Take The Magic Carpet Ride

a3I got a very nice
little letter
from a new reader
who asked
me some questions
about motorcycling —

Does one get too old
to learn how to ride one?

How hard is it?

What are the things
to look out for when riding?

How does one know
what they need
on a motorcycle?

Despite the fact that
the issues she asked
about are a bit more
complicated
than can usually be
answered on a single
blog post,

I think I have showna8
in the past an
absolute talent
for completely
oversimplifying
even the most
complicated of subjects….

So I guess I’m the
man for the job.

Ahem.

I started riding
motorcycles when
I was 13 —
(my parents knew NOTHING
about it, and lucky thing, too)

I was doing handyman type
chores and babysitting
(yes, I was babysitting —
hey, I needed gas money)
for a couple that lived
in my neighborhood,
and the lady of the house
took a liking to me,
and let me take
their early 70’s era
Suzuki 500 motorcycle
out on occasion.
(It was red, of course)

She figured it wasn’t
hard (to ride),
and what harm
could I do in the end?

I figured that I’d
just learn on the go.

And both of us turned out
to have had the completely
wrong idea.

(Although one or two
of her other ideas
I totally enjoyed)

But, I didn’t wreck
the bike or anything.

And it wasn’t powerful enough
for me to go really ape with it.

Just enough to scare
the living beee-jeeezus
out of me several hundred times.

And I guess what
I’m getting at herea31
is that,
no matter how you learn:

whether it be in a riding class,

or you just decide to wing it
in the off hours of the
Wally World parking lot,
a34
you’re facing a steep
learning curve as it is,
so bring plenty
of cojonic audacity,
and start to learn on
something small and light.
(it’ll be cheaper to replace)

I don’t really see age
as a limitation,
personally…

although I do know chef
Alton Brown, who was
famous for riding his m/c’s
back and forth to his Atlanta
area studios recently decided
to quit riding saying that he
didn’t feel comfortable
with the age-related loss
of reaction time and
situational awareness.

But, anyone familiar with Alton
also knows how anal
the guy can seem about things —apol
all things
and motorcycles
aren’t really going
to keep one in any
kind of comfort
zone most of the time,
anyway.

I don’t blame him,
but as for me,
I’d rather be the guy with the pickle
riding off the mountain
when it’s time to me to GO .

And if you don’t
get that reference,
you’re obviously not a biker.
Yet.

aNYHOO…..

I think most motorcycle
dealers these days
will give you a referral
to a local training class —
those classes are usually 4-6 Saturdays leading up to
getting a m/c license or such.

They do them at
the Police Academy here,s
on a specially designed course,
and I will often spin by
and watch the fun
on my way home
from the gym.

Some people have no business on a
motorcycle
— ever —grannie

But you
(and everyone else)
will know who
they are
right away
in a class like that.

They usually either flunk out
or no-show on the second class,
so, no worries.

Is it difficult to ride?
Naaaaaaah. Eazy Peeezy.a

Is it difficult to ride well ?
Oh man, damn sure, it is.

You got no idea how difficult.

So what’s to be done?
Practice,
Practice,
Practice,
Practice.

Which means
Ride,
Ride,
Ride,
Ride,
and Ride.

You must learn
to be totally bug
comfortable with:
the throttle,
brakes,
clutch,
gears,
and all the safety equipment.

(not to mention, bugs in your teeth, pebbles smacking you in the leg, sand in your eyes, birds flying into you, and so many assorted goodies like that …… )

Do me a favor, though —a35

Forget where
the horn switch is —
— if you’re in a situation
where you’re tempted to
use it, you should instead
be totally focused on
slowing, stopping, evasion,
and balance —
beeping your horn
takes a measure of biker
valuable time and
attention away from
you at the
exact time you need
all of it.

You really need to
be able to operate
every piece of your
bike blindfolded.

(just don’t try it)

 

In an emergency,
there is absolutely
NO TIME to look
for your kill switch,
choke, high beams,
or your gas toggle.

You must learn where
your sled’s center of
gravity is, and how to
use it to control your bike.

And you need to be able
to stop and turn on a dime.

Otherwise, you might as
well change your name
to Parto D. Pavement.

Cause people in cars have
4 solid walls around
them when they’re driving,
and, though either ignorance,
forgetfulness,
or maybe they just
don’t give a fuck —
they usually drive like it.

What’s a little dent on
a fender to them, after all?

But a collision —
— any collision —
to a motorcycle rider
is potentially life threatening.

No four walls.
Just hard concrete.

So YOU must learn
to read their little minds —
to drive defensively,
and to always assume
the ‘cage driver’
is about to do
something stupid.

I like to make eye contact
with people coming
out of side streets,
I will throttle back
until I’m sure they’ve not
only seen me,
but also have decided
not to pull out anyway.

And sometimes they fool you anyway.

I know plenty of riders
who have ruineda4
a perfectly good
Mercedes-Benz paint job
with their essential bodily fluids
because they assumed that
driver was competent.

(Blood and guts are acidic
and absolutely ruin
a car’s finish, ya know)

Assume they’re all
morons, and you’ll
be much safer.

As for what type of
motorcycle you’d want….thr

Well, as I said,
lighter and smaller
would be my recommendation
when you’re learning.

You can get a nice used bike to learn on
for under a G
just about anywhere.

Once you’ve built some skills —
that’s the time to talk
about something with
power, style, class,
and a long term financing contract.

Don’t buy into the whole
‘ Real Bikers only ride
Harleys ‘ bullshit, either.a1a1

Real Bikers ride whatever
(and whomever) they like ,
and they don’t give a fuck
about who says otherwise.

Buy what you enjoy
and are comfortable on.

I’m here if you got questions —
as long as you don’t ask me
‘the elephant in the room’ one.

Well —
OK….

I’m thinking it took me
40-plus years
to feel like I could ride
my way out of a paperbag….

Your mileage may vary.

.

PS: I think I mighta forgot
the part in her letter when
she asked about turning and leaning —

It’s tricky to explain,
but briefly:

You lean the bike – not you.
If you’re banking to the right,
then your head and shoulders
should still be perpendicular
to the ground,
while your weight,
since the bike is leaning right,
will have to shift slightly left
to keep your center of balance.
But you can drive your foot
down into the right pedal
to ride the bike harder
into a steeper right turn.
This one takes practice,
but just remember,
the bike turns, you don’t.
And passengers should always
mimic the driver’s position.

Zoom, Zoom.

HOY !!!!!

.

types

.

.

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Two Wheel Tale

I can’t understand
some people, man.

It seems like they’re all
about trying something
until you give em the
chance,
and then —
” Well, I’d Better Not…” 

You can interpet this
little blurb as having
something to do with
life, sex, or motorcycling..

— anything, really.

But in this case,
it’s motorcycling.

(There could be
something else,
in the background,
though-

you never know
around here
just how deep
we’ll go down
into the proverbial
rabbit hole ….. )

For months now,
I’ve been hearing my
gym buddy Big D talking
about how he couldn’t wait
for nice weather so he could
learn to ride a motorcycle.

And a couple weeks back,
he had borrowed
my spare helmet and gloves,
and also rented a bike
to learn on.

He had a beauty
all picked out to buy
once he passed his class
and got his license. 

( I was actually kinda
jealous, because I haven’t
bought a new motorcycle
in half a decade or so.
I dearly love the sleds
that I already own,
but the Coolidge Effecta
works with choppers,
too, ya know. )

So anyhoo —
His class was last weekend,
and guess what.

He gave me back my
helmet and gloves and
told me he would not
be riding a motorcycle
in the near or
foreseeable future.

Apparently, he thought
turning a bike at speed
was a simple matter
of turning the handlebars.
And he kept trying that
until he ran into
the instructor.

OOOpsie.

I dunno if he
scared himself
or just the
instructor/examiner,
but an agreement
was quickly undertaken
that Big D would
stick to vehicles
with four wheels.

So, I guess he can
still say he ‘tried’ it.

But, assuming there is no
technique or learning curve
involved in riding a motorcycle
is what I think got him in the end.

He’s got one of those fancy
‘drives itself when you’re
not paying attention’ kinda
cars …….

That just don’t translate
to motorcycles, man —

And I hope it never does.

!!!!! HOY !!!!!

.
vroom

100 Plus Years Of Motorcycle Postcards

motorcycl;eYou know,
the motorcycle
has been around
about 120 years now,

and yet somehow,
some drivers still
haven’t figured out
how to share
the road with us.

Every day I ride.

Every day I contendtravel
with bad road conditions,
bad weather conditions,
bad situations of all kinds —

— every motorcyclist can
name off his favorites —

— flying rocks,
slippery surfaces,3
sudden tire failure,
baking your skull in a
helmet in the midday sun—

And every day,
I have at least one idiot
in a car or truck do
something to make me1
swerve, hard brake,
or otherwise have
to save my own life
from their lack of skill
and carelessness.

I’m not saying
I expect motorcycling
to suddenly bemotorbike
the safest thing around —

I don’t want that.
Motorcycling ain’t for pussies.

I simply want a bit of courtesy
and consideration from certain
stupid bastards who musta bought
their drivers licenses at the WalMart.noparking
(On Sale)

Yeah,
I’ll hold my breath.

But, that’s not what
we’re talking about today.

There’s really no sense ranting —$_35
we both know that
— it ain’t gonna get no better.

Nope.

Today, we’re gonna look at
some cool vintage postcards
featuring motorcycles,

assisted by my friend
Jen at Blog It or Lose It,
……. who is a fellow collector
of such things.

I like the humorous ones,

because one can’t ride
a motorcycle very long,
without having an
excellent sense of humor —

—- you can’t spend
your whole lifeseeing
strangling stupid
cage drivers, after all.

( My rule is never
get off the bike …
because if I do,
— the end is near
for somebody. )

Ahem.

Anyhoo….

They
( the vintage motorcycle cards )
were quite popular in the
1920’s and 1930’s especially —

They are pretty fun,
aren’t they ?2

And,
if you like these,

there are more in my
blog archive, somewhere.

Plus a lot of other stuff
of questionable taste
and doubtful origin.

So, check it out if you want.

HOY!

.

sombrero

Skid Lids

helmets

Before I start with today’s post,
…. I would like to make one statement unequivocally.

HELMET LAWS SUCK.

I hate the damned things.

And when I ride in a civilized state like South Carolina or Florida that no longer has such stupid , invasive laws —

which were passed for the benefit of the special interest groups and insurance companies—-

……. I like to ride au naturale.

( ummmm… sure, that too, if I could get away with it. )

It gets to be about a thousand degrees in a helmet around here in the summertime….

…. plenty hot enough to cook any brain you might actually have left.

I prefer to have a choice about these things…

…… and not have government regulate every little detail of my life, thanks.

If you’re not a rider, or just a casual one, you’re probably thinking that helmets are safer —

Let me clue you in — if I’m going 60 miles an hour and you sideswipe me, that helmet is simply gonna keep the parts of my head together so they recognize me well enough to call my next of kin to come scrape my other 800 body parts off the pavement.

And the worst wreck I was ever had on a motorcycle was caused by sweat dripping into my eyes so bad from the heat of sun on my helmet that I couldn’t see a car ahead of me pulling up short.

Helmets are a pain in the ass — if they’re required for motorcycles, I see no reason why you cage drivers (automobiles and trucks) shouldn’t have to wear em , too.

Hey- safety first, right ??

That said,
… this post is about motorcycle helmets.

I recently got a new motorcycle….

My poor old Harley couldnt get it up anymore, and I was bone tired of kicking it until my leg fell off.

… and I thought it might be good if I replaced my junky, dented, tore up old half-helmet with a slick looking new one…..

You know, just so’s the rider ain’t making my snazzy new ride look bad.

So I went over to my friendly local dealer, but his selection was kindly limited.

No half helmets in stock at all.

Oh nice.

Well …

He did have something called a “naked helmet”…

….. which is nothing more than a big salad bowl with an open strap.

I didn’t like that one….

It left my ears exposed, and riding around here when it gets to be wintertime requires a bit more insulation than that…..

Besides, how am I supposed to hear my Ipod headphones if they’re blowing in the wind???

He then tried to convince me to let him order me a “bucket helmet”.

I told him that I had plenty of buckets around the house already.

confusion

That’s when I figured I’d just go online and look for what I wanted.

.. and there was no shortage of suppliers and sites to choose from.

I am absolutely amazed at the stupid variety of helmets available.

I mean, thousands and thousands of every kinda helmet imaginable.

Except the type I was looking fer, of course. There were two of them.

Still……

I can’t believe there’s apparently so much demand for weird, weird looking helmets.

If you subscribe to the theory that a helmet should match a rider’s personality,

I just wonder what some of these helmets are sayin ‘……

force

Alright– so we’ve all seen these nuts at the swap meet…..

…… and we just kinda pass it over as a geek thing.

Ugly?

Sure, I guess that’s the point? Maybe?

I dunno…..

Talk about people trying to make an impression….

Just how hard are you trying to look like a tough guy when you buy a helmet like this?

notthereyet

So sorry.

Not impressed.

Come on, man… who are ya anyway, a Heck’s Angel?

Born to be MILD ?

pLEASE.

I mean, who even finds a skull scary these days anyway??

There’s plenty o them skull themed helmets to choose from, though……

schedule

It’s more like a helmet you’d wear to a bike rally on Halloween.

Except that guys who wear helmets like that usually put their bikes in storage after Labor Day.

If you really mean business,

…. you should have something that has historical street cred at the very least…..

Maybe something like this.

squats

Yeah……

…. tell the world how ya almost sacked Rome and killed off all them bad ole Visagoths and Vandals………

But ya had to work that day.

Blech.

That whole “I’m a tough guy ’cause I ride a motorcycle” trip went out with the Stones concert at Altamont in 69.

Don’t get me wrong–

— I know some guys —-
— but they’re mean cause they’re mean to the bone —
……… and not ‘coz of their bike or helmet.

I could tell you some stories….
…….. but you wouldnt respect me in the morning.

Anyhooo……

Depending on how high tech a bike you ride,
… you might want something that gives ya a high tech look–

I kinda like this one,

…. even though it looks more like a helmet for a helicopter pilot in ‘Nam, than a chopper .

( Wait. Huh? )

ummm

It’s called a “Diesel Helmet”, and it might just be the next big thing.

Yes– It looks very cool.

It’s also about a hundred and fifty dollars.

Nope.

You really can’t a guy who hates helmets to begin with to spring for that kinda money.

I figure for the amount of brain cells I got left, a thirty dollar helmet should be just fine.

I’m not sure who’d spend a couple hundred for this one, either……

zig

Exactly what look are ya going for—

……… Alien Biker from Outer Space?

Never mind the visibility problems you’d have wearing it….

I guess people’d have no trouble seeing YOU, though.

Hell, if you’re gonna do the whole Star Wars thing,
why not go all the way, and dominate the whole biker universe —
and be one of Darth Vader’s boys.

zz

NO?

I don’t blame ya.

I mean, they’re supposed to be motorcycle helmets — not costumes.

Maybe a cute hottie design on a helmet wouldnt be all that bad……

zzz

Probably have too many dudes tailgating me for a better look at her, though.

Damn… who knew this was gonna be so complicated??

I did finally find one I that I liked, though.

And it was only 40 bucks.

It’s not for me, though —

—– it’s for Stonewall, my dog, who loves to ride in the saddlebag.

zzzzz

Goggles not included, of course.

HOY !!!!

PS…. this is NOT Stonewall.
She was too f*ing stubborn to pose.