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Showing posts from October, 2013

What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

The baffling case of motorcycles in the UK

Few peoples know how to tumble down the ladder of success more spectacularly than the British. When they fall, they fall hard.
For example: the British Empire. Although her father and grandfather certainly laid the foundations, I think it's safe to say that Elizabeth I (under the guidance of a Welshman, I'd like to add) really got the Empire going back in the 1600s. And over the next 300 or so years it grew and grew to the point that, famously, the sun never set on British territory.
Things wobbled a bit in the early 1900s but the wheels completely came off after WWII. In just two decades -- 1945 to 1965 -- the number of people under British rule outside the UK plummeted from 700 million to just 5 million. The bulk of those left were living in Hong Kong, which was relinquished from British control in 1997. These days all that's left are a handful of islands that you would be incredibly hard-pressed to find on a map (e.g., the Caicos Islands). And, of course, it's p…

Astride the fire-driven dandy horse!

Ever have one of those moments when you feel you've been particularly clever? 
"Ho, ho. Good one, me," you say to yourself approvingly. "You really are the epitome of wit."
Then you spend the rest of the day continuing to congratulate yourself and feeling slightly despondent that more people haven't recognised your genius.
That was me recently after leaving a comment on RideApart, one of my favourite motorcycle websites. The comment was in response to an article noting the fact that the whole media uproar in the wake of the Nonsense in New York© about a month ago (a), was not anything we hadn't seen before.
In the article, Tim Watson draws parallels between the media's hysterical response to the NYC incident and its similar reaction to an incident in Hollister, California, some 66 years before. I'd like to point out, by the way, that I had already made the same observation long before Tim, which I feel is further proof that RideApart should hir…

What I want: Motus MST (MSTR)

I feel a little uncomfortable putting the Motus MST into the What I Want category because it lacks a key feature that is a priority for any bike I would consider spending my money on: anti-lock brakes. But, hey, we're dealing more with the theoretical here than the practical. There are a whole load of bikes on the list that I will almost certainly never own nor seek to own, so let's go ahead and include this V-4 from Alabama.
It's the last two words in the previous sentence that should let you know from whence comes my affection for the MST: it's made in America. And it's not a cruiser. There's a dearth of American not-cruisers, so I feel emotionally obliged to support just about every one that comes along. I realised this the other day when the new EBR 1190RX was announced. I don't actually like the look of that bike and all its power would be completely wasted on me. But I am nonetheless supportive of this latest Buell initiative and really want it to su…

Winter's coming. What do I do?

The bike has been sitting in its little spot beneath a cover for about a week now. The last time I rode, it was just a collection of very short jaunts –– from the house to work, work to the city centre, city centre to Cardiff University, the university to home. That's less than 11 miles, spread out over a space of 15 hours. So, effectively I've not ridden since my road trip to Mid Wales.

Going too long without riding makes me antsy, and I start to worry about all kinds of things. For example: is the bike clean enough? I have a fear of the next time I pull away the bike's cover finding it has somehow transformed into a great indecipherable pile of rust. After all, I didn't clean it before putting it away last time. Though, it was a dry day and I had cleaned it after the road trip.

"Clean" is a relative term, perhaps. I had invested £2 to buy 5 minutes at the power washer in the Morrisons car park. They say (whoever "they" are) that you're not su…

Journey to Middle Earth

Round trip, it is roughly 250 miles from Penarth to Pennant. Well, this particular round trip is that far, because it is one that takes in a fair number of detours, wandering first through a blur of same-as-the-other-one Valleys towns, then up through Brecon Beacons National Park, off onto an unmarked road, then a stretch of tiny B roads until arriving in a village that is so middle-of-nowhere that the mind boggles at how (and why) anyone ended up there in the first place.

The distance is not so great, I suppose. Especially when broken into two days. In the summer I did a 220-miler in one day. Admittedly, though, I got so tired (and, as a result, inattentive) on that trip I almost sped into the back of a lorry. Additionally, that journey took in more well-travelled roads than this trek to the deep, green heart of Wales. And perhaps it's that last aspect that had me so unnerved. In the days leading up to the adventure I couldn't sleep.
The whole adventure started with new…

Los Harlistas

Here's something people may not know about me: I have always wanted to be Latino. A Texican, specifically –– best of both worlds, in my opinion –– but any sort of Latino in a pinch.

It's a strange wish to have, I suppose. I am a white male Protestant of Western European descent, with all the societal privileges that entails. Cops don't hassle me. Despite flunking out of high school (because I was too busy chasing girls), I charmed my way into college. In fairness to me, I am pretty damn awesome; so, many of the positives I've experienced in life are very much my own doing. But I realise that, at the very least, my skin colour/heritage has never hindered me. Whereas I am fully aware that being Latino can earn a person a tremendous amount of unwarranted abuse from certain people with my ethnic background.

But still, for as long as I can remember, I've thought Latinos were cool and wished I could claim such heritage.
I grew up in Texas, of course, where the Latino an…

A whole mess of wrong

By now you will almost certainly have seen The Video. You know the one I'm talking about: the video in which an altercation between a large group of bikers and the driver of a Range Rover leads to a high-speed chase and a fair bit of violence.
If you've somehow managed to miss it, here's what I'm talking about.
Like everyone, I have my own opinion on the whole thing and because we live in a world where it is so obnoxiously easy for me to share my opinion, I'll do so here. Before that, though, I want to make a few points about other comments and opinions I've seen: The bikers involved in the whole brouhaha were from all over the country. While there may have been gang members in attendance (a), they cannot collectively be described as a gang or a club or any other such thing that implies collusion. They were there to take part in a loosely organised mass event.In principle there's nothing wrong with a loosely organised mass event. Many of the people I see o…