Things we think of while riding down the road

Camping

Where are we going?

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 8.53.55 AMWe’ll know when we get there. That goes for a lot in life but for those of us that travel on two wheels thats all part of the grand adventure.

Some trips we have to be in a certain place at a certain day so we plan our trip accordingly. Some trips are based on I have be home this date because I have to go back to work. And some trips require calling your local post office and asking them to hold your mail a few days longer…and calling the credit card company and telling them you will be using your card for gas three times a day. These are the basics. And then there are  the types of travelers that we are.

Everybody has different travel styles. Some are planners … everything is planned out before they are even out of the driveway. Mileage each day, where every gas station is, restaurants for breakfast lunch and dinner, rest stops, hotels, how many hours they will ride each day. Everything is planned on a GPS and the bike is packed a week ahead of time (you know who you are). We all know that type and have ridden with them.

And then there are those that know they are going on a trip, have a general idea as to where they are going, but as how to get there, well…Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 8.54.29 AM

So, you wake up on the day of departure figure out what you need to pack, load it into your throw over the back seat saddlebags, grab some AAA road maps put those, a compass, some granola bars in your tank bag…oh and don’t forget your cell phone charger. Check the tires and the oil and one hour later you’re riding into the Sunrise. Now the fun begins.

I happen to fall into the latter category of traveler. When you make your breakfast stop you lay out a map on the table or counter (a counter if you have chosen the right place for breakfast) and start looking for interesting roads and places that will get you somewhere by dinner time in the direction you want to go.

The adventure of travel is just that, an adventure. I want to see things I haven’t seen before and meet people I don’t know. Ok, I didn’t really meet her but you never know who you’ll meet on the road.Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 9.13.30 AM

I just got home from a trip to visit friends in Southern Arizona. I can do that trip in one day but this time the question was ‘why’? Lets take our time and see what we can see. The dessert scenery was wonderful. Believe it or not there was still snow in the mountains above Palm Springs

Some of the choices were good, a great low price motel in Blythe, Cal. Budget Host…I recommend highly and a great restaurant La Casita Dos right around the corner.  Then there were the times that weren’t so great like having to deal with Phoenix traffic in the middle of the day when it was 105 degrees. My motorcycle and my wife weren’t having a great day.

After visiting our friends and sharing a couple of really good rides, again without maps or GPS and only a basic idea of where we were going it was time to head home. This time it was truly the long way home. And what a great adventure. We found ourselves in small towns, funky restaurants (one was the absolute worst I have ever been in) and a gas station that had the coolest gift shop I have ever seen on the road…and the best restrooms.Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 5.46.08 PM

Meandering through life sometimes doesn’t work all that well but when you’re on the road, meandering is a very good thing. Enjoy your ride, don’t hurry (unless you have to be back to work tomorrow because you have already been meandering). See new places, talk to people you don’t know and the beauty that is riding your motorcycle wherever you want to go.

Ride safe, Ride far and thank your motorcycle at the end of very ride.


Two wheeled therapy

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There is a saying, If you want to be happy for a day…drink. If you want to happy for a year… get married. If you want to be happy for life…ride a motorcycle.

When I started traveling on a motorcycle I found a peace that even the Hippies of the Sixties didn’t know about. It was the connection between man and machine and all that Mother Nature can throw at you then at the end of the day you set up camp (or crash at a cheap motel) and reflect on your day and a big smile shows up on your face.

The reason this blog is called Helmet Time is because inside your helmet you have times of heavy concentration and others that you are just enjoying where you are at. The feel of the weather, the ability to look all around, take in the beauty with no impediments. The feeling of your motorcycle whether it be an ultra smooth multi cylinder Tourer or a vibrating thumping Tourer, you settle into a state of pure bliss. I’m on my motorcycle.screen-shot-2015-05-11-at-9-09-28-am

Very few cars offer a true connection… with air conditioning, power widows to seal everything out and a stereo system that shakes the road and power steering, most cars isolate you from the world. But on a motorcycle you feel the world. On a motorcycle you need to be aware of everything, and that is part of the enjoyment of riding. You’re engaged, you’re focused and that is a form of meditation. Body and mind come together along with your machine, you have a flow.  Settle into it and enjoy every moment…well unless you happen to have to commute on the 405 Freeway in Southern California then you know you did something bad in a past life and you’re having to repent.

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Oh, and when you’re meditating on your motorcycle, try not to be this relaxed!!!

Ride safe, Ride Far and I’ll see you on the road…Paul


Easy Rider…The Golden Years

Picture 11In years past, our parents generation, retirement meant selling the house, moving to a senior citizen community somewhere near Palm Springs, Palm Beach or Phoenix and taking up Golf. If you were a little more adventurous you might buy a Winnebago and go see the National Parks or visit the Grandkids. Well, over the past decade or two that scenario has changed a bit. Today, Grandma and Grandpa are just as likely to show up on a motorcycle as they are in a motorhome.Picture 16

One of my day jobs is coaching new and returning motorcycle riders to be better riders, safer riders and have more fun on two wheels. As I’m planning for the upcoming riding season, which here in Southern California is pretty much all year, I look back through all our customer/client/student files and realize that the majority are of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation. When I get a new client, I always ask them what made them want to get into motorcycling? The answers generally fall into three categories… 1; I used to ride when I was younger and want to get back into it. 2; It’s something I have always wanted to do but just never really had the time (the second part of that answer is often, my wife didn’t want me to have a motorcycle while we had kids in the house…um, Ok?) and 3; I’m tired of riding behind my husband! Number three is a lot more common than you might think, as a matter fact, new women riders account for the fastest growing segment of new motorcycle sales. And actually there is a number 4 reason, one of our clients told us that he bought a motorcycle because…get ready, here it comes…”the ladies like bikers.” Now mind you, this gentleman has been collecting Social Security for a while, but he was having fun.Picture 30

Despite what some may say, motorcycles are big business, particularly in the over 45 years old category, these are the buyers that have the time and the money to get into higher end motorcycles. It was back in the late 70’s early 80’s that Willie G. Davidson (grandson to the one of the founders of Harley-Davidson) said, “It’s not just a motorcycle, it’s a lifestyle.” It’s so true and it doesn’t just go for Harley Davidson, motorcycle riding is a lifestyle no matter what you ride. For some people a motorcycle really does define who they are.

How big is the motorcycle business outside of the dealership? Well, cities around the country hold rallies that draw thousands of riders who spend lots of cash, which stimulates the local economy. Look at the biggest…Sturgis South Dakota, Daytona Bike Week (going on right now) and more. But as you look around these rallies, what do see, besides big motorcycles? Grey hair. The American Motorcyclist Association says that their average member age is 48+.

Picture 23All of that is all well and good for the motorcycle industry and the peripherals but there is a down side for older motorcyclists on the road. We get hurt more often and more seriously than younger riders. Damn…I hate when that happens. It’s really simple…we don’t bounce as good as we used to.

Here are some statistics that should wake some of us up.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2007 showed that motorcycle fatalities involving riders over the age of 45 grew four times (4X) from 2001-2005.
Motorcyclists over the age of 60 are three times more likely to be hospitalized than a younger rider (DUH!!). Serious chest and rib cage fractures are among the most common.
The list goes on but you get the idea.
**These statistics are based on ‘averages’, this can include things like not wearing a helmet, riding impaired, unlicensed, no training, etc..

Ok, why does all this happen? it’s just life. The physiological changes we go through…little things like bone strength, fat redistribution, declining vision, slower reaction times all contribute to potential injury (crashing)…and the fact that modern motorcycles are incredibly powerful!

So, what can older riders do to lower the risk of crashing? Well, for one, more senior (I like that term better than ‘older’) riders do tend to ride more safely (their ego was put in the closet a long time ago), they understand better their limitations. Joining a riding club, such as HOG (Harley Owners Group), GWRRA (Gold Wing Road Riders Association) or any other club where you can ride with other motorcyclists and learn from one another. Many riding groups can, and do, bring in guest instructors to help beginning riders become road ready and give refresher courses to more experienced riders. My friend Les Brown of Motorcycle Coaching 101 spends a lot of time with riding clubs helping riders enjoy the road more safely.

Picture 18We all love riding our motorcycles as much as we can, whenever we can and wherever we can and we want to keep doing it for a long time. So, my advice for older riders is this …keep riding! Go take a refresher riding course, there are a lot of them out there just do a google search to find one in your area, you want to keep your skills up. You want to ride deliberately, not just instinctively. If you’re riding with friends, pay attention to their riding, when you stop, ask them “are you OK?” “Are you tired yet?” and then most importantly ask yourself those same questions.

As I say at the end of my podcasts, “Ride safe, Ride Fast and I’ll see you on the Road.” For a lot of years to come.


Moto-Camping in High Style

Picture 34I’m a pretty minimalist kind of guy when it comes to motorcycle travel. I believe if you’re going ‘credit card camping’ Motel 6 is plenty fine…as long as there is a good restaurant and local dive bar within walking distance. A couple of clean T-shirts, skivvies, socks and rain gear…you’re good to go. I have been known to pass up the budget motel once or twice after a long day in the saddle for the sign that says ‘jacuzzi’ or ‘spa’ makes me turn in.

If you’re going real camping it does take a little more preparation and packing but still, pretty easy. A small tent, sleeping bag and pad, one little stove, a small cook kit, coffee pot and the world is yours. Buy your groceries on the road each day or stop at a local diner, there is nothing better than moto-camping.

Over the years and miles I have traveled with all kinds of moto-travelers; credit card campers, tent campers, sleep under the stars campers and a couple of times I have sat around the campfire with those towing a camping trailer behind their bike. I love everybody that travels on a motorcycle, there is really no better way to see this country. But…a trailer? I’m not quite sure I get it –

Now, towing a trailer behind a motorcycle is nothing new, look at this Rudge Motorcycle ad from over 100 years ago.
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While the men are out catching dinner, the women are setting up camp. Back then there was a saying…”Mens work is hunting, fishing and making love. Womens work, everything else…!???
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Over the years moto-camping has evolved almost to the point of why not just buy a Winnebago? I may get some flack for that thought but…Picture 24

I have to admit that over the past few years my traveling style has evolved as well. I started on a Honda 350 with an Army / Navy surplus sleeping bag strapped to the back of the bike and a Boy Scout Yucca pack on my back. Rain Gear? What rain gear? Then came a tank bag. Next was a set of soft saddlebags…I could tell I was on a slippery slope.

The day came that I bought a bike that came with hard saddlebags, I was almost embarrassed to seen with them. Was I really getting that old and soft? And then I found the true benefit of hard saddlebags…I love modern technology.Picture 35

Happy camping everyone, no matter what your style. Oh and by the way, the guy at the top is not me, that is my long time traveling partner Jeff…he is much better looking than me and has a much better sense of style.


First dates

I like motorcycles, she likes boats. The first time I asked my now wife on a date it was to go look at all the Christmas decorations around town. The fun part of all of this was that I was going to take her in a motorcycle side car. Now think about it, how many first dates are in a side car…I was hoping this might score me a few extra points for being creative. Well, I was flatly turned down. Apparently creativity goes just so far.

A month later,and several other attempts (also rejected), I came up with the perfect solution and it worked!!! However, her best friend did come along as a chaperone.Picture 26


It’s all about preparation

We all do our very best to prepare for an event, whether it’s a race or a long trip, we get things ready. Holidays are no different.

Usually on Christmas we have a house full of family and friends, most of them motorcycle people. The stories are flying and the more beer we have the stories fly even higher but that is part of what makes the day special. We watch classic races (World Superbike Imola 2000, Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards…the best race to watch over and over), ‘On Any Sunday’ and whatever movie somebody brings…last year we watched Big Faus and Little Halsey (or is it Big Halsey and Little Faus??? Does it matter?).

This year everyone was here and it was time to put the turkey in the BBQ (in Southern California that is the preferred method…) Instead of putting stuffing in the turkey we put some garlic into a can of good beer, put the turkey over the can and cook. It always comes out great…except this time. The turkey decided that this year the beer was going to be administered a bit differently.
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We ended up ordering pizza. Happy Holidays to all and a very Happy New Year. Now sit down and start planning your first big trip of the year. I am.
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Can’t leave your best friend behind, can you?

Picture 23Moto-Camping has been a way of life for me since I was a teenager…it was always a good way to escape suburban family life. Moto-Camping tested your planning skills (having been a Boy Scout preparation was pretty easy), adaptability skills (you never what the weather will throw at you), packing skills (motorcycle luggage at the time consisted of a small duffel bag strapped to the seat and an old Boy Scout Yucca pack) and map reading abilities (where does this road go???). At times, it also tested your mechanical skills, especially when riding a mid 1960’s Triumph. It was also important to know how to Bullsh*t your boss when you wanted an extra day or two on the road.

The thing about Moto-Camping is that it boils everything down to what is absolutely the bare essentials you need to have a good trip. You spend years and lots of money acquiring just the right gear and as soon as you think have your ‘kit’ just right, you meet another Moto-Camper on the road that has something newer, better and tricker than you. More money going out when you get home.

Over the years I have camped solo, with just a friend or two and done some good sized rallys, I like ’em all. I’ve ridden bikes as small as a Honda CB350 all the way up to my newest ride, a Buell Ulysses, and everything in between. The main thing that has changed for me is that now I travel two up ninety percent of the time. It’s true, I finally found a woman who likes Moto-Camping as much as I do!Picture 22

Moto-Camping two-up requires a whole new strategy when it comes to prep and packing. Suspension has to be set much different, general ergonomics have to be adjusted and sometimes even a new motorcycle. It’s all worth it. Another thing you have to think about when Moto-Camping, or any kind of vacation for that matter, is what to do with your pet. You can take them to a kennel (too much $$$), you could beg and plead with a family member to take Fido or Fluffy for a few days…the odds of them agreeing to that are a bit slim, or you can simply ask a neighbor to come over and feed Muffy or Spot, (again, a tough favor to ask…).

Picture 26 We love our dog, he’s a good traveler in the car and we would like to take him out into the world more. We have never really all that fond of car camping, it’s too easy. Two Martini’s later however we started talking about getting a small travel trailer (talk about being too easy!) take the dog, the grandkids and see the USA in style and luxury.

The next morning we were back to our senses. We decided that Moto-Camping is still the way to go for us but…we know that our dog would love it too. So, with a little research I found a way to take Boscoe along. It’s perfect.
mc dog carrier