Our Sport is Dead

Posted: November 18, 2017 in My Life

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I saw this and threw up a little in my mouth.  Not to dis Ray Price, they are just trying to reach the millennial market.  But if this is the price, I’d rather crush the bikes.

I just can’t see someone who grooms and oils their beard putting up with the dirt, wind, rain, and heat involved in riding a motorcycle.  I guess if we’re trying to replace the stereotype cruiser owner who only rides to bars with someone who fires up his hog to go to the gastropub and compete in a beard contest, we’re home!

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Riding season is nearly over

Posted: October 28, 2017 in My Life

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Well, there are a few more days left to ride but overall the season is over.  I’ll be able to ride locally but long trips are over.

For me it was a season of mixed blessings.  I didn’t ride nearly as much as I’d want to but I really go the hang of the bike.  In the beginning I struggled, big bike, heavy, and weight in all the wrong places.  No dumps but I was not comfortable, more to the point I didn’t feel in control.  That’s bad, really bad.

But, being too stupid to sell it, I stayed at it, I tried all the things I taught in the MSF class.  Shift my weight, clutch control, look ahead, smooth everything.  Gradually, too gradually, I improved.  Until now, by the end of this season I feel comfortable.  I move with the bike and learned to use it’s disadvantages as advantages.  I’m in control, I can place the bike where I want it to be, not where it wants to be.  Or she, all motorcycles are girls/women.  The only other thing on earth you still love even thought it’s desperately trying to kill you!

Here’s hoping you had a great season.  Next year?  Dirt, the final frontier.

Dear Motorcycle Industry, remember me?

Posted: October 22, 2017 in My Life

I have a complaint.  As I listen to Podcasts and industry leaders all I hear is that they are searching desperately to find ways to attract Millennial.  The industry is dying,   Motorcycling is dying.  Boomers are exiting the sport or refusing to buy new bikes, our only hope is the elusive Millennial.

Well, I’m no kid anymore.  I’ve been riding 45 years and someday I’ll hang up my helmet for the last time, or they’ll cut it off my head.  Either way my riding career will end.  But I’m not dead yet, I took care of myself and I have more years to ride, God willing.  Have you ever thought, for even a minute, about reaching out to our dying sad asses with ANY kind of marketing or even a simple, “thanks”?

Remember when I bought my first bike in 1971, a new Honda CB 100.  I flipped burgers to pay for it and took it to college with me.  Since then there was a Yamaha, another Honda, Suzuki and most recently three Triumphs.  As a Rider Coach for MSF I trained about 800 new riders before retiring after 14 years so I could ride more during my final years in the sport.  I mentor who I can, or should I say who will allow me.  Women riders have declared me the enemy and only ride with other women or at rallies open to women only.  It’s sad you’ll miss knowing about the sport’s history but I guess you can read it in a book.

Since the industry has already forgotten me and new riders only associate with their own sex (btw half the new riders I trained were women) I can quietly ride into the sunset, unnoticed and with some amazing memories.

I didn’t expect a parade or a metal but I also didn’t expect the industry and young riders to turn their back on me.  I know, old people can be a pain, most like to talk about the good old day and complain.  But not all of us.  Some of us have the same passion that brought us to motorcycling.  Some of us still ride, keep up with the latest advancements, and welcome everyone into the sport, no matter their sex, race, or whatever.

But if you ever wonder why we keep to ourselves, now you might understand.

Where the heck you been?

Posted: October 1, 2017 in My Life

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Indeed, where the heck have I been!   Well, no excuses, it was riding season, my daughters spent the summer with me, work of course, and generally getting stuff done.

I bought another bike, a replacement for my beloved Bonneville Black that I crashed in 2014.  This is a 2013 SE that I got used with 3900 miles on it.  The bike has an interesting back story.  The above picture is from the local dealers website when it was new.  Each dealer worldwide got one of these bikes, red frame, flat black finish.  Basically, the stock SE with paint, a long standing Triumph tradition, paint makes the bike!  The local dealer saw it as a profit opportunity.  They bolted on every piece of after market bling/performance they could find on to it.  Seriously, it’s mostly Rizoma and British Customs.  Look closely, that’s the Thruxton Cup exhaust with pods, bars, grips, levers, mirrors, brake res., tail eliminator, Scorpion tires, blinkers, fasteners, tail cover, and a bunch of stuff is powder coated black.  There’s more but you get the idea.  Oh, I think it has a cam too!  I was told he basically doubled the price of it stock. (and kept the old parts!)

So, some rich guy buys it, doesn’t ride it, sells it to the guy I got it from, and I paid blue book for a stock bike.  All the extras were free.  What did I get?  Well, it’s lighter than stock, definitely more horsepower, Thruxton gel seat, basically a better Bonneville if you like loud.  And twitchy, oh yes, the tune is crap so it’s like a bucking bronco at times.  But pretty fast for a Bonneville.  It was regeared for top speed as it has a lot of torque down low.  it’ll do 55 mph in 1st.  I have the Explorer for long trips, it’s solid as a rock and all stock mechanically.  I love that bike!

I plan to get a Power Commander or custom tune to level it out but till then it’s a handful!

I’ll report on the other antics I’ve been up to later.  Winter is coming!

Civil War

Posted: November 20, 2016 in My Life

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Tomorrow I’m going to be drawn into a Civil War.  Two sides, each ideologically separated by a difference that will never be bridged.  And I fear it’s a war to the death.  And I need to choose sides, no middle ground, do I back the Empire or the Rebels?

I’m talking, of course, about the MSF vs Lee Parks.  Tomorrow night is a meeting sponsored by a local school.  The school is going to consider switching to the Lee Parks method instead of the MSF class.  Three instructors have been trained by Lee Parks and want to tell us about their experience.  The latest twist is the MSF is sending two chiefs to monitor the meeting.

Incase you aren’t up on the latest in the rider training world, there is a revolt afoot. MSF dominated the training  since the 70’s.  Then Washington and Oregon adopted a form of the old RSS.  Today we use the BRC and soon the BRC update.  You were likely training under the BRC program.  I understand the RSS was more “drill instructor” style were the BRC is new age, “how’s that make you feel?”.  The “update” is a little different but not tons.  My rough understanding of Lee Parks method is it’s a return to the RSS days.

Anyway, I’ll have to pick the method I teach with.  The truth, I don’t care.  Any training is good.  People learn, they respond to kindness, a calm voice, positive reinforcement, and repetition. I try to help new riders not die so they can become old riders, like me.

But it is exciting, will I throw in with the rebel forces or be seduced by the dark side?  Odds are I’ll make the self destructive choice, habit I guess! ha ha

Air Force Football

Posted: November 6, 2016 in My Life
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Cadets on the field before the game.

I took a ride a couple weeks to Colorado Springs and took in an Air Force football game.

I did not attend the Acadmey, one of my daughters is considering it, but right now there is no connection.  The stadium is beautiful and the personnel assigned to make sure you knew where things are were wonderful.

With all the turmoil around the upcoming US election I truly worry about the future of America.  But something became very clear to me, the members of our armed forces love this country and treat each other like a big family.  Everyone was so well behaved and polite.  And I think we really do have some of the finest young people in the world attending our military academies.  The government is not our country, you can love your country and hate what some people are trying to do to it.

I know all those attending were very patriotic and love their country but there was far more there than that.  They loved each other, they were a family, some you like, some you don’t but they respected each other.

I have no idea if my daughter will apply to the Acadmey, I’m sure it’s a top notch school.  But it’s the other part, the unseen part that is the real prize.  Not one cadet who played his heart out that afternoon was looking to the pros.  Win or lose, Monday morning the real work started.  Preparing to defend this country.

Think what you will of our politicians but the cadets of the Air Force Acadmey are not those people.  And frankly, I’m kinda glad about that.

Let’s dance

Posted: October 15, 2016 in My Life

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I actually get to ride this weekend, no teaching, visitors, work projects, or repair problems.  I’ve had TWO gas leaks that the dealer swears are fixed for good.  You have no idea how frustration it is to have the bike sit on a beautiful weekend because a problem you paid to have fixed is back!

I’ve been riding so long that if I don’t ride on a regular basis I get “out of balance”.  Edgy, irritable, restless, anxious, or plain grouchy.  It doesn’t have to be a long ride but I need to feel like the bike and I are working together.  You know the “zone” athletes talk about?  I’ve had that on the bike for years.  I could tell there was something wrong with the bike before the gas leak got bad, it wasn’t right, it wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do.  Same with me, if my hands are hurting or I’m not working as I should, I feel it.

Don’t you find it amazing how riding a motorcycle is so much about feel?  It’s really an emotional experience.  After a time you feel the connection more than you control the connection.  You can muscle the bike, sure, but it’s a different experience to work with the bike.  Every bike is different but not better or worse.

I was in training once and had had an accident months prior.  I wasn’t riding well and I felt it.  Very frustrating.  The instructor immediately saw I was stiff and wooden, I was trying to control every movement of the bike because I didn’t trust the bike.  Finally he yelled in frustration “dance with it”.  Well, I can’t dance, not to save my life, but for some odd reason that struck a nerve and I started relaxing.  Slowly my confidence returned and I let go.  “You’e like a completely different rider now”, he said.  And I was.

 

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Image  —  Posted: October 13, 2016 in My Life

He’s all ready for the cops!

Posted: October 7, 2016 in My Life
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Hands up!

A day in the life of a Rider Coach

Posted: October 5, 2016 in My Life

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Some of you know I teach the MSF Basic Rider Course (BRC).  I started in 2004 in Troy Ohio and have taught in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina, and Colorado since.  It’s more of a hobby than a real money maker but it’s my way of giving back to the sport.

Many of you have taken the class but might not know our process or duties.  I thought I’d take a minute to describe the process.

I’m teaching a day one BRC near Denver.  Class room starts at 7am so it’s an early Sunday wake up call!  It’s about a 45 minute ride so I’ll get up at 4am, and leave around 5am.  I prep Saturday by packing my teaching cloths; a long sleeved shirt, light weight pants, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and my teaching materials.  Tonight I’ll pack food and load the bike so I can just take off in the AM.  We are expected to ride to every class.  We also sign an agreement to wear full gear overtime we ride a motorcycle.

It’s dark and cold at 5am but I’m lucky to have a kick ass bike with a heated seat, grips, and vest.  Once I arrive at the “range” I get the keys I need from a lock box, disarm two alarms, unlock a gate and unlock a trailer.  Inside the trailer which is about 150 yards from the range are 12 motorcycles and a cart with cones and a first aid kit.  Job #1 is cone off the range so no idiots park there and its safe for the students.  That takes 20 minutes and it’s the most fun you’ll ever have.  Once that’s done, and it’s still dark, you get to ride 9 motorcycles from the trailer to the range and walk back after each delivery.  I’ll run out of time because class room starts at 7am.

So, the classroom part runs about 4 hours finishing with a written test.  Most people are successful.  After the grades are recorded we head to the range.

Exercise 1 is simply getting to know the bike, the control, and starting it.  Many people have never sat on a motorcycle.  We go slow and make sure everyone gets each part before moving on.  Finally, we end with Exercise 9 around 5pm.  We walk about 8 miles in a class, enough to exhaust most people!  There’s an hour of putting away the bikes, picking up comes, paperwork, and finally the ride home.

Every weekend hundreds of Coaches do this and more to help new riders enter the sport.  10 years ago there was a glut of Coaches, so much so there’s been an effort to force some of the older coaches out.  And they did, and there’s a shortage of coaches in many states now.  Younger men choose to be with their families or go riding rather than teach the weekend.  Not sure I blame them.

I’m not asking for sympathy or encouragement.  We do get paid, a rather small amount, but it’s a job important to the sport.  If you ever thought of giving back to the sport consider coaching.