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Motorcycle Blogs

By James - 3/29/2005

As I was getting blown from side to side in my lane on my commute home I was thinking about what makes a good motorcycle blog.

I have been reading blogs for over a year now, and blogging for about 4 months. Usually I am an early adopter of technology trends but I have to admit, I was late to this party. I was having too much fun in the motorcycle forums. The first blogs I read were about web design and technology. Those writers were used to posting to the web and were comfortable airing their views in cyberspace. As blogging has become more accessable and an accepted form of communication for regular users, more and more people have started to blog. Maybe it is because I am a dog person, but once I saw there were cat blogs, I knew blogging had gone mainstream.

I was a lurker on a couple motorcycle blogs for a while, Bluepoof Bikes and Twisting Asphalt, both fellow Golden State bloggers. Almost immediately I caught the bug and started setting up my own blog. It soon snowballed into more than a blog site and now includes articles from expert contributers and a blog aggregator. As I have collected the feeds from a few dozen blogs focused more or less on motorcycling, I have noticed patterns emerge. You can’t pidgeonhole all the motorcycle blogs I read but most can be lumped into one of three distinct categories.

First you have news reporting blogs. This is the model that has lifted blogging to a household word. They will pick up a story or technology innovation and write an editorial about it. What follows is generally an online discussion and the occasional flame war.

Then you have the blogs I call “everyday-ers". These writers chronicle their day to day activities, rides, general maintenence, kind of like a public diary. The best are the ones that serve as a warning to others of what not to do.

The last are what I call “storytellers". These writers, and I would put myself in this category more than the others, take motorcycle events in their life and relate it to society or how it changed their lives.

Keep an eye on the the motorcycle blogs for posts sure to interest anybody. And if you are a blog lurker, take a second to comment. We like to know that SOMEONE is reading our stuff and we always respect a fellow biker’s perspective.

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A bike is like a horse of course of course . . .

By James - 3/22/2005

My dad told me when I was learning to ride (horses not motorcycles) that if you are around horses long enough, they will eventually buck you, step on you, bite you, kick you, and you will step in manure. At least I haven’t been kicked or bit yet. That is just what it means to ride horses.

Well, if you ride motorcycles long enough there are a few things every rider experiences. There are the really good things like the feel of the wind or getting way over on a turn; they are the reasons why we all ride. But if you are around motorcycles long enough, there are some bad things that will happen.

You will eventually get caught in bad weather. Knowing when to pull over is key. Don’t ride beyond your limits and try to plan for the worst. It only takes getting caught in a hailstorm unprepared once to “get it".

You will eventually get hit by flying debris. I have had pebbles hit my kneecap, shin, and ricochet off my nipple. Even through a layer of leather and cotton, it stung like nothing I felt before. Full face helmets help and well made clothes will minimize the pain. And watch out for lit cigarette butts. They rarely hurt on impact. Their burn sneaks up on you.

You will eventually forget to put down or pick up your kickstand. Rarely do new riders forget this step. It happens when you are preoccupied and not focusing on your pre- or post-ride routine. There is nothing more embarrassing than leaning your bike over and it just keeps going. Except for pulling out of the parking lot, catching your kickstand and highsiding. Your buddies will be talking about that in your eulogy.

You will eventually put your bike down. There won’t be other cars or bikes around. You will hit gravel or oil or something slippery and you will be on the ground before you know what happened. You can however take precautions to protect yourself in case of a fall. Wear a helmet, thick jacket and durable pants to save your skin.

Cars don’t fall over. Cars protect you from the weather and pebbles. There are reasons why we ride and things we have to put up with because we do.

That is just what it means to ride motorcycles.

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Spring is here

By James - 3/10/2005

I hope I don’t jinx my riding season proclaiming that.

My pre-commute ritual involves watching the weather report and donning the appropriate riding gear. For the last 5 or 6 months, the weather man has told me it is going to be cold, wet or both. Today was different. Temps in the mid 50’s and not a cloud in the sky. Highs around 75 for the office with an offshore flow. No need for my windproof layer, so I left my rain pants and half-mask at home.

It took a minute for me to get used to the wind again. I had spent all winter adjusting my gear so the wind and rain would stay out that now it felt awkward to be out there again. My chin haden’t felt the wind in ages, hiding behind a layer of neoprene that kept it warm.

Here are some other signs that spring is here, I don’t care what that groundhog says:

  • I haven’t turned my highbeam down all week. It is usually sunny enough in the morning to have it on and not annoy the cagers but around quitting time I usually have to turn it down in the winter. I haven’t touched the switch since last week; Wednesday or Thursday.
  • The dog is shedding. I brushed her at the park two nights ago. The brush was full of hair so it cleaned it and brushed again. I got three full brushes of hair off that dog. I could have gotten 5 or 6 but I was sick of brushing.
  • It was warm enough to wash my bike last week. When it is cold and windy, it does not only make washing my bike hard but freezes my fingers. By the time I am done with all that cold, wind and water in the winter, I need to thaw out.
  • Feel free to add your signs that spring is here, or even your signs that spring hasn’t made it to your location yet. . .

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    Riding fast

    By James - 3/8/2005

    My co-workers think I ride fast. I do, but if you listened to them you would think I was jumping cars on the freeway and sparking my pegs on every turn. (The pegs are aluminum but they insist . . .) At first I figured they were just joking around but I have sensed, on occasion, a kernal of fear behind the laughter. I have been pondering this for a few days and I think it comes from the differences between bikers and cagers.

    Fast is a relative term and depends on road conditions, traffic and mood, paticularly mine. When traffic is unrestricted I am usually the slowest person on the road, puttering at the posted speed limit, 65mph, in the second lane from the right. The majority of the cars are going in excess of 15mph faster than me. But in the San Francisco Bay Area that is a rare ride. Generally traffic is congested and I am splitting lanes. And this is where the difference in perception comes in. As I ride the lane dividers at 20mph, passing people sitting in their cars, I think that I am going slow; the speed limit is 65mph and if these people weren’t here I would be hauling. But as I pass the people sitting in their cars they think I am going fast, since they are at a standstill.

    Invisibility is another aspect to motorcycling that adds to this perception of speed. It is truly amazing the number of people who don’t realize I am behind them. I wonder if it is my high-beam or my loud pipes that they don’t notice. Only when there is an opening and I pass them do they notice me. I figure the brain has such a hard time explaining to itself how they missed such a conspicuous vehicle as mine it rationalizes that I must have been speeding.

    Of course motorcycles have the performance capabilities to go really fast, and the designers make the bikes look like they are going fast even when on their sidestand. But the general perception from cagers is that all bikes go fast and it is not always correct. I go slow intentionally so people can get a peek at my bike. It looks too good to only see it as a blur.

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