Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Looking beyond Wilma and into the real world

The roads are still a little hazardous between street and traffic lights not completely restored and the South Florida drivers that seem to grow more impatient each day. The latter is actually more like getting back to normal. Funny and sad, but true.

Besides the next week is bringing a lot of rain and with it comes 'urban flood watches'. Just as with FEMA coldly calling ice and water 'product' when talking about the the PODs (Points of Distribution) the the needy hurricane victims, this was a new phrase in my vocabulary. The local weatherman describes it as rainfall that wouldn't normally have an effect on the streets except for all the debris clogging up the drains, causing urban flooding. I'd be impress by the weather guru if I wasn't still getting over the fact that he predicted Wilma to be a tropical storm.

How badly do you want to ride?
With the roads, weather and lack of traffic lights it looks like there'll be no riding on my Deuce for at least a week. In the eyes of Adam Musbach and his girlfriend Valerie Jean Swope I must appear to be a bit of a wimp. They left in February for a 23,000-mile motorcycle ride from Santiago Chile, to their home in Soquel California.

Riding through 6 to 8 inches of water at a huge salt flat in Bolivia as well as through the lonely deserts of Patagonia with only vultures to keep them company and even arguing with border guards they rode as few as three miles somedays to staying on the bike for fifteen hours on others.

I guess theres no rest for the wicked as they've only been home a few weeks and already eyeing up a European trip. You can read about the journey on their blog Road Trip 2005 - North and South America by Motorcycle, or the story as it appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

From the Good to the Bad
Motorcycles, or those who ride them, really rode the full range of stories in the press so far this week.

At the more notorious end of the scale Michael "Two Dawgs" Towner was the fourth member of the Devil's Disciples Motorcycle Club out of Tucson Arizona to be sentenced in the case concerning a brutal attack on a mother of three. KOLD Newschannel 13 in Arizona reported that the attack was in retaliation for the woman failing to pay a drug debt, and for leaving a friend's house messy.

Obviously using a completely different set of standards, during a trip to Somolia in 1988 the sight of motorcycles intended for use by the Ministry of Health standing idley by, useless because they lacked simple maintenance got British reporter Barry Coleman thinking. He and his wife, Andrea, a former professional motorcycle racer helped create Riders for Health, an organization devoted to providing motorcycles and mechanical training programs for African health care workers. The organization trains exisitng health workers on basic motorcycle maintenance and repair so they can utilize the bikes to make needed visits to remote villages.

The proof of Riders for Health's success came recently when the group provided motorcycles for every health care worker in an impoverished district of Zimbabwe. Workers distributed mosquito netting and trained village volunteers in other simple prevention measures like insecticide spraying.

Read the full story at ABC News.

And then boys will just be boys
There are other reasons for doing things that'll make the news and I'm not talking about all the police in San Bernardino County rushing to volunteer for motorcycle duty as reported in the Daily Bulletin, after all we all know why there'd be a line for that.

No, it's the riders who are trying to prove something, like Ryan Capes (25), known to friends as "The One" (not sure how to take that) who jumped his bike 310 feet beating the previous Washington State record by 30 feet.

And then there are the riders who need to prove something. It's sad to think that you'd find yourself considered over the hill at only 26 years old, but thats exactly what Valentino Rossi is facing from the press in the MotoGP Championship as he feels the pressure from the younger riders in the upcoming race this weekend in Valencia.

Ken "Teddy Bear" Miller, a public relations officer of ABATE of Florida Inc. Southwest Chapter had an editorial run in the New Press about the helmet debate.

He did a good job of showing how the numbers were used and compared made the study un-usable for an idea of the effect of the pro-choice helmet law in Florida. You can read how others who either support having a choice or just feel that the numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Evaluation of the repeal of the all rider motorcycle helmet law in Florida Report shouldn't be used as a test for the recent repeal of mandatory helmets in Florida point out the same data collection and use in the Helmet Debate in one blog entry.

The only paragraph in his editorial I have concerns about was when he wrote 'Helmets are heavy and restrictive, limiting the ability of the rider to fully survey their surroundings. Hearing and peripheral vision is diminished. Helmets are hot and cumbersome, especially in Florida's heat. Sufficient testing of helmets in crashes over 13 miles per hour has not been documented.'

But it's his editorial and he does have a right to his opinion!

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