Archive for October, 2009

RumBum.com To Be Additional Venue For My Motorcycle Postings

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Note: I wrote this for publication on Sept. 3 and just discovered that it never went out. Oops. So here it is just as it should have been back then.

And the beat goes on.

I started in the motorcycle publishing world by building this website, and then adding this blog to the site. That led to me being recruited to write for Examiner.com, first as their Denver Motorcycle Examiner and then as their National Motorcycle Examiner. The blog is in its fourth year and I’ve been doing the Examiner thing since May of 2008.

Rum Bum logoMy standard line to anyone asking is that Examiner does not pay much but it opens doors. One door it opened is BikeBandit.com, where we have worked out an agreement where they occasionally republish one of my Examiner posts on their website, and pay me for doing so. That’s gravy because it doesn’t require anything more of me.

Now another door has opened. Starting next week I will be writing a couple times a week for RumBum.com, a website focused on fun times and people enjoying themselves. My topic, of course, is motorcycles and the motorcycle culture.

As I mentioned on Monday, I’ll be heading to Utah for this weekend’s Bonneville Vintage GP and Concours, and my first post on RumBum will be a piece on that event. Of course I’ll also be telling you about it here. I’m sure there will be enough that I won’t be duplicating myself.

So I invite you to click on over to RumBum and catch me there. Who knows, there’s probably other stuff over there you’ll find interesting as well.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the BMW K1300GT

Biker Quote for Today

When life throws you curves, aim for the apex.

Hospital Update on 30K for MDA Harley Rider

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Two weeks ago I wrote about Jim Campbell, who had just completed at 30-day, 30,000-mile ride on his H-D Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Classic to raise money for muscular dystrophy. Since then I’ve emailed Jim a couple times about telling his story more fully in a book or in additional articles, but I haven’t had a reply.

Jim Campbell in a hospital in Ft. Worth
    Jim Campbell in a Ft. Worth hospital

I found out why about half an hour ago. In an email from Jeff Sirles, Jim’s friend who first told me about his pal’s feat, I was informed that Jim is in the hospital in Ft. Worth. Here’s Jim’s note.

Hi Ken

Thought you may want to know Jim Campbell was in a severe bike wreck in Ft. Worth, Tx over the weekend. He is hospitalized there. Ill spare the details… its all on his 30K for MDA facebook. He needs our support in other ways now. He is a fighter and will live to ride another day. Please let your readers know.

Regards

Jeff Sirles

Oh my gosh.

So I immediately went to the FaceBook page and found this report from Jim’s wife, Beth.

Well, for 30k+ miles Jim rode his Harley w/o an accident but the odds finally caught up to him. On Fri. evening Jim wrecked his cycle on hwy 20 outside of Ft. Worth TX. He was taken by ambulance to Harris Methodist Hospital in Ft. Worth in the ICU unit. He has a broken neck & pelvis. Please keep him in your thoughts & prayers and we’ll update this site with his progress for those who wish to know.
Beth, Jim’s wife

I don’t know what to say other than “Oh my gosh.” To have ridden so far–safely–and then to have this happen . . .

You can track Jim’s progress on the FaceBook page, as I’ll be doing. Best wishes, Jim.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Behind the scenes with a motorcycle demo ride leader

Biker Quote for Today

Dress for the crash–Not the ride!

The Other Side to Corbin Motorcycle Seats

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

I ran a post on Examiner.com awhile back about Mike Corbin, the well-known custom motorcycle seat builder, retiring and putting the business up for sale. Just the other day now there was a comment posted on that article from someone identifying herself as the sister of the Gentry in the name of the company, Corbin-Gentry.

Corbin-Pacific Silverwing SaddleThe surprising thing for me was that the company I had written about was Corbin-Pacific. It seems, as Gentry’s sister explains, that Mike Corbin started out in 1968 in the Corbin-Gentry company and then, “In the mid ’80s Corbin split, taking 1/2 of the business with him to California leaving Gentry with the other 1/2.” Thus Corbin-Gentry and Corbin-Pacific. I didn’t know this.

Gentry’s sister writes with what seems to be a bit of anger, though it’s not clear at what. Possibly she still harbors resentment toward Mike, or perhaps she just gets annoyed when her sister is ignored and forgotten. Just to air her concerns, here is the full text of her comment.

Quite interesting there is a book out about Mike CORBIN, King of motorcycle seats. It fails to mention that there was a Queen of seats, being GENTRY, CORBIN/GENTRY. This neighbor he talks about sewing his 1st seat for him was my sister. She was not a neighbor but his partner who was called Gentry. TOGETHER they formed and built the business into what would be known world wide. Without Gentry there would have been no Corbin. Gentry was by his side at every turn in the road. Corbin/Gentry was based in Connecticut and thrived from the ’60s to the ’80s. My husband worked for them as a salesman for years working the East Coast.

In the mid ’80s Corbin split, taking 1/2 of the business with him to California leaving Gentry with the other 1/2. So before Corbin rides off into the sunset saying he’s king of the seats let it be known that without Gentry he could not be saying this.

So now, what was it that Paul Harvey used to say about “That’s the rest of the story” or something like that?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Guest column: Two wheels that changed my life

Biker Quote for Today

Life may not always be sunshine and rainbows, but what you live through will make you a better person and a better rider.

More Issues with New Motorcycle Safety Study

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Just 11 days ago I was reporting that the long-awaited new motorcycle safety study was ready to begin, after being seemingly derailed by a financing issue. Now I’m back to report that it’s not smooth sailing after all. And two of the big players on the team appear to be moving in opposite directions.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation logoThe safety study is to be funded in part by a government grant and in part by matching contributions. Among other donors, two of the big motorcycle organizations, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) had committed to helping fund the study. Now, AMA is in favor of pushing on even though the dollars committed will not be enough to do the full-scale study originally envisioned. The MSF, on the other hand, has said that “we believe the study will not provide sufficient statistical significance of the OECD identified study variables and the MSF Board of Trustees has determined that MSF must continue to make its commitment of funds contingent upon a sample size of at least 900 cases.”

Where this leaves the study is not at all clear. Fully $2.8 million of the money for the study was to have come from the motorcycle industry through the MSF. While the MSF statement wished the researchers well in achieving “what can only reasonably be expected,” without the MSF’s $2.8 million it would seem that even the limited study will be underfunded. In other words, the MSF figures they hold the trump card and they’re playing it. Full study or none.

The AMA reported the MSF’s statement but as yet has issued no follow-up statement of its own. We’ll just have to keep watching to see how this all plays out.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Trying a textile mesh motorcycle jacket after years of wearing leather

Biker Quote for Today

When you find yourself in a ditch the first thing to do is ease off the throttle.

Stumbling Forward on Road to Baja 1000

Friday, October 16th, 2009

“The road to Ensenada is plenty wide and fast” says Lyle Lovett but he wasn’t speaking about the preparations for the Baja 1000 currently underway with the race team I’ll be accompanying.

First off, if you don’t know what the Baja 1000 is you really ought to view this trailer to the definitive Baja 1000 movie, Dust to Glory.

I’m riding down to Ensenada, on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, with Rsenal Racing to write about the event and the team’s efforts for the variety of motorcycle publications I write for. The race itself starts Nov. 19 but we’ll be down there in advance to get ready.

Chuck Shortt is the driving force behind this adventure, and what I’m coming to understand about Chuck is that he is a big idea person who then frequently turns to others to make his big dreams become reality. If the dream is improbable but the person succeeds, that’s fantastic, they’ve really accomplished something. If they don’t succeed, oh well, good idea that didn’t work. Move on.

This is not a criticism of Chuck or a bad thing; it is something useful to understand about him.

For instance, when he first told me about this thing, Chuck told me they would have satellite uplinks and wanted to livecast the event via the Web. He asked me if Examiner or RumBum might be interested and able to carry the feed. I agreed to ask RumBum.

Happily, RumBum said they were very interested and their tech guy, Tobias, would contact me to work out details. In the meantime, Chuck told me to hook up with John, the team’s tech guy. Well, it seems that having a satellite hook-up was not in the game, but Tobias suggested that if the team could supply video segments periodically, that would be fine and even easier than a live link.

I figured that before I pushed this any further I needed to check in with Jeff and Sydney Mikelson, the photographers on the team, to see what they felt they would be capable of in terms of supplying RumBum with segments. Surprise, surprise. Sydney told me they had no video editing software, and were planning to bring their raw footage home and turn it over to a friend who is a video editor. So nothing at all available to RumBum unless they wanted raw footage.

Then we learned that the non-satellite internet connection Jack was hoping have set up was not going to be within the team’s price range so the whole matter was really moot. And then Sydney called me to say that she and Jeff had had to opt out of the trip due to financial considerations. Totally moot.

OK, so that’s where we stand. The rest of us are still going, and I’m hoping to have some great pictures and terrific stories to tell. Coming soon.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Harley rider covers 30K in 30 days for MDA

Biker Quote for Today

Competition, once it gets in your blood, you can’t get it out.

30K Harley Rider Does Iron Butt Extreme

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

My timing couldn’t have been better. I called Jim Campbell at home just 10 minutes after he had completed a 30-day, 30,000-mile ride to raise money for muscular dystrophy. He was still unloading the bike, a 2008 Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Ultra Classic.

sport bikes
    Stopped in Wyoming by snow and ice. Photo: Jim Campbell

If that seems impossible to you, there are definitely other doubters. One person commenting on the story I first published on Examiner.com said simply, “I just don’t believe it. He did it for a great cause, but I just don’t believe it is possible to do 1000+ miles a day continuous for 30 days.”

Now, I wasn’t there for it all but I believe Jim. As he said in a rebuttal in the comments, “For all who care..I have all the logs, gas receipts, and signed journal from around the country for the 31 days… I can’t believe that I did it either, and not be ‘taken out’ by a car, or Semi truck…( my biggest worry ).”

Jim’s wife Beth adds in her own comment, “I can tell you firsthand that he DID indeed do all those miles & did them consecutively. It is amazing to me as well and went without sleep a lot, didn’t stop for weather when he probably should have, & in many cases risked life & limb to complete his goal (don’t try this at home kids). He is a very driven guy, to say the least, which is probably one of the reasons I married him.”

He also has the numbers on his odometer and verification from Harley dealers all across the country. I think it’s legit. Not to mention amazing.

I just lucked into this story because a friend of Jim’s discovered my Examiner page and sent me an email saying he had a friend who he thought deserved some publicity. Hey, I’m an ex-newspaper guy. I know a good story when I find it under my nose. I jumped all over it.

There’s no sense in my repeating the story here, it’s all available on Examiner. Here are the links:
Harley rider covers 30K in 30 days for MDA
Tales from the road: 30K in 30 days for MDA
Magic spud and more tales from the road of 30K for MDA Harley rider

And if you want to add your donation to the $20,000 Jim has raised for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, you can donate on his FaceBook page. You can also follow his whole trip there on the FaceBook page.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Planning a US motorcycle tour: A Brit’s recommendations

Biker Quote for Today

danger + survival = fun

New Motorcycle Safety Study Apparently Moving Ahead

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

The last I had heard, the new motorcycle safety study that had finally been authorized was in jeopardy. Apparently, in this case no news was good news because I see in a recent issue of American Motorcyclist that things are moving along.

I knew that a pilot study had been set up and was functioning, with the intent of determining which factors the overall study should focus on, as well as helping determine methodology. The hang-up had been over costs. The amount originally projected was looking inadequate and there was reluctance to get started without full funding assured.

I still don’t know if full funding has been assured, but according to American Motorcyclist, “The full study is expected to begin soon and will take several years to complete.”

The article also states that “The federal government earmarked up to $2.8 million for the research, provided that the motorcycling community came up with another $2.8 million. The AMA immediately pledged $100,000 for the effort and AMA members kicked in money. Also, the motorcycle industry committed to provide $2.8 million through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, making the new study a reality.”

So actually, I guess that’s it right there. The money may not all be in hand but someone, somewhere committed to getting the money one way or another.

Great. Let the project begin. This can only do good for those of us who ride.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Planning a US motorcycle tour: A Brit’s recommendations

Biker Quote for Today

I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol!

The Only Difference for Deaf Bikers Is They Can’t Hear

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Deaf riders see no difference between themselves and other bikers

This is another back story post. I’m working on a feature article on deaf motorcyclists and in the process of doing so I’ve been finding out something a bit surprising. Deaf riders don’t see themselves as any different from those of us who can hear, they just can’t hear.

In the picture above, we see Jasmine Bluecreek-Clark (left) conversing with Cody Weese (second from right) during a motorcycle mechanics training class, while Roger Clark and Tom Crawford (right) observe. Cody is completely deaf and Jasmine is 80 percent deaf in her left ear. Tom is mostly deaf and has been riding for 35 years. Jasmine taught Cody to ride 2 years ago.

Now think about this for a moment. In rider training courses the instructors use hand signals. Why? Because with the noise of the bike, and all students wearing helmets, it can be hard to hear what they’re saying.

And it’s no different on the road. Unless we have bike to bike communication systems, we tend to use hand signals a lot. If anything, deaf riders have an advantage over the rest of us in that regard because hand signing is their native tongue.

But what about when an ambulance, fire truck, or police car comes screaming up behind you with lights flashing and siren wailing? Well, there is that part about the lights flashing. Deaf riders depend far more than the rest of us on their vision. They are far more focused than we are on checking their mirrors and being visually aware of their surroundings. And of course, one aspect of that is that if they see other traffic pulling over then they know they probably ought to do so as well, even if there are no flashing lights to be seen.

Many people wonder how it is that deaf people can even be allowed to drive but again, think about it. Nancy Soccermom drives around in her SUV with the radio blaring, the kids screaming, perhaps talking on her cell phone, with the windows rolled up and the air conditioning on. It’s not as if she’s going to hear much going on outside either, is she? Plus, she’s probably not paying anywhere near as much attention to her driving as deaf people do.

So this is an interesting story. I’m still researching it so it’s not ready for publication yet but I’ll let you know when it is.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Mods and Rockers roll again in Colorado Springs

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycling is an ego-driven venture. Whether it’s our quest for freedom and the open road, the need for speed, group riding or solo, motorcyclists are living life on the edge and know it. Some revel in it. The trick for any rider is to find a healthy balance between that drive to live on the edge, and the sensibility to step back from the edge before it’s too late.

Me On A Harley? The “Convince Me” Challenge

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been a Harley guy. Rather than spend big bucks on a loud, expensive bike with the pegs way out in front, I have always preferred the cheaper, quieter bikes with the pegs underneath so I can stand up on bumps.

Well, sometimes you have to make sacrifices. For me, as someone who writes about motorcycles, I sometimes have to ride Harleys. Just have to, you know? There’s no escaping it. Dirty job and all that.

Harley-Davidson Road KingThis is just a heads-up that I’m going to be making the ultimate sacrifice in the coming weeks and I’ll be spending a lot of time on a variety of Harleys. I was talking the other day with Troy Terranova, the finance manager over at Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson, and he’s going to try to change my mind.

As Troy puts it, he believes Harleys are hands-down the best motorcycles in the world and if money were not an issue the vast majority of riders would own a Harley–just that simple. For my part, I acknowledged that I’ve rarely ridden Harleys and have never spent any real time on one. For obvious reasons, Troy can’t put me on a new bike for an extended period but with used bikes it’s a different matter. He’s going to set me up to spend some real time on a selection of Harleys, in the hopes that I’ll fall in love.

Troy’s motivation here is simple. Rocky Mountain H-D gets publicity, and it would be especially good publicity if he does in fact convince me. My motivation is to see for myself what is behind the Harley mystique that I have never experienced before. Plus, of course, it gives me good stuff to write about on all my various gigs, such as Examiner.com and RumBum.com.

So stay tuned, I think this is going to be very interesting.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
ZZ Top to headline in Sturgis next year

Biker Quote for Today

It’s a fast Harley…but a slow motorcycle.