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Showing posts from November, 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…

What I want: Honda NC750X

I try not to look at the stats for this blog too much. I've been blogging in one form or another for a decade now and experience tells me that wandering too deep into the dark woods of blog stats can be detrimental to one's mental health. You start to feel that the incalculable whims of the internets are somehow a reflection on you, your ability to write, etc. If lots of people are reading you feel good, and you become miserable when the opposite is true.
Soon, like the Southern preacher who gets money pressed into his hand at the end of sermons, you find yourself trying to chase after the topics that you think interest people, rather than what necessarily interests you. And thereafter your blog starts to suck.
That said, I want in this post to return to something I've written about before and which has turned out to be one of the more popular topics that brings people to this blog. According to my stats, here are the top three search terms that lead people to this site: …

What I want: Honda Valkyrie (aka Honda F6C)

I'll warn you now: this post is a meandering one...

I am fond of pondering the When It All Goes Horribly Wrong scenario. This is a what-if scenario that started showing up in my usual daydream repertoire sometime after my first wife left me. At that time I didn't really have a prepared response for such a happening, so I just spent a year or so wallowing in utter misery. I taught myself to play a few chords on the guitar and wrote two bittersweet love songs for an imaginary girl, but by and large that time was ill spent.
Because what you are supposed to do when something traumatic happens -- if films and rock songs have taught us anything -- is suddenly veer onto a life path that is generally out of character and more awesome. You are supposed to travel to Italy, India and Indonesia and thereafter write a book about it. Or at least change your hair style and start a new career. I often think that one of the greatest appeals of Doctor Who is his ability to regenerate: when ever…

Gear review: Furygan Revol Evo

When it comes to motorcycle gloves, I suppose there are really only two things to consider: 1) Will they protect my hands in a crash? 2) Will they keep my hands warm/cool?
The first question is rather hard to answer definitively without, you know, hurling yourself from a motorcycle at speed. Yes, you can get a good sense of a glove's durability from safety ratings. You can smack the leather and hard plastic and tell yourself that you feel it would hold up well. But you don't actually know.
So, the bulk of my review of the Furygan Revol Evo glove is centred on how well they answer the second question. Unfortunately, after having ridden with them for a while I have to say they've not answered the question very well.
The gloves are marketed as winter gloves, and were bought on that same heady day after signing up for my CBT that I bought my helmet. Both items were promptly hidden from my wife until I was found out a few months later. Because they are winter gloves, one woul…

Invading England

I like to keep track of just about any riding I do that's more than a jaunt through the city. So, here are a few pictures from last weekend's ride out to Dyrham Park, near Bath. It's a quick 50-or-so miles from Penarth, with most of the riding on the motorway and therefore not terribly exciting. 
But any riding is better than none.

I was happy to get out of the house. With The Long Dark now fully under way in Britain my annual depression has been growing ever more difficult to keep in check. I find it harder and harder to get out of bed. But on Sunday morning the sun was shining and with Jenn planning to have lunch with a friend I had excuse to wander off and do my own thing.
The first time I ever went to Dyrham Park was with my friends Jenny and Chris, who live in Bath. Not to be confused with the Jenny and Chris that are my wife and me. Indeed, this first visit came well before I ever met Jenn, at a point in my life that was terribly unpleasant; my first wife had just l…

Study confirms what a lot of us already knew

I took my UK driver's exam on 26 June this year -- about two months after I had earned my motorcycle license. I realise I haven't ever told that story, so I've put it in italics below. But the important thing to take away from the experience is that I passed the driving exam without fault. That is not an exaggeration, I mean it literally: I was not marked down for one single thing.
And as I sat in the car, feeling a wave of relief at having passed, waiting for the examiner to finish the paperwork, he said offhandedly: "Of course, that's what I would expect from a motorcyclist. They make much better drivers."
Certainly that's a sentiment that many motorcyclists like to hold about themselves. Our fragility on the road forces us to compensate with extra awareness and caution, and that helps develop and improve the skills we use when we're behind a wheel. Before I earned my UK license I had been driving for some 21 years, but I can honestly say my drivin…

Reaction to Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750

Remember this summer when Harley-Davidson was going into convulsive fits of self-congratulation because of Project Rushmore?
"A whole new ride starts now," the company proclaims on its website. 
Rushmore, they said, was the biggest leap forward in the company's history. Huzzah, huzzah, fireworks, blaring guitars, etc. I didn't really see what the fuss was about.

The announcement the company made this week, however, is far more profound. Harley-Davidson is soon to release 500- and 750-cc liquid-cooled bikes. As far as I can tell, this is the first time Harley have offered a 750 or lower in roughly 30 years (someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

The machines, of course, are a response to the great big pink elephant that resides in the Cult of Harley temple: the median age of Harley riders is 47. And although 47-year-olds are awesome (I'll be one soon enough) and perhaps more likely to have the cash for the latest WTFBBQROFL Cock Monster Special Classic Del…

A quick turnaround

The nature of the weather and my schedule means I'm not riding nearly as much as I'd like these days –– generally only about once a week. But, hey, that's once a week more than I was riding last year. So I guess I shouldn't complain.
I took Monday off, though. Just to get my head out of work. My job requires that I stare at a computer screen quite a lot, and that'll mess with your head after a while. I love what I do, and especially what it means, but sometimes I need to get away. We all do.
I work for the UK's National Parks and my job is to remind Britons how incredibly beautiful, unique and diverse is their tiny little country. That's the sort of thing a person can forget when he or she gets locked into an everyday routine. Get up, eat, shower, get all your things together, rush to get to work on time, spend all day staring at a computer screen, rush to get home, eat, prepare to do it all again the next morning. It is easy to get lost in all that. Espec…