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Posts tagged “motorcycle safety

Getting Some in the Afternoon

When do you like to do it? Do you have a favorite time or day? For a lot of folks it is early in the morning on the weekend. I have found that I enjoy it most as an afternoon delight. Take a Thursday around 3:30 PM; most folks are locked into their daily grind. While they hustle to get all the work done before the whistle blows, it is a perfect time for me to get oceans of motion going. John Lennon had it so right with the simple lyrical question: “why don’t we do it in the road?”

Tell me do you have a favorite partner to do it with? I do. This week I decided to get a certain passionate play friend of mine naked. I spent part of the morning slowly stripping her down, teasing off layers that concealed her inner beauty. Then I spent some time rubbing on her gently, massaging some lotions on her skin and getting her all oiled up. I stood back and admired her standing there in the middle of my garage naked as a jaybird. Her graceful curves and ample lungs exposed for the entire world to see. As my senses of passion and desire rose to a thundering roar, I knew it was time to have at it.

I donned my favorite black leathers. Since I was headed for some real kinky stuff this was only prudent. I keyed the garage door opener and listened to the groan of the steel rising. I slid my leg over her and settled my weight onto her inviting form. A smile crossed my face as I inserted my key and she leaped to life. I felt her tremble under me as I kicked her into gear and twisted the wick. In the wink of an eye we were off into paradise. God I love this bike!

The bike in question is a 2000 Buell ST3, which translates into a Sport-Touring Thunderbolt. It is the least aggressive Buell in terms of riding position, with the most powerful motor offered in its model year. At 101 HP and 90 ft-lbs of torque and a dry weight of 450 lbs (stripped of it’s bags and lowers) it is a joy to tear-up back roads with. I simply love to ride this bike in the mountains. If I can make time to escape the office during the week, it is my afternoon delight.Buell

I had decided to strip her down since this is the bike I am going to use for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Advanced Rider Course (ARC) that I am going to schedule in a few weeks. While those bags and fairing lowers don’t encumber the bike’s back roads manners and are darn good for touring or grocery shopping; I don’t want to have them on the bike if I have an oophs during class. I have taken several MSF Experienced Rider Course (ERC) courses over the years on various motorcycles and don’t have any oops that I can remember (age is great for the memory.) Still I know that this bike lends itself to aggressive riding and I want to save the bags for traveling.

I am really looking forward to doing the MSF ARC with this bike. It has been with me since midyear 1999 and I took an MSF ERC with it a few years ago. I have wanted to take the ARC but these past few years sure have been busy, well better late than never.   The ARC is a good way to get really comfortable with a machine and explore its limits in a controlled environment under the careful scrutiny of expert riders and instructors. It is like building a house on a solid foundation, it lasts longer and provides more security. The ARC will form the foundation of fresh knowledge for the ongoing process of practicing riding skills.

Let me tell you, well-practiced riding skills are worth their weight in gold. Even the midweek afternoon mountain roads devoid of almost all traffic are still rife with hazards. Whether it is gravel washed across a blind curve or small furry critters darting from the undergrowth, to the occasional crazed rooster wandering down the road, you need to be in total control. And yes there always will be the minivans filled with screaming children, piloted by multitasking parental units that seem to be on a seek and destroy mission with you as the target. I intend to be ready for it all.

All I have to do now is get the new tires mounted and scuffed in before the class weekend. I will tell you how my ARC goes in an upcoming blog post. But I can tell you now that after today’s ride; I think I might just keep this bike naked.


Cheap Flashlights

Long ago at a hardware store far, far away, I made an impulse purchase—a package of three flashlights at an incredible price. They even included brand-name batteries. I should have known better. Within a short time, the big D-cell flashlight dismantled itself at a less-than-opportune time, and shortly afterward the mid-sized C-cell flashlight failed me, too. While it remained intact in an outward sense, the little parts that comprised the switch went awry. Was the Prince of Darkness in the flashlight business now? These were even less dependable than the Lucas electrics on vintage Brit bikes. As the old axiom goes, you get what you pay for.

As another saying goes, burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me. I wasn’t getting burned a third time, and so the third flashlight was consigned to the junk drawer. Eventually, two household moves ago, it went into a box along with the rest of that drawer full of odd parts, wiring bits, loose screws, and other little items that seem to have no apparent use. How could a self-respecting biker discard those bits and pieces? Someday, out of that pile, I might pull the critical part to save the world, or at least return a bike to the road.

I also swore off those evil impulse purchases (well, at least when it came to flashlights) and proceeded to buy an indestructible, variable-focus, anodized aluminum flashlight for every bike I own. I even decked them out with carabineers so I could hang them from the bike for hands-free lighting during roadside service sessions. All was good with the world, darkness was forever banished, and time marched on.

A few months back I made a valiant effort to clear some space in the garage for a new riding mower. I unpacked a-dozen-plus boxes that I had moved unopened twice, and after wasting my time sorting through them, all I could save were a few odd fuses and a small AA flashlight. The batteries in it were still good, so I tossed it into the glove box of my truck and forgot about it.

Two days ago, I was out running some errands on a fine spring day with my dog Buddy and my truck. Like all dogs and bikers, Buddy likes the feel of the wind on his face and so, after sunset, when we encountered some road construction and a big traffic jam, I dodged off at the exit and decided to give Buddy a ride along the river road. This slower route would bypass all the traffic, keep us moving, and give Buddy a wide range of interesting things to sniff at out the window.

A short way from town in a deserted industrial area, I spotted an older touring bike on the side of the road. It had its flashers on and the rider was peering at the motor in the darkness. I pulled in behind it, put on my four-ways and high beams to illuminate the situation, and hopped out to see if I could help. Seems he had a fuel-delivery related problem, as the bike had been recently serviced for this very same issue. His garage couldn’t come and pick it up, but with some cell-phone advice from his mechanic and the flashlight from my truck, we figured a way to get the bike to run. I followed him as he limped to an open service station at the edge of town where there was light, fresh fuel, and he could be safely off that dark windy road while he sorted out his machine.

He was very thankful for my help and tried to offer me something as a thank you. I politely declined, asking instead that he pass the help along and stop for another stranded biker. He assured me he wasn’t far from home and expected the fresh fuel would make a big improvement. As I got into the truck and started to put the flashlight back into the glove box, I realized he needed it more than I did. I handed it to him out the window and drove off into the night.

Yesterday I bought one of those fancy flashlights for my truck as a replacement. While in the hardware store, I remembered just where that flashlight I gave away came from—it was bought on impulse at another hardware store long ago. Maybe, in this case, I did get more than I paid for. I think I will add one of those cheap flashlights to each vehicle I own; they do have a value, after all.


Rock, Paper, Scissors

I am sure all of you know that old childhood game: Rock, Paper, Scissors. Unless I am mistaken, there was even an adult version that was a reality TV show with a Las Vegas finale and a large cash prize. For those of you who either had a deprived childhood or have lost too many brain cells to remember, the game goes like this—two players face each other and each makes a fist. Then they raise and lower their fists three times, and on three they throw their choice of rock, paper, or scissors. Rock is a fist, paper a flat hand, and scissors a pair of fingers held in a V shape. The rules are simple: rock breaks scissors, paper covers rock, and scissors cut paper. It is a fair game; anyone can win just so long as the opponent happens to choose the weaker option. Often this game is use by children to decide the outcome of some issue that is not readily resolved by consensus, like who gets the good player on their team, or who get to go first.

Well, I have a feeling that some so-called adults have invented a new version of this game, one that can be played to deadly consequences, and often for things of equally little value as who goes first. I have seen it played on roads all over the country, even in my polite, peaceful mountain home. Fortunately, I have not seen it played to the death or even major injury, but I have heard the stories of folks hospitalized for months or, worse, killed. I must admit that I too have succumbed to the temptation to play, though fortunately with no harm to anyone, aside from the psychic shock of knowing I just did something stupid that could have gotten me killed. Heck, as I look back to my earlier days of riding a motorcycle in New York City, I remember being a master at the game; the fact that I am here to write this proves that I was undefeated. However, ask any child—no one remains undefeated at Rock, Paper, Scissors forever; sooner or later winners become losers. In my case, I can only believe that it is simply by the grace of God that I stopped playing before I lost.

In the new game played on our highways and byways, the issues being decided are never worth the consequences, especially to the loser. For the winner the price of victory can often be cheap, even when the loser has lost his or her life. The rewards for winning can only be valued by folks with a twisted value system, in my humble opinion. The game has at least three choices for the players: truck, car, motorcycle, though sometimes you can add bicycles or mopeds. The game is played for high stakes, as in life or death, yet the players never see that until it is too late. The method of play varies according to the players, the road, and the momentary object in contention, but it always seems to start with a few basic mindsets on the part of the initiator—selfishness, disrespect, and maliciousness. In reality it is not a game at all, but it is truly childish to engage in it.

It could be a bicycle hogging a whole lane on a twisty mountain road, forcing a motorcyclist to cross the double yellow to pass, or a motorcycle recklessly disregarding that same yellow line to pass a car. A car and tractor-trailer playing tag, endless passing each other just so they can be “first” on the highway, or a pickup truck and sports car weaving in and out of crowded traffic to avenge some perceived affront to their man- or womanhood. The examples are endless in their mutations, yet they all have a common thread: they are ignorant, the road is not a school playground, and road users are supposed to be adults. While we can work with the American Motorcyclist Association to pursue the Justice For All Campaign—designed to make drivers responsible for injuring or killing others—there are a few things that will not change. Roadway confrontations are not a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors because there will always be the inherent unfairness of size. It goes like this: truck crushes car, car flattens motorcycle, motorcycle smashes bicycle. It is not a game, folks, so while we wage the good war to pass better laws and hopefully train better drivers, I would like to offer some sage advice, given to me by a highway patrolman in lieu of a ticket. Let the idiot who wants to play games go, slow down, turn off the road, take an alternate route, don’t ever pull over to “talk it out.” If they follow you, head to a place with lots of witnesses, or better yet to the local police station. The only way to win in this game is to not play. Ride Safe out there so you can ride another day.

http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/Resources/JusticeForAll.aspx