Me and my babe did two classes with California Superbike School this year. They were incredibly effective for me overall. I learned SO MUCH in two days; far more than the two other track days I did before. Read my review of their school here.
In July we signed up for our first track day with California Superbike School.
We had such a great time the first time around, we squeezed in another one before the riding season starts to freeze us out. I learned so much from them the first time, I knew going back for a second round at Level 2 would be well worth it.
As you can see, there is no knee dragging! Ha. I'm too scared to drop my knee down at this point. But it had nothing to do with that. It all had to do with riding smoother, more consistently and with better focus. For me, it was all about figuring out how to ride more effectively so I could go exactly where I needed to without going too wide, or missing the next corner. But I think as I start to get closer to the edge of my tires that I'll need to start shifting my weight over. And I hope that with more practice next Spring I'll get there.
When we went to our first day in July, we decided to get more track specific tires that we could still use on the street. We went with Michelin Power RS's and they performed quite well. No tire warmers necessary! But who am I kidding? I'm not going that fast and my bike isn't a track only bike. So I opted for something that could be ridden on the street too, just with a lower tread life than say the Pilot Power 3s. They were ridiculously sticky and it showed.
One thing I was able to add for this track day was a track helmet! I borrowed the Bell Race Star, their carbon fiber track helmet (just below the Pro Star). Well conveniently borrowed from work of course. I really enjoyed this helmet on the track. I didn't have the chance to wear it on the street but I have a feeling I would enjoy it there as well. :) Check out my review here.
But by the time my next track day rolls around (likely Spring, ~April) I'm going to have to start improving my body position where my butt is concerned. I struggled with trying to lean more while having my hands much higher than a traditional track bike like the rider behind me. But I feel like I learned so much more about how to manage all the excess real estate of the race track. The corners can be so spread out, figuring out how to focus where you need to without missing the corners can be daunting.
I feel like they gave me the tools and techniques I would need to ride that track again more consistently and smoothly. But that translates to the street as well, since focusing on where you need to be while keeping track of everything around you is extremely to difficult to juggle especially with all the excess distractions. Riding on the track seems so much easier at this point.
I'm excited to go to the track and practice what I've learned so far before heading back again for Levels 3 and possibly 4. (They have 4 levels of instruction).
If you've never done a track day ever, I highly recommend doing one with CSS as your first. You'll learn more than you ever knew possible and it'll be one of the best track day experiences you've ever had.
What can I say? I love West Virginia. I never thought I'd say that, but when it comes to finding heavenly, twisty roads, I can't help it.
My husband and I went on a 5 day vacation from Philly to West Virginia a few weeks ago, leaving on Sunday and returning Thursday that week. Here are a few highlights!
When we left on Sunday, May 8th, we had a rather late start. I won't even bother to share the ride route. We pretty much slabbed drove through Washington DC and stopped briefly to take some pictures before heading into Arlington. Since we started so late we decided to stay the night just outside DC at the Hampton Inn Gainesville-Haymarket.
I'd highly recommend it, very motorcycle friendly, clean and just overall a very nice place to stay (I usually try to stay at smoke-free hotels, because I just can't stand the smell of smoking hotels). Unfortunately someone left the microwave on or something, and we had a 4:30am wake up call. Luckily, it only lasted about 20 minutes and we were able to get back to sleep. Zzzzzzz.
The weather was raining on and off Monday, so we headed out late and just decided to head south, towards the border of West Virginia and Virginia. Looking at the radar reports, we tried to go just below the storm paths so we could at least find some dry, twisty roads. Oh and along the way we found tasty Mexican food! Who knew there were delicious, authentic Mexican restaurants in Virginia? We stopped at La Michoacana Taqueria & Restaurant. Delicious!
Staunton is a really lovely town with a lot of history including an old train station and wonderfully preserved downtown.
So we decided to camp out in Staunton and just looked at the maps every day to figure out which way we thought we wanted to go.
Tuesday was our first day of explorations. The weather was crummy in the early morning so we waited until the rain passed a bit more before heading out. We found some fun scenery including a rickety bridge that you aren't supposed to ride across. So we didn't.
As we rode off, we found even more scenery, including some horses who didn't seem to mind as we pulled over to take photos next to them. I tried to coax them away from lunch but they just weren't interested. :(
One of the coolest things we saw a few times were abandoned buildings like this old service station. These photos just don't do this building justice. It was so pretty in person, eerie and stunning at the same time.
Since the weather wasn't that cooperative most of the time, we did some very simple routes, nothing fancy. But some of the best riding on this coast lives here:
We were trying to find some cool covered bridges, but we only found this one which we weren't able to actually drive through. It was called Humpback Covered Bridge in Covington.
So all we could do was take selfies.
I highly recommend lunch in Marlinton at the Greenbrier Grill. Tasty, inexpensive and outdoor seating.
We took 39 back mostly, such a fantastic road. I'll warn you, these roads are twisty so should always take those easy if you're not immediately comfortable. I practically live to ride these roads, I just wish they were closer :(
My friend Tamela recommended Route 311, just south of Covington but unfortunately I somehow got us off track and never got to ride it. It also looked amazing.
The next day we played around 39 and 250 again. 250 is probably my favorite road on the East Coast so far.
Unfortunately we didn't get video of 250 because of the crappy weather that day, but in case you missed it, here's a short video my husband shot on his GoPro, Swivit Mount and Gimbal. We finally had some clearing weather and was able to get some beautiful shots while on 39 or 84, I can't remember which road this is. It's mixed in with some footage of Skyline drive as well, but there are bits and pieces of WVA in here.
I don't know why but we decided to slab it back from Staunton to Philly on Thursday. Although we had an early start, we took the scenic route up Skyline Drive. Since the hubby had never ridden through it before, we thought we'd take a look! Twas foggy on and off. If you watch the video, the tunnel is at the end.
After a bit of fog, we finally got to some clear parts of the mountain. And yes, the speed limit is 35mph. We were following the limits pretty closely, but it was a very quiet day on Skyline so we were lucky enough to have little or not traffic at times. And no performance awards :)
The coolest stop we made was at Fort Johnson. Such a cool, crazy story from the Civil War. I didn't get to climb the entire trail, but I did get to the first tier. Since moving to an older city such as Philadelphia, I am fascinated and constantly amazed by the history that I encounter everywhere I go. Virginia was no exception. So crazy to think that a war was fought on this mountain, where we now stand and take scenic photos.
And then we had to say goodbye!
We used our Sena SMH10R's to communicate with eachother the entire week and they performed quite well. I used the Garmin quite a bit, along with my music and I forgot to recharge it one night so it died after a second full day. Just by habit, we recharge our headsets every night but you really don't have to. You should be able to get 2 full days; although we don't have our channels open the entire time. We go back and forth between chatting or keeping the channel open for 10-15 minutes, then back to our own music while I listen for Garmin directions at the same time.
If you're curious as to how that all worked for me, read my review of the Garmin Zumo 390LM here.
Benny went all out and got me an Ohlins Shock for my 40th Birthday! What a good dog. And maybe something else...
Ok, he might've had some help from my awesome husband. There's nothing wrong with the stock suspension on my Street Triple R. Actually it's quite good allowing me to adjust compression and rebound, which I've done thanks to the folks at Markbilt Racebikes in NJ.
So although I didn't really *need* an Ohlins, I have a feeling I'm going to be VERY happy with it! And it just so happens Benny got a really really really good deal on this gently used shock from a Daytona, which is clean as a whistle. It looks as if it was barely used, or ridden on the street. The reason he was able to get such a good deal is because 2013+ models can't use my shock because they changed something on the subframe, so this one won't fit. Sorry!
My other little gift to myself was an upgrade to the old Zumo with the new 390LM. Well, okay a replacement because my 690LM fell off while I was riding home last month. :=(
Although this upgrade was a little more than the last one I decided it was worth the extra $100. The Garmin Zumo 390LM is a new improved version of the 690. The main difference is a faster processor. This one responds quicker to menu prompts (not iPhone speedy), and is a little smaller and less bulky. The screen is the same size, and is a tad brighter. I haven't ridden with it yet, but hope to in the Spring.
The last new toy I got was this Cortech Super 2.0 Low TankBag. I love how slim it is, it's the perfect size at 5L when closed, 10L when fully expanded. Perfect!
Unfortunately my riding season has ended much sooner than I wanted to, due to a small back injury I gave myself a few weeks ago :-(. I guess turning 40 means really feeling it!
I had a great time at the 10th Annual Women's Sportbike Rally at Deals Gap two weeks ago. Between doing a track day and getting sick, I'm just getting around to finally sharing my trip.
The Women's Sportbike Rally East has been going on for 10 years now, and this year was the inaugural West Coast event which had a great turnout! I had heard of this event a few years ago but could never take the time off work to make it to Deals Gap. It would have been a daunting trip from California as well.
Riding from Philly made this the longest trip I'd ever ridden solo as well; 6 days and 2,000 miles! Definitely the longest trip on Goldie as well. I decided to take Skyline Drive to the Blueridge Parkway on the way down.
The Rally took place Friday Sept 9th to Sunday Sept 11th. But riding in from Philly was going to take more than a day so I left on Wednesday the 7th and came home the following Tuesday the 13th.
The Rally took place Friday, September 9th to Sunday, September 11th. But riding from Philly was going to take more than a day so I left on Wednesday the 7th and came home the following Tuesday the 13th.
I mapped out an ambitious route taking my time to get down there so I could hit some of the famous roads before getting to the Gap.
Riding from PA to VA took a bit longer than I expected. I decided to take 95 South to 301 into Annapolis. My friend followed me for a bit, and we stopped for gas and decided to grab a bite to eat (301 Plaza, 920 Middletown Warwick Rd, Middletown, DE 19709) since there wasn’t going to be anything for another hour or so. I really really wanted to get to VA as quickly as possible so I didn’t do any sightseeing in Annapolis, just stopped for some water and got back on the highway heading 66 West towards Front Royal, VA. (I really don't recommend this route, only because it was a little boring. In the future I will either slab it down 95 or take the Westernly route through Western Pennsylvania instead.)
Did I mention it was 90+F that day? It was HOT, hot hot. And yes, I’m wearing my full Gore-Tex suit! I’d like to go off on a tangent here and just share the joys of wearing Gore-Tex. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you that I can be a fussy rider sometimes. (Only sometimes!) I get uncomfortable fairly quickly. This suit greatly helps me stay comfortable enough to get through the ups and downs of quick changes in temperatures without having to pull over and change layers. Baselayering is REALLY crucial here, as it can change the comfort underneath your riding gear (even while wearing mesh textiles!). An inexpensive option is going to Target and buying a basic tech shirt like this one. It’s $20, and it will let you sweat, sweat, sweat, but still keep you comfortable. I know I keep saying comfortable, but it’s all you can really do in extreme heat because it’s going to be hot!
As far as my gloves, I knew that it was going to be a really wet trip the next day through VA and WVA, and then a cooler trip the rest of the way into NC. I could’ve easily grabbed a lighter pair to wear before the wet weather but I frankly forgot. It worked out well, these Rukka Apollo Gore-Tex X-Trafit gloves are different in that they are not insulated or fleece lined for extreme cold. They only offer the Gore-Tex membrane to keep you dry. But the reason they’re called X-Trafit is because they bond the membrane to the leather so when my hands were hot and sweaty I could easily get them on and off without a problem. There is only 1 women’s specific pair like this, offered by Rukka called the Vilma. Unfortunately my palms were too wide to wear the size 6 (I have small, wide hands) and my fingers too short to wear the 7 so the men’s Apollo in 6 was perfect!
Ok, back to this trip.
Somehow I spent 6 hours to get from Philly to Annapolis. By the time I left and crossed Washington DC via 66 West, I didn’t get to Skyline Drive until ~2pm. Skyline was perfectly paved with very very little traffic. I really didn’t get stuck behind anyone, but there are so many turnoffs to take pictures it didn’t matter. And no, I didn't get any tickets, and I didn't get pulled over. :-)
As always, my trusty Kriega Packs were perfect for a week's worth of riding.
With the slower speeds (35mph), it took me awhile to get down just 40 miles. I was starving so I decided to find food and grabbed a bite at Burgers N Things in Sperryville, VA. By that time it was 4:30pm! Ack, where did the time go?
It started raining as soon as I found my late lunch, so I sat under the tiki table. Since it was raining I didn’t pull over for more photos, just kept going to make it to the motel before sunset. I hate riding at night in the rain! By the end of Day 1 I clocked in about 340 miles.
I stayed the night in the Super 8, 2045 Rosser Ave., Waynesboro, VA. It was nothing special, super cheap, clean and easy to stay. The next morning, it was a quick breakfast at Waffle House! Have I mentioned how much I love Waffle House when I'm on long trips?
And then onward to continue down Blueridge Parkway. After Roanoke I jumped off the Blueridge onto 221 South and hopped on and off a bit without any real plans. I pulled over on the parkway and grabbed a few pics along the way :-) One of the best parts of traveling on your motorcycle!
Skyline Drive was lovely, but for me, it was a very scenic ride and not very technical. I've spent a lot of time riding scenic roads in PA and was itching for something technical.
Then I stayed the night at Holiday Inn Express in Blowing Rock, NC. Somehow Day 2 was a bit shorter, just 275 miles.
One of my goals for Friday was to ride Little Switzerland! A slice of heaven in the NC mountains. One of many, really. Looking at Google Maps there were a ton of roads I wanted to ride. But I was trying to avoid riding at night so I wasn’t able to get on all the roads I wanted. But I did make time for this little gem.
For me, riding in the Smoky Mountains and all around the Blueridge Parkway is exactly what I miss the most about California. This little piece of heaven took me about 40 minutes to finish. I didn’t stop anywhere in the circle, I just headed up the right side of 226 and rode it counter clockwise back to 221 South. There were a couple restaurants and inns inside the circle and they looked really cute.
After that I rode rather quickly to get into Deals Gap before dinnertime but managed to stay off the freeway. The rally was a mix of socializing, riding and more socializing. I met a lot of cool women and made some fabulous new friends. I just wish they lived closer so we could go riding together more often! :-(
Saturday was so much fun. I went riding with some new friends. The route started at Deals Gap, heading South towards Bridal Veil Falls in Highland, NC. We followed 28 South into Franklin, NC and stopped for lunch at Caff’e Rel, a tasty Italian restaurant behind a gas station.
I took another 2 nights to get home, stopping in Wytheville, VA and then Winchester, VA at the Country Inn & Suites (my favorite hotel chain). By the end I was a bit drained, and ready to get home.
I left rather early Sunday morning and was able to finally make the Killboy.com hall of fame with my photo. This was the only time I rode the infamous Dragon. It was fun, but for me just a shorter version of the wonderful roads I had been riding previously in Northern California (3, 36, 49, 84, etc.). As a California girl, it's really hard for me to be impressed by this road. It's nice and all but the roads South of 129 and in and around North Carolina are even better, in my opinion.
My ride home was pretty uneventful, as I decided not to head north into Kentucky to ride some of their delicious roads. I didn’t want to do any night riding so I made an effort to get into my hotel by 6pm at the latest each night. Each day was about 300 miles, so nothing too painful.
By just focusing on my riding technique and getting back to basics, so to speak, it really made me feel better about my riding skills. Before this trip I’d felt like I had to start all over again. I think I was a little hesitant to ride the more technical roads, so I mainly stayed on the lightly curvy ones. Which for many people would still be too curvy, but I really longed for the technical twisties; decreasing radiuses, hairpins! I thought I was ready to attack them all at once, but I decided to ease up a bit.
I do feel at the end of this trip, it healed me in many ways. I’m far less nervous or anxious than I used to be. One thing that has totally changed the way I feel is that I put on new tires as soon as I got back.
I really wish I had them installed before I left. I used these on my first SV for about 25,000 miles. They’re the most comfortable tire I’ve used so far, super sticky and a really wide contact patch. It just feels like the tires are glued to the pavement when I’m cornering. My bike did come with a really nice sport tire, the Diablo Corsas. They’re a really good tire and have great reviews. But for some reason they just didn’t feel good to me. Even when I lowered my tire pressure a bit to 32front/36rear (Triumph recommends 40psi in the front and rear, ridiculous) the tires felt hard, as if they weren’t sticking to the pavement. I know they were but I had zero confidence in them.
For me, and I think for many riders as well, trusting your bike is the only way you can really push yourself to try new things. Or simply having enough trust to lean, to push the handlebars, to counterweight; to really do anything! I’ve always thought of motorcycling as a true relationship.
The enjoyment and learning experience you gain from riding a motorcycle is wholly dependent on the choices you make with it. It should make you happy, help you boost your self confidence and become a partner in the learning process.
At this point, I feel much better about my riding. I’m still cautious when I see what appears to be water on the roads, in case it isn’t. I’m looking forward to early Spring so I can ride back to Deals Gap but this time with my favorite riding buddy, my husband.
To find out more about the Women's Sportbike Rally, East and West, check out their website.
After my accident in June, a track day is exactly what I needed. We signed up for a track day with Team Promotion at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
I've been so terrible about posting these past few weeks. Learned some new things, gained more of my confidence back and learned a lot about my bike. Team Pro Motion was great, and my husband and I had a blast!
For this track day I didn't buy a 1 piece suit, because I knew that I wouldn't use one again anytime soon but I would be able to use a pair of track leather pants again on the street. So I opted for the Revit Xena Leather Pants to zip to my jacket.
So is a trackday right for you? I think it really depends on what you're trying to accomplish. There are many of us who are really all about street riding and touring. And we simply want to increase our skills. What's the best way to do this?
Goldie just lost about 15lbs. This new Competition Werkes GP Exhaust only weighs 3.5lbs!
Here's a quick before pic, with it's 2 pipes under my seat. I can't tell you how HOT these pipes are on my butt! Even while wearing leathers. After just 5 minutes of riding, it would get really warm. In the winter it would be awesome, but in the summer it's killing me.
After installing this beautiful low mount exhaust, the heat has almost completely disappeared. I can still feel hot air but it's not blowing as hard.
And bonus! It's a much lighter can. The old system was ~15lbs. I also decided to remove the rear footpegs. Those are at least 1.5lbs each. I think if I weighed Goldie, she'd probably be somewhere around 395lbs :D
God I love this bike. Some people have kids... some of us have Triumphs.
P.S. If you're searching for someone reliable and honest to do good work on your motorcycle in Philadelphia, please try Working Class Cycles in South Philly. Aaron is awesome and a great guy to work with. He mounted my exhaust without a problem (which required some cutting which I am NOT prepared to do). I'll probably bring it by next year when it's time for an oil change and 6k service too. I highly recommend his shop!
I'm heading to Deals Gap in September for the Women's Sportbike Rally! I hope you will join me, as I will be sponsoring the bike night event on Saturday. Here's the route I'm trying to take (although it's not set in stone).
If you can recommend any shops along the way that do suspension work, please post a comment with your referral. What I need is someone to help adjust my suspension as much as possible for my weight.