Archive for December, 2006

Things Get Better

Friday, December 29th, 2006

When my parents moved into a well-to-do development in South Carolina about 18 years ago I remarked that perhaps I’d ride my bike down to visit them there. They informed me that motorcycles were not allowed in this gated community. Of course I was indignant. The reason was noise, but as usual the community had not attacked the actual problem — noise — they had attacked what their preconceived notions focused on. That is, motorcycles.

Never mind that plenty of cars, trucks, delivery vans, and lawnmowers make a lot more noise than my 1999 Kawasaki Concours or my 1980 Honda CB750 Custom.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who found this offensive, and while change takes time, change does occur. A few years passed and my father, who was the editor of the homeowner’s association newsletter, sent me a copy of the latest issue featuring a story about half of dozen residents who had ridden their bikes on a 5,000 mile journey. No Hell’s Angels, these retired engineers, accountants, lawyers, etc. And the community was pleased to see their neighbors having such a good time.

We just got back from there — Keowee Key, on Lake Keowee, outside Clemson, SC — yesterday. We went down for Christmas with Mom and the rest of the family. As my wife and I walked around one day I was pleased to notice a motorcycle in an open garage. Then the best of all was as we were leaving yesterday for the airport. Just as we were passing through the exit gate four leather-clad riders came up on their big cruisers and passed unheeded through the entrance gate. Things do get better.

Show Our Strength. Ride to Work.

Saturday, December 16th, 2006

I know this is a little early but I just want to remind everyone that in 2007 Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day is set for July 18.

You are familiar with Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day, aren’t you? If not you should be. Here’s your chance.

On one day each year all motorcyclists are encouraged to ride their bikes to work. The idea is to get as many of us out there at the same time in order to make everyone else aware of how many of us there are. Also to make it clear that we are there and folks in cars and trucks need to drive as if we are there. Because we are. I don’t need to go into a discussion of the bazillion times every one of us has had to dodge someone who didn’t realize we were there.

So anyway, I’ll be mentioning this again several times as the day draws closer. In the meantime, you can find out all about this national event at the website:

Ride safely. Ride.

We’re Everywhere

Monday, December 11th, 2006

The days are truly gone when anyone riding a motorcycle was assumed to be a bad dude who you wanted to avoid. We all know this already anyway, and Hollister and the bad old days are very much in the past. Still, it is amusing where bikers show up these days.

For example, in the Business section of the Sunday Denver Post, in an article reprinted from Barron’s magazine, there was an article about how Duke Energy is spinning off a natural gas outfit. What does that have to do with motorcycles? Beats the heck out of me, but here’s what they said:

The split-up is the brainchild of Duke’s chairman, Paul Anderson, 61, a no-nonsense motorcycle enthusiast.

That’s it. Nothing else about bikes or riding in the article. What really makes this amusing is that long ago, when I was a newspaper reporter and editor, it was a given that you did not give particular information about a person unless it was central to the story. The prime example was that you did not identify someone by race unless race was part of the story. You would not say “John Jones, a black man, was honored for his contribution to the community.” You would, of course, say, “The alleged rapist was identified as a white man about 5 foot 9 and 190 pounds with a scar on his left cheek.”

So what does Paul Anderson’s passion for motorcycles have to do with the rest of this story? As I said, beats the heck out of me. But hey! We’re everywhere.

The Opportunistic Motorcyclist

Monday, December 4th, 2006

I really tip my helmet to the folks who rode their motorcycles in the 21st Annual Toy Run to The Children’s Hospital yesterday. It wasn’t just that it was cold. There is snow and ice on the streets, too. I admit I wasn’t planning on going on the ride anyway, but if I had been there’s no way I could have gotten out of my neighborhood.

This is the season for opportunism. When you have the opportunity you better take it or you’re likely to regret it. I make it a point to ride both my bikes at least once every single month of the year, and there are times when that has had me out in some pretty cold weather. I have an electric vest and I’m not afraid to use it. I also have thinsulate-lined gloves. And I don’t hesitate to put on seven layers of warmth. But here in Colorado you generally have decent opportunities to ride pretty regularly, if you just take advantage of them.

People who don’t live here really don’t understand about the weather here. My wife told me of a couple guys she had business dealings with who, finding themselves in Colorado in ski season and with time available, decided to hit the slopes. They were down in Denver and the sun was shining and it was comfortable so they left half their warm clothes in the hotel room. Bad choice. Go up another 4,000 feet in elevation and a warm 45 degree day in Denver turns into about a 10 degree day in the mountains, with strong winds.

At this time of year I’ve learned that if it’s Saturday, 30 degrees, and the roads are clear, I’d better go ride. Chances are it will get nicer, but if you don’t go now you have no one to blame but yourself when the clouds come in an hour later and the temperature drops 20 degrees. Or you figure you’ll ride tomorrow and overnight a foot of snow comes down.

Nope, you’ve got to do it when you can. No rain checks. What the heck, that’s why you bought the bike isn’t it?