Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Great Day For A Ride

Several of you know that my daily (it's not raining) commuter is of the 2-wheel type. Last year I decided that with the hybrid being allocated to child duties, I'd hop on the low fuel, low expense option with a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (DL650).

The nice part about this, when it's a nice day out, it also doubles as my errand runner, my grocery wagon (unless the fridge is completely empty) and pretty much anything else I need to run out for.

Today was Morton's BMW open house, so as soon as we could get the child dressed and the family out the house for some other appointments, I hopped on and rode south on US1 to see what all the fuss was about. The weather was great. I wish I had been able to stay the day since Fredericksburg area Habitat for Humanity was organizing a poker run. Instead I took a shorter demo ride on a new BMW F650GS, a fun bike with little weight, and a sporty engine that purred along the whole way. My ears are grateful. Unfortunately by the time I returned, the line for bbq was long and I needed to get back to the house to hang out with our son for the afternoon.

I was amazed at the variety of bikes present. I wasn't even the only V-Strom. As I was leaving another pulled in. I was parked in a row of Hondas. Something for everyone. What I loved seeing was several 'antiques' that were still being ridden around like they were new. A 64 BMW caught my attention for how smoothly it still ran. There were also several side cars there, with spouses or children riding along. Inside the deals were enticing. I wish I had arrived a little earlier so that I could have found a pair of riding pants in my size. The $299 pants were on sale for just $99. I settled for a $10 pair of riding gloves, and a new safety vest. What a difference several years of road grime can make on neon.
We're priviledged to have Morton's here, the next closest BMW dealer is Lynchburg, VA. There are only 3 in the State. Even if you want a Harley Davidson, you have to go all the way to Orange county. I'm pretty luck in that Extreme Powersports is a Suzuki dealership.
So I'll tell everyone here exactly what my friends ask me about riding. Sign up for a safety course. Even if you're experienced, guaranteed this will improve something in your skillset. If you're new, it will give you tons of pointers. Then find something you can enjoy riding for your situation. A sport bike, as much as I may want one, doesn't fit in my insurance budget. My V-Strom insurance is $100 a year (safety discount included). Lastly, think about all the savings. Gas is one thing and any bike after 2006 has added EPA limits, so the air quality will be better (getting more stringent for this year's model). Think about the other savings, 2 wheels instead of 4, much fewer raw materials, reduced parking requirements. And if that doesn't sway you, how about using the HOV lanes without having to stop at the park & ride lots. Some days this would cut off 1/2 an hour or more. Even for me, why drive an almost 2 ton vehicle to the train station when I can take a 450lb bike there instead. OK, I COULD take my 20lb mountain bike there, but I'm not daring enough to bike up RT3 from the Blue & Grey parkway to Burlington in the evenings.

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