Monday, January 30, 2006

Past, Present and stereotypes

I'm surprised that my digits are coordinated enough to type out the words with these itty-bitty buttons on my keyboard. Or that I can even see the keyboard over my large neanderthal, hairy knuckles. Actually we should all be impressed that I managed to pull myself away from whatever sporting event happens to be on the TV as I was obviously sitting on the couch watching it, a beer in one hand while the other was tucked in the front of my jeans, all the while eating chips or some kind of unhealthy food.

What am I talking about? I guess I've become overly sensitive to the way men are portrayed by the media. What has brought this indignation on? Doritos (I think) has an ad on TV featuring three guys looking out the window of an office building at some construction workers in the street. As they dip their chips they complain how all the other construction workers are watching just one guy doing all the work and how it would never be allowed to happen in their world. The whole time a lady is typing away on a laptop and finally yells out "Got it!" or "Fixed it!". The male office workers then rally around the young lady and laptop, giving each other a high five for teamwork.

Come on!

If the producers of the commercial had switched the roles and had the women at the window while the guy solved the problem, all hell would break lose with complaints of sexism, downplaying womens importance in the workforce etc. The male readers can back me up here, our TV counterparts only care about the latest game, choose beer over women and generally have no clue in life. The women on TV however are smart, hold down a job and raise children as well as put up with incompetent husbands who only want to watch the latest game and generally have no clue in life.

So while we're on the subject of women and Laurence being right (that'll be the day), you may remember I observed in Biker Diaries on Jan 21st that although the Motorcycle Industry Council stated that out of 6.6 million motorcycle owners, 635,000 of them are women I was hard-pressed to think of any local lady cruisers. However since the girlfriends friend, who rode a sportbike, was always talking about the other women she rode with I tried to reason that maybe, just maybe it was down to the type of motorcycle. Well Gymi over at Gymi's Place seems to know a lot more women riding than I do.

While Laurence points out that women riders are as scarce as hens teeth in his neck of the woods, there are quite a few around here. While men out number women by around a 10 to 1 margin, those numbers are shrinking on a daily basis. I know quite a few women that like to get their kicks on two wheels.

This means that either Gymi's just that much better looking and doesn't scare away the women quite as quickly as yours truly, or it really may be traced back to the type of motorcycle we're talking about here or I just need to bath more often. Trying to keep the fragile ego intact, I'll lean towards the type of bike.

Having said that, KT Did seems to have picture after picture on her blog of women cruisers, so maybe I'll just have to revisit that shower schedule.

A law just for bikers
There must be a biker in the South Carolina legislature who sat at one too many red lights.

We all know the hassle of wondering whether or not we've tripped the sensors when pulling up to a red light on a quiet road. The only legal thing to do was hope a car would come up behind you or take a right only to do a u-turn a little further up. Actually that last manuever can get you in trouble depending on the law or the hard-headness of the police.

So it was good news when ABATE endorsed a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter, and Jake Knotts, R-West Columbia, which lets bikers continue if a traffic sensor fails to detect their motorcycle or mo-ped and they've sat at the intersection at least 20 seconds.

Of course the report didn't say who was holding the timer, but thats a minor detail.

The bill isn't without it's detractors though, "It breeds disrespect for adherence to traffic controls," said Fred Rosendahl, a traffic engineer for North Carolina's Department of Transportation and a member of its motorcycle safety committee. "Rather than let bikers pass through red lights, the Transportation Department should ensure the sensors work properly."

It's an interesting law that a lot of bikers will be keeping their eye on, but what I found even more notable was the last paragraph the reporter threw in.

Preliminary figures from the state Department of Public Safety show 90 motorcycle fatalities and 1,140 injuries in 2005. The department reported 92 fatalities and 1,386 injuries in 2004. Ninety-three bikers were killed and 1,182 injured in 2003.

Does this mean we have a motorcycle statistic going down?


Read the full story in the Myrtle Beach Sun News.

Back in the day
Remember when riding wasn't about laws, statistics and worrying about the car driving beside you? No, I don't either but some of the motorcycles being shown in Laconia, New Hampshire were built in a time when riding was more about the passion rather than the bottom line.

From a press release issued by USCRA
For the third year in a row, the streets of Downtown Laconia will come alive with vintage racing motorcycles as the City of Laconia plays host to one of the most outstanding vintage motorcycle events in North America. Coming from Canada, Europe and the United States are many of the machines and riders that raced the AMA Laconia National from 1938 to 1963. A challenging road course of slightly over one mile is laid out through the City streets. The vintage racers will be running neck and neck down Main Street in an exhibition of speed that captures all the sights, sounds and racing smells of that golden era American racing. Indians, Nortons, Ducatis, Triumphs, Benellis, Hondas, Yamahas, Parillas, BSAs and Harleys gather at the old Laconia Railroad Station parking lot early Sunday morning to set up their pits and prepare for the afternoon events.

Opening ceremonies start at 1pm with the introduction of some of the past Laconia winners and legends of American AMA racing. Exhibition races for the various displacement classes follow and continue throughout the afternoon. Especially attractive and very unique to the event is the fact that there is no admission fee for spectators. Access to all the viewing areas and the pits is completely free of charge. The Laconia Downtown Association actively supports the event and strongly encourages the local restaurants and merchants to showcase their businesses by having many specials for the spectator. Sunday June 11.

Vintage Celebration is going on May 19-21 at the New Hampshire International Speedway and the races from June 10th through the 12th.

It's official, for the first time in a while I'm wishing I lived somewhere else other than Florida which is so far from New Hampshire.

There must be a charity somewhere
I don't even want to count the days of how long its been since I sat on my baby. Between chores to do and a project thats been taking up all my time, I've only seen my Deuce for a matter of minutes over the last few weeks.

I have to think there has to be some sort of cause or charity concert held for people in my situation. 'Biker torn from their rides' or 'Misplaced Motorcyclists'. Surely Bono has a gap in the various charities he campaigns for?

It's gotten so bad I've changed the screensaver to a beautiful picture of my Deuce, bought new riding sunglasses (didn't need them but needed the biker 'shot') and I've taken to wearing my riding leather jacket wherever I can.

But hope is at hand. I'm not talking about a huge fund-raising drive (and if there is one, I'm not going to be one one appearing on stage with Jerry Lewis), but more careful planning. The weather this week calls for a beautiful sunny day of 72 degrees on wednesday. With some hard work I can free up that day and try to get 400 odd miles in on the bike.

Lets hope. A crying biker is a sad, sad sight.

Six degrees of blogging.
Blogs are a wonderful thing. You're only ever a click away from something that'll make your day. The more detailed minded types may've noticed the 50's style pin-up Harley artwork at the beginning of Biker Diaries. I found the link to SD Harley Riders through Your Crazy Uncle's Blog which was listed as a favorite blog on Gymi's place.

I've always enjoyed this genre of advertising and even tried googling it, but couldn't find anything nearly as nice as whats featured on SD Harley Riders site.

You see, we're just one big family here in the blogging community.

Time for a group hug!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Girl Scouts, Tattoos and Harleys

There I was, in the last part of a very long and intense two day corporate training course listening to our instructor review the last module we'd studied. Since I was somewhat comfortable with the subject matter (probably the only part of the training I could say that about) I doodled away feigning attention. The guy sitting next to me, who's more a friend than colleague, saw the helmeted skull on my notepad.

When he whispered how evil it looked I smiled and told him it was an idea for the tattoo I wanted to get. He looked at me and I could've sworn the instructor did as well, with a slight pause and glance. Even though we have locations from coast to coast we're a relatively small company and over the last six months, as well as many, many training sessions, I've been lucky enough to have her facilitate the classes. She's had real-life experience with all the subject matter that's taught, open to new ideas, has a great sense of humor and her North Carolinian humor is sharp, if not innocent.

When the module review was over she came to my colleague and I, commenting on her impressions of the different people attending the course and how I seemed the most professionally and impeccably dressed.

"And then I hear you talking about a skull tattoo and remember you ride a Harley," she said in that Carolinian accent, "and I just find it hard to imagine!"

I admitted to a different appearance when riding and at the end of the day would be hard pressed to decide which attire was more comfortable, or even more me.


Spot the Girl Scout Troop
I wrote in Monday's Blog about the great opportunity to buy Girl Scout cookies for our service men and women serving overseas. If you didn't read it, excuses can come in the form of a note from your spouse or mother, whichever has the most charge over your life. If I get two notes from the same person, not only are you excused but you'll have my sympathy. A quick recap; you can pay for however many boxes of cookies you'd like, ask the Girl Scouts to send them to the troops and they'll let you write something personal on the reciept that'll be delivered along with the treat.

Monday night I paid for some such cookies to be sent to our men and women in uniform at my local Publix (a grocery chain in these parts), and surprised when assaulted by Girl Scouts sitting in exactly the same place on Tuesday night. As I explained about buying some the night before the adult in charge of the troop just shook her head and told me, 'That was a different Girl Scout Troop last night'.

They're time-sharing my Publix? Is this like getting a ticket where I have to write badge numbers down for recourse? How many Girl Scouts are there? I mean, it's bad enough they have the cookie drive only twenty-odd days into the new year when dieting resolutions are just starting to weaken.

Helmet Debate starting early
With Massachusetts considering new helmet legislation over the next few weeks, bikers could be in store for a whole new riding experience as early as this summer. The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association has announced that a new piece of legislation, which would make helmets optional, is scheduled to go before the Senate for a vote on Feb. 1.

This State is putting a price on choice though. As the bill stands a rider would either have to have six years of proven experience or pass a motorcycle safety course as well as carry private health insurance or $50,000 in optional medical coverage.

If its passed and the Govenor signs the bill, the law would take effect as of July 1st. It'll be interesting to see how smoothly this passes and if so, how many other states follow suit.

Leaving on a Harley note!
So earlier this week Harley Davidson and the National Hot Rod Association announced an exclusive, multi-tiered sponsorship package that includes designation as the Official Motorcycle of NHRA, title sponsorship of the popular NHRA Sportsman Motorcycle Series and an extraordinary promotion that will provide NHRA fans the chance to win Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

"We are extremely excited to welcome the Harley-Davidson Motor Company and its vast dealer network into the NHRA family of sponsors," said Gary Darcy, NHRA senior vice president for sales and marketing. "It is the perfect partnership. Nothing says 'Made in America' more than Harley-Davidson and the National Hot Rod Association. We are thrilled with the many activation tools Harley-Davidson is bringing to NHRA and we feel this new partnership provides a great opportunity for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts to go for a ride as they take in the sights, sounds and smells that are as unique to NHRA Drag Racing as the sound of a Harley-Davidson on the open road."

I'm sure the lovefest will get even more intense when some of those free Harleys are given away in various NHRA related contests and competitions.

Harley's media-machine will be in full gear when it develops the interactive display in NHRA's 'Nitro Alley' which will allow fans to get a taste of the Harley-Davidson experience through engaging product displays, racing and technical seminars and a special dyno-drag racing simulator using V-Rod motorcycles.

Between this and the new dealerships in China, 2006 is starting off as a very busy year for the American Legend.

Read the full news release from the NHRA.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Just the right thing to do

Although not related to motorcycles or riding, I forgot to mention something important in my last blog, and rather than let the days slip by and miss the window of opportunity, it gets it's very own blog entry!

You may've noticed that not only are there more than the normal amount of young girls hanging around outside the local grocery store, but they're also wearing badge filled saches. This can only mean that the season that kills every diet and New Years resolution is upon us, Girl Scout Cookie time!

The reason I bring this up is because this year you can buy a box of cookies for our troops serving overseas. Its a thoughtful way of bringing a little piece of America to the men and women stationed overseas, far away from home. There is no extra charge for shipping and they should offer to let you write something on a reciept that will accompany the box when its delivered directly from the manufacturers.

Not only is this a thoughtful gift and you can say you're supporting the Girl Scouts, but you don't have the guilt of the extra calories you would've had when you demolished the box even before getting back to your house.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Everything but the bike

The ride never happened.

I left the last blog entry of biker diaries with the hopeful thought of getting out on the Deuce for a Sunday morning ride. At that time, the weather looked promising, there were no other plans and I even had a willing riding partner.

How quickly things can change.

What should have been a quick changeout of hard drives on my sisters computer after a traditional dinner of fish and chips turned out to bringing her computer home with me and working on it into the early hours of the morning. I had to get some bits and pieces from CompUSA Sunday morning to make her computer work like it really should and during the drive I was thinking of being on the bike, bringing in a lazy day the right way. By the time the computer was up and running, the riding buddy had lost interest, sort of blaming it on the ominous weather. Sure there were some occassional light showers, but what happened to living life on the edge, riding through all mother nature could throw at you. At least until you could duck into the next gas station for cover anyway.

I had a fallback plan of taking the motorcycle to a friends house for some dinner plans, but the skies were more focused on rain than a beautiful South Florida evening and since the girlfriend would be on the back, it didn't seem like such a great idea.

Just as well, the friends started to complain halfway through the night about some noisy nieghbor who started his loud Harley at the crack of dawn every morning without any consideration for the nieghbors.

Damn bikers.

Hear me roar.
As big as it is, the world can be a really small place. I wrote yesterday about the increasing number of women taking up riding and not only heard from a die hard female biker, but she also hails from California (I was just there 2 weeks ago) and has her own blog!

Kathy decied to jump on her Harley at the young old age of 50 and started her blog, KT Did, back in November 2005. It's packed full of pictures of her and her riding buddies, a really fun site.....check it out.

Tough break
The legal decision came down in the State of Louisiana against Bourgets of the South for selling recreational vehicles without the proper license. If you missed this in the news, the motorcycle company landed a contract to supply FEMA with trailers for the displaced residents in that state after Hurricane Wilma. The fact they didn't have a business license to do so and that Bourgets is owned by the father and uncle of state Rep. Gary Smith, D-Norco raised some eyebrows and tempers.

So did the law prevail? Let's see, the fine for this infraction was $46,000 and Bourgets was paid a total of $105.5 million for travel trailers by the Government.

Oh yeah, the law really stuck it to them.

Read the full story in the Louisiana Weekly.

Heard it here first!
Only the most clever of readers may remember way back on November 14th's Biker Diaries Blog I wrote about Harley Davidson and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett urging George Bush to help the company break through China's tangle of motorcycle license restrictions and urban rider bans, which have prevented the Milwaukee motorcycle maker from opening a single dealership in the world's most populous nation.

Not sure who exactly has the clout but Harley Davidson says it plans to announce before summer that it'll open its first retail outlet in China since at least World War II.

The company says there are still major hurdles -- about 170 Chinese cities limit or ban motorcycle use or ownership, largely because they are viewed as underpowered, cheap, polluting machines that clog traffic and endanger others.

Even when it opens it shops though, riding the American Legend won't be affordable by everyone. In the same story Associated Press reported the trade break-through, it also wrote about a Hong Kong dental surgeon and other members of his 35-bike riding group who had to pay 10,000 Hong Kong dollars ($1,290) per bike in escort and paperwork fees last fall to make their trip to Guilin city a reality.


Two thoughts on this story. I wonder how much the HD Apparel will cost there and when do you think we'll see the first counterfiet Harleys hitting the marketplace?

Read the entire story in the El Paso Times.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Women! The best accessory for riding.

My passion for motorcycles is obvious. Its hard to think of a moment outside of cold or rainy weather conditions that I wouldn't rather be making a trip on the motorcycle rather than in a car. When I can't ride I like to read about them. Sometimes what I read makes me want to blog about our world of riding.

Its this series of events that mostly takes me to specialized magazines or websites about all things motorcycle, with some being written or presented better than others but rarely eye-catching. Imagine my surprise when I followed a link to a story about the increasing number of women in riding and came across this web page -

Yep, I had to go to a Middle Eastern Newspaper to read a story written by the Detroit Free Press. Funny.

Good story too! All about what male bikers want more than another tweak to the engine or more chrome on their bike - more women riding.

What was even more interesting was to read that according to the Motorcycle Industry Council out of 6.6 million motorcycle owners, 635,000 of them are women. They're certainly not riding around here! The MSF class I attended had thirteen people, all of the men. The website of MTII, the company that conducts the safety course for Petersons Harley Davidson, has photo albums of past classes which rarely show any women in the other courses they've taught. The company tends to run two classes at the same time in the large parking lot at the Hollywood Greyhound Ractrack and our group was continously distracted by the sight of a female in the other class. Curiousity or dirty old men, you decide.

Having the pictures is a nice touch, except when you have goofy looking pictures of people on a motorcycle for the first time in their lives like yours truly here.

The cheap old hiking boots I wore for the course were pretty much torn up within a week of getting my motorcycle and the safety gear enthusiasts among you will be glad to hear I went onto buy proper riding boots.

Back to the women.

The story speaks to not only an organizer at, a women's track-day organization based in Toledo, Ohio, who's happy with the growing number of women, but also a motorcycle dealer in Detroit claiming half their sales are to female riders. I have to think the level of female participation varies from Sportbikes to cruisers. The girlfriends friend who rides a Sportbike talks about several women she rides with and gives the impression it's not that unusual while I have to think hard to come up with more beyond the five or six ladies I know who ride cruisers.

There are several theories thrwon out as to why theres a surge in women riders.

Bonnie Strawser, organizer of, "I'm ecstatic about the changes I've seen," Strawser said. "There are so many motorcycles out there that are made for women."

Ty van Hooydonk at Discover Today's Motorcycling, said the industry has grown, in part, because women make up more than 50 percent of the population. "There has also been more marketing and more apparel geared toward women. You can't look at something on TV, in a movie or an advertisement without seeing a motorcycle," he said.

I lean towards a theory just touched on at the very end of the article, maybe women are just more practical and realize that there's more awareness about motorcycles on the road, consequently safer to ride.

Sandy Zakosky, a nuclear medicine technician, owns a Harley-Davidson Sportster. She likes the sound. "I feel much more comfortable about riding, and people are more aware of it now. "

Notice I never said women were smarter though.

Read the full story here.

Forget about reading, whens the ride?
As regular readers of Biker Diaries will know, I keep my motorcycle at my riding buddy's house, mostly because his garage is set aside for the bikes, covered and treated like the prized possessions they are, but also to stop me from jumping on the darned thing every free minute of the day.

You'll be glad to know then my motorcycle hadn't been taken away by the Harley Gods after my last blog talking about Star's (Yamaha) new line of bikes. Whew. Close one.

This won't stop me watching out for leather-clad bikers with dark visors on mad-max type bikes trying to run me off the road in typical B-movie fashion of course.

Actually with the weather climbing back into the low eighties and beautiful blue skies expected for the weekend, my buddy and I talked about going out for a ride tomorrow.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

I'll deny I ever typed this....

We're all assaulted with it. Our world isn't a quiet place anymore with all types of media coming at us from every imaginable direction. As if the world of cyperspace sitting on our desks with immediate access to worldwide news isn't enough, internet pop-up ad's try to fool us with every click, real world paper memos are passed across our desk, text messages bring our cellphones to life and guerilla advertising is hidden in plain view everywhere we turn.

Its with this barrage of our information sensors that one has to wonder what would possibly make us voluntarily go out and seek even more stuff to read and learn. Yet we do, giving birth to RSS feeds, email news alerts and cellphone services that bring everything from Wall Street stock numbers to sports scores.

Call it literary masochism. Information suicide. Whatever it is, we're all guilty and I'm right there with the masses, following all the other lemmings over the cliffs of knowledge. As matter of fact, I poke around in so many places for news about stuff I couldn't even remember where I found the link to order what was waiting for me in the mailbox this morning.

My free Star Motorcycle promotional DVD.

I knew you were wondering when this biker blog would actually get to heaven forbid, motorcycles.

In case you haven't heard, Yamaha is rebranding it's motorcycle line under the new image of 'Star' with the Roadliner leading the charge. Needless to say this was the focus of the short but well produced DVD. But it wasn't the slickness that caught my attention.

With the same enthusiasm they showed when revolutionizing the motorcycle market back in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Japanese manufacturers are paying new attention to the growing interest in cruising the USA with a big V-Twin between your legs.

I'll admit that to many I'm considered a new age biker that'll never know the hardships they faced in their early years of riding. You know, the hardened bikers who refitted entire engines using no more than a can opener while they were broken down in the middle of a desert with temperatures of 120 degrees when they toured america with only a blanket strapped to the bike and twenty dollars in the pocket. Yes, I'm spoiled with fuel injection and push button starters that brings to life one of the most successful engines Harley Davidson ever designed. Is it my fault that modern motorcycles no longer need to be retopped with oil every rest stop, or the engine rebuilt after 5000 miles?

I make these frustrated confessions to preempt what impressed me most about the new Yamaha...I mean, Star Motorcycles, which may or may not be mechanical standards for modern motorcycle production.

Because I'm obviously in an information vacuum, I've read in various motorcycle magazines about how Yamaha uses lightweight frames and staggered power pulses in it's beefed up V-Twin to deliver smooth power with that raw feel.

It wasn't so much the impressive mechanical specifications that caught my attention, but the care and attention to detail which went into coming up with the very distinctive art-deco look. As I mentioned above, I'm not privy to how a mass manufactured motorcycle is built, but I wouldn't think having a master wielder on the production line to get the smooth flow to the look of the gas tank the designers wanted is a standard practice. The DVD also claimed that the chroming, finishing of certain engine parts and caliber of production was found only in high performance or racing motorcycles.

Sure, the DVD is meant to sell the different Star Motorcycles, but it made me realize that maybe there's been more to my lingering looks as the various models of the Roadliner series rode by.

That banging at my front door right now has to be Harley Davidson coming to rip the H.O.G patch of my leather vest.

There were a few parts that made me feel they were trying maybe a little too hard. For instance, I was surprised to see all of the nameless staged riders wearing, gasp, half-helmets!!!

I thought it was only those obnoxious, show-off, posing Harley Davidson riders that did that!

A large part of the DVD was spent looking at accessories and 'metric motorcyce customizers'. Okay then.

If you'd like to order your own DVD click here and complete the form. The website says nothing about a limited time offer, however you do have to be a US resident (excluding Hawaii). Check it out and see if you agree with me.

No Harley was (permanently) harmed in the typing of this blog, and the author has recieved no incentive to say all these nice things that probably threatens his life with fellow HOG riders.

Has he had enough lashes yet?
You may remember I wrote about shock jocks from San Francisco's 105.3 who encouraged drivers in traffic jams to open their doors on passing bikers who were legally lane-splitting (towards the end of the blog). For those not in the know, because it's not legal in all states, this is when a motorcycle rides along the white lines in between vehicles during a stopped traffic flow (or traffic jam to you and I).

Bearing in mind I didn't hear this broadcast with my own ears, here is a transcript offered by some upset riders that did.

Woody: Nothing would make me happier than to watch somebody, and I actually seen this one time, somebody open a door and take you out as you're trying to squeeze through people who have been sitting in traffic for 45 minutes.

Tony: If it didn't rip my door off I'd probably do it.

Woody: Now I don't want to see anybody get hurt, honestly, but I mean you just get so mad so frustrated that you're like you know what I hope you... It's kind of like those guys that haul "O Ring" past you on the freeway... going like 160 mph on their crotch rocket, and I'm like, you know what, I hope you crash.

Raify: It's like, I look forward to seeing youup ahead...

Woody: Splattered

Raify: Splattered

Woody: Just for being an A-hole, right?

The DJ's tried to downplay what they said after some annoyed calls came in from bikers, but not enough to stop the forum boards from cooking. Both TMW Motorcycle Forums and Bay Area Riders Forum had a lot posts and complaints which continued until several days later the DJ apologized for his remarks and tried to make peace with the riding community. He even went as far to offer to take a Motorcycle Safety Course to better understand bikers.

This wasn't enough with some still crying for a pound of flesh and finally the DJ posted a written apology in the same forums screaming for his head.

OK, finally this is working. I've been trying to log in all day with no luck.....which is why I sent my last post to Dennis (Budman) in the first place.

Not sure when and where I'll be taking the safety course yet....but when I do, you'll know.

I know there are some people here who will never forgive me no matter what I say or do at this point......but what can you do.

For the this point I've only made ONE really bad comment during all this......which is the initial one on the bad as it was, no denial. SINCE then, realizing how stupid that was (I'm not beyond making mistakes obviously) I've given considerable airtime to clarifying that road rage in any form is wrong and that screwing with bikers on the roads is bullshit.

I would hope that if someone is shallow enough to blindly listen to some morning radio DJ making dumb comments for guidance, that the repeated retractions and clarifications would repeal their thought process.......what little there is to begin with.

Like I said, I'm more than happy to continue to help you in your mission to raise awareness of "moto" related issues (ie: lane splitting), and the reasons to appreciate the benefits of bikes on the roads means to us "cagers."

To the people who are still full of "pee" and venom, unwilling to even let me make good on my promises.......I hope you never make a mistake in your life, because when you do, and you honestly in your heart of hearts regret it, you'll hope that people can find it in them to give you another chance.

Yes, I'm new to California....but so are lots of other people here in the Bay Area. This is a transient city.....many outsiders moving in who aren't aware on the ins and outs of the community and its local laws. I can help you. Live 105 can help you. Honestly, the people at Live 105 are good people, unlike most in this business. They do lots to help the community and give back. They've been serving the Bay Area for MANY MANY years.......don't let one comment, as bad as it was, by one DJ (Me) ruin the good. Let me worry about making this good. Live 105 will support me in whatever it is I want to do.....they're just like that. Not much at this station comes from the of the reasons I decided to come work here.

So you can see what I mean here. The past is the past, and all I can do is worry about the future. By the way.....I didn't appreciate the one poster who said that I was calling for people to open doors on bikers, take a picture of the carnage, and then send it in for a prize? Holy hell? Who's got a bigger problem, me? or you for even blowing that up like that? What's the matter, the statement as is (joking or not) wasn't extreme enough for you? If that's the case I'm surprised you didn't try to lump kids in there god!

OK......I've been typing for a while. If anyone has any other questions, or suggestions (other than you're an "O Ring" Woody, go "fudge" yourself) you can email me at

To the people here who are giving me another shot......I appreciate it. I'll follow through on my word.

To the others.......don't know what else to say. OH.....and sorry for the form letter....I couldn't figure out how to post on here, and the emails were coming in like mad. I wanted to get back to everyone and figured SOME type of response was better than hearing NOTHING back at all. I'm out....

Take care!
Woody Live 105

Rather than say anything imflammatory or being reduced to name calling, I'll leave Woody and this arguement with a wise saying (paraphrased of course), "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only a few seconds to ruin one".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Video time!!!!!!!

Too late to type out a full blog entry, so as a type of offering to the blogging gods I give you two things in life that are just plain fun....

Motorcycles and Johnny Cash!

Click here to watch 'Ive-Been-Everywhere-Man'

And a little laugh at Arnolds expense.....


Sunday, January 15, 2006

From coast to coast...but this one is home!

I type this from my home computer having swapped one cold state for another. It seems the temperatures were nearly identical between California and Florida. Maybe I was just glad to be home but although it seemed the same on thermometer, it felt warmer here in Fort Lauderdale to the point I drove home from the airport with the top down.

Okay, so the heater was going. I'll admit I can be a wimp with the cold.

Baby showers and motorcycles.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, the girlfriend and I were in Oxnard to attend one her very close friends baby shower. Everyone knew everyone, except for yours truly of course and I was surprised when called to compete in a baby food eating contest.

It was orange, mushy and cold. I'd rather not talk about it anymore than that. Ever again. Never.

The ladies at my table thought I'd won the thing, but the brother of the father-to-be and a close friend (naturally) were declared tied winners.

I'd say that the whole thing smelled of a fix, but at that moment in time I couldn't smell anything but smashed orange stuff. Carrots maybe.

You see, I'm talking about it again. This could seriously scar me.

The shower was held in a private club located on a marina.

I'm not sure how many male readers of the blog have attended baby showers, but it is an interesting thing to behold. It seems to me that all of the activities are geared towards scaring you away from having children. My theory would be airtight except that most the women attending, at my table anyway, had at least two children already. Maybe its to flaunt whats in store for the new parents at this point in time when they're pretty much commited to having the new addition.

This babyshower included identifying baby food without tasting, smelling or being able to read the label. Do we really ask children to eat this stuff? Even behind clean shiny glass it looked appealing as poop. Speaking of which, that was the second contest!

A tray of opened diapers that had candy bars melted in the perfect spot to replicate a baby's best efforts was taken from table to table and you had to guess which candy bar it was by looking at it. This was done just before lunch with the mystery chocolate looking very convincing. You can't even imagine how tempted I was to wait until all eyes were on me and start eating the candy bar out of the diaper, but I was on best behavior to give a lasting impression that was more charming than fear factor.

You may remember the expected highlights of the shower was seeing the gf's friends new motorcycle and watching the playoffs in the bar with the other male attendee's.

The motorcycle wasn't bought and consequently never brought. We watched the football game on an old bigscreen TV that liked to flick on and off during the most exciting moments of play. This along with the coffee we were drinking made it one of the more unusual playoff experiences. Conversation was good though.

The friend (who was supposed to bring a new R6) and the girlfriend.
Wheres the motorcycle lady!

Today, on the way to airport we saw at least six motorcycles, four harleys and two sportbikes with the most unusual sight being the full faced helmets worn by two of the cruisers.

Not quite under the radar
Being at home, using my own computer and getting to read the latest motorcycle news didn't give me the warmest feeling I'd hope for though. The new EPA laws is starting to hit the more mainstream press with the Daytona Beach News covering the story thats guaranteed to grow with controversy.

Reported by several motorcycle magazines, the Tighter Clean Air Act emission standards, which is based on California's law similar law, went into effect on Jan. 1 for motorcycles manufactured in 2006 and beyond. Modifying exhaust systems or anything that would affect the motorcycle performance can bring fines up to $10,000. It also limits owners to one customized road machine in a lifetime that doesn't meet air quality standards. That bike cannot be sold for five years.

Many chopper and custom motorcycle shops are fearing the worse with sales already seemingly affected.

"If the law's enforced as it's written, we will be devastated. We do a lot of kit bikes," said Brigit Duncan, owner of Custom Works in Daytona Beach. "We've lost about 80 percent of those sales since we started letting people know about the law three months ago. But it was the right thing for us to do."

This'll impact all riders of all types of motorcycles.

This is assuming you actually you have your motorcycle to ride, legal or not. More details are coming out about Mid-West Choppers, the custom shop most famous for the first 9/11 motorcycle auctioned off last year.

The Register Mail reports the former owner Chip 'Miyler testified that a portion of the down payment money he received from customers - either through checks or the transfer of property, typically motorcycles that Miyler in turn sold - was used to cover the overhead of the business rather than order the parts needed to build each specific motorcycle.

"The business was in the red and as soon as the money was deposited, it was gone," said Miyler, admitting Mid-West Choppers was overdrawn and writing bad checks.

At this point unsatisfied customers have no chance of getting the 'dream bike' ordered and can only hope there's enough cash from motorcycle parts and money to get back deposits after creditors are satisfied.

What a shame.

So a quick check of the weather shows a high of 73 degress with a mostly sunny day. Looks like perfect riding weather to me. Just as well my company observes martin Luther King day!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reporting live (sort of) from the west coast

Before you read whats about to be written, understand that I'm not much of a traveller and aside for business will probably fly somewhere around two or three times a year.


It seems since this blog was started I've flown four times in the last four months and that doesn't include the numerous times business has taken me to Atlanta every month. The upside is that I get to see these places, most of which I've visited before, through the new eyes of a rider. Checking out the roads, terrain, weather and most importantly the other bikers and what they're riding. The obvious downside is that the travel takes me away from my bike and consequently riding.

So here I am in Sunny California. Okay it's cold and a few patches of fog, but still the land of dreams. Flew into LAX late on thursday, jumped into the car and drove up to Oxnard to stay with the girlfriends friends. Just a word from those in the know, LAX is the code for Los Angeles airport used by the airline industry and for us seasoned travellers (sarcasm).

Driving along Pacific Coast Highway you realise that this state is truly a motorcyclists paradise. Sure you have to avoid the city centers and many suburban jungles, but once you hit the open road and winding highways the only thing holding you back is how much gas you have in the tank. The highways are three lanes and once you get out of Malibu, traffic lights are few and far between. Even if a rider doesn't want to deal with the congestion of PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), the view of the coast can be traded for a ride through the farm lands and groves taking the 101 north out of Los Angeles which also comes with the benefit of no traffic lights. The two roads meet at Ventura and become one anyway.

We took the latter arriving at Oxnard at around 11.30 pm local time, but 2.30 am according to our body clocks. There wasn't much conversation with our gracious hosts before it was time for bed. After a quick breakfast Friday morning we again jumped in the car and headed up to Atescadaro to meet the girlfriends family. Staying on the 101 I could only imagine the thrill of riding these highways on my Deuce. The roads wound their way through the cut mountians taking you back and forth and occasionally over the landscape, all the while the Pacific ocean dominated the view to the left. The 1o1 highway follows the coastline which means although you're heading in a generally north direction at some points the road takes you due west and as I drove I could imagine the sun being allowed to warm various parts of your body as you rode. The warming sun is important since cool weather and cloudless skies leaves the temperature working hard to make it into the lower sixties. Being California you start and end off a lot cooler than your high, and wind chill really weighing in.

Didn't take these photos...but they're perfect examples of what you'll find on the 101.

Amazingly I saw no motorcycles on the road, this seemed a real waste of highway especially when we hit Gaviota where large hills pushed higher to become mountains and the road cut through accordingly. The bends became sweeping and gradients majestic, making this part of the world a riders heaven regardless of what you ride. There aren't many places to stop so traffic flows at a steady pace but none of the traffic exceeded eighty miles per hour. Dotted all along 101 are green old-fashioned lamposts with brown shades and sign "El Camino Real", which is supposed to symbolize Santa Barbara County. Between the drive yesterday and today, I'd seen three Harley dealerships with the last one at the off ramp as we arrived in Atescadero. Our tight travelling schedule wouldn't allow us to stop off at any of the dealerships so far, but that was about to hopefully change.

We met the girlfriends brother in Atescadero for lunch and over some good Californian Mexican food he showed us where he made a ATV/Dirt riding magazine. It's such a popular sport in this part of the country that they have huge races which come with purses of $25,000. Although being the oldest and the only smoker, he surprise all of his group of riders by beating all of them to come on sixth overall. Good, but not only no cigar but no cash winnings. Even though this is the third time meeting her family, they've all been flying visits and her brother was surprised to learn that not only did I ride but owned a motorcycle. His preference was off-road and Japanese bikes on top of that, but when two riders get together theres never a shortage of conversation. It was at the end of lunch the girlfriend worked out we had a twenty minute window to stop by the local Harley Davidson dealership.

Yes, I'm the sucker that Harley Davidson and their growing army of dealerships can thank for the prosperous growth and enjoyable bottom line. Like other HD riders I try to stop at local dealerships whenever travelling and buy a few T-shirts (really don't have much need for the long sleeve stuff in Florida) for the apparel collection. At $26 a pop and with a majority of riders doing the same thing, its easy to see why the dealerships are making more money off of the clothes than the motorcycles. Heck there are some stores that only carry the clothes!

So there I was at Gary Bang Harley Davidson, plastic in hand and credit limit available looking for both myself and my riding buddy. Nothing. Couldn't find anything that really caught the eye except a heavy duty, weathered and patched leather for $470. Worth it I'm sure, but a little more than I wanted to spend especially for something that would be taken out of the closet maybe twice a year.

We picked up her niece and nephews, some food for the barbeque and headed over to the parents house in Morro Bay, a seaside town with a large and notable chunk of rock sitting the towns bay. If you were to imagine a northern seaside town with all the quaintness Hollywood could muster, you'd know Morro Bay. Hearst Castle is billed as being right next door but is really an hour north.

What really caught my imagination was the ride from Atescadero to Morro Bay. We rode along Highway 41, a two lane road which curves up and down the mountains giving some spectacular views and what I could only think would be fun-filled riding. Since both her brothers and father are motorcycle enthusiasts I asked about the road and they said if you started at Morro Bay and stayed on Hwy 41 past Atascadero it would take you on a beautiful route into the mountains with a few places to stop to take it all in. Wow.

Barbequed tritips, chit chat and an hours worth of hide and seek with the kids and it was time to head back to Oxnard. Driving up I continuously wished to be on a motorcycle, but coming back in the pitch black it was nice being safely in the rented Camry. With no street lights and a hidden moon the curving dark roads weren't as attractive.

So here I sit about to jump in the shower and do the good-boyfriend thing of going to a baby-shower, feet cold to the bone. The upsides to today: Guys watching football in another part of the bar while the ladies ohh and ahh at the baby presents and the girlfriends friend from Los Angelos riding up her brand new Sportbike.

Just up the winding road.
Funnily enough I just happen to be in the State that has a little controversy in the motorcycle world. I'm not talking about Governor Schwarzenegger taking flak from his little Harley mishap which drew a stinging editorial from the Mercury News this morning.

The police explained that they didn't actually witness Schwarzenegger's accident -- and that they couldn't go back and cite him later.

By this thinking, a cop who comes across a drunk who confesses to hitting a grandmother in a crosswalk would have trouble taking him off to jail -- because, after all, the cop didn't witness the crash.

The explanation offered by the California Highway Patrol and the DMV achieved even greater heights of silliness. Because Schwarzenegger's motorcycle had a sidecar for his son, they claimed, nothing forbade the governor from operating the vehicle with just his standard driver's license. Even though you need a special license to operate a motorcycle without a sidecar.

No, its far less widespread but certainly something that deserves equal attention. Friday morning some northern californian deejays on 105.3 decided they were upset with the legal practice of lane-splitting. For those not in the know, because it's not legal in all states, this is when a motorcycle rides along the white lines in between vehicles during a stopped traffic flow (or traffic jam to you and I). Bearing in mind I didn't hear this with my own ears, here is a transcript offered by some upset riders that did.

Woody: Nothing would make me happier than to watch somebody, and I actually seen this one time, somebody open a door and take you out as you're trying to squeeze through people who have been sitting in traffic for 45 minutes.

Tony: If it didn't rip my door off I'd probably do it.

Woody: Now I don't want to see anybody get hurt, honestly, but I mean you just get so mad so frustrated that you're like you know what I hope you... It's kind of like those guys that haul "O Ring" past you on the freeway... going like 160 mph on their crotch rocket, and I'm like, you know what, I hope you crash.

Raify: It's like, I look forward to seeing you up ahead...

Woody: Splattered

Raify: Splattered

Woody: Just for being an A-hole, right?

The DJ's tried to downplay after some annoyed calls came in from bikers but not enough to get the forum boards cooking. Both TMW Motorcycle Forums and Bay Area Riders Forum had a lot posts and complaints.

The sad thing is by keeping this alive you give these 'shock-jock' types exactly what they want, free publicity. On the other hand its so hard not to see the obvious want to scream "What freakin' idiots!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

From 4 to 2 and back again

It's been a few days since my last post and the whole reason can be laid at the feet of my first automotive love.

Getting my Harley has made it a nearly a forgotten affair, something older friends ask about while newer ones are surprised when they're told of the dedication and passion. You see back in 2000 I bought my Mustang convertible after driving past it for about a month as it sat parked at the front of the dealership, wanting the car more each time I went by. For years I would spend each weekend cleaning, detailing and waxing it until it had that showroom shine. Without any kind of plan I'd jump in, drop the top and just drive for hours with nowhere particular to go.

I think you can see why I took to riding with such enthusiasm. But that was the problem. As soon as I bought my motorcycle and learned the thrills and freedom of riding, my car became the red-headed stepchild. Weather took a toll every weekend I didn't carefully clean it and soon the mustang looked like every other car on the road it's age.

I decided this year I'd start taking care of my first automotive love and that began this weekend with trying to get that nasty yellowing effect which takes over older headlights as well as a wash, paint scrub and wax. Anyone who's done all of these can tell you that its no quick affair. So just as Saturday was filled with chores and shopping (isn't it amazing how that list is held only by the female in the relationship, and you can never get a bead on it's true length) Sunday was filled with car care. Even if I did have the time to jump on the Deuce when I'd finished, my body was so beaten up from the physical effort the ride wouldn't have been as much fun.

Its a real shame I haven't hit the roads since the weather is near perfect with not a cloud in the sky and cool weather to keep you perfectly comfortable. Probably like the same weather Arnold was looking at when he decided to take out his Harley. Guess he didn't know a quick ride would heat up to national press coverage?

Of course you have to feel good about the LAPD accusing you of riding without a license when not only do you have the California Highway Patrol escorting you at the time of your accident, but they publicly state you're allowed to operate a motorcycle.

Spokesman Tom Marshal said CHP officials also concluded that the governor was permitted to operate a motorcycle with a sidecar.

"We're not criticizing the LAPD," he said after learning of the department's finding. "We haven't seen the report, ... but that's how we read the vehicle code as applying."

It seems having a sidecar may have lost some of that Terminator image, but saved him a fine.

But the handlebars are on the wrong side of the bike
I was a little surprised when I read the recent headline UK motorcycle market one per cent down in 2005 on the Auto Industry website. Every other country has reported an increase in motorcycle sales with the US is expected another record braking year.

Then I read a little further into the article and saw the true trend behind the numbers which not only include motorcycles but scooters and mopeds as well.

large capacity bikes (over 1,000cc) popular among long-distance riders were up 17.2% to reach 18,960 new registrations in 2005

So although fewer people are buying the smaller bikes, the number of people getting into riding a motorcycle for fun is following the worldwide pattern. Indeed, it was this growth which actually slowed the declining trend of motorcycle sales in England, which is understandable to anyone who's spent a winter there. They know you have to be an incredibly dedicated rider to really enjoy the sport.

Know thats sorted out, I feel much better that all is right with the world and there some things that still make some sense.

Lane splitting down under
Our Australian biking brothers are in a fight with the man. The National Transport Commission, who are in charge of legislating the roadways down under want to make it illegal to split lanes.

The Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia (MRAA) said no submission to date had been in favour. The MRAA's John Karmouche said there was no evidence that this practice was unsafe, based on available research and statistics. "Some of the anti-lane filtering approach by regulators appears to stem from an attitude that motorcyclists should wait their turn and be treated like other traffic," Mr Karmouche said.

This is a controversial subject even among riders and the US has differing laws from state to state. The Hurt report is of course mentioned, as well as California's legalised lane splitting.

Read the article in The Australian.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Where is the love?

It's supposed to be a new year, a time for fresh slates and endless possibilities. A non-tangible point in our ever shifting lives where we can draw a line in the sands of time and say 'from here on in I'll do this and this better!'

Instead I'm feeling the same old negative vibes and bad news crowding out my aura of optimism. C'mon people, can't you see I'm trying to feel good over here?

First I read in a local biker magazine, Wheels on the Road that although the Toys in the sun run raised more money in 2005 than it did in the previous year, the organizers were disappointed with the number of toys collected (page 6 since I can't give a direct link to a pdf file). Big hearted bikers who had suffered through a miserable hurricane season here in South Florida helped raise $544,000 (after expenses) for charities like Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation. Unfortunately where the run managed to fill two trailers full of toys in 2004, this one only had enough to fill one and a quarter trailers. As you can read in the editorial, the feeling is that some bikers didn't bring a toy (whats the point of coming then?) and others kept their toy to go onto other events! Thats just sad.

The editorials also complained about passengers on motorcycles not bringing a toy as well. This was the first time I took part in the run, didn't know what to do and consequently poked around as much as I could to get a clear idea of the event and what to bring. Did I have to register, just show up, drop off the present at the start or the finish of the run? I even called the number listed on the website for more information but never got a call back. All these things were still unclear even as I pulled into the starting point the morning of the run and although surprised I had to pay the $10 fee for the girlfriend riding on the back of my bike as well as myself, I gladly paid it. The whole reason for being there was to raise money after all. So I openly apologize now for not bringing a present on behalf of my girlfriend, but hope the DVD I did bring made some childs Christmas that much better than it would have been.

I totally understand the organizers frustration at the toy shortfall and would politely suggest its made clearer on the website or publicity for the 2006 event. Pulling something together as massive as an all day entertainment event and bike run with 30,000 attendees is amazingly difficult, even if you only did one of the two, but both on the same day. My hats off to them.

What really makes my blood boil and leaves me shaking my head is the story told in the other editorial on the same page of Wheels on the Road. It seems someone bought the VIP tickets early on just to meet a particular celebrity appearing in the run. When that famous person couldn't ride in the event, the un-named person wanted his VIP entry money back. And he didn't just make an idiot of himself with the organizers, but contacted the local radio station affiliated with the event and even Joe Dimaggio (I'm guessing the charity) before being put straight. Threats of bringing in his attorney were greeted with the reminder that this was a charity event and if he really wanted to push the matter his name could be published for all to see who this cheap so and so really was.

The hits keep on coming
After blogging about New Hampshire reporting a spike in motorcycle fatalities for 2005, I read today that Delaware is setting morbid records with 21 deaths last year.

Newszap reported 'Of the 21 fatalities, 14 were Delaware residents, Mr. Kemp (DMV motorcycle safety program coordinator) said, and five of the 14 did not have motorcycle endorsements, required to ride a bike beyond a 60-day permit. Although there has been a proliferation of speed bikes racing down the highway with younger drivers steering them, Mr. Shock ( training administrator for the state Division of Motor Vehicles) said the average age of the victims is more than 40.

This is actually a well written article and as easy as it would be for the reporter to fall into the rhetoric of 'over 40 year old baby boomers need to wear their damn helmets' which so many other media outlets do, Drew Volturo didn't. Instead, he painted a full and balanced picture on the growing problem.

The State officials acknowledge that improving safety programs are key, both for drivers as well as riders and no-one seems keen to bring back mandatory helmet laws. As matter of fact Rep. Bruce C. Ennis, D-Smyrna, who chairs the Motorcycle Riders Education Advisory Council, said he has heard of interest at the federal level to require safety training before issuing a motorcycle endorsement.

But anti-helmet supporters, or pro-choice if you'd prefer, don't rejoice. There are feelings that helmets do help. Dover Police Sgt. Timothy Mutter heads the city's six-officer motorcycle unit.

In recent years, two officers have fallen off their bikes and gotten bruised, but were not seriously injured. "If they didn't have their helmets on, they would've suffered severe injuries the way they were tumbling around," he said. Sgt. Mutter said he took "a good tumble" off his bike when he was 17 and landed on his head, but he walked away from the accident because he was wearing a helmet. "I'm not big on government mandating rules, but government also has the duty to try to protect us," he said.

"If (wearing a helmet) was mandated, it would cut down on lives lost."

But then he does point out, "But a helmet is not a cure-all. It's not like putting on ironclad gear. You're not going to win if you strike something solid like a pole, tree or a car."

The reporter also mentions that 5,000 motorcycles were registered in the state of Delaware during 2005 alone. When you only have 22,000 registered in total, that jump in 2005 numbers are really going to change the statistics. Throw this in with the fact that 5 of the 21 were still on their 60 day temporary license and you have the statistics being faced right now.

Every rider should read this article in full at

No more aching butts?
Looks like Harley's not only taking the hardships out of riding by improving on motorcycle design, but now they'll save your sore buttocks by shipping your bike for you. Harley has a nicer way of putting it, 'Harley-Davidson Shipping expands riding opportunities for motorcyclists who want to ride in locations throughout North America, but face the challenges of insufficient vacation time or inclement weather constraints.'

You say tomato and I say tomato and although that saying really doesn't work in written word, I think we all get the point! As with all pick up services, they'll come to your business or home and delivery it where you need it. The claimed benefits? Guaranteed pricing as well as group, HOG (Harley Owners Group) and BRAG (Buell Riders Adventure Group) discounts.

Whats the fun of going to Sturgis if you can't show the saddle-sores?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What a way to start the year!

It's a hectic start to the year. I optimistically wrote about all the motorcycle related things to do in 2006 and it already seems like everything's kicking into high gear with plans finalized and events to go to.

Two friends have mentioned that they're attending the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati Ohio at the beginning of February. One of them I expected to go, while other recently decided to sell advertising in a motorcycle magazine and suddenly found herself with a mini-vacation!

We'll see how good of a friend she really is if she brings back some publicity material on the new model being debuted at the show by Viper Motorcycles. They're going to introduce the companys second model, the Diablo Power Cruiser as well as its own line of proprietary engines, ranging from 115 to 152 cubic inches. There are some impressive specifications on the website, but no pictures or prices. The latter is important since the company bills itself as 'a leading designer and manufacturer of Super Cruiser motorcycles with cutting edge technology for the affluent enthusiast'.


The Diablo's older brother - The Diablo Super Cruiser

Viper has certainly been making a lot of noise over the last six months with news making items like keeping the manufacturing of certain parts close to home and signing a contract to purchase a 32,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility on 4 acres located in Monticello, MN. The company is saying some good things about their new line of proprietary engines; all billet construction, big bore/short stroke and supposedly produce 30% less heat than the competitive air-cooled v-twin.

Maybe though, the Viper Company might want to refocus their target demographic. One could read the 'affluent enthusiast' as being in the over forty male category, which is the same group that's not doing so well on the roads of New Hampshire. news carried a story today about the New Hampshire authorities reporting a spike in motorcycle fatalities. Official numbers show that 27 riders were killed in 2004 and 42 in 2005. Rather than have the knee-jerk reaction of bringing in helmet laws, the authorities are looking to improving the states motorcycle safety program, which isn't currently mandatory for licensing. It is noted that New Hampshire does not require adult motorcycle operators or passengers to wear helmets. Riders under age 18 are required to wear helmets.

"In any of these endeavors, it's like trying to turn a huge ocean liner," said Peter Thomson, head of the state Highway Safety Agency. "You can't just take a right turn. It takes time to change course and maneuver."

The numbers are interesting for proponents of Motorcycle safety courses, such as the writer of this blog, Biker Diaries. One of the 27 people killed in 2004 and two of the 42 killed last year took the formal motorcycle riding course, with twenty-two of the 42 fatalities last year being 40 or older. The age of the two fatalities that took the safety course weren't mentioned, but it would be interesting to see if they were also in the over 40 group. And unless I'm reading the article wrong, the two fatalities in 2005 who took the safety course were the first to happen in the last ten years of offering them, 'from 1990 to 2005, 23,000 riders have taken motorcycle education courses, and only two have been involved in fatal crashes'.

Either way, this news story will surely kick the helmet debate into full gear and we're only on the fifth day of the New Year. Needles to say, according the authorities in New Hampshire the last thing an 'affluent enthusiast' needs is the power Viper Motorcycles is touting, especially if they happen to be over forty.

Three good things appear to come from the article: The powers that be in New Hampshire are doing the right thing and trying to find a cure for motorcycle fatalities by preventing them in the first place, motorcycle dealers seem to be promoting the safety courses and the numbers are re-enforcing how a course can help. Only two out of the forty two fatalities had attended the safety course. This means a lot of other riders who also took the course got themselves out of a traffic situation that could've been a lot more deadly than it turned out.

Che who?
I had a polite disagreement with one of the people we were hanging out with while in New York recently. She liked the movie 'Motorcycle Diaries' and I felt that apart from the first quarter of the film which actually had them riding the motorcycle, it really wasn't that interesting. She of course empathized with his sensitivity toward the suffering of the common man who were put down by rich capitalists, ignoring the fact that Che Guevara would go onto order or even personally murder many of the 'common men' in Cuba after the revolution.

All the media hype around the movie, and of course the man Che Guevara, is obviously enough to get Subcomandante Marcos, a leader in the Zapatista Guerilla movement riding across Mexico on a motorcycle. Supposedly unarmed and alone, his six month journey isn't to run for office but "to listen to the simple and humble people who struggle." They don't mention what kind of motorcycle he's riding on the website but Che rode a 1939 500cc Norton nicknamed La Poderosa II (meaning "the mighty one"), and if the revolutionary leader feels he needs to follow the script, shouldn't he follow it correctly?

If we were to nitpick the motorcycle should be borrowed (it was Che's travelling companion's in real life) and I don't remember any livestock such as the chicken Subcomandante Marcos is taking on his journey even being in the movie. Maybe the chicken didn't have a good enough agent.

It seems that riders like my fellow blogger Gymi may have a welcomed distraction during these long, cold months of weather inflicted non-riding. The Bay City Times reported that the Alden B. Dow Museum will have the Motorcycle exhibit Designs Through Time: Motorcycles Past, Present and Future showing from January 14th through April 2nd.

The exhibit showcases everything from vintage designs right up to the latest and greatest, and encompasses the history of motorcycle design, technology and artistry.

"I'm thrilled to have it in Michigan because we've never been here," said Dick Daley, the Florida man who created the "Designs Through Time" display. "I think this is the biggest exhibit we've ever done from a size standpoint. I think there's going to be between 60-70 bikes there."

Some of the memorable bikes to be included are a vintage BMW with a Steib sidecar, a custom trike, custom choppers, a new BMW, vintage Harley-Davidsons, a Harley-Davidson V-Rod, Indian Four, 1953 Indian Chief, 1073 Yamaha MX3601, 1969 BSA Lightning, 1967 BSA Hornef, vintage and new Ducatis, MV Augustas, vintage Hodakas, other vintage Indians and more.

It was interesting to read Dick Daley saying they've had the same people come back to the exhibit three or four times. I wonder if they stare longingly and make motorcycle noises?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

From the vintage classics to the new Harley legends

So the harsh fact that 2006 is well and truly here has probably settled in with most by now. I don't know about you but I didn't ruin one check from writing the wrong year on it.

Of course I do 99.9% of my bill payments online, but it still feels good to make claim to the feat, regardless of why it came about.

On a personal note, and this is a blog after all so its sort of expected to have a few of those, I'm quickly approaching my one year anniversary of having a motorcycle and license. Time just flew by and for a while there it looked like I'd put close to ten thousand miles on the odometer, but hurricanes along with a wet winter will probably see me closer to six thousand by the time the first twelve months are celebrated.

Another bright side to the New Year is a full calendar of biking events to look forward to, plan the visit and nearly equally as fun as the first two, actually go. Daytona and Sturgis bike rallies, motorcycle shows and a growing number of bike nights as the weather turns to spring.

As it's just a touch too far and the cross country trek is reserved for Sturgis, I unfortunately won't be making it to Ohio in July for the American Motorcyclist Association's Vintage Motorcycle Days 2006 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. It's a shame too since MV Agusta will be celebrated at the show as the 'featured Marquee' leading the display of all the other classic bikes when it opens July 28th.

As in previous years, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days will kick off a ten-day celebration of motorcycling at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, concluding with the AMA Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire the following weekend, August 4-6.

And if you think there are more bikers turning up at these events, you're probably not far wrong. Honda's CEO pointed out in a year end speech that the companies' 2005 motorcycle sales increased 16% to a total of 12.5 million units worldwide. I'm sure it won't be long before the other motorcycle manufacturer's post their own numbers and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that not only will 2005 be a record breaking year, but the expectations for 2006 are for even higher numbers.

Indeed, according to the Irvine, Calif.-based Motorcycle Industry Council, 1.1 million cycles of all kinds were sold in the United States in 2004. Early indications are that in 2005, the figure could inch closer to eclipsing a record set in 1973, when 1.5 million cycles were sold. Sales are up dramatically from 1995, when only 309,000 cycles were sold.

It's not just the big corporate names that are hoping for a busy year either. MSNBC recently reported about the growing number of custom bike builders springing up around the country.

Although the top seven commercial bike builder's account for 91 percent of all cycles sold in the United States, custom chopper builders have generated big dollars, said Mike Mount, director of communications for the Motorcycle Industry Council.

"The volume of custom motorcycles may not be high, but the economic value is high," Mount said. "These cycles can typically run from $15,000 to however much you want to spend. Unlike most people who buy cycles to ride, many people who buy custom cycles buy them as art. That has been good for custom bike builders."

There is the fear that there's too much interest, too quickly, with too many people opening custom bike shops hoping to take advantage of the growing interest. The article not only interviews some high profile people in the industry but also has some interesting statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council.

For example, according to the most recent Motorcycle Industry Council data, for 2003, the median age for motorcycle riders is 41. Median income is $55,850. The largest portion of riders, about 30 percent hold professional or technical jobs. Another 18 percent are enlisted in the military. About 12 percent are mechanics or craftsmen, and 11 percent are business managers or proprietors. The remainders are laborers, service workers, salespeople, clerical workers and farmers.

Read the article in it's entirety at MSNBC.

Forget about everyone else..what about my recent ride?
As I mentioned at the very end of the last blog on Bikers Diaries, after all the time spent with the girlfriends friends in New York, I was in need of some male-bonding time that should be done firmly from the saddle of a Harley Davidson. Fortunately, my riding buddy wasted away his New Years Eve weekend working around his house and had the same itch to get out and travel some asphalt.

It was a beautiful day in South Florida with an expected high of just under eighty degrees. We jumped on the bikes and headed over to Denises Kitchen for breakfast and decide where to go. He didn't want to spend too long riding around so a quick ride over to Holiday Park out by the Everglades was the final decision.

Just as we were wrapping up an older guy walked up, leaned over to my buddy and asked, "Is that your Harley outside?"

"I guess it is?" my buddy replied, not sure what the question was getting at.

"Does it have one of those heavy duty Harley batteries in it?" We both looked at the guy, not knowing what he was talking about. "Because you left your lights on!"


One thankfully started Harley and twenty minutes later we'd ridden south on I-95 and headed out west on I-595. My buddy had never gone south along Knob Hill Road from I-595 and really loved the wide road that winds through the countryside of Davie, Cooper City and into Pembroke Pines. I'm only detailing my little route here because I know you can keep a secret and as much as I'd encourage you to try it, don't mention it to anyone else.

We wanted to take Sterling all the way west to Hwy 27 which goes by the entrance to Holiday Park, but a dike and the road ending had us turning around and looking for a way over. Right there on the side of this little used side road were a pair of the shiniest looking hi-gloss dress shoes you'd wear to a wedding. I guess someones not getting his deposit back.

A quick stop at Holiday Park and we re-traced our route along Sterling back up Knob Hill, deciding to make our way back along the city streets instead of I-595. I'm glad this was my buddy's decision since the midday traffic was out in full force and there seems to be a traffic light every quarter of a mile when you ride Knob Hill north of the freeway.

While getting gas, I noticed he'd left his lights on again and when it was my turn to use the restroom the water was still running in the sink. What's the age you put people in a home and do they allow motorcycles?

This quick ride had turned out to be an all morning event with our stomachs letting us know it was already time for lunch. You're never far away from a Hooters in South Florida and the fresh air and worked up an appettite for wings! Since I'd been out a little longer than everyone concerned first planned, so I called and invited the girlfriend to join us.

By the time we finished lunch, wandered back to his place and parked the bikes it was 1.30 in afternoon. A nice impromptu trip that put over a hundred miles on the odometer and had some good laughs.

Not a speedy ride but definitely a fun one that'll be remembered with a smile.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Was it only four days?

My girlfriend and I came home from the four day trip to New York City, with the main idea being to celebrate New Years Eve there with some of her friends, but somehow shopping seemed to sneak itself into the schedule.

The flights and changeovers were comfortable and non-eventful both there and back with the girlfriend sleeping on my shoulder during both stages. We had a really nice cab driver from the airport that brought us to our hotel quickly and safely, especially considering the traffic. Coming back, the guy couldn't even be bothered to get out and help with the luggage!

Although we were greeted with grey skies, the realization that this was the first time either my girlfriend or I had been to New York City with a date (making the trip that much more special) the day seemed less gloomy. The days seemed to trade off overcast for crisp blue skies with the temperature dropping considerably on the former. It went from cold to frickin' freezing!

Being the seasoned traveller, the girlfriend found a great place to stay, The Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca located between the red and green subway lines. At only $150 a night and just four blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, I can't imagine staying anywhere else. Even though we were located in Tribeca, there was no sight of Deniro or Coppola, I guess you can't believe everything you see on an American Express ad.

The plan to meet two of the girlfriend's girlfriends had some obvious upsides and painful downsides. What man wouldn't want to be surrounded by three beautiful women, all of them giving a fair amount of attention? Of course, what do women like to do when they get together but gossip and shop? The gossiping was really not that interesting to me as I really had no idea who they were talking about. Since yours truly is a straight, red-blooded male, my reaction to prolonged shopping is an obvious one. Fortunately I bought the girlfriend a Nano IPod for Christmas and had something to play with as the girls debated one color over another for a sweater that none of them really needed to buy.

Ending each day exhausted with throbbing feet, here are some thoughts about a few things that surprised me;

New Yorkers are really nice people.
No matter who we asked for directions, everyone not only had time to help, but made sure we understood where we were going. One morning the local Starbucks didn't have their delivery of bagels and suggested we buy one next door at the nearby deli, letting us eat in the store as we had our coffee. Everyone offered up 'Happy New Years' and 'Have a great day'.

How many Starbucks do you need?
They have one of every corner. Not kidding. There was one to our right as we walked along a street, look to the left and there was another one. Get to the lights, yet another Starbucks on the next block.

It's actually very clean
Although the streets were clean and there were no real odors to speak off, the feeling was it was more because of the cold winter weather (hot temperatures not only bring out the smell, but the homeless people too.) and the holidays.

There are an awfully lot of Asian women there.
Obviously of American birth, but still a large demographic. Maybe I'm just noticing this more since the girlfriend is of Asian decent, but I really don't think that's it. Certainly makes the city look pretty! They like to date non-asian men......

It's a noisy place.
We stayed on the fourth floor and the noise from traffic as well as pedestrians came into our room so loudly, I thought we'd left the window open. The girlfriend's friend who lives here agreed, explaining she wears earplugs to sleep.

And so many of them too
It's nice to see that Rolex is trying to lose that stuffy image by having their watches sold on the street by very informally dressed salespeople. Although they do need to learn to speak a bit louder instead of mumbling that they have some for sale as you walk past. I'm sure they're trying to be discreet because of the great prices, after all they don't want to get mobbed. Who would've thought they were so affordable?

There must be some logic to it
I know the film industry is having a hard time getting people in the cinema, but selling their new releases on the sidewalks for five dollars seems like a strange way of doing it.

What about the motorcycles?
Since this is a motorcycle blog, what did I find on two wheels? Spotted this Harley parked the first morning.

I really didn't expect to see too many bikes. The traffic is everything they say it is and all you could imagine. Drivers bustling for space and lane position, either not seeing other vehicles or simply not caring. You'd have to be more than a little crazy to brave the traffic. That first day I saw a BMW touring bike zipping up the street.

While shopping with the girls, or should I say trying to keep up, came across a cool uptown department store display featuring a Triumph.......didn't photograph too well.

Spot the motorcycle!

Not motorcycle related, but it was nice to see that mailboxes are safe in the big apple. Felt bad for the Swedish tourist who got busted for not using enough postage though.

Our final day in New York was New Years Day and the city was quiet (at long last), calm enough for the riders to come out. Mostly BMW sport/touring bikes like this one....

..and even managed to see a Harley guy trying to find someplace to park down the street.....

We had a great time, but it was nice to get back in the warm weather and open spaces of South Florida. As matter of fact, with four days of girl talk, shopping and a lot of walking it was time to do some male bonding on the back of a Harley........

More of that later!

Hope you and yours had a safe and happy new years!!!!