Sep 30, 2006

2007 R1: First pics are at MCN

Photo: motorcyclenews.com. 2007 R1
Motorcyclenews.com has the latest pics of the new 2007 R1. Hello gorgeous. They say the bike has R6 cues - to be expected - and full details are out October 9. MCN and US site motorcycledaily.com have reported earlier on various R1-related bits, including the possibility of variable valve timing...

It happened one night

Have you ridden the stretch in front of SNDT in Juhu? It's one of those places where accidents go to crash in the night. No really. It's full of shops, jaywalkers, badly and/or double parked cars, cabs and is a right mess. And there's dirt on the road etc. A real bad place by all counts.

Yesterday, some whippersnapper on an Avenger decided to see if he could 'beat' me (I was on the Gladiator). And should have, since I wasn't racing. I almost stopped but when he shot off the Butt (Bandh to Hindi speakers) Road signal, jinked left to round an auto, saw another one in his path, grab a handful of front brake, came up short, slewed one and half times and went down in a heap. And stopped after having clouted the auto's behind with his head light. Had the luck of the devil to escape without injury. He didn't have a scratch. I didn't stop. If I had, I'd have whacked him on the head and caused the very injury he'd just avoided. Carbon knuckles hurt dummies.

Commuting Lesson #2.1: Position

Since position in traffic is a fairly complex subject, I'll start with lane position, not the simplest concept, but certainly a place most of will find ourselves trying to perfect for the largest amount of time in traffic. For our hypothetical situation, we'll just take a straight, infinitely long road divided into lanes. And we'll talk about the best place to be in for safety and speed. Together.

Without exception, the best place to be is in the top lane, riding in the left wheel track (for a right hand drive country like ours) of the vehicle ahead. Two important points. Since our traffic is pretty unruly, never leave a big enough gap between the median and yourself to tempt the car behind you to pull a close overtake. Second, when you are in the wheeltrack, one good thing that happens is that you leave the right side tail lamps in clear view of the chap behind. However, you do end up covering the left side lights. So if the chap ahead of you indicates that he wants to turn left, you will need to center your lane position so the car behind you can see the indication.

The left wheel track is also good to ride in because it stops cars on your left from trying to squeeze you and take over your lane position. There will be one or two complete idiots who will still try. Remember the adage: Be a truck, but give like a bicycle. Which implies that you occupy your position with the authority of a 18-wheeler. This will put off most idiots. But for those who persist, give up the space without resistance - you are on a much smaller motorcycle after all. Another adage comes to mind: Bent sheet metal on a car can be very serious for the motorcyclist.

Now that you are in a good position 'laterally,' consider your longitudinal position. Most motorcyclists tend to ride up ever closer to the car ahead. Instead, hang back. This allows you to see more, gives space in case the chap ahead brakes (his brakes are always better than yours) and also allows you a bit of cushion should the chap behind you come up too close to you.

If you are being tailgated by the chap behind, there is very little you can do. The easiest solution is to indicate left, change lanes and give the impatient bastard the space he so desperately wants. Or, if your bike is fast enough, and the chap ahead gives you space, put a car between him and yourself.

Sounds simple, right? Now it gets complicated.

Commuting Lesson #2.2: Position

Detail 1: Parallel
I think I've expounded on this before. But always try to avoid running parallel to vehicles. Especially big ones. When you run parallel to a vehicle, you effectively need its driver to turn his head to spot you. You're not in his sightline, and out of his mirrors. It's a fatal place to ride. Get out of there. By overtaking of hanging back. But it isn't safe. At all. So, if there is a car or truck running at the same pace as you in the next lane as you, you want to be out of that place ASAP.

Detail 2: Corners
When you're making a lane change around a vehicle to overtake, I find that not coming around the vehicles corner on the throttle is a big help. I'll tell you why. Once, riding to work on my RD in Delhi, I came around a slow car in the middle lane and pulled accelerating hard into the top lane. Only to find it blocked by a garbage cart. It took a lot of luck to escape a sure crash. But had I come into that situation with the weight of the bike on the front, I could have braked to a stop in time. What you want to do is accelerate out of your space, then roll of the throttle until you can see all of the lane you intend to take up space in and only then make the next input - steering, brake or throttle. In most situations, this is a momentary 'break' in the process, and you won't take any extra time, or confuse anyone around you either.

Detail 3: Mirrors
You do check your mirrors regularly, right? I find myself remembering what I saw and subconsciously comparing the old image with the new one. This helps me keep track of what's behind and I believe it helps plan the way ahead hugely. But more importantly, you need to be absolutely certain where your blind spots are. If that means nagging the girlfriend into standing in various places behind your bike while you check her out in the mirror, so be it. If you can't see her, that's a blind spot. You will want to cover these spots by turning you head and looking for trouble lurking in there, after ensuring that there are no threats in your mirror.

Next, learn to check other people's mirrors. If you make eye contact with the chap ahead in his mirror, your safety from him/her is virtually guaranteed. Unless he's about to kill you anyway, that is. Corollary: If you can't see him/her in his mirrors, you're in his blind spot, and he cannot see you. Which should mean the suspension of all overtaking plans until you can flash him into seeing you, reposition or if worst comes to worst, honk.

Detail 4: A pillars
Next time you're in a car, look out carefully and notice the pillars that make up the door frames in the car. They're opaque. Which means the driver cannot see you if you happen to be in that line of sight. Some of the newer cars have A-pillars (which frame the front windscreen) so thick that a fully loaded Tata truck can disappear at certain angles. Yesterday, travelling in a new Honda City, we passed a Hyundai Accent and the A-pillar fully obscured both doors of the car at the distance of a lane.

I think that's enough for now. More on position at a later date.

Sep 29, 2006

Riding Mantra #019.11

"If you drink and then ride, you're putting the quart before the hearse"
- Anon

Sep 28, 2006

New Bajaj Pulsar 180 DTSi unveiled

This is the new Bajaj Pulsar 180 DTSi. The one everyone is calling the Phantom. And i think y'all can see why.

I'm in a hurry, so i'll just run through this, okay?

Big changes

  • New face. The reason why it's being referred to as the ghost who runs. The fairing is mounted lower than before, so the bike looks lower.
  • New speedo. The same as the DTS-Fi, but without the check engine indication. You get an within 2 kph accurate meter, a overrev light that doubles as a low fuel light, a digital speedo, digital fuel guage, two digital trip meters, digital odo, and idiot lights that're bright in the day and dim in the night (to cut down on dash glare). Still no clock, though
  • New switches. Ugly brown, but it's an engine kill swtich. Finally. Again, these are the same as the DTS-Fi. Which means back lit, contactless type switches. Feel good. Promise to last forever. But who moved the choke back down to the carb, then? Shoot him. This is a compromise. I understand why. The DTS-Fi needs no choke (electronics take care of that). But if you're sharing switches, adding a choke to otherwise identical switches is time-consuming and expensive...
  • New sidepanels. These are the same as the DTS-Fi
  • New tail piece with LED tail lamps. Again, the same as the DTS-Fi
  • New clutch. Again, the DTS-Fi supplies the spec, and the result is a neat, slick new clutch with a light effort and no juddering.
  • New shift mechanism. Positive, light shifts are nearly guaranteed. And no 'empty shift' at the end of the gear span either.
Otherwise, it's the same as the old bike, except for a rise in torque on the way to the identical peak (new airbox, new cam timing, new exhausTEC setup). That means the bike has more poke at intermediate revs and overtakes can be made without stressing the gearbox out everytime. No change in peak power or peak torque has been made. Ditto the price.

And check out that orange colour. Seems to have come off a ZX-10R (which is always good to hear), and looks gorgeous, without looking too flashy.

I'd say a seven on ten for me.

Sep 21, 2006

For Sale: Nolan N102 Black Helmet

Nolan N102 HelmetA friend is selling a brand new Nolan N102 Black helmet as in the pic. The helmet is a flip-up type. Which means the chin bar flips up to convert the helmet into a half face temporarily. This is very convenient at times.

The lid is still boxed (he will, of course, open it up to show it to you... heh heh). If you are interested (estimated landed cost is Rs 14,000. Which, from what I can tell is the exact dollar price (~$300) on the net), please call +91-98203-25593.

Below is the official Nolan dope on the lid:

N102 will be the uncontested leader in its category, as well as being the reference model for all flip-up helmets. Practical to use, and meticulously designed and finished, this helmet bears all the marks of quality: aerodynamic shell, ventilation devices (located on shell and chin guard) with excellent grip.

Aerodynamic polycarbonate shell with built-in spoiler for improved stability. Pivoting chinbar with stainless steel latching mechanism. Safety dual-action Centromatic release system. VPS (Vision Protection System) - short dark shield mounted on the outside of the shell adn moving independently from the clear shield with 3 positions. Fully removable and washable liner on snaps and tabs with extra neck roll for wind-noise reduction. Optically corect, tool-less quick-change lexan faceshield offers UV 400 protection. Chin curtain included. Microlock (adjustable quick release) retention system. Sanitized anti-microbial hypoallergenic interior. Meets or exceeds D.O.T. standards.

Commuting lessons #1: Posture

Buell XB9SX CityXWell, posture is probably not the right word, but I'm not really feeling up to picking up a dictionary to look for the exactly right word. I intend to write up a whole bunch of ideas (as in you may not agree and think this idea is BS - please post a comment; and as opposed to tips/tricks) that aim to speed up, smarten up and increase the safety of your daily urban duel. The first one, this one, is about posture. That word again...

What I'm looking for is a word that says, 'how you look to other commuters' er... in a word. You might wonder why that matters. Let me explain.

Next time you are out on the street, look for your stereotypes. I mean people who you automatically 'classify.' There will be some who you think are good riders, some will be indifferent and some will be jackasses. When you have time, think about why you classified them.
The reason you classified them, was because of their posture. The way they sat on their bikes. The way they blipped their throttles at signals. The way they were dressed etc.

The next time you are in a car, notice the riders who car guys instinctively steer clear of. These are people from all three categories (riders, appliance borne and jackasses) who ride with a certain image that makes car guys think, 'oh crap, he looks nuts/mad/lunatic/whatever and I think I'll just steer clear of him.' That is the sort of space that you want, isn't it?

I find that looking extremely aggressive in traffic is very effective. It doesn't mean you have to ride like an idiot on his last ride, though. It simply means you have to look like you're about to snap the restraints of reality and go completely wild. This means a beady stare, a hunched forward position at the lights, a few completely unnecessary blips sometimes and very little else. Look like that, and ride your own ride, and you'll find gaps opening up for you, car drivers noticing you (a huge bonus, since more car-bike accidents are car-guy-didn't-see-bike types) and many times motorcyclists also giving space to you. Once past, consider waving a thanks. Then they will not only notice you, they'll remember you. I've made a few 'commuter friends' by waving, I can tell you. Also, dress serious. That means as close to proper motorcycle kit as you can afford. It will also protect you when it becomes time to say hello to tarmac.

Oh, and don't get carried away by your own new image. You are not the two-day-stubble, hard-talking, part-time-motorcycle-guerilla you look like.

There is a negative side, of course. What doesn't? You'll invariably receive attention from the truly loony riders in traffic. They will want to race you. This is where your maturity comes in. Dig?

My next helmet

I have been watching this motorcycle helmet for a while. And now I am convinced. My next helmet will be a Shoei X-Eleven (US) or X-Spirit (elsewhere) Kagayama Replica TC-2 or -5 (the blue one).

This is currently Shoei's top spec helmet and I think the colours look good enough to make me gush like a giggle school girl. As y'all are aware, the wife reads the blog (hint, hint) and hopefully, so does my rich-enough-to-have-diamond-fillings Uncle (hi, your dearest nephew here... call me) who's not doing too well health wise and is planning to leave me his expansive estate (er... think charity...).

It also happens to list for $450 (ebay) to $700 (shoei's site). So it might be a while coming...

Here's some pics (racing ones from Suzuki Superbikes, others from newenough.com). Please clean up any drool. I've already cleaned up mine.


Shoei X-Eleven Kagayama Blue Replica
Shoei X-Eleven Kagayama Blue Replica
Shoei X-Eleven Kagayama Blue Replica

Riding Mantra #265.32

"Each one of us has a fire in our heart for something.
It's our goal in life to find it and to keep it lit."
-Mary Lou Retton

Sep 14, 2006

Curve appreciation 101

Have you looked at the power curves of a motorcycle carefully?

From the saddle, you can make one this out. Where the motorcycle has a convex curve or a concave one. For simplicity's sake, we'll assume that means the power curve. Most of our bikes are concave. Even if the curve rises upwards sharply, a concave curve can feel boring. Concaves run smoothly, have no steps in power output and build progressively. These are nice bikes, but not the exciting. On the other hand, there are the conves ones. They absolutely bristle with power and feel strong and urgent. The rapid build up power only smoothens out towards the top-end and make the bikes feel a bit hairy and therefore, a quite exciting. Me? I'd always opt for a Convex.

Now, examples. Er... I think the Pulsar 180 is one of the only Convex bikes. As was the RD350. Almost everything else is Concave. Makes me regret writing this, almost.

DISCLAIMER: Actual shape of curve may vary. This is a thought. It may or may not be true or accurate.

Sep 7, 2006

Sad iPod icon

It began as a normal day. I woke up in the morning, spent the first fifteen groggily plugging in all the various electronic bitsas into their chargers, didn't blow anything up, opened the door for the maid. And finally woke up after she made my coffee. Then, I unplugged the iPod from the charger and went off to work. Where it rattled like it was dying. And before I could say 'poor baby,' it died. A sad iPod icon replaced my music and that was that. My month long flirt with the 60Gb iPod.

So I called up my favourite grey market electronic guy, I called up the authorised guys and no one seemed to know whether the warranty was valid in India or not (the unit was bought abroad). But, surprise, at the iPod service centre (as in Apple authorised and all), the clouds lifted a bit. he checked the iPod serial on the support network, pronounced it was still covered and took it in.

Today, I got it back. Well, one like anyway. For my iPod's dead. Long live my replaced under warranty all-new iPod. Still have to get home before I can load it to the gills with music and all, but for the moment, life rocks.

Top ten lessons from the film Top Gun

1. Spilling coffee on the boss' shirt can be fun
2. Ray-Bans can be worn EVERYWHERE
3. Scare enemies by appearing suddenly above them upside down
4. Swirling towels constitute assault with a wetly weapon
5. You're allowed real funky handshakes on the decks of aircraft carriers
6. Daft call signs are cooler than really daft names
7. Val Kilmer was very upset at how popular Tom Cruiser became after the film
8. Kawasakis are faster than Porsches
9. Sort out any issues with/about your dad before getting in an expensive machine
10. You'll never be as cool as the enemy until the end of the film

Sep 5, 2006

Camber all over

The best situation for a motorcycle going around a corner is for the road to be shaped like a bowl. Think wall of death. And you should be able to guess why. The fact that the road surface drops away to the inside of the turn means you have less chance of dragging hard parts and/or levering yourself off and crashing. And in terms of pure physics, the fact that the road surface inclines upwards on the outside of the turn means the contact patch can handle more loads before giving. That means you can push harder, get on the throttle earlier, and generally fool around a lot more mid-corner safely. Now consider the exact opposite situation. Now, the situation reverses itself. Suddenly, you can't lean all way over because things will scrape easily. And, if you push it too hard, the surface dropping away from the contact patch on the outside will cause the tyre to slide and hasten a fall. Welcome to camber.

Road surfaces are never flat. Public roads are usually designed to be helpful and superelevation (the official transport planner's term) is meant to help cars and bike get through curves with less effort and in greater safety. This is on-camber. However, sometimes the road will have a crown in the middle and will slope down to the outside to let rainwater drain. For us, this camber and a right turn mean a off-camber turn. In other words, a place to relax and be cautious.

I remember reading in Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist about trying to remember corners that make your uncomfortable. And identifying why you felt that way. In most cases, he said, and I have to agree, the reason why we're uncomfortable is the camber. Which didn't register until I started noticing it.

The book's first chapter is about being able to read the road and in hindsight, that's such an obvious thing, it's a wonder many of us still don't notice it.

Sep 4, 2006

Helmet cleaning

I thoroughly cleaned up my lid yesterday, and I've run into a bunch of trouble. First off all, the helmet has one of the those tool-less removal type shields and when I removed it, I found that the plate on which the shielf mounts has two orange spots on it. The screw heads have rusted spectacularly. Not really a bright spot in a man's morning. But that's still ok.

But today morning, riding with a squeaky clean shield created a new problem. I normally ride with the shield open just a crack. Just enough to let wind in and stop it fogging up. So far, it's worked perfectly - you set the angle and up to a 130 kph, the shield holds it place. But not today. It worked like greased lightning and even at 20 kph, the damn would click properly shut. And promptly begin to fog... maybe I shouldn't have been so thorough, eh?

Full colour

This for those who went brain dead after poring through greyscale. I was killing some time, and Greyscale happened. I just had to post it up. Anyway, these sort of bombshells shall return now and then, so you have been warned.

Sep 1, 2006

Greyscale

The upward surge of the escalator exactly matches the downward nosedive of my morale. And I am in an express elevator. Through the glass, I gaze sightlessly at the grey expanse before me. Grey clouds crush down upon soaked a grey landscape. And industrial heaven. Or a natural nightmare. The inevitable scrawl etched in the wall says, 'Abandon all who enter here.' Dante had nothing on this guy. An impeccable sign fading quickly from sight screams a colourless DEAD.

I'm heading to the top floor, the lobby of the place. A place my tribe fears, but cannot escape. I got caught pulling a wheelie in my parking lot. A wheelie my mates would have laughed at. The dark uniformed policeman at my door told me, 'Sir, the security camera recorded some incriminating pictures of you yesterday. How do you plead?' I shrug and say, 'er... persuasively?'

His black glasses hide any hint of humour as he pushed a clipboard and a black stylus into my hand. 'You are guilty. Sentence is mandatory enrolment at DEAD. Please fill out the form and click accept at the bottom.' I wasn't given much choice.

The LED display rolls over from 299 to DEAD. This is where I get off. The doors spit me out into a artfully decorated lobby. The grainy black and white pictures show people doing things in an orderly, subdued manner. Like standing in queues. Or shuffling slowly along sidewalks. If it weren't for the ominous feel of the place, I'd laugh out loud.

A simple sign says Detox 0612: Eliminating Addictions & Disease. DEAD. The grey slab above me is the roof and I'm instinctively looking for the way up. There's fresh air there. But there's no way there, I know. The DEAD board voted to close off all access to the roof permanently last month after the latest high-profile suicide.

All the news channels covered it. 'We have Richard Chevron on the site live. Richard, what is happening there?' 'Hi Graeme, as you can see behind me, the master mason is mixing up the new micro-silicate cement for the plaster which will block the door you see. That door leads to the roof where just last Tuesday, a leather clad couple kissed for the last time and...' 'Thanks, Richard.'

I return to the silence of the present time and look at the two dark corridors leading off on both sides. Neither looks promising. Then, out of the darkness on my left, a chap rolls up me in a wheelchair and says slowly, morosely, 'three crashes.'

Some sort of code? Something happened to someone called Three? Without looking up, he points to his wheelchair. I gather that the background grey person whirring up to me was an ex-motorcyclist as well. Feeling slightly more human thanks to that. Then I realise that for the first time in my life, I've thought of myself as an ex-motorcyclist. I ask him where he'd crashed. He says, 'Bathroom.' Despite the gloom, I smile. He looks up, as if to catch the smile. Like you look up to catch that solitary ray of sunshine after months of endless overcast skies. Then he returns to staring at his feet.

Without a hint of movement, he turns around and starts back into the gloom he materialized from. I just make out the sign on the chair back. DEAD: This way please.

The eerie feeling of colourless illumination that follows you around settles in. Lights blink on for us. Switching silently off when we've passed. The walk down his airless, endless passage could lead anywhere. To a parallel universe. Or to a blank wall. Neither would be a surprise. It's a blank wall.

Which makes a faint grinding noise and slides neatly out of the way. A virtual screen hands in mid air, blinking '0212 Rearset. Welcome to DEAD. Addiction: Two wheels.'

I fill out the basic information, it scans my eyes to ensure I'm really me. Then the screen goes black. It offers me a parting repartee. Wheel free you, we assure you. By order.

What was that? Government issue humour? Then the room begins to darken and a machine-made hum starts to rise. The room goes inky black and the hum rises to a crescendo of sound. Then the lights switch back on. For the first time, I notice the racks and racks of machinery, wiring and dark screens arrayed from floor to ceiling. All with prominent DEAD logos. Wheelchair clears his throat and carefully asks, 'It says here you've had your motorcycle license for fifty-two years. But you have no tattoos and no scars...' He leaves it hanging. Right between a question and a statement. 'Don't spend that much time in bathrooms anymore.'

Life flashes in his glazed eyes for a moment. Almost as if I remind him of someone he knew. Someone who was him in another time. He looks at his feet and says, 'They're all jokers when they arrive, aren't they?' He hands me a set of dog tags and a plastic id card and points to the door. 'Follow instructions' Then he breaks into the bleak smile of the victorious captor, 'Soon you'll be human.'

A series of floating arrows leads me to a bed. I can't spot the light, but the bed seems to float in a sea of darkness. It's grey as well. A photo of this would be worth millions at an art exhibit. I lie back in bed, reaching unconsciously into my pants for the bike keys, eyes searching for a place to hang 'em up.

Hell breaks loose and almost snaps my hand off. The dark solidified into an armour clad person solid who grabs the keys from me. Before I can decide where it's a machine or a person, he holds them up to his unseen eyes and mutters, 'Jap bike.' Without another word, or sound, he's gone. As are the keys. I am alone now.

Time passes.

A faint buzzing in the id card wakes my up. A flashing neon sign hangs in the darkness. 'Please proceed for Detox Stage I.' As I step towards it, it moves like the horizon, staying just ahead. I enter a maze of windowless, doorless grey corridors. I'm lost, but for the sign. Then, with the dramatic flair of an amusement park tunnel of horrors, lights flood the room I've entered. The impersonal photons fall on acres of painted metal. It feels like I'm alone at Guggenhiem's Art of the Motorcycle. This room has everything. A 3D, full-immersion tableau of motorcycle history. Adrenaline tucks in and rolls into my blood at full speed. Then a frail, bespectacled old man in a grey coat says, 'This is the last time you will see a motorcycle. You have ten minutes.' I ignore him.

The time ends almost with his words. He waves callously and the bikes fade back into the darkness. The old man and I are suspended in mid air, it would seem, in a grey circle of an uncomfortably small diameter. Then, hands come searing out of the dark and pin me into the cold grasp of a dentist's chair. The old man nods and I feel a burning tingle in my neck that spreads like fire into my whole body. His voice floats in the dark. 'That's auto adrenaline blocker. It inhibits adrenaline production by hurting you everytime your glands become active. Soon your body will forget how to make that most harmful of bodily chemicals.' I try to fight out of the chair, but I can't move. Not a finger, not a wiggle of a toe can I muster.

His assistant says, 'Don't bother, AAB takes some time to settle in. The paralysis will pass...' He takes a deep breath and repeats for the umpteenth time, 'Everytime you get excited, you'll burn all over. Like a thousand needles in your skin. Or a million insects having a gang war under your skin. It's not pretty. If you don't calm right down, you'll claw your flesh off your bones. Just like all motorcyclists should, if you ask me.'

Blood rushes to my temples. I can feel a familiar throb. And a new burning sensation follows it. The needles are beginning to prick. And the beetles sound angry. The angry buzzing in my ears is disorienting. The man's not bluffing.

Then I realise the reason for DEAD's hundred percent success record. There have been no escapes, no failures and no person ever admitted has left the building to return to two-wheeled sin. No one has even attempted it.

I'm led to the elevator without ceremony or haste. I step inside and floor literally drops from under me. We descend rapidly to the ground floor and in a minute, I'm back outside. Not that it makes any difference, it's as colourless, if better lit, than inside. The huge DEAD building rises sharply from my feet into the sky. It dwarfs me. And is somehow killing my spirit as well.

I spot a security guard and ask him, 'What's next.' He leans forward, takes a look at my tags and smiles, 'Go home.'

What? It's done? He shrugs, 'It's just the injection, plus the waiting. The rest of the building is a call centre, but they don't like to advertise that. The place is full with people who have two names, thirty-five accents, no brains and talk for a living.'

That's just what I needed, a cynic. But he decides to be helpful. I listen to him tell me where the bus stops are, where the metro stops and where I can get a free government issue Segway.

I'm walk to the bus stop when a orange spot burns a hole into my peripheral vision. I spot my bike, still standing in the lot. And notice that I'm scratching my forearm. Anticipation? The burning returns.

I walk towards it and the sensation amplifies. It makes me walk funny, but I'm not about to stop now.

Then, two guys walk into the parking lot with what looks like a giant hoover from the other side. The needles turn white hot as I tell myself that my intuition is wrong. They begin vaccuming up the parked bikes with nonchalant skill, moving steadily down the line to my tangerine dream. My nails are pulling up strips of my own skin when my bleeding, burning palm returns to its usual place on the throttle.

The hoover men are so close, I can hear them talking, 'So John, last night, on Bored Housewives, the brunette tells her neighbour that she got real excited last night. Non-sexually, goes without saying. Her husband called the cops and had her arrested. The plumber bailed her out...'

A sucking sensation fills up any sensory space my aching body leaves out and I feel the bike being prised out of my hands with unflinching, unyielding force. But I am not letting it go. Not today.

'Hey did you notice anything out of the ordinary today?, John?'
'Not a thing. Why?'

Integrity disintegrates

I have been wearing my brand new motorcycle jacket for the past three months. Then, I had a fairly big crash in it. A crash that could have broken bones and all of that sort of thing. Thanks to the jacket, and the full complement of protective gear (Joe Rocket riding pants, cheap but obviously effective Rs 800 motorcycle boots from Japanese discount store) I survived without a scratch.

In the process, I tore a fair gash in the jacket, stamped the nylon weave into all of the plastic armour, and found a few areas on arm of the jacket that looks a bit worse for the wear. I looked up, thanked the jacket maker and have continued to use it since. Despite the gash. Yesterday, the most absurd thing happened. I tried to wash the damn thing. And guess what, all of the areas that were worse for the wear are sprouting hairy halos like some inspired godman on coconut oil. What looked like minor scuffs on the morning after the crash look like war zones and some of the deeper scuffs have completely given through and you can see the armour/arm through it. My five figure jacket is coming apart.

Which means that like a helmet, you need to check after each crash whether it still has the strength and the ability left to effectively protect you. The thrice crashed Alpinestars isn't an automatic bodyguard anymore. Then I did some research. And came up the word ripstop. Which is fabric designed not to unravel. Most riding jackets (textile) are not made of ripstop, luggage is. And once the nylon finds a hole to run out from, like unruly school children, that's exactly what it will do. Horror of horrors, I found a minor gash in me pants as well. So now I'm double worried. Although, the pants don't seem to unraveling, just gashed, that too in a non-critical area (seam around the pocket). In any case, that means a round of money collection to buy more kit

Those who found the microscopic inspection of my riding kit offensive or disturbing, take two aspirin and sleep over it. If you found in interesting, get to a shrink. Instantamente. The rest follow me.