameters inside the lines. Heart, though, is the source of confidence, of enthusiasm, of spirit, of aggression.

Today, heart was leading the way, and my head was just along for the ride.

I can’t recall such a clear, short term linkage between a choice that I made — “YeeHaaa!” — and a potentially negative outcome — “scrrrunnnnch!”.

Of course, every choice one makes in the saddle is this way, but this one was so comically immediate and expressive that even I took the hint.

I was, frankly, riding like a knob, and so the universe sent me a little message.

That the message didn’t involve plaster is a blessing.

Use both head and heart when you take to the road, but make sure your emotions know that the stuff that rides inside the helmet is in charge.

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