Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rain factor

After last night's storms and the weather forecast for more rain today, I will definitely not be riding my motorcycle to work. While there are more experienced motorcyclists who will ride in the rain, it is not one of my favorite aspects of motorcycling. While riding a bicycle in a rain shower might be fun for children, riding a motorcycle takes on an entirely different element. Instead of a nice pitter patter of raindrops on the check, rain while riding, feels more like small needles hitting you in the face. Your vision is impaired by the raindrops and mist as well, so safety becomes a factor also. Like any vehicle, stopping distance is greater on wet pavement, so greater distance must be maintained between your bike and the cars ahead of you. Like any other motorcyclist, I keep rain gear in my saddlebags in case I get caught in an unexpected summer rainstorm, but I sure don't plan rides when I know I'm going to be heading into rain. Having been caught in a few showers before, the riding experience is not what one thinks of when contemplating a motorcycle ride on the highways and byways of America. No, I'll leave the rainy conditions to those hearty souls who are more comfortable with the challenge and are more experienced in bad weather conditions than I. So I'll take my Durango to work today and hope that better conditions will prevail in days ahead. We've certainly been blessed with great weather in the Midwest lately. One thing is for sure. I'm not looking forward to winter!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's your number?

As the leaves continue to fall, along with the temperatures, many motorcyclists are pondering the end of another riding season approaching. While unseasonably warm temperatures have been a welcome surprise the last couple of weeks, the signs that winter is approaching is all around us. The days are getting shorter and even with the temperatures hitting highs in the 70's, the mornings and evenings are noticeably cooler. For the motorcyclist who chooses to ride in cooler weather, this means wearing appropriate gear to handle the colder temperatures. Jackets and gloves are now a necessity, and even overpants or chaps are needed to keep legs warm on the morning rides. Depending on what type of bike you have, face protection may be needed as well. As the days continue to become cooler, with highs dropping into the 60's and later on, the 50's, every motorcyclist will have to decide when the joy of riding vanishes when faced with freezing wind chills while exposed to the elements. I have friends who will not ride when the temperature is below 60 degrees. I know others who ride as long as it's above freezing. For me, if it's 40 degrees or above and no rain in the forecast, I will ride. Obviously, during the week, I have to take into account my schedule. As my job requires me to wear a jacket and tie when meeting with clients, I have to factor in time to put my tie on and comb my hair once I reach my office or destination. But there is nothing like experiencing the open roads from a motorcycle. Driving a car does not compare. Luckily for Missourians, the motorcycle riding season is longer than most. While, not Florida, our winters can include days of unseasonably warm temperatures, so while the riding days are fewer, they don't have to go away completely. If you dress appropriately, you can enjoy the fresh air a little longer. Of course it doesn't hurt to hope for an Indian summer...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Courtesy Wave

Now that we have entered fall and the leaves are just beginning to change color, I have enjoyed venturing out on my motorcycle lately. This past Saturday was a gorgeous day in St. Louis with temps in the 80's and plentiful sunshine. Besides experiencing driving in a completely different way from behind the wheel of an automobile, the neat thing about being on a motorcycle is the camaraderie with fellow riders. When passing another motorcycle going the opposite direction, it is customary to wave. This is usually done by extending your left arm out low and to the side. Now the thing I like about waving to another biker dude (or dude-ette) is that it makes you feel good and respected. The really neat thing is that for the most part it makes no difference what kind of bike you're on. For example, I ride a Harley, but guys on Honda's and sport bikes wave to me and I wave to them. It makes no difference. This doesn't happen in cars. When was the last time you waved to someone you didn't know, while driving in your car? (and I don't mean the one finger salute!) Motorcyclists are all brothers and sisters on the open road. So check us out, and if you don't have a motorcycle, look into it. Even with gas under 3 bucks, it's nice getting 45 mpg and feeling excited about being on the open road instead of dreading the commute.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Do you see what I see?

Driving can be frustrating. There is too much traffic, too many stoplights, and oh those inconsiderate drivers. Most people have been cut off a few times in their life. But have you really watched some of the drivers on the road? I mean, have you observed what they do while they're driving? As a motorcyclist, I have to be much more aware of other cars and trucks than you do. Because motorcycles are not seen as easily as other cars, we have to be much more defensive when we drive on the roads and highways. We are constantly scanning ahead of us to watch out for cars and trucks pulling out into a lane ahead of us, stopping to make a turn without signaling, or coming into our lane without notice. Sure we've all been passed by a sportbike going too fast or maybe even doing a wheelie, but most motorcyclists are very good and considerate drivers. After all, one mistake and it could mean our lives. There has been a lot of press and even new laws about driving and texting, but have you ever considered some of the other things people do while they're driving? Besides searching for a new radio station or putting in a new CD, I have seen people put on makeup, read a book or magazine propped on their steering wheel, and of course how many people eat while they drive? Cell phone use is big, too. When I see a car going slower than the rest of traffic and maybe even wandering in their lane, chances are it's someone on a cell phone driving, not a drunk driver. So now that the weather is nice, roll down the windows and try to imagine yourself riding a motorcycle. Smell the fresh air and try to see things from our perspective. We all share the road and we all want to reach our destination safely.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Loud pipes

If you've ever been at a stoplight in the summertime with your window down, sitting by a motorcycle in the next lane, you've probably wondered why they are so loud. Now there are some sports cars and old jalopies that are loud too, but in general motorcycles are louder than cars. Well for one thing, motorcycle engines are exposed, not under a hood. But another reason is safety. Motorcycles are harder to see than cars or trucks, they have a smaller profile, taking up far less room in the driving lane. So if you can't see the motorcycle, maybe you can hear it. One of the most quoted statements at an accident scene involving a motorcycle is, "I didn't see it officer!". So while some motorcycles are louder than others depending on their size or style, the fact that motorcycles are louder than cars is a good thing. Now some local municipalities have ordinances against excessive noise, but most motorcycles, unless outfitted with after market pipes and accessories, will fall under these guidelines. I don't know about you, but I would rather pull up next to a motorcycle at a stoplight than a teenager with his stereo blasting any day! So look before you switch lanes. Check your rear-view and side mirrors and listen for a motorcycle. We're watching you too!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Road King


I have decided to change the focus of my blog, and begin writing about motorcycles and things related to motorcycles. I have a 2000 Harley Davidson Electra Glide and enjoy riding. In fact, my motorcycle is my primary vehicle of choice as long as the weather is dry. I ride my bike to work as well as recreation, so I am not a weekend warrior as some others may be, not that there is anything wrong with that. So look for some thoughts on motorcycles, the people that own them, and what I experience on my rides.