Archive for July, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage and the Bible

Generally I don’t participate in public opinions because we all know what they say about opinions.  However, I have decided to speak out about a topic that has been plaguing my mind: same-sex marriage and the bible. Over the years we, as Americans, have been endowed with numerous rights, one being freedom of speech; we are all, in fact, entitled to say just about anything we like and that is a powerful liberty to possess.  Soldiers today continue to fight to maintain our rights and the rights of others.  If you look around the world at other countries, you can see the limitations set upon them: many are limited on what they can say, what they can watch on television and the Internet, and how many children they can have.  We, however, are not oppressed with such limitations.  Of course, we can’t just willy-nilly do whatever we want; we have our laws that define right and wrong and a constitution that outlines exactly what a government can and cannot do; but, to point out, we live virtually free of limitations.

It was only 70 or so years ago when a person of color wasn’t permitted to use a particular bathroom or drinking fountain, or attend the same schools as whites because blacks were believed to be an inferior race. The use of certain derogatory words were common place and accepted practice, and, again, this was less than a century ago.  Unfortunately, ignorance still runs rampant as intolerance is taught based on the color of one’s skin or preferred lifestyle. Not so long ago, women were told what they could or could not do with their own bodies.  They were considered second-class citizens and not even permitted to vote or to show any opposition to a particular idea, and they were prohibited to take on jobs deemed solely as men’s work.

Alas, something new has appeared on the radar of intolerance.  It appears that people will stand up and fight against something that, in many cases, doesn’t closely affect them in order to preach immorality.  I am talking about same-sex marriage and homosexuality. I can’t believe after all that we’ve fought, bled, and died for that prejudice still rears its ugly head.

Chick-fil-A’s president has publicly condemned same-sex marriage and, in turn, homosexuality as a violation of the bible.  This single act will most certainly impact the company as a whole.  I have absolutely no problem if this individual does not agree with same-sex marriage or homosexuality; for that matter, I don’t care if anyone agrees or disagrees with same-sex marriage or homosexuality.  But when one attempts to throw the bible into the mix as proof that God condemns these practices, then we have a problem.

Let’s examine this subject a little closer, shall we.  If you open your bible and turn to Leviticus 18:22, it reads “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin.” So according to this biblical book, a book written by man, homosexuality is a bad thing. The bible also says that I have permission to sell my youngest daughter into slavery; but if I don’t want to sell my daughter, do I have to forever remain a slave after having my ear publicly pierced with an awl? (Exodus 21:6 & 21:7)  Okay, while you ponder that question, you might also consider this: my son and I have worked on the Sabbath, so am I then permitted to kill my son and then myself, or is that something that the police would handle? (Exodus 35:2)  I love football, and I have lots of friends who love football, so what is the penalty for playing with the skin of a pig, in most cases a football, or digesting pork at the dinner table? (Leviticus 11:7)  Should many farmers be publicly executed for breeding their cattle with other types of animals, or should my neighbor be sent to jail for planting two different seeds in the same field.  One last question, should the town stone my wife to death for wearing garments woven from two different fabrics?

Of course, you can’t answer those questions and, in some cases, just considering them seems absurd.  I have posed them in order to illustrate the apparent hypocrisy involved in following certain biblical orders while ignoring others.  Taking items out of context or using only those items that are convenient is an unacceptable practice. Keep your beliefs and your opinions, but understand what you are reading and saying before you proclaim that bigotry is dictated by the bible and we should all follow it.  Who determines which sections we should follow and which should be ignored? It is simply not acceptable to follow the biblical verse regarding homosexuality but to ignore the passages regarding slavery or stoning. Anyone who is arrogant enough to believe that he or she is the one true voice of God is someone who really should be taken into custody.  If you’ve ever been to church, regardless of your domination, you will hear the clergyman or clergywoman say “..we learn..” or “..from the teachings..”, meaning that we are supposed to learn from what is written, not take the words as black and white. We are supposed to take the words from the bible and the teachings that it provides and understand the true meanings, points, and reasonings and apply these ideas to our own lives and current times in the hopes of bettering ourselves and our surroundings.  It is not God’s gavel that can be thrown down every time someone or something doesn’t go in the way we think it should.

I once heard that if we allow homosexuality, then soon we will have people having sex with animals.  Well, first, people have been having sex with animals long before we labeled homosexuality.  Second, that is the most preposterous notion I’ve ever heard.  I am completely open-minded and would welcome any imperial data, fact, or documentation, any proof that hints that if we accept homosexuality, then soon people will have sex publicly with animals. There are groups that want the government to stand up and say that homosexuality or, more specifically, same-sex marriage is illegal and will NOT be accepted or tolerated in this country, thereby seeming to equate it to the heinous crimes of murder, child molestation, and rape. Although we want the government to intervene at times, it is important to realize that we risk moving the line of what is civil liberties for our convenience.  What if the government decides to take away our right to bear arms, or reverse Roe v Wade; hell, while they are at it, let’s just take away our freedom of speech.  Where will that line be drawn?  When do we say that the government is not permitted to infringe at this point?

I have friends and family who are gay.  I also have my relationship, which, until recently, wasn’t widely accepted because I am married to someone outside of my ethnicity.  I am permitted to do a lot in the privacy of my own home.  Where do we get the right to tell others that they are not permitted to do what they want because they are of the same gender.  No one can say that being gay or being in a same-sex marriage will undermine our country.  Will stocks fall, volcanos erupt, or streets turn to lava?  Probably not. Aside from naysayers preaching that homosexuality is bad, there isn’t a single reason to interfere with the natural evolution of this planet.  The Lord God DID NOT WRITE THE BIBLE!!  It is only a translation written by MAN.  

I say unless same-sex marriage poses a threat to the very fabric of our country, then people need to mind their own damn business.  This is just my opinion and, unfortunately, I will not patronize Chick-fil-A again.  (I really did like their food.)   If you agree, then good for you; if you don’t, then good for you.  We have a major deficit, high unemployment, and people losing their minds in movie theaters; and we also have people complaining about something that really has nothing to do with them and shouldn’t affect them.  Are our priorities becoming a little skewed because we believe that we are the only people on the planet that do things the right way?  We have segregated blacks, then women, followed by Latinos, and Muslims; and when those injustices have been overturned, ignored or forgotten, we look for new groups to torment; currently, it’s the homosexuals, following that it will be anyone who lives in an odd-numbered house, just because we can. So when will we stop?


Riding in the rain

Since I’ve been riding, I’ve made considerable efforts to avoid riding in the rain, and this practice isn’t without good cause.  If you’ve ever gotten caught in the rain while riding, you quickly realize that this isn’t the ideal situation to find yourself.  Depending on when the rain begins, you’ll have to deal with the oil/debris movement which occurs within minutes of the onset of rain and generally lasts about 15 minutes.  This is the point that is most treacherous for riders because as the oil/debris moves from the center of the lane to the sides, you can’t avoid riding through it.  And since we have only the two wheels, our stability can be greatly affected by this.

Along with the oil and  debris, our traction is reduced, more so in turns than in straight and level rides.  Finally, depending on the helmet you wear, you have to contend with the constant pounding of water on your face.  If you have a full-faced helmet, then you need to worry only about wiping the visor clear of water periodically.  However, if you are like me, one who wears a half-helmet, then you will feel the water hitting your face, which feels like little rocks bouncing off you.  Water is soft when it isn’t moving at a high rate of speed, so water drops aren’t your friend on a motorcycle.

To be sure, the ladder of risk rises when it rains, but you can mitigate those risks by doing just a couple of things. First, reduce your speed.  This shouldn’t be too hard since you have to deal with the spray from cars in front of you and the rain; thus, reducing your speed by 5 to 10 MPH can be very helpful.  Also, if you are wearing a half-helmet, there are items available that can cover your face to take the impact of the water drops.  This won’t always keep you dry, but it will eliminate the pain associated with it.  Finally, if it is a shower, then riding isn’t a bad thing; however, when you are threatened with thunderstorms or heavy downpours and/or lightening, you should pull over and try to wait out the storm.  At the least, stop under a bridge and take a quick break to allow the heaviest part of the rain to pass by you.  If it appears as though the rain is traveling in your direction, give it some time before you get back on the road.  Your destination will still be there, even if you get there a little late.

These are some of the tips I’ve learned over the years while riding and, more recently, by watching videos and taking classes.  Understanding where your hazards are can lower your chances of having to deal with a bad situation.  For instance, the paint or “stickers” they use to identify lane separations and crosswalks are slippery when wet, so avoid stopping or turning on them.  Bridge seams are also slippery when wet, but may be harder to avoid in turns.  Just be prepared for a slight slide to the opposite side of the turn when you cross them.

To point out, my confidence in riding has improved, and I’m not as fearful of riding in potentially bad weather.  I’m not saying if it is raining or if rain is in the forecast that I’m going to pull out the bike.  I still say if the weather forecasters, in their infinite wisdom, say there is a 30% chance of rain or less, then I will ride; and if I have to deal with rain, then I am comfortable enough to know what to do.  Usually a percentage higher than 30 will keep BB in the garage for another day.  While in riding season, I don’t want to keep her parked because just about everyday is questionable when it comes to rain.

Ultimately, each rider must make the decision to ride or not to ride in the rain.  However, being prepared is the most important element of riding; also, know your skills and limitations, and always remember to T-CLOCS (T-CLOCS_Inspection_Checklist_2012) your bike.  

Keep the rubber side down and happy riding.

Hello, fellow riders.  It seems like since I’ve started this blog, I’ve been posting like the end of the world is coming in December.  Damn, it is coming–I keep forgetting that.  Anyway, I’ve been experiencing a lot of new things, and I want to share what I’ve learned.  Today, I attended the Advanced Rider Course held at Old Glory Harley Davidson.

Let me start by saying that every rider, young and old, new or veteran, should take this course at least once every ten years.  It allows you to brush up on skills you may rarely use or discard those bad habits that we’ve all picked up as we ride.  At the very least, you may get a break on your insurance, that’s got to be worth it alone.

Anyway, we had to report to OGHD at 8:30 this morning.  We first had to do the preliminaries–you know, sign the paperwork and verify that we all had insurance and a license.  There were 11 students in my class, including myself.  All of us, except one, ride Harleys and large bikes, so this course allowed for the variants in wheel base weight, which normalized the course into acceptable ranges.  After we completed the paperwork shuffle, we headed off to the track.  Literally, we drove to Laurel Race track, which is where the rider course is held.  We had two instructors, both very knowledgeable, friendly, approachable, and comical, which is important for me.  They gave us a rundown on what we were going to do: eight exercises, a written test, and a road test.

Sample Rider

Yesterday, on the advise of one of the OGHD salesmen and course instructors, I purchased 10 feet of 1″ clear PVC tubing.  Now, I only really needed about 3 feet, but it doesn’t come that small.  I would measure a section to cover the lower portion of my engine bar and the bar that sits in front of my saddle bags.  Basically, I cut 4 8″ pieces.  Slicing them down the middle, I zip-tied them to protect my chrome, in the off-chance that I lay the bike down during one of the exercises.  Since the bike is only about a month old, it only made sense.  I ain’t too proud to realize my limitations.

The course concentrated on maneuvering the bike at slow speeds.  Overall, you never really pass a speed of 20MPH, and take it from me, you really never want to.  We had to do single weaves and offset weaves, both with two hands and one-handed.  You immediately get a feel for your bike and what you can do with it.  Following that we did some 90 degree turns and the box (dramatic music plays here).  Prior to this class, I’ve gone to a school parking lot to practice friction zone and turn my bike in two and a half parking spaces.  This was beneficial for me today.  If you remember nothing else, remember two important things about your abilities: if you practice U-turns and figure 8s, and apply the techniques of friction zone and head and eyes, there is very little you can’t accomplish with your bike, regardless of its size.  I was able to perform the maneuvers within a 24′ box with very little problems.  I was actually proud of myself.  After you completed the box, you had to do two S-curves and these appeared more challenging than the box.  Following that we had to do some quick braking, and for my bike which is loaded with ABS, this section was a breeze.  There were a couple of people who locked up their rears, but no one tipped his bike over, so we were all successful.  Usually, all of these exercises are done in one direction and then the other.  You know, you would turn to the left, then you would turn to the right.

We performed some additional cornering exercises and braking, and to this point I was feeling pretty good about my skills.  Now it is

Sample Rider

on to the quick stopping in a curve.  If you’re a rider, then you already know that slamming on your brakes, while in a lean for a curve is one of the quickest ways to lay your bike completely over.  For our training, we had to right the bike before we would begin braking.  Now this sounds easy and, in fact, it is; however, remaining detailed is important.  What I mean is that having the bike vertical isn’t all that is required, you MUST have the front forks facing straight.  Well on my first go around, I drove to the turn, switched to second gear, started the lean, identified the obstacle and righted the bike, then immediately mashed the brakes.  The bike came to a halt and I dropped my feet.  Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to switch to first gear before that and my front wheel was tilted to the left a little.  Before I knew it, the bike was getting really heavy to the left and try as I might, I couldn’t keep her up, and, allowing her to lay down, I tumbled off, doing a professional combat roll to a standing position–it was a nice move.

Anyway, the instructor explained my mistake and I started to right the bike, but I was on a supreme hill and was having trouble.  He helped me out and I had the bike back on the stand.  I did a quick inspection and the rubber on that side took the brunt of the impact.  It was totally excellent–I spilled the bike and it came out with zero damage.  Just to let you know, I performed this maneuver three additional times with no problems, in both directions.

Enough of the details.  I just want to say that this course was well worth the money.  I feel more confident about my skills handling the bike at slower speeds, which I used while going back home.  The preceding weekend helped increase my confidence when riding in rainy weather.  To echo the instructors: practice, practice, practice.  If you don’t practice, you may lose a skill which you’ll need in any given situation.  I would have added more pictures, but we were off the bikes only long enough to get the instruction for the next exercise and to discuss exactly how to execute the exercise without falling down.

My ARC card

Based on this blog, I am going to generate a poll regarding riding courses–I would love to hear your opinion on their usefulness.

July 21, 2012 – Day One – Skyline Drive Ride

As predicted, Mother Nature threw us some more clouds, rain, and cool weather; did that deter Rachel and I: I say No!!  It did make us hesitate a little, mainly on my part, because I didn’t want a ride in inclement weather to affect Rachel’s excitement in riding motorcycles, so we talked and she assured me that it wouldn’t.  So we checked the weather and recalculated a start time.  Waiting only about an hour or so, we packed, showered, changed, and we were off to Frederick.

It rained on us a little, but it wasn’t bad, and the temperature wasn’t a problem.  We arrived in Frederick in about 20 minutes and stopped off at Harley Davison of Frederick.  I wanted to buy Rachel a rain suit, but she wasn’t having it.  She is very stubborn when it comes to buying gear for herself but is willing to buy shirts in a heartbeat.  We wandered around the store, and texted a couple of friends to see if they were going to come, but the rain had changed the plan for them.  We made our purchase but had to get a meal before heading south, so we stopped off at the Double T diner.

Just after getting into the diner, the clouds opened up and dropped a lot of rain, but we sat and ate, talked about people at the restaurant, and discussed our travel plans.  We waited until the rain had come to a reasonable down pour then I got Rachel into the rain gear, and I put on the chaps and we were set.  Oh, we got her a bandana to cover her face from the rain.

It rained for the first 30 or so minutes until we were south of Washington, then it stopped.  The clouds remained ominous yet kept quiet.  We traveled along back roads and small quaint towns that looked as though time had stopped for them many decades ago.  Rachel, being the navigator, made sure we stayed on course; and just before getting on the Skyline Drive, we stopped at the visitor’s center.  We picked up a couple pamphlets pertaining to surrounding attractions and learned a little more about Skyline Drive.  There is a toll to get on the road; it is $10.00 for motorcycles ($15.00 for cars) which lasts for seven days: you can get on and off of Skyline to visit neighboring towns and cities.  So now we are on Skyline Drive, which has an average speed limit of 35 MPH, and the resort was at mile 41.5.  It would take us an hour, and in that hour we drove through some of the thickest fog I’ve ever seen.  Our resort was positioned about 3680ft above sea level, so I knew we were going to drive through clouds, but holy hell.  I didn’t think that much.  I used a leading car to help identify turns in the road.  I turned on my hazard signals through very dense fog, but we stopped at points for photo ops, if it wasn’t completely fogged out.

Just as predicted, our resort appeared on the right, and we took the turn.  You couldn’t tell what you were in for just from the outside.  City dwellers are used to viewing the gleaming steel and concrete construction of hotels and the reflections of the sun from the windows, but this isn’t what I had in mind.  I wanted a place that was different and more naturalistic…..Rachel loves nature.

We parked, stripped off the rain gear and walked to the office to check in. We got our cabin key and its location.  Rachel admitted to finally having rider’s fatigue, so she walked to the cabin while I repositioned the bike closer.  I parked, pulled out the bag given to us by HD when we purchased the new bike, locked everything up, and walked to the cabin.  I unlocked the door and walked in with Rachel immediately behind me.

“Where is the TV?” was the second sentence out of her mouth, the first being “Oh.”  I wanted to get away from technology and reintroduce her back to nature, as she keeps saying that I have deprived her.  This room has no television, no central air….well no AC of any kind, except for the windows.  We had a chill from the ride and we were looking for more heat than cooling.  There was a heat register on the far wall and I turned it on to the midpoint. Well I can’t think of a better way to warm up then a happy jaunt between the sheets, but that isn’t for this blog.  We laid about thinking what to do next.

Rachel’s addiction to the television prompted her to suggest that we go into the city to see the new batman movie, but I wasn’t as willing especially after driving through that mess, not to mention the temperature dropping because the sun is setting.  Luckily, I was able to provide other entertainment.  There is a great restaurant just a couple of doors down from our room.  We got cleaned up (she had to get rid of the helmet hair) and off we went.  It was about 9pm now and the dining hall closed at 10pm.

We walked in, asked for a table for two and were seated in a comfortable spot with a spectacular view.  This place didn’t have a huge menu, but it had a little bit of everything.  I got the beef and Rachel got the fish, and as we were waiting for our dinner, we could see the sun setting–simply beautiful.

The meal arrived and the scene was like one of those places you see on a reality TV show.  Perfect setting, and the chef was amazing.  It is funny to watch two skinny people inhaling their meal because it was so good.  We ate, and then we had dessert. I had the apple pie and Rachel had the blackberry cobbler. I think I made it half way through before I was stuffed.  Rachel placed a sizeable dent in her treat.

We paid for the meal and wanted to see what else was available.   There was live entertainment: a singer was playing songs from various artists all with a guitar.  We listened for a few minutes while walking around the gift shop, then headed back to the room.  We stopped at the office to pick up a book for Rachel to read.  I knew I wouldn’t make it through two pages in a book.  As we walked back to the room, nature has a way of appearing in the night and Rachel got a little freaked: some small animal crossed our path on his way back into the darkness.

Back in the room, we adjusted the windows and vents and heater to provide a little heat while circulating the air.  The sandman was beating me down, and before I knew it, I was asleep; I crashed into that wall and there was no coming back until morning.

July 22, 2012 – Day Two – Skyline Drive Ride

At 7 am, we both woke up and lazily laid around until about 9am just talking. We knew we had a checkout time of 11am, and I didn’t want to waste too much time not doing anything.  The sun was peeking through the trees, you could hear the birds talking and absolutely nothing else–an excellent morning.  No cars starting, no people screaming out the window, no engine revving, just quiet.  So we each got up, showered and dressed and we packed our bag.  On a side note, the bag that comes with my bike is phenomenal.  It held everything we needed, changes of clothing, toiletries, my laptop (had to blog), and a small assortment of electronic items.  The weather was playing tricks as the clouds hid the sun from view.  It would give the appearance that the weather was below average for this time of year. We loaded the bike and headed back north.  We wanted to stop off at Luray Caverns to check it out.  So headed north on Skyline Drive and took the exit for Rt 211W.  Another 10 miles down the road and we were there.  Tickets were a little pricey ($24 for an adult), but we were on a mini-vacation so screw it.  We took the tour around the caverns and saw some really nice stalagmites and stalactites.  Hell I actually learned the difference.  We got some really nice pictures.

After the tour, we ate lunch and took a tour around the Car & Carriage museum. There are some really cool vintage vehicles, dating back to the 18th century. Both tours were self-paced and self-guided within defined boundaries, but very enjoyable.  After the tours we knew we had to head back home: the kids would be getting restless at this point, and we didn’t want them to burn anything down.  So we had two options:  take 81N back home, which would be quicker, or return to Skyline Drive (which is still paid for) and ride it again, this time with far better weather.  Rachel made the decision to return to Skyline Drive, which I was very happy to do.  Back on the bike and in route, we quickly returned to Skyline Drive and turned towards the north.  The weather was absolutely perfect: sunny without a lot of heat.  It was in the low 80s, and the sun would break through the trees quiet frequently.  Since we were doing about 35-40MPH it took about 45 minutes to make it back to Front Royal.

We stopped for gas, just wanted to fill up again before we started, and we headed down 340 north.  Once again, traffic and weather played in our favor.  We rolled along at the speed limit (maybe a little above) listening to the music and talking at times.  Oh before I get to far ahead, Route 211 toward Luray was a very cool stretch of road.  It provided some extreme curves at a higher rate of speed.  Rachel did an excellent job matching my lean through the ride.  Okay, so we moved from VA to WV then got hung up in traffic from what looked like a water rescue in progress.  There was enough emergency equipment on this little two lane road that blocked up one side.  We waited so long that I actually shut off the engine for a while to allow it time to cool.  I was tempted to put down the jiffy stand and stand up, but just as I was about to have Rachel hop off, the traffic started to move, so once again we were off.

Thankfully, traffic opened up quickly, and even though I deviated and took some side roads during the ride home, we found ourselves quickly on route 270 headed south.  Close to home.  I fell in love with my bike very quickly during and after the initial purchase; however, during our ride down 270, holding steady at about 60-65MPH, the traffic came to an abrupt stop.  No warning, no hint that speeds are going to change.  I had to squeeze hard on both the rear and front brakes.  Rachel’s only reaction was to hold herself back.  Within a few hundred feet, the bike was stopped, no skidding, fishtailing, or loss of control.  The ABS system on this bike really saved us.  We stopped about a foot short of the car ahead of us, and the truck that was following us–mind you he was following too close and I couldn’t sway him to back up–stopped off to our left over the shoulder.  Quickly shifting down to first gear, we were moving again, before I could even put my feet down.  Traffic sped off as if nothing had changed.  I praised Rachel for remaining calm throughout and officially deemed her a biker chick.  Following that, I was able to move out from the other vehicles to a new lane and we made it back home without another incident.  Rachel didn’t comment about any rider’s fatigue today, but she is ready for her boots to break-in.  She walks around like she is wearing sky boots, a treat to see. We agreed that this type of trip will NOT be the last one and we will try to schedule as often as we can.  BB is extremely dirty and needs a full bath, but since I have to take my Advanced Rider Course tomorrow, and it is supposed to rain, I don’t want to go through the ordeal of cleaning her just to get her dirty the next day.  If I learn anything new at the course, I will be sure to blog it.

Blue Ridge Parkway Ride

Well the big day is just about here.  Originally scheduled to go to Williamsburg, VA, I have modified the ride to head to Big Meadows off of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I thought it would be a nice ride and based on the weather forecast (when I initially scheduled it), I knew it would be.  I am not sure if any friends would be coming, but I still on planning to go, even though the weather hasn’t been working in our favor.

Speaking of weather, I’d like to say that weather people or meteorologists are the only group of employed people who can be wrong 60% of the time and still maintain their high paying jobs.  I mean wouldn’t it be cheaper to get a group of monkeys, some darts, and a dart board of weather options for our predictions.  Holy crap, the weather is completely inconsistent and there is always a chance of rain….which usually doesn’t pan out.

Anyway, Mother Nature has been pounding the east coast with not just rain, but serious thunderstorms.   Seems like they come in bunches as well.  I waited to the last minute to reserve a room in the area, and because of that I had to pay $60 more for the night than if I had made the reservations three days prior.  Oh well, live and learn.  Regardless of the weather, Rachel and I are going to make the trip, on the bike.  I have a set of rain gear, which I tried out while in Tennessee last year. I will make sure she is wearing it and I will just go without.  We will look into new rain gear for her later, but for this trip it shouldn’t be too bad.

Initially, I planned to meet friends at 10am at the Harley Davidson in Frederick, but not sure if anyone will want to come because of the unpredictable and rather hazardous weather that has been forecast. If I plan on taking more road trips with the bike, then I have to be prepared to ride in not so sunny weather, and this will be an experience for Rachel as it will be her first time dealing with rain using a half-helmet.  If you’ve never had to do it before, it is a treat.  Falling rain while travel at 55+ MPH feel more like pebbles hitting your face.  I can bring the full face helmet for her just so she won’t have to deal with all the “pain”.  Anyway, hopefully tomorrow we will be posting more as we trek down south, this time we pictures.

Keep safe, and happy riding

The topic of cornering your motorcycle at various speeds has been an item of discussion for a long time, and there are some basic techniques that can help anyone on any size bike.  One of the biggest fears, aside from a crash, is losing control during a turn or corner. What people fail to realize is that at certain higher speeds, the bike will become more stable even while turning. Let’s not get ahead of myself.

By no means do I want to classify myself as an expert or experienced rider.  The information I provide is solely based on what I’ve learned, either through riding or applying techniques demonstrated through videos or friends.  The best suggestion I have would be to take a rider’s course, either basic or advanced from a certified instructor which will provide you not only with the knowledge, but allow you to practice those techniques in a safe and controlled environment.  With that said, let me begin.  When I started riding again, some years back, when approaching a turn or a corner, I would slow the bike down considerable because I was inexperienced and didn’t have a “warm and fuzzy” about my skill level on the bike.  Note, your performance on the bike is completely based on your skill level and at no time should you attempt to operate your bike outside of your level of comfort.

Counter balancing

At speeds between 1 and 15 miles per hour, when taking a corner or turn, you will have to counter-balancing the bike.  You will find a ton of videos on YouTube regarding this very idea.  If you are aware or not, when you are turning your bike at slow speeds you must turn the handlebars in the direction you want to go while simultaneously dipping the bike in that direction.  To avoid leaning the bike too far or rolling the bike over, you will counter-balance your body.  Counter-balancing means that you will sit upright throughout the turn, usually in a position 90 degrees from the street.  You will not lean in the opposite direction and most importantly you will NOT use the front brake for any reason.

NOTE: Always remember, if your front forks are turn in any direction, using the front brake is a sure way to pull the bike down to the ground.  The rear brakes will be more than sufficient in stopping the bike or slowing it down until you return the bike to a vertical and straight position THEN applying the front brakes.

Here is an example of controlling your bike, regardless of size, at low speeds.

If you watched the video, you may have noticed a couple of things.  First, the rider NEVER leans with the bike throughout the turns, again counter-balancing.  Also, the size of the bike, the ride, the experience level, and if a passenger is involved, has no affect on controlling the bike.  Simple practice and knowing the techniques is all that is needed.  The last two notable points is the use of friction zone and head and eyes position.  Using this point you can turn a bike at low speeds, and if required, within 18 ft, with room to spare.  Okay, back to counter-balancing.  When you are turning, keep your head and eyes up, don’t look at the ground.  Look at where you want to go and about 6 feet above the ground.  Surprisingly, your bike will head in that position.  This may take a little work before you get comfortable, but it is very possible.

Higher speed Turning – Counter-steering

Okay, this is probably a lot easier to do that turning at lower speed, but even knowing a simple technique can make turns a breeze.  If you have reached a speed above 15 MPG, then centrifugal force generated by the wheel will cause the bike to be more stable in the vertical position.  The bike wants to stay upright.  This force that make counter-steering possible.  What is counter-steering?  You may have heard people say, “to turn left you must turn right”.  At first glance that doesn’t make any sense.  It didn’t to me, so I sat an pondered for a while.  Okay, so I YouTubed it. Now it makes complete sense.  Let me give you an example.  If you are travel straight on a flat road and SLIGHTLY pull on the left handlebar, your bike will move to the right.  I didn’t believe it either, so I tried it out.  You pull on the right handlebar, the bike will move to the left.  This is due to gyroscopic precession. This is essentially counter-steering and we all do it, even if we didn’t realize we were.  To make this force functional for you, you aren’t going to pull on the left handlebar because you want to turn left, what you will do is PUSH down on the handlebar in the direction you want travel.  If you want to turn left, then you would push down on the left handlebar.  Pushing down on the handlebars makes moving into a turn and maintaining that lean, much much easier.  Regardless of how to get into the turn, keep the speed lower at the beginning and increase your throttle through the apex of the turn.  You’ll be surprised how it feels like the bike digs into the turn when you do this method.

Anyway, these are just a couple of little techniques that I’ve learned over the years, that may be helpful with negotiating your bike around turns and corners.  Either way, be safe and happy riding.

I sent my bike for its 1000 miles service and to get the “WE OWE” parts from my initial purchase put on, this was last Thursday.  Well today, Monday, I was able to pick it up.  I have a new Stage 1 kit, highway pegs, and complete service done on my bike and it sounds as good as it looks.

The weather has been shifting and mini-storms have been sprouting up everywhere, but I checked and everything is cleared all the way back to Germantown from Laurel.  So I hopped on and off I went.  I stopped for some gas before tucking BB (Big Bitch) away for the night, and as I was pulling into the garage, Lexi’s bicycle handlebars grabbed the front faring.  Well that pulled the front wheel shifting the weight. I tried to compensate, but things moved too fast and she started to roll to the left.  I tried to stop her, but there was no stopping gravity when pulling on 900lbs.

I couldn’t leave the bike like this.  I had two options. Option one, get a for sale sign and place it on the bike.  Not fond of that one since I just got the damn thing.  Option two, get it back on it’s wheels.  I decided that option two was the better options, so now to figure out how to do that.  I had Rachel and Lexi around.  No neighbors to help, then it hit me.  The videos I watched on YouTube about how to right a downed bike.  Well I figured here is my chance to try it out….if it doesn’t work, then I could go get a neighbor.

I used the techniques from the video and in seconds I had the bike back up right, jiffy stand down, and I did it alone (Rachel and Lexi watching).  I am actually proud of myself, but thought it would be something good that all riders should know…hell even the passengers should know this technique.  I’ve included a couple of videos, and I think everyone should try it out.  Stop yelling.  I’m not saying just lay your bike over….well, okay yes I am, but being prepared before you do.

Get about a two foot long piece of clear PVC piping, and split it down the middle.  Cut into sections and place it along contact points on your bike.  Places that will contact the ground potentially leaving a scratch.  You could also move it to the grass in your yard, and with a couple of friend’s help, lean the bike over so it is rest on its own.  Now use the techniques from the video and you’ll be impressed with your abilities and the fear of laying the bike down just got a little smaller.

Happy riding.

Hello everyone.  I’ve darted from all of the social network web sites out there because either the inappropriate material, inconceivable interpretations by various readers, or the potential hazards that plague using such sites.  As I approach my midlife crisis, yeah I can see it coming, I want to document some of the adventures and activities that occur in my life.  Not necessary a bitch session, but more of a track through the days.  We don’t plan on posting everyday, or every week for that matter, but when something interest (at least we think it may be interesting) occurs, well we want to share it with our friends and family.

I am not going to sit and make sure the grammar or spelling is perfect, or I am properly using a pronoun or verb in a sentence.  This is here just to document what I’ve done.  Of course, my wife may come back and edit it, those English majors can’t help it.  We hope that you are somewhat entertained by the post, but if not, I know we’ll enjoy posting them..along with the pictures.

Please feel free to leave a comment, but it isn’t necessary.  Hope to see you around.

Sean & Rachel

Motorcycle Hand Signals

No I’m not talking about those special little gesture you may use when expressing your feeling to other drivers that cut you off, or to a friend so cuts you with a wise crack.  I’m talking about the various gesture you may use while riding in a group formation.

Although the number of signals varies based on who is providing them, on average there are about 14 different signals that come in handy.  Now I wouldn’t use these signals if you catch up to another bike on the road traveling in your direction, or some bike creeps up behind you.  These signals are used to help control the group and pass along any intentions/message.

Now the reason I bring this up is that I’ve found, and I haven’t ridden with many different group, but for the ones I have, signal use is very limited.  Of course, we use the “crap in the road” signal, but it has been modified to using both feet, instead of just the right one.  We have also used the “PoPo” signal, where you pat the top of your head to alert all following that we are approaching the police.  (Notice that one isn’t in the picture)

On one ride, when a member heard the calling of Mother Nature, he would quickly ride up to the front from whatever position he was in scream over “BATHROOM” to the Road Captain, then zoom off to the next exit.  In some cases, we played hell trying to move the group off the road to keep up without causing an crash.  The guys I ride with are pretty laid back, and I guess we’ve developed our own method of communications while on rides, but until then, I suggest that everyone learn and know these 14, 15 with the PoPo, signals so when you see it being passed, you know what the hell they are talking about and do what is being requested.  I wonder how many groups, starting at the Road Captain on back, actually know and use the various hand signals, even if they are a little modified.

The other hand gesture would be the biker wave.  From my understanding, when you are passing a two wheeled vehicle traveling past you, and they can be going in the same direction, you perform the wave to acknowledge they are brother/sister riders.  Well something like that.  As I’ve been riding for a few years, I’ve modified who I will wave to.  First, if you are on anything that doesn’t require a license or a helmet, then you aren’t on a motorcycle, hence, not a biker, indicating no wave.  Nope, nope, nope.  Scooters are another set that I don’t wave at, but it is becoming harder and harder to tell from a distance.  I’ve had those moments when I started to wave, figured out it was a scooter and tried to play it off.  Damn, scooter!! Got me again.  Aside from the that, I wave.  You’ve earned my respect when you’ve earned the skill/license to ride a motorcycle.  There are times that waving could be dangerous, and of course you can’t be expected to see everyone on bikes all the time.  We do get distracted by other things.  If you are traveling on a six lane highway and both bikes are in the slow lanes, then it IS understandable to miss the wave or to not even attempt.  If you are passing on a two lane highway, well come on…just acknowledge and wave.

You have those people who just don’t wave.  For whatever reason, they don’t wave at anyone or maybe they have a more restrictive list of wave recipients.  Who know, I’ll continue to wave, because it feels good when the other rider waves back.  It’s like being in an elite club.  I know the Jeep owners have a similar thing, but I don’t think it is on the same level.  Anyone can go out and buy a Jeep and drive it if they have a license, but you can’t do that with a motorcycle.  You have to go that extra step to ride effectively on two wheel while avoiding being ran off the road by these four wheeled idiots who are too lazy to turn their fat f$%^ing head to see if we are there.  Which is why I have loud pipes, but that’s another blog. Where was I……oh yeah, waving.  There are different types of waves based on what you ride and if you are a full time rider or a weekend warrior or somewhere in between.  You can do the two finger low wave, the five finger low wave, the “Hiya Doing” wave, the wave off the handle bars.  I guess it all depends on your mood and how you are sitting on the bike.  I guess my biggest thing, is wave and acknowledge that other rider because regardless of how long you’ve been riding or they’ve been riding, you are both riding and are part of the elite club of two wheelers.

Happy riding. Keep the rubber down and the wind in your hair…keep safe.