…even when you don’t need them to!
A while back I went to a ‘Bike Night’ hosted by a local dealership at a popular drive-in burger joint (aren’t they all?). I took a sh*tload of pictures ( thank god, and Nikon, for digital camera’s) and met a bunch of very friendly and enthusiastic riders.
There must have been at least 300 hundred bikes in the parking lot and more on the street. Cafe racers, cruisers, vintage bikes and a couple of very cool sidecar rigs. You name it, it was there. This was a time and place that being a motorcyclist was more important than what you rode or what you wore.
As the evening went along I made friends with a couple from Ireland, they had just moved here to California and were enjoying the bike culture that we have here. He told me great stories of riding in the UK, going to the Isle of Man TT and taking part in ‘Mad Sunday’, and the cafe racer society hanging out at the Ace Cafe in London. The stories got better as the Guinness bottles lined up next to his bike.
Around 10 o’clock the parking lot was thinning out and it was time to ride home. Nial and his wife were heading the same direction as me so we left together. The minute we pulled onto the street Nial launched a huge wheelie, almost leaving his wife on the street, and then just disappeared down the road. I said my goodbye’s inside my helmet and rode casually on. It wasn’t too long after that I spotted my new friends visiting with a local policeman. I stopped behind the cop car and got just close enough to listen to the conversation.
The officer had stopped Nial for speeding and here is what I heard of the conversation…
Officer, “do you know how fast you were going sir?”
Nial, “no sir”
Officer, “you were doing 85 in a 35 mile an hour zone”
Nial.”I couldn’t have been, this bike won’t do 85 in 2nd gear?”
At this point the officer looks at Nial’s wife and asks her, “do you believe that he wasn’t doing 85 miles per hour?”
Wife, ” I never argue with him when he’s been drinking like this…”
I ended up giving Nials wife a ride home because he did leave her on the street anyway.
I love creativity with motorcycles. I love a good cafe racer, a clean bobber and a nice chopper. When I say ‘chopper’ I don’t mean one of those $50K jobs you see on TV from the dysfunctional family in New York or a star struck guy from So Cal, I mean a nice long bike built by a guy in his garage with some help from a few friends. But then I really head off the scale. Side cars.
My good friend and traveling partner Jeff got me hooked on Sidecars a few years back. He got himself a older BMW R80 with a rig and started loading it up. I have talked about Jeff many times, he is the McGyver of our group of riding friends. If your bike quits running, Jeff probably has the part to get you going again. If you forgot something on a week long ride, Jeff probably has it in some bag somewhere on his motorcycle. You know, as I look back over some pictures, you generally can’t see Jeff’s bike just luggage? Well, when he got a sidecar rig you could just see his brain spinning…I can carry this and this and this and this and I can’t forget that…I have always wondered where he found room for his daughter Amy?
Jeff and I have been to the big Griffith Park, California SideCar Rally more than a couple of times..the rally is partially sponsored by Doug Bingham of Sidestrider Side cars www.sidestrider.com and is always lets say..entertaining. We have seen some very creative rigs there and Jeff has gotten some very strange ideas for a new ride. Fortunately he has a wife with more sense than he. But, this really did pique his interest. Hey how can you not like a scooter with a VW van attached??
Well, as things tend to happen to all of us motorcyclists when we get intrigued by something, we may get carried away a bit, in this case it’s carrying people away. Looking through the internet for interesting rides I came across www.motorcyclefunerals.com. After I stopped chuckling I thought “this is way too cool”. I pulled my wife away from her website work to look at this hoping she would like it as much as I did and in the back of my mind hoping she would think it a great idea to do here. No such luck. She looked at me, knowing what was going on in my motorcycle addled brain and said..”NO”. Back to her web work and that was the end of that.
Like I said, I was looking for interesting rides and really there are none more interesting I think than sidecars. Besides being utilitarian, they offer a lot of style, a lot of fun and everyone points and stares..in a good way.
So whether you are looking for utility, style or fun…a way to haul groceries, Fido or Uncle Quido..a sidecar rig may find it’s way into your garage. Hey, Uncle Quido would love to be there when you ‘fly the car’..especially with him in it
Time flies when you’re having fun..or…How did I get from there to here..
I have a birthday coming up soon, at this point in life they seem to come pretty quickly, and I’m sure like most of us we reflect on our lives. What have we done and what haven’t we done. What did we want to do and what did we actually do. Where did the time go?
I have ridden nearly three quarters of a million miles on a motorcycle over the past forty years. From riding around the town I lived in, to desert racing, enduro’s, roadracing, cross country trips, commuting to work..and I have loved every mile. I have photo’s and memories, service bills and maps…but things have changed.
Now I ride shorter distances for fun. I hang out with my other rider friends, we talk about the good old days, the Bonneville I rode, the Norton Mike rode, the trips Jeff took on his old BMW, how fast we were on the race track, rebuilding a bike over night in a hotel room…those were great days or as Bruce Springsteen sang,,,”the Glory days”
I still hang out at the biker bars, play some darts, enjoy my Guinness, talk story and compare broken bones. Yes, being a motorcyclist is a wonderful life..but again, how did I get here from there???
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.
If you’re a racer, you know how expensive racing can be. Heck, racing a little ‘ol Honda 500 Ascot out at Willow Springs could cost upwards of $500 a weekend, and that’s if nothing broke and I didn’t crash. Now imagine you’re part of a team…Big bikes, sponsors, big truck and trailer, motorhome…you’re racing in style. That’s a whole lot of money, you need big sponsors. Let’s step it up one more time, you’re the factory or the importer of the motorcycle. Now you have all the other stuff plus…the riders salary, a couple of mechanics (at least two or three) they have to be paid too, BIG trucks, a motorhome a bit above your average Winnebago, a caterer….you can see the dollar bills just flying out of the exhaust pipe.
In Europe, motor racing gets large, no, huge crowds. Two or four wheels, it doesn’t matter. On The Continent they love their racing. Fans show up wearing leathers just like their favorite racer, their bike is painted in the same livery…they love racing. Racer’s are gods. So, why is racing shrinking? As a former President of the USA once said, “it’s the economy stupid”
Check out what is going on. We’ll start with a small but significant event, ‘The Legend of the Motorcycle Concours’ held at Pebble Beach California, has been canceled for 2009. Why? The economy. Next up on the ‘Hit List’, Craftsman (Sears) pulls their sponsorship of the NASCAR Truck Series…Why? The economy. NASCAR teams are shrinking because sponsorship is drying up. Audi, the most successful team in the American LeMans Series, has pulled out due to economic concerns and Honda has pulled out of Formula One racing altogether. And, even though Honda is citing global economics and it’s effect on Honda as the reason they have pulled out of AMA Pro Racing for the 2009 season, I think there is more to it than that. That is another post as well.
Car sales are down, motorcycle sales are down, of course the factory’s can’t continue to spend gazillion’s of dollars on racing. It’s simple stuff. Valentino Rossi is going to have to sell one or two of his houses around the world. Dani Pedrosa will have to order off the value menu on Tuesday and Thursday and Ben Spies can’t have Texas Barbeque flown in fresh each week.
But here is the Silver Lining to that cloud. Scooter sales are up world wide and I’m working on a plan to set up a World Scooter Racing program. Can you see it?? Vespa vs Kymco vs Honda vs Lance. It’s gonna be great. We’ll be on network TV all over the world..we’ll have screaming fans wherever we go…we will be the new gods of racing.
Excuse me, I have to go take my medication now.