Things we think of while riding down the road

Archive for June, 2009

Riders for Health…worth getting involved with

If you have never seen the movie ‘On Any Sunday’, you really need to. If you were riding or racing motorcycles back in the early 70’s you are right now having great memories…the glory years. If you have not seen the movie, go rent it, buy a six pack, find an old motorcycle racer to watch it with and enjoy a great piece of motorcycling history…the movie, not the racer.

During the segment about desert racing, there was a scene where a racer stopped, actually tipped over, in order to not run over a desert tortoise. The racer picked himself up, walked over, picked up the tortoise and moved it off the racing line. “desert racers are good people” was the commentary. Well, I want to expand that statement, “motorcyclists are good people”.

Recently, a friend of mine, Dan Lo of Corner Speed Photography www.cspeedphoto.com, connected me, and a lot of others, with the ‘Riders For Health’ organization, a quick click and there I was at www.riders.org. I spent a good deal of time going through that site and learning all I could about ‘Riders for Health’. I’ll give you the ‘Readers Digest’ version here…if I can. Boys and bike crop 300 dpi

The ‘Riders for Health’ program started over twenty years ago in the UK. Founded by Barry and Andrea Coleman along with Grand Prix racer Randy Mamola. They wandered through the GP paddocks raising money for the ‘Save The Children’ fund. On trips to Africa to see the fruits of the fundraising, a new focus came to light. You can get all the medicine and medical workers you want, but if they can’t get to the people that need them, why?? Traveling through rural African regions, vehicles for medical services were just sitting for lack of service…sitting for lack of a $3.00 part and nobody to put it in. Riders For Health was born. Develop a program that can maintain the existing vehicles, get more vehicles and get the services that are needed to where they are needed. RfH - Zimbabwean healthworker advises a family

I could write more, but instead, I’ll send you to the website, there you can see what this program does, why it’s so valuable and why to get involved. Take a few moments of your time and look into ‘Riders for Health’ this is an organization that does so much for so many in so many ways. www.riders.org

I have participated in many charity bike runs, donated to organizations, reported on many events and know that they are all valuable and do good works, Riders for Health just struck me a bit deeper than most.

To finish this up, this coming weekend there is a fund raising event at MDK Motorsports in Redwood City, California and July 2nd in conjunction with the MotoGP event at Laguna Seca is a fantastic event ‘Day of The Stars’..both well worth participating in.

Take a few minutes of your time and listen to my podcast interview with Adam Silver of Riders for Health at www.themotoworld.libsyn.com he has so much to say and he says it so well.


Guitars and Motorbikes

A little while back I wrote a story called ‘The Sound of Music’, my friend Bernie on his motorcycle at Willow Springs and on stage playing guitar with his band ‘Turn 9’. The synergy of the two.

Last weekend while celebrating a friends birthday over some of Kentucky’s finest, we expanded the idea…matching up classic guitars with classic motorcycles or maybe iconic guitars and motorcycles. We started with a Gibson Les Paul mated with a Matchless G50 Single, perfect. A Fender Telecaster with an early model Harley Sportster..well, maybe? Then another perfect fit hit us, an Indian Chief with a National Steel guitar.

As the evening continued on and more Makers Mark was consumed, the match ups got better and more difficult. Now the disclaimer here…nobody in this discussion was riding or driving…we all have very tolerant,wonderful and sober wives.

I put this concept out to friends and got some good match ups..interestingly enough though, most of of the pairings involved Harley Davidson. Fender guitars used to place ads in magazines such as Surfer in the 1960’s featuring their guitars alongside either a woody, a Triumph Bonneville, even a little Honda step through..you remember them..”you meet the nicest people on a Honda”, and of course, a Harley Davidson Sportster.

Then the e-mails started coming. After sorting through them I pulled a few that I thought interesting. My friend John Wayne, yes thats his real name, is the best automotive exhaust guy just about anywhere..he knows sound and flow..his pairing was his own 1965 Harley XLH and his Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar. I liked it. Josh Chinn submitted his chopped ‘67 Triumph alongside his Fender Sunburst Telecaster, he even painted the bike to match the guitar. Next up was Susan Elliot from Chicago, her match up was her dad’s old Martin acoustic and his old Harley Electra Glide. She couldn’t remember the year of the bike or the guitar, they have both been sitting in her garage for almost 20 years since her father passed away.

And lastly…and certainly the best… Ian Livingston of Casitas Springs California..I hope you’re ready for this one…a 1959 Gibson Flying ‘V’ guitar and…and…his 1967…Vespa. I kid you not. I laughed so hard I scared my dog, but then, it made perfect sense. Why would that make sense you ask?? Ian used to live in Europe, played in a band and raced scooters. Too cool.Ian and his Vespa2

This is only the beginning of this train of thought..there have been a good number of friends who have come up with great motorcycles and music ideas. Some are old and worn out and some intriguing. Let’s see where this train takes us.


Ride to Work Day

So, yesterday was worldwide ‘Ride To Work Day’. I’m all for that, I’ve been commuting to work on my motorcycle for more years than I care to remember or can remember for that matter. I have ridden to work in every weather condition from snow to rain,to blistering heat. You just deal with it and eventually get used to it. The life of a motorcyclist.

Over the years my commute has gone from as little as ten miles round trip to one hundred ten round trip. Years of splitting lanes on the Southern California Freeways raised my blood pressure and stress level. But it is a way of life that becomes normal.

I have commuted on everything from a Bultaco Matador to a Honda SL350, a Yamaha RD250 to a Triumph Bonneville, a Ducati Darmah to back on a Honda 350. You name it, it’s been in the company parking lot.

Riding to work in a business suit get’s some unusual looks, I developed a bit of a reputation in Albuquerque as the ‘radio station guy on the motorcycle’, I’m not sure if it was a good reputation though. Riding to and a from a motorcycle dealership each day I think is a rule, and to a surf shop raises only a few eyebrows. Again, it’s just all part of being a motorcyclist.

Commuting on a motorcycle has it’s hazards. We have all heard the stories of accidents at intersections and on the freeways, the old story of “I didn’t see you”. If more people did ride a motorcycle or scooter to work, more automobile drivers would see us and may start to pay better attention to the two wheel commuter. That would make our daily travels to work a bit less stressful, don’t you think?

I still commute to work on my motorbike, some habits are hard to break. My commute has a changed a bit though, but I wouldn’t trade riding a bike to work for anything.CIMG6324


Everybody has a story to tell

There is something about traveling on a motorcycle that is different from any other type of travel. Sometimes we ride with specific destinations and time frames and other times we just wander. I have ridden rally’s with check points from Mexico to Canada and then spent days just wandering the western US on my way home. In forty years and and nearly three quarters of a million miles on two wheels, I have a lot of stories and memories but I find I spend more time listening to and enjoying other riders stories. Everybody that travels on a motorcycle has stories of great routes, favorite destinations, the best restaurant in Wyoming or Utah. Tales of breakdowns and rescues, new friends made and occasionally tragedies. Everybody has a travel story.

Last week while covering the World Superbike races at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah I met a couple of men with a truly great story. Heather and I were sitting outside enjoying an end of the day beverage and our view of the Wasatch Mountains when a man stopped and said we looked so happy he wanted to take a picture of us, then we got to talking. CIMG6249

Terry and his friend Guy had ridden down from Vancouver, BC to attend the races. Terry took a few days off from his job as a tile setter and Guy is retired so, time for a ride. I need to back up a minute here, when we arrived at the campground the evening before the first thing I saw was a Vincent Black Shadow across the way. My first thought was that someone trailered it and is just riding to and from the track. I was wrong. CIMG6259

After taking our picture, Terry told us that he and his friend had ridden down on on that Black Shadow and his old Norton Commando. I was impressed to say the least, to have that kind of faith in old English motorcycles, brave men indeed. But then story got even better. CIMG6261

A year or two earlier these two guys got a wild hair up their fannies and decided they wanted to go see the TT, The Isle of Man TT. It would be easy to fly over to England, rent a couple of bikes, take the ferry across to the island and have the trip of a lifetime…but NOOOOOO (in my best John Belushi imitation), they’re going to take their own bikes. Both the Vincent and the Norton are treated to rebuilds and upgrades, crated up and loaded onto the plane.

Terry, Guy and their wives had a fantastic time at the TT but now the trip was just beginning. For the next two months for Terry and four months for Guy they traipsed all over Europe. Now, most people going to a foreign country get a bunch of maps, spend months poring over them, planning a route, changing it half a dozen times and reading the tour guides. And again…But NOOOOO, these two decide that a compass is plenty good enough. “ Today we go North”, let’s see where we end up? It was like that for two months, they have very trusting wives. The days ride ended wherever it ended. Now let me remind you, this wandering the country side and the cities, the story about navigating a European Roundabout while looking at the compass to see which exit to take was hilarious, was done on a 1952 Vincent and a 1974 Norton. Not for the faint hearted.CIMG6264

Terry’s story continued on for a while and I just wanted to hear more and more, I wanted to do a trip like that. We said our good nights and thanks for the story now it was time to refresh the beverages and start making dinner. The rest of the night I replayed his story in my head and loved it again and again.

All motorcycle travelers have stories and thank you Terry for yours. You’ve made my day many times over.