Tag Archive: motorcycles


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.

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.

I live on the east coast, specifically in the DMV  (D.C., Maryland, Virginia), so I am forced to deal with traffic of epic proportions during specific times of the day–yes, I am talking about rush hour. If you have ever been in the DMV area between 6 am to 9 am or 3 pm to 7 pm, then you, too, probably understand my frustration.  The plethora of brake lights that populate the roads during these hours is a depressing sight, to say the least, and only intensifies when it is raining or snowing.

Traffic congestion during rush hour.

Whenever I am stuck in traffic, staring at the plethora of brake lights, I often wonder what could be causing the chaos.  Did someone fail to motor from point A to point B without hitting something, or did a turn in the road cause someone to brake suddenly in anticipation of stopped vehicles?  In either case, we are left with what I like to call the centipede: a series of stops and goes in three-feet increments as the traffic inches forward.

Traffic of motorcycles, but not congested.

I often wonder, too, if all the cars were replaced with motorcycles, would we have the same traffic issues?  I like to think not. To explain, I’ve been party to many bike rallies, and if you’ve ever been to one, then you’ve seen the number of bikes that can populate a single block, and at no time were we FORCED to travel below the speed limit because we hit another bike nor were the bikers overly concerned about stopped bikes around a corner.  It is the four-wheel vehicles and the inadequacies of some drivers, however, that cause this annoying traffic problem. Have you ever witnessed a car pushing forward in an attempt to block another car from entering the lane, usually at a merge area?  Well that idiotic move affects not only the cars in the rear but also the cars attempting to merge onto the road.  Or how about those idiots who know that a lane is about to close but continue to ride to the end before merging, once again affecting all the cars who have heeded the warning early and merged at a point that doesn’t slow the lane.

Attempting to merge

Now comes the dilemma: if you are on a bike dealing with these or other traffic issues, what should you do?  I’ve seen bikes ride the lane-divide lines, which I find to be extremely dangerous, for you cannot anticipate the movement of a car, especially in a heavy traffic situation.  Drivers are going to move their cars in whichever lane appears to be moving faster, which really is just a figment of their imagination.  Aside from being illegal, riding the lane divide can cause more problems than it is worth.  Of course, many of us are riding bikes that are air cooled; and if you are in traffic, there is no air cooling your bike, and, believe me, it will start to complain. So what can you do?  I have seen, and done, the move-to-the-shoulder technique.    However, this, too, can be dangerous due to potential debris on the shoulder, that and the narrowing of the shoulder over bridges and such.  Again, this maneuver is illegal but will help you get around the CARS that are causing the reduction in speed.

Motorcyclists want to be treated like every other vehicle on the road; we want to be accounted for and respected.  If we engage in actions like those mentioned above, then we reduce the level of respect we hope to gain from car drivers.  They will likely sit in their cars, shaking their heads, probably thinking we should be sitting in traffic complaining like the rest of the bunch.  We already have to deal with people failing to turn their heads before changing lanes, so let’s not add to the problem by running the lane divides or traveling the shoulder only to increase our chances of getting knocked off the bike.  I know what some of my fellow riding buddies might say, “well I gotta do what I gotta do”; and, honestly, I can relate.  I guess my point here is to avoid traffic whenever possible, so you don’t have to make a decision to do something that might get your hurt.

Lots of bikes, no congestion. Hmmmmm!!

“Posers”

Greetings all.  I had a question pop into my mind a couple of nights ago when I was watching a movie called “Wild Hogs.”  Incidentally, if you haven’t seen or heard of this movie, it is about four guys who ride motorcycles on the weekends; and as they quickly approach their midlife, they decide to take a cross-country trip from Ohio to California.  Along the way, they run into a little trouble with some “real” bikers. Overall, I think it is a good movie, but that isn’t the reason for this blog.  During the movie, one of the main characters, the real biker bad guy, refers to the foursome as “posers,” a term used to describe people who pretend to be something they are not.

Now if we look at life and all the activities that are open to us, you have those who live certain activities and those who do them. What I mean by “live” is these people fully invest themselves into a particular lifestyle.  You see this in just about everything from motorcycling, to RVing, to firefighting, to the military.

So my question is if you don’t “live” an activity does that make you a poser? I emphatically say no! Let me explain.  

If you know me, then you know that I am in the military and have been for many years, but for most of those years I’ve been a reservist.  The definition of a reservist is a person who participates in military duties one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Okay, now if you really know me, you’ve seen my schedule and know that I am required to perform my reservist duties far more often than the minimum requirement.  Even when not on duty, I am expected to perform certain tasks due to my grade and position.  Now does that mean I am “playing” Army versus the soldiers who do it for a living? Personally, I don’t think so; to point out, I am as skilled as those who serve on active duty, and I am required to do the same job as them.  The difference between a reservist and an active duty member is I have an opportunity to obtain a commercial position while simultaneously serving my country, albeit not full-time. In addition to serving in the military, I am also a volunteer firefighter.  Does this mean, then, that I am not a professional firefighter?  Hell no it doesn’t.  It simply means that I am willing to do the same job as a paid firefighter but without financial compensation; I attend official training sessions and participate in drills to keep my skills sharp–I just don’t do it every three days.

Moreover, there are people who RV full-time and there are those who do it on the weekend or whenever it is convenient for them. They are still expected, however, to adhere to the requirements involved with operating an RV; the only difference is most of the time they live in a home that is attached to a concrete foundation.  Which brings me to motorcycles: you have people who ride all the time, others who ride seasonally, and others who ride when there is a parade.  The skills necessary to obtain a permit to ride a motorcycle legally are the same for all, regardless of how much one rides.  While each rider strives to maintain the proper skills in a manner that best fits his or her busy life, every rider is expected to control his or her bike safely at all times.  Personally speaking, I typically ride seasonally, more specifically, from March to November.  In fact, I try to ride my bike whenever the weather permits, which means I am not always looking for the ideal sunny 80-degree day; on the other hand, I won’t pull out the bike if the weatherman calls for rain all day, but I don’t mind riding in the rain if the potential for it is low (30% or lower).

To emphasize, just because someone doesn’t devote all of his or her energy to an activity doesn’t suggest that he or she is a poser. The aforementioned activities are obviously open to all, and those who opt to participate in them do so in a manner that works for them.  I don’t consider these people posers, or weekend warriors, or pretenders for that matter; instead, I consider them doers.  All doers, in my view, should be congratulated on getting out and engaging themselves in something other than sitting on the couch and watching the paint peel while simultaneously feeling the width of their ass expand.

What do you think?  Do you think people are posers because they don’t devote full measure to a particular activity, and if so, why?