Tuesday, October 05, 2021
A motorcycle ride through the folklore of the Trans-Pecos
A motorcycle ride to McCamey, Texas for lunch inspires a short vignette about the legend of Pansy Carpenter, a reclusive Circus Performer who lived an eccentric life on the edge of the Trans-Pecos:
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Is the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 awesome or terrible? The answer is, both!
Behold, my ride and review of the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650. I loved it, then I hated it, then I loved it, then I hated it, then I loved it.
Saturday, August 07, 2021
Sometimes I make self-important short films
This is one of them.
Thursday, July 22, 2021
2022 Suzuki Hayabusa Full Ride & Review for the Daily Rider
I spent a fun afternoon riding and reviewing the new Gen-3 Suzuki Hayabusa earlier this week. Not only is the Hayabusa still a berserk rocket sled, but it's now one of the most electronically advanced motorcycles in the world. Thanks once again to Jason Heller and the rest of the staff at Midland Powersports for extending the invitation. Much appreciated as always.
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Crazy Texas weather brings out the creatures and punishes historic structures
A day-ride through the West Texas trail of tears leads us to a few familiar places as we head to Lake Colorado City, Texas. Record rainfall has swollen the lake to near flood stage and it seemed important to document it on video. Join us for a fun time.
Thursday, June 17, 2021
Is the Honda Grom right for you?
I spend an afternoon getting to know the motorcycle that has become a miniature legend in its own time.
Tuesday, June 08, 2021
The Cheesy '50s Biker Movies of American International Pictures
Discussing films like Motorcycle Gang (1957) and Hot Rod Girl (1956), along with the enduring B-movie legacy left by AIP and Sam Arkoff.
Friday, May 14, 2021
When motorcycling and ham radio meet
When I got back into amateur radio during the pandemic, I knew it was only a matter of time before being a ham and being a motorcyclist intersected in a video. Here's a ride and a look at my simple HF station that talks around the world with ease:
Monday, April 12, 2021
Raw Audio: Triumph Bonneville Emgo Exhaust | dB Killers Removed
If you like excessively loud motorcycle exhaust sounds, you found the right video.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
A pristine, unrestored blast from motorcycling's past: 1987 GSX-R750
Enjoy a few minutes of time travel.
Tuesday, February 09, 2021
Leo's 650 Special
A fictional motorcycle short story by Tim Kreitz
Leo Massengill stood quietly in his back yard on a cool but pleasant spring morning, lingering on a stone pathway he had built almost 40 years earlier. It made a semi-circle between the back door of his house and a small driveway leading to the overhead door of his well-weathered garage workshop. He hadn't slept very well the night before and figured his lack of rest was the perfect excuse not to go on a motorcycle ride that morning if he so chose. But the air was fresh, the early sun was beginning to blaze blindingly just above the horizon into a perfectly azure sky, and the birds chirped eagerly in the way they always do when singing away the last vestiges of winter.
'I can't keep putting this off,' he thought. 'That bike has been sitting for six months. I've got to ride it today if I can get it to start. This morning is really pretty –– and I've got to get myself back into the swing of things.'
"Six months," he said aloud, wandering momentarily into a melancholy daydream centered on how quickly time passes. This wasn't the first time Leo had let this motorcycle, a jet black Yamaha 650 Special he purchased brand new in 1979, sit for so long. In fact, he had once let it sit for about a decade from the mid-'80s into the '90s while he was working his ass off and raising kids; a son, Josh, and a daughter, Meg. In fact, he had bought the 650 Special only a couple of weeks before learning Josh was on the way. His then-wife never really liked the idea of Leo having a motorcycle in the first place, and after learning she was pregnant, repeatedly attempted to convince him the bike should be sold.
Leo stuck to his guns and kept it. He stuck to his guns about a lot of things during that marriage. So did she. Neither one of them were good at compromise. They split up in '96 when he found out her mid-life crisis had manifested itself as an extra-marital affair. She quickly moved in with the guy and eventually married him. Despite it all, Leo tried not to hold too big a grudge. He figured he bore as much of the blame as she did for the marriage's failure, maybe more. It had been long since over between them years before her affair, so they both did their best to keep the split friendly and make sure the kids got through the whole mess as well as possible. The upshot was that in the divorce settlement, Leo had managed to hang onto the house –– and the 650 Special.
In the wake of that divorce, Leo got the bike running again. With it he rediscovered his love for motorcycles during a time when he needed riding the most. Soon there was a Harley sitting in the workshop alongside the old Yamaha. That Harley –– a Road King –– stayed for a few years, then got replaced by a Gold Wing, then by a BMW. But he always kept the 650 Special. The bike was just too much a part of him to let it go.
Leo racked up many touring miles over a number of years. It was on a cross-country motorcycle trip during the summer of 2003 when Leo met his second wife, Tanya, at a campground near Colorado Springs. She was eight years younger than him and recently divorced with a college-aged daughter. Tanya told him she liked his bike so he offered to take her for a spin, which she accepted.
It was the happiest ride of Leo's life and lasted almost 18 years. He was never more content and always told everyone how she made him a better person. Leo had finally figured out the whole marriage thing as a middle-aged man. He was much more mature and much less stubborn. But a big part of solving the Zen riddle that was marriage for Leo was in actually finding the right woman, and he had certainly won that lottery the second time around. They were perfect for each other. But very sadly, Tanya died unexpectedly in 2020 from a very rare form of genetic heart failure. Leo was shattered by the ordeal. Losing her was the hardest thing he ever had to endure, and he hadn't ridden the 650 Special a single time since her passing. In fact, he hadn't done much at all but stay home and wait out the winter; not a formula for healing or happiness.
"Jesus, six months," he said again as he shook off the daydream and raised the workshop's overhead door.
Inside the small building amidst a cluttered collection of tools, lawn equipment and old boxes sat Leo's motorcycles; his 650 Special and the high-mileage BMW which had once helped him win his dearly departed soulmate. Since losing Tanya, he had managed to ride the Beemer a few times over the winter when the weather was cooperative. But for some reason, he could never bring himself to fire up the 650. The only thing he had managed to do was keep air in the tires. He wasn't quite sure why he had avoided the bike, but the moment he grabbed onto the handgrips and pushed the 650 out of the workshop and into the sunshine, the reason became clear.
As Leo sat on the 650 Special and looked down at its instruments, it was suddenly 1979 all over again. A flood of old memories rushed in of that cocky 28-year-old kid who wasn't about to give up his first motorcycle just because his wife was pregnant. He was so confident that her concerns were nonsense and that he could easily be both a dad and a free-spirit at the same time. He was sure nothing was going to change. Everything changed.
He rested his hands on the tank and remembered a period during his thirties when there was absolutely no time to ride. There was only work and stress and bills and bullshit. A lot of yelling and arguing from that time period reverberated at a distance in his mind. The 650 Special sat in the back corner of his workshop during those years, covered in a bed sheet and for a while with two boxes full of old baby clothes stacked on the seat. He remembered having almost sold it to a neighbor at one point. Maybe he should've let it go at the time, but was glad he never did. The thought of that bike being ever in his possession, even comatose and covered in junk, had kept him sane a few times in his life. Even in its worst condition, it had been dusty hope and a protracted conduit back to Leo's bygone youth.
The memories kept coming as he gave the 650 Special a mentally distracted once-over. There were old thoughts of 60-hour work weeks, his divorce, getting the 650 Special running again thereafter, meeting Tanya, marrying Tanya, losing Tanya, attempting to pick up the pieces, and everything in between. Friends had come and gone. He had worked 27 years at a job he hated and thankfully made it through to full retirement without getting himself fired. Josh and Meg had grown up and moved away. Neither had married or become parents and Leo wondered if he was somehow to blame for that. But through it all, the 650 Special was there.
Leo turned on the ignition and got lights, but the battery was too weak for the starter button. He choked it, twisted the throttle a few times, and flipped the kick-starter outward.
One kick, two kicks, three kicks, nine kicks, fifteen kicks and nothing; he couldn't even get a sputter. He tried again but Leo was quickly getting tired, and worse, he was getting upset. He would be 70 years old soon and repeatedly kicking the 650 Special was becoming physically difficult. It hurt, and the more Leo kicked, the more he kept thinking about just how alone he was. Just when he needed it to the most, the one thing that had been a constant in his life for over four decades refused to cooperate. He kicked a few more times, then sat down on the seat to rest for a minute just as a tear fell from his cheek and hit the top of the gas tank. He watched it roll down and onto the seat. The exertion, the frustration, the memories, and the lack of sleep had all culminated in that moment.
It took some time, but Leo finally calmed himself down. He had waited too long to run the bike, he reckoned. The carburetors would have to be pulled off and cleaned.
"We are officially old, you and I," Leo said quietly. "I'm sorry I neglected you. I'm sorry about a lot of things. Forgive me? Okay then, we'll try it another day."
Leo shut off the key and reached down to close the petcock. That's when he realized he had forgotten to open it in the first place. He instantly felt a little stupid. He'd brought himself to the brink of tears over a bunch of self-indulgent nostalgia and a closed fuel valve.
"It's been six months alright," he said with a sigh, cracking something approaching half a grin and opening the petcock.
Several kicks later, the 650 Special lit off and Leo was soon rolling down the driveway. She wasn't idling too well and protested a bit as he pulled onto the road. He turned west with his back toward the warmth of the sun and started accelerating through the gears. Those carbs would definitely need some work, but she'd be fine for a short ride into town.
With the wind in his hair and the 650's engine singing its familiar song into Leo's ears, better memories began to fill his head. He thought of past rides with dear friends and of the riding group he had first hooked up with shortly after buying the bike in '79. Gosh, it was such a great bunch of guys. He shared a lot of miles and a lot of laughs with that crew back in the day. One or two nights a week after work, they'd ride from early evening until around midnight, usually ending the festivities with a late-night slice of apple pie at an old truck stop just off the Interstate. That truck stop was long gone now. Most of those guys were long gone, too, in one way or another. Some had passed away. Others had moved away. Still others had given up motorcycling. But not Leo. He was still able to ride, though not as far or fast as he used to. In fact, the thought of having to eventually give up motorcycles due to either age or illness had crossed his mind many times in recent years. He knew the day would arrive at some point, but not today. He also knew he'd be sore tomorrow from all that kicking, but felt good enough right now, and now was the only thing there really was anyway.
Leo remembered how much Tanya had loved to ride with him. He missed her so badly, and he knew she'd want him to keep enjoying life for as long as possible. He was determined to try, and as he turned onto the highway that led to his favorite coffee shop in town, a wonderful thing happened: Leo found himself completely in the moment. It was just him and his 650 Special. There was no soreness or tiredness or sadness or worry. For the first time in what seemed like forever, he felt like he might be happy again someday.
At the stoplight just before the coffee shop, Leo waited for the light to turn green. As he sat there blipping the throttle through the 650's rough idle, he noticed movement in the passenger seat of the car next to him. It was a little kid waving, a blonde-headed boy who was maybe eight years old. Leo waved back with a grin as the boy's mom lowered the passenger window.
"I like your motorcycle!" the boy exclaimed excitedly. "I'm gonna get one someday!"
"That's wonderful, young man," Leo replied. "I promise you'll love it. Have a good day, now."
Leo pulled into a parking spot in front of the coffee shop and dismounted his 650 Special, staring at it momentarily before heading in the door. Once inside, he'd sit at a table where he could continue to stare at it through the coffee shop's big plate-glass windows. That never got old. Some things never really get old, Leo reckoned, even despite their undeniable age.
He went inside and ordered some coffee –– and a slice of apple pie.
Copyright ©2021 Tim Kreitz. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be re-used in any form without permission of the author.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
En Requiem: A Tribute to Matt Vann (1970-2020)
This is the hardest video, by far, that I've ever made.
Matthew Vann • 10/6/1970-12/10/2020
The dash between these dates is much too small to encompass the spirit of Matthew Vann. It’s difficult enough to compress someone’s life into a few paragraphs, but with a life as big and full as Matt’s, it’s fully impossible.
Matt was a Renaissance Man in the truest sense of the term. Warrior, Musician, Adventurer, Pirate, Great Love, True Friend, and Chemo Sabe. He was captain of his own ship, literally. A keen conspiracy-debunking enthusiast, Matt was also an avid collector of hobbies; music, ham radio, hunting, fishing, archery, aviation, model rocketry, kites, photography, backpacking, sailing, fencing, motorcycles, bowling, podcasting, astrophotography and any other gear-intensive activity that caught his eye.
Matt’s career was as full and varied as his interests. He began his law enforcement career as a Clerk in the Jail Division of the Midland County Sheriff’s Office in 1991. By the time he retired as a Criminal Investigator for the DA’s Office in 2019, he’d worn just about every law enforcement hat in between. He was especially proud of his time as a SWAT Team Leader and Special Victims Investigator.
He joined the US Coast Guard Reserve after 9-11 and was honorably discharged in 2011. He enjoyed his time in active duty and kept in touch with his fellow Coasties by exchanging dirty jokes and random homo-erotic insults. It’s a coast guard thing.
A musician at heart, Matt played bass with several bands, regularly fending off groupies. One in particular insisted on following him home after every show, claiming to be his wife. It worked out well in the end.
Matt knew the value of a life well lived even before his diagnosis. He always said if it’s worth doing, it’s worth going completely over the top.
With a cancer diagnosis in 2013, his no regrets philosophy took on a deeper meaning. Determined to make as many good memories as possible for himself, friends and family, he became an ordained Dudeist Priest (of the Order of the Latter Day Dude), bought a sailboat and cruised the lakes of west Texas with friends, family and his fat dog. He spent many happy hours in the motorcycle zen zone, worked toward getting his sport pilot license, obtained a Degree in Criminal Justice, earned an expert combat rating in Elite Dangerous, and built an observatory from which he contemplated the great mysteries of the universe—such as “If you choke a smurf, what color does it turn?” and “Do sheep shrink when it rains?”
During his downtime he took up archery, bowling, ax throwing, massage and cooking like Gordon Ramsey. He also attained the honorable title of World’s 4th Best Podcast Host. Turns out, making good memories with cherished friends was his favorite hobby.
Warrior that he was, Matt fought cancer for 7 years and faced the enemy with courage, heart and humor. He was fond of saying he was living proof that eating vegetables will kill you.
Matt filled his life with remarkable friends and grand adventures, but the fight to stay with us took its toll. On 12/10/2020 his spirit was released from his worn-out body and he is now sailing among the stars that fascinated him so much.
For many of us, his passing has left a hole that will never be filled and a hurt that will never stop. Despite that, we are deeply grateful for the time we had with him. He was such a thoughtful, honest, witty, wonderfully profane, half-cracked eccentric; a truly good man. He encouraged living a life so full there would be no room for regret at the end. His lesson for us is this:
You have time enough now to make sure you have no regrets, so don’t wait. Learn something new, take that trip you’ve been putting off, buy that big-kid toy you’ve always wanted, tell your friends how much they mean to you, hold your loved ones close. Make good memories every day. Don’t wait, do it now. Because you’ll never know when you can’t.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Three generations of Suzuki Bandits together in one spot
A 1998 Bandit, a 2005 Bandit, and a 2016 Bandit pose for photos. Also included is some cool footage I shot of a West Texas haboob sandstorm.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Sometimes, you just have to add another bike to your stable | 2005 Suzuki Bandit 1200 S
The deal was too sweet, the bike was too clean, and the miles were too low. Here's a quick rundown of my latest addition to the stable:
Saturday, October 24, 2020
The Test of the Machine
Britt and I ride 400 miles into the Davis Mountains of West Texas to take a single photograph and I use the trip as an opportunity to wax poetic in self-important philosophization.
Thursday, October 01, 2020
Boomtown Relic: The Yates Hotel in Rankin, Texas
Clif and I take advantage of a late Indian Summer day to investigate an oil boomtown relic from the early 20th Century, the Yates Hotel in Rankin. Lawrence Welk, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and others all played here when the hotel was in its heyday. You never know what abandoned historical gem you'll find next out in the vast expanses of West Texas:
Friday, September 25, 2020
Back from Sabbatical
Sorry for my recent online absence. Call it a sabbatical. This video partially explains. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss 10 minutes goodbye:
P.S. I don't really hate Journey. The first three albums are great and Neil Schon is totally awesome.
Sunday, July 05, 2020
How to crash your motorcycle into a deer and still enjoy the day
If you are only here to see me crash into the deer on my Triumph Bonneville motorcycle, that sequence starts at 6:17. You should check out the whole episode, though. I think it's pretty sweet.
Monday, June 08, 2020
A Suzuki GS1000 and barrel-aged beer
A few people have been asking about what's going on with the GS1000 project bike, why there haven't been any ghost town trips, and a few other things. No, I did not contract COVID-19.
Monday, May 04, 2020
Texas re-opens its economy so we ride 120 miles for tacos
Texas re-opened its economy in a limited capacity on May 1st, 2020. To help support West Texas businesses, we rode our motorcycles to the small town of Monahans for tacos at one of our favorite restaurants. After that, we explore an abandoned building and then hang out in the shade at Million Barrel Park before heading home.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Harley-Davidson to show earnings for Q1, but continues its epic slide | What went wrong with this brand?
Even though Harley's freefall as a company continues, it looks like they will actually post earnings for Q1 according to THIS STORY from Yahoo! Finance. That wasn't expected and buys them a little more time in the wake of having recently stopped a partial takeover. Here's hoping they figure out a way to turn things around, but according to the current numbers, it's gonna take more than their few remaining loyalists to save this dinosaur from extinction. That said, Harley has proven itself to have 9 lives in decades past. Let's just hope they're only on No. 8 because America wouldn't be the same without them.
As a motorcyclist of some 42 years now, I've never had any serious interest in owning a Harley-Davidson (though I did entertain the thought building a Hammer Sportster several years ago). However, I do think it is an important American brand and that losing it would have a huge negative affect on the American psyche. It would be the equivalent of losing Chevy or Ford or the Dallas Cowboys. It would not be good.
So what went wrong with Harley? Volumes have been written on this subject already. Sure, the global motorcycle market as a whole is in the shitter right now, but Harley is the only major manufacturer in real danger of folding at the moment. The most important dynamic is probably that they have been rejected by millennials and Gen-Z as relevant. There are a lot of reason for that, from Harley's expensive pricing to a new cultural generation gap that is both wide and deep.
You can't really blame young people for not caring about H-D. Like many of the young people who have outrightly rejected the brand at this point, I've never understood the lure of Harley –– the "mystique", as it is sometimes called. Moreover, I've never understood brand loyalty at all. In fact, I learned to hate it in over 15 years as an advertising agency professional. Brand loyalty is one of the easiest scams in marketing, whereby companies manipulate consumers through their sense of morality. Harley has been doing it for years in an almost predatory way; $1,000 for a Chinese-made jacket, wildly overpriced (yet technologically inferior) bikes, in-house financing that's basically lone-sharking, astronomical labor rates, etc.
None of this is lost on millennials and Gen-Z. They consume 7,000 instances of marketing per day, and the Harley logo is just another piece of advertising clutter to them. They never saw Easy Rider and wouldn't even understand it if they did. They are savvy about being sold to and they don't fall for the same ballyhoo as previous generations. Harley hasn't figured that out.
I've made a big part of my living in the music industry over the past three decades, and to me, Harley is the washed up, egotistical rock star who walks into the nightclub expecting to be the center of attention, only to find itself being ignored by a bunch of young people who've never heard any of the old hits.
H-D better figure something out, and fast.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
1980 Suzuki GS1000G: New Project Bike [Overview]
I used to restore bikes a lot and then moved away from it for a variety of reasons over the past few years. But this Suzuki GS1000 is a bit of a "family" bike and it was given to me for free, so I'm really looking forward to turning it into something wild. It will be an ode to the old-school superbikes of the '70s and '80s when I'm done with it.
Monday, March 30, 2020
Finding Ruins in a Time of Ruin
There's a lot of wide open space in far West Texas. Considering the current state of things, we decided to go find some of it. Along the way, we found more abandoned ruins in the middle of nowhere and enjoyed fresh air on a very early spring day. Come along and join us. It's not like you're doing anything else right now.
Bonus Material: Below are a few extra photos from the ride that I didn't use in the montages. I thought I'd include them here since they turned out pretty nice.
I've been thinking of doing some macro work on future rides as there's a lot of interesting stuff happening on a small scale within the flora and fauna. We'll see how the year progresses. Fingers crossed for something resembling normal sooner rather than later.
Sunday, March 01, 2020
Oil Company Blocks Access to Public Cemetery | Motorcyclists Denied!
According to the Texas Health and safety code, reasonable access shall be provided for both public and private cemeteries. Land owners and lessees shall not prohibit access. This is what happened to us when we tried to visit a historically designated cemetery in West Texas and discovered that an oil company and other interested parties had blocked the entrance with a shared lock system.
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Stage 3 Kawasaki ZRX1200R | 15 years with my old-school bike
Join me as I take a short day ride with friends and then head home to offer an overview and long-term review of my 2004 Kawasaki ZRX1200R, a motorcycle that still makes me very happy after almost 15 years of ownership.
Sunday, January 26, 2020
You won't believe what I found undisturbed in this ghost town
Some unlikely relics survive untouched in the desert despite the elements and the passage of time. Join us for an eye-opening adventure in more ways than one as we return to the ghost town of Royalty for the first time in six years.
Sunday, December 29, 2019
Why 2019 was the best year ever on motorcycles
Don't let all the depressing nonsense currently happening around the world get you down. Hang out and have a laugh or two. Here's why 2019 was the best year ever for Tim Kreitz Adventures.
Monday, December 09, 2019
Do you even creepy, bro?
Come along as we visit the ruins of a strange mystery mansion and an unsettling farm community that's right out of a Rob Zombie movie. Sometimes West Texas is bizarre and creepy. This was one of those rides on a cold, dreary winter's day.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
Here's why everybody loves the Yamaha MT-07
There is a litany of reasons everyone loves and wants this motorcycle. Watch this video before you buy.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
This is why so many motorcyclists ride drunk
According to the NHTSA, NTSB, and MSF, almost half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve alcohol. That's about twice the average for car drivers. Why is this such a problem, and why has nothing thus far been successful in stopping it?
Greetings and salutations to each and every one of you out there and welcome to another installment of the podcast. Man-oh-man, do we have a hot and controversial moto-topic to discuss today. This is something I have wanted to discuss for a long time but wasn't exactly sure how to approach it initially, and you obviously know what I'm driving at already, presuming you read the title. We're gonna talk about drinking and riding in this episode. Any reasonable person out there should agree that riding impaired is an absolutely terrible idea. But lots of motorcyclists do it, and at a rate almost twice that of car drivers. Why is this? Well, in hopes of answering that question, what I want to touch on and discuss today is the popular notion put forth by certain interests in the motorcycle world –– and one that is regularly, sometimes religiously proselytized –– that consuming any amount of alcohol over any period of time while out riding your motorcycle is unacceptable and irresponsible. For many, many years, I was the guy who would tell you emphatically, that notion was true. But is it, and is that attitude actually somehow contributing to the problem of riding impaired? We'll talk about from exactly where I believe that argument might derive. Along the way we'll dig into some of the science and the social morays comprising this issue and attempt to look at it as objectively as possible.
Okay, so first, a foreword to all of this: The hard data comprising the number of motorcycle crashes that involve the consumption of alcohol on someone's part is compelling. As some of you know, I spent about a decade teaching motorcycle safety courses for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation through the Texas Department of Public Safety's Motorcycle Safety Unit, and I am well acquainted with this information, and with the frequency of alcohol-involved motorcycle accidents according to agencies like the NHTSA. The numbers are riveting, and they likely are a big part of why certain members of the motorcycle community are so quick to slap a scarlet letter on anyone who stops for a beer when out on his or her motorcycle.
Let's go over some of the statistics, but then let's do some critical thinking. The first and most hypnotic stat is that in almost half of all motorcycle fatalities, the deceased rider is found to have some amount of detectable alcohol in his or her system. According to the NHTSA, it's between 45 and 47 percent. Also, according to the MSF, alcohol is involved in over half of all accidents involving a motorcycle on some person's part; maybe it's the rider or perhaps another involved party. Lastly, a quarter of all fatal alcohol-related motorcycle crashes involve motorcyclists running off the road, overturning, or falling from the motorcycle rather than striking another object.
So, just by virtue of this data, it would certainly seem that alcohol use is damn-near ubiquitous in the motorcycle world. On the face of it, motorcycle riders as a whole apparently like to drink alcohol, and at a higher frequency than that of non-riders. But why? After all, alcohol is only a factor in 28 percent of fatal traffic accidents where motorcycles are not involved. What makes riding and drinking go so well together, and is it completely impossible to combine these two activities safely?
I have a theory on this. Firstly, we know that motorcycle riders tend to be thrill-seekers and risk takers in their own rite. Even the safest, most conscientious rider accepts and manages a higher level of risk than the average motorist, and is –– at least in part –– doing so for the reward of the endorphins and dopamine riding a motorcycle provides. It's a wonderful feeling. If you ride a motorcycle, you know exactly that feeling I'm talking about. It's one of those mental states you get from riding a bike that makes the experience impossible to articulate and explain to non-riders. The thing is, we see similar compulsion in all risk takers, from high-stakes gamblers to wing walkers. And what is an almost universal propensity within this personality type? You guessed it –– substance abuse. The characteristic of risk taking or novelty seeking is one personality trait that is very often found in persons who become addicted to drugs and alcohol. One study even showed that if thrill seeking and low harm avoidance are shown in 11 year olds, boys in particular have a 20-fold increased risk of abusing alcohol by age 27.
Dopamine seekers, endorphin seekers, they can easily be drawn to both motorcycles and alcohol for a lot of the same payoff. Some of these are even the same people who, after kicking alcoholism or drug abuse later in life, will become gym rats. They channel their addictive behavior into cardio and weight training because they will always need those endorphins and that dopamine but are now getting it in a less harmful way. That is my theory on why so many motorcyclists drink, and is perhaps why they like combining the two activities with such frequency.
Alright, with all that in mind, back to the original question: Is there a way to solve this problem without telling this demographic of riders, "Hey man, you better not have one drop of alcohol while out on your motorcycle." Because obviously, that doesn't work, does it? Hollister was over 60 years ago and motorcyclists are still drinking and riding despite organizations like the NHTSA, MSF, MADD, etc., using anti-alcohol scare tactics for decades. I'm sure half of all riders aren't alcoholics, so wouldn't it be better to provide motorcyclists with a realistic look at how to safely combine the activities of riding and having a beer without getting on the bike impaired? Can it be done? It's an iconoclastic and heretical thought to even utter, I realize.
When you drink alcohol, it goes to pretty much every part of your body, including your heart and brain. This is where it has the most noticeable affects. You become slightly high and relaxed, and your blood pressure and pulse lower. Eventually, the liver breaks the alcohol down into acetates and is expelled. Depending on the size and ethnicity of the person, that process usually takes about 40 minutes to an hour per average-sized drink (such as a beer). After that point, there is no alcohol in the person's system. It's gone.
So I know this is gonna sound very taboo, but it seems to me that it's perfectly okay to meet your riding pals somewhere for a beer or two, enjoy some fun and conversation, then wait the appropriate amount of time for the alcohol to become acetate in your system before climbing back on your bike and going home or wherever. You just need good information and enough discipline to be able to do it successfully. If discipline fails and you drink a little more than you planned, leave the bike there and get an Uber. It's okay. There's no shame in it. In fact, it should be respected. But that's not what is being taught and encouraged in this age of zero tolerance, political correctness, and nannyism mentality. The general narrative is that the problem is so big, that any amount of alcohol on a ride day is completely irresponsible and should be avoided or the motorcyclist is a bad person. And I'll tell you straight up, that attitude doesn't sit well with or encourage responsible drinking among the ranks of the thrill-seekers. You can forget it. It falls on deaf ears every time and influences no one to be more responsible with alcohol while out on a ride. It's immediately blown off as being goody-goody or prude or puritanical, which should be obvious when considering that the problem hasn't gotten any better since, well, ever.
There is no encouragement to understand alcohol as a chemical and how to manage it, and there's no emphasis in the argument on alcohol's effect on us as individuals. That's hugely important. In fact, we're not even really allowed to be individuals anymore, which is perhaps another subject altogether, but pointing out the differences between individuals has become dangerous business in recent years. In some places you're not even allowed to point out the basic difference between males and females. So imagine someone pointing out that one of the factors greatly determining alcohol metabolism in individuals is race and ethnicity. Forget that it's a fact based on genetics; you're just not allowed to point this stuff out anymore, and that's how we get to where we are on an issue like drinking and driving or drinking and riding a motorcycle. You can't talk about anything other than the legalistically safe, socially acceptable solution to the problem, which is always one-size-fits-all. The fact is that individuals all react to alcohol differently based on gender, weight, genetics, race and ethnicity, among other things. A BAC of .02 or even .05 might have close to zero discernible affect on one person while it smashes someone else into drunkenness. But we've removed the personal responsibility dynamic from these issues and governed them with cookie cutter logic, and so the problems continue to get worse.
Any sort of positive change with regard to this issue starts with knowing one's self and re-building a culture centered on personal responsibility with true consequences for screwing up. You wanna stop people from riding impaired or driving impaired? Emphasize and share all the information about alcohol more openly and remove some of the taboos. And sure, make the penalties for harming others through irresponsible action more dire and more frightening. But what if we were to approach riding impaired like we approach teaching safer sex practices to teenagers. How well did teaching abstinence work compared to being real with teens about safer sex? Well, pretty much all that data is in too, and guess what? Teaching safer sex is more effective, like it or not. Yet, all 50 states have instead implemented largely abstinence-based sex education. I see a parallel situation with this whole impaired riding problem. What if we instead put more emphasis on practices and techniques designed to help riders make safer decisions about alcohol use rather than just telling them not to drink. I'm sure it wouldn't be perfect, but as with safer sex education, it might actually make a difference for once.
By the way, I keep saying 'safer sex' instead of 'safe sex', because no such practice will ever be perfect. Mr. Webster defines safety as "the absence of risk", and we all no that virtually nothing in life is ever done in the absence of risk. Risk takers know this, and that's why they roll their eyes when you get up on your high horse and tell them they're terrible human beings for riding their motorcycles to the burger barn and having a beer or two with their lunch. Now granted, some idiots get blithering drunk and go for a ride, and I have no doubt that a certain amount of that behavior is reflected in the NHTSA and MSF data. But we genuinely need to approach this problem a different way.
Until then, drinking and riding is gonna continue to be a problem; as will a plethora of other social problems. In the meantime, don't dismiss the idea, just think about it. Maybe you are the one who'll come up with the solution.
Transcript copyright ©2019 Tim Kreitz • All rights reserved • No part of this transcript may be reproduced in any form or for any purpose without express written consent of the author
Monday, October 21, 2019
Everything Goes Wrong on a Motorcycle Fail Fest
A Harley Dyna Wide Glide, a Triumph Bonneville and two knuckleheads vs. a wind storm, a leaking tire, and eminent failure. Sometimes just trying to have a good time turns out to be a challenge.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Moments
With a little help from the late, great Robert M. Pirsig, we ride our motorcycles to a place we've never been before and enjoy a Sunday ride that is completely in the moment. No plans, no schedule, no hurry, just Clif on his Yamaha FJR1300, Britt on his Harley-Davidson Dyna, and me on my FZ-07 as we explore flora and fauna in the red dirt country of West Texas on a beautiful autumn day.
Additional notes on this episode:
1.) Texas's only natural lake is Caddo Lake, which it shares with Louisiana.
2.) Texas has 187 manmade lakes/reservoirs.
3.) The Hedge Apples in this video are Maclura Pomifera.
4.) Mrs. Kathy's is located at 3413 College Avenue in Snyder, Texas.
5.) Total mileage for this trip was 171.
6.) Shoot date was Sunday October 13, 2019.
Monday, September 30, 2019
Life in the Midland-Odessa Oil Boom Hellhole | A Rider's Perspective
A short podcast from a longtime motorcyclist's perspective on the quality of life in the Permian Basin of West Texas, where an unprecedented oil boom has forever changed the face of Midland-Odessa and other oilfield towns.
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Solstice Litany, A Short Motorcycle Film
Look, just kick back, press play, and let this happen. You need more poetry in your life.
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Having a Blast in the New Mexico High Country!
We recently took what will probably be our last significant motorcycle trip of the year and rode the New Mexico High Country from as far south as Timberon to just north of Capitan. Along the way, we made stops at the historic Lincoln County Courthouse and Fort Stanton, where we lucked out and got to see the cannons being fired:
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Motorcycling Southern California's Inland Empire | SCMM 2019
We headed to Southern California once again for SCMM 2019 and had our best time yet. From the scorching heat of Palm Springs to the cool, pristine beauty of Idyllwild and Lake Arrowhead, we took full advantage of our visit with some fantastic motorcycle rides and good times with frien
Monday, July 15, 2019
Old West Graveyard is Filled with Infants
A motorcycle trip to the small town of Sterling City, Texas in search of historical landmarks, ruins, and ghost town remnants leads us to a repurposed 19th-century train depot and a creepy old cemetery, but then subsequently devolves into another episode in the Dairy Queen Saga. Don't even act like you're surprised. It's me and the boys, having fun in West Texas once again.