Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve

The staff here at Thoughts from Scott, would like to thank you for following us and reading our blog throughout this past year of 2012.  As we look forward to 2013 we want to wish for you warm weather and pleasant trails as you enjoy your time on your motorcycle, whether you are a recreational rider, a commuter, a weekend cruiser, or anything in between.  Be safe as you ride by yourself or with your group, but continue to enjoy the freedom and fun that all motorcycle enthusiasts love when they hit the open highways and byways of this great country.  We'll be sure to wave to you as we pass on the road!  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is Boxing Day?

Today is the day after Christmas. It is a day when kids play with their Christmas presents and parents sleep in and relax, if they are lucky enough to not have to go to work. It's also a day when lots of people return Christmas presents to the stores and exchange them for something else. For still others it has become a day to shop for super discounted items as stores continue to make deals to get rid of their Christmas supplies and overstocked items. For this reason, it is now being called Black Friday #2. But on my calendar it says Boxing Day (Canada). Boxing Day? What is Boxing Day and why is it on my calendar? It also says Kwanzaa on my calendar today, but that is a topic for another day. I did a little research and found out that Boxing Day is celebrated in Great Britain (England), Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It has it's roots going back to the Middle Ages in England and spread to the previously named countries over time. The name derives from the fact that in the early days, servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but were given the next day off. Their employers would give them gift "boxes" on that day (hence, Boxing Day), to thank them for their services. As time went on, people expanded the tradition to include other service people, like doormen, porters, mail carriers, and the like. I think this is possibly where the tradition of giving someone a tip comes from. Tipping is a good idea for a future blog also. Anyway, for whatever reason Boxing Day has continued on as a holiday in these other Anglo-Saxon countries besides ours. I'm not sure why this tradition did not make it to America (although tipping sure did). So that begs the question. Why is it on my calendar? Is it because all calendars sold in America are also sold in Canada where they celebrate Boxing Day? Or is it because there are plenty of Canadians who now reside in the United States? I'm not sure. Hey wait a minute...some calendars also say St. Stephen. What's that? Now this is really getting confusing. St. Stephen's Day is also an English holiday marking the day that Saint Stephen was martyred by being stoned to death in Jerusalem in 34 or 35 A.D. This is where we get the line "on the feast of Stephen" from the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas. If fact, many websites on this topic suggest that St. Stephen's Day was the name of the holiday before it became known as Boxing Day. So there you have it. A history lesson and my thoughts on Boxing Day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Off season

For most motorcyclists, this is the time of the year that we all dread...fall and winter. The end of the summer riding season. Depending on what part of the country you live in, your season could end in September or October, or maybe extend into November if you're in a warmer climate. For those lucky enough to be in Florida, Arizona or southern California, you don't have this problem, but for people who experience all four seasons, there will be a time when you have to garage your bike. When you get to December, that time is now. Some people in extreme cold climates may decide to winterize their motorcycles, meaning they drain the fluids and disconnect the battery, to keep their bike in good condition through the winter. In this case, you really are done for the season. For those in the Midwest or climates where the weather can be fickle, taking a chance against winterizing may mean you'll get a ride in every now and then if the weather cooperates. I have lived in Missouri for the past 30 years and can remember times when we saw temperatures in the 70's in January! So if you watch the weather trends and see a nice warm spell coming, get out the tender and charge that battery up...you might get a ride in! In the meantime, you may have to pass the time talking up past rides and rallies with your biker buddies at the shop or dealership, or diner. Heck, you could even check out an upgrade for next year. This is the time of the year for deals on new wheels!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Day?

The other day I was driving in my car and listening to the radio, and I overheard the disc jockey talk about how she was looking forward to Thursday because it was "Turkey Day". She made no mention of the fact that it is actually called Thanksgiving Day, and has been an official national holiday since 1941 (although it has been celebrated unofficially on the last Thursday of November since Abraham Lincoln was in office and declared the day a "National Day of Thanksgiving"). So why do people try to be cute and call it Turkey Day? Actually, while most people seem to point to the year 1621 as when the first "Thanksgiving" was celebrated (when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast), there was probably no turkey involved. According to information I found on the history.com website, here is what was probably served on that day: venison and fowl (probably not a turkey) and certainly not mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie (who likes this stuff anyway?). The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."
So to the disc jockey and anyone else who might call Thursday, "Turkey Day", let's get it right, it's Thanksgiving. Be thankful, show thanks and give thanks! We do have much to be thankful for, even in these crazy times.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Leader of the pack

While there are not too many things more exhilarating than riding a motorcycle, riding in a large group of motorcycles is one of them. I usually ride alone because I tend to make last minute decisions to go out based on weather conditions and family activities, but occasionally I will plan a ride with a friend or two. Recently I was part of a group of 20 or so bikers riding through the winding roads of the Missouri wine country near Defiance, MO. Riding in a larger group brings some additional challenges, but the experience of riding in a large pack can't be beat. While one must be cautious of the riders in front and behind you, the roar of the engines and the looks and gazes of people you pass by makes you proud to be one of the pack. When riding in a larger group, motorcycles usually form a staggered formation to give room in front and back for stopping, but allowing for a tighter grouping of bikes. If the roads become too narrow or have many sharp turns, a single file formation may become necessary. Many motorcycle dealerships organize group rides on a regular basis. The Veteran's Day parade is a time when dealerships, clubs and riding chapters come together for a bigger than life experience downtown. Hundreds, if not thousands of motorcycles will descend upon downtown St. Louis next weekend to take part in the annual parade. Motorcycles of all types, sizes, and colors, will bring up the rear of the parade to the delight of children and onlookers alike. I took part in the parade last year and it was definitely a highlight of my year. So if you're a biker, find a group to ride with soon. It sure beats riding alone. And if you just like to see motorcycles, come down to the parade and witness a multitude of bikers like you've never seen before...all in support of those brave soldiers who have fought for our freedom as Americans!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Candy to the rescue!

This post was originally written on 11/18/2008

When you have kids, it's only a matter of time before they get hurt. Children are accident prone. They don't have the sense to know what their physical limitations are and can be either very daring or very clumsy. Either way, it often times leads to injury. Now when you have multiple children in the household a new element emerges...roughhousing. Some also call this horseplay. My two oldest boys like to wrestle with each other. They also like to pretend they are bull riders and take turns riding on each other's back. Many times this innocent child play leads to unintended consequences. Someone gets hurt. Now, my two daughters, who are much younger, can also get hurt; usually by falling off a chair, or hitting the other over a toy dispute. As most parents would do, we try to console the injured child and find out the source of their pain. Once the crying begins to subside we resort to a habit that got started many years ago when our firstborn was a toddler...we give the kid a piece of candy. We discovered that a crying and sometimes even screaming child will quickly have an attitude change with the simple gift of a sucker. One moment he or she could be convincing enough that we should be heading to the emergency room, and the next moment...calm. We quickly learned that we should always have a source for candy in case of these types of calamities. Halloween and Valentines Day are excellent sources for candy replenishment. Easter adds more to the bucket also. It's amazing how effective a little piece of candy can be to sooth a child's temperament. Over the years, we have found that Tootsie Rolls, Pez, and Smarties are the kid's favorites for this purpose. But lately I have noticed that Dum Dums (the small little sucker) work especially well with our daughters. Now that our boys are a little older, 6 and 8, they prefer the bigger suckers with the Tootsie Roll centers, but they work just the same. Sometimes I wonder if these little tykes get hurt on purpose, just so they can get a piece of candy. And what are we teaching them for the future? To go to the refrigerator when you get hurt? Well, we have time to mold their minds as they head into their teenage years. Yesterday I was reminded of another reason to reconsider this strategy of parenting...I took my six year old to the dentist and found out that he had 4 cavities!

Editor's note:  My kids are now 4, 5, 7, 10, and 12 and they all still want a piece of candy after they get hurt.    Some things never change.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Best of Thoughts from Scott

(This post was originally written on 9/2/2011)

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 getting nicer, 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.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Battle of the Glides - Guest Post

Road Glide® Custom vs. Street Glide®. Which one is better? What are the differences? It’s about time you found out. These models are identical from the fuel tank back. Same seat height (26.1 in). Same Rake (26 deg). Same fuel capacity (6 gal). Same luggage capacity (2.26 cu ft). Same engine (Twin Cam 103™). Same fuel system (ESPFI). Same stock exhaust (Chrome, 2-1-2) and wheels (Black, Slotted 5-Spoke Cast Aluminum). Same price for a Vivid Black at MSRP ($19,499). The difference is found in the fairing. The Street Glide® has a Bat-Wing Fairing. Originally designed by Chief Styling Officer Willie G. Davidson, the fairing on the Street Glide® is fork-mounted and has symbolized American-made touring motorcycles for over forty years. The Road Glide® Custom, on the other hand, has what is called a Shark-Nose Fairing. This fairing is frame-mounted, a relatively new style for the Harley-Davidson® lineup. Fork-mounted vs. Frame-mounted. Bat-Wing vs. Shark Nose. What’s that mean when you are riding down the road? When you turn the handlebars of a Street Glide® the fairing turns with you. When you turn the handlebars of a Road Glide® Custom, the fairing stays straight. As you are riding down the road on the Street Glide®, the force of the wind is being transferred from the fairing, to the handlebars, up your arms and into your bike. You, as the rider, are feeling (and in some cases fighting) the force of the wind you encouter on the ride. This can lead to hand, arm and back fatigue earlier in the ride. As you are riding down the road on the Road Glide® Custom, the force of the wind is being transferred from the fairing, to the forks, to the frame of your bike. As a rider, you are left sitting on the bike, in complete control, enjoying the ride for as long as the road continues. Because of the difference in fairing designs, the Road Glide® Custom has dual headlights where the Street Glide® only has one. Because they are different models, they each have an array of paint options. Accessories for the two models, are typically interchangeable as long as they don’t conflict or compliment the different fairings. Some say that the Street Glide® is designed more for the jaunts around the city, whereas the Road Glide® Custom is better designed for the endless days of riding across country. We think where you ride and how you ride is not dictated by the bike, but by the rider. What this all comes down to is the feel of the ride. And the only real way to figure out your personal preference is to take these cold-blooded motorcycles out on the road for a spin. Today's post was a guest post from Gateway Harley-Davidson. See more articles on their blog at gatewayharley.blog.com and follow them @GatewayHarley.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Is it music or noise?

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!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Is it ever too hot to ride?

With high temperatures hitting triple digits and setting records on a daily basis, some people might ask the question: "Is it ever too hot to ride a motorcycle?" Obviously, that is a personal question since everyone has their own feeling on the subject, but for me I would say no. I went out on a ride last weekend and the temperature was 104 degrees. I wore blue jeans and a t-shirt, which some might question for safety, but hey, in my opinion, it is too hot to wear a jacket. So I took my chances. Now when you are riding, even though it is hot, the breeze does keep you cool as you ride. When it becomes uncomfortable is when you have to stop for a traffic light. That's when you feel the extreme heat coming up from the pavement beneath you. Asphalt is the worst. So pick a route with few lights and you're gonna be OK. Now again, it also depends what you are going to do when you reach your destination. Are you out for a pleasure ride or are you going to work? Depending on what kind of job you have, you will either have to changes clothes when you arrive, or wear some wet clothes for a while due to perspiration. Another key point is to drink plenty of fluids before and after your ride. Stop for a break along the way too, depending on how far you're travelling. Many motorcycle dealerships were giving away free water to riders who stopped in for a break to cool off and see the new models in the showroom. So again, from my perspective, while it can be too cold to ride in the winter, it's never to hot to ride in the summer. See you on the road!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In the shop...

Most motorcycles owners will tell you that the worst season of the year is winter, because for most people living in an area that experiences all four seasons, winter riding is not an option. Well while that may be true, the worst time for a motorcycle owner is when your bike is in the shop. This is because not too many people want to ride their motorcycle in the winter when the temperature is below 30 degrees, but when the temperature is perfect for riding and your bike is in the garage getting serviced or waiting for a part to come in, boy, that just makes you want to scream! I experienced this firsthand recently. About a month ago I went out to my garage to start up my bike to take it to work. It was a very nice warm day. The bike started, but when I gave the throttle some gas, I felt something snap. My throttle cable broke. Bummer! Luckily, my bike was in my garage, but I still had to call my local HD dealer and ask for them to send a trailer out to pick up my bike. After waiting over a week for the parts to come in, I got a call from the dealer. The parts came in and they were working on my bike, but they found a problem with my carburetor. Great, more bad news. Now I had to wait another week for more parts that they didn't have in stock! By the time I got my bike back, I had missed 3 weeks of spring riding and I was $800 lighter in my wallet! Now my bike is running like new and I'm happy to have my bike ready to take a spin when ever I want, but now I can tell you this, having your bike in the shop is way worse than suffering through the cold winter!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Headlights

A good friend of mine posed a question about motorcycles to me the other day. He asked if I had seen bikes that had headlights that alternated between high beam and low beam, back and forth, in an apparent effort to be seen better by passing motorists. While I had not, it doesn't surprise me that a motorcyclist would want to be seen better. Unlike cars, headlights on all street motorcycles come on when you start the engine. You have the option to flip to high beam, but that is your choice based on preference or need due to your driving conditions. Many motorcyclists choose to run their high beams in the daytime, in an effort to be seen better by cars and inattentive drivers. Since my bike is a touring model with a full fairing and 3 headlights (one primary and two optional), I choose to remain in low beam during the daytime. If I feel like an approaching car is not paying attention and drifting out of his lane, I will flash my high beam at him just to make sure he sees me. Driving at night is a different story. It's a fact that more accidents happen at night versus the daylight. The statistics are even worse for motorcycles. Motorcycles aren't seen as easily by motorists due to their lower profile. You probably won't miss that Mack truck or semi tractor trailer chugging past you, but how many times have you not seen a motorcycle in the lane you were about to change in to? Motorcyclists must be even more cautious and defensive when driving in the dark than they are in the daylight hours. In addition to watching out for inattentive drivers, motorcyclists must carefully watch the road for potholes and debris not easily seen in the dark as in the daytime. Hitting an object or a big hole in the road could mean dumping your bike and possibly being struck by oncoming vehicles following you. Even with lights on, it's not as easy to pick up bumps in the road, so be careful. If you are in a car or truck and see a motorcycle, give him some room and pay attention to the road. Everyone wants to get home and eat dinner. Don't ruin someone's day by not paying attention when you're driving. Be careful out there!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Finding time to ride

Now that it is officially spring, getting out for a ride doesn't depend as much on the weather as it does in the fall and winter. Of course one must be aware of spot thunderstorms popping up unexpectedly. So with the warmer weather, the desire to hit the open roads comes more frequently. The trouble for some is, fitting it in to their schedule. If you're like me, your schedule can quickly fill up with family activities and social functions. Baseball practices and games on the weekends, school and church events. Projects and Honey-do lists that require your free time. The list goes on and on. For some, riding to work is an option. While it doesn't let you go on a long ride, at least you're on your bike and smelling the fresh air. If you don't mind riding alone, take advantage of small windows of opportunity that may pop up unexpectedly. Maybe an event gets cancelled or rescheduled for some reason. If you have an hour or two on the weekend and the weather is nice, hit the road for a solo ride on your favorite stretch of road. What may be necessary for others though, is to put it on your calendar. Mark it down so everyone knows. You've got a day scheduled to ride with some friends and make it happen. You can plan a group ride with your buddies or check with your local dealership to see if there is a group ride planned. While group rides require more planning and preparation, you can't beat the thrill of riding with others who share your passion for motorcycles and the freedom of the open road! So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next ride before your calendar fills up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

So now it's spring? It feels like summer!

Now that it is officially spring, many people have begun wondering, "if winter was this mild, how hot is it going to be this summer?" That's a fair question. Yesterday, not only did I ride my motorcycle to work, I had to mow the grass when I got home. I can't remember mowing the lawn this early in the year. With temperatures in the 80's in March, records are being set everyday around the country. Not too many people are complaining mind you...yet. Most people I know are happy it's spring. The grass is growing, trees and bushes are in bloom. Flowers are budding. Kids are playing outside. It's great! But times may change if the temps keep rising. Sure it's great when it's 80 degrees and you can wear short sleeves and short in March. But hey, this is America, people like to complain. The gas prices are too high! Will we have to turn the air conditioners on in April? What will happen to our electric bills? Well, I'm not going to worry about it yet. As a motorcyclist, I'm just happy that winter's over and it's warm enough to ride to work. And yes, it doesn't hurt that I get better gas mileage on my bike than in my car. Besides that, my team is still in the NCAA tournament and baseball season is set to start in less than two weeks! Welcome spring!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let's Ride!

Now that we're into March, the official countdown has begun to spring. By my calendar it looks like only 13 more days. Of course, mother nature could cooperate and give us some warmer days before then, so motorcycle riders, commuters, and weekend warriors will check the weather every day for the temperatures and conditions that look right for them to hit the open road and feel the fresh air in their face. Bikers throughout most of the country have suffered through winter and with warmer weather coming, the urge to get out and ride becomes greater and greater! If they haven't done so already, it's time to charge the batteries, check the oil, and fill up the gas tank. The highways and byways beckon our call for the rush and freedom that can only be experienced on a motorcycle! So if you are driving in your car or pickup, be sure to watch out for motorcycles and give us a little room. The roads are there for everyone to share and share alike. Let the new riding season begin!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spring Fever

So far, the winter of 2011-2012 has been a mild one. A couple of light snow events here and there, and enough cold weather to let you know that it really was winter, but for most, it has been unseasonable warm. Yet there are still reminders that it is still winter after all: morning frost on the ground, no leaves on the trees, and lots of brown grass or perhaps a better way to put it, an absence of green. As we make our way through February it is unavoidable to begin thinking about spring! Spring training baseball has begun in Florida and Arizona, and that always gets people talking about spring break, warmer weather, golf, beaches and yes, even motorcycle riding. For the motorcyclist, winter is the worst season of the year. Too cold to ride for most, except the hardiest of souls, and even if one does venture out for a ride on a rare mild day, you still need to bundle up to avoid being chilled to the bone. No one knows the real meaning of wind chill factors more than motorcyclists! Yes, as enjoyable as it might be to take a ride on a warm 55 to 60 degree day, it still doesn't compare to a 75 to 85 degree day. So come on spring, get a move on! Let the grass begin growing again and the leaves and flowers can start budding. There are folks who want to hit the road on their bikes and smell the fresh air. Let's ride!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

How many days until spring?

Well, now that the excitement and freshness of the New Year has worn off a little, reality sinks in...we're still in the middle of winter. With daily temperatures in the 20's and 30's, just a quick walk outside will remind you of that. Throw in a cloudy day and a stiff breeze (think wind chill factor) and it really hits home. As a child I always liked winter. Snow days to make snowmen and snow angels, plus the added bonus of no school if there was enough of the white stuff. I remember playing outside in the frigid cold of Ohio for hours, and not coming inside until my lips turned blue or my gloves got wet, unless I had to go to the bathroom. Winter was fun! Having snowball fights with the neighbors and building snow forts was what winter was all about. The past few years living in St. Louis, I've noticed that we don't seem to get as much snow as we used to. Not that I mind that much. Oh sure, I would like to see some for the kids to play in and experience, but now that I am an "adult", snow means traffic jams and scraping ice off windshields. If I am not on a ski slope somewhere, I really don't want to see much snow. Another thing I've noticed about getting older is my tolerance of the cold. It used to be I could handle any temperature. I survived the Blizzard of '76 in Toledo, Ohio and remember sub-zero temps for weeks, along with 3 feet of snow and snow drifts as tall as our 2 story house. Now if it's below 32 degrees I make a dash for the safety of my car and the blast of heat from my dashboard (which can't come fast enough). In addition, I now must confess that I sleep with my socks on in the winter to keep my feet warm! Back in the day, it was my boxers and nothing else. What has happened? Has my skin gotten thinner? I have gained many pounds since high school so you would think that my extra padding would help in this area but it doesn't seem to. I guess this is one of the mystery's of life. Oh well, time to get another cup of coffee...I wonder how many days until spring training begins?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow day driving fun!

So it's really winter after all! Yesterday we got our first real taste of winter weather with some snow and below freezing temperatures. Many schools in the area closed for the day as the area braced for anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of snow and sleet. As usual, the local TV stations play up the winter storms as a severe threat to the area, and try to convince those gullible viewers that they might be trapped in their homes for the better part of the week. I'm sure the local grocery stores sell out of milk, eggs, and bread, and perhaps some ice pellets, as the panicky shoppers buy into the story line. But here's what usually happens, only 1-3 inches of actual snow falls on the ground, maybe more snow to come later the weathermen say. Hardly a blizzard! The morning traffic reports tell of accidents on the highways and byways as hapless drivers make their way to work in less than favorable driving conditions. The problem is some people drive too fast for the slick road surfaces, but far too many, drive too slow, which is also troublesome. The key is to maintain a steady pace that is with the flow of the others. Keep extra distance between yourself and the car in front of you, and do not panic if someone hits their brakes. As an owner of a motorcycle, I am aware of the safety courses available for new riders, but I think there should also be driver safety (read defensive driving) courses for automobile operators also. Trial by error has no place on the roads where other people's lives are concerned. There is a continuing debate over banning cell phones in cars, but not knowing how to drive in severe weather conditions is worse in my mind. Well, at least we don't live on the east coast or Alaska where they actually do have severe weather conditions!