Archive for January, 2011

An Iron Butt Temptation

Monday, January 31st, 2011

I’ve been up-front about my disinclination to even try doing an Iron Butt ride but Dan Leffert has managed to plant a seed. (That’s Dan in the picture. Notice that Iron Butt pin on his hat.)

Dan Leffert, Iron Butt riderThe Iron Butt Association (IBA), of course, is a group of motorcyclists who have ridden 1,000 miles in 24 hours. Their slogan is “World’s Toughest Riders.”

The longest rides I’ve ever done have been around 500 miles, and I’ve done that three times. They were doable but I had no desire whatsoever to continue and cover that same distance again all in the same day.

I mentioned that fact in a recent post here, “What I Want to Do: Motorcycle Bucket Lists,” where Dan, an Iron Butt rider himself, read it. He tells me he made a note to contact me and see if he might change my mind. Then my editor at RumBum.com asked me to do a profile on an Iron Butt rider so, long story short, I posted a note on the IBA forum where Dan saw it and gave me a call.

Dan and I met on Saturday and talked. The story that will come out of that will presumably be posted on Rum Bum on Feb. 9, unless my editor does something unexpected, which happens. What I want to tell you now, though, is what that headline above suggests. Dan got to me, just a little. He’s made me start thinking about it.

Turns out Dan is helping organize an Iron Butt event here in Colorado in September. For beginners, they’ll be doing a three-pointed star ride that will start in Denver, go south to Trinidad, back to Denver, west to Grand Junction, back to Denver, then northeast to Brush, and back once again to Denver.

That’s a lot of riding in one day. I’ve ridden from Denver to Grand Junction and the reverse, but never both in the same day. That alone looks like a lot to me. But what makes this at least a tiny bit appealing is that I could try it and go to Trinidad and if, when I got back to Denver I didn’t want to go any further I could just stop.

One thing that has put me off in the past is the idea that if I started a ride, once I was a few hundred miles from home, if I wanted to chuck the idea, I’d be stuck riding at least another few hundred miles to get back home. The star route eliminates that issue.

Now suppose I went to Trinidad and back and then headed for Grand Junction. That would, all by itself, be the longest day’s ride I’ve ever done. But I have a brother who lives in Grand Junction so if I got there and just didn’t want to ride any further I would have a place to spend the night. And if I did go back to Denver, once again, I could call it off at that point.

But I suspect that if I made it that far it would be hard to resist the relatively short run out to Brush and back to Denver to make it complete.

So I don’t know. I’m still very skeptical, but Dan got the seed planted. We’ll see. I’ve got till September to make up my mind.

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Biker Quote for Today

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. — Ursula K. Le Guin

Motorcycle Racks to Carry . . . You Name It

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Golf bag carrier for motorcycle

Up till now, carrying your golf clubs on your motorcycle has been a bit of a challenge. Or how about loading your bicycle on? Well, rest easy, your problem is solved.

OK, I just came across this company website and I’m going to pass it along to you. The company is 2×2 Cycles and designing racks to carry these things is their business. I guess they’ve actually had the golf bag rack on the market for awhile. Their new product, which is how I came to learn about them, is the bicycle rack.

Now I’ve got to tell you, the idea of riding down the road on my Concours with a bicycle hanging in the air behind me makes me a bit skeptical. Especially since I was just reading recently about how loading bags high on the back of your bike unweights the front of the bike, making the bike less stable. And yet, I’ve got buddies who go on our annual OFMC trip with not just a rear trunk bag but a rack on top of it where they attach another fully loaded bag. Yikes!

So really, these racks for those guys. This is for you Brett. You’re such a big-time golfer anyway, now you can ride to the course on your Harley and just load the golf bag right on with no problem. Me, I guess I’ll stick to renting clubs when I go to the golf course on my bike.

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Biker Quote for Today

Adventure is taking inappropriate equipment to out-of-the-way places.

Tag-O-Rama Hits Colorado

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Can-Am Spyder at Red Rocks park

Just a heads-up here for anyone who might want to join in the fun. Tag-O-Rama has hit Colorado.

What the heck is Tag-O-Rama? I thought you’d never ask.

A game of Tag-O-Rama starts when someone goes out on their motorcycle to some place where there is a distinctive building or some other kind of landmark and then shoots a picture with their bike in the picture with the landmark. The photo is then posted with clues on an Internet forum, such as Adventure Riders, and the game is on. That photo above of the Spyder at Red Rocks would be a good example.

The first person who can identify the location, go get a shot of their bike with the landmark, and get that shot posted gets the tag. It is then up to them to pick another landmark, shoot a shot with their bike, and post it.

From what I read, Tag-O-Rama is very popular out east, although they don’t face some of the challenges we do out here. As one person noted, we have counties larger than some of their states.

So anyway, Charleetho on Adventure Riders got this game going on Dec. 24 with a photo of his Beemer outside Vintage Motos in Denver. The game has gone in spurts as cold weather and snow have created some delays, and most recently the place has centered on the Colorado Springs area. Denver metro area players are calling for someone to bring the tag back north so perhaps we’ll get some rivalry going on.

Check it out if you’d like to join in. Here’s the link:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=646566

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Biker Quote for Today

He who dies with the biggest gas tank–wins.

An Act of Caring from Colorado Chaps

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The Colorado Chaps website

This may be embarrassing to Lorna Reed, the lady who runs Colorado Chaps, making fleece-lined motorcycle chaps for winter riding, and for others. Nevertheless, I’m going to tell you about it.

Because I have several Google Alerts set up to pick up on news items regarding motorcycles, I ran across a posting this morning in a riders of Honda 1000RRs. It seems one forum member from Australia had ordered some chaps from Lorna and sent payment. Of course, if you pay any attention to the news at all, you are aware there has been incredible flooding going on in Australia recently. Lorna filled the order but then sent this note:

I’m sorry that I was so unawares of the plight of your city/country. Our news has been engrossed in the slayings in Tucson Arizona.
My thoughts and my prayers go to you, your family, and your neighbors.
I just refunded $100. to your credit card ending in XXXX
When you are able, please contribute this to a family, your church, the Red Cross, whom ever needs it most there in Brisbane.
My heart is with you and your family and your country.
We are really all one, on a tiny earth……………..

Of course, I’m familiar with Lorna. She made me a pair of chaps awhile back and I put them through the paces and reported favorably on them. Lorna and I have since stayed in touch and I sent her the URL to that forum post.

So what can you say? I know Lorna never expected to get a lot of attention for what she did, she just did it because she felt it was the right thing to do. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say, “Lorna, you are a truly good person!”

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Biker Quote for Today

Many of us are irritable most of the time (unless we’re in love or just bought a motorcycle). — Carolyn See

Lane Splitting That Didn’t Happen

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Lane-splitting in Paris

It’s 2011 and motorcyclists in Arizona are not legally permitted to lane-split. That’s only news because the legislature was in favor of allowing a test. The governor, however, had other ideas, and vetoed the legislation.

In Oregon it looks like it might be tried. The Governor’s Advisory Board on Motorcycle Safety held a public meeting on Nov. 19, 2010, and the hall was packed with motorcyclists speaking in favor. It’s up to the legislature now.

Lane-splitting, for anyone who doesn’t know, is when motorcycles ride up the middle between cars in two lanes. This usually only occurs in extremely slow-moving or completely stopped traffic. Except in France, of course. When my wife and I were in Paris some years ago we were amazed to see motorcyclists zipping not just up the middle but down the shoulder, along the dividers separating oncoming traffic, and all of this with traffic moving at full speed.

It was in the heart of Paris, though, where you could really see the sense of the idea. Every time a light turned red and traffic stopped, small motorcycles and scooters filtered through to the front and as soon as the light went green they were off! With quicker acceleration than cars, the two-wheelers were gone by the time the cars started to move and the cars just moseyed on their way. Riders in California, the only U.S. state where splitting is allowed, will tell you they cut half their commute time in that way. Each one of them also represents a car that is not on the highway creating even more congestion and smog.

I did have the opportunity to split when I was in California in October on the EagleRider media tour. On our last day we had come around the San Francisco Bay on the east in order to enter the city across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were making our way through Sausalito on city streets and cars were inevitably mixing in between our bikes. At a stoplight, I was the first of several riders behind a car, with more of our group in front of the car. The driver had left space ahead of her.

I turned to the guy to my left and motioned for him that we go around the car. He nodded and we did. Presto! A few more of our group were able to come around as well, the light turned green, and our partially reunited group took off.

Who knows when lane-splitting will come to any other states. California has been alone in this for a long time now. But maybe, if they give it a try in Oregon and it works out well, the dam may start to crumble.

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Biker Quote for Today

It’s not a real sport unless you can die from massive internal injuries.

IMS Won’t Come to Me, So I’m Going to It

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

For the biggest and most important motorcycle show in the country, it’s really bizarre the cities that the International Motorcycle Shows visit. And by the way, this year there is “Progressive” on the front of that name, whereas the past few years at least the first part of the name was “Cycle World.” New major sponsor, new name, presumably.

Progressive International Motorcycle Shows logoBack to what I was saying. So what cities does the show visit? Nothing surprising in New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and those. But while you won’t see Kansas City, Phoenix, Denver, or anything west of the Mississippi other than the west coast, you do have Greenville, SC. Now what’s that all about? Greenville?

Doesn’t matter, it works for me. I made the decision this year that if the IMS wasn’t going to come anywhere close to me, I would go to it. And conveniently enough, my mother lives just 40 miles from Greenville. So I arranged for my press pass, booked my flights, and told my mother I was coming to visit. And oh, don’t expect to see much of me because I’ll be spending all day for several days in a row at the show.

Yeah, I will spend time with my mom, too. I’ll go down a couple days early and stay a couple days after the show. And I won’t have to pay for a hotel room. That helps.

So this is just a heads-up. I’m absolutely certain I’ll have some interesting stories to tell you after this is all done. Check back in about six weeks.

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Biker Quote for Today

Between safety and adventure, I choose adventure.

Gabrielle Giffords Is a Motorcyclist

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

By now everyone knows that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot Saturday in Tucson, and that a lot of other people were killed in the incident. What many motorcyclists don’t know is that Rep. Giffords is one of us: She rides.

Gabrielle GiffordsGiffords is chair of the United States House of Representatives Motorcycle Safety Caucus. I didn’t know that but you know the folks at the Motorcycle Riders Foundation did. As soon as they heard about the shooting they issued a statement describing her as “a true friend of the motorcyclists of this country.”

I was wondering what she rides and the best I could come up with was a photo of her with some BMW that I don’t recognize, a boxer.

What is far more significant than what she rides, however, is what I found when I went looking. I found a YouTube video she did for the Motorcycle Industry Council promoting Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day. Not surprisingly, that video has had a lot of viewers in the last 24 hours, and a lot of comments. Some of them are incredible. Statements like, “I hope this socialist c— dies.” And apparently in response to YouTube removing some more outrageous comments, this: “What ever happened to freadom of speach? Only if you support faggots and socialist negros.” Or this: “She was a jew !” And this: “She got what she got! f–kin illuminati whore.”

What is wrong with these people!? Where do these scum breed? These self-proclaimed America-loving patriots wouldn’t understand the values of our founding fathers–or the people of this country today–if George Washington and Thomas Jefferson enunciated it for them to their faces.

I know this is getting off the topic of motorcycles but today is not an average day. If you read the blog regularly you know that for nearly three years I have been writing for Examiner.com as their National Motorcycle Examiner. In my life beyond motorcycles I have been interested in politics but turned off by the style of politics that has become so prevalent, where your opponent is not just someone you disagree with, but the devil incarnate. Someone absolutely evil.

Getting fed up with that, just three weeks ago I took on another title at Examiner, as their National Common Ground Examiner. The intent of my writing on this topic is to promote a return to civility in politics and to making reasonable compromises in order to actually fix some of the problems facing this country. To use a metaphor, there are no Republican potholes or Democratic potholes, there are just potholes and they need to be fixed. Do it! It’s fine to disagree, and work for different ends, but treat each other with civility and respect.

Little did I know that my topic would so suddenly become so relevant. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. As the Common Ground Examiner I’ve been writing about a group called No Labels that is working for this same return to civility. I’ve been reading the comments people make about the group and it is astonishing how negative and vicious many of those comments are. The one that particularly sticks in my mind was a guy who said, “Not all who hate America are liberals, but all liberals hate America.” Is there anyone who doubts that it was this sort of sick thinking that led to the attack on Gabby Giffords?

Oh, and just for the record, I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. I’m a registered Independent. But I’m going to quote the words of the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner: “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.” Do you idiots who cheer this attack just not get the message?

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Biker Quote for Today

Ride fast, life is short.

Guest Post: 5 Most Unusual Motorbike Designs

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The following is a guest post by Miles Walker. Miles is a freelance writer and blogger who usually compares car insurance deals over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org. He contacted me to ask if he could do a guest post and I think you’ll find what he sent me very interesting.

5 most unusual motorbike designs

Bike enthusiasts and visual thrill-seekers rejoice. Below lays a bauble of hand-picked (or eye-picked) steel sirens of motorcycle design that are truly unusual.

From an assortment of shapes, colors, and themes, there is a little something here for everyone. The best part? There’s no Photoshop CGI Computer Play-doh here. Every one of these bikes is a real machine, with ignition and key. The Real McCoy.

What does this matter you? Well if you are as rich as a sheikh or on your way to becoming one, with the right connections and a little gumption, you could probably get a replica of one these bikes built yourself. Hey, anything’s possible right?

The Hubless Monster – The Wheels To The Soul

Hubless Monster

Woah. Now that is cool. Look ma, no spokes! The wonderbrains at Amen made this unique bike that is the first to have hubless wheels in the front AND in the back. If you want to know how it feels to be a Tron rider with flames, this is the bike for you.

Mean, Green Cheese-Eating Machine

Mean green cheese-eating machine

Holy Limburger, hide the cheese! Don’t let this eye-popping creation find it, or it’s curtains. Man, this bike is so cool, we would have to change motorcyle moniker from “hogs” to “rats”. If you can’t get noticed riding this ultra unique mechanical phenom, then Superman must be flying butt-naked next to you. That’s the only way.

The Spider Rider

Spider Rider

Straight out of your favorite anime comic comes the Yamaha Tesseract. This bike looks like it was transported from the year 3049 from one of Mr. Fantastic’s time machines. How cool would you be riding this? You’d get more looks than a wino in the front row at the Emmy’s. It has four legs like a spider, and four wheels like a car, and yet it’s neither. Look for this to be in the next James Bond movie.

The Circle of Road Righteousness

Circle of Road Righteousness

Dude, it’s a big-ass motorized donut! This is too cool for words and also would appear in a James Bond movie, but Goldtoe or Octo-vagine would be riding this baby. As hot as this bike is, I would be afraid to hit a pebble going 70 mph. You’d end up on the side of the road folded up like a giant metal pretzel.

The Horny Hog

Horny Hog

Last but not least for all you horndogs out there, is this sexy ride. Who needs Viagra? After riding this around town, you’ll be ready for wifey. I wonder, does the girl come with the bike?

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Biker Quote for Today

Live like you mean it, then get a bike.

First Year Ever with More Miles on the Bikes

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

For the first time in more than 20 years on motorcycles I rode more miles than I drove last year. In fact, nearly double. I’m pretty amazed.

motorcycles in Spearfish CanyonEvery year on January 1 I check my odometers on all my vehicles to see how many miles I covered on each. This year I rode my Kawasaki Concours 10,004 miles. Not surprisingly, that’s also the first time I’ve ridden more than 10,000 miles on a bike in a year. In 2009 I rode the Kawi 5,016 miles.

My car, on the other hand, racked up only 5,581 miles. That compares with 8,660 miles in 2009.

I didn’t do much on my Honda CB750 Custom, partly because it spent too much of the year in the shop. Mileage for 2010 was only 662 miles, compared to 1,037 the year before.

Altogether that puts my bike mileage at 10,666 or a bit less than double the car. Double the car would be 11,162, so that’s about 500 shy.

I’m happy to say that a lot of those miles came from the fact that I took a lot more trips this past year. I went out to the Laughlin River Run, I went to the Sturgis Rally, and of course I went on the annual OFMC trip.

But all those miles also mean I rode more at home. I made it a point to use the bikes for transportation as much as possible, even when it would have been more convenient to drive my car. And I’ll continue doing that, too. I like being on the bike more. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Riding the dang thing!?

Oh, and by the way, those figures actually don’t even represent all the miles I rode this past year. They do not include the four days I spent doing the EagleRider media tour in California, the dual-sporting I did on other people’s V-Stroms, or the week I got around exclusively on a scooter. So if you add those miles I did ride more than double the miles I drove in 2010.

I don’t know about you but I kind of like the sound of that.

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Biker Quote for Today

Warning: If this bike is on a trailer it is being stolen.