Sunday, October 30, 2005

Slightly off-track..unlike Hurricane Wilma

This post really isn't motorcycle related, especially as the only riding being done right now is more to save gas rather than for the thrill. No, this post is a quick review of South Florida's recovery, as well as mine, from Hurricane Wilma.

Before this rant starts please don't get me wrong. I'm happy we all came through unhurt, I understand there's still pain and suffering in New Orleans and I can't even imagine being in Cozumel. None of this takes away from trying to live the life as you know it under tough circumstances.

Nearly a week has passed since Hurricane Wilma came through South Florida in all her intensity with the resulting devastation. It was a time spent without power, scrounging for ice and gas, as well as living with mixed emotions of expectations, worry and extreme, mind-dulling boredom. Emotionally there's been a mix of expectations of the power returning, worry from an unknown tomorrow and the boredom occupying your long, quiet days finding things to do.

The Storm
Having been out of the media loop for a week I'm not sure whether it was ever made official but Wilma was said to have been the worse storm to hit Broward County in over fifty years. No matter where you look the severe and unrelentless damage comfirms this. Even though you knew during the hurricane that this wasn't like anything before, certainly in the eight years I've lived here, it didn't prepare you for the devastation at every turn.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. Unlike Katrina that brought definite warnings about it's severity, Wilma was going to come ashore on the west coast of Florida as a Hurricane catagory two and by the time it reached the middle, she would lose energy and dissipate to a catagory one or even tropical storm winds. No problem, we handle those four or five times a year.

But then something happened. As with all bad things, it happened quickly and in a blur. As quickly as the weather men could report it the storm would grow, not just in intensity but it size with the eye getting as big as Broward County itself. Contrary to all projections, not only did it come further north and hit Broward County dead on but with the force of a catagory three. Travelling across the state in the opposite direction of all the previous hurricanes it felt different as far as wind direction and surge expectations right from the start, but the actual length of the event from the feeder bands of high wind and rain arriving until the actual hurricane came and went, it was a long and nerve-racking time.

The Aftermath
I moved all the crucial stuff to my girlfriends place and readied to ride out the storm there since she never lost power in previous hurricanes, except for an occassional flicker. Even though the bright explosions of the transformers blowing along the street made me doubt when the power would come back on, I put my expectation at having lights by nightfall or most certainly by lunchtime the next day. You see, my girlfriend lives between Fort Lauderdale's municipal buildings and some hospitals, both up high on FPL's magical list.

Or so we thought.

The problem facing everyone without power by the afternoon of the first day was the melting ice and consequently losing any frozen food. Whether it was that they didn't buy any before the hurricane or realized it was an upcoming need, people started to line up at the Points Of Distribution (PODs to those in the know) for ice and water. The lines seemed to stretch for miles, of course bear in mind I was listening to television reports on my battery driven radio. With all the fury of the hurricane that'd preceeded it, the scandal of FEMA was being reborn here in South Florida. Not all the supplies were making it to the PODS or hours later if they did, leaving the masses waiting on promise after promise that the trucks were on the way. Reporters had a field day, local politicians pointed fingers and frustrated police sat around waiting to escort the emrgency supplies to the different distribution points. One of the few silver linings was the luxury of cool weather in the seventies with no humidity thanks to the same system that created such a monsterous hurricane in a small amount of time to begin with.

It's not until times like these that you realize how everything is connected to electricity.

You can't just go down to the local store and buy ice, so your only choice is to wait in line for FEMA distribution. If you take your car, a fifteen minute trip is now nearly an hour with the lack of working traffic lights making each intersection a long four-way stop and debris reducing three lane roads down to one. Don't use too much gas though, without electricity only one in a hundred gas stations are open, creating lines longer than those at the PODS, if thats at all possible.

Unlike Katrina, who seemed to hit only the poor or forgotten part of our society, Wilma was the ultimate vehicle for affirmative action, not only indifferent to race but didn't care about your wealth either. Expensive downtown condominiums had windows blown out as equally as more humble homes some social zones away. Driving past the gas lines brand new Jaguars sit bumper to bumper with Camrys decades old where regardless of what's in a persons pocket or their net worth may be, everyone's limited to twenty dollars of gas.

Lenin, your utopia lives and breathes in Broward among the remains of Wilma.

Still thinking power was only hours away, I elected not to jump in any of the lines and felt my half tank of gas would be just fine until everything got up and running again. Once enough time had passed for what was needed to get the major debris out of the road I decided to head up to my place to see how it faired.

This is when the devastation hit me. Wilma truly was unlike anything that'd come before. Even with Andrew the area that was impacted was contained, but I knew from listening to the radio that what I was seeing had occured in the counties north and south of Broward, not even thinking about the west coast of Florida.

She picked apart everything. Huge canopies three car lengths long that hung over the entrances of stores were ripped off and thrown to the other side of the street. Lamposts lie in the road one after the other, knocked down, perfectly aligned where they fell. Trees that had withstood all the storms before broke, fell or even looked like dynamite had been placed in the trunk ten feet off the ground splintering everything outward when it was detonated. With the trees being as tall as sixty feet entire roads were nearly blocked. Poles holding transformers lay on the ground too, wires winding anywhere they fell giving an ominous sign of when electricty would really be coming back. It's not that these things fell that was stunning, but that they were still there hours later meaning the people that normally clean them up are off doing more important things. Not a good sign.

A favorite bar and what some would consider a landmark had the front complete smashed in and Wilma renamed it from Mai-Kai to Ai-Ka with her windy fingers. It was rare to see any of the large plastic box displays that sit in front of business or on poles, intact. The lucky ones still had the pole and metal frame intact, less fortunate were bent or thrown hundreds of yards away. The ornate plastic that lit the businesses names colorfully was nowhere to be seen. Office buildings some twenty stories high had entire sides where all of the glass was blown out. A large object crashed through the window of a Rolls Royce dealership and onto a classic model. A stretch limo flipped like a toy car in a childs sandbox.

We all see this kind of damage on TV when a tornado or hurricane strikes somewhere, but unlike anything before, this was constant over three counties. Not just one tree for neighbors to come and look at but numbers of them, everywhere you looked ripped apart by Wilma.

As I drove into my complex anticipation grew at the sight of trees and roof tiles littering the road, crackling under my tires with each sound threatening a puncture. We'd lost a lot of tree's in the last hurricane and obviously the surviving one weren't strong enough to withstand Wilma. Fortunately my place was okay and without power of course. My biking buddy wasn't so lucky with a tree falling on his truck and an even larger tree thankfully falling harmlessly into the street. I was on my second beer wiht him and the crowd that had congregated at his house when someone mentioned the seven o'clock curfew. Looked like I was bedding down there for the night! Without the worries of ice, gas and what was going on out in the real world, the night was full of drinking, barbeques and card games.

The rest of the week wasn't as much fun though. The growing realization that power was an unknown amount of time away, the lines at stations growing longer as the gas in my tank was getting smaller and ice still something that couldn't be bought but given after waiting in long lines. The day started with a cold shower and only the search for supplies broke up an incredibly boring day. The night ended in bed at around 9pm, after all how much reading can you do by candlelight.

Frustration came with the head of FEMA and Govenor Bush saying the public should've been better prepared and not relied on handouts as much. Two things can be said to that. I'm sorry I can't make ice last longer than is physically possible and if everyone had bought enough to survive this long, well there wasn't enough food in all the stores to handle the need before the storm.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy we all came through unhurt, I understand there's still pain and suffering in New Orleans and I can't even imagine being in Cozumel. None of this takes away from trying to live the life as you know it under tough circumstances.

Getting back to Normal
Even though I had my back up plan of the three quarters of a tank in my Deuce, a rather short gas line of only thirty-five minutes had my girlfriends tank filled and we ran back with my car to fill it up at the same station.

As much as I wanted to get out on the bike, motorists are treating non-powered intersections as four-way stops, that is when they remember to! Theres the ever present danger of being hit from either a car running the four way stop or crashing in from behind when they don't realize you are in fact observing the intersection. What even counts as an intersection has everyone with differing opinions.

Although my girlfriend got her power back all the 110 watt stuff is working, but heavy appliances aren't. There's really no question about waiting, with the manpower already limited from the storm, calling an electrician out on the weekend would be selfish and fiscally dumb!

Everyone I talk too agrees that things are definitely getting better, but in the next breath we talk about all the work that needs to be done and the time it'll take. Though not as long as the flood victims of New Orleans, commerce and life as we knew it before Wilma was being counted in weeks which quickly form into months.

As things return to normal around my physical life the cyberworld will come back to what it was too! If you'll excuse me now I'm going to have the first warm shower I've had in a week!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hurricanes and Deja vu...

Here I sit with my computer hastily set up at the girlfriends house, hurricane news on the tv (which is constantly playing in the background) and the unknown is less than twelve hours away.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I wrote another blog entry under exactly the same conditions, but unlike then the words are being published into cyberspace long before flickering power, rebooting computers and ultimately extreme frustration kick in. (One of the many reasons I'm at my girlfriends rather than my own house is that she's seemingly on the same power grid as Fort Lauderdale's municipal buildings, so apart from the flickering, the electricity stays on.)

Unlike before however, this hurricane has been agonizingly teasing Florida for the last week by speeding up and slowing down, changing the timeline of landfall and the degree of intensity more often than a woman's choices in a shoe store. No coincidence that the hurricane's name is Wilma I'm sure.

With helping various friends put up shutters and hurricane-proofing my own place, I haven't had a chance to ride this weekend in weather that is so beautiful it lends to the adage of a lull before the storm. One of the many timelines that was thrown out this week has a twenty-four hour period of cool weather in the upper seventies and clear skies before another stormfront follows Wilma. Hoping of course that everything goes as well as it can with the hurricane, I'm looking forward to getting out during this window of riding opportunity.

In the meantime my motorcycle fix has been through related news stories and stuff to make you smile. I threw on a video clip of someone performing an old, but still-sort-of-funny joke on the previous entry and here's some stuff that will leave you scratching your head.......

I thought he was quiet....
MEXICO CITY Oct 21, 2005
Police discovered on Friday that a passenger on a motorcycle involved in an accident in the rough Mexican border city of Tijuana was in fact a corpse which the driver had been carrying through the city strapped to his back.

The motorcycle driver lost control and skidded in the downtown area and when a policeman approached to investigate the mishap, the driver fled. The police officer checked the passenger, who had been seated behind the driver, and found it was the corpse of a man who had died some time before.

Crashing certainly works up an appetite
October 18 2005, 9:22 AM EDTWAUSAU, Wis.
A man whose car ran into the front entry of a fast-food restaurant backed away, parked and went in for breakfast, officials say. Police Patrol Inspector Bryan Hilts said 78-year-old Rouland Steppert's car struck the glass entry way of the downtown Burger King Friday. After he backed up, parked and went inside, he was served his food, and police called to the scene found him eating at a table. General manager Kathy Fasse declined to say what he ordered. By lunchtime, glass and other debris had been cleared away and customers were able to use the normal entry. Because the accident was on private property, the man was not cited, Hilt said.

I've got what...where?
October 21, 2005, 6:24 AM EDT
A 93-year-old driver apparently suffering from dementia fatally struck a pedestrian, then continued driving through a toll booth with the man's body on his windshield, police said.

Ralph Parker of Pinellas Park drove for 3 miles Wednesday night after striking the 52-year-old pedestrian with his gold 2002 Chevrolet Malibu, severing the man's right leg, police said. A toll taker on the Sunshine Skyway saw the body stuck through Parker's windshield and notified police, Traffic Homicide Investigator Michael Jockers said.

Authorities did not identify the pedestrian. Parker was hospitalized overnight with minor scrapes, and was expected to be taken to an elder care facility, Jockers said. Charges were not likely to be filed, because Parker did not appear to know what had happened, where he was nor the correct date, said Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant in the Pinellas-Pasco County State Attorney's Office.

Police took Parker's license, which he renewed in 2003. A spokesman for the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said the agency would conduct its own inquiry into whether Parker, who otherwise had a clean driving record, should have had a license. Seniors age 80 or older must pass only a vision test when renewing a Florida driver's license.

And people are worried about helmet laws..........

The sad thing is that there are even more riders on the roads for cage drivers like the elderly gentleman to hit with another recent article highlighting the obvious increase of motorcycles out there.

The AMA reported on October 20th that Motorcycle and scooter sales jumped even higher this summer sales season than during a strong 2004, further demonstrating America's growing passion for two-wheeling.

Among 12 of the leading brands, sales of on-highway models for the third quarter of the year are up 16 percent compared to the same period in 2004. From July through September, scooter sales among these brands climbed 65 percent. Sales are on track to eclipse the one-million mark for the third straight year, again reaching levels last seen three decades ago.

Gas prices are considered one of the reasons that sales have increased since they started to rebound in 1993 after years of being in a slump.

The numbers are just amazing when you follow the trends;
1992 - 278,000
1993 - 293,000
1994 - 306,000
1995 - 309,000
1996 - 330,000
1997 - 356,000
1998 - 432,000
1999 - 546,000
2000 - 710,000
2001 - 850,000
2002 - 936,000
2003 - 1,001,000
2004 - 1,063,000

Bearing in mind that the last available data had the number of registered motorcycles at 5.1 million in 2002, a quick addition of recorded sales over the last two full years and the figures estimated in the article for 2005, the number is up around 8.5 million, not taking into account the bikes that are no longer with us. That last thought is a sad one I know.

So from the Sunny Hurricane State I'll sign off and ask you to be safe...........and have a ride for me:)

Old but still sort of funny..

Here's a joke thats been around for a while, but it's always funny to see someone to actually act it out!

The whole thing is made more bizarre by the foreign subtitles.....


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Everybody's doin' it....

Hot off the heels of yesterdays blog about Matt Tyson from Ohio who spent his summer riding from town to town, making money along the way and consequently having the adventure of a lifetime, news came out today about an upcoming momentous motorcycle roadtrip.

Actors Ewan McGregor and Jude Law are reportedly planning to go on a motorcycle journey across South America together. They're planning to travel along the same route that revolutionary Che Guevara took with Alberto Granado in 1952, as documented in the recent movie 'The Motorcycle Diaries'.

I'm sure Jude will be looking to his old roommate for direction before and during the trip since Ewan took a similar trip last summer, only then it was through Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Alaska, and Canada, ending three and a half months later in New York City.

There are mixed reports on whether or not Ewan McGregor's actor-friend Charley Boorman, who joined him for that last trip, will be coming along for the next adventure. Last time they went out, matching BMW bikes were the name of the game and as you can see by the picture, coordinated outfits too.


Of course they'll take along video cameras like last time with the ride ending up on DVD just as before with National Geographics 'Long Way Round'.

Here's some more pictures I dug up from around the internet taken during the last motorcycle ride 'The long way round.'

And what do you do after any long ride across barren lands....write a book of course!

Speaking of biking buddies, earlier in the week my friend and I were discussing whether or not we wanted to head up Daytona Beach for Biketoberfest. The decision not to go seems prophectic with Hurricane Wilma hovering around in the Gulf and expected to come across the state of Florida late over the weekend, just about the time we'd be riding back.

But even without the impending weather the bike rally has started on a depressing note. Unfortunately minutes into the first day of Biketoberfest, three people riding motorcycles lay crumpled and dead early thursday morning on a darkened road in rural southwest Volusia County.

The chaos began just before midnight Wednesday when a Honda motorcycle heading south on the two-lane road slammed into a shaggy black dog that troopers said had no collar. A Harley-Davidson believed to be traveling with the Honda bike skidded down the asphalt on its side, and another biker and his female passenger stopped to provide first aid and direct traffic.

The situation turned deadly when two Honda Civics that were following each other from Daytona Beach to Deltona unwittingly plowed into the earlier wreck, killing the 44-year-old Honda motorcycle driver, his 36-year-old wife who had been riding with him and the 47-year-old female passenger from the motorcycle that stopped to help. The driver of the Harley-Davidson was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Read the sad story in it's entirety at the Sun-Sentinel.

On a lighter note
Finally found a picture of the concept motorcycle Honda revealed at the 39th Tokyo Motor Show, the DN-01. Just the news of the bikes appearance caused enough of a stir to increase ticket sales, but now it's been reported that the motorcycle features an automatic transmission!

The motorcycle is equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and a water-cooled, 4-stroke, OHC, V-twin, 2-cylinder, 680cc engine. Most significantly, Honda stated that it "will continue the development of DN-01 with the goal of introducing it to the market in the near future."

CVT has already been introduced into the market in a range of scooters with Suzuki's futuristic Burgman scooter the most obvious shining example. Honda's version of the CVT is being touted as different to other CVTs and is described as an hydraulic mechanical continuously variable HFT (Human Fitting Transmission) system featuring two automatic modes and a 6-speed manual mode which the rider operates through buttons on the handlebars. Source: Gizmag

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trip of a lifetime

There are stories that capture the attention and imagination of everyone who comes into contact with it. They're the type of adventures that leave you with amazement, envy and the feeling of 'Why didn't I think of that', all at the same time.

Wasn't sure what to expect when I clicked on the news story from Ohio's Lantern titled 'Balloon twisting funds motorcycle trip' but certainly had no clue that it would be one of 'those stories'.

Except for a few small roadtrips on his BMW F650 Dakar motorcycle, student Matt Tyson had no real plans for his summer break. Then it hit him.

"I wanted to see what was out there that I hadn't seen," he said. "(I wanted to alleviate) any misconceptions from not being surrounded by other cultures and environments." With that Tyson sought to discover the different values and customs of citizens in other parts of the country with what ended up being a 11, 884 mile roadtrip, earning money for gas and food by making balloon animals at the different stops along the way.

Using his balloon making talents, sense of adventure and the brotherhood of a BMW Owners national forum board known as the Chain Gang he set out with no definitive plans, a limited budget but obviously a huge appetite for adventure.

With his digital camera and the computers of gracious hosts, he documented the trip and it's an amazing read of sleeping in fields, repairing his bike after spills and from all the miles put on it.

Read it as it happened on the Chain Gang Forum Board and you'll see that not only is the motorcycle spirit still alive and well, the brotherhood of riding is stronger than ever.

Totally astounding read.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Surprises, frustration and plain ol' resignation....Interesting Weekend

It was my birthday this weekend.

I know, your card is still in the mail. Can't tell you how many times I've heard that one over the last few days. I really have no qualms about getting older, it's forty-one in case you wondering and the main reason I've always been at ease with my age is that I've managed to do so very much, all the while having a much better time than anyone could've ever asked for.

Not going into a mini-biography here since this is a bike blog, the reason I bring this up is because my girlfriend decided to score major brownie points and not only buy something for my Deuce, but buy something really nice for my Deuce. Without any prompting or hinting, she presented me with a piece of paper that'd allow me to pick up my brand new windshield from one of the local Harley Davidson Dealerships.

I was so impressed that she wanted to a) spend that kind of money and b) wanted to spend that kind of money on something she really doesn't like. Since her years of youthful dirtbiking has left her with more than a slight fear of riding, I actually consider every ride she takes with me as a type of mini-gift. So when I had the idea of using what money she'd spent on the windshield and upgrade to a pair of saddlebags, it was handled delicately and most diplomatically. Well, right up until the point that she said no. Soon I realized that not only does begging and pleading not look that good on a grown man, it doesn't work either.

It wouldn't have mattered really. The only saddlebags HD sells for the Deuce are $575 plus another couple of hundred for hardware and an indicator relocator kit, making it a little too expensive this close to christmas.

It was on the heels of not getting my own way that I nearly didn't get my own windshield, thanks to traditionally high level of customer service (sarcasm) we're blessed with in South Florida. During the thirty minutes of deciding whether or not I was telling the truth about taking the item when it was originally purchased to realizing after continued questioning that there were other places to look for the said missing windshield, I had the chance to talk to one of the guys there about the options for saddlebags in the Deuce. There weren't any.

It was really expensive and they were really hard to put on. That was my option. I could always get a sissy bar and the luggage designed to take advantage of it, but that wasn't the convenience or the look I was hoping for.

To be fair, he did offer to hunt around the internet and check out other options, so we'll see when I call back towards the end of the week. Later in the weekend I asked the readers of TMW Motorcycle Forums for any ideas and they recommended Saddlemen Bags and hardware options of either Ghostbrackets or Easybrackets. This left me with a much better feeling.

Using only rubberbands and chewing gum
Over two hours later I single-handedly installed the windshield using only a plumbers wrench. Okay, I'll admit it was a smaller wrench, but still the tool thats used more for banging on pipes than putting together a detachable Harley Davidson windshield. It's not that I'm some masochist trying to make things harder in life, but down to keeping the bike at my buddy's garage who happened to be out of town. The wrench was all I could find lying around, so the windshield was in fact assembled with a bulky worn tool, a few swear words and a lot of frustration. Afterwards, finally getting to wash my bike (which was still filthy from last Monday's ride) was a welcomed pleasure. I guess it's all relative.

I was still admiring my clean, shiny Harley when the gas nozzle at the local station went crazy and sprayed all over the gas tank and seat. Obviously I'd used up all my swearing and frustration on the plumbers wrench and windshield, without a second thought I gave the bike a quick wash down again and it was time to try out the new windshield out on the open road.

Before and after.

As unsure as I am about the look of the windshield, it did cut down the wind pushing against my body and whistling past my ears. It looks like it'll stay on for now, but I might take it off for the next local ride, just to see.

News that is News!
If I decide to enter the Red Bull-Last man standing competition the windshield is definitely coming off! After all, there are some big names already entered in the competition representing the best of various off-road racing series across the country, including such notable riders as current seven-time AMA National Enduro champion Mike Lafferty and nine-time AMA Trials champion Geoff Aaron. Former Baja 1000 winner Jimmy Lewis and select additional wildcard riders from Canada and the World Enduro Championship series also plan to compete in the inaugural event being held on November 12th later this year.

Feel like taking your bike off-road? Read more about the multi-stage, off-road elimination event near the Texas-Oklahoma border at Dirt Rider magazine.

Riders don't let riders......
Beginning this week, Georgia will host a statewide pilot project to confront the problem of riding while intoxicated through a program in which motorcyclists will hear the message from a source they trust the most, other riders.

"Research shows that alcohol contributes to a much higher percentage of fatal motorcycle crashes than it does for any other type of vehicle. In Georgia, 111 people died on motorcycles last year."

Even a little alcohol can pose a big threat to riders. Because of the special skills it takes to operate a motorcycle, Director Bob Dallas of the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety says it's not surprising that a higher proportion of riders killed in crashes are at lower blood alcohol concentrations than drivers of other vehicles. Mistakes made while riding on two wheels can be much less forgiving. Impairment sufficient to threaten a rider's life can occur well before that rider is visibly intoxicated, Dallas said.

If you ride in Georgia and would like to help out with the project, read the entire press release.

They're nice guys...really!
Just to prove that everything is not what it seems, the Hells Angels are having 'the man' not only stand up for them, but also publicly taking on federal prosecuters in Arizona.

It seems back in July 2003 federal agents and Valley police raided Hells Angels' homes, businesses and chapter houses, arresting 16 club members and associates under a federal grand jury indictment for murder, gunrunning, drug-dealing, racketeering and other crimes during an undercover probe known as Operation Black Biscuit which netted three Hells Angel chapter presidents in the state. Agents seized 600 firearms, plus stolen vehicles, drugs, club records and paraphernalia.

You would think that this would be enough to put some people behind bars for quite a few years, but defense attorneys have complained about misconduct by undercover operatives in the Arizona case, and about the prosecution's failure to disclose evidence that must be shared under federal justice rules. So Judge David Campbell called for a hearing on Friday in a sharply worded order suggesting that indictments against members of the biker organization might be dismissed if the U.S. Attorney's Office fails to abide by due-process rules.

Interesting twist! Read the entire report at

Riding just became a lot more expensive
You may be soon regret getting your better half into the world of riding, well if G-Line has their way.

With the tagline of 'If we waited for men to design gear for us, we'd still be waiting' the website specializes in riding gear designed 'by women, for women'.

You might want to check out the site before your girl does!

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Friday of not knowing if its up or down

So all of sudden it's Friday and I've come to the sad realization that although I was able to spend all of Monday cruising around on my bike, the week has gone by I've not so much as looked at it. Understanding that I store my motorcycle in a friends garage some fifteen minutes away, it's still a little depressing to think of all the time thats passed without another ride.

Next week, regardless of my schedule, work or projects I'm promising to get out and hit a few bike nights.

It's an English thing
Producers announced today that the new James Bond will be played by Daniel Craig in the next installment 'Casino Royale'. I know this isn't exactly bike related, unless you count that chase scene from1995's Tomorrow never dies on the BMW R1200 cruisers, but this is a huge announcement in the world of British entertainment if not the world (and if this were a Bond movie, I would laugh loudly with a sinister slant while I threw open my arms).

Pierce Brosnan became one of the most popular Bonds in the history of the franchise and right now the producers have to be wondering if they have a winner or just another George Lazenby on thier hands. If you're asking George who, I think I've made my point. This is saying nothing against Daniel Craig's acting ability, but one has to appreciate that the role of Bond is such a precise and selective affair. And how will the fans react to having a blonde Bond?

Raises so many questions, doesn't one agree?

Back to Bikes!
As much as I'm interested to see a new slant on the helmet discussions (sticking with the English theme we'll refrain from calling it a debate since thats so aggressive and uncivilized) there's nothing more frustrating than things being thrown into the arena using unproven facts or badly conducted studies.

One such example was published in a press release which although named the doctors conducting the study, didn't name any institutions or sponsors of the research. As we all know, that can make a difference

In Autopsy Study of Motorcyclist Fatalities: The Effect of the 1992 Maryland Motorcycle Helmet Use Law, a study aimed to determine the impact of Maryland's all-rider motorcycle helmet law on preventing deaths and traumatic brain injuries among motorcyclists was conducted by Kimberly M. Auman, MS, Joseph A. Kufera, MA, Michael F. Ballesteros, MS, John E. Smialek, MD and Patricia C. Dischinger, PhD. It was found out that the motorcyclist fatality rate dropped from 10.3 per 10,000 registered motorcycles prelaw to 4.5 postlaw despite almost identical numbers of registered motorcycles. Another finding established was that the motorcyclists wearing helmets had a lower risk of traumatic brain injury than those not wearing helmets.

The aforementioned physicians have compared the 33-month periods immediately preceding the enactment of the Motorcycle Helmet Law to determine whether said Law's intent is effective. To their satisfaction, the controversial law appears to be an effectual public health policy that saves many lives.

Nothing to say how it was conducted, where the data came from or as I mentioned earlier, who financially backed it.

Do we call this irony?
In a week filled with news stories of motorcycle accidents from hitting black bears in America to cattle in Malaysia, it was an interesting time for a press release about technology that could distract riders while on the road.

Motorola and MOMODESIGN have designed a motorcycle helmet with built in bluetooth, a noise reducing microphone that minimizes traffic and wind noise, along with a battery which can last for up to five hours talktime and 100 hours standby time.

With all the distractions on the road as it is and extra care needed to ride safely, do bikers really need the ability to talk on the cellphone as well? I know how annoying it is finding someplace safe to stop, dig out the phone and make a call, but is this really the answer.

It is what we say it is
It wasn't just the absurdity of the fatality 'research' or the silliness of a wireless helmet that has me shaking my head. You may've read the recent downgrade to Harley Davidson's stock rating by analysts last week in the October 5th edition of Biker Diaries (Case #3 of being hassled by the man) because the experts felt the market was softening and HD was building up too much inventory, which is a sad way the describe a beautifully designed and built motorcycle but thats okay.

It seems the famed motorcycle maker blew past analysts' expectations by posting a 96-cents-per-share profit during the September quarter, a 25% hike from a year ago, sending shares up almost 4% on Wednesday. Would this be enough to have the earlier analysts admit a mistake?

Obviously not.

Forbes reported yesterday that one of those analysts, Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Scott Barry wrote to his clients that "We maintain our thesis suggesting Harley-Davidson is entering relative maturity," adding that expected fourth-quarter softness and a retail "wall of worry" driven by gas prices are reasons for caution.

It's odd that he should use a "wall of worry" as a reason of caution since there have been numerous news stories all around the country about people flocking to motorcycle dealerships hoping to avoid rising gas prices by buying a bike! I've mentioned them a few times in this blog as they've hit the press and they usually read like the most recent story published by News Channel 14 in North Carolina.

The ability to get more miles per gallon has fueled sales at many dealerships. Purchases are up and haven't tapered off the way they normally do.

Dealerships said they've seen an increase in one particular population hoping to see savings on gas, women riders.

"Every day, more women are riding," Newman said. "Instead of being the one behind, they're doing the driving."

I guess I'm just missing the bigger picture that Scott Barry apparently see's. At least I've gotten one good thing from this event, I can now use the term "wall of worry" when someone asks how I'm feeling.

"Laurence, how are you today?"

"I have to be honest, just lately I've been having this wall of worry. Not sure what it is, but I've felt a little peculiar the last few days!"

Jesse James and Orange County watch out! There's a new kid in town.
The time has finally come for all those people who like to do it in metric.

The "Metric Revolution" a new television series premiering in 2006, is launching the first ever all metric motorcycle build-off at Biketoberfest 2005. The newly renovated Shores Resort and Spa has been chosen as the location to film the first episode of this 13 week series.

The 1st episode of the series will feature the top 25 custom motorcycle builders receiving a stock motorcycle in which they will have 4 months to totally customize. Shooting will begin on Friday, October 21 with the Metric Revolution crew filming highlights and events throughout the Daytona Beach area.

The program's being created by an independent production company and although there's no mention on which channel will carry the show, the producers are promising an "'American Idol' of biker build-offs!"

Who knew bikers could sing?

Ending on a warm and fuzzy note
The Paynesville Press reported earlier in the week 'This summer, Mike and Rita Garding accomplished a long-term goal by riding their motorcycle into Needles, Calif. In reaching this dusty city on Interstate 40, located on the border of California and Arizona, the Gardings traveled in their 48th state on motorcycle.'

Although the reporter refers to riding as cycling and driving, it's still a nice article on how a couple who've ridden for over thirty years decided to make it their goal to visit all 48 states, They do talk about the possiblilty of Alaska, but for some reason Hawaii just isn't mentioned.

Read the article in its entirety at the Paynesville Press.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Yamaha, Suzuki and a day on a Harley

What an interesting few days and I'm not just talking about the amazing ride I took yesterday (monday).

Motorcycle related news came with a strange twist, from the announcement that Anthony West will miss the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday to the unveiling of two completely different types of bikes.

After missing the first half of the racing season, the KTM Team bike has proven a mechanical nightmare. It's broken down so much and with the last three races being 'fly-away' rounds the factory hasn't even had time to fly out the parts to the various distant venues. The team didn't want to risk the bike breaking down on Phillip Island, which tends to be a fast track and could endanger rider Anthony West.

Read more about it at Fox Sports.

As for the bikes, Suzuki annouced a new powercruiser and Yamaha revealed they'll show a hybrid concept bike at the Tokyo Show.

Suzuki is joining Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Triumph in an obviously crowded field going after a market that's been dominated by Harley Davidson.

They're coming out with guns blazing too!

The motorcycle's piston is one of the largest on the road at 112mm and the stroke of 90.5mm indicates the engine will be of a different character to its contemporaries, with short skirt pistons, and four large valves feeding fuel injected mixtures from the beefy 56mm throttle bodies.

You can read the entire specs and what Gizmag thinks of the new Suzuki M109 in full here.

The concept bike from Yamaha falls into the other end of the spectrum using the high output lightweight compact YZF-R6 600cc motor and an electric motor to move it with lots of gizmos like voice activation of the navigation system, mobile telephone, intercom communications with the pillion and other similarly equipped riders plus a dazzling array of advanced technologies such as headlights which turn to the inside of the corner and rear cameras playing through LCD screens in the dashboard.

Whew. Is it me, or does it look like the thing Sylvester Stallone rode in Judge Dredd?

You can see, and read more about this new bike which will be called the Gen-Ryu at Gizmag.

The ride of a lifetime...or least of a weekend
With the chance of rain getting down to only ten percent between the east and west coast of Florida, Monday became the day of choice to ride. But since nearly everyone else would be working I wouldn't be running into that many other riders.

I'd wanted to check out both Goodland and the ride around Lake Okeechobee, so why not do both! Okay it would be a lot of miles but I had all day, right?

Didn't start the day as early as I would've liked and it was 10.40am by the time I was getting on I-95, but with clear traffic I had headed out west on I-595, south on 27 and then south onto Krome Ave arriving at the start of Tamiami Trail by 11.15am.

Tamiami Trail was a beautiful ride, everglades on either side and an open road in front. The skies were clear for the most part with an occassional cloud racing across the sky from west to east looking slightly threatening. I passed the countries smallest Post office, a dead alligator (surely not the same one I saw last time I came through here) and another biker!

With my gas tank showing just above half full I had the perfect excuse to stop off at the same gas station where my girlfriend and I stopped on our last trip across and stretch my legs. Pulling in sometime later I happened to park next to the same sign we had our picture taken at some two months ago.

Then I noticed it. Signs stuck over all the pumps, 'No credit or ATM cards accepted. Sorry.' Guess who had no cash! Walked towards the store hoping that the problem was limited to the card readers on the pumps but no, the hand-written signs stuck on the doors told me it was the whole station was affected. No biggie, I remembered seeing several more stations on the way to Naples.

A few spots of rain and a few miles later I found the next station just in time for a light shower to start. As if that wasn't enough to tick me off the only gas the station had was the cheapo, unleaded 'sorry you can't put this in your bike but thanks for visiting' gas. But this was the perfect opportunity to dig out my map and see how close Goodland was, of course taking my time to let the rain run it's course.

I couldn't believe it. I looked up, looked back down at the map and looked up again. I was standing at the intersection for the small road that led into Goodland! How convenient. Or was it? The road was one of the smaller lines on my map of Florida and with my gas gauge slipping under the halfway mark, I really didn't want to get lost on the back roads in the everglades. Not really the way to spend a day off.

By the time the rain let up enough to ride again I'd decided to give the road a shot. Not even a quarter of a mile down route 92 and the sun came out in all it's south Florida glory, drying what very little rain the showers had left behind. The road was one of those cool long stretches with water on one side and wild vegetation on the other with the only thing to interupt my being one with nature was the stark thought of running out of gas on an abandoned road. I didn't have to think twice about stopping for directions when I saw two old men sitting on the bank well and truly settled in, Lexus SUV hatch open and fishing poles everywhere. They confirmed Goodland was in fact further down the road but there were no gas stations in either Goodland or the next town along, Marco Island. According to my odometer my deuce should've had a good thirty miles worth of gas left in my tank, but would ever it suck to be wrong.

The worrying was put on hold when I went over a high bridge with breathtaking views of the snaking bodies of water bordered by groves of stumpy trees as far as the eye could see.

The Goodland town sign welcomed me as I came off the bridge with a road twisting off behind me. That must've been the way to the small town but as much as I wanted to follow it down for a quick visit, it was smarter to press on and find a gas station. Isn't it funny when you just know you're riding through a town where you should really stick to the speed limit? This was one of those towns. Beautiful houses, perfectly manicured lawns and very expensive cars in the driveway comforted me into knowing that a gas station couldn't be too far. It wasn't too long before I found a station, filled up and turned around to find out exactly what was down the road by the Goodland welcome sign.

One of the first unexpected treats for the ride was the winding road leading into Goodland that had me wanting to open up my Deuce and really take the corners, but the thought of some small town sheriff sitting around the next corner kept the speed down. Well sort of.

The town was a collection of bait stores, houses and restaurants with no one seemingly around and everything apparently closed. My casual plan of having lunch overlooking the water was disappearing quicker than any remaining appearance of any rain that may've come through here.

Sat on my bike long enough to take the pictures, look around and soak in the atmosphere which you know had to be totally different with bikers, tourists and fisherman filling the streets and restaurants on the weekends.

The bustling town of Goodland!

Headed back up the road through Marco Island again and just past the gas station I filled up at earlier was a small place called 'Nana's Restaurant'. Wanting to take in some local flavor I decided to eat there, but I no sooner backed in the bike and was getting off when a flurry of people coming out to watch me cumilated in large gentleman walking up to tell me they'd just closed.

Gettin' hassled by the man!

Back on the bike and going in the right general direction it was obvious I needed cash, food, some place to sit and check out the rest of the route and not mention giving my butt a rest from this saddle. Where else would I go but PUBLIX!

Initially it was for a sandwich but when standing in the Deli a greek salad took my fancy. Returned some phone calls, memorized the upcoming route with highway numbers and headed out. By this time it was 2.30pm and it seemed I'd have enough time to take the longer northern route around Lake Okeechobee.

Had to take I-75 north to get to highway 80 which would take me east across half the state. Anyone who's driven along this part of the country will tell you that although it's continously congested, the freeways flow pretty quickly outside of rush hours. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination or not, but everyone seems calmer on the west coast of Florida making this freeway riding a lot more enjoyable than my native Fort Lauderdale experiences.

As soon as I made it onto highway 80 the road became emptier, spaces and fields bigger and the congested freeway felt like a lifetime ago. Where as I rode through the water dominated everglades earlier, this scenery was full of farm fields and cattle with ranches marked by an old-fashioned mailbox on the street and the houses off in the slight distance.

This is America. Middle of nowhere, an abandoned shed.

A road crying out to be ridden!

Good looking bike!

There were plenty of bugs about. I thought I still had raindrops on my glasses but realized when they weren't drying up that they were actually small bugs. I've had larger insects hit my chest and neck on other rides but this time one nailed me so hard on my collarbone I flinched. When I went to check that spot my fingers found a small pool of blood. Whatever it was must've disintergrated when it hit leaving behind all it's bodily liquids. Nice.

Some fifty miles later 80 met highway 27, which went either way so sure enough I opted for the longer scenic route. Lake Okechobee is the largest lake in Florida and is popular with both the boaters as well as the bikers. The road was a small two lane road with slight curves as it followed the shore with views of open farmland and pastures, going through small towns built around the tourism the lake brought in. A lot of bikers enjoyed riding around the lake and I could see why. The perfect ride was brought back to reality with an ominous dark haze on the road ahead of me. Instinctively, I pulled over, dug out my windbreaker (contrary to my resolution to get proper waterproofs I still didn't have any) and rode into the rain.

Well it was more like a storm. Trucks were bearing down on me, I couldn't wipe my glasses quick enough and finally had to pullover, steering through the aquaplaning and onto a building site. All I could do was sit and wait out the storm. I was already soaking wet so there was no point looking for any cover so I switched off the engine and wasted my time with checking my bike and how wet I really was until the storm passed over.

When it was safe to head out I rode with my 'wet-gear' on for another forty minutes. It looked like any further chances of rain had moved on so I stopped (again), dug out my spare shirt, rearranged my knapsack and made some calls to set a time to meet some friends at restaurant towards the end of my ride. With the rain and frequent stops I was about an hour and half behind my informal mental schedule. This would put me riding through the countryside in the early evening dusk which didn't worry me too much, but the thought of getting nailed by all those bugs would just be uncomfortable and annoying. One more stop to put on my leather jacket and then it was all road until I made it to the restaurant.

It was a long ride, but certainly fun. I ended up putting 425 miles on my bike. Here's the route I took;

For the technical people out there;
I-95 South
I595 West
27 South
Krome (997) South
Tamiami Trail (41) West
92 South
back to I-75 North
78 East (turns to 80 East)
27 North
78 North
441 South
441 East
I-95 South

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Every biker a diplomat...scary thought:)

Bikers are a funny bunch.

Whether your ride is a Harley Davidson, Ducati, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, some classic or even custom chopper job its amazing when you stop, take a step back and actually look at the riders themselves. I mean aside from all the stuff thats been written time and again about coming from different backgrounds, professions or even ethnicities, I'd like to think that we all consider ourselves as part of the same big family. There's the common bond of riding that gives room for conversation at a traffic light, rest stops or even if we catch each other at the store that wouldn't have been there if we'd met in any other circumstances.

But just as we see ourselves as one scattered and distantly related family, the non-riding public groups all bikers as one tight knit group with the actions of one reflecting on the whole.

This was apparent as I read about two unrelated police raids on motorcycle clubs in different parts of the country. The first one that made the news and caught my eye was reported by WKYT in Tennessee where the police raided Satans Motorcycle Club in Konx County which resulted in six arrests, a call to social services and charges of bootlegging, drug possession and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Then just minutes ago I read about the second unrelated raid which happened in New Brunswick, Canada and was featured on Brandon Online's news website. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (insert related and obvious jokes here) arrested three men after two raids in southeastern New Brunswick, one at the clubhouse of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club and the other at a house. Although charges won't be filed until early next week the RCMP seized a number of firearms, including two handguns and several rifles, along with a quantity of drugs.

I'm the first to admit that with a name like Satan's Motorcycle Club you're bound to catch unwanted attention of law enforcement officials, but still a non-riding reader of either of these publications could possibly, if not purposefully look at the next biker they meet with a little concern.

Even though there's a bad element in every crowd, we as bikers should make an effort to leave a good impression with non-riders in every little way we can. Politeness never hurt anyone and last time I looked it was free. Consideration of conversation topics and language should take into account whoever's within earshot of our group of riders. I know this all sounds like the Political Correctness everyone hates to follow during work hours, but can you imagine that older lady telling all her friends how this daunting looking leather-clad biker held the door open for her at the cafe this morning after breakfast?

Don't get me wrong, I think bikers do so much good for the community and thankfully the different chapters and organizations such as ABATE are always quick to have any charitable events make the papers. Not three headlines down from the Canadian raid was a news story about the Nashville chapter of Ruff Ryders fundraiser organized to raise money for the American Red Cross to benefit Hurricane Katrina survivors.

The Tenessean reported that about a 100 motorcycles 'flooded a parking lot near Watkins College of Art & Design for several hours. Clad in their bike club uniforms, mostly black leather jackets with embroidered logos, the riders gathered to dance, eat and hang out.'

I've had the chance to write about many other fundraising efforts benefitting everything from disasters, awareness of 9-11 victims and even raising money for supplies to be given to local schools. Right now up and down the country Toy Runs are being organized that will feature literally hundreds of riders in each event for those less fortunate children during the holidays.

But we all know that the negative stuff sticks in peoples minds and the difference in a persons perception of bikers can hang on whether or not you hold that door open for a few seconds and let the mother with the overloaded pram and crying kids in tow get into the book store that much easier.

Just a thought.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Working for the THREE DAY weekend.....

It's here! The three day weekend!

One of the advantages of working in the financial industry is the 'free' three day weekend, getting time off without being dinged for the actually time taken off. Let's understand that there are drawbacks to this perk....after all there is a space in the summer where you can go months without a federal holiday!

Tough life I know.

Three days and what to do? Maybe its the beaches, could be the theme parks or even perhaps the nearly naked ladies lying on the bleached hot sand but the stormfronts love to visit South Florida over the three day weekends so planning activities is always a little challenging.

Looking to head out on the bike I've been keeping a close eye on's 10 day forecast to see what Mother Nature has in store on both the east and west coast of Florida. Don't know why, but an urge to ride across the Tamiami Trail to Goodland and maybe even up past Naples toward Fort Myers seems to be bouncing around my mind.

At this point, going overnight might be overkill and the dryest daytrip seems to be Monday.

Can you say statistic?
Had to roll my eyes today while reading an article featured on MSNBC's website titled 'Is a motor scooter in your future?'

In it Denise Oto writes about the growing trend for drivers selling their cars and trucks in favor of the more affordable option of buying a scooter. Aside from the question of whether or not the scooter is truly in the big biker family (when was the last time you waved to that old guy with the hawaiian shirt, black nylon socks and panama hat on his new Vespa you saw in traffic) this brings up the question of safety for both the sccoter rider and us (assuming you the reader do in fact ride a motorcycle).

Why us? Two reasons why.

Firstly, it seems to me that the riding community has built up goodwill out there on the roads. Whether its from drivers wishing they'd taken the plunge and started riding, to every good, respectful, image-shattering encounter a car owner has with bikers in grocery stores, gas stations and even in traffic. Are scooter riders going to affect this? Maybe I've seen too many people riding scooters on vacation but I've always felt the riders consider them as bicycles with engines and are free to handle them accordingly.

Second, with no kind of thought given to training or protective gear, if there happens to be an increase in scooter accidents the numbers will have a direct impact on the motorcycle statistics. If these are to increase in any of the sensitive catagories it'll be the more serious riders, the ones of us who chose to ride because we enjoy it and not because it's saving us a buck or two, who'll feel the real impact of any resulting legislation to bring down 'sky-rocketing numbers'.

I don't wish anything on anybody, but we as riders know not only are there organized groups in this country that seem to want to legislate motorcycles off the roads, but laws are generally created with knee-jerk reactions. Think about it, people see a motorcyclist riding along with no helmet and negative reactions tend to follow. A person toodles along a scooter five minutes behind that same bike, no helmet, shorts and flip-flops and the general public won't even have a second thought.

So what do we do? I'm all for freedom of choice and who is anyone to say that a person can't buy a scooter? They may catch the biking bug, and it's always nice to have new people in our community. Maybe we should even start considering scooters as being in the mainstream of motorcycling? Do we take new scooter owners and coach them like you would a new cruiser or sports bike owner?

Would you, could you, should you wave to a scooter, Sam I am? Perplexing.

But it's not only the biking community that has to face questions. The sudden interest in this cheap form of transportation has brought on a glut of cheap import scooters that have both the Government and established manufacturers worried. MSNBC's article reports the concerns from emission standards not being met to the bikes being imported correctly all of which has officials from an array of governmental departments scrambling.

And a final note
I mentioned before in Biker Diaries about our soldiers completing their tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan only to die in motorcycle accidents when they got stateside.

The powers-that-be in Fort Hood, Texas are hosting free motorcycle safety courses for their military personnel to hopefully stop the tragic trend.

Captain Mark Anders says he loves the adrenaline rush of a motorcycle, and signed up for the class just to be on the safe side. He's already lost two friends and now he's making sure he's knows the proper way to brake, swerve and turn.

Read the complete story at KCEN's website.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Nothing but news....but what news it is!

What's the Hawaiian word for 'throw-down'?
The pearl of the Pacific Ocean is seeing some ugly exchanges as Hawaii enters the helmet debate with Republican Rep. Barbara Marumoto advocating tougher helmet laws.

Her call to take the current Hawaiian law of only requiring motorcycle riders under 18 to wear helmets to a mandatory requirement for all riders from scooters to motorcycles has been evidently spurred on by the (fairly) recent riding death of University of Hawaii volleyball star Tony Ching.

In her editorial published in the Hawaii Reporter on June 4th, 2006, she quoted the state's Department of Transportation recent study that surveyed 120 sites throughout the islands which found that moped helmet use statewide is only 15.6 percent and motorcycle helmet use is 26.4 percent. Enough for her to 'intend to introduce legislation next session so that we can have a thorough public discussion on this subject. I see helmets, as unpopular as they may be, as a safety precaution.'

Not sure why there was a time delay but the same paper printed a rebuttal to her column recently and although his editorial has some barbed direct attacks against Rep. Marumoto, Douglas Findlay does an excellent job bringing in different statistics to argue her bid to beef up the islands helmet laws.

During her self-righteous crusade to save everyone from themselves, perhaps she should consider the fact that more people die from head injuries in automobile crashes. Even pedestrian strikes account for more than motorcycle accidents.

Most non-riders don't care to learn what factors contribute to motorcycle accident...the most significant causes are rider inexperience, impaired driving, and automobile drivers failing to yield right-of-way to motorcyclists.

Though (Florida motorcycle fatalities have) risen dramatically (as they have nationwide), Florida's leaders...have discovered that of all the fatalities that have occurred since repealing their adult helmet law, no deaths occurred for riders who've taken a motorcycle safety course. They also realize that there are many more bikes on the road, in part due to the helmet law repeal, and significantly due to new registrations (especially among the older and retiring baby boomers).

You can read his editorial in its full fledged assault at the Hawaii Reporter.

Bottle of red, Bottle of white and a brand spankin' new Fat-Boy!
Pretty soon full-bodied, deep-colors and aroma won't be limited to describe the different wines in California's wine country, but also used to talk about the Harleys to be sold out the soon to be built Harley dealership.

Local business owner Terry Davis will start work on his new venture, a Harley Davidson motorcycle franchise store in Lathrop, California in San Joaquin County's wine growing region. He said it makes the store an ideal stop for R&R and to souvenir hunt for specialty T-shirts since motorcycle riders have tendency to not go more than 300 miles at a stretch without stopping.

I guess since he already owns a dealership in Stockton he should know!

That's 'TT' Rider....not CC rider..
TT racing coming to North America!

The Cape Breton Festival of Speed in Association with the Isle of Man TT announced a classic motorcycle race to be held in Nova Scotia next year.

The event is to be styled after the legendary Isle of Man TT, a true road course classic established in 1907. TT stands for Tourist Trophy and competitors from the Isle of Man will come to Nova Scotia for the Cape Breton Festival event scheduled for September 20th to 24th in 2006. Other events at the Festival will include a "Charity Ride" fundraiser, a full program of motorcycle road racing, a "Show and Shine" for Cars, Pickup Trucks, Motorcycles and Custom and Racing Cars.

For more information and to read quotes from past and present TT racers David Cretney and Pat Barnes read the press release at CNW group.

Bikers behaving...well!
Nearly all the motorcycle cynics were silenced after a peaceful and relatively quiet rally known as The Pilgrimage.

Well most of them anyway.

Myrtle Beach police officers said they issued 48 tickets between Friday and Saturday, but they couldn't say how many were for motorcycle-related noise violations, Lt. Chuck Dunn said.

"We didn't anticipate it being a huge problem for this rally," said Mike Shank, marketing director for Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson. "The spring rally is where we expect there might be some concerns."

City spokesman Mark Kruea said, "I think [the bikers] are aware the community wants a gentler event."

Shank said the size of the crowd, about 50,000 and biker compliance with the law helped keep complaints down.

The biker crowd for the fall rally, called The Pilgrimage, was about six times smaller than what typically is expected for the Carolina Harley-Davidson Dealers Association Myrtle Beach Rally in May.

But it seems some people won't be happy until there are no motorcycles visiting Myrtle Beach at all. No matter the crowd size, Myrtle Beach resident and City Council candidate Cynthia Powell doesn't think the biker rallies are favorable for the community.

"I couldn't tell that it was any quieter this weekend," said Powell, who will hold a forum today at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center to hear residents' concerns about the bike rallies. "The motorcycles seemed just as loud or louder than they were in the past."

Read the entire article in the Sun News.

Bikers getting hassled by the man!

Case #1
If they're not picking on us then they take shots at our silver screen counterparts.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that The Motorcycle Diaries was supposed to run Monday evening as part of the heritage festival's lineup which also included a puppet show of Don Quixote, flamenco dancing and the movie Mask of Zorro. After a first attack by Hispanic activists who say Guevara killed and tortured their friends and family, the library is now under fire from civil libertarians for deciding to yank the film.

Understanding that South Florida has a large Cuban community that protests the regime of Fidel Castro, The Motorcycle Diaries has stirred the controversy because it's based on diaries Che Guevara wrote during a 1952 road trip across South America, a journey that influenced him to seek revolutionary change across the region. It ends before he unites with Fidel Castro to take over Cuba.

The Sun Sentinel has the whole story which will allow you to see the quagmire we have here in South Florida over the whole Cuba issue.

Case #2
ABATE, S.C. is publicizing how bikers in South Carolina are being taken advantage of by the state taxation system.

After a recent ballot for a constitutional amendment on the taxation assessment for 'passenger vehicles' was passed in the state during the 2000 General Election, bikers found themselves getting overly charged.

As a result of this exception to the passenger motor vehicle clause, motorcycle owners are being unfairly taxed up to 4.5 percent more than their passenger vehicle counterparts. Motorcyclists are being charged 10.5 percent of fair market value of their two-wheel passenger vehicles, regardless of the vehicle's age, while a six-year-old SUV for example is enjoying a 6 percent rate.

Case #3
Probably the most notable example of being hassled by the man comes to us on grand terms. The biker, Harley Davidson Company was hassled by the man, Banc of America Securities who cut its rating to sell from neutral and lowered its price target on the stock sharply to $36 from $53.

The stock closed 6.1% lower at $44.81, with its losses exacerbated by the late day selling spree. Banc of America Securities noted an increase in motorcycle inventory at the retail level and a weak consumer response to new models. The brokerage recommended that Harley-Davidson cut inventory over the coming months.

In the same press release it was reported that banks upgraded Pier One's stock to a buy rating making existing shareholders that much richer.

I guess right now the financial world sees napkin holders as good and motorcycles as bad. Even so, something tells me its more fun to take a decreasing corner with a V-Twin than it is a padded wicker chair, and isn't that all that really matters?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bit's and pieces

Today's post is a blend of a few things. A ride, some news and even a highlight from another biking blog!

The Ride
Even though we have a stormfront coming into South Florida, my riding buddy and I went out for a little cruise and onto a bike night held at the Hard Rock Seminole Casino last night.

We started a little late at around 7.30pm and with dark clouds rolling in we really weren't sure how long of a ride it would be. But the good weather stayed with us as we took Federal Highway from Lighthouse Point up to Delray Beach after deciding the ocean route might a little too windy that close to the beach. Speaking of the wind, we rode into it on the way to Delray but because the speed was in the 40's it wasn't as noticable and then it was at our back when we headed south on I-95 going down to the Hard Rock.

Nice ride with not much traffic and it just felt good to be on the bike again. The surprise came when we arrived at the Bike Night. When they held it on a tuesday night you could easily see two or three hundred bikes, from sports to cruisers with every make represented. This night, a Monday you could park all the bikes that turned up on a small cement square at a corner of the shopping/bar/restaurant complex and still have room. This could've been from changing nights, not really publicizing it or maybe even the weather.

We wandered around the complex checking out the new chopper store that also has a tattoo parlor and bar under it's roof. Talking about knowing your market! Met a couple of riders from the Outlaws MC and saw some pretty impressive choppers. With their sleek lines, amazing chrome and detailed paintwork they made the classic Heritage Softail on the sales floor sem bland and boring. This is sad enough in itself but it also happens to be the bike my buddy rides!

After a quick beer, some wings and curley fries it was time to head back and hopefully beat the storms and intermidant showers that had rolled in. Now that we're going north the wind was that much stronger it made cruising at 60 feel more like 90 mph. A shower springing up gave us a good enough excuse to stop in a sports bar to watch the second half of Monday night football, which as any fan will tell you ended up being a long game and we didn't get back until 12.30 in the am.

Funky weather but it felt so good to not only be back on the the bike, but to ride with my buddy again.

Some news!

New material for a Morissette song?
Softpedia reported today that Ryan Reynolds (The Amityville Horror, Blade: Trinity, Van Wilder), who is engaged to singer Alanis Morissette, was on his way to an interview in Hollywood when his foot peg clipped a car.

"I was lane sharing - that thing motorcyclists do when you're driving your car and you get really frustrated when they blow by you in the middle of the lane - well, I was being that a**hole and I hit a car. I feel horrible", the actor said.

Doesn't his fiance have enough obvious angst in her life without him crashing around on the LA freeways?

Another famous, well nearly famous, motorcycling accident was reported on Wrestling News.Com about wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow who was involved in a serious motorcycle accident Sunday in Brooksville, FL. He is in serious but stable condition at a Florida hospital.

Does a face veil go with a helmet?
It seems the ladies of Iran are about to find out. The gracious authorities are letting women ride motorcycles without the fear of being flogged stoned or imprisoned.

Going solo on a motorcycle has been off limits since the 1979 Islamic revolution given that wind resistance encountered by the rider could negate the efficiency of an Islamic dress code designed to hide bodily curves.

"It is not an offence for women to ride motorbikes and they can apply, just like men, for a driving license and ride while respecting Islamic values," Mohsen Ansari, the chief of Iran's traffic police, was quoted as saying by the Khorassan daily.

But! This was an interesting footnote in the Iranmania article......

In 2002, thousands of women lined up for free motorcycle lessons offered by a manufacturer, but the classes were quickly called off due to apparent opposition from authorities.

Sometimes politics and riding just don't mix!
Apparently a Wisconsin politician is getting in hot water over his love for motorcycles and his passion for creative accounting.

State Sen. Dave Zien bills taxpayers at twice the mileage rate when he uses his motorcycle for state business than other state employees, according to a newspaper. Zien, an ardent biker, claims the vehicle rate of 32.5 cents instead of the 16.2 cents rate set for motorcycles.

Zien consistently claims the higher rate, even when he drives a snowmobile on state business, he said. He said he saw nothing wrong with that practice.

"Who can be critical of someone driving an American motorcycle made in Wisconsin?" Zien said.

Read the entire article at Gazette Extra.

How do you keep 300,000 bikers orderly?
Just ask the organizers of the Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival held in Fayetville Arkansas last weekend.

Although the numbers of attendees are floating between 200,000 and 300,000 depending on which report you read, but either way the organizers are very happy with how it turned out.

"We never got overcrowded," said Bob Kramer, bar manager for George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, noting that a predetermined number of wrist bands may be a reason the bar managed to keep customers happy without bar fights.

Fayetteville police cited some people for disorderly conduct and public intoxication on Dickson Street and nearby."There were a couple of disturbances in a couple of the bars, but nobody was really hurt," said Sgt. Tad Scott, noting he knows of one individual who received a stab wound to the leg, but he did not have any other details.

Read the Morning News for the rest of the above report, or The Northwest Arkansas Times post-event story.

Ending the news portion on a funny note......
A Greenville police officer found his stolen motorcycle after stopping a truck that didn't have its headlights on. Cpl. Jeremiah Motz said he saw a pickup driving through his apartment complex parking lot early Saturday morning with a bike in the back.

"I was shocked," said Motz, who confirmed the motorcycle was the one taken from his yard the day before by checking the license tag.

When the driver spotted the officer, he sped off, according to a police report. The truck eventually pulled over in a church parking lot, police said.

Steven Dale Baker, 24, of Liberty, and Jamie Lee Crider, 27, of Greenville have been charged with grand larceny, according to arrest warrants.

The Other biking blog
Even though he wrote it a few weeks ago, I've been meaning to link to a post Gymi made on his blog Gymi's Place back on September 16th that really struck a cord.

What I witnessed today takes the cake.............. I noticed a Jeep Liberty come to a abrupt halt to my right, the woman driving this car didn't notice the car exiting till last second even though I left plenty of room for her to see. She was distracted by the bowl of cereal that she was eating as she steered the Jeep with her knees.

Read the's amazing what people think they can do, while driving!