Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Expressway leg

Two years ago I didn't have the skills I have now, and I didn't venture onto expressways much.

My first outing was early on a Sunday morning in June when there was no traffic.  I wanted to see how fast my Vespa was capable of going.  I got up to about 88 km/h and didn't have the nerve to pass the truck ahead of me that was doing 80 km/h.

A QPP cruiser sitting on the next on-ramp and alert for speeders pulled me over then, mistaking my bike for a 50cc model. As if a 50cc bike could manage 80 km/h, which is what I was doing sitting behind the truck when he pulled me over. He sent me on my way after verifying that my Vespa had more than the 125cc displacement engine legally required for expressway use. He asked me where it was written on the bike. When I showed him, he apologized for pulling me over. Nice cop. Lucky for me, because the speed limit on that particular expressway is only 70 km/h.

The Vespa LX150 is a great bike.

With a top speed that I now know is approximately 105 km/h, it is competent on expressways. At least it is on Montreal expressways.

This morning I had an errand to run to pick up a part for my Mazda Miata.

I sold the car on the weekend to dear friends.  I had to sell it because now that I have the Vespa, I no longer drive the Miata.  A car needs exercise.  It's in better hands now.

In prepping the car, I attempted to remove the radio to extract a cassette that became jammed in the player three years ago.

The prudent thing to do would have been to Google the instructions for disassembling the dashboard. I figured I could figure it out. Trust my instincts.

My instincts suck, and I destroyed the central panel because I failed to spot two critical screws and when I tugged on the assumption that there were clips and pressure fittings, the plastic shattered.

This morning I picked up a brand new panel.

The Mazda dealer sits in the epicentre of construction for Montreal's new McGill Super Hospital. I determined that the best, most efficient way to get there was to take the expressway - Autoroute 20, from Valois bay in Pointe Claire to the St-Jacques street exit.

The sweeping on-ramp at Valois bay gave me trouble the first time I took it last season. I struggled with it because I hadn't yet learned the art of counter steering.  If you don't countersteer your arc through the curve begins to travel wide.  Fortunately I sloughed of some speed and re-jigged the direction.  Had I attempted to steer more to the right in the direction I was intending to go, I might have lost control.

Thanks to David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling, that ramp is a piece of cake now.

Wide open throttle all the way.  Counter steering (applying pressure to the handlebars opposite to the direction of the curve) allows the bike to reduce the radius of its arc, therefore turning tighter, but without any reduction of acceleration.  The result is a greater angle of lean. Newer riders think that they lean the bike by leaning their bodies.  In fact it's all the effect of counter steering.  You can ride perfectly upright, and control the lean entirely with the pressure applied to the handlebars.  It's amazing.

On this particular morning the SUV in front of me spoiled the fun by traveling too slowly.

Here's what that expressway leg looked like on Monday morning during my commute.


Unknown said...


My first thought is that "YOU ARE RICH", you sold your car, you are rolling in the $$$$. Like winning the lottery

I don't think you want to take your LX150 on our freeways. The posted limit is 90 kmh but at 115 kms cars are close on your bumper, with cars all around you. You have no escape route. I didn't even feel that safe on my BW250.

this post has left me HANGING . . . I mean, even if you managed to remove the radio, how did you get the cassette out ? I guess we'll have to wait for the next post to find out

Riding the Wet Coast
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Trobairitz said...

Isn't it amazing how our comfort levels change with experience.

I was like that on the freeway and also the tight twisties at one time. Heck I am still am for some twisties.

Good job on selling the Miata. It will feel better being driven.

Hope it was a quick fix for you once you picked up what you needed.

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