Saturday, February 19, 2011

Out of Town / Comparing Bikes / Feeling Bad for My Sick Wife

I'm posting this from Dallas, where I am on a very short weekend visit for work. There are two kinds of travel: the fun kind and business trips.

Trish was languishing in bed feeling pretty rotten yesterday. She had started getting ill on Wednesday and by Thursday it had developed into some kind of full-blown infection: fever, body aches, nausea, headache, sore throat -- in short, utter misery and suffering. I did my best to take care of her after I got home from work, but aside from bringing her medicine, refilling her water glass and keeping her company while she read her comic books there wasn't really much I could do. It's a helpless, frustrating feeling when someone you care about is in such acute discomfort. I hope she makes a full and speedy recovery. I feel kind of guilty about having to leave town. She just texted me and said that she is starting to feel a lot better today, so that's encouraging (and remorse-mitigating).

Meanwhile, Pancho is in the shop for a complete clutch rebuild, so I've been riding Y.T. all this week and probably will continue to do so for most of next. On one hand, it's actually a good thing that we have a reason to fire up Y.T.'s engine and get out there and knock the rust and dust off; unlike the Suzuki (which gets ridden every single day) that poor Honda tends to sit in the driveway for way too long. The worst thing you can do to a bike is not ride it.

On the other hand, however, this is going to be a very expensive repair and I'm rather grumpy about that. Even so, I've had very good luck with this motorcycle. The original clutch has lasted until now, so that's not bad, right? Right? You tell yourself these things.

Riding the Honda for a change has reminded me of the extreme contrast in (1) weight and (2) riding position between the little 250 and the big 1200. What a completely different experience! Pancho, being basically a sportbike despite all the touring mods, forces me way over into a hunched-forward, knees-bent riding position. Then again, the Corbin saddle is super-comfortable. Y.T. is the opposite in every way: I'm in a nice, relaxed, upright, neutral riding position -- but the OEM seat is like a plank, narrow and hard. That bike would be a real bun-burner on a long trip!

When I ride Y.T. too work, I find myself looking around more; it's much easier to turn your head and glance to the left and to the right when you're sitting more vertically. I keep discovering minor aspects of the scenic ride along County Road 426 through the Little Big Econ State Forest between Geneva and Oviedo that I hadn't noticed before -- a glimpse of a lake through the trees, a quaint, cozy little cottage set back in an orange grove etc.

The handlebar vibration is much worse on Y.T. than it is on Pancho, as well. Having gel-palm gloves helps, but it would still be an issue on a longer ride.

Y.T.'s lighter weight gives a feeling of tremendous confidence, especially when maneuvering at very low speeds in very tight places or on rough, soft or uneven surfaces. Handling Pancho at times like that can be a bit nerve-wracking; on Y.T. it's no big deal at all.

Finally, it's really nice to get such incredibly great gas mileage on the Honda. You can use the change you find behind the sofa cushions to fill the tank, and that lasts you for days.

In general, going back and forth between the two bikes has been an object lesson in what works and what doesn't, what I like and what I don't. That's a useful reference point as I contemplate my next bike.

This was supposed to be a quick day-and-a-half trip, but due to delays it's turning into nearly three days. I miss Trish. I hate to leave while she's sick and I hate traveling without her. We always seem to manage to have a good time no matter where we are (perhaps even especially when) things don't go according to the original plan.

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