I've yet to carry a passenger, so it's been an adjustment carrying two full saddle bags and a duffel, weighing about 100 pounds all together. It takes longer to stop and it takes more confidence riding slow. Having the bags on the bike also makes me wider than I've even been, so that's why I was himming and hawing about splitting.
My philosophy is to jump in even if I'm scared. If I keep faking confidence, finally it will become a reality. I keep asking myself what would I do if I wasnt afraid. In this situation, I'd lane split. So that's what I did.
After getting through traffic I stopped at a light and met a motorcyclist who was also splitting behind me. He's a local who was out for the day riding and he asked if I'd like to take the back roads and see the sights. Of course I said yes!!! I'm so glad I was splitting, otherwise I wouldnt of met Joe.
After talking more about my riding experience, Joe took me on the Old Highway, which is a dirt road that goes through redwood forests. It was 10 miles long of up and downs, twisties, gravel, some big rocks, and stunning scenery. I had so much fun!!!!
That was my second time riding dirt on the Suzuki and I was shockingly calm. I attribute that to having an excellent leader to follow. Joe's a superbike champion who raced at Laguna Seca. So much of riding is mental. If I started to freak out and imagine crashing, I'd focus on taking the exact path that Joe was riding and I tried to match his speed. Seeing him make it through the corners gave me the hope that I would too. Mind you, we were going slow. I have road tires and the bike loaded up is about 550 pounds. We were going about 15 mph, which was a perfect speed to steer and look at scenery.
I am so thankful that I met Joe. It was an incredible day! He was an absolute gem taking the below photos and telling me all about the local history. It's going to be hard to top a day like this.