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Old 10-11-2006, 09:59 AM   #1
gofargogo OP
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Joined: May 2006
Location: Santa Rosa,CA
Oddometer: 389
Ride to work or Getting to know you (first ride report)

On Monday I picked up my VFR, it's a lovely '98 with a Remus CF pipe. The PO took immaculate care of it, and while it has 28k, it still looks brand new (there are still paint daubs on all the banjo bolts!). I haven't had a decent street bike in almost a decade and riding the VFR home on Monday gave me a sense of how different modern street bikes are from my tired, beat-up transalp. Not to slag the TA, but they are very different machines. My riding technique does not translate well to the new bike, so I've been looking forward to spending some quality time in the saddle and relearning how to ride.
I woke up at 5:30 this morning. Not that I wanted too, but I figured if I was up I could take the long way to work, and get to know the VFR a little better.
My plan was head west from Santa Rosa to Occidental, then south via Freestone and Valley Ford to Petaluma. It was cold (44 deg), foggy, and dark.

Sorry it's a fuzzy shot, but it was very very dark and I couldn't even see through the viewfinder.

Head out west along Sebastopol Road, letting the bike warm up and the cold air blowing out the last of my sleepiness. It's dark and these roads are pretty empty with everyone using bigger arterials to get to work.

Turn onto Occidental Road and start wicking up the pace. A few miles west of Santa Rosa and the fog decends. Thankfully I know these roads well, but I drop my speed and fall in behind a car heading my way. Occidental Road is pretty torn up in places (something I didn't really notice on the TA ) and the bobbing up/down of the car's taillights give me enough warning to pull back from the tank a little. The fog is staying pretty low this morning, so the visbility is much better up on the ridge above Occidental.

The bike is responding well too. It's fully warmed up now, and the bark from the can, and solid handling bring a smile to my face.

October in Sonoma County is a transition month. The leaves are just starting to turn colors, and the mornings are often cool and foggy, but temperatures can easily get into the mid 70's during the day. Early October doesn't have the bite of November or December. Wood smoke is still a rare smell so far.

Traffic is almost non-existent at this time, but I keep my pace slow. I'm still learning the bike, and the roads are damp. The VFRs headlights are a damn sight better than my TA's Acerbis 'light.' I had pretty much stopped riding at night because I couldn't see anything. This ride brings me back to my early days riding (@ 15 on a Vespa) when I would wake up before dawn so I could ride in a big 25 mile loop before going to school or work. It was rides like that, that turned me into a life-long devotee. I think the VFR is going to rekindle a lot of what I loved about motorcycles. I'll save the TA for fireroads and trails.

I come down off the ridge and into Occidental. As I'm coasting through town, I see that the Union Hotel Cafe is open, so of course I need to whip in for some coffee.

The sun is really starting to light up the sky now, and by the time I get out of Occidental I don't need my headlights to see the road anymore.

Unfortunately, by the time I make it to Bohemian Highway, the coastal fog has settled in for good and I spend the next 30 minutes looking at this:

the only variation come from the dark shapes that coalesce as Eucalyptus or Monterey Pines as I pass under them. I'm very glad I know this road, the visibility is atrocious, and few of the corners are marked. Traffic has started to pick up and I'm repeatedly passed by Hay and Manure trucks going the other way. The smell of cattle and manure is powerful in the fog.

Valley Ford in the fog:

I cruise along Bodega Highway wiping my visor about every 10 seconds. I'm getting cold now, but mainly in my extremities. The last 10 miles seem long as my hands and shins get to the cold-burny-throb stage. In order to think about something other than my fingers, I start listing off my first impressions and going over what I need to change:

I wish I could angle the clutch/brake levers further down as the stock position aggrevates my pre-carpal/rsi issues in my wrist. I may have to go after the tabs on the master cylinders and get bar risers.

At freeway speeds the wind noise in my helmet is much worse than on my essentially naked TA. If I sit up as straight as possible I can lift my helmet out of the noise, but then my arms are locked and I can't maintain that position for long. New windscreen then.

A new seat is probably in order too, if I ever plan to do serious mileage. The stocker is actually better than any other stock seat I've had (bar my old VF500), but it's a bit hard after an hour or so and too grippy.

I find I have to recalibrate my throttle hand. The VFR's FI and response is much faster and more sensitive than the TA's carbs. Of course the V-4 also responds much faster to revs than the TA's twin. At low-medium speeds (up to about 50 mph) the TA is easier and a tad comfortable (especially in the tight stuff) but the VFR is not bad. And it makes up for any shortcomings at lower speeds with it's awesome sound. Anything above 50, though and it's all VFR, all the time. The way it can cruise at 70-80 is one of the major reasons I bought it. Simply brilliant.

After seemingly endless fog and murk, I was hoping that Petaluma would be clear so I could at last see (and feel) some sun before heading into my windowless office for the day. Sadly this is as close as I got:

And less than a minute later I was back in a fog bank again.

But 5 minutes after that I was at work.

I will have to start getting up early more often.
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Old 10-11-2006, 10:12 AM   #2
I don't fish.
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Arkansas Central
Oddometer: 809
Nice words and nice bike.
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Old 10-11-2006, 11:06 AM   #3
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Joined: Aug 2002
Location: Toronto, ON
Oddometer: 57,137
Nice report! Thanks for sharing
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Old 10-11-2006, 01:54 PM   #4
Alaska Born Ducatisti
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Oddometer: 6,654
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Nice report! Thanks for sharing
+1 Congrats! Great job on sharing the fun! FWIW, I wear the soft foam earplugs ALL the time on my bikes. Works great and all day comfort for me.

Take care. Have fun. Mark H.
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