Things we think of while riding down the road

Posts tagged “BMW motorcycles

Cretins Motorcycle Club

Picture 6When most people hear the term “Motorcycle Club” they instantly change the word club to “gang.” They picture bikers riding into town terrorizing the local folk, taking what they want and leaving the town in shambles. Ok, so I may have watched “The Wild Ones” a few too many times and I do record the “Sons of Anarchy” each season, but not all “clubs” fall into that stereotype, thank goodness.

A long time friend of mine belongs to a motorcycle club that is simply a group of guys and gals that love motorcycles and the motorcycle culture, more precisely the “Cafe Racer” culture. Welcome to the Cretins Motorcycle Club.

First, what is a Cretin? By Websters Dictionary definition you would think a Cretin is a stupid, childlike person full of pointless information that appeals only to other Cretins. If you dig a bit deeper into Cretinism, you find that it is medical term from 18th Century France that describes a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth due to untreated congenital deficiency of thyroid hormones. This condition was often attributed to stagnant air in mountain valleys and bad water. Uh, does Pabst Blue Ribbon count as ‘bad water’? Probably.Picture 12

Second, The Cretins I know are not stupid nor childlike…well maybe a bit childlike (that’s when the fun begins isn’t it?) and yes, in this case we are full of useless information that only we care about…engines, chassis, cool bodywork, fun roads to ride…you get the picture.

The Cafe Racer culture was born in England post World War 2. Blokes would gather at a pub, have a pint and then race each other to another pub and have another pint. There are all sorts of stories about how cafe racers came about, but I’ll stick with this one for now. These were like minded riders just having fun on their motorbikes. And maybe they did terrorize a few motorists here and there. All in good fun…?

Now, the truth about the Cretins Motorcycle Club: These are people that simply love the Cafe Racer motorcycle culture. I had the opportunity to spend an evening with the Los Angeles chapter of the Cretins. This was not my first time with the Cretins. I met them back in 2010 when they hosted the LA Moto Film Fest, but this was the first time I rode with them on their weekly Thursday night ride / meeting. See the photo gallery here
Picture 11“It was a dark and stormy night” (really it was!)…Scott Fabbro, club president, and I had finished our interview for The Motoworld Podcast about his racing experience at the Isle of Man and headed to the first gathering spot, The Thirsty Crow pub on Sunset Blvd near downtown LA.Picture 35 When we arrived we just pulled up onto the sidewalk parked our bikes and waited for everyone else to arrive. In just a short period of time the sidewalk was lined with bikes. Scott’s classic GS750, a cool Honda CB400-4, First Lady Susan’s BMW Boxer Cup (signed by Randy Mamola!!), my old Honda Hawk and a variety of other bikes. The Cretins are an equal opportunity motorcycle club.Picture 31

After a pint (Pabst Blue Ribbon of course), it was back into the damp evening and off to the next stop. Now, it was a wet and rainy night but these guys and ladies didn’t let that slow them down. Picture this – a swarm of cafe racers riding in the wet like it was a warm sunny day at the beach. I felt like we were really keeping true to the “Rocker” culture in England.

Picture 33How about some pinball? That was our next stop…a very cool pinball arcade, ‘Pins and Needles’ in a recording studio somewhere near Downtown. At this point I was totally lost but I didn’t care. I was with the Cretins and having a great time. Some of us played some pinball, some just hung around outside and talked, and after about thirty minutes or so it was off to the club house.Picture 15

The Cretins Club House. When the Cretins show up it’s not quiet. You can’t have a meeting space in a nice residential neighborhood where Ozzie and Harriet are getting ready for bed now, can you? So, you pick a very cool building in an industrial area and make as much noise as you want. Picture 16

Inside the clubhouse is the requisite bar stocked with the required PBR (and some other better beverages…all drank responsibly, really). Inside there is all sorts of memorabilia from racing, rides, charitable events (the Cretins are very socially conscious), and good music.

When we got to the club house, members and friends of the Cretins who couldn’t make the earlier ride were showing up and the place came to life. Talk about bikes, rides, races, politics, family and friends was everywhere. The club really is a family of its own. Also along for the ride were two guys from Cycle World Magazine, photographer Jeff Allen and writer John L. Stein. It was very interesting that the Cretins were invaded by two journalist teams (The MotoWorld and Cycle World) at the same time and none of us even knew it was going to happen. But the Cretins welcomed us all with open arms…or was it handlebars? I didn’t get a chance to talk with John but I did get a chance to spend some time with Jeff (who will be a featured interview on The MotoWorld podcast in the near future) while watching him ply his trade as a pro moto/photo journalist.Picture 32

At around midnight it was finally time to head home. I had had a wonderful night with the motorcycle club. If all goes well this will not be my last ride with the Cretins.

Ride with your mates, share a pint or two, swap stories and carry on the tradition. For this group, this is motorcycling at its best. To know more about the Cretins click http://cretins-la.com/
Thank you Scott, thank you Cretins


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.


Getting re-acquainted with an old friend

A couple of years ago I found myself the proud owner of a 1976 BMW R90 S. It’s a wonderful motorcycle. Shortly after I bought it, like a week later, I took off on my ‘new’ BMW with a couple of friends for a two thousand mile road trip. We did all my favorite Sierra passes, saw new places, discovered new roads, got rained on…it was a great trip. And, I fell in love with my R90.

Two months later my friend Jeff called asking if I wanted to take another ride for a few days. His mother had passed away recently and he needed a road trip, leaving the next day. How could I say no. I packed up the BMW, got a good nights sleep and dreamt of twisty roads up the coast and over into the Sierra’s we both love.

I woke up to a perfect morning for traveling. While water is heating up for tea, I rolled the BMW out of the barn, double checked my packing, hit the starter button to warm it up (old BMW’s are quite cold blooded beasts) and…nothing. Flip all the switches again, nothing. Ok, quick, now what? Attach the battery charger, go have a cup of tea, call Jeff to tell him I’m running late and go over the bikes electrics one more time. Well, none of all that helped, the BMW just did not want to go for a ride.

Rather sheepishly, I went back into the barn, uncovered my old traveling partner, my ’95 Triumph Daytona, turned the key to on, pushed the starter button and…the triple roared to life. What a beautiful sound. It wasn’t beautiful just because I had a motorcycle to take this trip on, the Triumph triples song is so wonderful it makes you want to ride.

When I said ‘sheepishly’ it’s because the Daytona has been my traveling partner for many years and I felt bad asking it to be the back up for this trip. I know we all personalize our favorite bikes, some of us even give them names, my old CB350 (with a few mods), ‘The Mighty 350’, and my old ’63 Ford Fairlane’s name is ‘The Fabulous Freddie Fairlane’. I have never named my Daytona, but I hold it as dear as if it had a name. Donna Daytona??? Uh, NO…

It only took about thirty minutes to transfer all my gear to the Triumph, like I said, it and I had traveled many many miles together, so loading the Super Three up for a trip was an auto-pilot event. Jeff rolled up in the driveway and after one more cup of tea we were on our way.

The whole story of this trip of ours (which turned out to be quite an adventure with some long lasting effects) is another blog post on this website, this story is about the Daytona itself.

When we got home after riding through hurricane force winds, the Daytona and I were both stressed out…physically, mentally, and structurally. Blown fork seals on the Triumph, stress fractures on my right wrist (no, I didn;t crash…but there were times it was awfully close…). I parked the Daytona promising it I would give it the care it deserved. Well, that care didn’t come all that quickly…like two years later.

Last month I finally decided the Super Three couldn’t just lounge away in my barn doing nothing, it needed to get back on the road. The forks came off and were delivered to my friend Lance at Thousand Oaks Powersports in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The forks had been refurbished with new springs and all the necessary parts a number of years…and a lot of miles, ago, so the job was not easy. After the rebuild was done I quickly reassembled the front end, made sure the bike was running (it’s been on a battery charger for two years) and rode it to the shop.

I decided that the long way from Fillmore to Thousand Oaks was the way to go. West on Hwy 126 to 12th Street in Santa Paula, a quick left onto South Mountain Road. A few fast curvy miles later I turned right onto Balcom Canyon Rd.. Balcom Canyon is fast and flowing at the bottom then turns tight as you get to the top and down the other side. It felt great to be back on my Daytona. All the little things that make you one with your motorcycle were right there. It was a great ride that morning.


What a difference a day makes

Last week I headed down to Venice…California, not Italy, for a Vintage BMW event. I had some extra time so I took a quick tour of the Santa Monica Mountains roads that I love which is always fun.

I was riding up Decker Canyon pushing my old BMW as hard as I could, having a great time and then the feeling came upon me…I needed a restroom. Not because I scared myself on that one particular uphill blind right hander with a Cadillac Escalade coming down the hill in my lane, it was my second cup of coffee taking its effect. Next stop,The Rock Store.

Ed and Verns place was a gas station along Mulholland Highway in the middle of nowhere many lifetimes ago. Now it’s a restaurant, convenience store and on every Sunday, a So.Cal bike show. Well known riders, custom bike builders, and everyday riders like you and I show up there.

There are two times to show up at the Rock Store on a Sunday – really early (the sportbike crowd), or if you are a “I had a really good Saturday night” type (the cruiser crowd), a little later. Either time requires good parking skills. I think a new YouTube video should be watching someone trying to park their bike in the middle of 250 other motorcycles before they have had the second cup of coffee of the morning.

If you’re riding Mulholland Highway on a Sunday morning, you share the road with a number of black and white cars or motorcycles with red and blue lights along with your “enjoying a beautiful Sunday morning on a motorcycle” brethren – a small fact of life but it’s still fun. Saturday is a little different.

I thought for a Saturday I’d pretty much have the road to myself. I was wrong. I was hustling along (well, as fast as you can hustle a 34 year old BMW) and all of a sudden (literally) in my rearview mirror was a group of riders that went by me as if I was anchored to the Malibu pier. My first thought, I need a faster bike. Second thought, I have one…it just needs new fork seals, rear brake master cylinder rebuild (yes, some of us do use the rear brake), and a current registration…all minor details which I’m sure I’ll get around to eventually.

When I got to the Rock Store I was surprised at how many motorcycles were there. It wasn’t a large number, but certainly more than I thought would be there. As I walked around I met Roy on a beautiful old BMW R27, Tashi on Royal Enfield Bullet 500, and Bill on a KZ1000 ELR, each of them enjoying the day (the weather was perfect) and the ride. The common thread among them was the enjoyment of less traffic, less law enforcement…which, can and does allow for a more spirited ride, and once at the Rock Store, easier parking.

I met a young journalist from Japan wandering through the bikes. He was working on a story about the Rock Store for a magazine back home. He thought that there would be more bikes there. I told him Sunday was the day for large numbers of all kinds of bikes. “Ah, Sunday…what day is today?” he got off the plane from Japan just a few hours earlier. It was Sunday on his body clock. The young journalist took pictures, talked with riders, shared his own stories, and for those of us that got a chance to meet him, made the day more interesting.

I headed up over the mountains to the coast to keep my appointment in Venice. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry that I still couldn’t enjoy a fast blast over a couple more canyon roads before cruising the coast south, so I put the BMW, and myself through our paces. But then…I caught up with the Black Sheep Scooters.

I didn’t need gas, but there at the Chevron station in Malibu was a gaggle of scooters, the Black Sheep Scooter Club. I had to stop. This is a loosely knit group, and I mean that in more than one way, heading off on a two day camping and riding adventure. Scooter pilots from all over Southern California somehow managed to get together, go ride, and have a great weekend. Except for this one poor guy whose Lambretta decided it had had enough fun for one day. I made my way down to Venice, hung out with the guys at Black Kat Motorwerks, checked out all the cool old vintage stuff at The Garage Company, and then spent some time with my old friend and racing partner Ted Toki at his shop in West L.A, talking about our kids, hot rods, and his latest (old) Triumph.

The ride home that evening was wonderful. A perfect late summer night over the canyons, the R90’s headlight was just bright enough to guide me over roads I can probably ride blindfolded, and all was well with the world.

We all look forward to the Sunday ride but, I found that a Saturday ride might be just as entertaining, if not a bit more.


L.A Moto Film Fest

A couple Saturday’s ago I was riding up in the Santa Monica mountains on my way to a Vintage BMW gathering down in Venice, California, and one of the required stops on that kind of ride is The Rock Store on Mulholland Highway. It’s always a good stop because you’ll see a few really cool motorcycles, (on Sundays you see hundreds…), maybe friend or two and, if you’re hungry or thirsty, good food and drink. While I was hanging around and checking out a couple of bikes, I saw a flyer tacked to the oak tree in the parking lot advertising a motorcycle film festival in L.A, cool. I took a picture of the flyer so I would have the info and headed my way down the coast.

As I was sorting through my photo’s of the day later that night, I saw the flyer and thought this is an event I really want to go to. I showed Heather, my usual passenger and wife, the flyer and she agreed, I should go. I’m a lucky man. Actually, I think she just wanted a Saturday night all to herself.

The film festival was being held at the Cretins Motorcycle Club in downtown Los Angeles. I know a couple of those guys and I’ve been wanting to interview them for my podcast program for a while, this is perfect!

Film Festival day came and the weather was looking pretty iffy for an outdoor event but I had faith it would come off no matter what. For me, I had to decide to either ride or drive. It’s a pretty long ride for me and if it does rain, the LA freeways are not where you want to be. If I drive and it doesn’t rain…what a wimp. Every now and then, style trumps practicality. I rode.

It was an easy ride to Downtown until…I got off the freeway. Google maps and downtown Los Angeles apparently don’t have a good relationship. Without going into boring beyond words yet comical details, I was lost for a good half hour. I made more U-turns, asked more people in cars at a stoplight I had been through at least five times to roll down their window and tell me where the hell Sotello St. was, (not one of them knew either..), even the guys at a gas station (that turned to be just about six blocks away) had no clue. About the time I decided these guys really are Cretins, Google maps that is, I thought I would give it one more try before heading home…I’m not letting some computer directions beat me, no way! The last try paid off. As I rode up the driveway I knew all the frustration of being lost was well worth the price of admission…six dollars by the way.

What a fantastic event. These guys, the Cretins, have it together big time. The Cretins clubhouse is on the roof of a parking structure looking right into the LA night line. Picture this, a couple hundred motorcycles with skyscrapers for a back drop…too cool. When I got off my motorcycle, I checked in with my friend, and Cretins club member Scott Fabro. After a fast visit and swapping of a few racing stories ( we used to have some epic battles in the Formula Singles class at Willow Springs ), I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough.

The Cretins are known for being a cafe racer / rat bike kind of club and it’s true. But…this event, and as it turns out, pretty much everything they do is open to all riders. On this beautiful roof top were ratty ass old Honda’s, long in the tooth BMW’s, a big Suzuki Cavalcade tourer, Harley’s with ape hangers…you name it it was there. As at any motorcycle gathering, we all walk around, look at bikes, talk to the owners, take pictures and start making wish lists.

As interesting as the bikes are, it’s the people who make any event an ‘Event’. Believe me boys and girls this was an ‘Event’. I don’t think I have seen a broader group of motorcyclists talking, telling stories and laughing in one place than I did Saturday night on a roof top in downtown Los Angeles. The Flaming Knights Motorcycle Club, The Pyrate Riderz (yez, I spelled it ryght)…I’ve never heard of these clubs but that doesn’t matter, we were all hanging out together. Couples that rode in looking like movie stars on bikes that just came out of a fashion magazine photo shoot to guys riding on bikes that made you wonder how they made up the driveway. It’s the people and their stories that are always the most interesting…and, they all came out for a good cause.

There were two reasons for putting together this event according organizer Mark Duncan. First was, in his words (sorta) “there all kinds of film festivals but none about or for motorcycles, so I decided to do one”. On top of that, he wanted to help his favorite charity, Riders for Health. The Cretins Motorcycle Club, being the good charitable guys and gals that they are, offered up their clubhouse and all their good (?) connections to help out. Mark sent out emails and built a website www.lamotofilmfest.com looking for film makers to join in.

After going through about twenty five short films he settled on fifteen for the festival. There were movies about ice racing (the true lunatics of the motorcycle racing world), traveling across Libya, learning how to race at Willow Springs, even a great comedy about Captain USA capturing Osama Bin Laden, this film had everybody laughing their asses off. Films about off road adventures and urban adventures, racing old Honda 160’s and how to travel on $54.80 a day. It was all great stuff and we were all watching these films shown on a brick wall, on a roof top, in LA. How lucky were we.

While having some pizza and moving a trash barrel, I had a good visit with Mark Duncan; Willow Springs racer, creator of the event and, film maker in his own right www.nckfilms.com. This guy was so stoked as to how the evening was going, you couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face with a blown motor. It only took Mark two months to pull this all together but he’s already planning the 2nd annual film fest. The Motoworld interview with Mark is at www.themotoworld.com it’s short but really great.

I can’t say enough about how great the 1st Annual Los Angeles Motorcycle Film Festival was, the Cretins Motorcycle Club as hosts and, all the people who came to support the film makers and the Riders for Health organization www.riders.org

A full photo album of the gathering is on the website www.themotoworld.com this is an event that you really don’t want to miss. I have a feeling that with the success of this years film fest, the Cretins club house is going to be way too small next year


Where’s Waldo

Here we are in the throes of winter. Our motorcycles are stored under blankets with the Battery Tender hooked up or in the middle of various service projects with parts laying all over the garage floor and all we want to do is ride. Playing motorcycle video games works OK for about an hour. We go outside to the garage, sit on the bike and hit the starter button or stab the kickstarter just to make sure the Battery Tender is actually keeping the battery up…in reality we just want to feel and hear our best friend. As we look outside to the snow and ice all we can do is sigh, put the thirty third coat of polish on the bike, check the tyres and sigh again.

Back inside the house we pull out all the cool catalogs…Riders Warehouse, Whitehorse Press ,Dennis Kirk…heck, we even start looking at the JC Whitney catalog with lust in our hearts, fortunately, the wife has already taken away your credit card. We’ve watched every motorcycle movie we have and have even rented some that really suck. Anything to keep in touch with riding our motorcycles. And then the true motorcyclist in us all comes out, dreams of our first road trip…to AAA, we need maps!!!

Once we get home from AAA the sickness sets in. We start jabbering about places like The Royal Gorge, Durango, Rock Springs, Big Bend, The Snake River. We remember camping on Sonora Pass, breakfast at Betty’s Breakfast Nook in Quincy, waking up in the sleaziest motel in Alberta Canada then the next morning waking up in the nicest hotel in Montana. We talk about roads like the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, the Going To The Sun road, The Beartooth pass, Ebbet’s Pass, the Million Dollar Highway and the thirteen hours we spent on I40 just to get across one half of Texas. When we look up from the maps we realize that we’re talking to ourselves, our loved ones left the room hours ago and our supper is now cold.

After taking a short break, to eat our cold supper, it’s back to the maps. This time to plan. We have maps that cover three or five states, we have individual state maps and then we have county maps. Four colors of highlighters are at your side as well as your magnifying glass. We start by thinking of where do we have friends we can stay or ride with? Then we start looking for the longest, most interesting way to get there…ten hours on the interstate is no match for two days of two lane roads and local cafe’s.

After the basics we’re now into “where haven’t I been before?” The maps are getting more detailed, we make a few phone calls to the friends we’ve highlighted on the map…knowing that they are going through the same sickness…we talk about roads, weather, food and start the plan to meet up in Durango. At this point our family, loved ones and co-workers have given up on us. They see the look in our eye’s, the sitting at the dinner table or our desk pretending that we are holding the handlebars of our motorcycle and humming that one song that sticks with us for days on the road.

The final stages of the ‘Where’s Waldo’ season are sad. Our motorcycles have gained ten pounds in ‘wax weight’, we have gained ten pounds in ‘winter weight’ and we are alienated from the rest of the world.The only one’s that still love us are AAA (actually they are getting pretty tired of us too…), our motorcycle and the dog. I wonder if there is a twelve step program for winter bound motorcyclists?


Helmet time

Riding a motorcycle has been one of the true joys of my life for over forty years. Old bikes, new bikes, weird bikes, bikes I should never have bought and bikes I wish I still had. Making them rideable…keeping them rideable, fixing what a previous owner had done to the bike and modifying a few myself. Traveling, commuting, racing…it didn’t matter, I was riding. I feel more comfortable on a motorcycle than I do in a car and more comfortable wearing a helmet than a seatbelt.

We all start wearing a helmet because we’re told it’s safe, the smart thing to do and, nowadays, it’s the law in most states here in America. At some time in our motorcycle life, some of us choose to let the wind blow through our hair and some of us decide that ‘helmet hair’ is a good style. I have worn a helmet all my motorcycling life, except once. That once landed me in the emergency room, but that is another story. This story is about what you do inside your helmet. What I call ‘helmet time’.

When you put on your helmet to go for a ride, your brain changes gears. If you are racing it’s pure focus…the start, braking points, your fellow racers…”where can I pass that guy”…or, “how do I keep this other guy from passing me?” and of course, “that trophy is going to look really good in my garage”. Then in my case, racing vintage motorcycles…”come on baby, hang in there, only 3 more laps, don’t fail me now…”. It’s hard to cross yourself while going through Turn 8 at Willow Springs.

When you put on your helmet for the ride to work your focus is a bit divided. You are thinking about your job…”I have to meet my quota today, I hope Woof’s Pet Shop buys a lot of dog food” or…”That new secretary is hot, I wonder if she likes motorcycles?” or,” I’m late, good thing I’m on a motorcycle”.
This is where your focus becomes divided, on top of all the work thoughts, you have to pay attention to riding. Commuting on a motorcycle is a high stress affair here in Southern California. Crowded freeways, clogged surface streets, drivers spending more time on their cell phone than actually watching where they are going…the stresses go on and on. Good thing you have your helmet on.

When you put your helmet on for a ‘ride’, it’s a totally different feeling. Getting together with friends for the “Sunday Ride’ to a favorite breakfast or lunch spot, a solo ride on a road you know like the back of your hand or the trip you have been planning since winter…going for a ‘ride’ is a whole different mindset. And inside your helmet is where that mindset takes over. Yes, we still have to pay attention to the road, other drivers and of course…the law(?)…”good afternoon officer…I was going how fast?”…

Inside your helmet on a ride you have time to get away from work, the ‘honey do’ list, pretty much anything you don’t want to think about. It’s just you, your motorcycle and the road. Sometimes you do think about work but the first mountain road corner you screw up, work goes right out of your helmet and you’re back to riding.

I once posed the question on our motoworld podcast, www.themotoworld.com “what goes on inside your helmet when you’re riding”? The answers that I got were great fun to read. From poems, to song lyrics, modifications you want to make to your bike…what do I want for breakfast?…I wonder if the new secretary at work would go out with me? (nah)…how come Kelly is faster than me today? We all use ‘helmet time’ differently. In your helmet you can be a great singer…because no one can hear you; you can be a stand up comedian…telling yourself the same bad jokes over and over again. Inside your helmet you can be a world traveler seeing things you’ve never seen before or be a champion racer…don’t get carried away on that last one.

For most though, ‘helmet time’ is much more than that. I have friends that will go for a ride specifically to clear out personal problems, another sorts out the junk, puts issues to rest and resets the ‘personal power’ button. My friend Rob of the Bikers Church in Canada creates sermons while he rides…he doesn’t really count in ‘helmet time’ because he doesn’t often wear one, but we love him anyway.

On long trips however, ‘helmet time’ takes on more meaning. The first day starts with a combination of giddiness and anticipation. “Alright, I’m outta here…bye honey”…unless…’honey’ is part of the trip then it’s “Alright, WE’RE outta here…bye doggies!” Down the driveway onto the road and put yard work in the rear view mirror.

The second day into a four day ride your helmet time starts getting serious. You go back over the things you started thinking about yesterday and you come up with new thoughts. You sing the same song over and over again, you know, the one you don’t know all the words to and you tell yourself a few jokes trying to remember the punchline. And it’s not even lunchtime.

After lunch in a small town at the local diner (no fast food on this trip), the reflection period starts. In between picture taking stops and hustling along twisty roads you start thinking about your life. What have I done, what do I want to do and I hope there is a good Italian restaurant near the hotel.

Day three of ‘helmet time’ is the best. You’ve had two good days of riding, you and your bike are flowing together smoothly and more importantly you and your helmet are one. The thoughts of the universe are being channeled right to you through your Arai. You’ve already spent a day on your own life now it’s time to start thinking bigger thoughts, you know like whirrled peas, I mean world peace, yeah that’s it. On my last ride I solved homelessness over the Tioga Pass, world hunger over the Sonora Pass, I cured cancer over Ebbets Pass and came up with a remedy for the common cold on Monitor pass. It was a great day.

Day four is heading home. Your fanny is tired, your brain is tired trying to remember all the grand solutions you came up with yesterday and the doggies you left four days ago are probably starting to get hungry. But it’s also the time that you start putting all those hours of helmet time into perspective and into order. The cure for cancer and world hunger, well, those may have to wait a while. But, if you have done this right, by now you have figured a good cure for your own life, more ‘helmet time’.