Sunday, November 27, 2005

Everyday's a Holiday on a Harley

Between being able to ride my Deuce to work and the Thanksgiving day ride, life's feeling pretty good. Where as I normally store my bike in a riding buddy's garage, over the last four or five days I've hung onto it and as much as it pains me to let it stand in the elements, it's a warm feeling having my motorcycle only a few steps away ready to go whenever the feeling comes up.

I took it out on Saturday morning and visited some familiar places as well as some new routes. Even took along the camera, so I'll put that entry on Biker Diaries tonight or tomorrow when theres more time. After all, how do you keep an idiot in suspense?

I'll tell you later.

Genuine news or just a slow news day.
Maybe the stories about Black Friday weren't interesting enough, or there just wasn't any scandalous news, and it could even be that the people normally in charge were out of town for Thanksgiving and the motorcycle enthusiast in the bullpen was picking all the stories. Either way, an awful lot of press was given to everyones favorite two wheeled pastime from repeating stories to some nice in depth looks at what makes bikers tick.

It was deja vu all over again when the Miami Herald ran an old story under a new headline. 'States study regulations for aging bikers' was posted on their website as of November 26th, but the Associated Press story appeared at least a month ago (I looked but I guess there are too many entries in Biker Diaries now to it track down...shame). The article starts with a biker's childhood memories of climbing on his dad's Harley only to finally have his own years later at age 55 and moves onto discussing the study that the State of Washington is conducting about the effectiveness of introducing mandatory motorcycle safety courses for new riders.

The effort is in its infancy, but officials from the Washington State Patrol and the Department of Licensing are already discussing refresher training courses for experienced riders and a requirements to show a motorcycle license before buying a bike.

"What we think is happening with this older group is that they rode a motorcycle when they were 18-20 years old, then they hit their 40s and realized, 'Hey, I can afford a bigger, better bike,'" said Gigi Zenk, a licensing spokeswoman.

Statistics show state motorcycle fatalities on the rise, with most involving riders 40 and older on bikes with the largest engines.

This thought of rising accident data stemming from older 'born-again' riders climbing onto motorcycles with more power when they last rode many years ago and the roads are certainly being more crowded is becoming more popular among officials as well as the riding community in general.

Maybe the Associated Press is recirculating the story, it also appeared today on ABC's news site and Winston Salem's Journal Its not a bad topic and definitely less heated thatn the helmet debate.

Any prizes for the more observant readers of internet news catching this recycling?

One of our own
Whether or not he decided the story should be run, reporter Skip Hess wrote his article Course helps keep motorcyclists alive with the understanding of what it's like to be in the saddle. Even with the way he writes the piece with the thrilling insight into what a biker in Indiana has to go through to appreciate the pleasures and thrills of riding is laced with first hand knowledge.

The temperature was 26 degrees, wind blew a steady 22 mph from the northwest, and there he was at 2:22 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, sitting erect on his BMW motorcycle, riding on Southport Road near an I-65 ramp.

This guy was not out for a brief around-the-block ride, for his bike was loaded, from the bulging saddle bags on either side of his rear wheel to neatly packed rolls of gear strapped to a chrome carrier behind his back.

What is it that will lure a man to leave the comfort of his home when the wind-chill factor is 2 degrees above zero?

If you have to ask, then you're not a motorcycle rider. They will tell you that it's the challenge, the experience, the journey.

Unlike many stories, whats written is given that much more validity when the reader finds out that Skip Hess took the Motorcycle Safety course himself some seven months ago and attributes it to saving him from a few close calls.

What is confusing though is in a state where your govenor and one of the county's prosecuters are avid bikers, how can there be 200,000 registered licensed motorcycle riders but only 100,000 registered motorcycles? Are there that many bikers denying themselves the pleasures of riding, or are they out on unregistered motorcycles.

Curious point.

Legends of Past and Present
Its funny how two stories over different days can bookend a beginning and ending quite unknowingly.

I read about a past classic finding a new owner when Steve Mcqueen's 1933 Matchstick Silver Hawk raced past its pre-sale estimate selling for $47,000, or 47% above the high-end of the estimate at an Bonhams & Butterfields auction held on November 12th.

McQueen who was the star of films such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair and Papillon was an avid collector of classic motorcycles and a fan of anything fast.

I'm sure ditch and pursuing World War 2 German soldiers weren't included in the price!

Then something hit the news about classics in the making with a person who's name invokes the images of amazing looking motorcycles, Mr. Arlene Ness who'd like to make it easier for riders to own one of his creations. Inside Bay Area reports that the design legend wants to bring his vision to the public with mass production and consequently, affordability.

But it'll be mass numbers, Ness-style. Customers can chose between two types of grips, five different wheels and six colors of paint, with variations of each color. Also, if the customers want, Arlen, Cory or both will personally sign each bike.

"These bikes are similar to the types of designs we've done in the past, but we've refined it," Arlen's son Cory said. "We are not cutting any corners because we want to keep the high level of quality here to build a really nice bike."

With Arlen Ness only planning to turn out just 20 motorcycles a month to retain the company's image of having noteworthy motorcycles, and an average price of $45,000 there won't be one sitting in every garage for sure but at least it's less than the usual price of $60,000 or more you could pay for a custom bike.

And it just so happens
Different article, same information. That's pretty much how you feel when reading More baby boomers are buying bikes in the New San Bern Sun Journal. Although the well published growing number of registered motorcycles are discussed with the obvious conclusion of baby-boomers enjoying an empty nest as the reason, it was nice to see the feeling of freedom that comes with riding was mentioned as well.

The funniest quote had to come from Bill Murray (no not the Bill Murray) when he said, "BMW riders are among the most safety-conscious out there. We're all very experienced and we tend to be good about wearing protective clothing."

I guess it wasn't surprising then that he's a member of Coastal Carolina BMW Motorcycle Club! I admire a person who's humble enough to toot their own horn.

Now to be fair, and certainly before I get any emails from BMW riders, it's rare to see anyone on these fine machines without a helmet or protective clothing.

The news we knew would happen
Up and down the country, toy runs and charity events are showing bikers at their best.

Last Rebels Motorcycle Club in Huntington OH and Charity Runs in Glendale CA all made the news.

Toy Runs in Kansas , Galveston, Gold Hill OR, Akron OH, Fayetville LA, Goldsboro NC, Springfield MO, St Louis MO, Sevierville County TN , Willits CA, Bay City TX, Garden City GA, Asgard MS, Rocky Mount NC, Lake Wildwood NV, Hutchinson NV, Charleston SC, Texas/Oklahoma, Delaware County PA, Henderson County TX, Oceanside CA, Sacramento CA, Eureka CA, TwentyNine Palms CA, Bakersfield CA, Fort Lauderdale FL also got coverage up and down the US.

Some of these have already happened while others are scheduled over the next two weeks.

Even internationally, Central Western Australia, Narooma Australia and Johannesburg Africa!

Although not all Toy Runs went by without a little controversy, it was nice to see so many bikers give up time and open their hearts for the more needy during this holiday season.

And what a great note to leave this small slither of Biker Diaries.

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