Category: Motorcycle / Rides


Day 7 – 5/23/2014
Start / End: Columbia, SC to Lexington, VA
Distance: 329miles
Time: 10hrs 2mins

This morning started like all the rest, the alarm gets be out of bed and by 10am, I am on the road.  I know I want to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will slow me down by half, but that road is the reason we ride bikes, since I am down here it doesn’t make any sense to miss out.

I pushed on to Charlotte, VA and had to top off the fuel, and was again greeted with construction traffic.  The number of cagers and semis on the road does cause a considerable amount of traffic and we actually ended up stopping…….yippie.  I honestly couldn’t tell you why we needed to stop, but we did.  I made my way up Interstate 77, making more frequent stops at rest areas just to stretch and get the pain out of my butt.  Yes, I have one.  Around 1pm, I was across the state line.

BRP

BRP

Stop 1: Fancy Gap, VA – Although I wasn’t empty, I wanted to top off because gas stations aren’t as frequent on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), and it was time to eat lunch in any case.  I stopped off at a small mom and pops diner, called Lake View, and grabbed a handmade cheeseburger.  It was really good.  The atmosphere was country, but they were friendly and quick and I received my hot food in short order.  With the bike and I topped off, it was time to hit the road.  From the restaurant, the entrance to the parkway was about 100 ft away.

BRP: The speed limit for the road is 45 MPH, which actually is a very good speed because some of the switchbacks will have you going in the opposite direction.  If you enjoy the Tail of the Dragon, then you’ll enjoy this road.  There are lots of turns and I took it for about 170 miles.  I stopped every once in a while to get a picture of the scenery or to just take a break from riding.  Leaning left and right can wear you out if you let it.  I had considered going all the way home tonight, but if you do take the BRP, you need to account that you are doubling your time to travel the same distance.  I arrived in Lexington, VA or Buena Vista, VA around 8pm.  I jumped on BRP at 2pm and except for a couple of stops, I didn’t deviate but only traveled 170 miles.  If I had stayed on 81N, I would have been almost, if not home at this point.  But like I said in the beginning, it is all about the ride, not how quickly I can get to the destination.

BRP

BRP

Day 7 ended in Lexington, VA [Buena Vista] at 8pm.  Clear weather, with a moment of cloudiness.  The temperature started at 82 degrees and north of Winston Salem, the temperature dropped 15 degrees.  I had to pull over and put on a jacket.  The wind increased and the temperature kept dropping the rest of the ride.  This was a really good riding day.  A little exhausting and I’m going to reevaluate my route tomorrow.  Last night away from home.

 

Go to Day 8 ->

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Day 4, 5, 6 – 5/20/2014 to 5/22/2014
Start / End: Orlando, FL to Columbia, SC
Distance: 430 miles
Time: 8hr 15mins

I decided to squeeze multiple days together because overall while I was staying in Florida, nothing extraordinary happened.  I basically hung out with friends, talking, laughing, and watching them drink and smoke themselves into oblivion.  On Tuesday, I did take a trip to Tampa, just to say I’ve been there.  In Maryland, if you pass a fellow biker, it doesn’t matter what type of bike, you give, and receive, the wave.  This is done with the left hand, either displayed low below your handlebars, or higher above the bar.  This is a signal of respect, as you understand the skill required to ride the bike.  However, in Tampa, it doesn’t appear that anyone knows about this gesture.  You wave and they just ride on by.  Hell, in my case, not only did they ride on by, they also stared because I guess it is some anomaly that a guy who is my size likes to ride something other than a sportsbike.  Speaking of sportsbike, I was able to hook up with my friends JJ and Crystal, it was a blast.  I met a couple of their friends, who also love to ride.  We had an opportunity to go out riding, and for a little bit, JJ and I switched bikes.  That thing scared me to death.  I am use to cranking the throttle to gain speed, but on a bike with that much torque, cranking the throttle could potentially end in a wheelie, then I’d be in a serious mess.  Anyway, we road for a little while and I actually started to get comfortable with the bike.  I even considered buying one as a second vehicle, but that was a fleeting thought.

Sky Writer in Action

Sky Writer in Action

On Thursday it was time to head back.  I didn’t want to stay on the highway all the way back.  The slipping of my clutch is starting to grow to other gears so I didn’t want to delay my return home.  On my way home, I promised to find some beach sand and seashells for my daughter, maybe a starfish as well. I did my laundry, packed, loaded, and left around 11am.  My first stop will have to be a beach.

Seashells and a Starfish....Where?

Seashells and a Starfish….Where?

Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

Stop 1: Daytona Beach – I was able to ride all the way to the beach and parked almost in the sand.  It must have looked strange watching a fully clothed guy with a storage bag walking the beach.  Yep, that was me.  I walked the beach looking for seashells.  Did I mention that the temperature jumped from the pleasant 80 degrees to the much warmer 90 degrees. I am not a fan of the beach, but honestly is was very nice.  I took a couple of pictures. After my scavenger hunt was complete, it was time for lunch, so I decided on breakfast for lunch at the IHop.  At this point, I think the temperature was nearing a million degrees, maybe a little less.  But I needed to get on the road because I had specific stopping points.

Stop 2: Jacksonville, FL – Exhausted my fuel and decided to make one last stop in Florida.

Stop 3: North of Savannah, GA – Mother Nature kept me guessing on the weather around the corner.  You know my opinion of weathermen, so it was me and my phone making predictions from the raw data.  The temperature started to fall and more clouds started forming the further north I traveled.

Stop 4: Orangeburg, GA – Fuel exhausted, and I had to deal with more rush hour traffic, however, it is nothing in comparison to what we get in Maryland.  This was just a small delay.

Stop 5: I finally made it to the Best Western just north of Columbia on Highway 77.  I wanted to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia, and 77 will get me there quickly.

Day 6 ended in Columbia, SC at 8:30pm.  Partly Sunny 80, 90 degrees.  This was a long ride day.  I probably should have stopped a few hundred miles sooner, but it seemed like a good idea at first.

Go To Day 7 ->

Day 3 – 5/19/2014
Start/End Point: Valdosta, GA to Orlando, FL
Distance: 227 miles
Time: 3hr 21min

Unlike the previous night, I slept until my alarm woke me up at 9am.  I really like the Best Western in Valdosta, I was completely comfortable.  I packed my gear and ate a breakfast bar which I purchased last night.  If you remember from Saturday, I lost my BOA debt card, so the first order of business for today was to go to a local Bank of America and get a temporary card.  I found one about 4 miles away, in the direction I wanted to head.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by a teller who directed me to a gentleman in an office.  I summarized my issue and he quick sprang into action to help me out.  Within moments, I had a temporary card, activate and I withdrew a few dollars in my pocket. I was on my way.

The remainder of the ride was really uneventful because I was forced back on the main highway (75) because I wanted to reach my destination at a reasonable time.  I didn’t want to do it at dark.

Florida Sign

Florida Sign

Stop 1: 20 miles after starting, I was in Florida.  Yippie!!!  I actually stopped on the side of the road to take a picture of the Florida sign with my bike in the foreground.  I made a fuel / lunch stop in Clermont or Leesburg at around 12:30pm.  I honestly can’t remember exactly where I stopped.  I was concerned that at this point I would begin to feel sore, but nothing.  My body and the bike were hanging in there.

Stop 2: I arrived in Orlando, made a few calls and texts to get a couple of addresses.  I couldn’t meet up with one friend because he was working the evening shift, but I knew we would work that out later this week.  I hooked up with friends from my bowling league who were down here on a week of golf.  Five days of 18 holes of golf.  That is more exhausting that riding a bike 1200 miles.  I was able to grab a room with my friends because of a bailout late in the schedule, so I am extremely fortunate because without a doubt it is going to be less expensive than sitting at a hotel.  You may ask, you’re not at a hotel, the answer would be no.  These guy travel in style.  They rented a home, and actual rental home for the week.  It is like bringing your home with you to another state.  You can cook your own meals, do your laundry, and chill at the backyard pool.  Oh yes, I said backyard pool.  Cha-ching.

The house I stayed at.

The house I stayed at.

The remainder of the evening was spent talking and laughing…oh and drinking on their part.  Sometimes it is fun to watch, not so much at other times.  This day was another one of those great one, may be a little longer than planned.

I contacted my mechanic about the high RPM slipping I am experiencing on my bike.  It only shows itself in my 5th gear.  He told me that I will need to replace my clutch, but based on my information it isn’t an emergency and can wait until I return at the end of the week.  Which is good, I didn’t want to have these guys messing with my bike.

Day 3 End in Orlando, FL at a rental home at 3:15pm.  Sunny 80 degrees.  Another day of great riding.

BTW, I am going to update with pictures, but just haven’t gone through the motions of pulling them off the camera.

 

Go to Day 4,5,6 ->

Day 2: 5/18/2014

Start / End Point: Townsend, TN to Valdosta, GA
Distance: 432 miles
Time: 7hr 32 min

Last night I was in bed around midnight after planning my elaborate route for today’s trip.  I wasn’t going to take the highways from TN to southern GA, oh no, that would be too easy, and I would miss out on some really nice roads, so I planned back roads until I was south of Atlanta.  Now, because I rode in the cold for so many hours the previous day, I had a bone chill, so I turned on the heat in my room, setting it to about 72 degrees.  Well around 6am, my mind told my body that I need to turn the heat off and throw some cool air on, but my body decided it was too early to move and ignored my mind.  Well, not totally ignoring my mind, I did shuck off the covers. Well not an hour later, I was awake again, and there was no going back to sleep.  The alarm was set for 9am, but I was up at 8am, after tossing and turning for an hour.  Did a check of the weather, and all the bad stuff was sitting south of TN, just over the GA border, and that is something I will deal with later.

Getting ready.

Getting ready.

Out the door and on the road at 9:30am, heading towards Route 129, better known as the Tail of the Dragon.  It was chilly, but not cold, and was overcast, but no prediction for rain.  This is good since the last time I did this road, I ended up in a monsoon. Would like to avoid that mess this go around.  At 10:00am, I was at the base of the “switchback”.  I took off and was completely thrilled.  Some of these “turns” were a turn in the opposite direction.  You would have been proud, I had the footboards scraping on the ground on a couple of the turns, UNTIL I caught up with some slower folks.  Was stuck behind them for a mile or three, and they pulled off at a scenic overlook.  I was off again, posing the best I could for the various cameras on the trail. I caught up with another slower group, and remained behind them until I hit Deal’s Gap.  I conquered the mountain.  I stopped and got me a t-shirt and a pin, and I was off again.  Just a note, don’t befool that this road is the only extremely curvy road in the area.  Seems that most of my way to Atlanta was spent leaning through turns, mind you doing this while it is raining, on the Smoky Mountains.  Adds a new level of difficulty, but I managed and really enjoyed the ride.

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

At the base of the Tail of the Dragon

Riding the Tail

Riding the Tail

On another curve

On another curve

Tree of Shame - No contribution from me.

Tree of Shame – No contribution from me.

Dragon Sculpture

Dragon Sculpture

Dea's Gap

Deal’s Gap

Stop 1: Murphy, NC – It was a little after noon, and I stopped because reports say that the large front sit 5 minutes over the GA boarder, which is about 10 miles from Murphy.  Ate my Burger King lunch (yuck), chatted with another Harley riders (kewl), and donned my brand new rain suit.  An hour later I was back on the road.

Stop 2: Atlanta, GA – I pulled into Atlanta, and passed the location for the ’96 Olympics as well as the stadium.  I was planning on stopping for a little bit, but once a guy rode up on me with his bike and asked for change, I knew it was time to move on.  I mean, I just pulled to the side of the road and was still taking off my helmet when he asked.  This place is a trip.  I was going to visit my nephew, but it was still raining, and I couldn’t find a “safe” place with cover, so I decide to get out of the weather and down the road.

Stop 3: Forsyth, GA – Not much I can say, my fuel light blinked on, so I pulled off at the next fuel station.  While I was there, I watch a guy jump out his lifted 4×4 truck, shoeless, pump his gas, perform the tobacco spit, jump back in and drive off.  He drove off playing some rap music really loud.  I stood there in utter confusion, but I digress. It was still raining, and I really wanted to get out of the rain.  I’ve been driving it for over 150 miles.

Stop 4: Perry, NC – Mother Nature was throwing up clouds in my path.  Once I got out of the large storm over Atlanta, this bright yellow round thing appeared in the sky.  I was worried, but it was warm.  Unfortunately, it disappeared in a few minutes as another storm sat over the road I was on.  I mean, REALLY??!!  I drove a while longer and when I made it to Perry, the storm was gone and the temperature jumped up 20 degrees.  It was time to eat and remove this rain suit.

Hotel Stop: Because I didn’t stay in Atlanta as originally planned, I decided to get as close to the Florida border as I could before night fall.  I ended up in Valdosta, and stay in the Best Western just off Route 75.  I made a reservation while at Stop 4 and when I got there and walked into my room better known as an apartment, it was huge.  The lady behind the desk said it was the smallest room.  I was like, I hope my room in Florida can compete with this room.

Dinner is done, and I am in for the night.  OH, just a small point.  If you take a ride and carry an extra luggage bag, make sure you tie off any and all loose strap.  If not, you run the risk of them tangling up in your bike.  One of my straps was lodged in my rear brake.  I didn’t notice until I tried to take the bag off.  Thank goodness I packed my tool set, I had to loosen the brake to remove the strap.  Live and learn, at least it was corrected.

Day 2 Ended in Valdosta, GA at the Best Western at 9:30pm. Overcast, to Rain for ¾ of the ride.  Rain ended and warmed up after Macon, GA.  Another great riding day.  Riding 150 miles in the rain really improves your confidence, especially when riding on switchback roads in the rain.  Tomorrow should be arriving in Orlando, FL.

Go to Day 3 ->

Day 1: 5/17/2014

Starting / End Points: Germantown, MD (Home) to Townsend, TN
Distance: 526 Miles
Time: 8 hr 26 min

I was up at a reasonable hour, dressed and loaded my bike.  I did most of the packing last night.  Of course, no matter how hard you try, you invariably forget something essential.  Overall, I think I did a pretty good job.  I started the ride at 0930hrs on Saturday.  It was a chilly day with the temperature around 50 degrees with a slight wind.  I threw on the chaps, and I was on my way.

Stop 1: Eating up all but 30 miles of fuel in my tank, I made a pit stop for lunch around 11:30.  I covered about 200 miles, maybe a little less.  Hit the KFC, and filled up the take.  A $30.00 stop in all.  After about 45 minutes, I was back on the road.

Stop 2: My bike was complaining it wanted more fuel, so I needed to make another stop.  It is about 3:30pm and the only place near me is called Rural Retreat.  OMG!! I found a group of people who failed to keep up with the times.  This is one of those times when you wonder if you should have gone to the next exit.  Anyway, I filled up, grabbed a candy bar and Gatorade.  The temperature has been dropping, so I put on my heated jacket.  Yes, I am a wimp, who wants to be cold if they got gear to avoid it.  Packed up and on the road again, this time I turned on the music. OH YEAH!!

81 South at the start of my trip.

81 South at the start of my trip.

Stop 3: I’ve made it to Pigeon Forge.  It is about 4:40pm.  There is a lot of activity, unfortunately, my hotel seems to be on the outskirts of town, so not sure if I’ll have the energy to come back 20 miles just for some activities.  On second thought, I may.  I will get some gas before I get to the hotel.  When I stop at the pump, I realize there is a new problem. I can’t find my Bank Of America debt card.  Is it possible, I left it in Rural Retreat. This can’t be happening.  This is still the first day. OMG!! I called the bank and had the card cancelled, now I have to revert to alternate cards until Monday.  GRRRRRRRR – I hate when I do something like that.  However, if that is the bad part of the trip, then I am glad it is over with.  Just hoping.

Hotel Stop:  I found my hotel, somewhere miles away from the city.  There are good and bad about it, but the hotel is very clean, inexpensive, and filled with old people.  It will be a quiet night, except for the thin black guy on a loud Harley.  Who’s your Daddy!! Gonna unpack the bike, find a place to eat, grab dinner and plan out tomorrow.

Townsend Best Western.

Townsend Best Western.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Smokey Mountains from my room.

Day 1 End in Townsend, Tennessee at the Best Western at 6:15pm.  No rain, great ride, except for losing my card, and it could have been a little warmer.  Tomorrow should end somewhere in Georgia after I ride the Tail of the Dragon.

 

Go to Day 2 ->

 

I’ve now had my 2012 Electra Glide Ultra for two years, and the last “major” ride I did was the Tail of the Dragon with my Softtail.  Thinking back, I haven’t taken my dresser out on any major ride since and I’ve accrued over 19,000 miles on the bike.  This year I don’t plan on making that same mistake.

What is a long-distance ride?

What do I call a long-distance ride? Well, according to some of my riding buddies, any ride that is 300 miles or more equates to a long-distance ride.  REALLY!?!  I can ride that just going to my weekend military duty.  The definition of a long-distance or cross-country ride can vary as much as riders vary.  Personally, I consider a long-distance ride to be any ride where a one-way direction is longer than 1000 miles.  I know I can ride 500+ miles in a single day, so you need a trip that requires the ride to stop at a hotel or campsite.  If you arrive back home on the same day, then that’s considered a day ride.  Mind you, I’d enjoy the ride regardless of its length as long as I am riding, which is why I have 19k on a two-year old bike.

Go it alone or with a group?

There are many factors that must be considered when planning a long-distance trip, such as where to ride, where to sleep, and where to eat as well as emergency procedures and who will accompany you on the ride.  You can plan a trip with a crew of people or choose to run it alone; no one way is better than another and both have its advantages and disadvantages.  You may have many riding buddies with a wide range of bikes from sport bikes to HOGs, but I can almost guarantee that not all of them will be able to handle a serious ride.  Once you are on the road, there is no turning back if it’s rainy or chilly.  Maybe there is a higher than expected traffic volume or the bike seat isn’t up to par.  Whatever the case, when someone isn’t comfortable, the entire group will hear about it, and the more who chime in, the louder the complaints become.  Constant complaining and whining can hamper anyone’s ride. Believe me, I’ve ridden with some low-stamina people who have resorted to crying about not being comfortable an hour into the ride. Those types of riders can make a long trip or even a day ride long and annoying. So consider very carefully who and how many friends you want to invite on your ride.

Time to pay the toll!

The toll placed on the body during a long ride can be extensive.  There will be points during the ride that you might consider stopping, getting plane tickets home, and shipping your bike back.  Don’t give in too quickly; it is the ride itself that makes the trip.  If you want to get to your destination, then taking a plane would probably be the fastest route, but if it is the ride that you want to experience just remember you will have to pay the toll with your body.  Understand that you can prepare yourself for this type of ride.  You’ll need a fair amount of stamina to avoid becoming the group whiner. Looking inwardly, you may not realize how much stamina is required to ride 1000 miles or more.  It isn’t something a monthly rider may be able to pull off.  It can be taxing for those who ride bikes geared towards short city/country riding.
If you haven’t taken a long day trip, then I suggest experiencing one of these before embarking on a trip 1000 miles or more. A warm-up trip will give you the opportunity to learn how you ride, how the people in your riding group ride, and your level of stamina for sitting in that seat for hours upon hours while being pounded by the wind and other elements.  Remember, the effect of wind on your bike translates to your arms, and your muscles have to counteract those effects.  After 8 hours of riding, this can be exhausting.  If you plan on taking your better half, it is also a good idea for them to warm up to the thought of riding long hours in the passenger seat.  They may sit a little higher than the driver and may experience a different level of wind.

Ahhhh…where are we going?

I think one of the hardest parts of any ride is deciding where to go.  One of my friends made a suggestion that we ride either northbound to Canada or southbound to Florida.  Personally, after all the snow we’ve had, I am not up to traveling anywhere the temperature is lower than 60 degrees, especially during the time period we are planning to ride (mid spring).  Choosing a destination can’t be all that difficult….is it?  When traveling as a group, there must be a consensus on the destination, as well as the potential route taken.  You must determine how many total days to take, as well as how you plan on handling the sleeping arrangements and the security of people and their equipment. One of the biggest problems is finding consecutive days that are available on everyone’s calendar.  Dealing with all of these issues can be challenging but not impossible.

As I mentioned at the outset, I am planning a ride to the south.  I’ll provide the details in my next blog.  I’ll also outline some of the steps you can take when planning a ride.  I am no expert, but by taking a little knowledge from here, there, and the Internet, I hope to have a thorough list of what to do and what to expect when embarking on a long-distance ride.
Until then, be safe.

Well riding season is now upon us. Time to remove the cover, polish up the chrome and check the levels. Riding during the spring has its advantages, along with some disadvantages. The temperature generally falls above the 60 degree mark; the sun is warming; there are more bikers on the road; and people may be looking for you.  On the other hand a disadvantage would be the unpredictable nature of weather. We are all fully aware that the weather men have a little difficulty accurately predicting the weather to some degree. Overall, they do a decent job and generally run close to what the actually weather. As a rider, you’re hoping for more accuracy in the prediction verses guessing. You don’t want to be riding on the highway when a heavy shower decides to break loose. If you’ve been riding for any time at all, then you’ve at one time or another been caught in a mid-day shower that forced you to hide underneath a bridge or just suck it up and ride out the weather. In either case, you would like to avoid those as much as possible. Unless you are going to school to become a meteorologist, then you are forced to gather your information from their prediction….or are you? I say nah, nah. Similar to what pilots do, you can gather as much information about the current weather patterns and make assumptions based on that information. There are plenty of web sites and resources available, many for free, that you can use to help you make the best riding decision you can.

In the past, I would look at one or two weather reports and if the chance for precipitation was 30% or lower, I would ride, anything higher would keep my bike parked in the garage. Today was one of those days that caught me off. Instead of doing my own research, I relied on the weather from TV and since the chance of rain was lower then 30%, it was 20%, I decided today was a decent day to ride. Well about 30 minutes into my drive to work, it started to rain. Not a hard blinding rain, but enough to be a pain in the butt. I pulled over, donned my balaclava and headed back out on the road. Fortunately, it was a light rain, but still enough to generate spray from cars in front of me, and slow traffic to a crawl. Never again, I will take a few minutes from my morning, and gather as much information before I make the decision to pull the bike out. You should do the same, unless you don’t care what the weather will do. Just to share, I’ve included a couple of site I prefer while gathering my information.

Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: http://www.noaa.gov/wx.html

Forecast: http://forecast.io/#/f/39.1619,-77.2793

AOPA: (Must be a member) http://www.aopa.org/

I take the day’s outlook with a grain of salt, and pull in as much raw data to make my own weather prediction. There are enough maps, animation, and advisories that should help you narrow down your conclusion. Understanding what you are viewing and being able to translate that into a clear picture of the weather prediction won’t come all at once. It may take a few days to get a feel for what you are doing, so don’t give up the first time it looks challenging, remember you doing this to make sure you stay dry and enjoy your ride completely.

Well, that’s all I have to say. As always, ride safe and see you on the road.

Lane Splitting

My time spent in California gave me an opportunity to witness lane splitting done by motorcycles. If you don’t know the traffic in California at any given time is horrendous to say the least. I know we have a lot of drivers, but I can’t understand how if all the cars are going the same speed (speed limit), then why are we sitting at a stop on the highway. The only explanation I can come up with is that those few incapable drivers that plague the east coast also exist on the west coast. The urge to tap or even slam on the brakes because either a turn in the road is approaching, or better yet because they see the brake lights of a car about a mile in front of them.

It is for that reason I believe that lane splitting is legal in California. The times that I witness the technique was while sitting in heavy congestion on the highway. This is where I find it make sense. Most motorcycles are air cooled and aren’t in favor of sitting behind some four wheeled vehicle sucking up the exhaust. It is at these times, and without hesitation, that a motorcyclist can “part the metal seas” by riding the lane dividers up until the traffic moves freely again. Personally, I would rather jump on the shoulder and ride that up past the point of the stoppage. Using this technique at this time is completely feasible and should be allowed in all states.

Now the other times that I’ve seen it in on an average road. There isn’t any congestion except while waiting for the traffic signal, and even in these cases, you will first hear then see a motorcycle moving up to the front of the line, just to sit and wait like the rest of us. I don’t understand this one, and I am hoping someone can explain it to me. If you will have to sit and wait, why don’t you sit and wait exactly where you entered the signal? What is the point of moving to the front of the line (we would all like to move to the front) and have to wait anyway? I don’t know, maybe I am uncomfortable with weaving my bike through the layers of car that will never be sitting in a nice clean straight line. My bike isn’t huge, but I don’t want to take it through some of the narrowing paths that separate two vehicles.

If you have a few minutes, watch this 14 minute video regarding lane splitting, and let me know what your take on it is.

http://www.chromaplay.com/?ytid=JNGD9AAIfFU

Even after watching this video and viewing the technique in practice, I still can’t say I completely agree with what the guys are saying, but there are many good points in it and it should really be studied. Maybe because lane splitting has always been illegal since I began to ride, I don’t know what I am missing. Maybe one day, Maryland will jump on the band wagon with California and legalize lane splitting. That will probably happen just after we all legalize pot.

The Inconsiderates

I came across this video on YouTube, and it sparked an idea.  First, check out the video; it is only 50 seconds long.

When you ride your bike, especially on congested roads, your head must be on a swivel, checking your mirrors and verifying who is in the lanes to your left and right.  Back in the day, when you were 16 and getting your license, one of the focal points was defensive driving.  On a motorcycle, you need to bump that sense up a notch and not only be defensive but also watchful of what a driver might do.  Always assume that every car is out to kill you.  Being prepared, awake, and alert is the only way you can avoid potential dangers on the road.

To add to your concerns is the numerous inconsiderate drivers out there, with many towing, carrying, moving material from one point to another.  How many shoes have you seen on the highway and then asked yourself, “how the hell does a shoe end up here?”  Well, from the video, you can see exactly how that can happen.   Why on Earth would anyone see logic in hauling a mattress in the back of a pickup WITHOUT tying it down.  How much thought went into the planning of the haul?  Does the driver understand simple physics?  The rider in the video was very lucky because at the speed he was going, not only could he have been thrown from the bike, but he also could have suffered serious injuries.  The sad part is the idiot driving the truck probably wouldn’t have stopped if the motorcyclist hadn’t flagged him down.

If you knew me in 2007, then you know that while going to work one bright morning, I happened to be following a flatbed truck as I was exiting 495 for Route 66.  As I approached the truck, I felt something hitting my face.  I was wearing a half helmet at the time.  As I got closer to the truck, the objects hitting my face increased and the pain felt from each object also increased.  I realized that it was brick particles from a previous load striking me in the face.  I had two choices: I could slow down and try to put distance between the truck and me, or I could speed up and attempt to pass the truck.  Well, in my pain-induced stupor, I opted for the latter and hit the throttle.  At that point, the pain was so intense that it was difficult for me to keep my eyes open, and before I knew it, I was on the shoulder and doing about 70 mph.  When I looked up, I noticed something black and big on the shoulder and realized there was absolutely no way to avoid it.  The next thing I knew, I was airborne and drifting away from the bike.  I landed on the ground and started rolling, hearing the bike hitting the ground behind me.  When I came to a stop, I was in the middle of the exit ramp with the bike laying behind me blocking traffic (I love that bike, gave its all for me).  I pulled myself to the partial safety of the shoulder and proceeded to call my wife, telling her that I was in a minor accident.

The point of the story is because a driver didn’t think, wasn’t considerate enough to clear off the flatbed, I, after making a foolish decision, ended up in bed for a month with a busted knee and a bent bike.  I still ride with a half helmet, but all of my bikes since have had windshields installed, regardless of how “wimpy” that may make me.

Well anyway, I am just saying to continue to be careful while riding and remain mindful that some drivers may not take the time to ensure their loads are secure or their vehicles are clear of debris.

Keep riding and be safe.

Nature

Nature is a beautiful thing, and this is one reason many of us ride motorcycles.  Being able to feel the wind in our hair, the sun on our face, the bugs in our teeth, and the rain on our cheeks is pure bliss; and it is only through motorcycling that one can experience this bliss.  Of course, nature isn’t always blissful, and I am talking specifically about deer.  To a car or truck, a deer can be fatal, especially if it crashes through the window, striking the driver.  There is about a 1.3 to 2 percent chance that a collision with a deer will result in a fatality for the driver.  Usually, a collision with a deer will cause considerable damage to the vehicle, and leave the driver cursing at the now-dead animal on the side of the road.

When you remove two wheels and a protective bubble, however, deer can become extremely hazardous.  In fact, the statistic jumps to 75 percent of collisions resulting in fatalities. It is unfortunate that these animals, after dealing with a car, can’t go back and warn their friends of the dangers of crossing the road when the shiny objects come speeding towards them.  How do we combat an animal who doesn’t understand that running in front of a vehicle can be hazardous?  The only way I can think to avert a collision with a deer is through vigilance.   When riding, especially in the early morning or early evening, keep a sharp look out for deer attempting to cross the road.  I like to think that the noise coming from a Harley muffler may deter deer to run the other way, but this may be wishful thinking.  Spend the money to purchase HID for your bike to extend the range of the nighttime visibility.  Heck, add a deer whistle to your bike and maybe that will help.  Basically, it is up to you to look for deer to cross the road at any time, and since they can’t read, don’t think they will cross only at the deer crossing signs.

The rider in this video was extremely lucky.  BTW, there is some language in the video, but it is only expected.

As always, be safe and keep riding.