I Bought the Wrong Bike?

I Bought the Wrong Bike?

As soon as I figured out the kickstand needed to be up and managed to start the V-Strom I fell in love with it. It was like a soft purr compared to Cricket’s loud thumping. The V-Strom glided around the parking lot responding to my slightest touch. It made me think: have I bought the wrong bike?

Last week I headed out to Orange County to do some motorcycle training. Phil had emailed a few places as we had decided in Arizona that we should really do some lessons on dirt before we hit South America. For various reasons Phil decided not to come with me, and so I took to LA’s busy highways on my own.

A guy called Steve took this photo of me riding down the highway, then he found our blog because of the stickers on my boxes. How cool is that?

We had met a lovely family from Orange County while we were camping in Pismo Beach on the way down the California coast, and when I called to ask if they could recommend a campground nearby Jim and Marlane insisted I come stay with them in Yorba Linda. They put me up in their RV, and fed me wonderful home cooked meals. I think I may have convinced their son Matt to quit his job and go on an adventure.

Cricket joins the toys

Best campsite ever, comes with wonderful hosts, a double bed and fruit basket.

Jim had fabulous stories of when he was the navigator on trans-Pacific sailing races, in the time before GPS. He and Marlane shared many of them while we enjoyed some of their home made wine.

The “winery” with some vines behind it

In the morning I met with my instructor – Mark Wing. Mark works for the organisation who set the curriculum for motorcycle training across the USA. The perfect person to teach me to drag my rear tire around corners in the dirt…

I have to admit I was extremely doubtful about that when he said that was one of the things we would work on. I prefer my tires rolling smoothly as a general rule, however I am willing to take advice from the experts.

The endlessly patient Mark with our bikes.

We rode to a local lake and took advantage of a roped off parking lot to practice some counter-balancing around corners. Unfortunately that’s as far as we got. I must have looked pretty shaky, because Mark took my bike for a ride and was quite concerned that the forks felt like they had too much play. Shortly afterwards we discovered that Cricket had a very loose steering bearings and races, and that basically the front wheel was not well attached to the rest of the bike. No wonder I was having issues with slow speeds and turning!!!

Many of the attachments you can see in this picture are much too loose = shaky bike.

We spent about another hour doing the exercises with me on Mark’s bike (the aforementioned Suzuki V-Strom) but Mark didn’t want to take me on the dirt with my bike being so shaky. (I don’t need even more problems to make me dislike the dirt, the heavy load and worn back tire were enough for me to worry about!)

I was really disappointed, I had psyched myself up for the dirt, and it was pretty devastating to discover that my bike was broken, and I hadn’t even realised it. Oops. I’m hoping to meet up with Mark again next week with Cricket all fixed up and actually make it to the dirt.

For the time being we’re hanging out in Los Angeles, fixing up the bikes, and preparing ourselves as well as we can for our entry into the Latino leg of our voyage.