Wednesday, August 31, 2005
And then I laughed and laughed (probably because I'm so tired)
Just as I was about to shut off my computer for the night, I decided to check the news page at SuperbikePlanet.com. Boy, I'm certainly glad I did. You see, this week has been extremely busy for me workwise and I needed a good laugh. Thankfully, the great Dean Adams provided one in a story about the post-Katrina status of Attack Kawasaki rider Josh Hayes' house in Mississippi:
"Hayes is currently staying with Yamaha rider Jamie Hacking and wife in North Carolina, as are several other riders including Neil Hodgson and Ben Spies. We can only assume that at night they all curl up on sleeping bags and have some sort of rider slumber party where they listen to records and tell John Kocinski stories."
LOL! Maybe it's because I'm feeling tired and punchy, but I busted out laughing when I read that. Thanks, Dean.
By the way, Josh's house sustained minor damage, but is largely okay. That's good news.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Bad weather and the MSF instructor
Most of the southern US was blanketed in heavy rain over the weekend, and West Texas was no exception. Rain is normally a welcome occurrence here in the arid expanse of the cactus patch, but when I have to teach an MSF class in a torrent, an already demanding job becomes downright stressful. That was the case beginning last Friday night as the students assembled for the first classroom unit, with downpours continuing off and on until the Sunday morning riding test.
Rainy days on the range upset processes and procedures in ways the casual observer may not realize. You might imagine that riders lose traction more readily and tend to slip and fall more often. You might also imagine that the stress level of the students rises, and can effect their performance. Those things are indeed true, but that's only the beginning. Evaluation sheets get soaked. Ink runs. Visors fog over. Bikes can act up. Range markings can become difficult to see. There always seem to be puddles right in the dead center of coaching positions. The sound of the rain hitting the range eventually becomes a loud, annoying white noise that can't be shut off. After a few hours, everyone's irritability level rises, and students and instructors alike are anxious to get the course finished.
Thankfully, there's a bright side. When the class is finally over and the completion certificates are given out, the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie amongst class members is heightened. Not only did they pass the class, they passed it under adverse conditions that most students in dry West Texas don't normally have to deal with. Instructors are proud, too. Successfully coaching a group of mostly beginners while at the same time fighting Mother Nature can be a significant confidence booster.
8 of our 10 rostered students passed the class this weekend. So to Landon, Daniel, Marci, Aprill, Sherry, Robert, Kim, and Amy, I say congratulations. Best of luck in your motorcycling endeavors and may you be blessed with good roads and clear skies as often as possible. Welcome to motorcycling.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005
• God does not deduct from one's allotted time, the hours spent riding a motorcycle. - Paraphrased from someone's Usenet sig
• All I want is a fast sportbike -- and absolute power.
• In August, the tremendous satisfaction received from teaching a Texas motorcycle rider course is equally offset by extreme heat, a scorching seat, and sore feet.
• When a parent buys his teenager a 170-horse sportbike, is it done out of love, or a latent desire to be permanently rid of the little brat?
• If half of all Americans rode a motorcycle to work twice a week, our annual demand for gasoline would decrease by 15 percent. That's about 14 billion gallons.
• A fellow motorcyclist once told me that from the moment he first saw Marlon Brando in the movie The Wild One, he decided he'd never ride anything but a Harley.
Brando rode a Triumph in the movie.
• Riding a sportbike on the street with its mirrors removed is equivalent to having unprotected sex with a heroin addict.
• Final thought of the night: A special thanks to all the guys who frantically sell their near-new bikes when their wives get pregnant. You keep the used market filled with a cornucopia of cheap, low-mileage motorcycles for all the real bikers to buy and enjoy. Here's to you.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Stalin would be proud
The older I get, the more I realize that a significant number of my fellow journalists are totalitarian elitists, which never ceases to horrify me. Behold:
"Motorcycles weave aggressively through traffic. SUVs push the limits of the roadway, breaching medians into oncoming traffic. High-throttle cars race down the freeway. While some drivers continue to make the nation's highways into hazard zones, the numbers show that our roads are actually safer than they've ever been. Safety precautions - considered by some to be nuisances or even an infringement of rights - are actually working. Giving up a little bit of freedom to enhance safety really can be a good tradeoff [emphasis mine]".Benjamin Franklin said it best, folks: Anyone who is willing to give up essential liberties for a little security, deserves neither. Stalin would've been proud of the author. After all, the position that individual rights and liberties are optional is fundamentally evil at its core.
The more fatal flaw in the above quote, however, lies in the amalgamation of speed limit violations and poor lane discipline as equal contributors to the so-called "hazard zones" the author attempts so dramatically to describe. The fact of the matter is that speed enforcement, especially on rural roads and highways, has been unarguably shown to increase the accident rate. Speed doesn't kill. Poor lane discipline, lack of skill, and driver inattention do.
"Even as roads have become more congested nationwide, the fatality rate for motor vehicle crashes dropped 0.6 percent last year, according to the federal Department of Transportation. At just 1.46 deaths for every 100 million miles of travel, 2004's was the lowest death rate recorded in the 30 years such data have been kept. The improvement was attributed to safer vehicles, stricter laws and a drop in alcohol-related accidents."In what order, at what percentage, and in which areas of enforcement? Furthermore, who is this position on safety improvement attributed to? One of the biggest red flags signalling possible yellow journalism is failure of the author to attribute facts and quotes to specific sources. The reader should be especially wary of such tactics when reading editorial articles written by apparent Marxists.
"Some may argue that the state has no place forcing drivers to take safety precautions. The motorcycle helmet law continues to draw ire among bikers who want to take responsibility for their own lives. But the problem is that the burden of preventable injuries falls on everyone. Accidents and injuries put upward pressure on insurance and health-care rates, which hit us all."100-percent, totally false. According to McGregor Interests, a leading investment and economics firm, insurance companies are big supporters of helmet laws, often citing the "public burden" argument. The assertion is that reckless bikers without helmets are raising everyone's car insurance rates by running headlong into plate-glass windows and the like, sustaining expensive head injuries. While it is true that bikers indirectly jack up the rates of car drivers, it's not for the reason you might think. You see, car drivers plow over bikers at an alarming rate. According to the Second International Congress on Automobile Safety, the car driver is at fault in more than 70 percent of all car/motorcycle collisions. In such cases, juries tend to award substantial damages to the injured biker. The result: Car insurance premiums go up.
The only thing worse than an uninformed journalist is a stupid, uninformed journalist. Were I to wager on this subject, I'd say that improved highway safety is directly related to improvements in auto design and better driver education. Restrictive laws regulating helmet use, seat belts, and speed limits are good for little more than generating revenue, and are certainly no justification for the infringement of personal liberties. But so long as nucklehead journalists like the one quoted in this post are given a voice, it is likely that such misinformation and bad laws will continue to be authored.
For more nonsense, read the whole thing here.
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Yes, I murdered him -- and now I'm gonna sue him
To say that this story at the AMA webiste angered me would be an understatement. This is one of the most outrageous things I've read in quite a while:
"The driver of a Jeep who made a U-turn into the path of a motorcyclist, killing him, is considering suing the estate of the motorcyclist he killed [emphasis mine], according to a newspaper report.
The News-Times in Danbury, Connecticut, quoted lawyer Philip Russell as saying he believes his client, Andrew Guazza, 31, of Beacon, New York, has a 'valid claim' against the estate of the motorcyclist, Larry Pierce, 58, of New Fairfield, Pennsylvania.
On June 8, Guazza pleaded no contest to negligent homicide in Pierce's death, which occurred in 2003 when Guazza made a U-turn in front of Pierce, causing the fatal crash. Pierce was airlifted to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
Guazza suffered injuries in the crash, primarily to his ankle.
Russell said the suit could be based on an allegation that the motorcyclist 'came along unexpectedly at a speed substantially in excess of the posted speed,' the News-Times reported."
Until such time as Mr. Guazza agrees not to sue Mr. Pierce's estate, I urge anyone in the Beacon, New York area who knows this piece of filth to boycott everything from the company he works for to the restaurants he frequents. Send the message and spread the word. When we allow convicted murderers to further violate their victims' families through the civil court system, the fabric of society receives another rip.
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Tuesday, August 02, 2005
U.S. government to fund first major motorcycle crash study since Hurt Report, and not much will have changed
According to this article at roadracingworld.com, President Bush will soon be signing legislation that allocates some $3 million to Oklahoma State University for the purpose of conducting a long-term motorcycle crash study. This will be the first comprehensive study on the subject since the release of the Hurt Report about 25 years ago.
I'm not necessarily against this new study (although it does seem characteristic of the Bush Administration's pork barrel spending philosophy), but I wouldn't get my hopes up that the causal data will be significantly different than it was a quarter-century ago. As an MSF instructor and otherwise avid motorcyclist, I can tell you that modern motorcycle crashes are generally being caused by the same factors as those of the late 1970s. Motorcyclists are still largely untrained in the physical processes and mental strategies needed to be successful while riding. They can't brake, swerve, or countersteer. They still aren't wearing proper safety gear. They still have inadequate command over the counterintuitive skills needed to ride a motorcycle. In addition, recently released data in Texas shows that alcohol remains a contributing factor in almost half of all motorcycle crashes, just as it was in the days of disco.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. But with the popularity of motorcycling at a 25-year high, it should come as no surprise that a new study is being funded. After all, with increased popularity arguably comes increased accidents, and that's when government safetycrats historically rear their heads.
In the meantime, let's hope our three million bucks goes to good use, producing a study as comprehensive and accurate as Dr. Hurt's.
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