Thursday, June 26, 2008

A new study was released by the University of Pittsburgh and published in the American Journal of Public Health concerning injuries and the repeal of Pennsylvania's helmet law.

The study has some interesting quantitative data concerning helmet use, injuries (both head and non-head), and motality.

The article is available for reprint for a small fee, however, since has provided an excellent summary of the report, I opted not to download the article. You can read their summary here.

Without stepping into it too deep, I'll just relay some wisdom from Conchscooter when he wrote "... if you hit the ground with your noggin you stand a better chance of suffering less injury with a lid on."

Ride Safe.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The trip to Akron went well yesterday with only a couple situations to note. The combined width of the 2 computers I retrieved was 14 inches and the Boulevard's passenger seat is 12 inches. I made the return trip with both PCs but it was an uncomfortable ride since I was sitting on the gas tank.
Just before I started the return leg of the trip I got a call from a friend telling me that Curt and his wife Sharon, who had taken an anniversary trip/vacation down toward the Ohio river at Marietta, Ohio, had been in a crash.
Curt has been a rider for years - in fact, he's the one that started me planning my strategies to get my wife's permission to start riding. Alright, you can call me henpecked (or worse) but this voice of experience reminds all that when Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Anyway, Curt and Sharon took off earlier this week on a borrowed HD Road Glide (more luggage space, I guess) and rode to the hotel in Marietta.
After checking into the hotel they had dinner and then went for an evening ride where they met up with a deer that had the audacity to cross the road wherever it wanted and not use the marked Deer Crossings! They spent the next 18 hours in the emergency room but were finally released with no broken bones. They do have a fair share of road rash and Sharon has some facial injuries.

It was a good thing that they were riding the HD Road Glide because the fairing offer a bit more protection. In the end, the bike's a mess, Curt and Sharon are beat up and the deer is dead. They were very fortunate.

After hearing the news, I thought about the helmet that Sharon wears and remembered she always wore either a 3/4 or a half helmet. With last week's hot weather, I too was considering the purchase of a less than full face helmet. An open face helmet is very tempting since its a whole lot cooler. But after learning of Sharon's injuries I think I'll dump that idea.

My face is far from the best but its the only one I've got and I've kinda grown accustom to it. I think I'll keep it covered.

On another note, I saw something on the way back to the office that I have never seen in person before and it took me back to the late 1970s. Every rider probably remembers the TV series CHiPS with Ponche and Jon riding their Harleys on the California freeways fighting crime and looking cool doing it.

I remember watching them ride nearly side by side with a stagger of only a few feet. Each one knew what the other was going to do and the bikes seem to operate in tandem performing choreographed maneuvers only inches apart.

Hollywood magic? Maybe the tight shots. But the wide angle shots were highly skilled stunt riders.

Ohio has its own version of CHiPs. A few years ago the Ohio Highway Patrol reintroduced the motorcycle division after an absence of about 50 years. There aren't many OHP motorcops yet but their numbers are growing and its always a surprise to me when I see them.

And that's what I saw yesterday. Two motorcops riding side by side. Interesting to see and kinda cool. Especially since they were headed the opposite direction.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Busines Trip Ride

I need to travel to Akron, Ohio today to deliver a live PC and pick up 2 dead ones. I'll leave from my house about 6:00am and try to be back at the office by noon. The trip will be about 250 miles. And I'm riding.

I think I can get 2 PCs strapped to the back of the bike. I know 1 will fit just fine.

My daughter saw me bring the live PC home and when she saw it strapped to the bike, she said, "Dad, that bike is so ghetto!"

I said, "No its not. It's Redneck!"

Ride safe.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday Ride

I announced to no one in particular that I was going for a ride Sunday afternoon. After all, it was Father's Day and I figured I could do anything I wanted. My daughter chimed in, "I'm going too!"
So Sunday afternoon we followed US Route 40 east to Zanesville. US40 was, and may still be, called the National Road. The stretch between Hebron and Zanesville still has a few stone mile markers telling the distance between Columbus and Cumberland.

After about 30 minutes we reached the edge of Zanesville and stopped in at an A&W Root Beer shop. Parked outside of establishment was this high tech beauty...

At first I wasn't sure what it was, but then I realized it was a BRP CAN-AM Spyder. And of course I didn't have my camera with me so I used this web picture.

If I ever get too old to ride 2 wheels, this might be a good second choice.

We went inside and had a root beer float and then headed home. When we got home I took my wife for a ride to the same place (can't play favorites, you know) but the owner had moved on. I can't blame 'em. Something like that needs to be moving.

Father's Day News

The news was like a kick in the gut: Gabie was dead. Killed in a car crash along with 2 others.

Gabrielle lived a few doors down from us. She attended her high school commencement exercises the week before. She was 18.

Police say alcohol was/may have contributed to the crash though they aren't saying how or who.

Its all so sad. So very, very sad.

Three killed in crash
Fourth man in serious condition; family, friends mourn victims

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Its my own fault, really. After all, were taught as riders that we need to be responsible for not only ourselves but for those around us, too. Still, I wonder if there really was anything I could have done differently and the answer is, "Maybe."

It happened Yesterday, Friday, on my way home from work. I was on the four lane highway and traffic is more than moderate but moving at a reasonable pace.

The van I am following moves over to the left lane to pass a slower moving dump truck. I hit my turn signal, do a quick head check and follow suite. The truck is a semi tractor with a 30 foot dump bed and as the van and I pass, the van slows down.

There are drivers that do this on purpose. I'm not sure if its part of their nature or whether they go to school to learn this technique. You know its true because it has happened to you! These drivers usually employ this technique with me when I have followed them into the left lane to pass slower traffic and then need to exit the highway in a mile or so. That's not the case today, though.

Anyway, here I am, following a graduate from the "Slow Down While Passing School". I have the truck on my right and a 3 foot shoulder on my left. Trapped. I wish these drivers would have bumper stickers identifying them. I would have passed sooner.

We travel like that for about a mile the van holding steady about 50 feet in front of me. My frustration climbs because I can see that there is no one in front of him for half a mile and yet he refuses to accelerate to the speed limit to complete the pass.

I moved over to the center of my lane. Maybe he doesn't see me. Of course he should be able to see the 15 cars behind me. No effect. The van inches forward 10 mph slower than he was traveling.

And then the van swerves, first to the right and then back to the left. I think for an instant, "What demon has possess this idiot?" And then I see the demon coming out from under his rear axle, black, long, wiry, flopping in torment and in my path.

Of course it really wasn't a demon at all, but what looked like an entirely intact truck tire retread. Our valedictorian in the van must have been distracted because he had at least 20 seconds to identify a hazard in the road way and avoid it. I had about 3 seconds.

And 3 seconds might have been enough - 5 seconds would have been plenty - for me to shift to the outside and ride the shoulder had the demon not decided to uncoil all of its 10 feet directly in front of me and perpendicular to my path.

There were 3 distinct thumps; one for each of my tires and one when it smacked the floorboard on the left side and my pipes on the right.

The good news: I was still vertical. The bad news: It smacked my left foot as it rolled past. I raised my foot off the floorboard to make sure it was still attached to my ankle. It was still there but I remember thinking, "That's gonna leave a mark."

I rolled the throttle, cut to the right and quickly slowed to a stop on the right shoulder. I dismounted and did a quick walk around. The tires were still inflated, for now. No oil or other fluids were leaking. That's good. The bike had tread marks on its pipes. Those will buff out. The fenders were still attached. This was beginning to look better all the time.

I started the engine and pulled back into traffic. About a mile down the highway, Mister Graduate had pulled his van to the shoulder and was crawling underneath looking for either damage or brains. I'm guessing he might have found damage. I know he never found any brains since he had none to loose in the first place.

For a second I thought about stopping and asking him why he didn't try to avoid the tire tread since there was no one in front of him and he had clear vision ahead. But like Forrest Gump says, "Stupid is as stupid does.", so I chose not to stop.

At home I took my boots off. There were no tread marks on my foot, just a nasty bruise on the top side. Battle scars that will fade from view. The lesson learned will not soon be forgotten.

I bet if I had stopped to check on Mr Graduate he would have been wearing a sign. Maybe I should get some bumper stickers to hand out, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Right Gear

Today's high temp is forecast to be somewhere betwixed 88 and 90 with high humdidity. Temps we don't usually see 'till July.

I have got to get me a good textile jacket. My 20 year old jean jacket is an old friend and like slipping on my shadow but its buttons are cumbersome and it offers little protection. It might be time to get to the 'pony'.

On another note, the ride into work was awesome this morning after being caged up for two days. For a stretch of about 15 miles on the outer belt I had another riding following me at a respectful distance. We cruised along at about 73 mph and he stayed back about 4 or 5 seconds.
He must have felt comfortable following me 'cause he had ample opportunity to pass and didn't.

First time that's happened.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's another stormy day in central Ohio. I really don't mind the rain too much. I just don't like playing the part of a lightning rod!
I'm curious if any readers have had any experiences riding through a bad storm.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I drove the Civic to work today

It was the first time I have driven that car - or any car, come to think of it - in a month and it was a strange feeling.

The weather forecasters are calling for severe thunder storms today and I really didn't want to get caught in the middle of a lightning light show. I must not be the only rider thinking that thought because many of my fellow two wheeled commuters were absent their two wheels this morning.

Each morning I usually see a red Honda sport bike, a yellow BMW and two Harley's, an Ultra and a Softtail. But only the BMW traveled my path today.

On days when there is nothing but sunshine in the forecast I share the road with a host of riders. A thought has crossed my mind from time to time and I wonder if I am becoming a fair weather rider, as if that were something to avoid. The answer, I think, is, "No." But if it were "Yes," that would be acceptable, too.

I ride because I have a passion for it. I don't have a fear of inclement weather, rather a healthy respect for it. And today, I am reminded that the "better part of valor is discretion."