Dec 29, 2012

A Perishable Skill

The focus of this video is unrelated to motorcycling, but the concept of continuous training and practice is directly related. At the end, one of the police trainers describes the ability to use a weapon in a high-hazard situation as "a perishable skill," one that dissipates quickly with disuse.

Lots of people imagine that driving or riding a bicycle or motorcycle is the kind of skill that sticks with you indefinitely, once you've "mastered" it. One of the side-benefits of being a motorcycle safety trainer is gaining the absolute knowledge that physical/mental skills are perishable.

Dec 24, 2012

Nasty Blast from the Past

One of the guys from the V-Strom list sent this out as a reminder of the "good old days." I was the guy with the soccer armor and padded coveralls, usually riding a slightly obsolete Rickman or Suzuki motocrosser. I never thought I was "dynamite," but I definitely had more fun than that pack of sparkly caballeros in Xmas colors.

The story about this company is, "This ad was obviously a big flop for Wheels of Man m/c clothing company (which was actually a subsidiary of the Parker Pen Company).  In the pre-internet and computer days, unprecedented scores of readers called and wrote letters promising to cancel subscriptions. The subsequent editions of m/c mags carrying these ads quickly distanced themselves from Wheels of Man clothing, promising to never carry such demeaning advertisements again.  Apparently, the Wheels of Man clothing company made a bad impression on its target audience and no one bought their gear and they went by way of the Dodo bird." (Gary)

It would have been fun to be on the set of that ad shoot, just to listen to the marketing morons babble about the "effect" their work would have on motocrossers. (I do like the girl's outfit, though.) The rest of the boys look like holdovers from a Styx concert.

Dec 13, 2012

Does This Fall Make My Butt Look Stupid?

No comment necessary here:

Crossing Obstacles

Every season, we talk about technique for crossing obstacles and every year I get to listen to some rube explain how pointless this exercise is. I bet this Mexican Presidential guard wishes he'd practiced. This is just one more demonstration of the inadequacies of cruiser design.

Dec 11, 2012

Winter Crazies

A friend,, has been committing to three wheels (Ural) for most of his winter commuting. I get the desire to stay out of cages, regardless of weather. I'm not sure I'm man enough for the "competition" on Minnesota streets for the first few weeks of real winter.

"Minnesota Nice" has been contaminated by a small number of drivers who believe their lack of planning and skill should be a problem shared by all. On my way to work yesterday, a douchebag in a Nissan sports-mobile of some sort decided to slow to a near stop in the far left, fast, lane of I35E southbound (right at the exit for I94 eastbound), make a 90 degree turn in front of on-coming traffic across two lanes, stop in the snow packed median and wait for his opportunity to dive into fast moving traffic to get to one of the far right lanes heading in the opposite direction (I94 westbound), I don't miss a lot about California, but I do miss living where this moron would have been shot dead by at least a dozen passing motorists for making half of that many arrogant, stupid, incompetent moves on any southern California freeway. As usual, the MNHPD cruiser behind me ignored this idiot on his way to the donut shop. Actually, Minnesota cops are among the worst and most arrogant drivers in the state, so he probably thought that was a perfectly normal maneuver.

On the way home, stupidly on Rice Street (thinking that I could avoid some of the high speed foolishness from the freeway), a Green Taxi driver had slid across the road into opposite traffic, coming to a stop against the curb and facing the wrong way into traffic. Without a thought in his head, he dove right back into traffic, the wrong way and without enough traction to get out of anyone's way. He caused traffic to backup for a couple of blocks in both directions while he spun his wheels and wobbled back into his intended lane. Again, where are the road rage shooters when you really need them?

Nearing the top of a hill just south of Hwy 36, three cars were stuck on the hill after stopping for traffic. All three were violently yanking their steering wheels left and right while hammering the gas in a Hollywood demonstration of how to really get stuck on ice. Fortunately, they had completely anchored themselves to their places on the road, so getting around them on the right was no problem. All-wheel and front wheel drive is useless with an idiot behind the wheel.

Of course, the usual culprits in big wheel pickups were demonstrating their aggression and incompetence by blasting through traffic on either side, sliding into corners and nearly taking out stopped traffic "in their way." Apparently, the first requirement for purchasing a large pickup is that you have no need for a pickup and no driving skill with an associated unawareness of that incapacity.

When I lived in Denver, the rule was "avoid the freeway until the first couple of ice storms or blizzards kills off all the Californians and Texans." Appears to be true in Minnesota, too.

Dec 10, 2012

US Camping Data

A few years back, I had a great time camping and riding across as much of North Dakota as I found interesting. Three weeks and about 2,500 miles and I could have spent another week on the eastern edge without getting bored. I'm fooling around with another summer tour for 2013 and it would be hard not to put North Dakota on the route sheet on the way to Alaska. Two things jam up those plans: 1) for the next couple of years, North Dakota is going to play the oil boom game and the cost of staying anywhere between Bismark and the western edge of the state is out-of-sight and 2) after my experience in Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth tap water smells like a weird combination of sulfur and carpet cleaning chemicals), I'd like to avoid any more consumption of fracking contaminated water than absolutely necessary.

It turns out that avoiding that mess isn't as difficult as it might have been. Since the EPA is pretending to monitor underground water contamination (and they are doing little more than pretending), they have created a few maps marking off the territory where this practice is . . . popular. It sucks that one of my favorite national parks, Teddy Roosevelt National, has been contaminated by this shortsighted corporate welfare practice, but it is what it is.

Canada, on the other hand, is a problem. A lot of my favorite places are in the gun sights of the oil companies. My favorite part of the trip, the Top of the World boarder crossing puts me right in the path of this ecological mess. I guess all that long-term water contamination explains why east coast water is so nasty, too.

I suppose the upside is that petrochemically contaminated surface water will be as hard on mosquitoes as it is on me. Maybe taking a shower in the stuff will work like "Alaska aftershave."

Dec 9, 2012

Biker Social Network?

You gotta love the ads that pop up on a Google blog site. Today's laugh is, "A Social Network for Bikers" Please, follow that link for me and let me know what kinda crap I'm selling this week. 'Cause if you know me you know I'm all about social networking. Especially social networking that ends with an exclamation mark! (Like that one.) I snagged a screenshot of the sort of "networking" this fine organization promotes and (surprise!) the networkers appear to be a collection of geezers, bimbos, Village People, pirates, cowboys, hookers, and one Santa Claus impersonator.

This week I planned on being a little social. A bunch of old guys hang out together for breakfast on Saturdays and I really enjoyed their company a few weeks back. Between then and yesterday I enjoyed the company of a collection of doctors and nurses and got a new piece of stainless steel in my chest for their efforts and my discomfort. It sucks not being able to show off hardware that is that expensive, but there you go. But, life jumped in and tangled up my weekend. Maybe I'll be social next weekend.

Anyway, just for laughs and because we have 6" of snow in the driveway and rising, I clicked on a couple of the characters pictures for their whateveryoucallit. Guess who is who? (No, I am not making this shit up.)

LizaJ...**Mauibuilt** it's da kine** 
Female, 90 years old, and single. Birthday is September 18, 1922. Owns a 2009 Harley-Davidson® Softail® Deluxe FLSTN and 1 other bike. Interested in males. Looking for riding partners or friends. Religious view is Pele goddess of the volcano...look out she's gonna BLOW ;). Drinks socially. Lives in Seattle WA and Kihei Maui, Hawai

Male, 55 years old, and in a relationship. Birthday is June 28, 1957. Owns and rides a motorcycle. Interested in females. Looking for riding partners or friends. Drinks socially. Lives in Burlington, Kentucky United States. Member since December 2008.

Fast Rat 
Male, and single. Backseat available. Owns and rides a motorcycle. Interested in females. Looking for friends, riding partners, or a relationship. Religious view is I am my own Pope. Drinks socially. Libertarian political views. Lives in Madison, New Jersey

Dec 4, 2012

Book Review: The Harley in the Barn

The whole book name is The Harley in the Barn: More Great Tales of Motorcycle Archaeology. I'm not sure how this book arrived in the mail, but I suspect it wasn't aimed at me. If it was, "they don't know me very well, do they?"

I've been struggling through this tome for a couple of months. In the meantime, I've read everything written by Dan Ariely, P.M. Forni, and a couple dozen entertaining fiction and non-fiction books. I just can't find a way to care about $5,000-$50,000 "barn find" Harleys, Vincents, BSAs, and Indians.

Unlike Will Rogers, I've never met a rich guy I could like and all of these people have way more money than sense. The foreword by the Dobbie Brother's Pat Simmons didn't get me off to much of a start, either. About the only thing that pisses me off more than rich rock and roll musicians is rich athletes or inherited wealth. If you want to point the finger at where a culture begins to decline, you can't beat overpriced pop culture and idle wealth for a starting point.

I gotta give this thing away before it does serious cardiac damage.