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Showing posts from December, 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…

Oh, uhm, Merry Christmas, by the way

Things on the ol' blog have been relatively quiet these past several days because Jenn and I were out in the wilds of Cornwall. Which is about as wild as one can get in the overpopulated mess of southwestern England. We were staying in a cottage on Bodmin Moor, the bleak nowhere made famous by Daphne du Maurier's novel Jamaica Inn. The roads were only wide enough for a single car and mobile phone signal was non-existant.
It was only when we were out hiking the tors (craggy rocks that serve as promontories on the moors) did my phone grasp just enough signal to alert me to comments on my previous post about the downfall of RideApart. I genuinely appreciate the fact that Wes took the time to leave a comment, even if it was snarky and insulting. Be valuable, indeed.
Perhaps it was for the best that signal was too scarce for me to reply. At the time I had a fair few snarky and insulting things I wanted to say in response but now, meh, I don't care. I feel morally superior enou…

The strange and sudden decline of RideApart

UPDATE: I wrote this piece in December 2013. A lot has changed since then, including the fact that I am now managing editor for RideApart. Here's a link to all the stories I've written. The site has largely moved away from the things that I criticise in the post below and with every piece that I write for RideApart I hope I am doing my part to make it a quality, interesting site that will continue to inspire people to ride motorcycles.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll have likely picked up by now that one of my favourite motorcycle websites is RideApart. Or, rather, was RideApart. In the last few weeks its quality has rapidly decreased and it has become something that both angers and saddens me, whereas it used to inspire.

And if you're a long-time reader of this blog you may remember my story: I got my motorcycle endorsement in Minnesota when I was 18 years old, but didn't actually make any effort to ride until almost two decades later. Then, su…

The wind, the fear and the ridiculous

You know that advice they always give about riding with a passenger? "Take it easy," they say. "Make everything as gentle as possible. Don't frighten your passenger."
They have obviously never met my wife.
"YAHWOOOOOOOOOOOO!" she screamed against the wind as the two of us zig-zagged down the A449 Saturday.
We were flying down the dual carriageway ("freeway" for those of you playing along at home) at 90 mph with crosswinds kicking us around in our lane. In curves, the wind would occasionally push us upright and I'd have to fight to drop us back into the lean. At other times it would punch so hard it felt almost tangible, as if an animal had jumped out and headbutted us. Leaves and sticks and all manner of things swirled in the air and plinked against our helmets. Jenn was having the time of her life.
We had ridden that morning to the Farmer's Boy Inn, a pub 10 miles west of Gloucester, which I had spotted during one of my many Starin…

I think we may actually be better

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this: if I'm ever riding in Minnesota and find myself in a situation where I deem filtering to be appropriate, I'm just going to go ahead and do it. If any drivers shout at me, I will say this: "Actually, it is legal. Check Minnesota Statute 169.974, particularly subdivision 5, clause E. See, the reason I know that is because a lot of people think it's not legal, but, really, it is. I'm sorry to have frightened you, though."
The statute referenced is, of course, the exact one that explicitly forbids filtering ("No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of moving or stationary vehicles headed in the same direction, nor shall any person drive a motorcycle abreast of or overtake or pass another vehicle within the same traffic lane"). But the driver won't know that. 
If I get stopped by a police officer, I will mention living in the UK and explain that I was confused. I will apologise profusel…

20 things I've learned about motorcycling

Today marks exactly six months since Aliona came into my life. That's not all that much time in the grand scheme of things, but she is, of course, my first motorcycle. So, a lot of things have happened since that exciting June day I took the train out to Cheltenham to pick her up. And from all the experiences since then, those thousands of miles travelled, I feel I've gained a certain amount of knowledge. So, here are 20 things I've learned in my first six months of motorcycle ownership: When kids wave at you, it's awesomeExpect spiders to be hiding in the motorcycle coverExpect spiders to be hiding in your helmet. They will usually only reveal themselves when you are taking a curve at 80 mph. Baby wipes are your friend. They are especially useful in cleaning your helmet -- inside and out. Cold tires really are slippery. That's not just something that people say. Pay attention to tire pressure. And the chain. And fluid levels. And tire tread. And all the other …

A small request

Hey, all y'all with motorcycle-related blogs: Can you please not have white text on a black background? I mean, it's pretty much every single one of you. Clearly, it's a look that a lot of people like and one of the general rules of this here blog is that I don't like to piss on things that other people like -- especially when it comes to things that are motorcycle-related. 
But, see, here's the thing: white text on a black background induces headaches. No, really, look it up. Web designers hate light text on dark background, but more importantly up to 50 percent of the population may suffer adverse effects from staring at that combination too long. That is especially true for me. The two times in my life that I have suffered a migraine headache came after reading white text on a dark background for too long. So, now I generally don't do it.
This means that for many of you, I don't really read your blogs as much as I'd prefer unless I can find a workar…

28 months before

"I wonder if I could put together £8,000 within 28 months," I find myself asking.
That's how long I have until my 40th birthday, which, I keep telling myself, is when I want to buy a new bike. Actually, I'd like to buy a new bike today. And tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that. There are dozens upon dozens of bikes I'd own if I had the deep pockets and storage space of, say, Jay Leno. But in the real world, in this life that I'm actually living, my 40th birthday seems the most likely milestone upon which to hang such a target.
I like to do that: set goals for myself and attach target dates that have some sort of greater significance. For example, in July 2005, when London was announced as the host city for the 2012 Olympic Games, I promised myself I would be living in the UK by the time the games took place. As it turned out, I accomplished that goal with six years to spare.
Life throws happy surprises at you. Maybe a new bike will come s…