an ode to motorcycles

This post discusses certain behavior that may or may not be legal in all 50 states. I do not advocate breaking (or even bending) the laws of your state, county or municipality.


There really isn’t anything you can do in a car that you can’t do on a motorcycle. Sure, there’s some stuff you can do in a truck that you can’t do on a bike, but who wants to put a new refrigerator on the back of even a large motorcycle?

Whether you ride a 125cc dirt bike or a behemoth Gold Wing, you’re part of the brotherhood (even if you’re a sister!).  We smile, we wave, we chat each other up at gas stops.  No matter how clapped-out that guy’s ride is, we’ll always say, “Hey, nice bike” and ask some questions about it.

On Sunday, I got grilled by a 10-year-old about just about anything you could ever wonder about motorcycles. It was great fun, and I even managed to work in a suggestion to him and his father that he take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse.

I’m a giant proponent of ATGATT – All The Gear All The Time – but like most people, I’ve been known to head off to the store wearing, for me, what passes for the basics – boots, jeans, jacket, gloves and helmet. The few times in my life I’ve ridden without a jacket on, I’ve felt so uncomfortable it’s not even funny.

I don’t understand why people fight against laws that require helmet use.  This, to me, is the most critically stupid thing a motorcycle rider can do.  Frankly, I don’t understand why all riders don’t use full-face (or at least flip-front) helmets to start with.  The point of a helmet is twofold – 1) to prevent your brain from suffering catastrophic injury (which it does by slowing down the rate at which your brain bangs around inside your skull – as your skull deforms the EPS lining of the helmet, it decelerates your brain) and 2) to prevent skin, eye, mouth, nose, chin and penetrating damage done by objects external to the helmet like roads and guard rails.

There isn’t a half or even three-quarters helmet made anywhere in the world that will prevent your chin from scraping along the ground if you should be separated from your motorcycle at high speed.  I simply don’t understand why all motorcycle riders don’t recognize this.

Yes, a full-face helmet is warmer in the summer than a half helmet.  You know what else it does besides make your face & head hot?  It protects you from sunburn (provided your face shield blocks UV rays, which most of them do) and windburn.  It protects you from getting smacked in the face with bugs of all sorts (imagine getting your cheek splatted by a big ol’ butterfly or cricket).  It cuts down on noise, thus protecting your hearing (though you should not rely on your helmet alone to do this).  In the winter, your helmet helps your face and head stay warmer.  A full-face helmet keeps your whole head and face dry if you’re riding in rain, sleet or snow.  (Riding in sleet is just no fun, and it’s even worse if your face is being pelted with tiny, angry slivers of ice.)  If your full-face helmet is a bright color (yellow, orange, white, silver, etc.) it gives you a lot of real estate to be seen by car drivers.

You get the point.

Motorcycles are just plain fun, too.  I discovered in the past few days that both of my bikes will get up to about 90 mph in 3rd gear before the rev limiters kick in – which is impressive considering one of those bikes has a giant heavy sidecar hanging off it (and it had a passenger in it at the time).  One of my bikes gets 40+ miles per gallon – on a bad day!  When you’re out on a motorcycle, you’re more in touch with nature.  You can smell everything, see everything better, hear the sounds around you (that is, if your bike isn’t obnoxiously loud).

I think I might be rambling at this point, but I’m having fun. Not as much fun as I’d be having if I was out riding somewhere, but I’m supposed to be working, so the 10-minute break it took to write this counts as my union 15, right?

Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

if world war 2 was a bar fight

( inspired by )

030512_roadhouseJapan has already been in one fight tonight. Having sucker-punched China, Japan stole China’s girlfriend and is hanging out at the bar, looking smug.

The US is friends with the bartender and convinces him to serve Japan only non-alcoholic beers and to charge double for them, too.

Germany started drinking before they got to the pub, as did Italy, and they’re super excited to see each other. Italy tells the story about how he beat up Ethiopia at another pub across town.

Germany isn’t happy that the Soviet Union is at the pub, but after a brief conversation, they agree to just leave each other alone.

Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland are sitting at a table by themselves, talking quietly. Germany comes over and drags Austria over to his table, then comes back and drags Czechoslovakia over to his table, too.

England and France tell Germany to stop dragging people away from their own tables and look sympathetically at Poland, who is now sitting alone. Germany promises to stop and everybody shakes hands and buys another round.

Germany walks back over to the table and punches Poland. While Poland is trying to get up off the floor, the Soviet Union comes over and punches Poland, too, knocking him out cold.

Germany asks Belgium if he’s going to stay friends with France; when Belgium says he will, Germany punches him right in the nose. Holland accidentally gets in the way & Germany punches him, too.

France puts his dukes up, but Germany kicks him in the balls and shoves England back against the wall.

Germany drags France’s table over next to their table and invites France to start drinking on his tab. France looks angry about it, but starts ordering German beer.

Germany starts throwing glasses, bottles and whatever else he can get his hands on at England. Luckily England is standing on the other side of the bathrooms.

Germany and the Soviet Union start punching each other repeatedly.

While everybody is watching Germany and the Soviet Union fight, Japan creeps up behind the US and kicks him right in the ass. Germany shouts “Way to go, Japan – I’ll be right there!”

Japan shoves the US away from the Philippines’ table and glares at Australia.

England and the US go over to talk to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia & Egypt. Every time Germany interrupts, they punch Germany until he goes away again.

The US is running back & forth between both sides of the pub, alternately punching Germany & Japan. He manages to get in a few good hits on both of them.

Germany starts randomly punching innocent people throughout the pub, making them stand in the corner and then stabbing them.

The Soviet Union lands a giant roundhouse kick on Germany, knocking it halfway across the pub.

The US & England keep punching Germany, and manage to escort Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia & Egypt over to the restaurant, where they say they’ll pick up the tab for whatever they want to eat as long as they save them some of that delicious wine.

The US & England start punching Italy. Italy goes down quickly, but Germany comes over to Italy’s table & starts throwing punches.

India starts punching Japan over by Burma’s table.

The Soviet Union, the US & England huddle together, then break and resume punching Germany.

The US, England & Canada go over to France’s table, where Germany has been hanging out this whole time. They throw a drink in Germany’s face and start punching & kicking him.

Germany hits the US with a chair, but the US comes back with a leg sweep and pushes Germany away from France’s table, then drags it back to where it was before.

Germany goes back to its table only to find the Soviet Union standing right there. They start punching each other again, but Germany keeps having to turn around to punch the US and the Soviet Union doesn’t really seem like he’s getting tired. The Soviet Union calls his girlfriend over to punch Germany, too.  She does, but she punches the Soviet Union a couple times, too.

The US & the Soviet Union pick Germany up and throw him down on the table, breaking the table into four pieces. The US & the Soviet Union each pick up a piece of the table; England & France run over and grab pieces of the table as well.

The US & Japan have been steadily punching each other all this time, and the US eventually forces Japan to go sit back at the bar. The US thinks it sees Japan downing an energy drink.

The Soviet Union says it’s ready to start punching Japan. The US says “Nah, I got this.”

The US pulls a gun and shoots Japan. Twice.

Japan gives up and asks the US for help getting up from the floor.

The Soviet Union sulks and starts trying to figure out how to steal the gun from the US.