Archive for the ‘ABATE’ Category

Examiner Resurrection: Sportbikers And ABATE: ABATE Actions That May Sway Sportbikers

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

motorcyclist gearing up

Can ABATE achieve significant gains in reaching out to sportbikers? From what I’ve seen, it remains a daunting task. TwoColorShoe (SBN) cautioned me about painting too rosy a picture.

I can tell that you’re going to try to spin the article towards a positive light in the end; speaking about how even though some may not agree with ABATE’s confusing position on helmet use sportbikers/cruisers/etc. can still all get along and support a group that is really just trying to fight for our rights. I do not think it’s a very realistic position. — TwoColorShoe (SBN)

Rather than try to forsee the future, I will list the changes or actions that these sportbikers say that ABATE would have to make if they are to succeed. “SBN” identifies the speaker as coming from The Sportbike Network, and “CSC” identifies them as coming from the Colorado Sportbike Club. (I was informed this group prefers CSC to the CSBC that I was using previously.)

Without a real change in policy through ABATE, by being much more safety conscious and by trying to appeal to the younger sport bike crowd, only then will people start to recognize the organization’s real worth. Right now, it doesn’t seem like there is much appeal. If ABATE doesn’t change, then the ever growing idea of safety consciousness through the motorcycling world will only keep more people away. They need to really change some stuff, and if they don’t, there’s a good chance they’ll just die out and another pro-motorcycling organization will take their place. — TwoColorShoe (SBN)

ABATE is better than nothing, but…

  • They need to align the membership on their stance regarding helmet use.
  • They need to align the membership on how to interact with other riders.
  • Increase exposure to what they do, other than fight helmet laws.

Getting sportbike riders to buy into ABATE’s agenda means welcoming sportbike riders and possibly changing the agenda to include the beliefs of sportbike riders. Right now that just isn’t happening. — bimmerx2 (SBN)

If they want to garner support from the sportbike community, they need to broaden their advocacy to include other issues like punitive insurance rates for sportbikes, and police profiling of sportbike riders. — TFOGGuys (CSC)

ABATE needs a PR makeover. Sponsoring an MRA rider is one step. So will support for local sportbike events. The only things I’ve seen are ABATE patches on leather jackets and their name attached to poker runs and cruiser events. That could be part of the perception problem. — asp 125 (CSC)

That’s my one minor quibble with ABATE. While they push AGATT in class, they often don’t “walk the walk” and personally set a good example to the new riders who should be coaxed and reminded every second they’re around experienced riders to wear gear. — Wintermute (CSC)

I took, what I seem to remember was, an ABATE class last year and the instruction itself benefitted me greatly. What helped just the fact that I had a chance to practice pretty much any type of maneuvers on a closed course while someone watched with a critical eye. That said, I am very interested in seeing a more sportbike oriented version of the class that features more advanced & real world-type situations. I felt the class was more cruiser oriented, but even more disappointingly, it was merely a reproduction of the original class I took to achieve my endorsement, with the exception of my being allowed to use my own bike. — MetaLord 9 (CSC)

When you look at the “majority” of Sportbike riders (not just on this forum) most of them are younger (18-30) and not interested in being active participants in the legislative process. Take a look at the “majority” of cruiser riders, they are mostly above 30+. — Zuhalter Vati (CSC)

All the more reason for ABATE to get involved. If rider apathy means anti-sportbike laws get passed unopposed, the presence of an organization to give some voice might be a good thing. — asp 125 in response to Zuhalter Vati (CSC)

Show me that you are lobbying to allow lane splitting in all fifty states, or in FL for that matter. I’ll cut you guys a check today. — Jim Moore (SBN)

I like that ABATE does charity work and have participated in one of their charity rides for a friend’s father. He was killed during a poker run by an ambulance that ran a red light. We went from bar to bar on the charity ride. Not really my crowd. As previously expressed, if they started actively advocating for lane splitting, then I may be interested in membership but I don’t see enough from them right now. — cbartz (SBN)

I’ll refer back to my previous post – ABATE itself is nothing but a name, the organization is made up of real live breathing human beings. It is how those human beings act that defines the true beliefs of the group. So, the policies of ABATE are meaningless unless the people who make up the group actually believe in and support those policies. The fact that ABATE has such a well defined reputation as helmet haters (not helmet law haters) means they have a lot of members who are not aligned with the stated goals. Let’s face it, those are pictures of helmets being roasted, not a book of helmet laws. — bimmerx2 (SBN)

Where do things go from here? The ABATEs are not one organization, but a collection of separate organizations. Some may be willing to make the efforts that will be needed to draw in sportbikers as members. Others may conclude that the division on helmets is too wide to bridge, not to mention a position they have no intention of changing. Who knows, perhaps an especially egregious assault on motorcyclist rights will force the two groups together despite their differences. Politics often makes for strange bedfellows.

I will remain an interested observer and will report back with updates as this dynamic evolves. The one thing I am confident of is that only time and hard work will significantly alter this status quo.

Update: After I published this series, Terry Howard, at that time the ABATE of Colorado state coordinator, initiated a conversation with members of one of the Colorado sportbike organizations whose members had expressed conciliatory views and the two groups started working cooperatively for the benefit of all motorcyclists in Colorado. Sadly, some ABATE members were not happy about this new direction. Since Terry’s departure the two groups have gone their separate ways.

Biker Quote for Today

Some call it a tunnel; bikers call it a concert hall.

Examiner Resurrection: Sportbikers And ABATE: Is There Common Ground?

Monday, May 8th, 2017

motorcyclist gearing upIn Part One and Part Two of this series of articles we looked at sportbiker attitudes toward ABATE and the reasons behind the attitudes. Here we consider whether the common ground any two groups of motorcyclists would seem to share is enough to get past the rancor.

OldSchlPunk (SBN) referred me to another thread on the Sportbike Network forum where Kevin Snyder, ABATE of Pennsylvania’s state coordinator, posted inquiries to the group in the same way I did. His interest, like mine, was in understanding sportbiker attitudes. Here’s what he told the forum:

My original questions were prompted by a report I got from the Florida Senate Transportation Committee hearing on their SB-802. The bill was passed unanimously out of committee. I believe it has to go through two more committees before reaching the floor.

The basics of this bill are dramatically increased penalties for certain moving violations such as exceeding the speed limit by 50 mph, failing to keep both wheels on the pavement, etc. First offense is $1000, second is $2500 and loss of license for one year, third becomes a felony with 10 year loss of license and forfeiture of the vehicle.

Three things troubled me about this bill.

First, the bill is squarely aimed at a segment of the motorcycling community (sportbike riders).

Second, this is the first time I have seen vehicle forfeiture prescribed as a penalty for a moving violation.

The third, which prompted my initial post, was that (from the report I got) the sportbike community was under-represented at the hearing. Florida ABATE was there and two other motorcyclists who testified.

Here in PA, we (A.B.A.T.E. of PA) have been pretty successful in the state capital. Thirty years of hard work has paid off, and not much happens related to motorcycles in the legislature without us having a chance to influence the outcome. But (as stated in the initial post) one of our weaknesses has been our inability to engage other segments of the motorcycling community.

It’s not that we’re competing with other groups. While we work closely with the AMA and the MRF (Motorcycle Riders Foundation) on national issues, there is no one else in Harrisburg advocating the rights of motorcyclists. We’re it.

Incidentally, the anti-ABATE remarks on Kevin’s thread were also quite harsh:

To even get me remotely involved with a group like ABATE, you’d probably have to stop encouraging riders to be complete idiots. You’re going to have a VERY VERY hard time getting ANY Support from the sportbike community, where generally safety is a top priority as well as the ability to live through a crash. I can’t believe for one second that ABATE is in anyway confused as to why Sportbike Enthusiasts want nothing to do with people who make excuses for suicidal behavior. — Nefarious SV (SBN)

Join a group that wants to STOP NOISE ORDINANCES? ARE YOU KIDDING? HARLEY DAVIDSONS and all those blatting cruisers ARE THE MOST ANNOYING PIECES OF CRAP EVER. DRAG PIPES AND ALL THAT. I HATE HEARING THEM – they have ruined many peaceful towns. I PUT A SLIP ON ON MY BIKE AND IT WAS TOO LOUD. I TOOK IT OFF CUZ IM NOT A COMPLETE TOOL. UNFORTUNATELY TOO MANY OF THESE 45 YR OLD MENOPAUSE MEN ARENT USING THEIR BRAIN. the world exists outside of your motorcycle, so you have to acknowledge that. Unfortunately many people cant see that, especially HD riders. Oh, btw, Helmets save lives, not loud pipes. — DaleCaliente (SBN)

Kevin’s argument about ABATE being the only group working for biker rights on the state level tied in precisely with the primary question I sought to answer. As I put it to the SBN forum, if it is a good thing to have an organization working on behalf of motorcyclists in the legislatures, and if it is acknowledged that ABATE works on behalf of other issues besides fighting helmet laws.

Is it at all possible for sportbikers to find any common ground with ABATE, even if you despise some of their policies? Isn’t it better to support them in areas where you agree and fight them in areas where you don’t? Rather than attacking the group across the board? If sportbikers had a lobbying organization of their own that worked on legislative matters I can see it would be different, but to my knowledge there is no such organization. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Is ABATE at least better than nothing?

For PAFizzer (SBN), the answer is no:

Well I think your whole thing sums that right up. We don’t have one because for some reason we don’t feel the need to bunch together and roast helmets. Basically you fill a need when it’s needed, and we don’t have any spots to fill in the legislative department. Therefore, it’s not needed.

SlowGoose (SBN), while agreeing that motorcyclists need a lobbying arm, also responded negatively.

Their asinine emphasis on overturning helmet laws makes them an organization that I will never be comfortable with speaking on my behalf. Any organization that purports to promote safe-motorcycling yet holds helmet roasting parties is one that doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground.

To sum it up, I really don’t feel like ABATE does me any good. I don’t fight them because they are not an organization that speaks for me, about me, or in any way, that I’m aware of, has made my life better as a motorcyclist in any way. The AMA is enough for now. I am glad that ABATE and its notions have no real hold in my particular motorcycle culture.

bimmerx2 (SBN) was a bit more conciliatory.

I don’t have enough first-hand knowledge of how effective ABATE is at influencing policy but at least it’s something. Common ground yes. Support? Not in my book… While I support some of the things they do I don’t think an organization can have it both ways – in this case being for safety but against things that are proven to enable safety. I can support specific actions but I can’t sanction the organization as a whole just because we have ‘some’ ideas in common.

Biker Quote for Today

The first motorcycle race began when the second motorcycle was built.

Examiner Resurrection: Sportbikers And ABATE: Helmet Issue Is Primary Dividing Point

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

Harley riders wearing helmets

Summing up from Part One of this report, the helmet issue appears to be the primary point of contention between ABATE groups and sportbikers, with some also feeling that ABATE simply doesn’t concern itself with issues of concern to the sportbike community. Pursuing that point, I posed new questions to the national Sportbike Network (SBN) forum. (I’ll touch back in with the Colorado Sport Bike Club (CSBC) later.

For starters, I asked if someone could point me to anything that supports their claim that ABATE is anti-helmet. “Is it really ABATE itself, or are you perhaps speaking of some particular ABATE members?” I asked.

TwoColorShoe (SBN) pointed me to a flyer posted by the South Suburban Chapter of ABATE of Illinois for its upcoming “Helmet Roast.” Yes indeed, that poster shows helmets on weenie sticks being roasted over a fire. Curious, I emailed several officers of the chapter to see what they could tell me about the event. I received a response from Dennis Byron, who is the Activities Co-coordinator for the chapter. Dennis sent something written by another member, David Lynch, which he said is not an official response, just his own. David wrote:

As far as the Helmet Roast goes, this was an idea conceived for a chapter event to raise funds for the chapter and to celebrate the defeat of a mandatory helmet law that came out of nowhere over twenty years ago. The helmets roasting in the fire of the current flyer are an homage to tradition, where the original design was a tongue and cheek image of a biker roasting a helmet on a spit over a campfire.

Two others on the forum mentioned ABATE members who expressed outright anti-helmet opinions, and bimmerx2 (SBN) had this to say:

I don’t think one can separate the ‘organization’ from the people who make up that organization. ABATE itself is nothing more than a name for the group of people. If the majority of those people have an opinion then by definition the organization has that same opinion.

While I’m sure ABATE’s official stance is anti-helmet LAW the membership simply does not behave that way – they are anti-HELMET. Wear full gear to a Harley dealership on a weekend and there is VERY good chance that you be asked if you think you’re an astronaut, if you’re planning to crash, etc. There is virtually no chance that someone will ask if you support helmet LAWS. I have first hand experience with that and so do a lot of riders I know.

I also did a search on my own, visiting the websites of about 40 ABATEs across the country. I found that opposition to helmet laws is universal, but my admittedly limited search found very little that could be characterized as being anti-helmet. ABATE of Virginia did have one page where it stated that, in crashes, helmets “can also snap necks and cause basal skull fracture. NASCAR now requires helmet restraining devices to prevent those usually fatal, helmet-caused injuries.”

Because the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) also opposes helmet laws I asked why the sportbikers’ attitudes were different toward the AMA than toward ABATE, if indeed they are.

The AMA is fine. I haven’t ever seen any info on AMA organizers not encouraging the use of helmets. — TwoColorShoe (SBN)

I have to say I do not agree with the AMA either. If ABATE was serious about helmets then they would actively promote them, you do not see them doing so. I think the AMA does. — modette (SBN)

Leaving the subject of helmets, I asked about loud pipes and stunting: “Many people believe the idea that ‘loud pipes save lives’ is total BS. This seems to be a sportbiker criticism of the Harley crowd. The Harley crowd, on the other hand, takes a dig at the sportbike crowd saying that stunting and doing wheelies down the highway or through the middle of town is giving all bikers a bad name.” Could they please comment? I also asked about motorcycle fatalities among unlicensed–and presumably untrained–riders. “Most eyes turn to the sportbike community when this figure is mentioned,” I noted.

I doubt many people on this site will defend the squids….they get treated harsher than anyone! Those people being the unlicensed, uninsured, no gear, stunting on public roads guys. — SamIAm 1021 (SBN)

Around these parts you will get ragged on for posting vids/pics of any of these behaviours. They do make us all look bad (Both groups, and both sets of behaviour). So is one side right and one wrong? Well let’s just say that both sides hate squids and one side supports loud pipes. — bimmerx2 (SBN)

You think the finger is pointed at sport riders because you are not one. I think both sides have their people that think they don’t need a license. Sporties because they are chicken of failing, and cruiser guys because they have been riding for 20 years this way and F you they aren’t changing for some bureaucrat. I don’t believe that anyone other than the deceased riders can speak to their lack of skills when they died. — qubert (SBN)

These are all stereotypes though, and most informed sport bike/cruiser/standard/touring riders don’t do these things. There have been a number of studies that go in depth about motorcycle fatalities, licensing, bike type, etc. I’m sure that sport bike riders have less proper licensing than others, but I also know that sport bikes are marketed towards a younger age group. This isn’t about sport bike riders not getting proper licensing, it’s about young riders not getting proper licensing. — TwoColorShoe (SBN)

Despite the mostly negative arguments made against ABATE on the SBN forum, there were a few that were more positive.

ABATE has a poor reputation among sportbikers, mostly because it’s mostly Harley guys who don’t much welcome sportbikes. I have worked with ABATE people on some campaigns, and I think it’s generally a good organization.

I think there are some barriers. ABATE is mostly known for opposing helmet laws, which I think is just fine.

However, many of those in ABATE cannot separate the issue of helmet laws from the issue of helmets. They spout a lot of simply false “information” against helmets, which tends to drive away anyone who holds the true and rational view that helmets do indeed increase your safety.

Likewise (as you’ll see in this thread) many sportbikers ALSO cannot separate the issue of helmet laws from the issue of helmets. They believe that because helmets are a good idea, that it must follow that helmet laws are a good idea. — PhilB (SBN)

My experiences with ABATE have been that they tend to work well with legislators at the local level, on local issues. Leaving aside for a moment the ubiquitous helmet law debate, I’ve seen ABATE do very good things on behalf of motorcyclists in Maryland. — Scratch33 (SBN)

In Part Three we’ll consider whether there might be common ground between the two groups.

Biker Quote for Today

The brave don’t live forever . . . the cautious don’t live at all.

Examiner Resurrection: Sportbikers And ABATE: Can The Twain Meet?

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

This is the first in four of a series I did for Examiner.com about eight years ago. It was one of the most well-read and discussed things I ever did for Examiner.com. It also produced concrete results, which I’ll go into later. Rather than follow my standard Monday and Thursday publishing schedule I’ll be putting these four up in quick succession.

Sportbikers And ABATE: Can The Twain Meet?

motorcyclists on the roadYou would think that if you’re running a bikers’ rights organization you would draw support and participation from motorcyclists of all sorts: cruisers, sportbikers, off-road riders, what have you.

Yet ABATE (A Brotherhood Active Towards Education) organizations across the country seldom find any support from sportbikers, which many find frustrating. It’s a particularly difficult challenge when you consider two of the primary apparent reasons:

  • A large percentage of sportbikers are young and have no interest in political activism.
  • A great many sportbikers despise ABATE.

Before continuing I need to make two points. First, the information I will be presenting is not scientific research, it is strictly anecdotal. Second, although I will often refer to “sportbikers” as a group, they are not a monolithic group, and differences of opinion do exist. When I discuss prevailing attitudes within the group, do be aware that these attitudes are not universally held.

In lengthy discussions I’ve had recently with sportbikers on a couple internet forums, several issues have come very clear.

  • Sportbikers see ABATE as an organization focused primarily on opposing helmet laws and supporting loud pipes.

ABATE is wetawded. — g34343greg (SBN)

  • Sportbikers strongly support the use of helmets and the majority favor helmet laws mandating their use.

I’m not for choice. I’m for keeping riders alive whether they like it or not. Socialist? I think it’s common sense to do whatever it takes to protect your brain in a high risk activity…for those that don’t find that to be common sense, that’s for whom these laws are enacted. — GreenZED (SBN)

  • Many sportbikers question the claims of the ABATEs that they are anti-helmet law, believing instead that they are in fact anti-helmet.

Although ABATE is a useful group sometimes, their stance on helmet laws is far too ignorant for me to take them seriously. They are really an anti-helmet organization, not a pro-choice one. — TwoColorShoe (SBN)

  • Sportbikers do not believe that “loud pipes save lives” but do believe that loud pipes create a bad image of all bikers in the public mind.

Some pipes are so damn loud it’s ridiculous, especially when they’re rocketing down the road at 9 grand and 120 mph, or down my street goin 50mph in 1st gear at 5am. Thanks a lot, idiot. That brings a bad image to our sport. Sportbikes and cruisers alike should keep it down some, before the government forces it on us. — lasermax (SBN)

  • The ABATE crowd is seen as mostly grey-haired cruiser/Harley types who the largely young sportbikers feel look down on them and with whom they feel little fellowship.

I joined ABATE years ago because a friend was a member. I went to one meeting and wasn’t really welcomed around all the hardley crowd so I left. You might want to ask one of them what makes them so much better than the sportbike crowd. Besides I’m not about supporting drinking and riding without a helmet. — heathun (SBN)

motorcycle racersThe conversation I initiated was an outgrowth of an article I wrote awhile back about ABATE of Colorado’s racing sponsorship of Jon Kuo as an attempt at outreach to the sportbike crowd. State Coordinator Terry Howard explained to me at that time that the organization is trying to overcome the very sorts of stereotypes I’ve described above. She told me that other ABATEs have tried at times to bridge the gap but none had been particularly successful. (Full disclosure: I recently joined ABATE of Colorado, ride two Japanese bikes, frequently wear a helmet, and have never felt unwelcome at any ABATE event.)

Seeking to understand the reasons for this, I joined two internet forums, the Colorado Sport Bike Club (CSBC) and The Sportbike Network (SBN) whose members are scattered all over the country. I posted the same initial question on each forum and invited the members to tell me what they thought. I will include “SBN” or “CSBC” after each comment to indicate which forum it came from.

Responses were many and varied, with the two forums going in surprisingly different directions. The local group seemed fairly amenable to ABATE’s overtures:

Glad to see they are adapting. It would be interesting to get more detail about the specific changes that they made for the sportbikes and how the exercises differ from the regular class. When I took the initial class it was still not set up for sportbikes. Taking another non-Abate class that was sportbike specific made a huge difference. — InlineSIX24 (CSBC)

I am glad that ABATE is trying to promote classes geared towards sportbike folks and would say we all need continuing ed from time to time and if we can get it from a class that is geared for us, then that’s just bonus. — chad23 (CSBC)

I didn’t see ABATE as being geared towards a certain type of motorcycle. The info that they present in their courses seems to be geared towards bikes in general and not one specific bike. Like previously mentioned, I think that more advocacy on ABATE’s part for issues related primarily to sport bikes might be a good idea, but honestly I think ABATE is good for all riders, regardless of what kind of bike they choose to ride. — chanke4252 (CSBC)

Hostility toward ABATE was very high on the national forum, however:

I would hardly call an ABATE member a “Motorcyclist,” I just call them a rider. They ride to look cool, they ride to belong. Whereas I believe a “Motorcyclist” is someone that would be happy on anything, they love riding because they are riding…they could care less if they are on a moped, a HD, a ZX10r, or a 30-year-old antique. — modette (SBN)

It’s by the grace of god that ABATE hasn’t invaded the sportbike crowd. — SamIAm 1021 (SBN)

lol I like that ABATE offers rider training. I would laugh in someone’s face if someone who thinks wearing a helmet is dangerous offered to teach me something. — g34343greg (SBN)

I can only speculate on the reasons for this difference in attitudes. It may be that in states where helmets are mandatory the ABATEs are more focused on helmet laws, reinforcing the perceptions held by the sportbikers. Meanwhile, in states such as Colorado where helmets are not required, the organizational focus is on other, broader issues and the groups may be more commonly seen as they see themselves, as bikers’ rights organizations.

Second, the Coloradoans may know Jon Kuo personally, and in sponsoring him ABATE of Colorado may at least be succeeding in getting some people to reconsider their perceptions of the organization.

Biker Quote for Today

The perfect man is a poet on a motorcycle.

Follow-Up To MOST Meeting

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Motorcycle On Loveland Pass

Yeah, you’re probably not going to be riding up Loveland Pass real soon, but spring is just a few days away.

My Monday post had to do with the MOST program and drew some response. I’m not sure why people don’t post comments so everyone can see what they have to say but no matter. I respond and pursue any issues.

So just for everyone’s understanding, here is the question and response. First I got an email from Dave Tolbert.

Ken,

I just read your article that included Stumps legislative news. I am 1 of the 12 members on the current MOST board. The article stated that 6 of 11 invited board members didn’t attend. I know for a fact that least 11 if not all 12 members did NOT attend. Only 6 of the 12 board members were invited. We asked that all board members and vendors be invited. We were told no. Since all board members and all vendors were not invited, we did not attend.

Dave Tolbert

I then responded to Dave:

Thanks for the note Dave. I’m clearly not the one with answers, but I’ll send Stump a note and ask him about it. Meanwhile, I wonder one thing. Stump said invitations were sent to “stakeholders,” not “board members” and I wonder if that is the issue here. I don’t know who he defines as stakeholders but I would guess it would be CDOT, MOST, ABATE, maybe the COC, and then I have no idea who else. Each of them counting as one stakeholder. I’ll ask him and get back to you.

No sooner had I sent that response than I got two more notes, these from Kent Sundgren.

Ken,
I am on the MOSTAB board, I was not informed of this meeting. I am the “rider” representative on the MOSTAB.

ABATE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR ME OR MANY OF OUR COLORADO RIDERS.
Kent Sundgren

And . . .

Ken,
I did get the invite just now.

I can not attend, but have completed the very limited survey sent and also asked that the invitor contact me before the meeting.

Kent Sundgren

So I emailed Stump asking him to respond. I got a reply from Bruce Downs, the head guy at ABATE of Colorado:

Ken,

Stump forwarded your email to me for a response.

Mr. Tolbert is correct in that none of the invited MOSAB Board members attended and that they did request that all board members be invited. We intentionally did not invite all MOSAB Board Members. Instead we invited the “stakeholders” who were those that are in some way affected by the program. We did exclude the administration to try and facilitate a more open discussion. As far as Mr. Sundgren, I did not have contact info for him. When I spoke with Mr. Tolbert extending the invitation, he said he could and would contact him. This obviously did not happen.

Bruce Downs

Somehow I suspect there is politics going on here that I do not have an understanding of. But I hope everyone’s message has gotten through to anyone interested.

Biker Quote for Today

Riding a bike is like an art, something you do because you feel something inside. — Valentino Rossi

Last Last Brass?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017
They used to pack them in to the Last Brass Monkey Run, like here in 2008.

They used to pack them in to the Last Brass Monkey Run, like here in 2008.

I mentioned in my post following the Last Brass Monkey Run that attendance is down considerably since the first time I attended the event. Well yes. In fact, it is down so much that the Grizzly Rose told ABATE that it would no longer be the site for the event. Not, that is, unless ABATE pays all costs: salaries, maintenance–whatever.

Was this the last Last Brass Monkey Run?

Not if the folks who do the work to make it happen have anything to say about it, although the 2017 Last Brass Monkey Run may indeed be the last.

The 2016 event was the 29th time it has been held. “There has to be a 30th!!” was the emphatic attitude at the ABATE District 10 meeting on Sunday. And if indeed the next one does turn out to be the last one, let’s go out with a big bang!

The Last Brass Monkey Run–a December 31 run starting at all points of the compass and every road leading to the Grizzly Rose–has for years been ABATE of Colorado’s biggest fundraiser. But just as the number of people at my District 10 meetings has dropped from 25 to 30 each month to the current 6 to 8, the crowd at the Grizzly Rose in recent years has been a shadow of what it had been.

Surely part of the blame for this rests with the organization itself. Bad blood that I still have no understanding of caused a mass defection of people from District 10 and some really bad financial decisions, made without consulting the membership, nearly led to ABATE’s demise only two years ago. There must be other reasons but I don’t know what they are.

I really like the idea behind the event. It’s the last day of the year and the last ride of the year. Sure sometimes you can’t ride–ice and snow are an impediment. But many years you can and hey, let’s show some guts and get out and ride on this cold day. It’s our last chance this year.

But now we may be looking at the last of the Last Brass. And there’s not even a guarantee there will be another. But I suspect there will be. At least one more.

Biker Quote for Today

I just want to go riding and ignore all my adult problems.

New Year’s Eve A Nice Day To Ride

Monday, January 2nd, 2017
Harley with Christmas bow

This Harley out front of the Grizzly Rose was decked out in its own Christmas bow.

Our thermometer out back read 37 degrees when I took off on Saturday for the Last Brass Monkey Run so it was a no-brainer about how warmly to dress. I wore all the winter gear.

Still, I had the heated gloves set on the second highest setting and that was too much; I went two blocks and stopped and turned them down a notch.

It was definitely Michelin Man time for me–I was so covered in warm clothing that I felt like if I had gone down I would have just bounced. But I was warm, truly warm. I could have gone for a long ride. Sweet.

I got to the Grizzly Rose and as I expected, there were plenty of bikes. Not like last year where it was cold and icy and there probably weren’t more than 25 bikes altogether. People rode this year.

Still, the place was not crowded. The first year I went to the Last Brass Monkey Run the place–and the parking lot–was packed. From what I understand, ABATE membership has declined significantly since that time. That’s too bad. ABATE is the chief lobbying group for motorcyclist issues at the state capital. But apparently most people don’t thing that concerns them very much. They might think differently if there was no one down there standing up for our interests.

So I went in and walked around and as is pretty much always the case, the only people I knew were all working the event. Taking tickets, running the poker walk games, handing out the door prizes–all that. If I were a better ABATE member I would have been working, too, but agreeing to be the District 10 legislative liaison this year is the first time I’ve ever gotten really involved. Mostly I just go to meetings and then do my bit to get the word out about what’s going on that riders should pay attention to. I consider that a valuable contribution but it’s not like working the events the way all the rest of the folks do.

I got my chance, though. I found Stump manning a table for the poker walk and stopped to talk awhile. He had two bags with marked ping-pong balls in them. Players would draw from each bag and if you got, say, a ball marked diamond and a ball marked 8 then you had drawn an 8 of diamonds. Stump would then note that down on your sheet as one of the cards in your poker hand.

At one point Stump walked away to do something and I found myself there playing dealer. And because he never came back, I stayed there as dealer till the poker walk ended. So I did help out a little.

After that I took off. By then it was a lot warmer out and I had a thoroughly pleasant ride home. Not at all bad for December 31.

Biker Quote for Today

98% of all Harleys ever sold are still on the road. The other 2% made it home.

Great Colorado Weather Means Two Rides This Weekend

Thursday, December 29th, 2016
Last Brass Monkey Run

This will be the 29th year for ABATE’s Last Brass Monkey Run.

Pity those poor folks who have to put their motorcycles away for the winter. Not us! This is Colorado and we ride all year round.

And just to make that point, there are two rides coming up this weekend.

On Saturday, ABATE of Colorado is sponsoring its annual Last Brass Monkey Run. This is a last-day-of-the-year ride that often occurs when riding is, shall we say, problematic. Not this year. This forecast I’m looking at right now calls for a high of 43 and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. There are going to be a lot of bikes at the Grizzly Rose on Saturday.

The ride starts from four locations around the area: Longmont, Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Golden. All roads lead to the Grizzly Rose. And of course there are a variety of activities going on at the Rose, starting at 11 a.m. Tickets are $20.

Then on Sunday the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Riders Club will be having its annual New Year’s Day ride, which ends up at Rockyard American Grill and Brewery in Castle Rock. This is in conjunction with similar rides sponsored by the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado and the Pikes Peak BMW Riders Club. The forecast for Sunday is a high of 45 and zero chance of precip.

The doings at the Rockyard is brunch with friends. For the RMMRC crowd it’s kickstands up at 9:45 a.m. at Performance Cycle, 7375 S. Fulton St., in Centennial. Brunch is set for 11:30 so that should be an easy ride. No cost but of course you pay for your own brunch.

So hey, got any riding plans for the weekend? You’ve got a great opportunity–don’t miss out.

Biker Quote for Today

Motorcycle you love–ride you must.

Want To Be A Riding Instructor?

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
motorcycle rider trainer and trainee

You, too, can be a rider trainer, and now it won’t cost you a bundle for the training.

It used to be, if you wanted to take the training class to become a motorcycle riding instructor it cost you $450. I know this because I took that course several years ago. And then I ended up never teaching a single class, so good-bye $450.

Things have changed. I recently received my December issue of Spokesman, the newsletter of ABATE of Colorado, and there was this section in the state coordinator’s message:

ABATE is looking for Rider Ed instructors. We will provide the training.

Whoa! I want to look into this!

So I talked to Bruce Downs the other day, the aforementioned state coordinator. And yes, it turns out that there is at least one good thing that has come out of having the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) taking on the contract to administer the Colorado Motorcycle Operator Safety Training (MOST) program: The rider training instructor program is free. Don’t ask me how that works out, because I don’t know.

So this is a great chance if you have ever wanted to be a rider trainer. I asked Bruce for more information. Here’s the gist of it.

It’s not clear to me but you probably can’t just call the MSF and say, “Hey, I want training.” I believe you have to go through a training organization. Some group like, oh, I don’t know, umm . . . ABATE!

And then once they have enough prospective trainers lined up they will ask the MSF for a training program. Bruce says this is likely to be in May or June because the MSF has made changes to its training curriculum and as of July 1 all training will need to conform to the new program. It’s the Beginning Rider Course Updated, or BRCU. That U is the new part. So there’s no reason to train on the old program and then turn around and have to get retrained on the new.

The pay is actually not bad. You earn $70 for each student and there are generally six students in each class. So that’s $420 for two days work. And you can work as much or as little as you want, although you have to lead two classes a year to keep your certification current.

If you’re interested the person to contact is Deb Craig at ABATE at abategeneral@abateofcolo.org., or call 303-789-3264. She’ll send you an application and you’ll be on the list.

Biker Quote for Today

Accidents hurt — safety doesn’t.

Examiner Resurrection: Broken Wings: When A Biker Goes Down Hard – Part 3

Friday, November 25th, 2016
Broken Wings patch on leather vest

Randy Savely’s vest with the Broken Wings patch.

The broken wing patch says to the world after a bad wreck that you have what it takes to get right back on a bike and keep on living.6 Gun

Back in the saddle

Randy Savely was without a motorcycle from March 2007, when his Harley was destroyed in the crash that cost him a leg, until September 2008, when his court case was concluded and he and Joan received a cash settlement. He had ridden a couple times already, however, on friends’ bikes.

The first ride was in the 2008 Commerce City Memorial Day parade. Joan was “beside myself” with fear for him but Randy had never wavered in his determination to ride again.

Coming down I-270 at the back of the group, Randy noticed that his left foot had fallen off the peg and was dragging. Not good. He hoisted his leg up and swung the prosthesis onto the peg and rode the rest of the way putting pressure on it to ensure it stayed put.

At last it was time for the Broken Wings patch. The patch is frequently given to a rider by another who has also crashed and gotten back on. Randy had received the patch before he rode, but it was only after this ride that he allowed Joan to sew the patch onto his vest.

The idea of riding behind him again was also a difficult issue for Joan.

“You’ve got to get a few miles on that bike before I ride with you,” she told him. “It was glorious and sobering. Do I really want to do this again?” she asked herself.

Still, by the time Randy had about 6 miles on the new bike Joan hopped right on.

“It felt totally safe, more so than on the old bike,” she says, unable to explain it. “Maybe it’s the law of averages.” After all, how many people suffer two major crashes?

The new Harley Ultra Classic has a number of customizations designed to compensate for Randy’s limitations. First off, it has floorboards with a stirrup on the left to keep his foot from falling off again. It also has an electric shift. Buying a new pair of boots recently, Randy found he couldn’t operate the kick-stand wearing them so now he plans to get an electrically operated one.

Backing up is a struggle, especially on loose gravel.

“I plant my foot real good and push back. Backing is the hardest thing to do.”

Randy mounts from the right side so he can lift his left leg over. Weakness in the left leg makes it impossible to stand on that leg and lift the right leg over. It can be a significant problem getting on when someone parks too close to him on the right side.

Randy’s accident has also had an effect on other riders he knows. One friend’s wife made him sell his bike. Joan’s son Vince, for whom Randy has been dad since he was 9, left his bike unridden and unlicensed for more than a year after the accident. He has finally started riding again, however.

It has been a hard two years but Randy and Joan are upbeat.

Says Joan, “It will never be the way it used to be, but now, two years later, it’s pretty darn good. It’s all relative for us. We had to make a choice: give up and let it beat us or keep fighting.”

“It’s as normal as what a person can make of it,” says Randy. “Yes, it does hurt, it hurts every day, and it’s always a struggle trying to do something with it.”

Some people are hesitant to bring up the issue but Randy laughs that off.

“I know I lost my leg, it’s no secret to me.”

And there have been mishaps. Randy and Joan went dancing one night and all that movement loosened the prosthesis. As they walked out the door of the bar his leg fell off.

“We laughed pretty hard at that, and at a lot of things. You have to.”

Through it all the most important thing has been the support they have received from so many people.

“We didn’t expect any of it,” says Joan. “There’s never a way to pay that back, so we decided to pass it on and do at some other level for other people. Pay it forward, call it whatever you like.”

That’s where the Randy Run comes in.

The Randy Run

Randy and Joan were financially devastated by the accident, losing their house and most of what they had. But seemingly out of nowhere a community of friends–as well as total strangers–gathered around them to provide support and caring and to ensure that they did not sink into despair and isolation.

While Randy was still in the hospital, one friend had the idea of organizing a fundraising run to raise money to help out. Dubbed the Randy Run, Joan’s friend Deb Anderson took charge of organizing it, going so far as joining ABATE in order for it to be an official ABATE District 10 run, although Deb does not ride.

Deb and her boyfriend were “absolutely my lifeline that kept me square,” says Joan. “The Randy Run evolved out of her dedication–she didn’t know what else to do.” That first year, the money raised went to Randy and Joan.

The following year, Randy and Joan helped to organize a second Randy Run to benefit others who suffer severe injuries on their bikes. Now, in 2009, ABATE of Colorado has made the Randy Run a state-wide event, to be held annually. This year’s Randy Run is set for this Sunday, June 14, and Randy and Joan are heavily involved.

“The Randy Run is part of what has helped us get back,” says Randy. “The run is a reason for coming back.”

Joan adds, “It would have been easy to just quit, but the way people came together to help us, it humbles you and changes your perspective in a heartbeat.”

Randy bought patches for the two beneficiaries of last year’s Randy Run, but he’s still holding on to them because neither of those riders have yet gotten back on a bike.

Randy and Joan are back, however, and on Sunday they’ll be riding. You can bet I’ll be there, too.

Part 1 – The Accident and the Hospital
Part 2 – The Road to Recovery

The Randy Run for Fallen Bikers

Biker Quote for Today

Getting really old, had to get one of those mobility scooters.
—What kind?
—Harley-Davidson