July 2, 2009 at 2:18 am #3105
Earlier this year I rode from VT to NYC but chose to leave the bike at a relative’s house outside of the city, not because I didn’t want to ride in the city, but because I didn’t want to spend the $$$ on a garage and I don’t have any sort of lock or security system. While on that trip I did get lost and ended up downtown in a small city, Albany, and also rode on some very congested North Jersey highways, however, no real city riding.
This week my wife and I were planning on a night in Montreal. The whole week the weather wasn’t looking promising, but we woke up yesterday and though it was supposed to be raining it was beautiful, looked at the next day’s(today’s) forecast and it looked the same. So I said, fuck it, even if we do hit a little rain it won’t kill us. Surprisingly, my wife agreed. So we packed up the Duc and headed north.
Turned out that the weather was not a concern on either day, it looked threatening a few times, but not a single drop of rain fell on us. That’s not to say that our trip was perfect. Actually, the trip was going perfectly until we got a few miles south of Montreal; much construction, serious traffic. Battled our way through that and things opened up. At first, riding in downtown didn’t seem to be a problem as I’m pretty familiar with the streets, then all of a sudden traffic just came to a stop. Seems as if the Jazz Festival is going on, not usually a big deal as it lasts for weeks, but there was some sort of major outdoor concert downtown and they just blocked off a major street-the one I was on of course. I needed to make a left, and every left hand turn was closed for blocks. To add to my growing frustration, every time we actually did begin to move we were cut off, the driver always giving us the “I didn’t see you” look, guess we’re not in Vermont anymore. Actually, I was pretty happy with my emergency braking as these were the first times I really had to get on them hard. One thing I hadn’t realized until yesterday is how much more difficult it is to give the finger while riding than while driving. We crawled along, my clutch hand was getting very sore, until we finally made our way to our hotel. As a final insult, when I pulled up to the hotel and got off the bike the slope of the pavement made my kickstand useless. I needed to have my wife hold up the bike as I went inside to ask which street their parking lot was on(sorry sweetheart I forgot to mention that the exhaust is very hot). However, after a very long-I figure we spent nearly 2 hours in traffic-ride, the bike was safely parked away for the night. I was sweating so badly I looked like I had just come out of a pool-ATGATT-but certainly didn’t feel that way. I really felt bad for those two women crammed with me in the little elevator from the parking garage to the lobby, I offered to wait for the next one, they laughed-I was really a sight-and insisted they could deal with a quick ride with a very sweaty guy.
Next morning, though not nearly of the same magnitude, more of the same. This time it wasn’t a concert but Canada Day. Again streets were blocked off, again I needed to make a left but there were no lefts to be made. This ended up being a minor inconvenience as I managed to make my way to the bridge and out of the city in about 15 minutes-though it should have been about 3.
I know some of us on this site, most notably Elwood, live in urban areas. Is city riding always so much of a mess? I understand enjoying the challenge, but is it ever really fun or do you just ride for the times you can get out on the open road? Actually I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of city driving, and as much as I complained about the traffic, if I had been in my air conditioned SUV with satellite radio it wouldn’t have been especially notable, I’ve been in worse traffic, but on the bike it was absolutely horrendous. Don’t take this as indictment of cities, I’ve lived a good chunk of my life in NYC and may end up back there one day, I’m just questioning if anybody actually enjoys riding in the city. That being said, still glad we rode rather than drove, as the two hours each way once we were clear of congestion were absolutely perfect.July 2, 2009 at 4:25 am #20371SantaCruzRiderParticipant
Ride everyday in Silicon Valley, sometimes San Francisco as well — which I guess qualifies as urban. Legal lane sharing makes all the difference for me. I can often ride a mile thru lanes of dead-stop traffic without ever having to put my foot down.
I agree about the clutch hand cramps. I’ve adjusted my commute to avoid freeway ramps that get super jammed up and/or are too narrow to allow me to slide past all the waiting cars.July 2, 2009 at 6:28 am #20376davidmdahlParticipant
Sounds like quite an adventure. Lights and stop-and-go riding doesn’t light my fire, but my Vespa is right at home in the city. I prefer to be moving but at least I won’t get a sore or strong left hand riding.
Thanks for sharing your story, Ranette.July 2, 2009 at 8:40 am #20382Speedy RodriguezParticipant
Come into NYC where motorcycles are target practice for every yellow cab and car service tank on the street. They act as if they don’t see you, and I’ll bet in half the cases they really don’t.
In any event, traffic jams are not unique to urban areas (though they occur more frequently) and are a big pain no matter how many wheels someone is steering.July 2, 2009 at 11:40 am #20383
SCR and David, those are two things I thought about. When I was caught in traffic before I got downtown I saw how convenient lane splitting would be-never considered it as I’m almost certain it isn’t legal in Quebec. However, as convenient as it would be it looked like it would be a pretty scary ride, certainly until you got used to it. Downtown I don’t think it would have helped much as there weren’t any lanes to split, more like masses of cars crammed together heading in the same general direction, but at every angle possible. As for a scooter, the downtown portion of the debacle certainly would have been a little less unpleasant on my scooter with CVT and having about 200 fewer lbs to hold up, bit it still wouldn’t have been fun. One day I’d like to ride my scooter in NYC but the logistics of getting it there make it pretty unlikely, however, I am planning a trip to Italy in the next few years and certainly plan on riding a Vespa through Rome.
Speedy, lived many years in NYC, but long before I rode. My guess is that sometime in the next year or two the Ducati will find itself on the streets of Manhattan, if only because so many of my friends who’d have to have an evacuation order to leave the city, want to see my bike-more precisely they want to see me on the bike hoping to be lucky enough to see me do something embarrassing.
To add to my initial post, this is how exhausted I was. Although I didn’t really make this detail clear, didn’t want the post to go on forever, part of the reason we rode so much in the city is that before checking in to our hotel we wanted to go to a specialty food store and pick up some things to bring home. Right next to the store a brand new shop had opened, Ducati Montreal, and I couldn’t muster the energy to even poke my nose in, just wanted to make it to the hotel before I passed out.July 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm #20385Clay DowlingParticipant
Walking right past a perfectly good Ducati dealership. My wife doesn’t ride, but she saw the Ducati episode of Twist the Throttle and found herself fascinated.July 2, 2009 at 12:31 pm #20386bigguybbrParticipant
And to think they used to just make radio parts before WWII…
War… Huh… Good God.. What is it good for… Making awesome bikes (thats how the song goes right?)July 2, 2009 at 2:22 pm #20388
Since watching that episode I don’t know how many times my wife has semi screamed at me “Enough with the Futa Pass already!”July 2, 2009 at 4:59 pm #20393zeppelinfromledParticipant
I was in Monteal this past weekend (not on my bike), and they were setting up for the Jazz Festival. I parked my car at the hotel and didn’t touch it again, but they had closed down several city blocks for the festival. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on my bike for several reasons. I speak very very little french, so road signs were sometimes tough to decipher. I’m still more comfortable in my car, so figuring out directions (with a navigator in the passenger seat) was way easier. We got in late (11 pm), so the darkness would have made the motorcycle navigation harder.
I ride in Boston regularly, and it’s that bad during rush hour or if there’s some special event going on. But yeah, I definitely find that if I’m stuck in traffic in the city, I’ll get quite sweaty. I always throw a second shirt in my tank bag for when I get to my destination. I won’t lane split for regular rush hour traffic, but if there’s a parade or something and everyone is detoured and traffic is backed up forever, I’ll lane split (only if traffic is at a dead stop). I once saw a motorcycle lane split by a cop in that situation and the cop looked at him and just didn’t care, so I don’t worry too much about the law in that case.July 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm #20394davidmdahlParticipant
If you’re planning to ride in Italy, you might enjoy the book “Vroom with a View”, about a tour of Italy on a vintage Vespa.
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