Archive for October, 2015

More On Rockers And Claiming Territory

Thursday, October 29th, 2015
Biker patch

I guess if you wear this patch you're claiming ownership of bikers. Oops, no, it's not a three-piece.

Alan was interested in my post about “Shariah law” and when he gets curious he knows some knowledgeable people who he asks to comment. He sent me a couple responses.

From Samantha there was this:

This is quite a subject of hot debate.And actually, the very reason Ron and I disbanded the Deadhorse MC. Well, me anyway. Ron was just tired of leading rides all of the time and worrying about riders getting lost, keeping up, doing the newsletters, writing about every ride, calling everyone, etc. I, on the other hand, knew the day was coming that we would get into conflict with other MC’s. Not so much for having our rockers (as we never had rockers in the first place) but once more MC members were gathered in the surrounding areas, the main artery of drug trafficking known as Highway 191 going straight through Moab would become a territory issue. Knowing me, I wouldn’t take it as seriously as these guys were and would mouth off, getting all of us hurt.

Sure enough, less than a year of us disbanding, a new group was formed here and they decided they were going to call themselves an MC and got patches with rockers and all. They were contacted and ‘encouraged’ to take the rockers off. They did. It was a bit silly, as these guys had no idea where the rocker idea had even come from, and for that reason, I grant respect to the MC’s that claim territory. Rockers were their thing to start with, and if you let them have it now, they seem to be fine with whatever little ‘club’ you want to have..just don’t claim a state.

It’s all very high school, until you get ‘encouraged’ by an MC. Then, it gets real!

Then there was this from Greg:

Randy Decastro indicated that one of the club local chapters would not allow the American Legion that he belongs to form a club or be patched.

That’s one thing that Bruce told us at Sunday’s ABATE meeting, that we were not being singled out, but that they were going after everyone. Fine. A bunch of suburban, middle-class guys like the OFMC really has no interest in pretending to be a bunch of 1%ers anyway. But there’s no one who can tell us we can’t have a small, private club of guys who like to ride.

Biker Quote for Today

If she changes her oil more often than she changes her mind, follow her.

Enforcing ‘Shariah Law’ In Colorado

Monday, October 26th, 2015
No Club Patch

That arced part at the bottom that reads "NO CLUB" is the rocker.

Let’s see if you understand what I’m referring to here.

You have a group of people who tell everyone else that regardless of whether or not they believe the same as they do, the others must follow the laws of this group’s beliefs or else they’ll do them bodily injury, perhaps even kill them.

Does that make you think of Muslim extremists and Shariah law? I’m betting that if you’re like most non-Muslim Americans the answer is yes. Maybe even if you are a Muslim American. I’m not saying that is an accurate description of what ISIS and Al-Qaeda are all about but I think that’s a fair statement of how most of us see it.

So what if I told you what I’m really here to talk about is a motorcycle “club”?

On the OFMC trip this past summer Ray was complaining that the Sons of Silence had made his VFW group of riders take the “Colorado” rockers off their patches. “Made” them do it. How can they make you do that, I asked him. Why don’t you just tell them to go take a flying leap? Ray never really answered that question but I think we all know the answer.

Now I was just at my ABATE of Colorado District 10 meeting on Sunday and it turns out the Sons had approached ABATE saying that ABATE cannot use the word “Colorado” on any patches it produces. Never mind it’s part of the group’s name. It seems in their minds that they own Colorado and no one else can lay claim to it.

Telling us about his meeting with two “club” representatives, ABATE of Colorado State Coordinator Bruce Downs said, and I paraphrase: Whether you agree with them or not, it’s their belief system. You put a territory name on a rocker and you’re saying you own that territory. There have been people who have died over this. That’s not what we’re about. I’m not going there. We came to a mutual understanding.

Did somebody say Shariah law? Oh, yeah, I did. Now, no one said anything about physical retaliation but Bruce’s remark about people having died over this issue makes it clear that such things can and have happened and that fact is always in the back of your mind. It leads to self-censorship. It leads to groups like ABATE and Ray’s VFW group giving in no matter how vehemently they despise doing so. And I agree totally with Bruce. This is not what we’re about. There are more important issues ABATE needs to address. It’s not worth anyone getting hurt.

Now here’s a funny thing. Bruce said this applies only to patches, and only to three-part patches, with a top rocker, middle, and bottom rocker. If you’re silk-screening onto a T-shirt it’s OK for ABATE of Colorado to call itself ABATE of Colorado.

I thought Judy summed it up well. When I told her about all this she remarked that it’s like a bunch of dogs going around marking their territory. Some people need to grow up. And I guess if the University of Colorado decides to produce patches they had better just call themselves the University. Because the Sons own Colorado.

Biker Quote for Today

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but dirt bikes break them better.

New Valve Stem Without Removing The Wheel Or Tire

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
motorcycle valve stem replacement

Thanks to Jeff's portable bead breaker this job took five minutes.

I’ve been really nervous every time I’ve ridden the Honda since I first noticed the valve stem on the front tire was rotting away. That was in June and I finally got it replaced this past weekend.

I met Ron in Boulder and we went to his friend Jeff’s house where Ron keeps his tire changing machine. The expectation was to remove the wheel and then take the tire off before replacing the valve stem. A good half hour job or more.

Fortunately, Jeff was home at the time and he had a little device that turned this into a five minute job.

With the bike on the centerstand, Jeff pulled out a portable bead breaker, which is like a set of tongs with plates at the squeezing end and enough length in the handles to get leverage. After releasing the air, he positioned the plates on the sides of the tire by the valve and squeezed. That broke the bead free from the wheel and with a couple tire irons to keep the tire shoved aside, Ron removed the old valve stem and then reached in to insert the new one. Hook up the air pump and give it a blast and presto! Job completely finished, just that quick.

valve stem on motorcycle wheel

This new valve stem will make it easier to put air in.

Not only that, but this new valve stem is a big improvement over the last one. The last one was the typical rubber kind, whereas this new one is a metal stem with a 90 degree bend that makes it easy to get the air hose onto it. You can see it there in that photo.

It’s not so important on this front tire because there’s plenty of space to get to even the old type. But on the rear wheel it’s a totally different story. The space is so cramped that getting a hose on incredibly hard. Some years ago I bought a metal, L-shaped extender specifically to make it possible to get at that valve easier. The extender is very much like the new valve stem. So anyway, we didn’t put a new stem on the rear at this time because it’s going to need a new tire soon anyway, but now I have a second one for the back when the time comes.

What a huge improvement!

Biker Quote for Today

Murphy’s Motorcycle Laws: 8. “Universal” accessories are so named because that is where you must search to find the bike they fit.

Dogging It In The Hills

Monday, October 19th, 2015
Side cars with dogs

Two side car rigs with two dogs.

No sooner had Alan read my remarks about sending dead dinosaurs through my bike than he emailed me to ask if I wanted to join them on a ride Sunday. I did.

Alan, of course, now rides a Gold Wing sidecar rig and his daughter, Abby, joined us in the hack along with her little dog. Then we headed west to the Conoco station out by Morrison where we met up with Sandy, in her Harley sidecar rig, with her dog, Bentley. Alan met Sandy in Sturgis at a sidecar rally this spring and considering that both live in the Denver area, they had been trying to get out for a ride together. This was the day.

And just as an aside, while Alan’s rig is a true beauty, Sandy’s was chosen Best of Show at the rally, so you know it’s a very nice piece of machinery.

We took off with Alan in the lead, me in the rear, and Sandy in between. Although I hadn’t planned it, this allowed me to observe Sandy and Bentley throughout the day. Periodically she would reach over and stroke his head, which was sweet and made me wish I could get a photo of it. Going through towns she would also pet him and on quite a number of occasions she also readjusted his goggles so they would be where they belonged, protecting his eyes.

Bentley doesn’t seem to mind the goggles when they’re at speed but when they slow down or even stop, he wants them off. He has become very adept at turning to the back of his seat and using it to brush the goggles up off his face. I saw him do it time and again. The straps of the goggle are pretty ingenious: one strap goes all the way around his neck, while another goes under his ears and holds them in place. That way, when he brushes them off, they don’t fall off. They just sit on top of his head until Sandy puts them back down.

Everywhere we went Bentley was a head-turner. Everybody was tickled to see the dog with goggles in the sidecar. I remember in particular when we passed a girl of about 10 and her face just lit up as she pointed him out to her friends.

And Bentley was well behaved, too. Though he was not strapped in, he never jumped out inappropriately, although there was one time, again in Boulder, where we were stopped for a red light and he saw a squirrel. “Squirrel!!” Oh man, he wanted that squirrel, but Sandy saw it, too, and poked him to remind him to behave. She had to poke him a couple more times before we left that squirrel behind.

I have to confess I did not even catch the name of Abby’s dog. She and the dog were tucked down inside Alan’s sidecar, way out in front of me, and it was easy for me to forget the dog was even there. Abby did share with us the amusing fact that her dog–more than any she has ever known–has absolutely no idea how to brace itself for the inevitable curves you encounter in a car or any other vehicle. We’d go around a curve and the dog would find itself laying on its back, feet in the air, thrust up against the outside wall of the sidecar. “How did I get here, Mom?”

So it was a beautiful fall day up in the hills and we had a good ride, though it definitely got chilly later on. Caught just a few drops of rain coming through Golden. If the forecast holds out this may be the last good weekend for riding we’ll have for awhile. And there were a lot of folks on bikes out taking advantage of it.

OK, this just arrived. Here’s a group shot.

Two sidecars, four people, two dogs, one motorcycle without a sidecar.

Group shot in Nederland.

Biker Quote for Today

Only animals belong in cages. (That’s the quote, but I say no, animals don’t belong in cages, either. But some dogs do belong in sidecars.)

Riding Goals

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
motorcycle odometer

This was a good trip a few years ago. I shot photos of where I was every 100 miles and this was the last 100-mile stop on the trip. Burned a lot of dinosaurs.

“My goal is to see how many gallons of dead dinosaurs I can send through my bike.”

I used that for a “Biker Quote for Today” several years ago and you know, it really rings true. I pride myself on putting as few miles as possible on my car each year, but then I turn around and pride myself equally on how many miles I can put on my bikes.

Let’s keep this in perspective, of course. For my friend Dan, who is an Iron Butt guy, hitting only 30,000 miles in a year is an off year. For me, a really, really good year is in excess of 10,000. I’m probably looking at something between 6,000 and 7,000 this year. And when you consider that I’ll probably only put about 6,000 miles on my car this year, that’s not bad. As far as I’m concerned, any year where I put more miles on my bikes than on my car is a good year.

So the end of the year is not far off now and as always I’m identifying some goals that I may not achieve but that I want to at least shoot for. Some are fairly arbitrary: get each bike up to the next 1,000 on the odometer by year’s end. This year, however, that’s going to take some doing. The Honda right now is in the 100s, while both the Kawi and Suzuki are in the 200s. That’s a good bit of riding when you’re not going on any trips soon.

Now, I am going to be taking the Honda up to Boulder on Saturday, and that will be about 100 miles altogether. But most of the simple riding around that I do is a lot shorter: go to the dentist–18 miles; go to the bank–3 miles; go to the wine story–19 miles; run to the grocery store–4 miles. Those kinds of trips don’t add up very quickly. When I just go out for a cruise on a nice day those rides generally run between 25 and 75 miles. It will take a lot of those to get to the next thousand on any of the bikes.

And then there’s riding to work. Yeah, I know I said I had ridden to work for the last time but maybe that’s not the case. The National Park Service has asked me to come back on an emergency, 60-day basis. The emergency is that they have a little more than 400 of these foundation documents to get completed and the deadline is past the 75 percent point but the work is only around the 65 percent point. “Can you help us catch up?”

So I said yes, and I’ll try to get in as many days riding to work as I can. It’s a 35-mile round trip. But this also means these are days when I can’t just go out for a cruise.

Whatever. It’s no big deal if I don’t turn over the next thousand on any of the bikes. The point is to ride as much as possible. I just want to maximize dinosaurs.

Biker Quote for Today

Reason takes a holiday as Dr. Horrible spends money he doesn’t have, on a motorcycle he doesn’t need, in a misguided attempt to recapture his youth which, upon reflection, wasn’t all that great in the first place.

Fighting The ‘Motorcycle Crash’ Syndrome

Monday, October 12th, 2015
Motorcycle with no left turn sign.

Considering how many motorcyclists are hurt or killed by people turning left in front of them, maybe we should all put these signs on our bikes.

I mentioned how I have launched my own small campaign against headline writers who describe crashes that involve a motorcycle and another vehicle, even if the driver of the other vehicle was at fault, as a “motorcycle crash.” It seems pretty consistently that my Google Alert for “motorcycle” brings up about two of these offenders nearly every day. So I send about two of my emails every day. I also decided it made sense to send emails expressing approval when headlines are written accurately, in order to let people know someone cares and appreciates their efforts. I don’t often get responses but in some cases I do. I want to share some of those conversations with you here.

Initially I was sending this message: Hi. Just want to ask/raise the point: Why does your headline refer to a “motorcycle crash” when it was in fact a car/motorcycle crash and it was the car driver who was at fault? Aside from being simply inaccurate, this is totally common and gives the misleading impression that motorcycles are dangerous, when in fact the danger is with the car driver. The number one cause of injuries to motorcyclists is cars turning left in front of the bikes.

Predictably, I got some responses from the writer saying an editor wrote the headline, not them.

Dan Sokil, The Reporter: Hi Ken – thanks for the feedback! I actually did not write that headline, all I filed was the text from the scene and my editor entered it into our system, and there has been no official word from police yet about the cause or who was at fault. My editor who wrote that headline is in later this afternoon if you’d like to contact her, but my guess is that was meant to convey that the motorcycle riders were hurt and not the auto ones. Let me know if you’d like to talk to her, and as soon as we have more info we’ll update that story accordingly.

I told Dan I didn’t need to speak with his editor but would appreciate his passing my concerns along.

I also got this from Tara Becker at the Quad-City Times: Hi Ken…thank you for your email. I’m not sure who wrote the headline on the story, but I will pass along your concerns to my editor.

To a third similar response I replied: Perhaps you might make my point to your editor on the basis that it inaccurately presents the accurate story you wrote.

This reporter replied that he did speak with his editor and he thanked me for pointing it out.

Next was Brian Day, with a newspaper group in the Los Angeles area.

Brian: The description of “motorcycle crash” is not intended to assign fault or imply motorcycles are inherently dangerous, it it simply a description of how Mr. Gomez died. It is not an inaccurate description. To say the incident the rider died in a “car crash” or “SUV crash” would be inaccurate and only create confusion, as obviously, Mr. Gomez was riding a motorcycle at the time, he was not driving a car. Saying someone is in a motorcycle crash does not imply, in any way, that they are at fault. Merely that they were riding a motorcycle, which was involved in a crash.

As far as the cause of the crash, police are yet to determine which party is at fault. “The investigation is ongoing,” as my story states. It’s premature at this point to say the woman driving the SUV was at fault in the collision. While the involved SUV is believed to have made a left turn in front of the motorcycle, the cycle was also described by authorities as travelling at high speed.

I certainly understand your feelings, and I hope you find this explanation satisfactory. Take care.

Me: Thanks for responding Brian. I’m particularly interested in your comment about it being a motorcycle accident because he was on one. That’s a little different perspective than I had been using. Still, considering that it was a multi-vehicle accident I think to refer to it only in terms of what the dead guy was on still is less than fully accurate.

Also this from Stephen Frye at the Oakland Press: Thank you for the note. The use of motorcycle in the headline of this story was due to the fact that the driver of the motorcycle was injured and the story was about him being hurt.

Not at all satisfied by those answers, I replied to Stephen: Thanks for the reply but let me ask you this: If the car had hit a toddler on a tricycle would you have referred to it as a tricycle crash? Omitting mention of the car makes it look like the biker just crashed all by himself.

Stephen offered this follow-up response: In that case, I would have mentioned the toddler, which is key to the story. In this story, the key element is the motorcyclist, who was hurt, and the secondary element was that he was from our area, Milford. Rather than say Milford motorcyclist, I broke that up to say a former Milford man was hurt, making the motorcycle part of the crash a secondary part of the headline. Thanks for sharing your input. Many considerations go into the headlines and it is a challenge to convey key details of a story in as brief a way as possible.

I had a good bit of back and forth with DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Editor with KCTV5. First she had this to tell me: We initially were told that it was a single vehicle crash involving a motorcycle. I have no idea what occurs in most crashes but in this case the car driver wasn’t at fault. In this case, the danger was from a motorcycle that didn’t operate properly.

I replied: So you’re never glad to hear someone got hurt or killed but at least it was not the driver at fault. In the vast majority of cases it is.The number one cause of motorcycle fatalities is drivers turning left in front of a biker. The standard explanation: I didn’t see him. Well, maybe you didn’t look, or maybe you were fooling with your cellphone. My main point, however, was that in many, many instances the headline calls it a “motorcycle accident” even if it involved a car and even if the driver, not the rider, was at fault. I’ve initiated my own small campaign to bring this idea to the consciousness of the people writing the headlines–and I know it is not always the reporter who writes the headline. So hopefully I’ve brought it to your attention sufficiently that if you find yourself in that situation in the future you will think about what I’ve said. Thanks.

And she replied: My brother was in two motorcycle crashes. He nearly died in the second one. Both were his fault.

And of special interest was the response I got from Wayne Roustan, at the Sun-Sentinel, when I thanked him for a good headline: Thanks for the feedback. Ironically, later that day, on my way home, on the flyover ramp connecting westbound I-595 to southbound I-75, I was nearly run off the road and into the concrete barrier wall by two guys driving an estimated 80 mph (at least) on motorcycles speeding between the two lanes of traffic that was going about 55-60 mph. The first guy cleared my mirror by inches before I swerved to the right.
It’s about the 10th time this has happened to me. I’ve videotaped a couple on my dashcam, but not this latest one. Back in 2009, I was westbound on I-595 alone at 2 a.m. when a white ninja bike came up on me from behind doing about 100 mph before passing me. Scared the crap out of me. I remember it because the rider was wearing white leathers and a white helmet. The next night one of my videographers brought me videotape of a crash from the same stretch of I-595 going eastbound. A car was rear-ended and burst into flames. The driver survived but the biker didn’t. The video showed debris of a white ninja motorbike and an FHP trooper was carrying a white helmet and white jacket.
I don’t know if it was the same biker who buzzed me the night before but…
So, I’m thinking it goes both ways and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

That pretty well sums up the response I’ve had so far. I intend to continue my campaign. It may make a tiny difference. I’ll pass along anything particularly interesting that comes out of it.

Biker Quote for Today

Squids: Cleaning up the gene pool one wheelie at a time.

Sisters Still Doing It For Themselves

Thursday, October 8th, 2015
Sisters' Centennial Motorcycle Ride

The website for the Sisters' Centennial Motorcycle Ride.

With acknowledgements to Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin for the title here, I want to direct your attention to an event my friend Alisa Clickenger is organizing around something a pair of motorcycling sisters did for themselves 100 years ago.

Way back in 1916, Augusta and Adeline Van Buren set out to ride across the U.S. on motorcycles. As Alisa’s website for the event says, “In 1916 the Van Buren Sisters were the first women to cross the continental United States, each on her own motorcycle. They became the first women to reach the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes Peak each on her own motorcycle. In 2002 the Sisters were inducted into the American Motorcyclists Association Hall of Fame and in 2003 they were inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.”

And what exactly is the event? Scheduled for July 4-24, 2016, and titled the Sisters’ Centennial Motorcycle Ride, “The ride will loosely follow the Van Buren sisters’ 1916 route, primarily following the Lincoln Highway across the United States from New York to San Francisco. Combining scenic routes and major metropolitan areas, the route will allow for great riding as well as promotion and visibility of female motorcycling role models.”

In addition to the riding, events are planned at a number of places along the way:

The ride is open to men as well as women with only 100 registrations open for the full-blown ride, although you can do portions of it and participate in a variety of ways. Check the website for details. Says Alisa, “We promise an epic ride and a plethora of new riding friends.”

Biker Quote for Today

If you think I’m cute now wait till you see me on my motorcycle.

When You Just Need To Ride

Monday, October 5th, 2015
motorcycle with big houses on a hill

Out where Belleview runs into a ritzy neighborhood.

Frustration. Aggravation. Ready to scream.

Yeah, I was and I knew I needed to go for a ride. Really, really needed to go for a ride.

It was Sunday and I was doing some long-neglected chores around the house. Specifically, the latch on the gate was about to fall off and I wanted to fix it for real this time, not just put on a band-aid as I have done several times before. But things just weren’t going well.

I had a strip of scrap wood that I figured I could attach on the edge and then attach the latch to that, but man that piece of wood was hard. I tried to drill it but the drill didn’t do a thing. I tried to nail it but the nails all bent.

Meanwhile it had been a pretty nice day, cool at first but then sunny and warm, and now it was starting to cloud over again. Forget this, I’m going riding.

I rolled out the V-Strom and geared up and then saw it was starting to rain. !!!! A look to the west, however, showed blue sky so I figured that while I would take my rain gear I would not put anything on just yet. And I headed west, toward the blue sky.

Not really knowing where I was going, I just headed west on Belleview. I was on the V-Strom so maybe I’d get to the foothills and find a dirt road going who knows where. I could feel the tension melting away and I couldn’t have cared less about the raindrops speckling my visor, my jacket, and the bike. And pretty soon I reached the sun and now I was feeling a lot better.

Crossing under Santa Fe, still on Belleview, I was not sure where the road went from here. Time to find out. I have that exploring gene.

Soon enough I did find out. I ran into the barrier that is Bow Mar. Tried to poke my way through a couple times but kept running into dead-ends so I backed out and went south till I got to Bowles, which finally carried me further west. Rode past Southwest Plaza (how many years has it been since I’ve been out here?!) and further west until I reached C-470 and there was a foothill immediately in front of me. But Belleview went on across the highway so I checked out where it went.

Not far. It immediately swung south and then into a tiny neighborhood and the grounds for one of those ginormous mega-churches. OK, back to C-470 and go north to the next exit.

That was Quincy and I got off and crossed the highway and found it split left and right. Right was marked Turkey Creek Canyon. I’ve been up there and know it and where it goes. Left was marked Belleview. Oh really? Let’s see.

So I headed south and then west once again on Belleview. This led into a ritzy area with lots of McMansions and as I would around I found myself coming out towards US 285 as it heads up into the mountains. This was that area you always see to the south as you head up that way. Now I know how to get in there.

The road brought me out on CO 8 right at the Fort restaurant on the north side of US 285. My exploring gene had been satisfied and it had clouded over again so it was cooling off and I was getting cold. I turned east to chase the sun again. A couple more side trips along the way and I was nearly home. I stopped off at our local Ace Hardware and bought some new drill bits and left the bike and my gear to put away later as I turned my attention back to the latch.

Very calmly now, with no feelings of aggravation, I put the new bit in and presto, it went right into that hard piece of wood. In five minutes the job was completely done.

Some times you just have to clear your head. There’s no better way to do that than getting on your bike.

Biker Quote for Today

When life throws you a curve… lean into it, pick your line, and keep your weight on the outside peg.

Distracted Driving: We Know What That’s About

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Since I posted about my small personal campaign to get headline writers to stop calling car/motorcycle crashes “motorcycle crashes,” I have been sending emails out at the rate of about two a day, although I have only gotten one reply. If I get more I’ll put together a post with the back and forth.

Of course in so many of these crashes the fault has been with the driver of the car or truck, and as we all know so well, often they have been distracted by stupid things like their cellphones. I’m sorry you idiot, my life is more important than your damn phone call.

So I figured I would make Neil Tohill at Southside Motor Factors happy by posting this infographic he sent me, complete with a link to their site. Not that any of you reading this will frequent their store (they’re in Ireland) but the web crawlers will pick up the link and that will work to their benefit. But I’m not doing it to make Neil happy, I’m using the graphic because it has good, relevant information. That’s the gold standard when it comes to viral marketing: offer something that promotes your company that people pass along because of its own inherent value.

Here’s the graphic. It’s really long, so keep scrolling. I also had to shrink it down to fit width-wise but it should still be legible.

Distracted Driving Infographic

Distracted driving infographic.

Biker Quote for Today

I live with fear every day. But on weekends I leave her at home and go ride my dirt bike.