Something I don’t understand

Apparently, packs of motorcycles—not Harleys, but sportbikes—are terrorizing the highways around St. Louis.

Brian Johnson of St. Louis said he was heading on I-170 north to Lambert International Airport with his wife when he saw the pack of motorcycles on the other side of the highway.

"There was a good half mile stretch where it was 20 bikes wide the whole highway," he said. "It was hundreds after hundreds after hundreds of bikes."

Johnson said the bikers were not your typical Harley Davidson types; most were wearing racing suits and riding speed bikes like you would see in stunt shows.

He said the first group of bikers were pumping their fists; the second group created a ringlike formation and had bikers riding down the middle doing wheelies.

Johnson said cars were forced over to the shoulder of the road and trying to get off. There were also traffic tie-ups on his side of the highway as drivers slowed to gawk at the spectacle.

Let me explain something to you morons very simply. If I’m out driving in my Ram 2500 Long Bed, and you try to force me off the road with your motorcycle you’re gonna die.

Ride into the Danger Zone…

Motorcycle vs. passenger vehicle death chart

It’s a dangerous sport we’ve embraced, folks.  Indeed, looking at this graph, it’s hard to make any other conclusion. Motorcycle fatalities per passenger mile are 37 times higher for motorcycles than for cars.

What irks me about this report, though, is that we, as a community, don’t seem to be making it much safer.  Sure, there are cars that turn in front of us, or change lanes into us…I get it. In fact, my last crash was a guy that T-boned me after running a stop sign.

But I notice two salient facts from this report.

22% of motorcyclists that died in 2009 did not have a valid license.

If you’re riding without a license, there’s a couple of things that could be going on. You can’t ride well enough to pass the test. You don’t want to be inconvenienced with getting a license. But, I presume a significant portion of those people without licenses don’t have them because they got taken away after getting caught doing something stupid.  That doesn’t stop them, because…well…they’re stupid and/or reckless, and the odds caught up with them.

30% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved a driver with a BAC greater than .08.

Speaking of stupid and reckless.  If you tie one on and get on a bike, then you’re just a moron.

Overall, those two numbers tell us that somewhere between 30% and 52% of all motorcycle fatalities are stupidity-related. Frankly, I don’t have any sympathy for these people.  Good riddance.

Not only do they kill themselves, and cause their families pain, they make those of us who have licenses and don’t drink and ride look bad.

Just not drinking and riding would lower motorcycle fatalities by 30%. Maybe that would help stop other morons from arguing that motorcycles should be banned.

Enthusiast Publications

If you’re interested in reading about motorcycles, or in learning how to ride better, the New York Times, of all places, has a list of books and DVDs about Motorcycling.

Included in the list is:

  • Alan Cathcart’s American Dream Bikes
  • Roland Brown’s Superbikes of the Seventies
  • Kevin Cameron’s The Grand Prix Motorcycle: The Official Technical History
  • Keith Code’s A Twist of the Wrist II DVD
  • Abe Aamidor’s Shooting Star: The Rise and Fall of the British Motorcycle Industry

All of these offerings seem worthwhile, and the Kieth Code DVD on precision cornering techniques is supposed to be very useful in improving one’s riding skills.

AMA is Concerned about Health Care Reform

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This isn’t a political blog at all, but I couldn’t help noticing that even the American Motorcyclist Association is now getting involved in the ongoing debate about health care reform.  The AMA feels that a government-run system may discriminate against motorcyclists by denying coverage to motorcyclists who are hurt while riding.

There is precedent for us to be concerned with regarding any health care legislation coming from Washington. For example in 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was intended to ensure non-discrimination in health coverage in the group market. However, when it came to implementing the law, the Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Health Care Financing Administration – now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – issued a rule allowing insurers to deny health benefits for an otherwise covered injury that results from certain types of recreational activities, such as skiing, horseback riding, snowmobiling or motorcycling. Even though the AMA has fought this discriminatory rule with legislation, this indicates what could happen if a new health care bill is implemented by bureaucrats in Washington using biased data.

And not only are they expressing their concern, they want you to express yours, too, and the link above also has an editable email message you can send of to your Senator or representative straight from the AMA web site.

Mongols Beat the Government

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I don’t hold any particular brief for Motorcycle “Clubs” like the Angels or the Mongols, but it’s nice to see the government slapped down when it goes a little too far.

Mongols Patch
Mongols Patch

The U.S. Government has been going after the Mongols for a while–and the Mongols do have some unsavory characters in their membership.  But the government didn’t just go after individuals, they went after the club’s logo.  Under RICO, they tried to strip the Mongols of their logo, and make it the property of the government. After getting a preliminary ruling allowing them to do so, the Feds have being going into private property of American citizens to confiscate patches, breaking into cars and homes to do so.

But, they got that slapped down in Federal Court.  Judge Florence-Marie Cooper has ruled that a) the government can’t take the trademark, and b) even if they could, they have no right to go around confiscating patches or other items containing the mark from private citizens who are not under indictment.

…even if the Court were to assume that the collective membership mark is subject to forfeiture, the Court finds no statutory authority to seize property bearing the mark from third parties…. only defendants’ interests in the RICO enterprise and the proceeds from their racketeering activity are subject to forfeiture.

So, the Mongols get to keep their patch, and the Feds have to stop making searches and seizures on the basis of merely possessing it.

The Great California Garage Sale

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If you’d like to add another motorcycle–or two–to your garage, and you don’t have the scratch for a new one, then you might be interested in the Great California Garage Sale going on in Sacramento this week.  As you may have heard, the state of California is…ummm…a bit short of cash.  So the state is going all out and selling cars, motorcycles, computers, and just about everything else they can think of in a big state garage sale.  The sale and auction will take place in Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, 28-29 Aug 09.

They’ve got at least 5 BMW R1150RTP’s from the highway patrol, which you could probably pick up for a decent price. I’ve seen some other bikes listed there, too, probably confiscated from drug dealers and whatnot.

You’ll probably get a better price there than you would from a regular dealer, anyway.

Don’t Screw With Bears

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If you live in bear country, you probably already know not to keep food in a car, because bears will tear a car apart to get at a box of donuts, or whatever.  Now, it appears that even transporting food may be a problem.  Especially in a motorcycle.

Wells and his wife had taken his 2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle out to get a pizza for dinner. They put the leftovers in the tour pack on the back of the motorcycle for the ride home.

“We got home around six, took the pizza out of it right away and put it in the refrigerator,” said Wells.

Three hours later they heard something outside, near where his motorcycle was parked. Wells went outside to investigate.

“I came around and shined the flashlight and my bike was on its side and a bear cub was on top and another bear cub was behind it and the momma was right there too,” remembers Wells.

The bears ripped the tour pack apart trying to get to where the pizza at one time had been. In the process they did around $3,000 damage to the bike.

So, three hours later, just the 3 hour-old smell of pizza in this guy’s tour trunk was enough to get it seriously molested.

And you thought deer were a problem…

Motorcycle Sales

In case you haven’t been keeping up with current events, things are slow in the economy.  We went to the local mall Friday night to see about getting a part for our dishwasher, and the place was a ghost town.  After finishing up at the mall, we also went to a popular local eatery.  We were one of three parties in the place.  All the rest of the tables were empty.

This afternoon, I went to Escondido Cycle Center, and North County Yamaha.  I was the only customer in NCY–another customer was leaving as I arrived–and one of two customers as ECC.  Dead, dead, dead.

Interestingly, the sales guy at NCC couldn’t have been less interested in trying to sell me a bike.  Since I have an insurance settlement coming from my accident last December, I am looking at possibilities for a second bike.  Something small and hooligan-like, but without the cramped riding position of the Gixxer or CBR.  I went to NCY because they have Triumphs there, and wanted to look into a Speed Triple 1050.  I told the sales guy what I was after, and he said, “I don’t know mcuh about it.  It has a good torque range.  Broad. why not go sit on it and see if you like it.”  He then turned on his heel and left me to my own devices.  Apparently, trying to sell a motorcycle didn’t fit into his schedule this afternoon.

And, keep in mind that this is their chief sales guy, and as far as I could tell, the only sales rep there.  I’ve seen him there before, and his whole vibe was that I was being a pain in the ass for trying to engage him.

Wierd.

The sales guy at ECC, on the other hand, was knowledgeable, and showed me not only the sportbikes, but an array of standard bikes that have same sportbike engines, but more comfy ergos.  Totally different sales experience.

Sometimes the guys at NCY are helpful, and sometimes they act like they’d rather you just didnt show up at their door at all.  When sales are as bad as they are currently, you’d think they would deep-six the latter attitude.