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I give up!

Well, I guess it’s Kouba links for me. :|

Much as I hate to say it, I’ve finally decided to throw in the towel and lower the suspension on the GS by an inch. It’s crazy – I played in the dirt all weekend long at the BMW Adventure camp and was thinking exactly the opposite – “I finally own this bike.” “It doesn’t control me anymore.” and so on… I was so very comfortable riding it on dirt and gravel, standing on the footpegs, going over obstacles and things. And it was just a blast!

I dropped it many times, including one nasty crash where I flew off and landed on my head and literally felt my head bounch off of the inside of my too loose borrowed dirt helmet (thank heavens it wasn’t the Arai! That would have been an expensive crash.), but everytime I went down, I just got on up laughing like an idiot, picked up the bike and went on riding. I was crap at doing tight turns because turning on dirt seems to be the exact opposite of what you do on the street – instead of leaning with the bike, you push it away from you, and it was hard getting used to that. I also sucked at doing u-turns on a hill where again I crashed, this time with the wheels pointing uphill. There were many times – especially on Sunday – that I felt like Ewan McGregor doing that crazy off-road course in Wales in the beginning of Long Way Round and looking completely harassed and like he was going to cry. A lot of stuff I just simply could not do, like this one really tight trail with lots of tight hairpin turns.

Inspite of all this though, I was confident about my riding skills on the bike for the first time. And riding home on I-5 was a blast. The GS just chomps up the miles and unlike the SV, I’m so very comfortable ridng it long distance.

BUT as soon as I reached Seattle, I went to pieces again. Every time I had to deal with going over hills, I rode like a n00b. I dropped the bike at the gas station on Broadway when an asshat taxi driver reversed in front of me without looking. Turning up the hill to go into my alley was a nightmare because a car was coming downhill down that narrow one lane street, plus a group of kids were walking on the sidewalk right where I needed to turn, and I had zero confidence in my ability to stop diagonally uphill on a bike that I can barely touch my toes on the ground with.

Okay, I thought I was just having a bad day and I was really tired to boot. The next day would be better.

Only it wasn’t. While the GS felt right at home on the dirt, it feels really, really clumsy on asphalt. The front end is so twitchy that I’m constantly on edge and have a hard time keeping it pointed straight ahead when I’m going slow. Stop-go traffic – a reality of the Seattle-Redmond commute is *not* fun. The commute to work was okay, but riding back was pure HELL.

It was really windy across the freeway and I kept feeling like I had no control over the front end of the bike. The handlebars kept twitching with barely any input from me (believe me I wasn’t clamping down on them). While going over the bridge at 10mph, at times I felt like I was going to get blown clean into the other lane. I’ve rarely had this happen on the SV and that bike is way ligher than the GS (with the side boxes mounted, the GS is almost 45lbs heavier!) I’ve heard that the GS is very responsive to winds and you need to keep a very light touch on the handlebars, and I really did try, to no avail. At one point, I think I was praying – “Please just let me get home in one piece. I’ll never ask for anything again.” I also remember thinking that if this was how it reacted with a little wind in Seattle, how the hell was I going to manage it in Alaska in god knows what weather under god knows what road conditions?

I made it home in one piece but I was a complete nervous wreck. And you know, riding is supposed to be *fun*. Not stressful! Not scary! I don’t know if lowering it is going to make the handling any easier, but I have to try.

So Kouba links it is. If that makes me a loser, so be it.

I just hope I can get it done before Trollhaugen.