Wherever I May Roam - One Woman Livin' on a DR650

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Feyala, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    I used to pull in the clutch and just feather the brakes, as the sound of the engine braking was unnerving to me. Other folks pointed out that if I engine braked, I wouldn't have to ride the brakes as much, and that's led to a slight increase in speed for me, because I am starting to "trust" the bike more at speeds faster than I was initially comfortable with (engine brake in first is about 15mph, which seems like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride if I'm facing a steep downhill with a sheer drop-off to one side!). I still have to clutch in to prevent stalls from braking quite frequently, if that gives you any indication of the speeds I am dealing with. I have no doubts that this is solid advice if I was going a bit faster, but right now, I am both engine braking AND normal braking, and still feel out of control sometimes... :rofl

    Yes, it's okay if you laugh at me. I laugh at me too.

    I am not afraid of my brakes. If anything, I seem to get people staring in amazement at how slow I can manage to go while remaining upright. I am great at going ridiculously slow. Unfortunately, in places like the Fucking Scary Hill, this is more of a liability than a benefit, and I would have probably had a better time if I'd been able to deal with it just a little bit faster, because when I go that slow I get a lot more deflection, the wheel tends to go around more than over the shit in my path, which is destabilizing.

    Unfortunately, there was nowhere on that hill that was a good "braking area", what I could see was all shitty loose rocks. On the last part of that ride, I did start looking further ahead, realizing a bad part was coming up, and braking before I got there. I definitely need to better my terrain reading skills and be less paranoid of what's immediately ahead of me so I can look further down the road and set up my line. I figure that is probably one of those things that comes with practice.

    Oh man. I've never had to deal with a lot of huge rocky steps, but it's been a childhood dream to ride down a flight of stairs. How do you train that set of skills without falling on your face?

    Yeah, I picked a sub-optimal bike to learn dirt skills. Totally agreed. Sadly, I can't afford or keep two bikes. If I ever do get into a position where I can have more than one, I'll probably get a tiny little singletrack shitkicker.

    You do bring up a good point and that's that I should be a lot more familiar with how far I can push my brakes before they lock up. I've locked the brakes before, and it's kind of terrifying, so I just apply as much as I feel comfortable with and don't go faster than that amount of brake can slow me down. Maybe if I were more confident in my ability to 'emergency brake' I'd be less afraid of going a bit faster. Hmm.

    Yay, something I do correctly! Braking with both is one of the things keeping me from standing up more, actually. I don't feel like I can control my rear brake very well while standing, or I feel like my boot's going to slip off the peg (and I have nice wide pegs). It feels awkward either way. :cry

    These are skills I really wish I had, but mistakes when I don't have health insurance and travel solo can be... suboptimal. That's why I've been kinda easing into this, and pushing my boundaries when I feel safe, with others. I could go balls out and fall over a lot, but I don't have the money for a lot of repairs for either of us. Before the accident, I'd never really fallen off this bike at anything other than an elderly walking pace.

    I'm starting to learn some of this, but I'm nowhere near there yet. I'm way better than I was though, and every time I do something challenging, I feel like I'm improving massively. I'm not entirely sure how to learn faster without taking unacceptable risks... that's why I like group rides.

    The only reason I haven't learned how to wheelie yet is my bike seems a bit too eager for it. Unloaded at a stop, when I start to go, I can feel the front end start to lighten a bit, so I'm particularly careful with feathering the clutch. My biggest worry in trying to intentionally wheelie is that I'll give it too much too quickly and loop it. :cry I agree that it seems like a useful skill to have though, and I've seen videos (mostly trials) where such things were a critical part of the route.

    Agreed, and thank you for your advice! I don't find staging areas too often, though maybe I should seek them out more...

    Yeah, I have a couple of dual sport training vids and it's all drills, which is awesome, I just have difficulty finding a good spot to practice in where I won't be causing a nuisance. I don't really have a 'backyard'.

    Naw man, glad for your input! That's why the actual RR is orange! :lol3

    Thanks! Yeah, as I said above, it's sub-optimal for sure, and I'd love to give a smaller dirtbike a shot. I try to do most of my "boundary pushing" unloaded and around others, but the bike's still a pig even then.

    That sounds... interesting. I'd never heard of that kind of race!

    Yeah, agreed. On areas with less loose terrain, I've started using just a tiny bit of gas to help keep up the momentum. Faster = I have to do less balance work to keep the bike upright, as the front seems to deflect less. Up until the Fucking Scary Hill, I'd had no problem with creeping slowly down hills, but that one was just too steep and too loose for my creeping skills to work correctly.

    Yeah, my lines definitely need work. I'm at the stage right now where I'm starting to look up from "OMG THERES A BIG ROCK GOTTA AVOID" weaving madly and see where exactly I'm actually going now and then. It's easier on flatter or less loose terrain.

    My problem with "speeding through gnarly sections and braking on safer straight sections" is that often I can't physically see that far ahead. It's gnarly and then there's a corner - then what? Do you just take the corner at speed and hope you don't go barreling over a cliffside? This makes sense and I've done a minor version with "trouble spots", just gas it past a pile of rocks, but I guess I lack some perspective in relative gnarliness or something. :)

    I'm about 5'5", so pretty short. I didn't lower it and I have stiffer suspension, and it's still fine, I can almost flat foot it with all of my crap loaded up. I'd probably be a little bit more confident on a shorter, lighter bike, but it hasn't been a problem so far and I have no complaints. Easy as pie to work on too!
  2. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    Whew! Lots of replies! Thanks for all the advice everyone! I'll learn how to ride eventually... :lol3

    I had the cavity-ridden tooth extracted on Thursday. It came out easily and I kind of feel like a moron for filling my prescriptions, because the damn thing somehow doesn't hurt at all. Whoops. Oh well, I'll take it! It was cheap too, $100 for exam, x-rays, and the extraction. This was from a normal dentist - the dental school wanted $100 just to look at it.

    The dentist wants $280 to extract the dumb sideways one on the other side of my mouth though, and since it isn't actively causing me any problems, I think I'll wait and take care of it in Mexico.

    We fixed the rack and the box. I still need to re-seal the box, but I'm taking everything on a dry run at highway speeds tomorrow to see if anything needs fixed. I waterproofed the tank panniers and we installed loops and a rope so they won't flap upwards at speed. I weighed the two boxes - together they are 25 lbs empty, which, okay, yeah, that's kind of a lot, but it isn't as bad as I thought it might be.

    The battery to SAE cable works well and runs my compressor - this means I should be less afraid to really air down my tires offroad. My dad helped solder together an SAE-cigarette lighter adapter, and bought me a USB outlet that fits in it, so I can charge items while riding now, making me slightly less reliant on Starbucks. Yay!

    So tomorrow I attempt to pack up all my crap and see if I can remember how to operate a motorcycle after having been out of the saddle for far too long. My goal is to leave in a couple of days, heading east - I'd like to visit a friend of mine in Florida before it becomes deliriously humid-hot. After bumming around the southern states for a bit, once my passport renewal comes in I may aim for Baja, assuming the money holds out. We'll see! :clap I am eager to get on the road!!

    Suggestions as far as stuff to see/do (oddities, cool nature stuff, caves, weird people, hot springs, great views) on the way from here to FL are very welcome! I know pretty much nothing about these states other than stereotypes, and have never been to any of them other than the tip of TX and straight through the 40 in NM. I will be routing to avoid high elevations and snow, obviously.

    So tell me, dear readers: what should I check out along the way? :ear
  3. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Been here awhile

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    I was just thinking of you yesterday and wondering what you were up too? Let the new adventure begin. :clap:clap
  4. cruiserbiker

    cruiserbiker Adventurer

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    What is the route you will be taking?
  5. Patj551

    Patj551 Motorcycle & Empowerment Coach

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    Chainless race is a quirky kind of "fun race." All gravity driven. Whoever carries the most speed down the course and through the turns and obstacles wins.

    Tough choice Fey....it's imperative to "see" down the hill so you can anticipate before you're on top of things. Standing up will give you more vision and allow the bike to move independently underneath you. Typically (not always) braking should be done before the corner, not in the corner. I got an idea for a simple thing to try...I use this drill with many new riders.

    Try this on an unloaded bike in a flat obstacle free area. Accelerate the bike to a moderate speed. Hit the brakes. Try to mark the spot where you started braking and where you stopped. Now go back and do it again, this time STAND UP and when you hit the brakes push your weight back and down over the rear wheel. Mark the spot where you started and stopped braking. If all goes well, your braking distance should be shorter on the second try. Practice this until you're a bit more comfortable, then find an obstacle free downhill section. Try it again.

    Pushing your weight back and down over the wheel should give you more braking traction on the back wheel. This is critical in downhill conditions where you must let the front wheel roll to avoid supermaning over the handlebars. Also, you will find when you get that back wheel to dig in and grab, the rear end of the bike will sink down. That in turn allows you to hit the front brake harder without catapulting over the front end. This drill also teaches you to use your rear and front brakes independently and together, meaning applying different pressure (harder on the rear, softer on the front rather than just pushing and squeezing hard simultaneously.)

    The next step is to throw in an obstacle or two. I'll take a small stick that you can roll over no matter what and create an obstacle just to get the timing down. Practice releasing the front brake as you roll over the stick then grab the brake again. Once you have the timing down, you can try rolling over downhill obstacles while still braking with the back end.

    Glad you're on the road again! Yup, steer clear of our Colorado snow and ice for now! And thanks for all the details, descriptions and pics. It takes a lot of time and effort. Appreciate it!
  6. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    I know there was a lot there to digest. I wouldn't expect anybody to go out there and throw themselves over the deep end and expect to come out fine. Controlled skill testing is required.

    The biggest thing is try small things at a time and FEEL the bike. It's always giving feedback and that feedback is priceless information on what you can do and when.
  7. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

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  8. Warin

    Warin Retired

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    Humm ... not so much of a standing up thing ... more of moving your bum as far back as it will go .. at a first try move it as far back as the rear of the pillion seat .. are as far as you can go. You get to go further back with more adrenaline!:rofl

    ------------------
    As for what is around a corner ... I've had

    A python snake ... completely across 1 1/2 lanes of a two lane dirt road
    end of the road - vertical drop of 10 meters - no warning.
    wooden bridge - burnt out

    those are the ones I remember .. all on dirt.
  9. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    What's wrong with standing up? She should be standing every chance she gets. Everybody should.

    There are fast, highly skilled riders who sit, but there are a lot more who stand. I made the mistake while learning sitting down, but when I transitioned to standing the benefits were noticed almost instantly once I felt comfortable.

    Standing allows you to move your weight back further and quicker if required. Sitting forces your arms to take the grunt also causing a pivot point around the front wheel. It also affects the manhood if you hit a big bump while braking hard. haha.
  10. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    I agree ... standing is the way. But novices will take time to get comfortable standing in all situations. My first year racing AMA Enduros
    (1988) I knew I needed to stand up more ... but leg cramps and exhaustion would get to me ... plus I had not yet learned to do everything well standing up.

    Hang out at nice knarly section of a AMA Enduro or a GNCC National. Watch what the racers do. The only time they sit is for a sharp corner ... where they sit forward all the way, get their leg out and brake slide the corner Moto Cross style. Then they are right back up ... and charging out of the corner.

    Only other place you'll see guys sit is through heavy woods with low hanging branches. Once I was knocked out cold when I hit a tree limb hard. Woke up ... I was still on the bike, idling down the trail! :eek1

    I finally learned to go fast standing but on super fast fire roads (rare in real Enduros) I would sometimes revert back to my Flat Track roots and sit for the corners, getting sideways. Enduro guys SUCK at flat tracking and I could always pass 'em. But they'd get me back in the nasty stuff. :cry

    Standing saves energy and saves your back, spine and most of all ... Kidneys over nasty whoops, rocks and ledges ... which you need to hit at speed ... all those parts get hammered in serious off road if you stay seated.

    Your knees can handle it better than your Kidneys and back. Arm pump will be LESS when standing too ... if you remember to BREATH and relax your grip. Alan Randt taught me that and Larry Roseler taught me to hold onto the bars/controls lightly to avoid arm pump. All these little tricks mean you can keep a HIGH average speed and Zero check points. That is how you place high in an Enduro.

    Dual sport traveling is NOT a race ... but good technique (like standing) is Safer and Saves Energy. Win Win!
  11. Patj551

    Patj551 Motorcycle & Empowerment Coach

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    Larry Roeseler? Haven't heard that name in a while...the man's a legend! Lucky for you to have worked with him!

    Standing in gnarly dirt situations is easier on your body & also allows the bike to move more freely & fluidly without the riders weight bouncing everywhere. And, yes, it's a skill that isn't always easy for noobs. There is definitely a feeling of security associated with sitting & white knuckling the bars. But once you get the hang of standing up & feeling the bike flow, your riding goes to the next level.
  12. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Roeseler taught seminars years ago through Cycle Gear. Back when Dave Bertram (owner) was actually still hands on with the business. I also got to ride with Bertram who was no slouch. (ISDE team captain US team)

    Bertram gave talks at our dirt bike club ... we gave donations to the ISDE US team. Very smart guy ... and could watch you ride and immediately tell you where you were wrong. Really helped me a lot.
    But Rodney Smith was the best ever. He would pass me going up hill on his 250 with his wife on the back ... pulling a wheelie all the way up this knarly ass climb ... wife stuck to him like glue. Best rider I ever saw. Rodney was the guy who said to just treat a steep downhill like a straight ... gas it. INsane! (fearless)
  13. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

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    This is turning into a "how to ride" thread =)

    But I agree with this.

    Most say grip the bike with your knees. I find that counter productive too. It limits movement and connects you more to the bike. I find the least engagement with the bike (because naturally the bike wants to stay upright via gyro) the better. I ride my bikes like trial bikes though, but it can also allow movement of the bike to gain clearance around corners, around bumps so the bike can take a different line then your body (for a few seconds at least), etc.

    I developed basic riding skills from mountain bikes though. I think that's where I get it. No gripping the bike with knees there...

    Braappp!! Wish I could go ride now. Work and no winter bike at the moment =(
  14. Eyore

    Eyore Been here awhile

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    Just finished all 43 pages over the past few days, brilliant and I am in awe of you Feyala. Wish I had the nerve to do something so adventurous, but I guess I am just too much of a softy and like my girly comforts.
    Great pictures too. Cant wait for the next installment and have subscribed now. Thanks and Ride safe.
  15. Feyala

    Feyala Been here awhile

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    I managed to escape Phoenix on Tuesday. More than a week after I'd planned to leave, and several months after I wanted to leave, but hey, I'm out and that's what counts, right?? :lol3

    I have been joined by my buddy Oz, who flew to Mississippi, bought a DR650 off a guy there, and rode it to Phoenix to meet up with me. He's fairly new to dirt riding but he's handling the same stuff I do pretty well so far. He has a lot less fear I think, which helps.

    Currently in Las Cruces, NM. We've been going slow and taking our time getting back into the routine of things. I'm taking the day off to chillax, catch up on the internets, and get a few things set up on the netbook so I can work on the RR while offline. I've been keeping notes this time though!

    As for the backlog, I've got about three rough drafts written, about two to go, then editing the text. Not too bad.

    Also, it's my birthday. I turn 29 today. Almost 30! Maybe I'll treat myself to a shower! :rofl

    I appreciate all of the comments, and I'll be getting back to all of you soon! :raabia

    It's good to be back on the road!
  16. Warin

    Warin Retired

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    Those are road riders. Not dirt riders. Similar things happen with suspension setup. Listen to the advice (respect) and then filter it for your situation (application). :wink:
  17. Patj551

    Patj551 Motorcycle & Empowerment Coach

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    Happy Birthday to you...Happy Birthday to you!
    :velvt
  18. ping

    ping Been here awhile

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    Happy birthday.
  19. cruiserbiker

    cruiserbiker Adventurer

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    Happy Birthday and happy trails:clap
  20. smash81

    smash81 Been here awhile

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    Woohoo happy birthday!! :clap Glad to hear you're back where you belong, hopefully Karla and I can try it out someday too.