I was reading an article online the other day in which the author laid out her motorcycle start-up sequence. Because I am a believer in doing my start-up tasks in the same order every time (so I don’t miss something important), I decided to write down my own sequence in case it might be helpful for someone else.
I noticed when I did this that there was one notable difference between my sequence and hers: she starts her bike in neutral, and I start mine in first gear.
I have no idea where I picked up the habit of starting my bike in first, but i immediately wondered if one method was recommended over the other.
Turns out, yes. And it’s not mine.
I looked for this information a few different ways: I polled my knowledgeable tribe of biker pals… I looked online in Harley Davidson support forums… and (HORRORS) I broke open my owner’s manual for a quick review of HD’s “official” recommendation.
The obvious benefit to this is, in neutral, I don’t have to worry about the bike lurching forward and possibly getting away from me. (That’s assuming I am absolutely certain it’s in neutral. )
Or, as my friend Shirley said when she responded to my non-scientific poll on this question: “I always start in neutral. Why? So I don’t forget and run into the garage wall!”
Aside from this bit of common sense, there’s also a mechanical reason for starting the motorcycle in neutral, especially when the bike is cold: starting in neutral allows the fluids and clutch plates to warm up before you attempt to engage them by putting the bike in gear.
This is helpful because when the bike is cold, the fluids have also cooled and settled away somewhat from the parts they are protecting. The clutch plates are therefore likely to be somewhat stuck together due to the suction created from this cooling and settling.
If you start the bike in first gear, you’re attempting to unstick those suctioned plates without benefit of first warming the fluids.
Think about the viscosity (resistance to flow) of other cold fluids vs. their warmed-up counterparts. You know the old expression, “slower than molassses in January”? That’s not just something a pioneer hillbilly made up one day while sitting on his front porch, waiting for his kin to come along with a washboard so they could start the jug band jam. It’s actually a perfect illustration of how temperature affects viscosity: molassses is slow in January because it’s cold. And cold impedes flow.
For motorcycles, flow (of fluids) is critical for smooth operation. When you start the bike in first gear, you’re asking moving mechanical parts to unstick from and engage with each other while surrounded by cold, poorly-flowing fluids. You are causing unnecessary wear and tear on those parts. You are being unreasonable. And you are annoying the hell out of your motorcycle.
Stop annoying your motorcycle, and start your motorcycle in neutral. You’ll improve its overall performance, and you’ll (probably) avoid running into the garage wall.
American endurance driver Deena Mastracci intends to walk into the DMV in Santa Clarita, California on June 1 and get her motorcycle license, and then immediately set out on a 9,000-mile motorcycle journey as her “first ride.” But not just ANY 9,000 miles, because Deena’s route includes portions of Alaska, the Arctic Circle region, the Yukon, and finally, through the Midwestern United States where she will then conclude the ride in Pennsylvania.
Deena plans to use her journey to call attention to the work of the Motorcycle Relief Project, a nonprofit charity that helps veterans with PTSD and other injuries.
“I am taking on this challenge to show women, veterans, or anyone intimidated by something new that the best way to overcome that fear is to drive through it,” Deena states.
She’ll also set the record for the longest journey completed by a newly-licensed motorcycle rider. She’ll be accompanied by her fiance and fellow endurance driver Carl Reese, and by paramedic Jeremy Fox, both on their own motorcycles.
According to a news release posted online at PRWeb, “Followers can track her progress with live GPS vehicle tracking provided by GPS Insight, a technology leader in fleet tracking software. Mastracci’s live map is available on carlreese.net, and additional updates of her journey will be posted on Facebook and Instagram.”
Do you have sufficient arrogance?
I don’t mean to ask, “Do you think you’re better than everyone else?” What I mean is, do you know just how knowledgable you really are, and do you believe in the value of what you know?
Speaking from a business perspective, marketing blogger Scott Hartshorn years ago made the point that it’s easy to assume that other people in your industry are better or smarter than you, and therefore more credible. And this assumption can keep you from putting yourself out there, getting known, taking risks, and reaping the rewards.
I believe that this notion can be applied across the board: not just to Scott’s industry of commercial blogging, but to work, family, parenting, hobbies, socializing and even community involvement.
More recently, moto-blogger Rachael (Fuzzygalore.com) noted that for many of us, there are two yous: Your You and Someone Else’s You. And, that Someone Else’s You is almost always “bigger and bolder” than Your You.
I think Scott & Rachael are saying the same thing – though in different words and from two different life perspectives: that we hold ourselves back from our true potential because we just don’t think our experience and knowledge are as valuable as that of others. We believe, for whatever reason, that outsiders are the experts while we are just… us.
Having been a business owner, a Chamber of Commerce leader, the “new gal” for various employers, a first-time parent, a newbie motorcycle rider, and even a newbie blogger at various points in my life, I can relate to this concept of “insufficient arrogance” on many levels. So many times, I’ve realized (perhaps too late) that I didn’t start out a new phase of my life or a project with the belief that what I brought to the table was just as good, if not better, than what other folks brought.
In short, I’m not sufficiently arrogant!
Or to put it in Rachael’s terms, My Me is standing in the way.
Is this because I’m too dependent on the approval of others? On the notion of being liked? On the idea that what I know is somehow less valid than what others know? Am I – inconceivably – allowing the hard-won knowledge I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve had in life to hold me back me rather than propel me?
And the questions too painful to ponder: What has my insufficient arrogance cost me? What opportunities have I missed because My Me did not measure up? Am I not yet who I wish to be simply because I didn’t think I was good enough to start?
I can tell you this: more and more, when I feel hesitant about a new idea, I am trying to take a conscious look at myself through the eyes of Someone Else’s Me. Because yeah, she’s bigger and bolder. She works harder than My Me. She puts herself out there. She owns the failures, and reaps the rewards.
Look where you want to go.
Scan the road at least 12 seconds ahead.
Slow, Look, Press, Roll.
These are some of the best pieces of advice you’ll hear for riding and controlling your motorcycle. One of the least-discussed aspects of riding, however, is what happens at the end of the ride: parking!
And, while it’s tempting to simply cruise in to your destination and hop off the bike, it’s far better to actually put some careful thought into your stoppage. Because quite honestly, how and where you park will determine the ease with which you eventually leave. So I’ve got one more piece of advice for you to consider:
Park for the exit.
What I mean is, park your bike with leaving – not arriving – in mind. Because truly, how you park your bike determines what challenges or problems you’re going to have when it’s time to leave. Here are some tips for smart parking.
Park level. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make this a top priority in parking your bike. Whenever you can, pick a level spot so you don’t have to do a drastic lean to one side when preparing to leave.
Park solid. Mud, gravel, and even hot-baked blacktop can cause your bike to sink where it sits, especially considering that all the weight of the bike is transferred to that tiny contact point at the end of your kickstand when you’re parked. You can improve this situation by re-distributing the weight of the bike, using a parking disc or small piece of wood placed under the end of the stand.
Nose-out. Taking the time to park “nose out” has saved me many headaches when leaving a parking spot. What I do is pull into a parking lot, quickly scan to identify my target space, and then make a U-turn in front of it so I can back in – assuming, of course, that doing so leaves me level and solid. Where this really saves me is in a space where the parking spot slants downward toward the curb. If I’m nose-out, I don’t have to try to back the bike out and up an incline.
Stick together. In a group, as the ride leader, I try to scope out an area big enough in the parking lot so that our entire group can park together. This ensures that we’re more likely to be able to leave as a group and less likely to inadvertently leave someone behind.
Share a space. This is more of a courtesy shown to other vehicles. A single parking space is almost always big enough for two bikes, especially if one parks a little ahead of the other. If I’m at a very busy venue, I try to occupy as little space as possible if I can do so without compromising my parking safety or that of my spotmate. It might go without saying, but I don’t actually put myself into a space with another bike if I don’t know that person. I only share a space with my own riding companions.
Shut down, lock up. I have a shut-down procedure (and conversely, a start-up procedure) that I go through almost every time I get off the bike. This involves locking my ignition as well as my front forks, removing gear, etc. etc. Although it may seem a little OCD (or even overkill) to do things the same way each and every time, I’ve found that practicing a consistent shut-down sequence ensures that I won’t miss performing a really critical task like… ahem… putting the kickstand down.
These are my tips for smart, safe parking. What else would you add to this list?
Although I will not be riding on May 7 (International Female Ride Day), I certainly hope YOU get the chance to do so! Be safe and have fun on IFRD’S 10th “ride-a-versity”! As for me, I will be traveling to Orlando to visit my daughter, the beach, and the Magic Kingdom!
Will 2016 be your year, the year you learn to ride your own motorcycle?
If you’re like me, you don’t just jump in to something like this: you take some time to educate yourself about the potential joys and dangers, pros and cons, and what you need – physically, practically, and mentally – to get started.
And if you’re EXACTLY like me, you stomp around for two years in your wanna-be boots, trying to visualize your two-wheeled future. But I digress.
If you follow this blog you already know I love to write… So hopefully it’s no great shocker that I have compiled my perspective on those very topics into an e-book. :) An e-book that I hope you find entertaining as well as helpful! An e-book that costs less than nearly everything at Starbucks! An e-book that has been judged by other women riders to be “not completely hideous!”
“…the final push I needed to get started. Janet is educational, honest and very funny.”
“Love the book and what it stands for. If you are a woman who has thought that maybe you’d like to ride, check out this book to see that you certainly can!”
“Janet Green nails it with great solutions and answers to difficult questions potential riders will struggle with. Don’t think about riding, just read this book and ‘Get On’ right now!”
Here are the shopping links to purchase your copy of “Get On: A Guide to Riding Motorcycles for Women Who Think Too Much” for just $3.99 (cheap!):
Beyond the e-book, I am always keen on fielding questions about anything related to riding. Share your questions anytime by commenting on blog posts, finding me on Facebook or Twitter, and/or by email! See my sidebar links to connect via other social sites, and thank you for reading!
Okay I promised to try to share some of last year’s rides, so here’s a wonderful trip that our Chrome Divas chapter took in April. This was our first ride of 2015, but as it turned out, the weather was really crappy so we ended up riding together in Seven Over’s truck instead. (Her plan for the day was irresistible, and we decided that having “social time” would be just as valuable as having “bike time.” Turmed out, we were right about that!)
Our monthly chapter rides are always the fourth Saturday of the month, and in 2015 our date happened to coincide with Arbor Day. As it also happened, author Mark Hirsch was making an appearance at the Iowa Arboretum near Madrid to showcase his unique book, That Tree. Janet/Seven Over is a huge fan of this book, and in fact has met Mark several times. Our first stop was therefore the Iowa Arboretum, where Mark was scheduled to participate in a tree planting.
An experience like this always fascinates me because it seems you just never can really know another person’s path unless you take time to talk with them. What I mean is – on the surface, isn’t it cool that a guy used his iPhone to post a picture-a-day of a particular favorite tree, and then published a book of the photos? Sure – but, there is so much more to the story. In Mark’s case, he was an active photojournalist who became the victim of an accident that left him with long roads of physical and emotional recovery. The photos he took and shared of “That Tree” actually became a huge part of his healing process.
We attended the tree planting at the Iowa Arboretum along with Mark and several other brave-the-weather Arboretum supporters, including a group of Cub Scouts. It was here that one of the folks on the Arboretum’s board of directors told a joke that made me giggle to the point of distraction. “Did you hear about the two silk worms who competed in a race? They ended up in a tie.” I’m serious, I almost peed my pants over that one.
But I digress. After meeting Mark and participating in the tree planting ceremony, we traveled just a couple miles up the road to Luther, Iowa where we took some time to discover BFE Vintage Motorcycles.
BFE is a cool little bike shop filled with old bikes of various makes and models, in various stages of repair or restoration. They have a small showroom full of bikes, multiple projects going at once, apparel for sale, and of course friends and fans on hand to talk shop.
Our final stop on the day’s journey was a fun little restaurant in Woodward called The Whistlin’ Donkey. This is a great example of a phenomenon in Iowa that I call trail bars. We have an extensive network in Iowa of bicycle/recreation trails, and there are bars and restaurants along many of them. Primarily they cater to bicyclists using the trails, but they’re often great stops for motorcyclists too and we have tried out several. The Donkey served up an excellent lunch and also invited us to record a message for their Facebook page.
Despite the mostly uncooperative weather, we had a wonderful day of fellowship and Iowa sight-seeing!
Haha so here we are again, yes I’m still riding… last year was not without some wonderful days on the bike… it was just mostly without blog posts!
When last we left, I was just getting ready to go on the air with Iowa radio legend Keith Kirkpatrick, who had invited me on his “Sportsman’s Notebook” program to talk about being a woman rider, a motorcyclist in general, and my e-book, “Get On.”
It was a lot of fun, and last year gave me two other opportunities to share my love of riding in Iowa: In May I gave a talk at the senior community where I work, really just a slide show of some of my favorite rides and sharing some great stories… the residents loved it and as a result of that in August I was invited to give a similar talk at our sister senior community in Indianola. The residents – again mostly from Iowa and familiar with many of the towns I was featuring – seemed to enjoy the stories I shared as well as the photos, and they were excited to step outside with me and have photos taken with the bike. It was truly a highlight of the year!
I’ll try to share a few more rides from the year as soon as I can – I’ve acquired a new computer since then and a lot of my photos are on the old machine. (blah blah excuses blah blah)
Anyway, THIS year we have had a weird Spring. I took two short rides back in February, then none in March, and here we are near the end of April and I just had my “next” pair of rides.
April 23 was the first ride of the Season for my Chrome Divas chapter, and it happened to coincide with the annual Blessing of the Bikes event at Big Barn Harley Davidson. So the Divas met up at Sambetti’s (our official gathering spot and Chapter sponsor!) and rode as a group up 2nd Avenue to Big Barn. We rolled in and were able to park as a group despite the crowd, which was… in the words of a current political candidate… HUUUUUUUGGEEE!!!
In fact, the drone photo below by Found Photography beautifully captures the scope and size of this year’s Blessing. (A sincere thanks to FP owner Jack for allowing me to use his photo – please be sure to check out his website for some absolutely stunning photo work!)
Enjoyed the Blessing and lunch (as always) and the Divas then took a short ride up to Saylorville Lake where we rode to the water’s edge… a brief stop to assess the lake level (it’s low) and take some pictures, and we headed our separate ways for home since some of the gals had late-afternoon plans. In all it was a lovely day but I was wishing the ride could have been longer.
The next day, Sunday, I was still wanting to ride but became ridiculously conflicted about whether to just go on a solo ride. You might remember I am not that big a fan of riding alone, (although I have certainly had some enjoyable solo rides)… but a number of factors convinced me to just do it. A look at my weather app suggested that we might get a thunderstorm late in the afternoon, and it was already about 2 pm. So I decided on just a short loop to the south along Highway 28, then east on Highway 92 to county road S23, and up S23 to the north through Palmyra – home of one of my favorite country churches.
Having discovered the Palmyra Church in 2012, I was a little saddened to see that its condition has deteriorated since that visit. Still on the National Historic Register, the exterior is showing some decay. I’m hopeful that there is still a group working on keeping this lovely little treasure intact.
Fun weekend… still very early in the season here but starting to work on my biker tan!
This Sunday, June 28, I have an amazing opportunity: I’m going to be the guest on “Sportsman’s Notebook,” a Sunday morning program on 1040-WHO Radio! My Iowa friends and followers will know two things: 1 – The host of the program, Keith Kirkpatrick, is an Iowa Treasure, having been an on-air personality at WHO Radio for more than six decades. And 2 – WHO Radio is the premier talk and news radio station in Iowa. It’s signal reaches far and wide across the country – and did so even in the days before the internet. Keith tells me his show normally focuses on hunting and fishing in Iowa, but he saw my presentation at Edgewater back in May and invited me on because he could tell I was enjoying the beauty and bounty of Iowa in my own way and wanted to showcase it. I am THRILLED – we will be talking about riding and enjoying Iowa by motorcycle, my e-book “GET ON,” and much more! You should be able to listen LIVE at iHeartRadio or the WHO Radio website itself at http://www.whoradio.com/main.html.
Hard to believe it’s mid-June already and I’m still working to get caught up on blog posts, but that seems to be my life these days… A little behind and getting behinder! But no matter, its a beautiful summer so far and i have some fun rides to share with you!
In mid-April a friend and I took a nice scenic ride down to the town of Milo. We had heard that there was some kind of tower in the middle of town that you could get up into and look around which, it seemed to me, was a great reason to ride!
We took a semi-scenic route through Des Moines which included a run through the blooming crab apple grove in Water Works Park, then down Highway 5 to the Palmyra Road (aka S-23), down to Highway 92 and then jogged over to pick up S23 again to the south. I have been through the north end of Milo several times over the years, always on my way to somewhere else, but never actually rode down to Main Street.
This time we sought out the little business district and discovered there really is a tower… a sort of super-gazebo on stilts. Unfortunately, it must’ve been too early in the season for the tower to be open because the little ladder staircase was hitched up tight against the floor of the gazebo so we couldn’t climb up. (I think this “closed attractions” theme is getting a little out of hand – ahem, CRESTON.)
This structure is certainly the oddest thing I’ve seen in the middle of a Main Street intersection in all my years of riding… in fact, it might be the only thing I’ve seen in the middle of a Main Street intersection… but I do think it would be neat to re-visit on a day when one could climb up and get the bird’s-eye view, assuming one is a bird perched… say, 12 feet off the ground…
Anyway after puzzling about the gazebo for a brief time we headed south out of Milo on S23, then at Lacona we turned west and took G76 – another favorite road! – over to New Virginia. Came back up north on R45 at New Virginia, then up Highway 28 through Martensdale, Norwalk, and Lakewood into West Des Moines.
In all it was about 120 miles and part of a lovely start to the riding season!