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.

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