Monday, February 27, 2006

So I'm how old again?

I really can't remember the last time it happened, laying in bed with so many thoughts running around that sleep just wouldn't come until 4 am and the 2 excedrin PM finally kicked in.

Thinking about how sharp the Duece will look like when I get her back, mentally planning the Daytona Bike Week and some stuff that I really can't talk about until next week. Or maybe the week after. We'll have to see.

I can't even imagine my goofiness when the saddlebags arrive, which should be the day before I get to lay eyes on the all new Deuce.

So I'm forty-one, right?

Even thieves like the beach.
So Progressive Insurance released an interesting study today, all about the safest and worse cities for riders as far as collisions and theft are concerned. If you think you'd be more likely to have your motorcycle stolen living in Chicago versus Wichita, who could blame you? After all, it's a much bigger city. The same goes for crashes; no one could fault you for assuming that the bigger the city, the more the traffic congestion and therefore the greater the odds of having an accident.

Progressive reviewed claims data on more than two million motorcycles insured over the past three years to determine the likelihood of a motorcyclist getting into an accident or having a bike stolen, focusing on the 89 U.S. metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 and higher. There were some surprising results and others that just have to be expected.

After all, with it being an island and far fewer places to hide a stolen bike, you wouldn't think Honolulu could be anywhere near the top of the list for most stolen motorcycles. Yet a motorcyclist in Honolulu is four times more likely to have a bike stolen than a rider in Chicago or Detroit, which are the third and seventh largest metro areas in the country, respectively.

Similarly, though Baton Rouge only ranks 75th in population, it ranks third when it comes to the likelihood of a rider there having a motorcycle crash. And, a motorcyclist in Philadelphia, the country's fifth largest metro area, is 36 percent less likely to have an accident as one in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach metro area, which is the 47th largest.

However, some cities lived up to expectations such as New York ranking highest in both population and in the likelihood of motorcycle collisions. But some bikers seem to live in a motorcycle mayberry. Just ask the motorcycle owners of Ohio with Columbus being the safest place to ride with the least amount of collisions per capita and Cincinnati ranked among the least likely for both thefts and collisions. To be fair to the west coast cousins Oxnard, California ran a very close second to Columbus for the Metro area least likely for riders to have a collision.
Contrary to the popular adage, crime does like to take a vacation. Not only does Honolulu top the list for most likely to have a motorcycle stolen, but Florida has the most light-fingered bikers with both major cities, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, making the top ten of where a motorcycle is most likely to be stolen.

If bikers really want to hang onto their two-wheel treasures then Nashville, Tennessee or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania would be the place to live, both being the number one and two cities least likely have your motorcycle stolen.

Here are the complete numbers........

Metro Areas In Which A Motorcycle is Most Likely to be Crashed
1. New York, N.Y.-N.J.
2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Portsmouth
3. Baton Rouge, LA
4. San Diego, CA
5. San Francisco, CA
6. New Orleans LA
7. San Antonio, TX
8. McAllen, TX
9. Nassau, NY
10. Orlando, FL

Metro Areas In Which A Motorcycle is Least Likely to be Crashed
1. Columbus, OH
2. Oxnard, CA
3. Cleveland, OH
4. Providence, RI
5. Tacoma, WA
6. Cincinnati, OH
7. Toledo, OH
8. Akron, OH
9. Indianapolis, IN
10. Bakersfield, CA

Metro Areas In Which A Motorcycle is Most Likely to be Stolen
1. Honolulu
2. Miami, FL
3. San Diego, CA
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. New York, NY
6. Washington DC
7. Los Angeles, CA
8. Fort Lauderdale, FL
9. New Orleans, LA
10. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Portsmouth

Metro Areas In Which A Motorcycle is Least Likely to be Stolen
1. Nashville, TN
2. Pittsburgh. PA
3. Milwaukee, WI
4. Minneapolis-St. Paul WI
5. Cinncinati, OH
6. Lansing, MI
7. Albany, NY
8. Syracuse, NY
9. Harrisburg, PA
10. Grand Rapids, MI

Now this is an interesting list and you can read how they came up with these numbers (sort of) and the complete report here at Progressives News Release site. If I'm reading everything correctly, and heaven knows I'm not a statician, but it seems they took the number of claims against the metro population, when really to be accurate with a study like this, you should use the number of registered motorcycles as your base.

Am I way off base with my thinking?

Regardless, it was none to nice to see my town of Fort Lauderdale making number 8 in the 'most likely to have your motorcycle stolen' category. I guess those thoughts of storing it out on the street is brushed right off the table!

Wrong message at the wrong time
In the last entry of Biker Diaries I wrote about a very dumb rider who died while doing 120 mph in what must've been a 50 mph zone.

A story in the Su8n-Sentinel wasn't sad just because they had to bury Leonardo Amaral Filadelfo, the 29 year old man yesterday, but that the relatives and police chose the venue to give some misleading impressions. No rhetoric should come during a time thats really set aside for the deceased, and certainly not misinformation.

"He loved the feel, and being out on the road," said his sister Patricia Filadelfo-DeMoura, 28. "It's a dangerous hobby, and the family had told him that people could be killed."

.... relatives are shocked that their always-smiling "Leo" is gone and hope his death might send a message to other thrill-seekers. "You have to be careful, it's a dangerous sport," Filadelfo-DeMoura said. "They have to think about their families and what a tragedy would mean to them."

I understand that the relatives are in a horrible place right now, and even admit that Leonardo was riding too fast. Then there was this:

Fatal motorcycle crashes are all too common in South Florida, and too many riders wrongly think helmets and other gear may prevent death, officials say. Seventy people died of injuries from motorcycle crashes in Broward County in 2004 and 2005, a medical examiner's report shows. In 2006, there have been three fatal crashes in Fort Lauderdale alone.

Someone has to say that the riding gear stands a better chance of protecting a rider if they're not going 120 miles per hour on a residential street with traffic lights every couple of miles!!!

We won't even talk about the riders 11 traffic citations, including speeding, careless driving and street racing since 1995, according to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records. Three of the speeding tickets were for driving faster than 90 mph.

You can read the story in it's entirety at the Sun Sentinel.

On a lighter note....
This picture was posted at a great motorcycle forum board I frequent......

And the question is...would you ride it?

Now if you excuse me I need to mark another day off my calender in the Duece's 1st Anniversay Makeover Countdown........

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Finally some sort of decision

What an interesting end to the week.

As you may've read, I wanted to celebrate my Deuces 1st birthday with a makeover. Actually some of my riding friends think its way overdue since the only thing I've added since riding it off the showroom floor is a small Harley bag attached to forks and the windshield. I was fortunate though with the bike coming mostly chromed.

After a few frustrating conversations with two Harley Dealerships I decided to talk to Bobby (owner of Bobby B's) who recommended not only the Vance and Hines Bigshots, but was quite candid (and no sales pressure) about what other upgrades were needed to make the bike run correctly with the new pipes.

However, getting the motorcycle to his shop was an ordeal all on it's own. As of early Friday evening South Florida was swamped with monsoon type rains that were still giving it the old college try Saturday morning. Knowing I wouldn't ride in the rain, I stood outside my buddy's garage waiting for a break in the showers to pull the Deuce out, which in itself was a problem. The last entry in Biker Diaries had the ominous warning that I wouldn't be too happy with all the DIY materials stored all around the bike in his garage. Sure enough, when I opened the door stuff was cramed everywhere, even around his Heritage which he must've brought back from work. It looked more daunting than it actually was and I could back the bike out after only moving three or four things, such as stools, a sledgehammer crown-molding and marbile tiles.

What was even better was the break in weather lasting well after I arrived at Bobby B's Harley Shop. Now Bobby is a pretty serious rider, taking three weeks off to ride up to Sturgis and then out west before coming back to Florida so the guy knows what he's talking about. With the great reputation he and his shop has around town, I felt comfortable dropping the bike off there this morning and leaving a laundry list of things to be done.

Here it is;
Vance & Hines Big Shot Pipes
TFI Kit to help the fuel mixture
Add chrome Master Cylinder and various housings on handle bars
Add chrome clutch and brake levers and housing
Matching Grips and pegs with heel rests
Chromite cables for Brake & Clutch
New mirrors
Synthetic oil change
Relocating rear signal indicators*
Rear Indicator kit

The indicator kit flashes the brake lights and indicators four times when braking and the lens fitting over the indicator has an amazing look to them that can only be described with pictures. *Since he'll have the bike until thursday, I'll only have two days to put on the ghost brackets and saddlebags so it seemd like the best idea to have Bobby put the relocation kit on and save me some tool time. That goes for all the chrome work actually. Although I could've done it myself, they can do it quicker and certainly with less frustration.

Here are the bigshots

Speaking of saddlebags, this is what I've narrowed my choices down to;

I'm not sure how often the bags will be on the bike, but regardless I wanted a clean look to compliment the sleekness of the Deuce. With all three being about the same dimensions bag number two is the leading favorite. Conventional but clean.

This is adding up to a little more than I'd planned on spending but bearing in mind theres really nothing else I can think of doing to my bike, it'll be nice to have all the upgrades out of the way.

But all this work is leaving it pretty tight to head up to Daytona for bike week on March 3rd, and after talking with my riding buddy, we're still not even sure if his friend's house will be available for us to crash in. This is shaping up to be a fun trip!

At this point its not clear if I'm standing taller because of all the pressure off the shoulders from finally getting the bike in somewhere to have the work done, or if its because my wallet is so much lighter now:)

Because it can't all be about me
I've mentioned before that you're only ever a few clicks away from a fun find when checking out other biking blogs. Sure enough, earlier this week when reading some comments on KTDid's blog, I came across Christine's Corner. Its just a great read, with her funny insights and personal riding experiences. I mean, look at the picture she uses to head up the 'About me' section, pure firecracker!

So thanks to KT for leaving the breadcrumb for me to follow! When I added Christines blog to my 'Other stops along the way column' it was also cleaned up to make it easier to see which blogs are which. After all, these are all wonderful blogs and should have the respect they deserve, gosh darnnit!

Time to roll the eyes
Going from something totally enjoyable to a sad matter that was just dumb. The local paper, Sun Sentinel reported a rider died after losing control of his motorcycle while doing 120 miles per hour! Understand that although the road he died on is three lanes wide, but it isn't a highway and has traffic lights dotted up and down it.

Just plain stupidity.

All Harley all the time
In a few years, you'll be able to do more Harley stuff when you visit Milwaukee besides factory tours. Harley Davidson announced Friday it will start construction on its 130,000-square foot, $75 million museum this spring.

"Many companies lose track of their history," said Willie G. Davidson, Harley's senior vice president and chief styling officer. "We are finally getting a place to showcase ours."

The museum will feature motorcycles from the company's collection of more than 400. It includes a 13-foot-long 'King Kong,' which had been customized over a 40-year period, Harley-Davidson's serial number 1 cycle from 1903 and Elvis Presley's 1956 Harley-Davidson KH motorcycle. Also on display will be posters, photographs, advertising, clothing, interactive exhibits and memorabilia, museum director Stacey Watson said.

Read the full story in the Chippewa Falls Online.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Going from Crown-Molding to tattoo's

Wow. Nearly a week since my last blog. I didn't even miss that many days when visiting England last September.


They are words no proud motorcycle owner really likes to hear and quite frankly doesn't know how to respond too.

"You're lucky you can't see your bike right now."

My riding buddy who lets me keep the Deuce parked safely in his garage has gotten the home rennovation bug and is tackling it with the same zeal given to every new project that catches his attention. When a new thought or focus comes into his life, the guy becomes superhuman with the effort and time he gives to it. I noticed this when he bought his 33' Grady White early last year. He would spend hours, first reading about every which way you can clean, customize and maintain a boat and then pour even more manhours as well as a considerable amount of money into the new hobby.

This home improvement started off innocently enough with repairs from Hurricane Wilma. Then I noticed magazines and books on how to lay stone paths and build brick walls. One set of double doors were replaced, and then another only this set being slightly more elaborate. Now the external projects has spread into the interior and I understand the tile has been ripped up and built in wall unit ripped out. Goodbye spanish tile and tube tv, hello marble and flat screen.

It was at this point in the tale the ominous sentence was thrown out during a telephone conversation. Evidently he moved his motorcycle to his workplace (the advantage of owning your business) to make room for the various crown molding and other building supplies filling the garage.

My poor old Deuce is in the middle of all of it. That sound resounding through cyberspace would be my heart breaking. Could be the sobbing. Nope, definitely a heartsinking noise.

It wouldn't really matter since I've been working every second to get this work project finished before I head up to Daytona Bike week on March 3rd. Between the work and trying to figure out what to do to the Deuce for its first birthday, the time has flown by. I'm so over talking to the different 'experts' about the pipes that I'm not going to bore you with another episode. Should know definitely by Friday whats going on and when it'll be done.

Must everything be an ordeal
I mentioned the interaction I had with co-workers over a tattoo design I'd like to have done. Well I'm not getting such warm feedback from my friends either. As matter of fact, the girlfriend was the most diplomatic I've ever seen her as she'd obviously prefer another design, but not wanting to upset me or stand in the way.

I understand that an evil looking skull wearing a half-helmet may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it would look incredibly cool. And aren't we, as bikers usually a multifaceted bunch anyway defying society to pigeonhole us?

Rather than dig out the soapbox (kept conveniently in the back pocket for such occassions) and give this impassioned plea, I suggested that maybe I find a tattoo place that can put on a Henna version and live with it for a few weeks first. This'll give me the chance to observe the reaction of friends, family and find out exactly how many young children would run to hide behind their mothers skirts in a terrified fit.

Good job my neice and nephew are in their teens and into Harry Potter. Like I could get anything tattoo'd that would surprise or scare them?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nothing is ever easy

The coldfront that swept across the US managed to reach as far south as sunny South Florida clearing the roads of all but the most hardened bikers. The definition of hardened for the rest of the country has a different standard than with the sunshine state I'm sure, but the end result of no motorcycles and lots of sweaters was the same as it would be for our northern cousins.

It is surprising actually that with the lack of cold weather in this state that not only do Floridians own sweaters, they're fairly trendy! Yep, we could be on the cover of Vogue and GQ with our leather elbow patch V-Neck sweaters.

Always the way
I stopped by the Harley dealership to price some of the work being considered for my Deuce's 1st birthday. I've been to this particular dealership quite a few times for all the stuff we bikers apparently absolutely have to have to ride. T-shirts, different types of gloves and all the other things that lead to the adage that its not how you ride, but how you look when you ride.

When I had to pick up my windshield the person behind the parts counter was less than helpful, trying more to get me out of the store rather than give assistance. My girlfriend had bought the windshield for my birthday and left it at the dealership to be picked up, but this kid couldn't find it. From out of the back an equally young, but obviously smarter and certainly more motivated kid came back from a break. Even when he recommended looking in places the original salesperson may've stored the purchased product, my guy shuffled around repeatedly suggesting it wouldn't be there. Finally the helpful guy took over and not only found the windshield but worked out the paperwork, which as straightforward as it appeared to be, needed coaxing through the Harley Davidson computer system. It's just as well they design motorcycles and not software.

Here's my dilemma. When I went to price the makeover, the incompetent guy was the only one at the counter. I even stood there while two others were served, hoping someone else would come out from the back. But no.

No sooner had we cracked open the Screamin' Eagle catalog when the one who had actually helped during what shall come to be known as the windshield episode, came out. I knew I was really in trouble when smart guy started telling my guy what page to look on and which pipes to recommend. When my guy knew how much I was going to spend, not only was he keen on helping he asked that I called him when it was time to bring the bike in so he could book it into service!

This leaves with having to call the dealership and ask for the 'young guy with glasses and tattoos' (no I didn't get the smart guys name) and try to avoid Mr. Useless when I take the bike in. After all, we know how the lazier people in any job always manage to find that energy they lack for every other part of their job except when it's time to complain.

What did come out of the conversation was deciding on a set of Screaming Eagle 16 gauge pipes, some chroming and ruling out the Harley saddlebags (not easily removable and too small). So now I need to find a set of bags I like and throw them on with some ghost brackets.

Not a good trend
Last Wednesday in Biker Diaries I mentioned an article from the Raliegh News and Observer about the US Military's concern over the growing number of soldiers surviving the war in Iraq and Afghanistan only to die in motorcycle accidents here at home when they return.

Unfortunately, two stories hit the papers over the last fews days further re-enforcing this trend. On February 12th the Arizona Daily Star reported that a 26-year-old soldier was killed Saturday night when his motorcycle went off the road and he was thrown from the vehicle. Then on the 13th the San Diego Union Tribune covered the death of a 22-year-old Marine who was riding his motorcycle north on Interstate 5 just near the Border Patrol checkpoint in California.

It has to be ironic that we can train these young men to kill someone in so many ways, but can't send them to a three day motorcycle safety course.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Making motorcycle noises........

Sometimes I really don't think I deserve to own such a good looking motorcycle.

You have people like Gymi, celebrating his 45th birthday doing motorcycle stuff like checking out different kinds of bikes and playing the MotoGP racing game. KT is off taking trips and rides left, right and center.

They deserve their bikes.

Your's truly is sitting at home plowing through the never-ending project, only occassionally taking quick cyber-detours to check out motorcycle accessories. Somehow these find themselves being added to the quickly growing list of stuff to include in 'The Anniversary Makeover', an idea thats firmly taken hold in anticipation of my Deuces 1st birthday. yep, a lot of attention and affection for something I've never even named.

The thought of heading up to Daytona for the Bike Week keeps the yearning and self-pity in check, for the most part. But what's annoying is knowing if the motorcycle wasn't stored in my buddys garage I would probably be out on it every night, if only for a quick ride. Keeping it there is the right thing to do since it would be sitting outside in a busy parking lot at my place. This hasn't stopped me from toying with the idea of renting a storage place close to home and keep it there. Still an awkward conversation to have with my buddy though.

It's for your own good
All these trials and tribulations are really nothing in the whole scheme of things, especially compared to the problems some people are facing.

A coal company in Illinois has informed their employees that the corporate healthcare won't cover motorcycle related accidents. Hard to believe, but true.

The American Coal Company, in Galatia, Illinois announced in an internal memo that the company health insurance will no longer cover motorcycle-related injuries. The memo went on to say that employee life insurance benefits wouldn't be paid either if the employee was killed in a motorcycle accident. The company did this in order to protect the benefits of "responsible" employees, and the policy even extends to dependants as well. So if a spouse or covered child is injured on a motorcycle, even if it isn't the fault of the rider, there is no coverage. The company memo also states that anyone missing work due to a motorcycle-related accident would be charged with unexcused absence for the duration of his affliction.

This is an ongoing concern of the AMA and calls from the motorcycle rights organization to the mining company haven't been returned. Surprise. In an AMA story covering this blantant discriminatory act they point out 'You'd still be covered if you did almost anything else: bungee jumping, skydiving, scuba diving, skiing. Just not on your motorcycle. '

Whats even more shocking is this isn't the first company to try and do this. It's such a concern the AMA is working with members of the government to pass a bill prohibiting the practice. You can lend your support by going to the AMA's Rapid Response Center and emailing your representative.

I actually looked for a website or email address for the company itself, but it's not surprising with such prehistoric, judgemental thinking to find that the company doesn't appear to have entered the cyber-age.

A dead horse thats interesting on so many levels
You know how it is, a study is released and one news organization after the other regurgitates the facts in various forms. I can't be too demeaning about the practice since I'm talking about the recent release of the growing number of women riders and some of my fellow bloggers and I bounced the subject back and forth over the course of a week. Of course ours was far more interestingly done and came from the truest prospective of 'being there'. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

The San Jose Mercury News has a refreshing look at a few of the women behind the numbers focusing on women like the CPA who wears lipstick to match her Harley, a mom who's cooler than other mom's because she rides, a woman enjoying admiring looks from young girls in cars on the freeway and an older lady who's in the sport after a break-up with her 'boy-toy'. Although all riding cruisers, their stories are as diverse as the pastime of riding itself.

In a roundabout way, the story promotes the Motorcycle Safety Foundation when writing about one woman's frustration from accidents after being taught by her husband, only to have a 'scrape free' track record since graduating the safety course.

It would be too easy to assume that the story was treated with sensitivity because it was an article about women by a woman, and that would be taking away from the effort the reporter Linda Goldston obviously put into it. Read it in it's entirety here.

With due consideration and respect given
Understanding there's a large population of riders who either lived through the era or actually served in the Vietnam War itself, one can see why that country doesn't jump immediately to mind when thinking of riding trips in other countries.

On a personally note, my father served to two tours during the war and I experienced first hand some of the more milder after effects from that conflict. So it was mixed feelings that I found my imagination racing when I read about the recent motorcycle adventures reported from Vietnam on

Mark Gilbert's report addresses the emotional topic from the very first line;

'It's been three decades since Ho Chi Minh's communist followers defeated the U.S. in Vietnam. Today, their path to victory still snakes through the mountains and rain forests near the border with Laos. Locals call it Duong Truong Son, the Truong Son Road. To the rest of the world, it will forever be the Ho Chi Minh Trail'

It's done as if to both acknowledge the location as well confront it, letting the story get to the real subject matter, the riding experience. And although theres the distinct feeling that the writer falls on the anti-war side of the conflict, great tips are given for taking a motorcycle tour in Vietnam.

Hiring an Easy Rider costs $60 a day per person, which covers all of your food and accommodation. These guides carry numbered blue badges; if yours doesn't, make sure his English is up to snuff and that he's riding a proper motorbike, not a moped.

Helmets are now obligatory. The Easy Riders, as well as speaking fluent English, are safe drivers. Binh says he has covered 400,000 kilometers (248,500 miles) in eight years without a single accident, as evidenced by his dent-free motorbike. More Mild Bunch than Wild Bunch.

The real richness of the article comes from the variety of people the writer and his wife meet, giving great insight to the colorful characters to be found on what would be the trip of a lifetime.

Close to home.
If you're like me and of the mature end of the riding spectrum, you'll enjoy Gymi's blog entry about his 45th birthday. He cleverly writes about his special day, with all it's unexpected drama and highlights. Fun read!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Chrome, leather and too much money!

Okay, it's been a while since my last blog and so much has happened!

Some sort of stomach bug kept me in bed all day Sunday and I missed out on any sort of ride. Felt so bad, couldn't even watch the Superbowl! I wasn't the only one having strange stuff happen to them. KT Did had her blog crash, started another one only to have the original come back alive earlier this week. Is any surprise that Aerosmith's 'Back in the saddle again' plays when her blogs loads? I think not.

The strangeness carried onto today when I saw WalMart selling motorcycle helmets. Maybe its just me, but the thought of buying your helmet in WalMart seems wierd. The line of products goes from dirt riding, to full face and half helmets, all made by Bell. In usual WalMart style, the helmets don't come in a box but in the molded clear plastic that also doubles as a eye to hang them, dome facing out. The half-helmets are selling for $48.97, which not only makes me wonder whether or not this is a good deal but where that wacky WalMart Pricing comes from.

How time flies
As mentioned in an earlier Biker Diaries that I'm quickly approaching my first anniversary of not only having a motorcycle endorsement, but also owning the Deuce! A notification of my motorcycle insurance renewal in the mail and all the advertising Geico has in magazines and on TV made it seem like a good time to try and save some money.

Putting in the same coverage for the same catagories and even including the discount for taking the motorcycle safety course, Geico came back over $500 more expensive. Wow. I guess they have to pay for all that advertising some how.

On a different, but certainly more expensive note, I've been wanting to celebrate my baby's first birthday in some sort of special way and a makeover would certainly be a grand way! I've known the stock pipes needed to be changed out from day one, but getting the motorcycle in the first place was such a costly thing, laying down more money just to sound louder took a backseat. But with a makeover in the cards, the pipes have to be the first thing to get changed! Also, by getting rid of the stock pipes that are positioned a little high on the bike, there'll be more room for some decent size saddlebags.

The only leather bags Harley Davidson designed for the Softail Deuce seem a little small in the pictures and of course the measurements aren't given on the website.

It doesn't help that the lights have to be relocated, with a total of three kits being needed to have the bags attached. There's always temptation wherever you look and this was no different with some custom painted hard saddlebags pictured right next to the leather ones in the online catalog.

Very nice if you don't mind dropping $1100.

Although I'm not sure about going the HD route for the saddlebags, it's about time for an oilchange so while she's in there, get the pipes changed, chrome the master cyclinders, switch boxes and grips. I even saw some mirrors that looked pretty sweet.

Yep, need to get all this done soon...after all Daytona Bike week starts on March 3rd!

So close Virginia, but no new law
The House defeated a recent Bill that would have given riders 21 and older the option not to wear helmets. The sponsor of HB1400, Del. Bill Janis, R-Henrico, made a libertarian argument for the bill. "The law today is a one-size-fits-all rule that doesn't allow adults to decide what's in their best interest when they get on a motorcycle," he said.

But opponents argued that the measure would lead to deaths, severe head injuries, and higher insurance rates and medical costs. Lobbyists representing doctors, insurance companies and the American Automobile Association last week urged defeat of the bill.

A strong arguement was made by Del. Frank D. Hargrove, R-Glen Allen who traded two free cartons of Army cigarettes for his first motorcycle in Japan after World War 2. He said he learned that "motorcycle helmets truly are a tremendous protection" and urged fellow delegates to keep Virginians safe. He held up his own helmet and called the headgear "a particularly dear friend to me because it saved my life at least twice." during a lively House floor debate.

The more dangerous streets
Wearing helmets will also be on the top of the minds as well as the heads of the military returning from their recent tours in Afghanistan since nearly 350 GIs have died on bikes in the same time period that 259 were killed in the war zone.

A big part of the problem, say commanders at bases, comes when soldiers return from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan with months of tax-free salaries and extra pay for combat and overseas service. They buy high-powered motorcycles and hit the streets to burn off adrenaline, testosterone and boredom. Dying on American roads after months or years of combat abroad seems to survivors like cruel irony.

In one sign of how seriously the Marines view the crash issue, Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson Jr., who oversees most of the Corps' East Coast facilities, has visited area motorcycle dealers to seek their help. He has asked dealers to pass out Corps-funded $100 vouchers for the safety classes to Marine customers.

Read the complete and sad story at the Raleigh News & Observer.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A rainy day Blog

The sunburn from Wednesdays ride has calmed down to a less glaring and better looking color. Forgot to mention in Thursday's blog that all my prep and planning for the ride skipped right over the most important part and what should be every bikers best friend. Sunscreen.

Apply, reapply and reapply.

It was funny though watching the facial expressions of co-workers wondering if they should mention the reddish hue accented with a raccoon effect caused by my sunglasses.

How many bikers does it take?
Call it an unofficial think tank, or maybe a cyber version of how bikers chew the fat, but a group of us biker-bloggers have been bouncing back and forth over women in riding.

Originally spurred by the Motorcycle Industry Council's report that out of 6.6 million motorcycle owners, 635,000 of them are women. After mentioning the considerably scarce numbers in my area of these lady riders, Gymi over at Gymi's Place wrote on January 29th that not only are the numbers at 10 men to 1 women bikers in his area up north, but they seem to be growing. Even the 10 to 1 would put more women on two wheels than the numbers we seem to have in sunny South Florida. Sparx left the following comment on Gymi's blog;

Why don't more women ride bikes? I'm desperately trying to get my wife to take her licence but to no avail. She'd rather perch on the back with me. On the plus side though, I work part-time as an instructor and there are several women taking their basic training. Just need them to step up for their full tests.

KT answered this question with a wonderful and insightful look at her own lifes trip that led to the saddle of her good-looking Softail Deluxe.

What was the conclusion of this shit-shooting session? Like every good conversation among friends there was no answer. Some women do, some women don't and those that do can't understand the ones who don't.

I guess like riding, the best conversations aren't about the destination, but getting there.

Yes, I would jump off the cliff.
It comes in form of questions, funny video clips and repeated links. Crazes will sweep through the blogging world and the only question is whether or not you become one of the faceless masses following the crowd.

Of course. I'm not proud!

The Southpark version of me.

Make your own at SouthPark Studio 2!

Enough of this fluff, wheres the stuff about motorcycles!
Found a really great article about that person that can make a motorcycle into something much more. With an unlimited imagination and equally abundant amount of talent the custom bike painter can turn piece of machinery into a work of art. has an article on custom motorcycle painter Glen 'Slim' Olson in Escondido. It wasn't just the eclectic music he listened to when painting that surprised me (from swing and big band to bluegrass and punk rock...btw) but how he approaches each job.

Before he starts on a bike, he likes to get to know its owner.

"That's the big thing, because I would build and paint a motorcycle for my father completely different than I would for a 21-year-old dude with a mohawk," Olson said. "If I'm not into the paint job, I will turn it on to someone else. I don't want to do anything that I'm not passionate about and inspired to do because, to me, it'll show in the work."

It's a great read with the final paragraph really hitting home when 'Slim' Olson comments about the growing number of 'Rolex' bikers coming onto the scene.

"There's a good quote about it: 'When you start riding, you start with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of skill.' You hope the bag of skill fills up before the bag of luck runs out."


Read the full article here.

Does it wave for you too?
Ridley Motorcycles recently announced the production of 'The first ever fully automatic transmission Chopper'. The company already manufactures a line automatic motorcycles and its new chopper certainly looks the part.

Although the engine weighs in on the small side with its 750 V-Twin the upside is its lightwieght of only 450lbs. Don't expect to see too many on the road and I'm not talking about the debate of automatic transmissions on motorcycles. The production run will be limited to only 100 bikes.

You can visit Ridley Motorcycles website for more information on this and the other models they produce.

Lazy rainy Saturday
So the promised rainfront that prompted my midweek ride came late last night and like all visitors to this paradise we call South Florida, it wants to hang out and enjoy the sights. The weathermen are saying it'll move on by tomorrow, so maybe I'll squeeze in a ride before the superbowl. Would it be such a crime to miss the game?

The roads would certainly be clear!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

202 sun-drenched, Harley-filled miles

Whether it was pure stubbornness or just meant to be, my Deuce and I had the chance to spend the day together, touring South Florida.

I mentioned in Monday's Biker Diaries that I was hoping to re-arrange the work schedule this week and take wednesday off to take advantage of the beautiful south Florida weather before a stormfront made its way into the state. Even filled with doubt of whether or not I should be working right up to pulling into my riding buddies driveway, it was nice to open the garage and see my baby waiting for me. Sort of.

As if trying to make itself as small as possible, my Deuce was surrounded with all the paraphernalia you'd need to lay a new walkway with stones and bricks. Shovels, sledgehammers, wooden rods and bags..of stuff, lay around the garage between the two motorcycles. Not only did I have to clear out the various items from around the bike, but pull at a large potted spikey plant that scratched my forearms as I moved it, sliding it along the cement driveaway to one side.

Since it had been a while since the bike had been out, I let it run for a few minutes with the excuse of letting the oil flow through the engine but it was so nice just to listen to the V-Twin crying out to be ridden.

Holy Harley Batman!
With no set destination I headed north up Federal Highway taking Hillsborough Blvd to Ocean Blvd, a road that runs along the beach. My mind was made up just to cruise, nice and slow watching the beach, the trees and just waste away this Wednesday on my Harley. As you enter Boca Raton (which means mouth of the rat, and I'm always more than happy to remind those well to do people who live there, especially when they get too full of themselves) the road turns sharply up to a bridge and curves sharply again taking you back down to the roads original level. It was as I came down the other side of the bridge, doing the safe rider thing of scanning oncoming vehicles when I spotted a dark looking car coming towards me.

'Gosh that shape sort of looks like the old 1960's batmobile.' thinking how silly it the thought sounded as soon as it took shape in my mind. Then it drove past me. It was the Batmobile! Not sure if it was the original but the attention to detail was so dead on, it well could've been. The shape, headlights, red trim, dual canopies and fins. Everything was there!

I didn't take this picture, but it could've been the same car I saw on my ride.

I wasn't the only one on the road turning my head to watch this piece of childhood memories drive past. The only thing that would've made the experience better would be to ride behind it for a few miles.

How do you top the Batmobile? Well, the weather was awesome if not a little chilly and the forecast was for it to stay sunny all day with the temperature getting up to 72 degrees. I'd started the ride at 10.30 and at not much past 11 the air was still just a touch cold. I was wearing my leather vest, Short sleeved T-shirt and course the jeans and riding boots, with my leather jacket and a long sleeve t-shirt packed away in the knapsack strapped on the seat behind me. By the time I was at the Boynton Inlet, a favored stop of local bikers, my mind was made up to stop and throw on the long-sleeve T-shirt for some extra warmth.

Even though I already have quite a few of the Deuce at Boynton Inlet, it seemed like a great opportunity for a picture!

The arrows pointing toward the letter N, lets follow that!
With still no idea where I'd end up, continued on heading North along the ocean. Everything looks great until you have to head inland at West Palm Beach and can't get back by the ocean until Singer Island. Unfortunately I was in a different world when sitting at the light where I should've taken the right, so it was another thirty minutes before the chance came up at Juno Beach to get beachside. By this time the congested city had given way to lazy seaside towns that were more designed for vacation home owners rather than the beach seeking masses. Portable Post Offices set-up outside the local pharmacy, people wearing the bright beach clothes only the closest freinds and family should see, it was all there as I rode along. A gleaming Harley among the Sebrings, Corollas and Camrys.

At Tequesta (I don't make these names up, just ride through them) the road went inland, grew some lanes and traffic lights sprung up to stop what had been a continous long steady ride at about thirty-five miles per hour. That sounds slow, but with the beautiful weather and ocean it was the perfect speed.

Just north of Jupiter is a historic red lighthouse surrounded by a national park. As I rode by there didn't seem to be many cars in the parking lot. A thought flashed in my mind. Photo opportunity! Parked the bike perfectly as you can see and even thought to take the ugly knapsack off the back before snapping away.

It's all a blur
I'd like to give you exact directions of where I rode from this point but all I know is the thought was to head north and try to stay near the ocean. The road once again veered away from it but the pay-off was a wide highway through dune type landscaping with what little traffic there was driving along at seventy miles per hour. I think my motorcycle was as glad as I was for the chance to blow out the cobwebs and feel the wind whistling past.

When the traffic lights made their ugly appearance again, I tried to take a right and find the beach and although the ride was down a nice, quiet back beach road, it led nowhere. There was something else going on, so obvious it was on my mind as much as trying to work out where I was going. Everyone was being so nice!

As I rode down the small back road, people walking along waved and smiled, even stepped off the road if it looked too tight for the occassionally busy traffic.

After a dead end I found myself riding on Dixie highway which appears to run along the railroad line up and down the east coast of Florida. With the speed limit at 55 and the road fairly straight I had time to wonder, am I on the right side or wrong side of the tracks? It became irrevelant soon as the road took a quick turn to the right, went over the tracks and a tight turn to the left had the road heading north again leaving me on the opposite side I was just on.

Eventually I stopped for some gas, pee break and caved in to buying a map. Do you know how hard it is to buy a map when you really don't know where you are? Nearly as hard as finding yourself on that bought map when you don't know where you are!

Now I don't consider myself a hardcore looking biker by any means, but with a long sleeve T-shirt featuring flames and a skull on the sleeve, leather vest bearing assorted patches and hair that was less than perfectly groomed its certainly not the most approachable sight. Add to the picture some frustration that just had to be on my face and you'll understand why I was surprised to hear.

"Is there anything I can help you with?" I looked around only to see the sweetest old lady pumping gas next to me.

"Excuse me?" I asked, treating this kindness as some sort of foriegn language my ear couldn't quite decipher.

"Well you look lost and I live around here so I thought maybe I could help." she said with a smile. I must've had the strangest look on my face. We're not used to this kind of behaviour back 'in the city'. I mean how could anyone get a thought going with do-gooder busy bodies butting in?

We talked and even as she explained how to get to the beach the old lady interupted herself and told me to follow her down to the beach since she had some errands to run down that way anyway.

How much are houses in this part of town and could I get a job? When I asked where I was, her face was priceless. I was in Stuart and when she found out I'd ridden up from Fort Lauderdale I got a shocked 'Oh you're so brave!'

This woman had to be the perfect grandmother!

I followed her weaving thoughfully through the beach town, indicating so I'd know when she was turning and watching me in her rearview mirror. Pretty soon, there was the bridge she'd described and as she darted off away from it, a wave came from out of the window.

Now the ride is getting good!
Florida has some amazing bridges which are just breathtaking to ride over. I'm not sure whether its their sheer height which is designed to let the tall ships through without having to be raised or lowered, or the awesome views of deep blue ocean stretching for as far as the eye can see. Either way, its always a treat and highlight of any ride.

It was only about quarter of a mile off the bridge and I could see the beach. Everytime I head out on one of these all day rides, its my most sincere intention to to grab lunch at some small restaurant full of locals. Why doesn't it ever work out that way? I'd held off eating and now it was nearly two in the afternoon with not even a chain restaurant in sight. Of course there was a Publix (a grocery store chain in Florida) right there, so once again I'd be grabbing something quick and very generic to eat. The upside was that the store was located directly across from the beach parking lot. There was the place I'd be eating!

Only the finest of restaurants for this rider

With the best seat in the house!

Even had my own parking spot!

Cruised around the packed parking lot noticing an opening just wide enough for a leaning bike. It wasn't an access way, nor were there any no-parking signs so I pulled in. The biggest worry at this point was whether or not the ground was firm enough to support the bikes weight coming through the small plated kickstand. The wooden poles marking the spot would do some nasty damage to the bike if it fell over onto them. A walk around and jiggling of the bike with no obvious effects made me more comfortable about parking here.

It was interesting to walk onto a beach of sunbathers of all ages in my riding gear, helmet and knapsack in hand. I stripped down to the T-shirt, unwrapped my food and drink and took a break from the roar of a V-Twin to listen to the tranquility of a beach. The crashing waves, birds, excited children and meaningless chatter from surrounding sunbathers. What made it even nicer was how relatively empty the beach was.

If anyone was surprised of how I looked when first walking on the beach, leaving would be even more of an eye-opener. I was at the southern most point of this stretch of beach with the road heading north until the land ended and the road headed west. It was pretty much a straight shot to the freeway from that point and since I wanted to avoid rush hour, the freeway would be the quickest way to get home. With about a hundred mile trip on the freeway my more cautious side was feeling more comfortable with the thought of wearing my leather jacket for this leg of the trip. I also reasoned that it would only get colder as evening came closer so the jacket was an obvious choice.

That is unless you're in swimming trunks soaking up the sun. To suddenly see someone walking off the beach in a leather jacket would strike you as somewhat strange. Okay so I didn't, but it might've been worth the looks!

Heading home
Saddling up and heading out again I was starting to get nervous about the time. The same friends that waited at a restaurant at the end of my long ride back in October of last year were coming over to my house tonight. I couldn't keep them waiting again. To make matters worse I'd forgotten my watch and was using the cellphone to check the time, easy enough when standing still but dangerous to do while riding.

Riding along the beach was just beautiful with most of it undeveloped. The road was straight and open letting me zip along at 55 - 65 mph, and it seemed to go on forever. Up until this point, I hadn't really seen any other riders, which wasn't surprising since it was the middle of the week. They all appeared along this stretch of road, cruisers, sportbikes and sport-tourers. As disappointing as it was to leave the amazing beach road behind me, when it started heading west I felt some relief now I could focus on getting home in time.

The highway riding was fairly straighforward staying between seventy and eighty mph and very glad that I'd worn my jacket. Could've actually worn the long sleeve t-shirt as well, but it wasn't cold enough to stop to put on the additional layer. Managed to beat most of the traffic and enjoying the luxury of hopping into the HOV lane whenever traffic became a little heavy. This was my first experience of using the HOV lane when the time of day limits its use to allowable vehicles only, so I looked into the faces of the cars around me to see if anyone was ticked off that I was riding in it. As riders we know we're legally allowed, but my non-biking friends are always surprised, even sometimes cynical about the law.

If people were ticked I didn't see it and the horror stories of cars pulling in front of you out of anger never happened.

With my half-helmet and the constant wind noise, by the time I pulled into my buddy's driveway I couldn't hear a thing. This is making me think that there could a full face helmet in my future for those long freeway rides, or at the very least a pair of earplugs designed for riding.

From one pasttime to another.
My buddy was home, working on the stone wall in his front yard as I pulled in, so I did what any good friend would do, stripped off the jacket and gloves, lending a helping hand.

Considering the day started off with no set idea of where to go or what to do, it turned out pretty good. 202 miles with all sorts of sights and even some nice people. I need to work out the best way of exploring the roads up in Fort Pierce, the final city I rode through. From what little I saw theres a lot of potential up there. Its on the way to Daytona Beach, the home of the infamous bike rally coming up in a few months, so maybe I'll allow and extra day or two for the ride back?

Defintely a thought!

Heres a map of the route which really shows the scope of the days ride.