Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It happened at a traffic light

When you own a motorcycle, you have thousands of friends you've just never had the chance to meet. I experienced that very thought yet again over the weekend.

And you have to love it.

I mentioned briefly at the end of the last entry of Biker Diaries that next weekend (April 1st and 2nd) I'll be heading down to Key West. So dragging the Deuce out of it's new home, the local storage place, to get the mothballs out seemed like the perfect excuse to go riding.

The weather here is beautiful with sleeveless T-shirts the required attire to ride on our cloudless sunny days. Still, kept the saddlebags on so I could store a long sleeve T-shirt as well as the leather vest. Just in case.

Still not knowing exactly where to ride, I noticed a couple of guys on Harley Davidson StreetBobs, one on a matt black the other with a shiny black, both of which eventually pulled up beside me at a light. Neither of them wore helmets, but that's a whole other blog. As is the case with most bikers, we struck up a conversation and they asked if I was going to the Stars and Stripes event at a local bar called Sofa Kings.

To really appreciate the purpose of this bar and the owner's sense of humor, you have to say the name of the bar fast a few times and you'll understand why they bill themselves as an 'R' rated bar. Waitresses and bartenders all wear schoolgirl uniforms (and I guess we should all be happy the staff is mostly female with that uniform) and they hold MILF contests throughout the week. Throw in poles dotted around the sofa stuffed bar and you have a good idea of what they're trying to sell.

The bar tried to have a bike night on Tuesdays, but the few bikers that turned up didn't blend with the barely legal crowd and usually left after only one beer. There would only ever be three or four bikes in the parking lot at one time and even those were recycled fairly regularly throughout the night.

Bearing this in mind I was pretty cynical about the whole thing and consequently pleasantly surprised with parking lots full of motorcycles when I arrived only 10 minutes after hearing about the event at the light.

Called Stars and Stripes and the whole thing is organized by the local Wings of Gold chapters who invite all the clubs in the tricounty area, with the intentions of kicking off the summer of events leading up to the Toys for tots run in December.

Best bike, best tattoo (for both women and men) as well as a wet t-shirt contest. Yep, it was biker through and through.

I had a great time!

Which way to turn
If you were reading the news today, you'd have to wonder which way motorcycle safety was going. A report came out of Japan about a motorcycle jacket that inflates when a rider leaves the bike 'unintentionally'. Then, within a few hours news came that Tennessee is amending it's helmet law to allow anyone over the age of 21 to make a choice about wearing one.

In this case the wow factor wins out out over the natural disappointment. Not wanting to start a helmet debate and understanding the beauty of choice, I just think of the two guys I met on the road Sunday who may, unfortunately, wish they were wearing a helmet one day. As I said earlier, another blog for another time.

On the wow side, a Japanese inventor came up with the inflatable jacket after witnessing a motorcycle accident;

This was the inspiration he needed and Takeuchi's company built its first prototype jacket in 1996. Like eventual production versions, it had an airbag inside that inflated automatically when a pin connecting the jacket to the bike was forcefully pulled from its socket. To prevent an embarrassing 'biker' moment a one-touch release button allows riders to get off their bikes without inflating the bags.

The sad thing is the jacket is sold everywhere but the US thanks to our litigious (sp) society and because the manufacturer can't perfect the product liability laws to their satisfaction.


Time to dig out the Jimmy Buffet CD!
So next Saturday morning I head down to Key West with the Girlfriend and her brother. As I mentioned in the last entry of Biker Diaries, he rides a sportsbike in his home state of California. He's had it in his head to rent a Roadking during his two week vacation. It took us forever to find one within the budget and well, basically finding one period. Surprisingly, locations were short of inventory because the rally in Leesburg is going on at about the same time we wanted to rent and then the strangest part, some of the rental places down here are going out of business. Didn't expect that.

Add to the problem, once we found one the brother started worrying about riding without a windshield (all the pictures on the rental sites were sans fairings) and asked a lot of questions about the size of our bugs down here! I came as close as I could to calling him a big sissy without causing a ruckus with her family, even pointed out that not only did I ride without one for six months, but my longest trips were on a naked bike. Never naked on a bike, besides, that would be another blog.

He was very happy when we finally found out the roadking came with not only a detachable windshield but saddlebags too!! The crowds went wild!

Key West is an awesome ride which will be made better by being able to take a proper suitcase down in the girlfriends car (she has to head back early). But the beauty of the trip isn't just riding over the various bridges on the way down, but a full day of riding when we come back on Monday. With nowhere to be and just the boys on the bikes, wherever we can ride within five hours is our world.....

Time to dig out the maps and start building up that anticipation!

4/26/06 Addendum - realized some of the sentences were missing words and some of the blog didn't make sense...fixed it....sorry......

Monday, April 17, 2006

Time to get a load off my chest

It has to be worrying when any blogger just drops off the face of the internet, especially so for ones of our particular interest. Riding a motorycle has inherent dangers and when someone suddenly disappears, a nagging thought has to hang in the back of the mind.

For all the times I've wondered this, it's surprising that this blog should fall guilty of such a crime.

So I give my mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa and can only hope to make amends with all the gossip I have!!! So much to blog about and it's already 11pm at night!!!!

Blogging hooks another one!
It was great to read that someone else has been bitten by the blogging bug. Mr. Benjamin himself started his very own, called VrrooooomVrooomm and it's looking good. Not only does he have current rides and pics, but also some looking back to moments in his own biking history. Good stuff.

Gymi's had some good looking pics and reviews of readers' motorcycle's and what they've done to make the ride their own. Still enjoy his layout evrytime I see it. As much as I love what I managed to scrap together with limited programming skills at Biker Diaries, it creaks a little when loaded up after his!

KT threw on her pink helmet for Easter (kid you not, she even has pictures) and Christina's been throwing her bike as well as herself around some twisties in California.

I'm sure you know all of this and it's old news coming from me. This recap isn't a feeble attempt to fill some blank space because of an equally empty mind, or even the lack of inspiration.

Nope, I'm glad to point out all this good stuff not only because they're good reads, but also great examples of what a good blog should look like. Current, up to date and most of all fun.

It's not because I haven't had the will or intentions but more the lack of time. Lets go through this chronologically....

Back at the end of January I received a very nice email from an editor at Stars and Stripes commenting on the baby shower blog. Nice enough, but at the end she asked if I would consider releasing parts of my blog to be used in a competition to give away a Harley to the service personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Being an Air Force brat and with my father serving in Vietnam, I could hardly say no and proceeded to editing the various riding stories on Biker Diaries, spellchecking along the way. Isn't it amazing how many spelling and gramatical errors just sneak in there?

Although some may say you can't stop the power of the press, I'll atest that it can be slowed down. The publishing date kept getting pushed back as advertisers disagreed on rates, etc, etc. All the while, I wrote promising a big surprise in this blog. So months later, through no fault of my own, I'm proud to present what Laurence's rides would read like if he could afford a full-time editor!!! Drum roll please!

Printed with the permission of Stars and Stripes.
Understand these are big files before you click on them!!

The advertiser was so impressed with how the ads turned out as well as how popular the competition went over that another advertisement was added to the campaign!

Now the more astute readers may notice that not only is Biker Diaries mentioned in the personal Bio, but 'contributor to Clutch and Chrome' also appears. It's no coincidence that a graphic supporting the website is also proudly displayed at the top of my page to the left.

This was the other matter going on, taking away my blogging time.

I was asked to help launch a new website aimed at becoming an invaluable resource for riders of all type of motorcycles. It's been a real team effort, but even so, hours and hours were poured into the project to make as much of a quality launch as possible.

One of the idea's I'm particularly proud of was creating a directory of blogs including all the motorcycle related blogs we could find! Just looking out for my fellow bloggers and trying to find that free publicity.

The site has over 2400 bike nights and events, a motorcycle database, news updated as it happens, interesting articles and reviews. Because the motorcycle club database couldn't be completed without permission from the clubs themselves its a little smaller database, but growing. So if any of you know of any events, feel free to submit them here. Know of any clubs that would like to be included they can go here.

Everything's free and there are no pop-ups. Hopefully it'll work out.

Throw into these chaotic times moving in with the girlfriend, building wall units and everyday stuff like work, and you get the idea.

So now we have no secrets between us. Well there was the bus station incident, but my therapist tells me I don't have to talk about that anymore.

It's all about the motorcycles
The endless rainbow in life is the end of April with the girlfriends brother coming out for a two week vacation. It seems he's got the idea of renting a Harley to ride down to the Keyes while out here and would like some company. Convinced me!

What makes it more interesting is that he's a sportbike rider. He wasn't too happy thinking he would riding without a windshield. Actually nearly didn't rent the bike because of that! Finally I told him it was included in the rental package.