Archive for May, 2013

Maybe You Should Represent Motorcyclists at the State

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Colorado’s Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program faced extinction last year but survived, on the condition that an advisory committee oversee its operations.

Colorado MOST program logo

Colorado MOST program logo

So here’s a question: Who is going to serve on that committee?

The answer to that question might be spelled out in three letters: Y-O-U.

Here’s the deal. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) put out a notice today that it is seeking parties “interested in participating in the creation of the aforementioned board.”

What will the committee’s responsibilities be?

The Motorcycle Operator Safety Advisory Board’s legislative charge is to meet at least quarterly to:
• Recommend training methods to increase safety reduce motorcycle crashes and injuries;
• Recommend training methods to increase program effectiveness;
• Recommend improvements to the program and training;
• Make recommendations on expenditures of fund moneys.

OK, so who are they looking for?

Two year term positions:
• Two members who represent most vendors;
• One member who represents retail motorcycle dealers;
• One member who represents third-party testers;
• One member who represents instructor training specialists.

One year term positions:
• One member who represents the motorcycle riding community;
• One member who represents motorcycle training providers not affiliated with the program;
• One member who represents law enforcement agencies;
• One member who represents motorcycle insurance providers.

OK. If you’re in the industry there are a lot of options. If you’re just an everyday Joe it seems to come down to just the person who “represents the motorcycle riding community.”

So what do you do if you’re interested?

If you represent one of entities identified as Advisory Board Members and you are interested in serving on the Advisory Board to meet the legislative charge, please send the following information to Mr. Glenn Davis at
glenn.davis@state.co.us. This information must be received by June 15, 2013 in order to be considered.
• Name
• Membership Position you desire to fill
• Phone number(s)
• Contact Address
• Email address(s)
• Qualifications for the membership position in a Word document

It is encouraged that this information be forwarded to other qualified membership candidates.

The information will be collected for review by the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation for Advisory Board appointment. The first meeting of the Advisory Board will have the first meeting will be scheduled in August of 2013. If you have questions regarding the process please
contact Glenn Davis at 303-757-9462.

So that’s the deal. If you ever felt you ought to have more say in how the state deals with motorcyclists you’ve never had a better chance than now. I’ll be interested to see who ends up on this committee.

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Biker Quote for Today

Throw off those comfortable chains that the U.S. consumer society has burdened you with, go and ride solo into places far outside your comfort zone, and learn interesting things about yourself.

Winning That KLR650; Entry to the Races for Free

Monday, May 27th, 2013
ABATE racer

OK, this photo is a bit dated--Jon no longer rides sponsored by ABATE. But you get the picture.

I went to my ABATE meeting yesterday (yes, of course I rode one of the bikes) and among other things got an update on the odds I’m facing winning this KLR650 that I’ve spoken of before.

A recap: This is a new bike ABATE is raffling off, $10 per ticket, with a maximum of 2,500 tickets to be sold. The drawing is on June 15. I’ve bought three tickets. As of Sunday there were still only 641 ticket sold. That means I now have 1 chance in about 204 of winning. Try those odds on PowerBall.

So I’ve been figuring all along that of course I’ll win, but now that I’ve bought this V-Strom I figure it’s cinched. You know, what’s the best way to find something you’ve misplaced? Buy a new one. The old one immediately shows up. I wanted a dual-sport bike. I bought one. Now I’m sure to win another, right? Only about 20 days till I graciously accept that key. Geez, then where am I going to park a fourth bike?

I’m glad to see that number at 641. That means they’ve pretty much gotten the bike paid for. I’d like to see the group–us, my group–actually make money but at the very least it’s good not to lose money.

ABATE and MRA

I learned something else at the meeting that was pleasing. ABATE and the Motorcycle Roadracing Association (MRA), the local group that puts on racing at several tracks around the Front Range, have a very cooperative relationship. And the newest thing to come out of this relationship is that any ABATE member who shows up at the races can get in free by showing their ABATE membership card. Nice!

I’m not a huge race fan but I do generally get out to the races once or twice a season. Now I don’t have to pay the gate fee. It’s just $10, but until I took this regular job with the National Park Service I was scraping by for several years and that $10 was not of no consequence. Of course, now that I don’t have to pay it I’m in a place where I could easily pay it. But maybe there are others out there who are still scraping by and for them this could be a good thing.

Either way, it shows the good, mutually supportive relationship between the two organizations. And let me tell you, this is not the way it is in other states. In most other states the sportbike crowd despises ABATE. This good relationship is unique to Colorado. I’m pleased that I had a hand in making that happen, but I’m not going to rehash that story here. Maybe another time soon if you’re interested.

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Biker Quote for Today

Across the country on the kindness of strangers and the strangeness of friends (and a DR650).

Plate for the V-Strom: Ins and Outs of Motorcycle Registration

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
V-Strom with license plate

It took four trips to Motor Vehicle but I finally got my plate.

No, I did not get a plate for my new V-Strom on Friday as I expected I would. I had so much to learn!

I did get it registered and got a plate today, as you can see in the photo above. Maybe you already know all this; maybe my experience can save you some trouble when you go to register your next new bike.

My first mistake on Friday was to head out without the proof of insurance slip. I was halfway to Motor Vehicle when I realized I had left it at home but I went on anyway. Maybe I wouldn’t need it.

I arrived just after the office opened at 8 a.m. and there was a long line of people already filing in and taking numbers. The manager of the office was greeting people at the door and explaining the process to them again and again. She gets good marks for customer service.

I asked about the insurance slip and she urged me to go ahead and take a number because they might have already received notification from the insurance company. I didn’t know that happened. But they were serving numbers 1 and 2 at that point and my number was 44 so I decided not to wait and then find that they had not heard from my insurance company.

Work was slow that day so I left early and swung back by Motor Vehicle just in case I could get through the line quickly, but at 3:30 p.m. there were a lot more people than had been there in the morning.

Friends had told me by now that Monday and Friday are the worst days to go to Motor Vehicle. So I decided I’d go again on Tuesday, even earlier and with my proof of insurance.

Come Tuesday there I was. My number was 8 so I didn’t have to wait long. I handed my paperwork to the clerk and he sorted through, then asked for the VIN verification. The what? Well, it seems that if you are registering a vehicle that comes from another state (Tennessee, in this case) you have to take the bike and the title to either a dealer or to an emissions check facility to get the VIN verified. No registration and plate for you today!

On my way home that night I swung by Vickery Motorsports to inquire. They guys there were very helpful and said I just needed to bring the bike by with the title and they’d do the verification. But, I asked, how do I do that? It doesn’t have a plate on it. We all kind of went, “Hmmm,” and then I said, “I’ll take the plate off one of my other bikes and put it on.” The Vickery guy grinned and said, “I didn’t hear a thing!”

So the following day I went to work early so I could leave early and have time to get home and take the bike to Vickery. I got to Vickery, “You’re totally legal, right?” he chuckled, and the VIN verification form was completed. I asked while I was there what kind of payment Motor Vehicle wants. Do they want cash, check, credit card? I was told they do take checks and cash and only recently started taking credit cards, although they add on a 2-3 percent fee if you use a card. I’d rather pay by check anyway.

Now it’s back to Motor Vehicle.

I got up early again today to get there before the crowd but by the time I got in line my number was 32. And they had some clerks who didn’t come to work so they were short-staffed. It took an hour and a half but I finally got up to the window.

While the clerk went through my paperwork I found that my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I just had this dread that she would tell me something was wrong or I needed some other piece of paper or something. But no, it was all good. I wrote a check and she handed me the plates and registration, telling me I will receive the title in the mail in about six weeks. Success!

So I got to work way late but as soon as I got home this evening I put the plate on. Gosh, maybe I’ll go for a motorcycle ride this weekend. Or would that be silly?

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Biker Quote for Today

Bikes are better than women because motorcycles don’t care about how many other motorcycles you have ridden.

Biker-type Extras Needed on Tuesday for Film

Monday, May 20th, 2013
Do you look like a biker?

Do you--or can you--look like a biker?

Just getting this out in a hurry because it just came to me and it’s happening tomorrow (today is Monday, May 20). Rather than explain I’ll just paste in the entire email.

Hi Ken,
I was hoping you could help me. I live in Colorado and we’re looking for extras that are either bikers or people who can dress up rock-n-roll. I don’t know if it’s possible but is there a way you can send a notice out to all your fans? Here’s the information. I would appreciate it so much! =)

A low budget feature film “A Remarkable Life” is shooting a scene in Golden Colorado with Hollywood talent!!

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2172402/
(Eric Roberts (Julia Robert’s brother), Helen Slater (City Slickers, SuperGirl), Mark Magolis (Breaking Bad TV Series), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld) and more!)

Date: 5/21/13
Location: Buffalo Rose
http://www.buffalorose.net/
1119 Washington Ave, Golden CO
Time: To be announced
Extras: 21 and over
Wardrobe: Dress biker or rock-n-roll
No logos, bright/loud colors, pure white, or crazy patterns
MUST EMAIL – Kasha Fauscett – kasha.f@comcast to be added to schedule
Pay: This is not a paid opportunity – Thank you for your support.

Thank you,
Kasha Fauscett
Extras Coordinator
www.actresskasha.com
720-290-8526

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Biker Quote for Today

We are people like others, with two eyes, two arms, two legs………… two wheels!!!

CDOT Video Seeks to Make Crashing Real

Monday, May 20th, 2013
Ate asphalt with armor and had room for desert

CDOT's "Ate Asphalt with armor" poster.

Road rash is something a lot of motorcyclists are familiar with from personal experience. It’s not fun, and it’s not pretty. But how many of us have ever faced this skinned-alive experience in its extreme form? As in not fun, not pretty times 10?

Well, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently put a video up on YouTube where, working with a trauma surgeon in order to make it authentic, they did a make-over on a Fort Collins biker to show what the really bad stuff looks like.

The video is part of CDOT’s aggressive motorcycle safety program that runs all summer and is targeted at younger riders. Among the materials produced for the campaign are posters with a sort of day and night effect. On one, on one side it reads, “Ate asphalt with armor and had room for desert.” On the other side it reads, “Ate asphalt without armor and never got back up.” Another says, “High-sided with a helmet and sat courtside/High-sided without a helmet and rests church-side.” The third says, “Laid it down with gear and picked up his date/Laid it down without gear and never got back up.”

OK, not the most trip-off-your-tongue clever phrasing but they’re trying to put out a message. The point is, they do want us to get home safely.

The flip side of the campaign, of course, is to remind other drivers that we are out there. During May, the annual motorcycle awareness month, CDOT has those signs over the highway telling people to be aware, motorcycles are everywhere. We all know that people driving cars and trucks are the primary causes of the majority of motorcycle crashes. And then, for the bikers again, there is the drive sober part of the campaign.

How much good does all of this do? Good question. My guess would be it’s more successful at reaching the riders than the drivers, but that’s just my gut feeling. Sometimes I think we’ve over-engineered our roads. We were just over in Europe and in many places there are no lane markers, no sidewalks, no separation at all of the various forms of traffic. Cars, pedestrians, motorcycles and scooters, and bicycles all share the same space. People cooperate with each other so that everyone gets where they’re going safely. And you don’t see the distracted drivers over there that we see here because in that kind of situation you had damn well better be doing exactly one thing: driving. With all the lane-splitting and driving on the wrong side of the road and so much else that would make U.S. cops flip out, drivers in Europe pay attention to their driving–and they cooperate–and they do it a lot more safely than we do. Plus, I think their penalties if you do screw up are a lot stiffer than ours, so everyone has that incentive, too.

There’s a lesson here if anyone is interested.

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Biker Quote for Today

“People who ride motorcycles have gotten something right, and I want to put myself in the service of it, this thing that we do, this kingly sport that is like war made beautiful.” — Matthew B. Crawford

Plate for the V-Strom; Miscellaneous

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
A motorcycle/scooter dealership in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

A motorcycle/scooter dealership in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

So it has been three weeks since I received the title for my V-Strom and tomorrow morning I’ll be stopping by motor vehicle to register it and get plates. Finally.

Why did I wait so long? I’ve been out of the country. We were gone for 17 days to Italy and Croatia. You can bet I’ll be writing about the nature of motorcycling in those countries in the weeks to come. Just as a teaser, that photo above is a dealership in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Not at all what dealerships here look like. But riding over there is not what riding here looks like, either.

I have some odds and ends here to throw out. I got another email asking for ideas for a ride. I may be able to address this one reasonably well on my own but maybe someone out there has something to offer as well. Here’s the question:

Hi Ken,, I was hoping you could help me out,, Not sure if you got my last email,,, I am looking for a guided D/S Off road ride, in Colo possibly ghost town to ghost town,, with a support truck,, either staying at a lodge/motel/hotel.b&b/RV, anything with showers, and FOOD,,,, Not being from the area, don’t want to waste ower time figuring out where to ride on ower own,, I ride a KTM450exc, my buddy rides 510 Huskey,, It could be either the two of us or possibly up to 6 riders,,Dont know at this time,, If you have any ideas please give me a call or email,, Thanks

As before, offer anything recommendations you have as a comment or email them to me at kendbin at yahoo dot com.

Oh yeah, the spammers are back. I had made it tough for comment spammers to leave junk comments but that cut my legitimate comments to zero so I loosened it up. Checking for the first time now is several weeks there were more than 40 spam comments waiting to be deleted and not one single legitimate one.

I got a surprise email the other day from Craig Vetter. Yes, that Craig Vetter, the guy who made all those fairings, among other things. Seems Craig saw an article I did last fall where I talked about his Fuel Economy Challenge at the Vintage Motorcycle Days event in Ohio, and he sent a note thanking me for it. That was very fortuitous because I’ve been owing Rider magazine a feature about Vetter and his challenge for some time now and haven’t followed up on it. I emailed Craig back and asked if we could talk sometime once I got back to the U.S. and he said sure. So that will get me off the dime.

One more thing: this Sunday is the Old Bike Ride. You’ll want to be mounted on a bike at least 1980 or older, although if you want to volunteer as a corner worker you can ride anything. I don’t have any idea what they would use corner workers for at the Old Bike Ride, though. Anyway, here’s what Jerry Pokorny sent out about the ride:

Old Bike Ride 11, this Sunday. Information can be found at http://www.nortoncolorado.org/obr/OBR11.html.

Remember, if you want to participate but don’t have a motorcycle that qualifies (pre 1980), you can volunteer to work a corner and ride anything you like. Contact Bob Ohman to discuss it (303) 570-9333 or reohman@q.com. Bob would appreciate hearing from a few more of you about volunteering for corner duty. It will not detract much at all from your enjoyment of the day.

BMAC members and supporters in Colorado Springs will meet at the parking lot of the North Campus of Pikes Peak Community College (Hwy 83 next to the New Life Church) between 7 – 7:30 am. Departure for Golden at 7:30 am (come with full tank of gas – we won’t be stopping on the way).

Arrival in Golden about 9:00 am, riders meeting at 9:15 am and departure for OBR 11 at 9:30 am SHARP!

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Biker Quote for Today

Soaked to the skin, chilled to the core but alive. I left a puddle at the hotel desk as I checked in … this is how adventures end … not with a bang but a puddle on the carpet!… — SkyRiderman

Pikes Peak for 2013 to Feature New Electric Motorcycle Class

Monday, May 13th, 2013
PPIHC 2010

A scene from downtown Colorado Springs during the 2010 PPIHC.

Anyone who doubts that electric motorcycles will be more and more common in years to come just has their eyes closed. They just keep getting better and better, with greater and greater range as batteries continue to improve. Plus, they’re fun to ride! I know; I’ve ridden a bunch of them.

All this is not lost on the folks who host the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. For the first time this year they will include a class for electric bikes. At this moment there are six competitors entered in this class, all riding Zero bikes: two FX models, one MX, and three S. Just so you’ll know, the FX is for urban riding and is billed as “the fastest accelerating Zero ever.” The MX is the track bike in the family, and the S is the basic street bike.

The riders on these bikes include Aaron Frank, editor of Motorcyclists magazine, five guys I’ve never heard of: Nathan Barker, Jeff Clark, Jeremiah Johnson, Rich Ted, and Brandon Miller. People who follow racing more closely may have heard of some or all of them, as they’ve all got experience.

From what I read it seems this could become a popular class, at least for awhile. Whereas racers in other classes have worked for years developing better and better (read: more expensive) machines, to the point that it squeezes out the small guys, electrics is wide open and nearly everyone is riding a bike that is nearly stock (read: inexpensive, at least compared to what it could be).

Now, I’m not at all sure why there are no competitors on bikes from other companies. Where are the Brammos? Where are the guys who are competing in the Isle of Man on various custom bikes? This class ought to grow in years to come.

Of course, there is one electric superbike competing, a Lightning, ridden by Chip Yates, but in a different class. That gives you some idea how good that bike is. “We don’t need no stinkin’ class of our own; we’ll go up against the gas burners!” And Yates will have competition: Greg Tracy will be riding a concept model Amarok P1A Super Bike.

This year’s Pikes Peak in set for June 30. The week before that, though, is the best time to see the machines and meet the riders. I’m going to try to get down there again this year.

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Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes riding a slow bike fast is an adventure in itself.

As Usual, Motorcycle Fatality Rates Less Than Meets The Eye

Thursday, May 9th, 2013
lots of bikers

It just stands to reason that when you have more people riding motorcycles there will be more motorcycle crashes.

There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of stories all over during the last few weeks following the release of a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) that says motorcycle fatalities were up again last year. Most of the so-called reporters who rehashed the press release dutifully echoed the claims that this increase is tied to states eliminating their mandatory helmet laws. It’s just not that simple.

Also as usual, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation followed up with a more balanced response.

The gist of what Jeff Hennie, the MRF’s vice president of government reations and public affairs, had to say is simple: the biggest reason motorcycle fatalities are up is that ridership is up.

Still the GHSA paints a very morbid picture and uses this false platform to push for mandatory helmet laws. After all motorcyclist fatalities are up. What they never mention is, so are registrations for motorcycles.

The study’s author James Hedlund, formerly of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, had this to say in an interview about the study, ‘I found that over the past three decades, the number of registrations tracks closely with the number of deaths’.

The long-term fatality flow chart used in the GHSA report would echo this if the registration numbers were also posted. As expected, those numbers were not included.

What started off as a promising report on valid reasons for the increase in motorcycle usage, ended up as an attack on the freedoms of all motorcycle riders in this country.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in wearing a helmet and I do wear them. But I also believe in letting the rider make his or her own choice. What is so annoying though is how the bureaucrats always go straight to the conclusion that making helmets mandatory would solve the problem. It wouldn’t. And couldn’t we at least compare apples to apples by pairing fatality numbers to rider numbers, as Hennie says?

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you find your self leaning closer to the open window in a car than you normally did.

Danger on the Road–Watch Out!

Monday, May 6th, 2013
Buffalo By The Road

I didn't come close to hitting this guy, but he was standing only about 15 feet away as I carefully slipped by him. And this was in Nebraska!

What’s the strangest thing you ever hit–or nearly hit–on your bike? That’s the question that launched a long-running thread on the Adventure Riders forum, and periodically I go there to pass along some of the more interesting things people tell about. Let’s go!

  • Hit the groundhog at 80 mph on the ’86 Connie, like jumping a log on a dirt bike!
  • Deer, deer, deer. The souther we went the deer-ier it got! Thankfully none came into the road at us. We did get spooked several times though.
  • How about a RubberMaid trash can. It was dark and a little windy. I was riding my trusty 916 Duc on to an off ramp and I saw it out of the corner of my eye rolling towards me, I thought to myself what the hell is that?, then BOOM. A big rubber trash can wraps itself around my front wheel and gets wedged between the body work and front wheel with my front tire riding on top of the trash can. Now at 70 mph trying to stop with no front brakes, steering, or front contact patch for that matter gave a huge pucker factor. To this day I don’t know how I able to follow the curve of the road, or crash. But with the help of a concerned motorist I was able to ride home.
  • The entire hood that flew over my head from a ’69 Ford pickup in front of me at 70mph. All I saw was a shadow!
  • Ran over a 8 foot fiberglass Ladder doing about 80 on the 5 south.No crash,just a tank slapper. Also had a large deer charge at me and jump clear over . That would have been the end of me if it hit me square.
  • This past summer, coming south from Ontario, entering Minnesota at the US/Canada border. Come to a stop at the US side, and the immigration guy comes out and asks a few questions. One he asked, “Did you hit a skunk?” It did smell pretty bad, but I didn’t noticed any smell until I stopped. He let me through pretty fast.
  • Bird went straight through the front wheel (perpendicular to the wheel) of my ’80 GS850 at about 90mph. Those Suzuki cast aluminum wheels have some really sharp machined edges – never did see it come out the other side, but cleaned up a whole bunch of “ground sparrow” off the headers/forks/fender.
  • Was driving down the freeway in the fast lane when I saw a red cyclindrical object bounce out of the bed a pickup that was one lane over and a hundred or so feet ahead of me. Watched it bounce up in the air two or three or three times. As I started catching up to it, the darn thing was still bouncing and was getting about 3 feet up in the air each time. It hadn’t slowed down much yet, and I had this ridiculous urge to try and pluck it out of the air. Thankfully my underutilized common sense asserted itself. I finally recognized it as a fire extinguisher just as I was getting past it. Never considered that something that could bounce as well as it did was a steel container.
  • I almost ran over a pair of boots and a hardhat before swerving to avoid a kitchen table and a truck coming the wrong way up the middle of the highway in Vietnam. Literally…
  • Coming down hill in a corner I came across a sheet of ply on the road,there was no way to avoid it,so just had to go over it.It was big enough to fit the whole bike on,and the ply slide down the road as I went over it….came off about a metre off my original line.Strange feeling going around a corner on a separate moving piece of road.
  • OK, enough fun and games for today. (Yeah, fun. Right.) As we all know, it’s dangerous out there. Be careful.

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    Biker Quote for Today

    Your attitude makes an adventure out of a difficult situation. So, its all in your head.

    The Joys of a Used Motorcycle

    Thursday, May 2nd, 2013
    Givi bag on a V-Strom

    The Givi bags on my new V-Strom come pre-scarred so I don't have to worry about doing it myself.

    My new V-Strom is new only to me; it has 17,000 miles on it from two previous owners.

    That’s OK with me. As you can see in the photo above, this bike has gone down at least once so that means I can drop it myself and not feel that horrible pang of regret from having put the first scratch on your new baby. Not that I had a tendency to go down on bikes but I’m planning on getting off the pavement on this bike, and when you do that your likelihood of going down increases.

    Heck, I’ve already dropped one of Kevin’s V-Stroms. We were going over Cinnamon Pass and came to a particularly tight switchback on what was at that point just a narrow gravel trail. I didn’t make the turn successfully. No problem. Pick the bike up, get it facing in the right direction, get back on, and go.

    About two switchbacks later I came to another really tight one and this time I stopped to study it. I could see that the steeply sloping rock face that was the corner of the turn had tracks across it. I figured other people in this spot had just powered through and around, so that’s what I did. I gave it some revs, let out the clutch, and hit that rock face with power and just carved that turn around and was on my way up the trail again, all in an instant.

    I want to do more of that kind of riding. That day was one of the best riding days of my life, and it was that ride that totally sold me on getting off the pavement.

    So I took the new bike out for a ride Saturday. Not a very long ride at all, because I don’t have plates on it. But I took a little jaunt through the neighborhood just to get on it and get a feel for it. Fired up great and ran beautifully. Hey, oh boy–fun times to come!!

    Biker Quote for Today

    Adventure riding has been good for my attention deficit diso….Hey, what’s down that road?