THE #GLOWUP IS REAL: MOTORCYCLE EDITION
Before and after with my riding experiences
With the Canadian winter slowly kicking in, the bikes have officially been put away for the season 😩. Although they may be physically in hibernation mode, I often still think about riding and my hand seems to be constantly itching for a 'phantom throttle.' Does anyone else do that?
Anyway, as you may already know, #glowup is a popular hashtag that generally illustrates the transformation of an individual over a period of a few years that showcases how the person has improved upon oneself. While this is predominantly used for people to present their transformation over the years during graduation or after making noticeable changes in their appearance, I thought I would use this trend to consider the changes I have made as a motorcycle rider.
Okay, let's get into it!
MY GEAR BEFORE:
This was me when I first started riding. I had a hand-me-down jacket and oversized gloves that turned my hands blue whenever I got rained on. I had really crappy combat boots at first, but I eventually saved up for those indestructible Sidi boots. Meanwhile, I was still wearing jeans that offered little to no protection.
MY GEAR AFTER:
Yes, our photography skills have improved too...
After another season of riding, I found this awesome Alpinestars jacket for $100 on sale which was a score! Just to elaborate on how awesome this find was, not only is it an XS and fits me perfectly, but it is also black and white! Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a jacket in my size that is NOT pink? I also swapped a stronger back protector in from another riding jacket for extra protection. Then, I paired my Sidi boots with black Dainese riding pants. Lastly, I upgraded my Arai helmet to a new Shoei RF-1200 and attached a Sena 20S. It's only when the battery dies that I have to resort back to those awkward hand signals with riding partners.
I initially learned how to ride a motorcycle on a little Yamaha Virago. However, I actively started riding on these two 💕. The red one on the left is a 1977 Kawasaki KH400 and the blue on the right is a 1975 Kawasaki S3. The KH400 and the S3 both have two stroke, three cylinder, 400cc engines. Although I swear the blue one was faster 😛. These bikes were awesome to ride, although they did have their quirks. As they were older bikes, the kickstarts were sometimes a pain in the early morning. They would also randomly stall when stopped at a red light. But overall, they were great starter bikes and I spent many winter nights in the garage learning how to fix them.
These two are the bikes I ride now: A baby Kawasaki Ninja 300 and a Ducati Monster 696. It was strange when I moved from the older bikes to the Ninja. The feel of a sport bike was very different from what I had been used to. The riding position felt very squished and it is also a very high revving bike. The older bikes were larger and more torquey so it is a completely different riding style.
The Ducati Monster is the largest bike I have had the chance to ride. I like that it is lower to the ground (Short person problems). However, I do wish that the turning circle was a bit wider as it can be a pain to park in tight spaces. Although I'm not going to lie, my favourite aspect about the Ducati is that it sounds like a grumpy dragon.
Of course, there were many learning curves I had to overcome! Particularly with the older bikes, I needed to learn how to take care of them properly and to also be aware of their specific needs. After all, stalling a modern bike on a hill is not that big of a deal, however, stalling a bike with a kickstart on a hill is not a good time.
Besides that there was the usual: Improving in the corners and learning how to deal with less than ideal weather and road conditions were other important lessons. On a side note, to this day, I am STILL learning how to pack efficiently when it comes to longer and/or colder motorcycle rides. If anyone has any suggestions about good tank bags that can actually store a decent amount, let me know cause I ain't about this gigantic tortoiseshell backpack life.
Does sitting backwards on a bike count as a skill? 😂
Considering all the crazy riding situations I have been in, I'm pretty sure that if I had experienced some of them at the beginning, I would not be writing this post right now:
-What would have caused me to panic before now just makes me shake my head (Usually at bad drivers).
-What would have caused me to lose my balance before now just makes me discover new ways of maneuvering around on the bike. Like when I need to drift my bike... on a road covered in oil... (Just read this post and you will understand my struggles.)
-Conditions I would have misjudged before have taught me how to better prepare myself. I'm mainly talking about those corners that don't look that tight, but then when you get to them you realize that they're way tighter so then you end up leaning so hard that you put your recent track day to shame.
And that's it! How would you describe your riding #glowup? Let me know in the comments! If you want to check out any of my other motorcycle posts, you can find some of them below 💜