There but for the grace of Mike Valentine go I, I thought.
Yesterday was the first nice day we've had out here in The Woods in almost a week. So I took my '03 ZRX1200 out for a run. The pork to people ratio in The Woods is relatively favorable and on a fast motorcycle, you've got few worries anyhow. Breaking contact is a simple matter of tucking in and letting the Keihins breath free. Bye-bye, now.
But, once out of The Woods it's a different story.
The odds are less favorable, in both directions. The pig-to-people ratio is higher. And while it's always possible to make a break for it, your chances of getting away with it are lower because disappearing is harder. This is critical. If you're going to successfully leave a pig fuming, steam pumping out of its nostrils, its trotters kicking angrily at the earth, you must vanish within 90 seconds of initial contact. Leave him with - at most - a brief glimpse, not enough to work with. It was a green sport bike... not sure what make or year. Couldn't see the rider's face. . . .
If he gets close enough to read your plate, you're done.
If he gets within 100 yards of you, you're done.
This is hard to manage in an urban - or even suburban - environment. Not enough open space to work with; much more likely there'll be another porker in the vicinity.
Which is why it's better policy to avoid The Encounter altogether by keeping a low profile - and running under the radar.
I never, ever, leave my driveway without my Valentine 1 running interference. Other high-end radar detectors are good, too - but (to my knowledge) no other detector on the market has the sensitivity that the V1 has. "Apps" are great, but for me, the single most important quality a radar detector must have is the ability to smell bacon. And the V1's electronic nostrils are simply superb.
Which brings me back to my ride.
I left the bike shop - Star City Powersports, located on the outskirts of Roanoke, Va., in case anyone reading this is local or familiar with the area - along with three other riders, also on sport bikes. There is a magnificent sweeper of an on-ramp to I-581 from Peters Creek Road. Pure leaned over joy. All of us took the turn at Ludicrous Speed - the only way to take such a turn. It was at just that moment, mid-corner, when my V1 began to get hysterical.
Ka band.
Standing a bike up mid-corner is not a pleasant - much less safe (huge irony there) thing to do. This pig - waiting at the mouth of the on-ramp - was setting up the conditions for a nasty wreck. Bike - or car. Imagine it: You're coming around a sharp turn - and yes, you're "speeding" - but in control and no problems... until you're freaked out by that cop up ahead. No time to think, you just react. And what is the usual reaction?
Jam on the brakes.
In a car this is scary. On a bike - leaned over - it can be fatal. A sudden, instinctive squeeze of the front brake and endo you go, maybe high side the bike. Or, lock up the rear - and low side. You might manage to keep it wheels up, but it's not easy and it will definitely shake you up.
My V1 gave me just enough early warning to throttle back and scrub off enough speed before I got within the oink's beam.
Unfortunately, the three riders ahead of me did not have V1s - or any other Pork Protectors. As became apparent when I caught up to them at the mouth of the merge. They had slowed by now - but it was already too late. The Virginia State cop who had been snuffling by the side of the road was on their ass - his blue wig wags heralding the almost certain "reckless driving" tickets he was moments away from issuing.
I wrote last week - see here - about this. About how - in the state of Virginia (and some other states, too) - merely traveling in excess of an arbitrarily dictated (and often, absurdly low) posted maximum speed limit can result in an almost-felony charge of "reckless" driving. On this stretch of I-581, an Interstate spur of I-81 where the posted limit is an almost-reasonable 70 MPH, the legal maximum is a preposterous 55 MPH. Which means all it takes is 76 MPH (which would be a minor ticket just a few hundred yards prior) to ring the nearly felonious "reckless" driving bell.
My V1 just saved me several thousand dollars in lawyer bills, fines and jacked-up insurance premiums. Maybe even a week in jail (yes, they do that; see the article previously mentioned). Not to mention the possible "suspension" of my driving (and riding) "privileges."
But my fellow riders - I did not catch their names - were not so lucky. Last I saw of them, they were pulled onto the shoulder, with the blue wig-wags right behind them.
The $400 I spent several years ago on my V1 has paid for itself so many times I've lost track. I can't imagine life - on wheels - without it. Though not foolproof (laser is still a worry; theV1 will detect it, but by the time it does, it's already too late) it has reshuffled the odds - in my favor. It has made driving - and riding - enjoyable again. Because few things are more enjoyable than avoiding one of the state's roadside revenue collectors. Without having to crack open the Keihins.
Thanks - again - Mike.
Throw it in the Woods?
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