Saturday, November 12, 2005

Does Santa really ride?

One of the coolest parts of riding has to be the comradery among bikers that turns total strangers into to instant friends. From talking to someone who's newer to riding than you are, to meeting up with the crusty old biker wearing a leather with a sea of patches and was seemingly born on a motorcycle.

You know the sort, his stories sound something like 'I had a panhead that spit out oil quicker than you could put it in!'

Since we're quickly approaching the time of year of toy runs or other similar motorcycle runs for some kind of charity where bikers open their hearts as well as their throttle to help those less fortunate, I decided to look to the experiences and pick the brains of the more seasoned among us.

Actually this kind of event was part of the salesmans patter when I walked around my local Harley dealership oh so long ago trying to decide which bike would become my ride. My buddy who's had his bike about eighteen months longer than me has gone out on two of these runs years prior and didn't give the idea of going this year the warmest response when I mentioned it a couple of months ago.

I guess every biker has to do it just to say they did and after all, you do get a pin for the leather ! Regardless whether my buddy comes along or not it looks like I'm going to do it and it's only fair to share some of the advice I got from fellow riders at TMW Motorcycle Forum.

I got the advice 'equivilant' of the look my buddy gave me from a few of the forum responses, obviously typed with a smile.

'send them a donation then find out their route and go in the opposite direction.'

For someone intent on going, some good points were made:
Check engine coolant levels and oil before you start.... You bike isn't very good at getting rid of heat at those speeds (25mph can be optomistic), and your clutch is going to be used a lot (unless you're on a small bike)

Keep your distance from other riders, and make sure you know where they are at all times (don't rely on just mirrors). If it's your first time, maybe get a couple of more experienced guys to flank you till you gain more confidence.

Watch out for things that'll make other people swerve; Pot Holes, Furry dead critters, Dog poo Oil slicks, Drain covers (some people would rather kill themselves than ride over theses, even when it's nice and dry).

Let people know this is your first time. If the rideout is half decent someone will keep an eye on you.

Ask in advance for feedback and advice.

Drink some, but don't drink too much. There's nothing more agonising than riding in a bunch of guys with your bladder fit to burst!

Make sure your gear is up to the weather conditions.

It's dead easy to get mesmerised by and fixated on the bike in front. Make sure you keep looking well ahead.

There is a lot of unconscious peer pressure in a riding pack. Keep reminding yourself that this is your ride.

Check out the habits and riding styles of the riders you are riding close to. You get the occasional dork who swerves across the road or likes to brake hard. if you need to, move away from anyone who is riding inconsiderately.

Go and enjoy the event without having anything to prove to anyone.

Position yourself for good vision as much as you can.

It's easy to get stressed on a long run. Do whatever you can to remain relaxed. Keep checking out that you are not clenching your abdomen, or tightening your arms and legs.

Make sure you know what rules are laid down by the ride, before you start.

You want to improve your slow riding skills? Ride in a slow moving group. Nothing better. It's a challenge. It's fun! (To which someone typed - gee...improving my slow riding skills. i would rather give somebody a kidney)

And the funnier tidbits?
Don't follow a sportsbike, as there's always the odd twat who'll do a burnout at the traffic lights.

Plus, you get to laugh at the people who've lowered their harley's idle revs, so they vibrate like a washing machine.

A great read about group riding at Canyon Chasers was suggested.

Thanks to Nibblet99, Ions001, sv-wolf, 9000white, flynrider, Wizzard, sapaul and of course the always fun and ever informative TMW Motorcycle Forum.

Now where's that application form.

Winter will start as originally scheduled.
My fellow blogger Gymi commented on the last entry of Biker Diaries in which I wrote about an upcoming game to help with those 'can't-ride-my- bike-because-it's-too-damned-cold blues'. The drawback comes from the fact that the game won't be released until spring 2006, long after the bike withdrawals had set in on those long winter nights.

Trying to ever so helpful.....other options!

MotoGP: Ultimate Racing Technology 3
Available on PC, X-Box

Isle of Man TT Superbikes
Available on PS2

Monster Garage
Available on PC, X-Box
Didn't get a good review though

3D Motor Racing Game Pack featuring 3D Mini-Sportsbike
Window's based PDA's

Being a PC gamer myself I was surprised by the lack of games and have to think that there are a lot more released in England and Europe where motorcycle racing is more popular than here in the US. It's sad to admit that I downloaded a demo for MotoGP weeks ago and haven't gotten around to playing it yet.

Speaking of racing, congrats to Spencer Balentine (51) who's the new American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Cross-Country National champion after winning both the vintage ('74 and older motorcycles) and post-vintage ('75 and newer motorcycles) titles in Kentucky this week.

Doing the right thing
Although I missed the chance to post an entry on Veterans day, it can't go by without a salute and thanks to all our brave men and women in uniform who unselfishly give whatever they have to, for our country.

These thoughts were going to be shared and gratitude expressed regardless of any convenient news story to bring up the topic, however it was nice to accidently find a report in Layfeyette's Journal and Courier about the strong ties between not only motorcycles and the military, but Harley Davidson and the Armed Forces.

The bond between Harley-Davidson motorcycles and America's military stretches back to World War I when the Milwaukee-based manufacturer allocated 50 percent of its production for the U.S. armed services.

"Harley-Davidson has supported the military for years and years. The American-made motorcycle went right along with the military," said Lafayette resident Dave Zufall, who served 10 years in the U.S. Marines and Army and has owned Harley-Davidson motorcycles since 1977.

Harley-Davidson estimates that 30 percent of its customers have served in the military and 14 percent of the company's U.S. work force are veterans.

And it was great to read that one Harley Davidson dealer takes the connection seriously and honors what our uniformed personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are doing in a very real world way.

"If their motorcycle is under warranty, Harley-Davidson will provide an extension equal to the number of days they're deployed," Dan Bell, who owns Eagle Harley-Davidson in Lafayette said. "Since these brave young men and women have been unable to ride during their deployment, we think it's only fair to extend their factory warranty."

We should all be as grateful. What a great thought to leave this blog on.

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