Archive for January, 2010

Motorcycle Travel Network Offers Touring Alternative

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Imagine if you had a large network of contacts all around the country, so you could travel on your motorcycle and have a place to stay the night pretty much everywhere you went.

Motorcycle Travel Net logoWell, you can. I don’t know why I only just learned about this but that’s exactly what the Motorcycle Travel Network (MTN) is all about.Through a membership in the MTN you have the ability to locate people where you’re headed and arrange to stay at their homes, rather than getting a motel. You also can provide accommodations for other motorcycle travelers and receive a small compensation for putting them up at your own home.

Of course, the best part of this has to be that you get to meet and make friends with other people who share your interests. I’m very interested in learning more about this, and when I do I’ll pass along what I’ve learned.

The way it works is that you pay $30 a year to join for one year, or $45 for two years, or $90 for five years. Then when you stay at someone’s home you pay them a gratuity of $15 for one person per day, or $20 for two people per day.

Here’s a bit of what the MTN has to say on its site.

The goal of MTN is for motorcycle enthusiasts to share their knowledge, experiences and stories with each other in a warm friendly and comfortable environment, namely, in a member’s home. We want to help insure that as you travel you will be staying with people that share your enthusiasm for motorcycles and travel. When you stay with MTN hosts you will be staying with “local experts” on where to ride, where to eat, sites to see or where to get mechanical service. Likewise you will be staying with someone who is interested in hearing about your riding adventures, and sharing their own.

They seem to have this thing pretty well worked out; check the site for a lot of info on how it all works. And if you have any experience with this network I’d love to have your comments. Thanks.

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Biker Quote for Today

I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth. — Steve McQueen

Motomarathon 2010 Season Announced

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Motomarathon logoThe Motomarathon is back in 2010 with four events on its calendar. “The Motomarathon Association,” says founding Route Master John Metzger, “sanctions an annual series of four-day rides over the best roads and most scenic routes in the nation, and now with organized sport-riding tours on both coasts.” Its first season was 2009.

Here is the list of this year’s events.

  • Southern California Motomarathon – March 26-29
  • New England Motomarathon – May 13-16
  • Centopassi Motomarathon – June 25-28
  • Colorado Motomarathon – September 17-20

With two inaugural rides last season, only six riders completed all the checkpoints out of nearly 100 participants. “With four events scheduled for 2010, it will be a challenge to nail every check,” said Metzger. “This should result in a national champion to be crowned by the end of the year.”

For more information visit the website or contact John Metzger, 303-641-1062, john@metzger.com.

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Biker Quote for Today

Ride Safe. Ride Hard. Enjoy the Ride!

Car Pollution vs. Motorcycle: Tracking the Truth

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

It seems a no-brainer that motorcycles pollute less than cars because we get more miles per gallon. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. And tracking down the reality of the matter is not easy, either, as I have been finding.

Harley exhaust pipesI’m working on an article for RumBum.com, and a series of articles for Examiner.com, on this topic and apparently the truth of the matter is no one really knows for sure which pollutes more. Or to put it a little differently, which has the greater ecological impact.

Just to simplify the issue, two things are certain. Because motorcycles consume less fuel covering a specific distance than cars, motorcycles emit fewer of the pollutants that bear a one-to-one relationship to the amount of fuel used. At the same time, because most motorcycles do not have catalytic converters, the fuel is burned less completely and bikes therefore emit more of those pollutants. I read in one place that a motorcycle emits more of these pollutants in one mile than a Hummer emits in 100 miles. Wow. Even if that’s a huge exaggeration it’s still something to think about.

But there are other factors that have to be considered as well. Motorcycles use fewer resources to build (they’re smaller), they burn less fuel regardless of pollution levels, they do less damage to the roadway, and on and on. I know I’m not capable of balancing all these factors out to determine which vehicles are the greenest. And apparently no one else is, or at least no one who is capable of doing so has done so yet.

I checked with the American Motorcyclist Association to see if they had any authoritative information and they referred me to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). It turned out the MIC didn’t have any definitive info either. Cam Arnold, their VP for communication, told me that “Obviously it’s a big issue, and there are a million variables. When you start digging into it it’s a huge issue.”

So anyway, this blog is where I often give the back story on the pieces I write for other venues. Usually I do that after the fact, but this time I’ll telling the back story ahead of the rest. I don’t know where this will all lead but I’ll let you know once it’s done.

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Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes it takes a whole tankful of fuel before you can think straight.

Last Word (Apparently) From MSF On Crash Study Funding

Friday, January 15th, 2010

I’ve discussed previously the statistical analysis Dr. Samir Ahmed conducted to determine how many crashes would need to be studied to produce a solid motorcycle crash study. I had also passed along the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) response to my question about whether the analysis sways their thinking at all on providing the funds they have raised to conduct the study. That response was a bit brief and not totally clear, in my opinion, so I sent some follow-up questions. Here are the question I asked.

When I spoke with Tim Buche he told me that the MSF was open to new information and that once Dr. Ahmed had completed his statistical analysis that information would be presented to the board for consideration. Any decision to revise the previous decision would “depend on the quality of the work and the rationale.”

First, has the MSF board taken a look at Dr. Samir’s analysis? And considering your statement to me, does this mean the board questions the quality of the work and/or the rationale? If that is the case, can you tell me what it is about the quality of the work or the rationale that you find lacking?

Or is this still under consideration at this time, with the MSF simply not ready yet to make any statement in regard to the statistical analysis?

Well, I got a response and it was not very helpful, but it does seem to say that the MSF is unmoved and will not be opening its wallet for this study. Here’s the response.

Unfortunately, at this time the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has nothing additional to add beyond the statement we sent to you Monday, the information obtained during your interview with Tim Buche, and our original position paper.

That sounds pretty final. I guess we’ll get the best study $3 million will pay for, rather than a better study for $6 million to $7 million. I personally question the MSF’s decision but I’m sure they have their reasons. I’d just like a better idea what those reasons are, but they’re a private organization and don’t have to tell us.

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Biker Quote for Today

Drop, Fall, and Down are 4-letter words

MSF Unmoved By Crash Study Analysis?

Monday, January 11th, 2010

A statistical analysis appears to show that a new motorcycle crash study can produce statistically valid results even if the number of crashes studied is fewer than 900. That figure is important because about half the money earmarked for the study has been withheld by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) because that organization’s board stated previously that it does not believe a study of fewer than 900 crashes can be adequate.

So now that Dr. Samir Ahmed, of Oklahoma State University, the head researcher on the project, has completed this analysis the obvious question is whether the MSF will change its mind. The initial response appears to be no.

The MSF sent me this response today in answer to my question about whether the board would be reconsidering its prior decision:

The MSF has not learned anything new that changes its position on this study because it still will not provide sufficient statistical significance of the OECD identified study variables. The study also will not produce results, in our estimation, that can be reliably correlated with studies in other countries, which is important to our multi-national member companies.

Because the response was so brief I emailed the MSF asking some follow-up questions, such as whether this statement comes after looking at Dr. Samir’s data and rejecting his conclusion, or whether the MSF board is still considering the data and is not yet ready to comment. I’ll let you know what I find.

Without the money pledged by MSF members and members of the Motorcycle Industry Council, the study can only afford to study 300 crashes. Dr. Ahmed intends to proceed with the study to whatever extent funding allows.

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Biker Quote for Today

It takes 12 HP to ride around the world–the rest is wheelspin.

Dodging (or Hitting) Flying Stuff on Motorcycles

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

What’s the weirdest thing you ever hit, or almost hit, on your motorcycle? That’s a thread on Adventure Riders that I like to pass along periodically and I see the last time I did was July, six months ago. Time for another.
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I was lane splitting and decided for some reason to stop splitting, slow down and rejoin the lane to my right, even though the speed of traffic hadn’t changed. A second later the door of a mini-van just ahead to the left opens – yes while still moving – a passenger begins throwing up – that was a close call!
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Buffalo on the roadBack in ’86 I was riding my R100S on the M5 Motorway, traffic was light and I was going well, I saw the car in front of me twitch and then hit his wash/wipe, then a sound like someone throwing a handful of gravel at my visor/screen and I was effectively blinded, some kind of clear goo was covering my visor, a few miles on there was some services, I pulled in and cleaned the goo from my visor, still unsure what I had hit close inspection between the engines cooling fins revealed, I had hit a swarm of bees.
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King Kong’s toilet paper. Headed north on the interstate into Albuquerque a semi truck was hit with a sudden microburst of wind that knocked it on its side. It skidded along the pavement, the back doors came open and ginormous rolls of paper fell out and unrolled everywhere. These things were about 4 ft in diameter and well, similar proportions to toilet paper. Made for some interesting moving obstacle avoidance. Luckily I was far enough back I didn’t get blown over too and could stop in time and help the driver climb out.
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I was riding at the front of a pack of bikes on 27 south of Jackson, MI, headed towards a party/chili fest. I ran over a dead woodchuck which was then launched out from under my bike rearwards into the unsuspecting pack of about 15 bikes, all riding side by side with the odd man following in the middle behind the last two bikes. Mostly Harleys, ATGATT consisted of t-shirts and half helmets. Mr. Woodchuck hit the bike behind me, and was sent through the pack like a stinking, wet, furry pinball. Everybody got some, especially the last guy in the middle who got him right in the chest and was almost knocked off his bike.
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Ripping down the road on a CBR900 in NH with my visor open…hit a moth the size of a bird…it flew right in my helmet and exploded on my face…couldn’t see anything at all…it was wiggling and flapping and oozing down my face…coasted to a stop with my eyes closed…wipped my helmet off and smeared moth goo all over my head…thank God there were no cars on my ass…yanked off my helmet…there was goo everywhere…so nasty…I think it was a Lunar moth…not fun.
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A draft horse that was in the road in Colorado because a mudslide had flattened the fence. As I approached he spun around and I ducked under his head.
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Today while cruising the back roads of NC in the foothills, something catches my eye on my right side. I look over to see a hawk flying helmet high the same speed (30ish) about 4 feet away. It seemed like 5 minutes although it was about 20 seconds that he just flew along side. Trying to look in front of me so as to not hit something else, he all of a sudden flies right in front of my windscreen and scared the shit out of me. Managed to keep it upright. I thought his wing brushed my windscreen he was that close. That will get your heart pumping.
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Driving to my parents house from school saturday afternoon I ran into an entire SWARM of Bras and thongs. All colors, maybe 60 of em. Girl getting picked up by her parents had one of those Target/Walmart plastic cases full of her intimates blow off. That girl has to be PISSED, they looked expensive. Oh, I’m guessing a C cup, for those who wanted to know.
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One of those big, 3″ grasshoppers. Which, in and of itself, doesn’t sound like much. But I caught the damned thing full on in the throat at about 60mph. Little tiny country road with no shoulder and no place to pull over. I wheezed and gagged for what felt like a mile before I found a safe place to pull off. I ordered a windshield the next day.
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Five soccer balls, a Lazy Boy recliner and a couch in the fast lane of I-270 in St. Louis. They fell off of the truck in front of me…the couch was the most challenging to avoid as it exploded into chunks of wood, springs and foam!
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Bread. Lots of bread. Loaves, hamburger buns, hotdog buns, dinner rolls. Scattered all over the highway. I dodged em, but I’m guessing that hitting a large loaf of bread wrapped in plastic would be kinda like hitting an ice patch.
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Just a close call for me… Last week trying to beat the storm clouds home a bolt of lightning hit a transformer I was zipping past…BIG boom lotsa light and sparks everywhere asshole firmly puckered to seat. Then just as I was starting to relax I remembered a small dip in the road ahead. Trying to plan a bit ahead I slid to the inside of the lane to minimize any possible puddle/motorcycle issues. Yup good plan…until I realized water was already half way into the other lane. That’s right two puckers in one simple ride home. and another valuable lesson…an SV1000 can be a jetski on occasion. I drank some rum when I got home.
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I fishied on the guts of a deer yesterday. Interrupted a hot meal being had by the vultures and when one took off, it still had intestine in its clutches. It pulled the the innards across the only part of the road I could go on. Oncoming traffic on the left and a ditch to my right.
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This spring I went on my first ride of the season and was behind a pickup delivering phone books when evidently a box of plastic bags opened up and several hundred came blowing out and right at me. One landed across my face shield blinding me and several wrapped across my arms and chest. I could see just enough of the edge of the road to slow down and stop with out crashing. Last I saw of the truck it was still going and blanketing the highway in a tornado of plastic.
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So there we go. The craziness continues. Be careful out there!

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Biker Quote for Today

Midnight bugs taste best.

Motorcycle Miles Up in 2009, But Car Miles Up More

Friday, January 1st, 2010
Bonneville Vintage GP and Concours
    Racers at Miller Motorsports Park, one place I went this year

I put substantially more miles on my motorcycles last year than ever before but missed my overall objective of surpassing miles by car due to a big increase in car miles.

Overall I rode my two bikes 6,053 miles in 2009. That compares to 4,839 in 2008. But I drove my car 8,660 miles in 2009, compared to only 4,971 in 2008. Oh well, today starts a new year. I have ambitious plans for riding this year and if I manage to do it all this could be the year.

The breakdown for the two bikes was more pronounced than usual. I rode the Concours 5,016 miles, while only putting 1,037 miles on the CB750 Custom. That’s a reflection of doing more highway miles, traveling more, on the Connie. I only rode the Honda around town. That’s a pattern that is likely to repeat itself this year.

I’m hoping to go to Daytona Bike Week this year, on the Kawi, so that would add something close to 4,000 miles all by itself. We’ll see if the weather lets me get out of Denver on the bike though. If I were leaving today it would not be by motorcycle. Our road is covered with ice and snow.

Have a good year riding. I certainly intend to.

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Biker Quote for Today

People don’t really see motorcycles as an alternate form of transportation, at least not in the USA. They are bought to enhance our image or feed our need for performance. (Frank Smith, letter, CycleWorld, Nov. 2008)