Archive for the ‘Biker n00b’ Category

So, on my way home from a meeting last night, I almost dropped the bike. It was dark out, but I was wearing a white helmet and a hi-viz vest with big reflective stripes, and the bike has 2 headlights. I was approaching an intersection. There was no one on the road but 1 car on the other side of the intersection waiting to turn left/make a u-turn. I ALWAYS slow down at intersections like this if there is other traffic by about 10 MPH, just in case. In this case the speed limit was 45, but I slowed down to 30 as I was suspicious of this driver anyway. Sure enough, just as I was about to enter the intersection she decided to turn right in front of me! I grabbed the clutch and hit the front brakes (a little too hard), but not the back. My front wheel locked, and the rear end started to slide out from behind me, swinging out to the right side (thanks, momentum!). By this time I was under 20Mph at least. I was sticking my right foot out, getting ready to momentarily plant it and leap away from the bike if it went down. I was going slow enough that this wasn’t a problem and I likely wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Thanks to forethought and caution. Just then she saw me and stopped just short of being right in front of me. As soon as I saw this I let go of the front brake, and waited till the rear-end was back in line before I even thought of touching the throttle. I let out the clutch, hit the throttle and continued on smoothly and safely. No panic, no freaking out. I remained calm throughout (at higher speeds I don’t know that I would have been nearly as calm). Had I hit the rear brake as well, the rear end *might* have stayed inline (or at least more in line). Thankfully due to practice, I know in this situation (had it happened), if the rear wheel skids, do NOT let go of that back brake (even with the clutch in)! Te absolute LAST thing you want is a rear tire out of line suddenly getting traction, esp if the engine starts driving it (another reason to have the clutch pulled in). High-side city!

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is where copious amounts emergency braking practice in parking lots, and understanding that you do NOT touch the throttle if the back end is not in line (and being able to apply this with almost no thought, thanks to remaining calm) comes in handy indeed. No skipped heartbeats or anything. I must say that I was proud of myself for having the discipline early on to do lots of practicing on such a boring task, and for surprisingly remaining totally calm throughout. It also makes me realize that next spring I am definitely going to take some dirt bike riding courses. The only way to TRULY get used to controlling slides and having more confidence is to actually practice it, and dirt bikes are the absolute best way to accomplish this.

Pretty much everyone has seen this by now. It’s been all over the news. But it is the WAY that the new is reporting this that is irresponsible (so what else is new). NBC, way to report the facts, and report objectively. NOT! See what NBC fails to report in this story is that the SUV ran over a motorcyclist, breaking his back in 2 places, leaving him paralyzed forever, and THAT’S why he was chased. No mention of that at all. And the article has recently been updated. Still no mention of the now paralyzed rider.

Here is the full video

From what I can gather, the story goes like this (remember, this is all taken from various sites, so this is the best I could piece together at this point. Things here may change as more facts come out):

  • Bikes and SUV traveling on the same road, same direction
  • Bikes surround the SUV as they are passing him (the bikes are breaking traffic laws in the way they are doing this, and it’s not exactly safe either, but I digress)
  • Biker (Christopher Cruz) cuts in front of the SUV far too close (you can see it on the video)
  • SUV rear ends the bike, and biker falls down (hard to tell from the video, but it looks to me like the biker brake-checked the SUV, but was too close to the SUV to begin with and ended up getting hit. If that’s true, this is completely the biker’s fault UPDATE: Cruz was charged with reckless driving)
  • All traffic stops.
  • A Biker (I’m assuming Cruz) apparently has a broken leg. ANOTHER biker (Jeremiah/Edwin Mieses) gets OFF his bike to help his friend.
  • 3rd biker tries unsuccessfully to open the SUV door.
  • SUV driver accelerates forward and deliberately runs over 3 bikers including Edwin Mieses who is trying to help his friend, breaking his back in 2 places, leaving him paralyzed. Edwin Miese is currently suffering from (all) of his ribs being fractured, he is on a ventilator, and in a coma in addition to his broken back.
  • **Because of this**, the bikers follow the guy and chase him down (not at high-speeds or like “speed-demons” are the article inaccurately describes)
  • SUV stops in traffic. 1 biker manages to open the car door, but SUV speeds off immediately after the door is partially opened.
  • SUV gets caught in traffic again. One biker gets off his bike and smashes the driver window of the SUV, another biker joins in, video ends. The bikers apparently beat the guy requiring stitches.

According to CNN the other biker that “joined in” is Allen Edwards, and he had the charges dropped against him, and may have actually been trying to help the SUV driver, not attack him (see CNN article here)

Read the rest of this entry »

As discussed in my last post, getting to my wallet and phone are still a pain in the ass. At a gas station I have to put the bike on it’s stand, get off the bike, pull off my gloves, unzip the tail bag just to get to my wallet and credit card, and then get back on the bike to hold it upright just to get gas. So I started looking into alternatives. It seems the only solutions out there are fanny packs and the aforementioned tank bags. Walking around with a fanny pack makes you look like a douche from 1991 so I didn’t want to go that route if at all possible. I started looking for any alternatives.Then I found these:
leather holster bag

I thought that these things looked fantastic, could be worn in a number of different ways on and off the bike (click on the link above and look at the product pages where you can see the different way in which you can wear these), and are different and cool. The problems are I would like something simpler (iow, remove some of the frills and decoration and make it basic), and they are way too expensive for me. I searched and searched for an alternative and could not find anything that I liked, until I came across this on ebay:
Read the rest of this entry »

Storage is important on a bike. You never know when you might need a rain suit, or need to carry extra items, or even need to bring stuff home from the grocery store. In addition to the stuff below I also have an Icon mil-spec hi-viz orange backpack.

So, my bike came with a large tank bag. Actually it’s 3 in 1. It’s one of these:

It has a magnetic mounting platform, and you can zip in a small bag, a large bag, or attach both of them together for a huge bag. I don’t really like tank bags, and my backpack can be a pain when it’s really hot, but I wanted a place to keep things like a rain suit, reflective vest, spare ear plugs, and my wallet, phone, and spare gloves, etc.. I didn’t feel like trying to find a tail bag, especially when I already had this tank bag. So I got the idea to figure out how to strap the tank bag to the pillion seat to “convert” it to a tail bag. I ended up getting some 1″ nylon straps at Wal-Mart for about $3, and rigged something up.

Here you can see the zipper base for the tank bag strapped to the rear seat:
TankBag1

Read the rest of this entry »

Think all oils are the same? Can you put car oil in your bike? Read this article from Sport Rider magainze:
Oils Well That Ends Well, Part 1
Oils Well That Ends Well, Part 2

There are different “stages” of fear, and different types of fear. There is mental fear, and physical fear. Mental fear could be something like the fear of public speaking, while physical fear could be the fear of physical injury (like you might experience skydiving). This does not relate to actual phobias, which I will not address in this article. Types of fear could include the fear of success, the fear of a break-up, etc. I will be addressing what I call the “stages” of fear:

1. Panic
2. Fear
3. Nervousness
4. Confidence

The purpose here is to discuss how fear can be greatly mitigated, and brought down from one stage to a lower stage.

Panic is often experienced in the heat of the moment. You could be at stage 2 (fear) and suddenly , unexpectedly be elevated to stage 1 (panic), and you could also be feeling confident and suddenly be elevated all the way to panic.

The question is, how do we prevent this?

Read the rest of this entry »

You may have seen pics of this helmet making the rounds on the blogs lately, all talking about how cool it is.
Predator Helmet
First of all I love the predator movies (well, maybe w/ the exception of Predator 2 – Danny Glover? Really? The only worthwhile scene in that movies was the trophy room scene at the end, but I digress). That being said, despite all of the arguments below, I still wouldn’t be caught dead in this thing. As cool as the predators are, wearing this helmet will make you look like a complete tool IMNSHO. It sends off that “I wanna be thought of as a badass, not in a real life kinda way but rather in the form of a badass that doesn’t exist but you might still think I am for wearing a costume anyway” kinda vibe.

But lets look at the helmet. Apparently it’s a “serious” helmet because it is based on a real one and is all DOT certified and everything, so say many of the blogs. Fantastic. So are these excuses for protection:
DOT Skull Cap
Sure, it’s better than nothing. In most cases. In the majority of impact zones (19-20% of all head impacts happen in the chin area) this helmet is as good as wearing nothing.

It’s made by NLO Moto, a name you can trust in helmet safe-wait, WHO?!?

But actually, the article linked to above (and many others discussing this helmet) is incorrect. In defense of NLO Moto, contrary to what some of the blogs are saying it is NOT DOT certified and is a novelty helmet, as stated on NLO Moto’s website. Lets pretend it is certified though, just in case someone takes this helmet idea and runs with it…

Visibility looks to be SO bad in this thing, you are just ASKING to test out the protection capabilities of this lid. It also shows that this helmet was designed with looks in mind, not safety of any kind.

The price STARTS at $780. ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME?!?! You can pick up a replica mask for half that looks better. A fool and his money…

The success of my first trip out in traffic gave me a little bit of confidence. This entire past week was spring break. My plan was to go to the school and practice every day at lunch (since no one would be there) and work on just 1 thing for 30-45 minutes and go back to work, and then go back out to the school for more practice every night. Then I was going to take Thursday or Friday off of work and go on a slightly more ambitious ride during the day, taking back roads out towards Palmetto, Ga or possibly even Newnan. I knew the back roads well, and I would get practice on some roads where the speed limit was up to 55mph without a ton of traffic.

Life and work get in the way. Thanks to a few emergencies I was not able to go out at lunch at all. But I did manage to get out in the evenings for 60-90 minutes to practice on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I went out into traffic the first time (see previous blog entry) and was feeling more confident. I took Friday off. After running to the tag office to get my new tag and title for the bike I decided to head out. I took the back roads out past the fair grounds where the Georgia Renaissance Festival is located. I got just past the intersection of 74 and I-85 and stopped at the Wendy’s to get something to drink and to pee and figure out if I was going to go back home or not.

On the way there I had 3 cars turn left in front of me. I was observant and anticipated every single one of them, slowing down ahead of their turn, so they were not a problem. Two of them probably saw me and thought “I can make it” and one of them I think just didn’t even look at all before turning left. I finally made it to Wendy’s without further incident. While waiting in line inside at Wendy’s I couldn’t see the bike and it was pretty windy out there and I just had a feeling of dread, like the wind was going to blow over my bike. I was getting anxious and finally got my drink. The bike was just fine. When I got my drink and sat down there were 4 guys, about 15 years old, hanging out in the dining area. The conversation went like this:

You got a bike? Where is it? (I pointed towards it in the parking lot)
What is it? (an sv650s)
Is it fast? (not really)
Are you in a gang? (No)
Do you have a gun? (No)
Why not? (Why do I need one, and where would I even put one?)
All the truck drivers have one in case someone tries to steal their truck. (and were would I put it?)
You can use Gorilla Glue! Mount one to the side of the bike! (they all laughed at the idea).

At this point I decided that the day was still young, there were hours of sunlight left, and so I would continue on to Senoia, Ga. where they film the show The Walking Dead Read the rest of this entry »

After a decent amount of practice time, I was feeling confident enough that I felt I could go out in traffic. But really, I didn’t have much choice. After practicing at the school for a few weeks, my reserve fuel tank light came on. I felt that I had practiced enough that I was skilled and confident enough to venture out into traffic and up the 1 mile to the gas station. I had only ever gotten the bike up to about 40mph, and I would be hitting 45+ and with traffic, with a few places for left-turners in front of me, and still stalled every now and then, so I was a bit nervous, but I had to do it and I knew that in the end I would be fine unless some car comes careening across the median or something, so I went. One of my biggest worries was that it was dusk and visibility wasn’t so great. I did have a hi-viz backpack on, but nothing hi-viz in the front. But at least I was driving on a road with a concrete median, which meant that people could only turn left in front of me at specific locations. IOW, no real surprises that I couldn’t prepare for.

So I ran up to the gas station, filled up the tank, and decided to take a trip about 3 or 4 miles away to the new county High School. It was spring break so no one was there, and the parking lot was HUGE. I wanted to check it out as a potential place to practice since it was so much bigger than the middle school parking lot in my neighborhood. It was getting dark, but I felt confident enough to continue in traffic at dark. It was only a few miles away. Of course, as soon as I get on the road I get someone behind me tailgating me the whole way there. I was still a little nervous, and the driving on my ass maybe a single bike-length or less away, didn’t help at all. The road had a speed limit of 40 or 45 and I was going 50, so it’s not like I was going slow. Tailgaiting that close at 50mph in a car is unsafe and unacceptable. Finally I found the school and turned in.

I spent a bit of time exploring the parking lots of the school. I practiced swerving in a random manner by throwing agility cones about and swerving around them for a little bit and then I headed home. This time there were no tailgaters.

My next trip out would be far more ambitious.

I finally got a bike on March 14th: an ’04 Suzuki sv650s w/ only 10k miles on it and a few extras (upright sv650 naked style bars – MUCH better for a beginner than clip-ons, and more comfy, gel seat, several tank bags, steel braided front brake lines) for a decent deal. After missing a few deals the week earlier, and a really nice deal the day before, I jumped on this one; riding season was around the corner and the decent deals might start to dry up.

I checked out the bike one night, went through most of my checklist (I’ll post that up here later) and it looked good. The next morning I talked one of my friends that rides into going to check out the bike with me again. He gave me the thumbs up after riding it around, I made an offer, and my friend followed me home on the bike!

For the past month I have been practicing in the parking lot at the local elementary and middle schools (they are in my neighborhood, so I don’t actually ever go out into traffic). I was nervous as hell on my first day, just pulling out of the driveway and through the neighborhood! I go out whenever I have time in the evenings for about 60-90 minutes of practice. I think it amounted to 2-3 times a week or so. Things that I practiced off an on, over and over again:

Emergency stopping – from various speeds, generally between 10-25 mph (there is only so fast you can go in a limited space). I practiced with just the front brake and no clutch, the front brake and clutch, the rear brake and no clutch, the rear brake and clutch, and both front and rear with clutch. I set up agility cones at the start point and as soon as I hit that imaginary line I hit the brakes, and tried to figure out how many feet it took to stop, and tried to get it shorter and shorter each time w/o locking anything up until I got it consistent.

Slow speed driving (learning the friction zone of the bike) – started at about 10mph, and just slowed it down every 20+ feet a little until I felt unstable and could no longer balance the bike (around 2-3 mph)

Slow speed u-turns – I set up Read the rest of this entry »