Saturday, March 29, 2008

Deep Thoughts on a Motorcycle

biker thoughtsOne thing riding a motorcycle gives me is plenty of time to think.

And that's what I did today.

Took a ride down to Escondido, CA to pick up friend, and then we were going to ride to Solana Beach for lunch at Pizza Port. Except, he never showed up. I tried to call him, and then realized that I never put his new number into my cell phone.

So after waiting 25 minutes, I said "screw it", and took off.

Instead of Pizza Port, I found myself with a longing for the shrimp salad at Harbor Fish Cafe in Carlsbad. So over to the coast I went, riding through some back roads, until I finally reached Pacific Coast Highway. And then north until I arrived at my destination.

But along the way, I started thinking about stuff that I had been thinking about the past week.

Riding along PCH, I watched the ocean waves pounding the beach. Just smelling the sea air helps clear my head. You can't get "aromatherapy" while driving a car, unless the guy next to you farts.

I've got Kathleen Edwards' CD playing on my Electra Glide. She seems to sing a lot about anger and struggling, and she has this "girl next door" timbre on her voice, and makes it feel like you're hearing a real person talk to you. I get the sense that she grew up with these feelings.

I grew up with the same feelings too. I'm always dealing with this demon that tempts my anger. I used this demon to drive me to succeed, but I have to harness it so that it doesn't get out of control. So, I'm always thinking, evaluating, and measuring. I'm fortunate to have enough common sense to see the bigger picture, and not judge things on the moment. Riding my motorcycle helps me maintain this balancing act.

Seeing the bigger picture is perhaps what motorcycle riding gives me. I dunno. But whenever I need to sort things out in my mind, that's what it always comes down to. It's always the details that bug you, but it's seeing the bigger picture that mellows it out. I guess if I were inside of a car, I'd feel contained and caged up. But on a motorcycle, I'm out in the open, and I see things on a grander scale.

By the time I dig into my shrimp salad, I've pretty much mellowed out.

I come home, and my wife is surprised to see me back so early. I guess I had plenty of time to ride some more. But I've resolved the demon once again, and it feels good to be back home.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Motorcycles and Divorce

getting a motorcycle during divorceHere's a interesting question I heard from someone else...
Should I buy a motorcycle before or after my divorce?
I suppose the knee-jerk reaction is to say that he should buy it after the divorce, to prevent the wife from wanting half of it (liquidating it).

But then again, I wonder if buying the motorcycle before the divorce is better. After the divorce, it's likely the husband won't have the money to afford one.

He may be left paying alimony and/or child support, and on top of that, won't have a wife to contribute additional income. Therefore, it might be best to spend all the cash now, and buy the motorcycle.

It's also assumed that he will lose the house and all of its furnishings, as well as the savings account and retirement account. Basically, he'll be left with shit. But if he spends the money now and buys that motorcycle, he can at least voluntarily offer to give up everything else but the motorcycle. Otherwise, if he waits until after the divorce, he may not have the money.

It would be wise to buy the motorcycle with just his name on it.

But let's say that during the divorce hearings, the judge forces him to sell the motorcycle and split the money 50/50. That's not bad anyways, because it'll take several months to sell it off during these hard economic times, and he can still ride it during that time. Again, if he waits until after the divorce, he may never be able to afford it.

But what if the person asking this question is the wife? Does that change anything?

Well then, maybe it'll be better to wait until after the divorce. During the divorce hearings, she'll want to do everything she can to win the sympathy of the judge. So, she'll want to refrain from splurging on luxuries until after it's settled.

Now, I've never been through a divorce, so I don't know this by experience. I'm just speculating here.

If any of you bikers reading this have experience with divorce, how did you deal with the motorcycle?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

If You Don't Ride, Then You Don't Know

If you don't ride, then you don't know
Where I've been and where I go.
It's all about the freedom of the open road.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Newbie Motorcycle Riders

newbie motorcycle ridersIn this riding club I'm in, and the last riding club I was in, members have been cautious of people who were new to riding. Some treated them like they were the plague, as if they were scared of them.

The concern is that they don't feel comfortable riding in a group when there is a newbie rider.

I can understand the concern, but there are ways to deal with it. You put them in the back of the group, and you do a pre-ride meeting to go over the details.

Despite what many people say, just because someone is new to riding a motorcycle, doesn't always mean that person can't handle a motorcycle. While most newbies certainly have trouble navigating twisties, and are not used to group riding, there are some who seemingly have no trouble at all.

It's a case of "mind over matter".

Some people simply have the mental capacity to take on something new, master it very quickly, and adjust to their surroundings very quickly. I've seen this before with some riders. It only takes a few rides with the group, and they've mastered group riding. Everyone is born with a gift, and some people are born with a unique ability to understand motorcycling.

So when we finished up our ride to the Rock Inn last Saturday, Brian complimented me about my patience with some of the newbie riders that were with us. He was going nuts with their slow riding, or their constant questioning, "How far away are we?"

I just said, "Sometimes you never know how people will turn out."

That is, you might find someone who will turn out to be a really good riding buddy, or you might just find someone who will turn out to be a really good friend.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

The Most Expensive Hobby There Is

Motorcycle hobbyAfter reading the Joker's comments about his $90 leather jacket, and that you get what you pay for, motorcycling as a hobby has got to be one of the most expensive hobbies there is. But the biggest question is, what are we getting back from this expense?

First of all, you're paying $6,000 for that entry-level Honda Shadow, or $20,000 for that Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.

Second, double that figure for all the aftermarket accessories and parts...

Durables:
Leather Jacket ($100-$300)
Boots ($100-$300)
Goggles & glasses ($20-$100)
Chaps ($100-$300)
Helmet ($50-$150)
Gloves ($20-$75)
Stage 1 Kit with labor ($1,000)
Chrome replacement parts ($1,000)
Chrome covers ($1,000)
New handlebar grips ($100)
Comfy seat ($300-$500)

Consumables:
Tires every 10,000 miles ($200-$400)
Scheduled maintenance every 5,000 miles ($250)
Gasoline each ride ($20)

Other Costs:
Registration each year ($200)
Insurance each year ($500-$1000)
Traffic citations/Traffic School ($100-$1,000)
Benefit Rides & Rallies each year ($100-$500)

And that's the just basic costs. Most folks end buying two leather jackets. If you're a chick, you might have three pairs of riding boots/shoes. I've purchased a lot more aftermarket accessories than what I've listed above.

And if you're really into motorcycle riding as I am, you own two motorcycles. It becomes exponential at that point.

When I bought my Yamaha Road Star, I was caught up in the hysteria of aftermarket accessories. I had a vision of I wanted that bike to look like, and I splurged on buying up stuff. It gave me a sense of pride when I saw someone looking at my bike. But these days, I'm done with that.

When I bought my Electra Glide, I made a vow not to buy any bling. If I bought anything, it would be for comfort or performance reasons, like the Stage 1 kit, and the mirror extensions.

So you have to ask yourself, where is my return on investment for all the money I've spent on this motorcycle hobby?

If you spent $15,000 on a motorcycle, and another $15,000 on all the parts, labor, gasoline, and clothing, what have you gotten back in return?

The answer that I keep coming up with are three things: friendships, thrill of riding, and exploring the country.

Some of the people I've ridden with have become really good friends with me, while others are just friendly acquaintances. Through these friendships, I've created many good memories. Since my wife and I don't have kids, spending time with our friends is how we break the monotony of day-to-day life. The thrill of riding, and seeing the countryside is the therapeutic aspect that I get of motorcycling.

So with that being said, why do I need that piece of chrome? Why does it really matter if that $90.00 leather jacket is not as good as the $250 dollar leather jacket?

What you get out of motorcycling may not be the same as what I get. For you, it may be friendships, and not about the thrill of riding, or seeing the country. Then you won't need to do a Stage 1 kit, or buy up a lot of bling. Maybe you're an "artist", and you need to express yourself by customizing your bike, and you love to hear what others think. In that case, you won't need to spend much money on leather gear.

Focus on what you get back from motorcycling as a hobby, maybe you'll spare yourself some expense.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Slow Riders and Fast Riders

riding the twistiesSome friends and I did a ride out to the Rock Inn today, a popular biker hangout in Lake Hughes, CA. There were two of us from our riding club, along with three others that have ridden with our club before.

In addition, I organized the ride on my Temecula Motorcycle Riders Meetup Group. And through that group, we got six other riders whom we've never met before.

We went through several twisty roads. The riders we never met before started fading away. It wasn't because they were all slower, but it was because two of them were slow, and held up the rest of the riders.

At the conclusion of the ride, Brian, Danny, and myself sat inside a Yard House brew pub, talking about the other riders, which ones wanted to crank the throttle and which ones wanted to take it easy.

It's important to point out that riding slow is not necessarily a sign of inexperience. I know at least one guy who rides slower than most people, but has been riding for years. I don't think it's that he's never pushed himself to improve, I think it's just that this guy really likes slow riding.

Of the six riders that we never met before, it turned out to be the gal, Rebeca, riding her Sportster, who was the fastest among them. She told us that she absolutely loves riding fast. Well, God bless her. And I mean that literally; she's going to need it.

Danny said that while he prefers the company of faster riders, he likes to take it easy sometimes and enjoy the scenery. And that's my sentiments exactly. I like riding faster than the average guy, but not balls-to-the-wall fast like Brian.

I know that for Brian, riding fast is a disease. He's addicted to that "Oh Shit" feeling, where he hits a curve really hot and he thinks he's going to hit the guard rail, but somehow pulls it out. The feeling he gets when he's sure to meet his fate, is the feeling that he's addicted to. That's scary.

I don't like riding that fast, but I do like feeling a certain connection to my motorcycle. I can't get that feeling if I'm riding slow or at a moderate pace. I like to squeeze the motorcycle with my legs and lean into a turn and feel the g-forces pulling at me. If I'm riding any faster, I have to use more brain power on navigating the twisties, and I'm just not enjoying the ride anymore.

Some other guys in our club love jumping on a long stretch of straight road, and testing the upper limits of their bikes. They'll take them up to 130mph, and are practically racing each other. I never join in on it, and just hold my bike steady at 80-90mph until I catch up to them down the road. Going superfast down a straight road just doesn't do anything for me.

Among the slow riders, many of them will say that they're just not interested in going any faster, or that they're more concerned about safety. That's all fine and good, but then they must find a certain kind of satisfaction in riding that I'm not finding. I'm not trying to put them down, but I'm just not feeling the satisfaction that they're feeling.

I know that some Harley riders seem more interested in the social aspects of motorcycling than the riding itself. I find that many of these riders tend to fall behind on the twisties. It's not that they're inexperienced riders, or that they like riding slow, it's that they never really wanted to ride the twisties. They seem disinterested in the love of g-forces and moving air. They're interested in what comes after the ride, like sitting down, chatting, and whatever. I presume if they had their way, they'd take the freeway to the local hangout. The faster you get there, the more time you have to hangout.

Lanny, a rider in my area that rides a FJR 1300, has a reputation of being one of the fastest riders on the twisties around these parts. But I'll go on a ride with him, and he'll take a moderate pace. Then at a rest stop, he'll ask me if I saw that column of rock back there, or that deer standing by the side of the road. He's a very skilled rider, but he's just in awe of the scenery. He loves riding both slow and fast.

There's another slow rider I know of, with years of experience, and hundreds of thousands of miles to his credit, but he rides the twisties slow. I think what it is is that he's just a slow guy period. Everything he does is slow. He eats slow. He talks slow. He walks slow. He's just riding at the speed at which his brain processes information.

Sometimes I like riding slow with my wife on the back. We'll take the Electra Glide out on Highway 76, towards Lake Henshaw, and do a slow 55mph down most of the highway. She'll grab on to me and I'll feel the wind rush by, and I'll see the sunlight beaming through the trees, and I'll feel like we've just started dating again.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Motorcycle Rallies versus Riding

sturgis motorcycle rallyI've come to a point where I don't care much for biker rallies, poker runs, and other biker gatherings.

One exception however, are bike nights. I still like going to those.

There was a time when I liked going to rallies and runs, paying my registration fee, getting my t-shirt, ride pin, and hanging out with other bikers. Over the years, it's just all the time same stuff, the same vendors, the same locations.

I don't mind helping out charity, and I do donate to charity, we just normally do it by writing a check and mailing it out.

All I want to do now is ride.

In the last riding club I was in, that was actually a bone of contention.

The Yuma Prison Run is coming up next month. Several folks I know around here are planning to go. It's basically three days of camping out at the Yuma Fairgrounds, and drinking beer. I've been there the last two years in a row. If you've never been to Yuma, AZ, the riding there sucks. The only roads you've got are Interstate 8, and highway 95, and they both run straight for miles and miles. It sucks. I do like the company of my friends, but I just get this itch to ride; I can't just sit in the middle of a fairground all day.

The reason why I still like bike nights is because they happen during the middle of the week, and it's just for a couple of hours. You go there, you grab a bite to eat, something to drink, and just chat for a little bit. You don't stay there all day long, and it's great way to bridge the weekend rides.

The irony of all this is that it's really tough to find riding buddies that want to ride a lot. You'd figure that people spend $10-20K on a motorcycle because they love the thrill of riding. Instead, most folks only want to do shorter rides.

Maybe I'm just out of touch with the rest of the motorcycle community. Maybe there's something I'm missing about the motorcycle culture. Maybe I'm destined to become a motorcycle loner.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Loud Pipes Save Lives Debate

Loud pipes save livesI know you've read many other arguments on the issue of "loud pipes save lives".

I wanted to present a new argument on the standpoint that our society only counts fatalities, and not survivals.

The problem with the "loud pipes save lives" claim is that there's no way to measure it as being true or not. As long as riders continue to go on living, we'll never know if it was their loud pipes that saved them from accidents.

On the other hand, we can count biker deaths. But what good are biker deaths when we're trying to figure out if loud pipes save lives?

If you ride a motorcycle, I'm sure you tend to get a little anxious about being in someone's blind spot. I always accelerate or drop out of it. The fact is that I don't know if my pipes have ever saved my life. But I do have loud pipes, and yes I've been in several near misses. The fact that I'm still alive just might be attributed to those pipes.

We'll never know for sure if loud pipes save lives because government doesn't count accidents that almost happened. But ask any motorcycle rider who is still alive, and he or she will tell you about the near misses they were involved in.

The irony, however, is that many people who protest against loud pipes are often the same people that support helmet laws. They claim that helmets save lives, but how do we know that if we only count the fatalities?

The truth is that we don't have statistics on how many times a helmet saved a life. We only know how many bikers died. Instead we analyze the consequences of repealing helmet laws by comparing the before-and-after fatality rates. If we see a 0.25% or higher reduction in fatalities, we pat ourselves on the back for making progress.

So can't we also suggest that loud pipes don't always save lives, but they will increase your chances? What if a state decided to aggressively enforce its noise abatement laws and forced every motorcycle owner to reinstall their stock exhaust? Will motorcycle deaths increase?

And if they did increase, will the State apologize and reverse its decision on loud pipes? Should we experiment with the lives of motorcyclists and see if more of them die?

If we defend helmet laws with aggregate statistics, then it stands to reason that the same can be done with loud pipes. Except, we don't have such statistics.

And I don't think we ought to create any, either.

I'd like to hear your comments.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Definition of Biker Friendly

biker friendly cadillacBiker friendly cities...
Biker friendly bars...
Biker friendly hotels...

The fact is that the term, "biker friendly" is somewhat of an oxymoron, because about 99% of all places and establishments are friendly to bikers. Biker money is the same as anyone else's money. Any biker can go to a Denny's restaurant, and receive friendly service there.

It's more appropriate to use the term "biker unfriendly", as that would narrow down your list of search results to a manageable few.

However, when a biker describes a place as being "biker friendly", they mean that the management has an affinity for biker clientele. It's not so much that a lot of bikers go to that place, it's just that bikers tend to be treated with greater attention and understanding.

For myself, I don't give a damn if the management has an affinity for bikers. I just want to be treated like any other customer. If I were to visit a biker bar, I'd expect the level of service to be different than if I were to visit a TGI Fridays. You don't want children and soccer moms at a biker bar; you go to a biker bar to get away from that segment of society.

But biker bars are not necessarily, "biker friendly". Like other establishments, they treat all clientele the same. They just don't kiss ass, and they don't bend over backwards for you. The girls working there will cuss and shake their asses, and give you some attitude if you got a problem. For that reason, the soccer moms and yuppie dads tend to stay away.

The hard core bikers and veterans of the road don't necessarily want to patronize an establishment that actually markets itself as "biker friendly", because all that does is brings in the RUBs and posers. On the other hand, the money that RUBs and posers bring in is the same as anyone else's money.

People are also using the term, "biker friendly cities" to describe a town that isn't waging a war against bikers. This is also somewhat oxymoronic. No city goes out of its way to be friendly to bikers, with maybe the possible exception of Sturgis, SD. Otherwise, 99% of the police departments out there treat bikers the same as they treat cagers. But there is that 1% that seem to pay extra attention to bikes with loud pipes, although that's usually because there is a specific problem of loud pipes, not because they just like to bust bikers.

If anything, bikers don't want extra attention, they don't want staff to go out of their way to welcome them in. They prefer to be treated the same as any other customer, and without being made a public spectacle.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

The Psychology of Washing a Motorcycle

cleaning a harleyMost everyone washes and polishes their motorcycle at some time. It's how often you do so that reveals something about your interest in riding.

Riders often chide each other over the cleanliness of their bikes, or the lack of cleanliness. Interestingly, a dirty motorcycle is kinda like a badge of honor...
  • A dirty bike is a sign of riding a lot.

  • The more you wash your bike, the less you ride.

  • No one knows if a bike is dirty when its moving down the road.

  • An impeccably clean motorcycle is a sign of someone who's more interested in showing off their bike.
There was a time when I spent a lot of money trying to give my bike a certain "look". I bought a lot of chrome pieces and accessories. I kept telling myself that I was doing this to please myself, but in reality, I was excited when someone stopped to look at my bike.

Those days are over.

Later on, when I bought my Harley, the only aftermarket stuff I bought for it was a stage 1 kit, and some extended mirrors so that I could see out of them better. If I want other people to know something about me, it's that my bike is for riding, not sitting in the parking lot.

One of the guys I ride with regularly has the same philosophy. You can stop at a biker bar, and look at all the bikes, and know which ones don't get ridden much, based on how clean it is.

I still wash and polish my bikes once in a while. But there are places on my bikes that are hard to get to, or I have to remove some pieces to get to them. I don't bother. It's not worth the effort to clean those hard-to-get-to areas when the bike is going to get dirty after the next ride.

But for some guys, it's worth the effort to clean all of it.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Do Motorcycle Riders Hate Scooters?

Vectrix scooterI was reading this forum post from a scooter rider, complaining that she's being disrespected by motorcycle riders while riding down the road...
Maybe I'm paranoid, but I get the impression that many people riding motorcycles in my neighborhood (socal) cannot respect the right of my 250cc scooter to share space with them.

Am I right? and if I'm right, why? Or is it possible that I am doing something unknowingly to provoke people?
Here's a link to her full post...
http://www.beginnerbikers.org/forum/showthread.php?t=16665

She goes on to specify that on a busy street, during her commute to and from work, she often splits lanes and rides past many other motorcycles. Once in awhile a motorcycle will refuse to move over to let her by. She thinks that these riders are refusing to let her by, just because she's on a scooter.

I have a couple of thoughts on this.

For one, on a busy street, where motorcycles and scooters are splitting lanes, most motorcycle riders are focusing on the cars and trucks. They're not concerned about a scooter rider "showing them up" on skills. If a motorcycle rider is not moving over to let her pass, it's because they are not looking in their mirrors, or they're not comfortable with the situation. It has nothing to do with ego, as she suggests.

Second, there are some scooter riders out there who seem to have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to motorcycle riders. They seem to think that motorcycle riders look down at them. As a result, this segment of scooter riders are looking for any tiny bit of evidence to justify their ire. It's too bad that they harbor this anger while trying to enjoy a ride.

While I've heard some motorcycle riders make jokes about scooters, I haven't met one that took these jokes to heart. I don't know of a motorcycle rider that believes that scooter riders are not taking the same risks that motorcycle riders take when they hit the road. Scooters these days are capable of hitting triple-digit speeds, and have engine displacements as much as 800cc now. If anything the lighter scooter feels the bumps more severely than the heavier motorcycle.

If there is a motorcycle rider who is truly concerned about his ego, that ego is not limited to motorcycles. He'll have the same ego trip with his car, boat, bicycle, or whatever.

The fact is that scooter riders have a greater concern with cagers. Any scooter rider with a chip on their shoulder against motorcycles, should watch out for cars instead.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Motorcycle Superstitions

Blessing of the BikesBikers like any other facet of society, have their superstitions. I'd thought I talk about some of them.

Blessing of the Bikes

Now that Easter is just around the corner, and Spring is just about here, we'll start hearing more about "Blessing of the Bikes". It's fast growing into one of the biggest biker superstitions.

A Blessing of the Bikes is actually religious, and if you're religious it's not hard to understand why you'd want to do it. But there are many non-religious people, who for some reason, make a point to get their motorcycles blessed. And that's when it becomes superstition.

I remember attending a poker run in my local area called, "Bikers for Education" or the "BFE Ride". It's held in the Spring, and starts from a Catholic school. A priest comes out and douses each of the motorcycles with holy water. I can remember hearing some people say, "Oh yes! my bike has some water on it!".

In theory, the water is supposed to summon the power of God to protect you and your motorcycle from bad luck. I don't think the blessing worked, because when it came to time to announce the winners of the raffle, all I had was bad luck.

Ride Bells

The little iron bell that hangs from a biker's motorcycle is supposed to ward off evil spirits. As the story suggests, these demons exist on all roadways, and when a motorcycle passes by, they grab on to it and begin chipping away at your good luck until finally you have a crash.

The tingling of the bell is said to irritate these demons and prevent them from hitching a ride on your motorcycle.

BTW, the bell only has its power when someone else buys it for you, otherwise it doesn't work at all. Some vendors argue that it actually has half-power if you buy your own, but this is just marketing baloney to get people to buy two.

Green Motorcycles

Supposedly, a green painted motorcycle is bad luck. The legend has it that the Harleys used in World War II were often sitting duck targets, and many military riders got their butts blasted off them. And since they were painted Army green, it eventually translated into modern folklore.

This one might actually be true. I know a guy who had a green Road Glide, and dropped it several times, one time injuring his leg. Then he got the bike repainted, with a different shade of green, and wiped out on it again. From what I could recall, when his bike still had the factory black, he never crashed it.

A Dead Man's Motorcycle

There's a saying that riding a motorcycle that belonged to someone who is now dead is bad luck.

It's not necessarily that that person was killed on the motorcycle, just that he's now dead. Supposedly, his spirit is still riding that motorcycle along the great highway in the sky, and if he sees you riding his bike in the physical world, he'll knock you off of it.

You don't even want to use parts from that bike.

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Why Do Men Join Motorcycle Clubs?

Why men join motorcycle clubsWhy do men join motorcycle clubs?

There are many reasons why, and I'll explore them below.

But first, it also depends on the club itself. Guys don't just join a club for the sake of joining a club, but because that club offers a specific purpose. Each have different perogatives, philosophies. And of course, the people in the club have their own personalities, and that makes each club and/or chapter unique.

There are many motorcycle clubs founded with the purpose of brotherhood. Some of these clubs are more like "support groups", particularly on staying clean and sober, or recovering from alcoholism. Think of them like an Alcoholic Anonymous group, but for bikers.

Quite a few are military based. There are some that are solely for active military, mostly as a way create unity among a group of soldiers and sailors. There are many more for veterans, and these clubs exist to provide charitable support for veterans causes.

There are also faith-based clubs. Some of them are motorcycle clubs for Christians, and there are also some for Jews. But there are also "motorcycle ministries" (MM), which are not so much clubs, but actual churches that get together and ride, and then have service.

There are clubs centered around professions, like policemen, firemen, and iron workers. Some clubs are auxiliaries of local labor union chapters. Some guys are interested in joining these clubs because they can mingle with like-minded folks.

Some clubs are actually corporations, or enterprises, that own bars, restaurants, and other licensed businesses. Some sell guns, prostitutes, and drugs. Their goal is to make money.

Other clubs are just interested in partying, be it drinking all night, swinging, or whatever floats their boat.

What that in mind, guys join motorcycle clubs mostly because the club offers something that they're wanting. Be it a sense of brotherhood, a sense of family, partying, or spiritual healing. If you're wondering why your husband or boyfriend wants to join a motorcycle club, take a look at the club.

Most guys join motorcycle clubs because the club offers reputation. If a club has a well-established reputation, be it good or bad, that reputation will rub off on them when they wear the club's colors. In that sense, guys join these clubs because they seek "legitimacy", or, they want to be the "real deal" in the eyes of others.

Larger clubs rely on an organizational structure to keep everything in order. A lot of guys thrive on this. They want to join these kinds of clubs because they need a sense of "structure and order" in their lives. They want to contribute to a larger goal, and they want their place in the framework.

Some guys are just lost, and many motorcycle clubs offer them "family". They give them a place in the structure, and tell him that he's now part of their family, and that they'll back him up no matter what.

There are also guys in their middle ages that have become bored with their lives. They might have wives and kids, but their kids are grown up, and romance is no longer that big burning flame that it once was. Instead of cheating of their wives, they find that a motorcycle club gives them something to look forward to.

Keep in mind that there are also "riding clubs", as opposed to "motorcycle clubs". The riding club is centered around riding motorcycles. Motorcycle clubs usually have a greater goal or perogative than just riding bikes. The riding club offers no other purpose than to go out riding with some folks, grab some lunch, have a beer, and call it a day.

What makes things confusing between riding clubs and motorcycle clubs, is that some motorcycle clubs are actually riding clubs if you look at them closely. There are also clubs that call themselves "riding club" when in fact they're trying to be a motorcycle club. They do this because the Confederation of Clubs in their state has made it difficult for new motorcycle clubs to exist.

If you hubby says he's joining a club, you might want to ask him if its a riding club or a motorcycle club.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wife Doesn't Want Me to Buy a Motorcycle

Wife doesn't want me to buy a motorcycleI heard it from several guys who spotted me with my motorcycle in a parking lot, and walked up to me to take a look...
"I'd love to get a motorcycle, but my wife doesn't want me to get one".
I mentioned one such story on Biker News Online a couple of years ago (link).

Last weekend, after my buddies and I finished up a long day of riding the local twisties, we enjoyed some beer at a bar in town, and talked about the guys we knew who rarely ride their bikes.

I said, "There's a reason why us guys can spend our weekends riding, it's because our wives don't tie us down, they understand our need to ride, and support us 100%".

Another guy said, "Yes, but some of us guys have wives that always want to ride with us."

True, my wife often wants to go also, but not because she enjoys the thrill of riding, but because she likes the social aspects of being with people. I don't mind taking her most times, but sometimes I'm in the mood to hit the twisties hard, and I don't want the extra weight.

Probably one of the best things you can do to break the ice on your wife's unwillingness to let you ride a motorcycle, is to take her to a Harley dealership. Go to one that's busy with customers.

Don't tell her that you're taking her to a dealership. Instead, stop there on your way to a restaurant, and then ask her to get out and go inside with you. She'll probably be upset.

But take her to the women's clothing area, and pick out something for her, and ask her to try it on. Tell her that you think this will make her look "cute". If she actually puts it on, tell her "Oh yeah honey, that's doing it for me."

Then ask her to sit on one of the bikes (steer her to one you're actually wanting). Then say, "You look really hot!". She'll notice the other women there, dressed up in Harley garb, looking like cute biker hotties.

Eventually a salesman will wander over to ask you if he can help with anything. Tell him, "Well, I've been thinking about buying a motorcycle". Your wife will probably open her mouth wide, and say, "Oh no you're not Harold!".

Harley salesmen are used to this kind of thing. They deal with stubborn wives all the time, and know the right things to say. They'll help you with her.

Some wives don't mind their husbands riding a motorcycle, it's just that they want to be a part of their outings. Tell her that you want to take some road trips with her, or spend a weekend somewhere. As long as you can get that new Harley home, the work is done.

If all else fails, just buy the motorcycle without her knowledge, and bring it home. Once it's home, there's nothing she can do about it. Just don't put her name on the title so that she can't sell it from behind your back.

By all means, make it up to her by offering a vacation to Hawaii, or remodel the kitchen. Give her something she's always wanted, to lessen the impact.

Don't make any promises to her, however. Don't say something like, "I promise to mow the lawn every weekend", or "I'll fix patio like you wanted". Because in reality, what you really want to do on your weekends is ride.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Motorcycle Blogging Conundrum

sleeping on a motorcycleThumper, who writes the well-read Outlaw Biker World, e-mailed me a few days ago asking why I haven't been keeping Biker News Online updated with fresh content.

He advised that I'm enjoying my weather here in SoCal, because apparently in Arizona where he is at, he isn't.

Well, yeah, the weather has been getting a lot better here in sunny SoCal, and the days are starting to get longer too. I just got new tires on my Road Star, and have been taking her out more often.

So if I earn a living writing some blogs about motorcycles, how am I supposed to get any riding in? Well, the truth is that I can do much of that blogging at night. The reality is that I'll go through several months of non-stop blogging, followed by a few months of inactivity.

I think that I end up sitting in my home office so much, that I get into a little bit of depression, and find myself wanting nothing more than to get out on the road. For the past few months, that's where I've been. Even though the past few months were in the cold of Winter, the riding is still not bad here in SoCal.

Once I've had my fill of riding, I start feeling the need to express myself in the written word, and it's back to blogging again.

Jay, who writes the newly launched Road Captain USA blog, wrote to me asking for tips on running a successful motorcycle blog, and I basically said to keep it fresh with lots of content, preferably with new material each and every day. And at the same time I said that, I had already let my Biker News Online website lapse without any new material for a couple of weeks.

So, I don't know if he truly took my advice with any seriousness, or with a grain of salt.

I guess if your favorite activity is to write, then it would provide a great foundation for a very successful blogging career. But if your favorite activity is to ride your motorcycle all day long, then it kinda contradicts a career that demands you to sit behind a computer.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Riding With Strangers

Yesterday I went for a ride with Joe, a guy I barely know.

I met him a few weeks ago on a website, where bikers in my general area congregate to chat, BS, and share their thoughts. Since he lives in my town, I threw him an e-mail just to say "hi".

A week later, we hooked up for a ride to San Clemente to grab some pizza and hang out. I took my wife, and he took his girlfriend. We had good time.

Yesterday, we hooked up again, grabbing some lunch at a fish shack in Carlsbad.

That's basically what I've doing over the past few years, meeting riders in my area via the Internet, hooking up for rides, and forming friendships with some.

On HDForums, under the California section, there are guys there organizing "Sunday Rides" and "Saturday Rides", and people from all over SoCal hook up, and ride as a pack for just the afternoon.

When Joe and I left the fish shack, and headed up Pacific Coast Highway, we crossed paths with another guy, Jorge, who was riding his bike back home. I met Jorge a year ago, also on the Internet. Jorge decided to turn around and ride with us a for a ways.

I don't know how many riders I've met online and hooked up for rides, but thinking back over the past few years, there's been lots.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dyna Wide Glide and Road Star

The past few months I've been following my heart more than my head. As I get older, it seems like I do this more often.

It was in my mid-30s when I found myself at work realizing that I was stuck in a rut. I was managing the research & development department of a software company, and I was spending more time dealing the attitudes of my employees, the attitudes of my superiors, and competing against other managers trying to crawl up the corporate ladder.

It all came to a climax when another department manager, who I had hired years before, and trained, stabbed me in the back for something I didn't do. Blamed me for something she fucked up on. I tried to defend myself, but the more I argued, the more it looked like I was a dickhead.

"Why am I wasting my time doing this shit?" I kept asking myself.

I knew right there I wasn't cut out for corporate life.

That was Orange County, CA. "The OC" as many people now come to call it.

My wife and I left "the OC" in 2001 for a place further inland, where rural living butted up against urban sprawl. We had all the goodness of a small community, but the luxuries of shopping and dining.

My next door neighbor, who was the same age as I, and was in the same career rut that I was in, showed me a Harley-Davidson brochure, and the bike that he wanted to buy, a 2004 Dyna Wide Glide.

I remembered back to my college days when I rode my Kawasaki KZ400. I rode that bike everywhere because it was all I had. My buddy Greg had a Kawasaki KZ450. Greg and I rode the crap out of our bikes. Whichever direction the wind blew, we rode with it. We watched "Easy Rider" together and talked about doing our own cross-country road trip.

As it turned out, I fell in love with a girl, and I wasn't spending too much time riding with Greg. He and I kinda drifted apart, though he was there to stand by my side at my wedding. Riding motorcycles took a back seat to Life.

If not for my wife, I may have taken that road trip with Greg, and who knows where I would have ended up. But what I do know today is that I still have the same wife, and she's been there to support me through my worst days.

So when my neighbor showed me a photo of the Dyna Wide Glide, I told him that if he bought that bike, I'd buy a motorcycle too, and that he and I would ride the crap out of them. He finally bought the Dyna, and I bought a Yamaha Road Star, and the two of us hit the road and forged a closer friendship. He showed me a map of the USA, and said he wanted to do a cross-country trip, just like in Easy Rider. I said, "Let's do it".

Not too long after, my neighbor did something really dumb, and got served with divorce papers. I helped him pack his belongings into a pickup truck, and I haven't seen him since.

I've since gone on to meet other guys in my local area with bikes, and we ride as often as we can, and have formed some close friendships. We've done a lot of road trips across the western USA, but I still haven't done that cross-country ride.

I'm at a point now that I don't care about the things that I should be doing, but the things that I really want to do. These days, my wife's health is failing, and she needs me here. It might be awhile before I can leave everything behind, jump on my bike, and see where the road takes me.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)