Monthly Archives: March 2009

Trade offs

Sometimes when you want something you have to give up something, that’s just life. A little less pasta at dinner means you can have Tirramisou for desert.

I want a new motorcycle, the wife says sure go ahead, but…you have to get rid of one or two first. Oh, uh..OK, I guess. “ But honey, there aren’t any motorcycles I want to get rid of..I ride them all” Then comes ‘the look’ followed by the “well, something has to go”.

So, I start looking around the barn, well there is that ‘82 Suzuki GS400 I thought I would turn into a Cafe Racer that’s covered in dust and cob webs, a front end off a Honda Hurricane, a couple of GSX-R wheels and a box full of oddball parts that somebody is bound to want that I can put on e-bay or craigslist. But wait, I might need them some day, I can’t get rid of this stuff. cimg5491

What else do I have laying around? What’s that old saying…one mans trash is another mans treasure…Ok…let’s see…bunch of old magazines…uh, Life Magazine “Man lands on the Moon”, gotta be worth something…old Surfer Magazines from the 60’s….there’s some old surf dude who wants those…and then ‘the epiphany’. cimg5479

For various reasons I stopped surfing a number of years ago and hanging in the rafters of my barn is the last surfboard I rode, a 10’7” Velzy. A true classic, a work of floating art. The motorcycle I want, a 1976 BMWR90S, is also a true classic, a piece of rolling art. Here is where the trade off comes. I still ride motorcycles but I don’t surf, so do I sell the surfboard, a piece of my history for the past forty years or do I look to the future sell the board and buy the motorcycle?

I bought the BMW.cimg5484

Planning for a crash…really (Part Deux)

Part Five

In these times of increased security and the occasional need to show others that you are who you say you are you carry your driver’s license.  Along with that have your registration and proof of insurance.  Good start, but wait there’s more.

Do you have any medical issues or take prescription medications? Do you have any allergies to specific medications? If you couldn’t communicate this to a first responder or doctor your treatment could be delayed and you don’t want that. Read on my friend.
Make a list of all your medications and carry that list in your wallet.  Some of the newer outerwear have special pockets for that so put a copy in there too. There are also items that can be attached to your helmet for medical info.  For the majority of us that’ll be enough but for some of us there’s need for more.

If you have any type of medical condition, be sure to do the above and take an extra precaution to protect yourself.  Get one of those dog tags or other bracelets that lead a caregiver to your medical issues quickly and clearly.  I use RoadID on a bracelet which when turned over will give access to my particular info either by computer or 800 number.  There are lots of different systems in place.  Look them over and choose one.  Your local dealer might have it.  Check out running and triathlon shops/magazines for a good selection as well. Do it before you need it.

Helpful hint: If you ride with the same passenger, person or group, tell them where to find your ID or if you’re carrying medication, where that is too.  On your cellphone, program an Emergency Contact Information telephone number.  That is, ECI for name and your family and/or physician telephone numbers. It is also known as ICE, In Case of Emergency.

Take a first aid course.  It can’t hurt and you never know when you’ll need it.  Courses are available from the Red Cross, local hospitals and other sources.  Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it.  If your first aid course doesn’t include it, take a CPR course.  Everyone, rider or not, should take one.

Sign up to be an organ donor.  Help someone else live after you’re done with your parts.  Ask your friends to do the same.  Check your local DMV for details.

Part Six

Ready to crash?  Not yet. Whether you’re a new rider, an experienced rider or returning to the sport, take a riding course.  Starting with the basics is a great way to build your skills.  For experienced riders, there are refreshers and more advanced courses available around the world. You can find school info in the MotoMags, the internet and talking to your friends that have been to riding schools. It’s never too late to learn and continue learning.  Think of it as a tune-up for the rider. Another benefit of taking a rider course, it could lower your insurance rate. Nice.
And… practice, practice, practice until your riding and survival skills are second nature.  Heck of a time to bring out the book when you’re recovering from a case of stupid.

Part Seven

So now you’ve learned that planning for a crash is a good idea and actually it’s pretty easy. So lets go one step further, you just crashed. Let me give you a few thoughts for what to do now.

First, if you’re not conscious, all of the precautions you’ve taken so far will help minimize the hurt and speed your emergency care and recovery.

Second First (If you’re alone.), if you’re conscious, assess where you are and how you feel. Fingers and toes are moving? Do you know where you are? Take your time in getting up. All crashes are traumatic to your body. Give it a moment.

Third First (If there’s a crash and it’s not you.), look around; what’s in the immediate area; traffic, water, etc.  What do you see that can become a secondary danger to the injured rider and you? If necessary and if you can, move the downed rider away from danger being very careful. Once out of danger call 911. Very important here, DO NOT REMOVE THE RIDERS HELMET, leave that to the medical personnel.

These are the basics of planning for a crash. If you do all these things your chances of avoiding a crash or surviving one are much greater. If you do find yourself on the pavement one day I wish you and your motorcycle a speedy recovery. Wise old Chinese saying…” keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down”

Planning for a crash…really

There are two types of motorcycle riders

those that have crashed and those that willLut-05hailtothethief1


Planning for the accident/crash/”lay it down”/minor and major oopses.

As strange as it sounds planning for an event such as those mentioned above takes time, effort and a modicum of intelligence. Unfortunately, few of us take the time to do it or have the brains to realize that the planning involved can help us and those around us. Just in case.

So, having insulted most everyone, here are a few suggestions to make your life and the people you ride with easier.


Part One

I’m taking for granted here that you have a proper motorcycle license, insurance, helmet and clothing. You don’t? Well, it’s time to take care of that.

Part Two

You do have motorcycle insurance right? Your state requires that you do and you should. If the motorcycle isn’t paid for, your bank/credit union/parents will require evidence of financial responsibility. Rather than sign up for the least amount of insurance available, take an hour or so and sit down to talk to an insurance agent. The amount of insurance should be enough to cover you, your passenger, any other driver (make sure the policy does cover a different driver…not all do) or object you might encounter. More importantly, it should protect you and your assets in the event of a lawsuit or other legal proceedings against you. Remember, insurance will help protect you against losing everything you’ve worked for because of a lawsuit or judgment. So, talk to an agent (or better yet, talk to a couple of them).

If you’re underinsured or not insured at all, there are major implications; continuing to pay for a totaled bike, going to prison (that’s the scare tactic) or paying lots of money for the rest of your life. Being uninsured isn’t worth the risk.

Helpful hint here: Use all of the resources available to you including the internet, owners’ clubs and other groups. Some have excellent policies for their members. Also, after checking prices on insurance websites, calling an agent can often get you a better price. And lastly, if you have home and auto insurance, talk to your agent/company about getting a package deal on your insurance. There is a great interview with an insurance agent who has been selling motorcycle insurance for thirty years on our podcast at

And lastly on the subject of insurance, make sure you have adequate medical insurance.

Yes, you can save money and worry by doing your homework now.

Part Three

Let’s go back to your helmet and other riding gear. I won’t get on a soapbox here but dress to crash. Is your helmet current? Is it DOT approved? It should be, that is the law. If you plan on racing or doing ‘Track Days’ it will more than likely need to be Snell approved as well. Helmets have a service life due to sun, ozone, that stuff you put in your hair, and the stuff from your head. Check the manufacture date and look to the helmet manufacturer’s advice about replacement.

Helpful hint: Helmets are made to be used for their intended purpose once. Did you fall down and “just chip the paint” on your helmet? Replace it.

When it comes to getting a new helmet, spend time trying on as many as you can to get a proper fit. Your dealer or accessory store can help you and there are many, many articles in the magazines to help you decide what is best for you. Just don’t go for cheap, it’s your head in there.

Still wearing that old bomber jacket from junior high? Bad idea, current motorcycle wear is designed to keep you comfortable, safe and of course, stylin’. Outwear is available in leather or textile materials. Most will have CE armor built in at impact points like elbows, back and shoulders . There are styles and designs for all weather conditions. Use your local dealer,accessory store, magazines and user group websites for advice and information about the latest in clothing. The same goes for gloves and boots. Gloves should have gauntlets that cover your wrists and boots should be tall enough to protect your ankles. Wear your gear whenever you ride because skin has a poor coefficient of friction and you need it to keep your insides in…

Helpful hint: To keep your helmet and outerwear clean and at maximum effectiveness, read the little tags and brochures that came with them when it’s time to service them. You can also find this information from your dealer or manufacturer’s website.

Part Four

This part is kind of obvious but I’ll share this wisdom with you anyway. Check your motorcycle before you ride, remember that little book you got when you bought your motorcycle? The owners manual. It has a safety check list for use before every ride. Check the oil, coolant level, chain adjustment (does it need to be lubed?) tire pressure/condition and more. Read the book, see your dealer, and learn what to look for and how to adjust it. I know; blah, blah, blah. A few minutes can save a lot of inconvenience and/or hurt.

Where to go, where to go???

Picture this, you’re in a church basement room somewhere or maybe a VFW hall in your town surrounded by others that have the same addiction you do.  “Hi, my name is Paul and I’m a long distance rider”…”Hi Paul” from the group. Tonight’s topic is ‘Theme Rides’ and no, it’s not a small world after all.

Yes, it’s sad but true, I love riding long distances. A twelve to fourteen hour day in the saddle is child’s play. I am a member of the Iron Butt Association and the Long Distance Riders forum. I used to think I had some sort of genetic disorder but most of these people are just plain sick. If you like riding from California to Florida in just two days or through every state in the union in two weeks or less (OK, Hawaii is off the list but you still have to go to Alaska), then you’ll fit right in. Long distance riders know about and have every gizmo known to man that goes on a motorcycle…GPS, extra lights, heated everything, fuel cells, the list goes on and on…and they can tell you how to modify your bike to power all that stuff. It’s way too easy to sucked into all this and that’s why I believe there should be a twelve step program for them.200px-happy_texas_poster1

The other day I was cruising the LDR list and a great topic came up, ‘Theme Rides’…towns with interesting or unusual names and connecting them for a good ride. This became way too much fun and…way too much time on Google Maps. So, thanks to my friends on the list, here are a couple of fun rides for you to consider when you need a good story for your riding buddies. Or, to get that look from your significant other, you know the one…” you’re weird…”

Here ya go…

Whynot (MS) to Bee (NE) to Happy (TX)..The Whynot Bee Happy ride…1725 miles


Love (TX) to Lost City (NV)…The Lost Love ride…1400 miles


Hell Town (OH) to Back Mountain (PA) to Little Hell (VA)…The Two Hells and Back ride…1000 miles

There were a few more floating around in there and then it got even funnier, a list of towns with let’s say, interesting names.

Bowlegs, OK..  Stiffknee Nob,NC.. Sweet Lips, TN..Butts, VA..Loveladies, NJ…Buttsville, NJ…(is that just down the road from Loveladies, NJ???)…Monkeys Eyebrow, AZ…French Lick, In..and what list would be complete without Intercourse, PA.250px-intercourse_pennsylvania_welcome_2172px

There were quite a few more on the list but being as this is a family friendly site some would not have been appropriate here. If you’d like a bigger list and I guarantee you will laugh your fanny off, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you an ‘entertaining’ list of town names you can ride to.

So now, grab your box of maps, an atlas, a cold beer, click on to Google and make up your own theme ride. It will make for a very fun evening for you. I’ll see you at the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler Arizona

The Sound of Music

Any truly dedicated motorcycle rider will tell you that there is music in the sound of their motorcycle. Whether it’s the ‘potato, potato, potato’ sound that Harley Davidson tried to trademark,(or patent, I can’t remember which), the scream of a high revving inline four from Japan, the distinct cadence of an Italian V-Twin or the growl of a British triple. It doesn’t matter, our motorcycles make music to our ears. Wind in your hair and bugs in your teeth be’s the sound, the feel of your motorcycle that stirs your soul.

Music stirs our souls as well. I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of you that have done this…made a tape (if you’re old!?) or a CD of your favorite traveling music. Some of you have motorcycles that have CD players, speakers in the fairing (hell, now speakers are put into the arm rests for the passenger??) and/or headsets in your helmet and you travel with your music. I have a very funny story about a trip to Laguna Seca with a group of friends and one of them that likes his music loud, but I’ll save it for another time. The rest of us however, love the sound of our motorcycle.bernie

I’m not a musician, the only thing I can play is the radio, but I do have some riding and racing friends that are great musicians and one of them is Bernie Ayling. Bernie is not only a great guitar player, he has an incredible guitar collection. National Steel’s from the Thirties, original Fender Stratocasters and some of the most beautiful and beautiful sounding acoustics you’ll ever hear. Bernie plays some very serious blues in a band named ‘Turn Nine’. Where did the name ‘Turn Nine’ come from?, Bernie is also a motorcycle roadracer and turn nine is his favorite turn at his home track, Willow Springs out in the California desert.

Bernie spent years racing a 500CC single at “The Fastest Road in the West”. Recently, Bernie along with racing partner Jay Niederst, built his newest and very trick race bike, The AsHawk. What’s an AsHawk? A built to the hilt 591 CC Honda single from an Ascot neatly tucked into a Honda Hawk GT chassis. Upgrade the suspension, adapt some slick race bodywork, have Jay do a stunning paint job, spoon on some Dunlop slicks and watch out Formula Singles…the Bern Man is back. cimg5398

So, here is one lucky guy, making music during the day on his motorcycle and at night on a classic Les Paul. If you find yourself in Southern California sometime, look up ‘Turn Nine’ and spend your evening listening to some great blues. I’ll see you there.

Friends and racing


What does a group of derelict, ex-motorcycle racers do when they get together…besides drink beer, talk about bikes from way back when and remember how fast we used to be? Easy, we watch racing on TV, of course we do move the TV out to the garage so we can smell motorcycles while watching the races.

For the past few years, some of the guys I used to roadrace with and some other riding friends, gather at one of our houses to watch the races on TV. It started with the Daytona 200, went to World Superbike, then on to MotoGP and now back to World Superbike, or… whatever looks good that weekend.  We gather five or six times a season to celebrate racing, the fellowship of racers, do some serious bench racing, talk about races and racers of years past..”remember the final Superbike race at Imola in ’02?! “…”yeah, that was the best ever!”…”no, no, no..500GP at Silverstone when Doohan was sliding all over the place” and on it goes for a couple of hours.  Cold beer and good BBQ make every race exciting.

The day other was the opening round of the 2009 World Superbike Championship in Australia and our group was ready for some racing. It was a beautiful day here in Southern California; sun shining, eighty degrees, coolers full of refreshing beverages, barbeque fired up and about twenty some friends.  Over the years our gatherings have grown to include wives and girlfriends, dogs and kids and not to mention the food has gotten much better. We plan the  race day menu based on the country where the race is…Spain, Paellea and Sangria; Japan, Sushi and Sake; England, fish and chips with Guiness…you get the idea.

The other great thing you get when a bunch of racers sitting around watching a race is the running commentary…”oh man, he easily could have passed Capirosi right there!!”…” just wait, Rossi is going to let him go by then pass him again three laps from the end”…” the Kawasaki’s going backward again…”. And then there are the cheers when something exciting happens, the groans when something bad happens and  the ever popular “oh S*#T!!!” when something crazy happens. Surround sound doesn’t hurt either.cimg53565

The racing can sometimes be a bit boring, but watching it with your friends never is. Give it a try…and remember to bring good beer, food and stories.