If we are ever to get the larval maggot Josh elevated to full biker status, he is going to have to get more comfortable in the saddle. As his mentor, I have been very busy this Spring and thus delinquent in forcing his training regimen.
Both Josh and I were free this past Saturday morning, so during the week we locked in a plan to do some ride coaching from 9:30 to 11:00. I did not look at the weather report.
On Saturday morning, I got up and prepped the Buell to meet josh. I did look at the weather report, and it showed a slight chance of rain (10%) up until Noon, then a Very Serious Chance of rain after that (like 80%).
So I says to myself “If I get there by 9:30 and we ride for an hour, I’ll be able to make it home before the deluge.”
I did not look at the weather radar.
Got to Josh’s garage early, maybe 9:10. This time, the bike had a fresh battery and his Sena helmet communicator was fully charged. We were set to go with no delays.
There was something funny with the self-storage garage unit where he keeps the bike. The roll-up door seemed stuck, and once it was up it was not stowing properly. It was flopping down inside the garage unit.
Being brilliant engineers, we decided to go inside the garage and pull the door down so we could get a look at the mechanism. We did not bother to remember whether this door had an automatic latch which would lock in place once the door was closed.
So we close the door, using the headlight of the running Moto-Guzzi for illumination. “I see yer problem right here… the coil spring which is used to operate the spool that helps lift and store the roll-up door is broken.”
Okay, let’s open the door and tell the storage company they need to fix it.
Grrrr, *strain* *grunt*… no budge.
Is… this… door… latched now? Neither Josh nor I can recall.
Are we locked in a garage with a running motorcycle breathing carbon monoxide? Ummmm, yes.
Shut the bike. Pitch darkness.
Well, at least we have cellphones and we can use Google to get the phone number of the office for the storage company so they can walk 50 yards to let us out.
But one last try to lift the door, with both of us this time. THIS time it budges. Of course! No recoil spring = no assistance lifting the door, so it only felt like it was latched.
We breathe the outdoor air as Free Men once again.
Now, what to do for a training ride? This storage unit is on the corner of a pretty nasty pair of roads in Metuchen, just across from Cross Country BMW. I suggest we start by going there and doing some parking lot practice. Josh is not so keen on that. Uh-oh. That’s like 100 yards away, with a traffic light. If that is too scary, then where else can we go?
I suggest an alternative: we can make a right turn out of the storage lot, head to Route 287, ride for 5 minutes on the highway and then hit the extremely large parking lot of Telcordia on Centennial Road in Piscataway. I figure this will also be vetoed because it is much farther and involves highway riding.
However, with minimal encouragement, Josh agrees. So I coach him through the turns and de-rusting his clutch skills, and we make it to Telcordia lickity-split.
This turns out to be a brilliant plan. The Telcordia parking lot is MASSIVE and empty, and has a private ring road connecting the front and the back of the building. We practice clutch work first, then move to left and right turns withing the markings of the parking spaces, then circulating the ring road to run up and down the gears, and finally figure 8’s and tighter turns.
we do not look at our watches
We do not look at the sky.
In our defense, Josh was having a huge amount of fun. This was working out well.
Until the first drops of rain hit. Then we decide to head back. Before we even get half way to 287 is is coming down like Bangkok in September (or whenever it rains like a mofo in Southeast Asia). In 30 seconds everything not warded by Gore-Tex is soaked through. For me that means my pants and gloves. For Josh, that means everything except his helmet and boots, but they fill up from water dripping off his pants.
We looked for a parking lot to stop in, found a company lot and then discovered they had absolutely zero awnings or overhangs, so we took partial refuge under a tree.
THEN we checked our watches and the weather radar. The storm had not come early; we had lost track of time while riding, and it was in fact 11:45, right up against the predicted deluge. Weather radar shows no mercy, so we Cowboy Up and ride in blinding rain back to the storage unit. It’s only about 10 minutes, and even the cars on the highway were creeping along at under 40 mph so while I would not do this for fun, it was not life-threatening.
Of course we were super drenched by the time we parked. Weather radar showed that the downpour would be over in maybe an hour, so we decided to go grab lunch. After checking out some places, we settled on a Taiwanese street food place in Edison. This area is very asian, and you can count on Chinese restaurants that cater to real immigrant Chinese people. Places where they don’t even speak much English. In this one, the waitresses were accent free, but the food was absolutely native. Meaning not a single item you’ve ever seen on your local Chinese restaurant menu. Good stuff, but best not to think about the ingredients too much.
By the time we were done, the rain was over. My ride home was saved by the heated grips which kept my hands from seizing up from the wind blast on soaking wet gloves. My torso was fine (thanks, Aerostitch!) but my legs were also coated in sopping-wet denim exposed to 70 mph wind. I’ve had worse rides, and I’ve had better rides.
But the key thing is Josh got in some major practice. If we can do this again (minus soaking) next Saturday, I think he should be able to do it alone without and escort. A little bit more after that and he should be safe to ride in a Maggot palaton.