Saturday, April 10, 2010

GPS, monkey butt and other issues

High viz yellow on the Skyline Drive.

You can't trust a cheap GPS, yet.

Mine led me accurately, as planned, from Lancaster, Pa. through York, across the Susquehana River and into Maryland. Then, mysteriously, it took me to traffic-choked Chevy Chase, down Connecticut Avenue into the heart of Washington before guiding me across the Key Bridge in the direction of Front Royal, the north end of Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive.

I'd keyed in: no tolls; avoid highways; avoid traffic; and fastest route. I got M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown on a sunny Saturday afternoon, jammed with people and cars. Negotiating busy urban streets on a loaded, top-heavy, dual-sport motorcycle is good practice, but not a lot of fun.

On a sailboat at sea, the big issue is developing sea legs, a process that often includes bouts of nausea, being slammed around and bruised, learning to cook on a swinging, gimballed stove and occasionally falling out of bed when the boat comes about.

On a long-distance motorcycle trip, it's all about your butt. Sure, the first few days on the road, the toes on your left foot are going to be sore from shifting gears, but there can't be 300-mile days until your butt can take a couple of hours in the saddle without feeling like one giant, broken blister. I'm still working on it. Meanwhile, I'm dealing with major "monkey butt."

Today, I wore strategically-padded bicycle shorts under my riding pants. Seemed to help for the first hour -- after that, no difference. My brother bought a sheepskin last summer for his Harley and gave me half. I'll try that tomorrow and see if it helps.

The bike's new (to me) saddle is dished, cupping one's butt. I can slide back onto a larger pressure point. In addition, the bike has highway pegs that let you adopt a C-shaped, legs-forward riding position This can be more comfortable -- momentarily.

The only real solution is more time in the saddle. We shall overcome.

Meanwhile, the ride to my sister's in Charlottesville was a long one, but mostly fun, except for monkey butt and that cheap GPS.

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