BALANCE

By Gerde Applethwaite

A milkman rides a motorcycle during heavy rain shower in Chandigarh

Balance is tricky and also quite basic. You’re weaving in and out of traffic on a downtown street and you have to work the bars. You’re out on the big open slab and the speed just wants to keep the bike upright. Easy.

I recently had a chance to ride two friend’s bikes. They were very different machines: one is a lightweight Honda 400 from the mid-eighties and the other is a CBR 600. My current bikes are 2 touring machines with relaxed riding positions. I have gotten used to relatively heavy bikes that are designed to be ridden all day long. Both of these other bikes were a surprise.

The 400 had loosely adjusted steering head bearing tension and I got into the first turn and the bike seemed too willing to launch into it. It felt squirrelly to me.  I talked to my friend about it and he said “that’s funny, I thought your Guzzi felt leaden.” The bearing didn’t clunk but it just felt like it needed a bit more tension in order to give the bike some steering feel. I really didn’t like riding his bike in spite of the fact that tooling about on a lightweight bike was a treat.

The 600 had low clip-ons, as you would expect. I haven’t ridden a bike that made me straddle the gas tank in a while. The barking dog riding position isn’t for me. Nothing wrong with the bike – it’s me, I’m just not a sport bike type. There was something about it though. When you are tucked in like that the balance on the bike is different and after the first half hour of riding I noticed the speedo going higher and higher. Its hard not to go fast on a bike like that. Your balance is lower and your sense of the vagaries of the bike is enhanced. You get a lot of feedback from the bars and the seat. The engine is there howling and it constantly says …come onnnnn… just a little more.

I rode a touring bike through the Alps a while back. The weather was unpredictable. One day it was warm and sunny and later the same day I was in a soaking downpour. I had planned to camp out for the whole trip but on a couple of the rainy days I found indoor accommodations. On one of the outdoor camping days I woke up in the morning and my sleeping bag was wet, I was wet – the tent found itself in a small puddle. I packed up as fast as I could so that I could find a place to go for breakfast and sort myself out. Gear just got shoved into the two panniers willy nilly.

Out on the road the bike felt bizarre. It wanted to tuck into right-handers too quickly and it seemed to balk at left-handers. I assumed it was low tire pressure and I just slowed down. At a gas stop I got some snack food and checked the air. It was fine. Finally it was really bugging me and I looked over the bike when I stopped for food. It was then that I realized that I had overloaded the right hand pannier with all of my tools and the weight balance on the bike was all screwed up. I took twenty minutes to yank stuff out of the panniers, wet tent, wet sleeping bag, wet clothing and the two tool bags and rebalance the load.

Most of the stupid stuff that I have done while motorcycling has been because I was rushing for one reason or another. I was out of balance. That sense that you are behind time and you need to to rush to get back on the road or to get across that bridge or get to that hotel is the stuff that throws you off of your center.  In hindsight what I should have done on that Alpen trip was just taken a day off and found a hotel. I was in the mountains above Nice when I woke up drenched that morning.  If I had had my wits about me I would have slowed down and decided that this would be a good time to spend a day in Nice. I have stayed in Nice off and on over the years, I even have a couple of favorite little hotels that are out of the way of the tourist parade. It would have been nothing to assemble my gear and wander down out of the mountains and regroup for a day.

As I get a bit longer in the tooth I am getting better about this. I stop riding earlier in the day. I don’t sweat the miles. I loiter over lunch longer. It has become more important to be where I am rather than rush to where I am going. I am learning.

Gerde

Talking, Texting, Eating, Jamming, Farding, Babysitting, Computing And Oh, Yeah … Driving

Big Guy82

LR-Texting-While-Driving-PSAEver notice a distracted driver – or worse yet, been one yourself?  Very rare, right?   Riiiight … right, right, right.  Here’s a few ways to be distracted while operating a four-wheeled motor vehicle (you can’t do most of this stuff on a bike):

  • Talking on the phone without using “hands free” technology – cradling the phone in the crook of your neck also counts.
  • Texting – how many “texters” do you observe during your rides?  A couple of years back, five young girls in this area were killed in a head on collision with a truck.  Care to guess what the young driver was doing?  Not much else needs to be said about this extremely dangerous habit.
  • Eating – Saturday Night Live did a skit many years ago about a new invention … the Cheeseburger Phone.  The point was everybody at the time was complaining about cell phone use while driving, but a lot of those who were complaining thought nothing about chowing down on a messy burger while driving.  So, why not talk on a phone that is disguised as a cheeseburger?  Lesson: eating while driving is OK but talking on the phone is bad.  You get the picture … eating while driving is also a very dangerous distraction.
  • Jamming – “Loud Pipes Save Lives!!!” – nonsense.  I don’t care how loud your pipes are … that kid playing music at levels that OSHA considers to be permanently damaging to human hearing can’t hear your stupid pipes, can’t hear sirens, can’t hear horns and likely does not have a clue what’s going on around him.  It is stupid.  It is illegal.  My guess is it is almost never citied by law enforcement (but they may pull you over for your loud pipes).  Even more dangerous is the fool wearing headphones.
  • Farding – stop laughing … it’s derived from the French “fard’ – meaning “make up” and it’s a term used to describe the act of applying make-up while driving.  In case you have any questions, the answer is “yes!” … this is every bit as dangerous as any other form of distracted driving.
  • Babysitting – ever notice mom turned around fiddling with baby in the back seat WHILE THE CAR IS MOVING!  No really, I see this frequently.  Junior spilled his milk, is crying, dropped his toy … whatever and momma spins around in her seat to handle the matter.  Really?  Are you kidding?  Not only is she not watching the road … she is facing the rear of the car!  No doubt she bought the best car seat she could find to protect her baby and then she does this?
  • Computing – now we’ve got “Google Glass”.  Great!  Now some dummy can concentrate on watching his favorite vampire movie instead of being bothered by paying attention to the road.  But, to be fair, the same dopes (no wait! They’re brilliant geeks!) who this technology appeals to were computing “on the go” long before this new innovation.  I remember one guy I worked with who mounted a computer on a stand next to the drivers seat so he could do “stuff” while tooling down the super highway at 80 mph.  No problems there, right?  AND, now we have “iWatch” (or whatever the piece of junk is called) so that we can text, compute, etc. while driving and the cop won’t be able to cite them because they aren’t holding a device … it’s on our wrist!  Think that’s obnoxious?  Ask a lawyer.

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I’m sure you could come up with more stupidity that you’ve observed while riding.   And while chatting about stuff like this is amusing and sometimes funny, what’s not cool is when some idiot who’s not paying attention turns you into road pizza while you’re just cruising along, enjoying life on your bike.

I just had two separate instances during the past week that brought this continuing problem to the front of my admittedly limited mind, both of which involved severely distracted cagers.  The first one had me in the passing lane on an interstate, cruising along at about 70 mph when I noticed that the guy I was passing had a cell phone tucked into the right crook of his neck and was looking down at the passenger seat.   Can you imagine that –talking and looking off the road.  Watching in my rearview after blowing by him, he kept drifting to the left – if I had been next to him during one of these “cycles”, I could have been a pile in the median ditch.  Yes, I did keep him well behind me until I exited.

The second run in was even scarier.  I was in lovely Canandaigua, NY on the four lane main street, where traffic direction is separated by a grassy divider.  The speed limit is 30 mph and the crosswalks are clearly marked with signs that say “Yield To Pedestrians”.  Seeing a man starting to cross from my left and just getting to the divider, I stopped in my lane (the left one) and he began to cross when he stopped and got a shocked look on his face.  In my mirror, I noticed a pickup truck approaching in the right lane and she had absolutely no intention of stopping.  She whizzed by me on the right without even slowing and if I had to guess, she was well over the posted limit.  Good thing she wasn’t in my lane or I would be dead.  What do you think she might have been doing?

Yes, I know all about road rage and I also know that confronting those who I call “road fools” can lead to escalation, but to me, almost killing someone is certainly a cause for discussion.  I caught up to her at the next red light, pushed up my face shield and asked her (in a calm voice) through her open window “did you see the guy in the crosswalk who I was stopped for that you almost killed?”  She looked at me with a totally surprised look on her face and simply said “no”.  What’s the sense of taking that conversation any further?  I just shook my head and rode on, hoping that maybe she learned some sort of lesson.  Bottom line is that a pedestrian and/or I could have become a statistic, simply because somebody was too involved with doing something other than driving.

What can you do about all of this?  Here’s some ideas:

  1. Don’t do any of these stupid things yourself when you are driving a car
  2. If you are in a car with someone who is doing any of these distracting things, ask them to stop doing it.  If they don’t, tell them to stop doing it.  If they still don’t stop, tell them to pull over and let you out.  Make the damn point, because if you don’t it’s very likely no one ever will.  If they are a friend, ask yourself if you need idiots like that for a friend.
  3. Put a “Look Twice – Save A Life” sign in your front yard (and anywhere else where it’s legal).  Keep reminding people that motorcycles are out there … we as bikers CANNOT do enough to make the public aware … it has to be a constant effort.
  4. In casual conversation, talk about your near misses with your cager friends.  This let’s them know the dangers very nice biker types (like you) face while simply enjoying the ride
  5. Ride defensively!  It’s still your job to protect yourself from these idiots and this includes staying well away from them when you can.
  6. Confrontation has the potential to end badly and calling 911 is useless because the offender will be long gone and not doing anything illegal by the time a cop arrives, if one is even sent to investigate.  Best advice is to use common sense when interfacing with strangers, if you choose to at all.
  7. Write to your local newspaper OpEd page about this subject and the havoc distracted driving causes every single day.  All the statistics you’ll ever need are easily found on the web.  Even if only one person has a change of heart after reading the article, you are a winner.  If we all do this at least once, think of the number of people who we will get our message to.
  8. The government and the auto industry (now largely one and the same) are starting to develop “smart cars” that drive themselves relying on the latest computer technology.  Swell … so the answer is more regulation and gadgets that will add thousands of dollars to the price of our already over priced cars, just because as a collective group, motorists can’t keep their heads out of their asses.  And, don’t forget the side benefit of even more government control and monitoring of your actions.  Not really a good answer in my opinion, but an answer nevertheless.
  9. Tell your politicians and cops that you support strict fines for distracted driving and absolutely no “warnings” – write the damn ticket.  I’m anti-regulation, but having no laws is a bad thing, Having too many laws is a bad thing but some laws are just smart things.
  10. If you are a parent and your kid gets a ticket for distracted driving, take the keys away!  A car is transportation but it can also be a weapon.  Don’t give junior the chance to use it as such.  Would you (or the state) let him continue driving if he was stopped for drunk driving?
  11. Again, if you are a parent, petition your school district to conduct a distracted driving campaign … posters, classroom instruction, educational visits by local law enforcement, etc.  You might need to get involved in the PTA or go to school board meetings to get this done, but no one ever said life was easy!  One way to get people’s attention is to get on the speaking schedule and then have a supportive law enforcement officer attend with you.  And yes – in case you’re wondering, I did this stuff when supporting local drunk driving efforts. It works.

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So, there are things you can do top put a stop to the lunacy that is distracted driving (I don’t think that’s to harsh a term considering it involves operating a couple of thousand pounds of metal at high speed in an uncontrolled manner).  Some of them take a lot of work, but your owe it to yourselves and your community to do what you can.

Drive defensively and enjoy the ride!

Shoei GT-Air Helmet is a Marvel

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A Shoei helmet with the finest features all-in-one? This is the case with the Shoei GT-Air Helmet. Years of research, product development and feedback have culminated in a lid that encompasses the best qualities of Shoei’s Qwest, Neotec, and RF-1200 yielding the all new Shoei GT-Air Helmet, essentially any rider’s dream come true.

Shoei GT-Air Cog – TC-9

The motors are turning and the engines are ready for the new Shoei GT- Air Cog to be on the road. The graphics will add a nice spark and amplify your full throttle ride.

Shoei GT-Air Grandeur – TC-6

The Shoei GT-Air Grandeur gives the rider wings to fly with the wind like an angel. The light visual adds an elegant touch for any ride.

Shoei GT-Air Revive – TC-5

The Shoei GT-Air Revive is a reborn legend with its mythical design of a phoenix. Ride through your deep, dark fantasy with this new helmet.

These new graphics for the GT-Air give an epic addition to portray your thrill seeking ride. With the top-notch complex features and amazing designs, you can ride in style and like a legend with these new helmets!

 

 

 

 

 

Shoei Releases Graffiti, Terminus, Brigand & Cruise Designs for the RF-1200 Helmet

Today we stand in awe of Shoei helmets who once again has amazed us with their incredible new graphic designs. Whether you crave forbidding skeletons or a classic throw back to 1950′s style, there is something here for everyone. And the best part is that these awesome graphics are sitting on one of Shoei’s all-time best helmets, the RF-1200. Pre-order yours today!

Shoei RF-1200 Brigand – TC-5

With a matte finish that feels smooth to the touch and a perfectly cryptic skeletal design, the RF-1200 Brigand will add some toughness to your ride.

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Shoei RF-1200 Cruise – TC-1

A gorgeous nod to Shoei’s inception in 1959, the cruise represents the era of taking the time to enjoy the ride. With classic lines and incredible detail and color, the RF-1200 Cruise is perfect for those who love classic looks from the past.

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Shoei RF-1200 Graffiti – TC-6

Make your mark with this one! The RF-1200 Graffiti is an amazing representation of tagging in brilliant colors and realistic sprays and drips.

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Shoei RF-1200 Terminus – TC-9

Shoei has mastered the art of covering a matte finish with texturized design that will blow your mind! The RF-1200 Terminus is no exception. WIth checkered sections and gold tone fade, this lid will spice up any ride!

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Common Sense vs. No Sense

Guest Writer: Big Guy 82

A few weeks back, I was picking up my new Gold Wing.  While waiting for the obligatory paperwork to be processed, I went over to the parts counter to spend even more money on a new bike that had not yet been delivered.  In my opinion, this is perfectly normal behavior.

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I waited patiently while a young woman ordered some parts for her bike.   While there, she started explaining to the person at the counter why she needed the parts, which involved two (count ‘em, TWO) accidents in one day.  Now really, you just can’t make stuff like that up, so as she walked away, I turned and told her I didn’t want to be nosy, but I was very curious how she became involved in two motorcycle accidents in one day.

She proceeded to tell me about the accidents, both involving her falling off the bike, while “learning to ride” (in traffic no less) from her boyfriend.  Since her forearm was bandaged and she had a bit of a limp, I asked her if she was wearing protective clothing when it happened … you guessed it … no (other than the helmet that is mandatory in the state of New York).  I then asked how much time she had on a motorcycle and she told me that this happened on her FIRST DAY out … like I said, you just can’t make dumb stuff like this up.  Apparently, her boyfriend took her to a parking lot for a while and then out on the road they went. The very best part is that after arguably putting her life at risk, this guy actually sent her to the dealer to buy the repagirl-on-motorcycle-wallpapers007ir parts!  At least he didn’t make her ride the bike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, normally, I really do mind my own business, but I kind of thought that this could actually be a life/death situation, so I asked the woman if she had considered taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation safety course.  She said no and I got the impression that she didn’t really know much about it.  I told her that when she completed this brief course, she would come away with enough skills to safely control a motorcycle.  I also told her I was an experienced rider and I highly suggested that she take the course for her own safety.  The counter guy even piped up in support.  Certainly, none of this was my “business”, but I took some comfort in knowing I may have saved her some pain or worse.

This woman and her boyfriend are just two of many riders who are on motorcycles and don’t really have a clue about how to control the damn thing.  They get a license by riding around with a friend or relative who may be just as clueless as they are, then they take a cursory road test (only if required by their state) and then off they go.  At this point, they have a huge chance of becoming an unfavorable statistic.  Their ignorance causes injury to themselves, endangers others and puts all motorcycle riders in an unfavorable light.

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Since I am anti-mandatory on most things, what is the point of this little tale?  To suggest that you encourage those new (and maybe not so new) riders you know or meet to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.

Why?  To help them stay healthy and to help maintain a more favorable image of motorcyclists in general.

Ride safe.

Big Guy 82

Scorpion EXO-R2000 Masbou

Alexis Masbou, who recently finished third in the Moto3 German Grand Prix, is one of the latest and greatest to have a helmet customized in his honor. Scorpion fashioned their EXO-R200 with splendid colors and a unique phoenix graphic giving an overall aggressive helmet for the French rider. See what Scorpion has to say about the EXO-R2000 Masbou.

“Designed and developed with Moto3 star Alexis Masbou, the EXO-R2000 is Scorpionís flagship performance race helmet. Built with exclusive TCT® composite shell construction, the lightweight EXO-R2000 was developed by Scorpion engineers with input from MotoGP™ riders and tested on the track as well as in the lab. Scorpionís exclusive Ellip-Tec™ ratchet technology ensures a tight seal around the shield while the advanced aero-tuned ventilation system produces generous airflow and circulation throughout the helmet. The aerodynamically designed tear-drop shell shape minimizes buffeting at high speeds and the AirFit® cheekpad system ensures a custom snug fit. The EXO-R2000 comes equipped with Emergency Release cheek pads, a standard EverClear® shield PLUS a bonus Dark Smoke EverClear® shield. Pinlock® MaxVision®-ready flat shields with tearoff posts are available as an accessory for the track. Scorpionís DNA is infused into every facet of the EXO-R2000 and the result is a new benchmark for quality and value in a premium helmet.”

Scorpion EXO-R2000 Masbou - Black/Red

EXO-R2000 MASBOU SS

Masbou radiates with potential and we wish him the best of luck as he continues the season.

Wherever your head’s at, we’ve got it covered.

-Helmet City

The Great Summer Lane Splitting Confustication and BBQ

By Gerde Applethwaite

Shorter: Things is hottin’ up in the old Cali corral when it comes to lane splitting. Let’s try to sort it out a bit.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back out onto the freeway and ride the dashed white lines it turns out that the California Highway Patrol has had something of a change of spirit when it comes to lane splitting. Someone filed a legal action that contends that the CHP’s (now prior) stance was tantamount to legally condoning lane splitting.  As a consequence of this action the CHP has pulled its lane splitting guidelines and effectively 404′d their position on the CHP home site.

laneIs lane splitting now legal in California? Yes, but many in California seem to believe that it is in a limbo state where it is neither legal nor illegal – just uncodified. Previously there was a bill introduced in the state that would have made splitting illegal.  SB350 never made it into law and lane splitting, thankfully, continued to remain a legal practice. There is a website that helps sort this out and it is ever more useful now that the CHP’s own site has disappeared its previous position.

Surj Gish has done a commendable job of putting together a website dedicated to making sense of the lane splitting fight (note: much of the information for this post comes from his site.)  The mother ship for lane splitting info is called <lanesplittingislegal.com> The site is well done and filled with information that makes a convincing case for lane splitting. The AMA (yes, the motorcyclists not the doctors) has taken a stand on lane splitting as well. Check out the AMA site.

The CHP’s most recent position on lane splitting, until this most recent shift in attitude, was written circa 2012 and is as follows:

1) Lane splitting by motorcycles is not illegal in California when done in a safe and prudent manner.

2) Motorists should not take it upon themselves to discourage motorcyclists from lane splitting.

3) Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to a rider is illegal (CVC 22400.)

4) Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist is illegal (CVC 22517.)

5) Never drive while distracted

6) You can keep motorcyclists and all road users safe by:

A) Checking mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning.

B) Signaling your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.

C) Allowing more following distance, 3 or 4 seconds, when behind a motorcycle so the               motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

All of this has been yanked from the CHP site as a direct consequence of this legal action – we are now in a state of minor confusion, again.

lane-splittingMe, I am much in favor of the splitting of lanes when done with a modicum of prudence. I have, for years, minded the gap on both the Bay Bridge and also with the stalled traffic before the yawping mouth of the Caldecott Tunnel.  When traffic slows to a crawl I split lanes rather than sitting there waiting for my air cooled Guzzi to overheat.  I do not split when traffic is rolling at anything more than, say, 20 mph.

My favorite lane splitting moment (yes, I have a favorite) was on a trip from Amsterdam to Prague. When you leave Dresden you enter the mountains and forested winding roads; It is good bike riding country. When you get some few kilometers from the border of the Czech Republic the traffic backs up to a dead stop – I mean a dead stop, like the L.I.E. on the way to Jones Beach on a summer Saturday morning – dead stop. Lane splitting through 6 kilometers of hobbled traffic to get to the border checkpoint is heaven in a can. Nobody in the line of cars freaks out, shakes their fists or opens their car doors in a homicidal blocking maneuver – none of that, but you come back home though and my god there is a nutball on every 3rd commute.

Something happens to a lot of folks once they get into the car. The big mobile container of glass and steel becomes The-Box-of-Privilege.  Folks who would never scream at someone when they stride past them on the sidewalk seem to have no compunction about unleashing a torrent of crazy-ass spew at motorcyclists on the roadway. Folks (thankfully the rare ones) who would normally never physically assault someone in boots and a leather jacket when they amble by them, pushing their shopping carts in the box store parking lot, seem to revel in the fantasy or the act of obstructing a motorcyclist by dooring or faux-dooring her.  There is yet one more technique employed by the angry, privileged cager to keep those bikers from getting past.  It is the squeeze play.  The cager spies in the rear view a lane splitter coming up on them and they steer their car over toward the edge of the lane to block the bike’s path. Now you have a scenario where a petulant locked-down cager has an angry biker directly behind them. What sort of lunatic finds satisfaction in this?

The-Box-of-Privilege makes this possible. You are secure in your bubble of steel and glass and this will accommodate all manner of Hyde-like behavior. I went to a barbeque in Santa Monica recently and those in attendance were a mixed bag of motorcyclists and also cage drivers who had limited or no moto experience. It becomes bizarre to hear some of the ice cube rattling umbrage taken by (a percentage of) cage drivers once they are tanked up on a couple of early afternoon citrusy vodkas. They rail and mumble against lane splitting bikers on their freeways.  Underlying it all is the sense that someone is getting ahead of you; you wouldn’t let them cut in line at the store why would you let them cut in line on the freeway? Madness, its all madness. No one on a bike is getting something that you could have had but for the fact that the biker cut in line. There is no limited-amount prize booth at the end of your commute. The lane splitting biker will neither speed nor slow your progress to the job or to your home. Let them go. Let them go. Listen you crazy %*#holes, just say  “¡Vaya Con Dios!”  Let them go.

The public in my home state needs to know that lane splitting is legal here and they also need to know that motorcyclists are allowed to use the H.O.V. lanes. The education on these things is woefully lacking. The current retreat by the CHP on lane splitting only serves to muddy the waters… or uh, fog up the face shield… or uh… wait, I got one…. uhm.

Yes, alright, it doesn’t help that there are idiots on bikes too. Some pillock who goes flying by at a breakneck pace while threading the needle between decently moving cars does nothing to sell the lane splitting product. Once while heading uphill on highway 4 toward Pittsburg, CA (while in my Pickup-Truck-of-Privilege) I witnessed a guy on a chopper lane splitting at a demonic rate of speed. He came up on us pretty fast and never made it beyond the cab of the big rig truck just ahead of me and one lane over. He caromed off of the truck and into the car adjacent… and back again… and wound up on the ground with his left leg twisted agonizingly in a manner that screamed “Ninety days in a cast, Vicodin and some nice titanium pins to boot.” It happens. Individual vignettes like this do not represent the whole.

As time goes on things will change and California will not be the only state at the forefront of lane splitting rights.  The lack of understanding of lane splitting’s common sense amongst the cage driving public needs to be repaired. Gish is going a long way in that regard. Go to his site and follow the links, talk to your neighbors at the next barbeque and see if you can come to some brighter understanding with them about lane splitting. I’ll have a dirty martini – i’m not driving.

Gerde

THE MAD COW ON TOUR

By Gerde Applethwaite

I stepped out of my front door and did an immediate double take … and then another. Not forty feet away, across the street was something that was part Ghost Rider, part Jurassic Park and part Ray Harryhausen. It was quite simply the skeleton of a cow draped over a motorcycle. I had every sense that this was real because my hallucinations just don’t run this way.  I had spied Billie G. Lynn’s extraordinary “Mad Cow Motorcycle Project.”

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Billie is a sculptor on a summer tour with this project. To date she has made her way from Florida to the West Coast to eventually loop back home. She draws a crowd whenever she stops – whether she is astride the cow skeleton creation or when it is trailered behind her truck. The massive skull of the cow sits out front where the headlight nacelle would be and serves as something of a maidenhead on the scariest pirate ship ever – or maybe another decorative fillip on one of the Reever ships from Firefly (bet that takes you back, huh?) The skull is the first thing to breach the wind as the Mad Cow comes up on you – small headlights to its left and right. Yes, its eery and weird and nearly impossible to take your eyes from: It must be doubly spooky at night. The pictures on Billie’s website do not do it justice. <madcowcycles.com> Go to her Facebook page and follow the adventure and the documentary in the making <https://www.facebook.com/MadCowCycles>

Billie is sprightly, bright-eyed and clever. Two minutes with her and you understand the mission of the summer tour and the reason for the Mad Cow Motorcycle. She revels in telling one and all what she’s up to.  Billie is (as am I) a vegan and the project is designed to inform as many people as possible of the dangers of eating meat both for their personal health and for that of the planet. Take a look at the info on her site and follow some of the links. It is eye opening stuff…. ohh, and some links will take you to excellent vegan recipes.  At its core is her attempt to “spread the word about factory farming and encourage people across the country to eat less meat.” Worthy goals as far as I am concerned and if it takes the nightmare vision of a ghost cow made of bone and steel to get your attention then so be it.

The bike itself was fabbed from the ground up (pictures on the site) with an assist from a friend named Sam Coleman.  At it’s heart is an 18 horsepower Kubota diesel engine. The engine runs on vegie oil diesel fuel that she has the ability to process on the road. This effectively means that the only reason she has to stop at a burger joint is to get some fuel for the Mad Cow. It also means that her smog output from the tail pipe is substantially reduced. The engine outputs directly to a right angle gearbox with a wide belt drive sprocket on it. The belt then loops over to a transmission and finally a chain from the trany to the rear wheel. The rear tire is a modern, low, fat tire; the front is guided by an old school leading-link springer fork setup reminiscent of the best of choppers. The taillight looks to be a bullet type off of an old big fin caddy from the fifties flanked by two very small LED turn signals.

I won’t go into detail about the cow skeleton – just look at the pictures – it beggars description. If you see Billie while she is out on her adventure give her a big howdy – go up and say hello. She is completely friendly and approachable – only the bike is scary. Meanwhile give the Facebook page a look see.

Gerde

Adventure is in the Air

We’re here to tell you about the latest and greatest that Klim has to offer. Taking a note from the Adventure Rally Jacket, Klim has gone to the next level to bring the new and improved Adventure Rally Air Jacket. Now more adaptable, breathable and indestructible than before; the Adventure Rally Air Jacket is designed for all weather conditions in any season. Most notably, it is built to withstand the heat making it more than suitable for hot riding conditions all over the world. Let’s take a look at the construction that gives way to its functionality.

  • heavy duty Kevlar mesh with Superfabric overlays gives ultra ventilation and ultra tear and abrasion resistance
  • adjustable internal harness disburses weight evenly and reduces overall heat
  • shoulder, elbow and back padding is bomb proof and absorbs impact energy
  • D30 Xergo shoulder and elbow pads offer protection across extreme temperature whilst remaining flexible and breathable
  • D30 Viper Pro back pad is the ultimate D30 back protector with breathable and flexible Airwave Technology
  • ample cargo space includes a hydration compartment with a 3L bladder, a side hip compartment with easy access while riding and a lower back compartment.

 

 

With all the spectacular features that the Adventure Rally Air Jacket boasts, there’s one more that is worth mentioning. While this jacket is optimal in very hot weather conditions, it is adaptable to colder temperatures or evening riding simply by throwing on the Klim Gore-Tex Over-Shell Jacket. Despite the name, the Over-Shell Jacket is small, compact and portable enough for daily storage. The Gore-Tex construction is a three layer fabric that creates a water and wind-proof barrier backed by a GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY waterproof and breathable layer. There is also various reflective panels for increased night time visibility.

Klim continues to set the bar with both the Adventure Rally Air and the Gore-Tex Over-Shell Jackets. The Adventure Rally Air alone is a superb jacket, but with the Gore-Tex Over-Shell it is a truly superior jacket for all riders in all conditions.

Two Dummies and An Innocent Passenger

BigGuy82

opening-summer-cocktail-umbrella-ss

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I rented a Harley Ultra for my wife and I to tour Oahu on.  Not a bad ride, but certainly not as maneuverable as my Triumph Thunderbird 1600 ABS.  During my ride, I wanted to visit the Punchbowl National Cemetery so off we went.  Enjoying the ride, I missed the turn and found myself going up a very challenging road (at least for a Harley) on a major hill named Tantalus.  It wasn’t too long before I was negotiating the hairpins on a large Harley with a passenger and since I was already well into this, I decided to push on rather than turn the monster around on a narrow winding road.  All seemed to be going quite well.

Well into the journey, I came upon a left hand hairpin curve.  To the right, there was a car pulled over against the guardrail … the driver was sightseeing at a non-sightseeing curve.  Between the edge of the road and the guardrail, there was a 2 -3 foot strip of grass.  I slowed and as I approached, the dummy in the car put it in reverse then threw it into drive and pulled out in front of me.  Not able to go into a blind left hand hairpin curve, I opted for the right.  I narrowly missed the ass end of his car but was headed towards the edge of the pavement.  The big Harley barely caught the edge, slipped off and tipped, jamming itself between the roadway and the guardrail.  We both hit the pavement, but I was moving so slowly at that point (under 5 mph), there was no road rash at all.  Unfortunately, my wife’s left leg took the brunt of the weight and she ended up with a torn ACL.  The bike only suffered minor scratches on the left saddlebag.

cagers

A minute later, the guy who pulled out in front of me must have seen us lying in the road and he stopped and backed up.  His first question was “Are you alright?”.  His first statement was “I didn’t see you”, which is just another way of saying “I wasn’t looking”.  Stupid, dumb cager!  Of course, there was another dummy involved in this preventable accident … me.

Here are the things that I could have done to avoid this, proving that a lot of experience does not always translate into ongoing common sense:

 

  • On a new bike (to me) I should not have been on such a challenging road.  I should have paid attention to where I was, not missed my turn and therefore avoided Tantalus all together.
  • Once on the road, I did the right thing and took my time, so I wasn’t trying to emulate riding The Dragon one up on a crotch rocket.  However, when I saw the driver who was illegally pulled to the side of the road put his car in reverse, I should not have slowed … I should have stopped.
  • Finally, as I played this back in my mind (over and over), I realize that as soon as I knew I was headed towards the rail, I FOCUSED ON WHERE THE BIKE WAS GOING, NOT WHERE I WANTED IT TO GO.  This is so basic and I have been doing it correctly for years.  However, in a tight situation, your brain has a mind of it’s own (get it?) and unless you fight it, it will take over.

So, the moral of this story … no matter how experienced you are and no matter how good you think you are, you really do need to practice the basics from time to time.  In this case, I have been really focusing on looking where I want to go, even though this is normally an automatic reflex.  I am, in a way, reinforcing the “muscle memory” in my admittedly weak brain.  At the end of the day, we were very lucky and the silver lining is that this will make me an even better rider.

PS – another silver lining here … I was so depressed about this accident, I had to go out and buy a new 2014 Gold Wing :)

BigGuy82