Wow! There's a lot going on in this thread.
One question, one comment. Question first.
No one has mentioned. When doing a tight turn (U, O, etc.) do you keep your body leaned past the centerline into the turn, leaned right on the centerline, or leaned against the turn - so your body stays upright while the bike is leaned over? I've heard all three when I've asked for advice.
I just took a week off work and rode around northern California. 3,000 miles in a week. I took every motorcycle road I had time for. Seven days, about 8 hours a day.
While doing some amazing twisties, I got the feeling (on some roads) that my skills of 30 years sucked. Then I got back, read some forums about those roads (at pashnit.com) and discovered that you should never take a Wing, a Harley, or an LT down those roads (straight up and down with ultra-tight hairpins in a single lane and rough pavement). Now they tell me
One thing I figured out about myself - I could make the LT go down some big, wide roads with lovely sweepers a lot faster than the speed I took them. I could probably drive 20 MPH faster - but I couldn't bring myself to do it. WHY? Because they were blind sweepers. It was all forrest where I was and I was really uncomfortable driving fast and not being able to see around the bend - even on wide, nice roads. So what it comes down to is this:
I drove at speeds that were comfortable for me. I've gotten a lot faster and my skills are way up since I got the LT because I practice so much. But if I'm uncomfortable, it's no fun. My survival instincts say I cannot drive 20 MPH faster if I can't see around the bend, because what if there's a truck over the centerline, or a broken down vehicle, or an animal crossing the road?
Lastly, I dropped the LT twice in the first two weeks, until I consulted a swami (OK - it was this forum) and discovered that you can't use your front brake going slow and turning hard.
Since then, I've never come close to dropping her because I take my time, don't do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, constantly practice what you've all taught me, stay in the moment and NEVER let my mind wander, and most importantly, don't care what anyone thinks (who might be watching) if I decide to make a three point turn or put it in reverse to get the big girl turned around. I'm well aware that I'm 50, 5'10", and 155 lbs, and smart enough to realize I will lose any argument I have with this bike (or with any woman, for that matter
Now that I've got a year on the LT commuting in L.A., driving long distance (50% two up with camping gear) and through hours of twisties with absolutely no incidents, I've come to realize my skills don't suck.