Monday, June 10, 2013

Distance challenges

As you may know if you've been hanging around here for a while, I began riding a motor scooter as a commuter.

It's been three seasons and three months since I rode my first commute. In that time, I have learned one heck of a lot about what it means to commute daily.

You can fill a thimble with what I know about long distance riding.

What's a long distance?

Well I have one long distance day-trip to my credit: 375 kilometers, or if you prefer, 233 miles. That's definitely a long distance ride, but it's about 70 miles shy of what I think many motorcycle tourists consider a decent day's ride.

I only think that, based on casual reading I've done from the comfort of my easy chair. I haven't researched it or attempted anything approaching semi-serious study.

I have a lot to learn. As is my lifelong habit, I plan to learn mostly by doing. Of course I am planning, you would have to be crazy not to plan.

My right wrist hurts. Right at the base of my thumb. It's some kind of strain injury. Whenever I develop a strain injury, I have to ask myself "what have I been doing since this pain started, that I wasn't doing before?". The answer is "I've ridden 15 thousand miles on a motorbike."

As you also know, things come to me slowly.

"Do you think that working the throttle is causing the strain that's causing the pain in my wrist?"

How will I feel after another 300 mile day, after other 300 mile days? It kind of makes me think.

What do motorcycle tourists do?

I was privileged to be at Bobskoot's place admiring his nu-2-him Beemer. He didn't seem to be too fussed that I sat on it. I didn't drop it, so it worked out allright. I noticed that Bob had some hardware on his throttle that I don't have. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was. Did I mention that I read?

Today I had twenty minutes or so on my way to the office after a doctor's appointment.

I stopped at Moto Internationale, Montreal's largest BMW and Harley Davidson dealership. I was hoping for some instant gratification, and I wasn't disappointed.
For the uninitiated, the thingy on the left is a universal cruise control. The gizmo on the right relieves wrist strain. Both devices slip in one direction, grip in the opposite direction.

I tried the palm assist on the ride home. Interestingly, I felt relief in my wrist as soon as I started using it. Do you think that the throttle is causing my pain? Hmmmm...

Tomorrow there's rain in the forecast so I won't be testing the cruise control quite yet.

20 comments:

  1. David:

    The thing that helps the most is the wrist throttle rocker. On the highway you do not have to grab your throttle, you can just rest your palms and keep a very loose grip on your handlebars. The throttle lock is for when you need to grab a kleenex from your right pocket to blow your nose.

    Last year I went on a 10 day bike tour. We averaged 350-400 miles per day. I am thinking that this year, after PA we may only be averaging 400 kms per day with our constant stopping for photos and filling up "someone's" small gas tank


    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    1. Bob, I'll be testing both devices, though neither one is intended to work in a commuting scenario. It will be nice to have options.

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  2. I recently bought a Crampbuster Cruise assist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsEdD05zFxk and am pretty happy with it. A slight adjustment over to the end of the throttle and it also serves as a "cruise control" device.

    The maximum I've ever done is about 150 - 175 miles in a day. In the back of my mind I've a trip in the planning stages that would be longer but we will wait and see on that.

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    1. Rob, I'm not sure what you mean about adjusting the throttle rocker over. I'm gessing that by moving it to the right side of the grip it restricts the movement of the throttle enough to hold it open. That's essentially what the thingy on the left does.

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  3. I use the same gizmo on longer trips, and it helps but depending on the angle of your hand you might develop some issues around your palm or wrist... hence I use a wrist brace for support and now all is perfect. And for distance riding 300 to 400 km a day is enough on a scooter I'd say. You might want to get something comforting for your butt as well if you haven't taken care of it already. The stock seat of a vespa has its limitations.

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    1. Sonja, that's an excellent suggestion. I'll pick up a wrist brace. As for the saddle issues, I'll see how it goes. Air hawks are supposed to be great, but they don't come cheap.

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    2. David:

      Cdn Tire often has those GEL pads for sale. Reg $40. but on sale for $10. I have 3 of them and tried one out last year in 100°F temps in Hell's Canyon. Was much better and no monkey butt

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast

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  4. A huge factor in this is the angle of your hands on the handlebars. As an inveterate bar-swapper I have had bars that have my wrists aching in an hour to bars that I can grip all day long with nary a twinge. I don't know how much adjustability, if any, there is with the bars on your bike but I'd certainly try various positions to get as 'neutral' a grip as you can and see if that helps.

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    1. Dave, that's a drawback with a scooter. The bars are not adjustable at all. If touring became a habit, I'd start looking for a motorcycle.

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    2. David:

      There is nothing like Touring, as opposed to commuting. You will see . . .

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast

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  5. I tried a throttle rocker and found I kept hitting it at low speeds and that was not good. ripped it o as fast as I could. I have the go cruise that you have on the left of the throttle and love it.

    I find it works best on straight stretches and higher speeds. My bike has a lot of engine braking and it needs to overcome it and so it loses a mph or two but it works enough to shake out my numb hands and fingers.

    Should be great on the scooter.

    My longest day was 478 miles (769 km) The butt and knees hurt way before the wrist.

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    1. Brandy, I know what you mean with low speeds. During a commute the throttle rocker is just annoying and gets in the way more than anything. I can see it being really great on highway stretches where the speed is constant. I'll get to try put the universal cruise control today.

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  6. David - it sounds like you have tendonitis in your 'snuffbox' or more fancifully called deQuervain's tendonitis (Yup I have had this) I initially suffered from this because of the amount of typing I do at work, but now when I ride Scarlett a lot it irritates my tendonitis and makes it puffy and sore and it affects my grip. Make sure you carry some Advil or Ibuprofen or Naproxen on the trip as it is an anti-inflammatory and if it hurts take it regularly to help bring down the inflammation. As Sonja said a brace would help, just don't do it up too tight. Unfortunately I let my tendonitis get too extreme due to various issues and at one point I ended up having multiple cortisone shots into the tendon sheath and was slated for surgery, but eventually declined that.

    I have tried a throttle rocker and I didn't really like it, but I am thinking about giving it a whirl again.

    I recently did a 200 mile day and I have to say I was more than a little bushed and my body fatigued, I need to get more saddle time in for longer distances.

    I hope your wrist settles, ice and anti-inflammatories. Thompson's Arnica Cream is awesome and I don't go anywhere without it, its a herbal pain cream and natural anti-inflammatory and it rocks on all stiff & sore spots.

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    1. Dar that's really good advice. I need to address the strain issue before it becomes worse.

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  7. David, Sorry about the unwanted challenge. Hopefully your strain-reducing strategies help. Dar beat me to some of the suggestions I was going to give....only thing I'd be wary of is over-reliance on pharmaceutical anti-inflamatories as they aren't supportive of healing. Likewise, I'd stay away from steroids unless you're desperate. Stretching regularly, as well as before and after riding is good too.

    I've had very good results treating people with a manual technique called Graston which can stimulate healing. I think laser treatment is promising as well. Either a chiropractor or physical therapist should be able to help, though not all practice the same....

    Hope that's useful. I know you've got a lot of riding ahead of you this summer, so you want to be on top of things.

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    1. Thanks Dave. Right now it's just a little ache in my thumb, and a touch of tennis elbow further north.

      I saw a massage therapist a few months back who worked wonders with a shoulder injury.

      I think I'll try a brace or two and see where that goes. No meds for sure.

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  8. David - I, like Brandy, tried the throttle rocker and couldn't pull over fast enough to get it out of the way...and like Canajun, the placing and/or angle of my handlebars is perfect for me and I don't find it a strain on the wrist. I'm not leaning on them and twisting. I find, until I'm conditioned again though, the clutch wrist tires. I like the throttle lock idea but haven't invested in one. Hope they work for you on the long distance ride coming up. (For me 450 to 500 km per day is a relaxing day, lots of time to stop and smell the roses, 750k is a good pace, 900k is a long ride day and you hope there's a real bed at the end of it. On the other end 200k feels like you just got on and got off again.)

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    1. Karen I've been playing with the throttle lock for the past two days and it's a really nice little wonder.

      On my commute this morning I noticed that I had forgotten to plug my iPhone in. I locked the throttle and plugged in the phone. Couldn't have done it otherwise.

      In terms of giving my wrist a rest, it seems to work fine, though the throttle rocker is very comfortable too. The only issue I have with the throttle rocker is that it is great in a narrow range of rotation, but is just annoying in all other positions. Basically you can't get it out of the way without taking it off. I'll wait for a long distance ride to pass final judgment.

      If I don't find it helpful, I'll offer it to friends (loyal blog readers) failing takers (seems there my not be any), I'll freecycle it on MV.

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    2. David:

      You may wish to see your Vespa dealer and have them change the throttle tube pulley to reduce the throttle range of rotation to make it more responsive in a narrower range. You can do this with motorcycles, but I'm not sure with scooters

      sort of like this one

      but I am sure cheaper, less expensive ones are available.

      I don't have a problem with my Vstrom as I can go to full throttle in less than half a rotation so I leave it on all the time

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast


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    3. Bob, the throttle on the GTS requires substantially less effort than the LX, and the seating position is better as well. It may that those differences will alleviate the strain. I'll also try a brace which seemed to help Sonja.

      I'd be surprised if anything could be done to alter the throttle rotation but I'll enquire when I get the bike serviced. I suppose there must be an adjustment for free play.

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