Sunday, January 31, 2016

Riding weather is here

Copied from prior blog.

I ride throughout the winter, but only on safe days. A safe day to me is free of hard pouring rain, snow or ice. Nicer riding weather is finally here. I could not find a riding partner today, but that has never stopped me from taking a small trip.

I was curious to see if Mount St. Helens was open for travel. I took the easy side to Johnston Ridge Observatory (named after geologist David A. Johnston). I love traveling Spirit Lake Hwy 504. Mount St. Helens is a volcano. It erupted in 1980.

The history and story is fascinating. I lived through it all. Every year I visit the blast zone a little bit more comes back to life. Ironic it is the opposite of our life. Unlike the blast area that comes back to life year after year, year after year we die a little bit more. Now that was a positive thought.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Gauge Placement

I love where Victory Motorcycles places the speedometer-information gauge on a lot of their bikes. They place them out on top of the handlebars and headlamp, not on the fuel tank. It’s where it needs to be for me.

I know the fuel tank is traditional for cruiser bikes. The problem is it breaks the primary rule of a basic rider education course which is, never take your eyes off the road. It’s even more a problem for people with vision handicaps. So Victory going for usability, instead of tradition, scores with me.

I love the Triumph Thunderbird. You can’t go wrong with a Japanese cruiser. Today, Harley-Davidson IS the cruiser bike. Viewing the gauges and control lights is all wrong for me on most cruiser bikes. Due to my work in usability, their gauge makes me irritable just thinking about where they are usually placed.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The perils of being seen on a motorcycle

I appreciate motorcycle training. I appreciate the mentoring when I was a new. I appreciate the books people bought me. After all, they just want you to succeed. If you are new also, welcome.

A while back I wrote a post challenging something I was taught. I challenged the belief about riding with your high beam on to be seen. I understand complaints about drivers not paying attention. I understand the dangers of intersections and oncoming traffic, especially when an oncoming driver decides to turn left in front of you without warning. There’s no doubt intersections are dangerous.

A head light on high beam can temporarily blind or cause drivers to squint their eyes obscuring vision. For a brief few seconds they can’t see well, if at all. I can vouch for this because it’s happened to me. Another problem is areas with a lot of building and street lights. A lone rider’s light may blend in with other lights, especially at night.

In some states it’s illegal to drive or with ride high beams on in close proximity to somebody. It can be a $100 or more ticket. Washington State and RCW 46.37.230 is one such example.

My purpose here is to provoke some critical thinking. You want to be seen, you want attention, but not the wrong kind. You don’t want to be the target of urban road rage. Don’t give an inconsiderate driver a reason for retaliatory behavior.

A few of my cohorts don’t link the issues together. In fact, I know riders who gave up riding altogether because of altercations with drivers. Crossing my fingers, my personal altercations with drivers are very rare. I want to keep it that way.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Learning to ride and a good starter bike

Sometimes people stop and ask me about learning to ride a bike. I give the same advice given to me which is, start with a bike that is small, low on horse power and torque. If you start on a bike that is too large or very powerful, it intimidates you and that creates learning barriers.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock

I finished Sammy Hagar’s book Red - My Uncensored Life In Rock. This book is unequivocally an adult read. Nothing about the rock n’ roll life style is hidden. True or not the best parts are the stories about his former Van Halen band members, like Eddie Van Halen for example.

“He told me he cured himself [cancer] by having pieces of his tongue liquefied and injected into his body.”

“He also told me when he had his hip replacement, he stayed awake through the operation and helped the doctors drill a hole. What a fruitcake.”

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Why ride a motorcycle?

Why ride? That’s a good question considering the dangerous reputation. You must deal with drivers flaky moods, bad weather, poorly maintained roads, vehicles leaking oil  everywhere and having to be on guard for any unexpected situation. Even with all this I believe a motorcycle can usually be piloted safely.

The positives…

Motorcycles reduce energy consumption and pollution. Most get better fuel mileage than cars and definitely trucks. Motorcycles produce less waste. You’re discarding two tires instead of four. You’re discarding smaller parts and you sometimes use less oil. They’re gentler to our roads and highways which saves taxpayer dollars. They’re also space savers because you can fit more than one into a parking space. You have many maneuvering options because you’re smaller.

The negatives…

The list is very short. There’s really only one that matters, and it’s huge. A motorcycle rider has little protection in an accident.


How to survive on a motorcycle is a topic with many sub-layers.  What an experienced person does is a bit different from a rider with much less experience. You could create an endless list of tips. You could talk on the topic for hours. I’m going to give you my theorization condensed. If your a new rider, my thoughts and reasoning's shouldn’t be the only ones you explore. Different perspectives develop from experiences.
  • Keep moving, but of course respect stop signs. A moving target is harder to hit, if not sometimes impossible. Keeping pace with the flow of traffic is a good safeguard from getting struck, bumped or clipped.
  • If it’s a street bike, start saving money for new tires when they get five years old. “Oh but there’s plenty of tread” you think. That means nothing! Old rubber turns hard and loses it’s grip. Riding on old tires is a good way to one day meet Mr. asphalt.
  • New riders should focus on as much as their distracted and overwhelmed little brains can handle. However they should lazar focus on two things; that being turning (cornering) and braking. If you’re fair to good at those two things, you can do a lot of safe riding.
  • Learn to corner (turn) confidently. Read about it, study it, watch others do it, obsess over it, etc. I preset it this way because if you are going to get into a newbie accident, there’s a good percentage a corner could be where it happens.
Oh…and before I sign off, riding a motorcycle is fun!