Jun 22
Honda Super 90.” width=

Photo: ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
A little Honda Super 90 motorcycle, similar to the one that hauled my
co-worker and his wife from california to Arkansas.

When I was in college, I worked at the Shoe Factory in DeWitt, Ark., during the summer. There was a guy there who had made the trip from somewhere in California to DeWitt with his wife on a Honda 90. This guy was about 6 feet tall and rail thin, not weighing in at more than 120 pounds. His wife, on the other hand, probably tipped the scales at close to 200. They came from California on that little bike with everything they owned. He always dressed in wide-brimmed cowboy hat and boots. His belt buckle weighed as much as he did. He looked like a 1950s TV cowboy. I’ve kept that mental image in mind for years. While I admire his gumption, it had to have been a comical sight.
That memory was called back for me when I read a post on the Valkyrie board. The person posting had a business trip coming up and was considering making the 570-mile trip on his bike. He only had one day for travel and, would have to be presentable and rational enough for the business meeting the next day. The advice he got was mixed.
One of the people who responded was a lady who told of going from Fort McClellan, Ala., to Detroit sometime in the 1960s on a 50cc scooter. She said it took her three days and 8 gallons of gas. She didn’t give any details about why she made the trip, but I’d imagine they were similar to the guy at the shoe factory. I doubt it was a simple joy ride.
I wouldn’t mind making a long trip on my Valkyrie. We’re talking about a big and comfortable, 1500cc cruiser. Yet I don’t think I’d risk a business meeting on my ability to endure almost 600 miles in a day on it. I might still make an endurance run in the next few years, but it will be something that won’t jeopardize my job. It will be something I try for fun. If it hurts too bad I’ll quit. A little more than a half-century of living has taught me that some things are important and worth suffering for, while other are not. I’ve made the conscious decision that I ride motorcycles for fun. When a ride stops being fun, I’ll shut it down in a heartbeat and save my suffering for other, more important battles.
But there’s a special place in my heart for those heroic little bikes that delivered so much for their owners. In some parts of the world, they are still little bedrocks of dependability that keep some families afloat. So here’s a tip of my hat to the little bikes that could, and the ones that still can.

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 15
Sons of Anarchy cut.” width=

Actor Kim Coats wearing a Sons of Anarchy cut.

I did a blog a while back in which I ragged on FOX’s “Son’s of Anarchy.” (Blog – Sons of Anarchy) It wasn’t so much the show that I had trouble with, but the idea the viewing public seems to aspire to the idea of an outlaw biker. My complaint is with a generation that looks up to the 1 percenter life style.
But as fans of the show will notice from the title, I’ve obviously changed my position some. Since that blog was written, my son came home for a visit with three season of SOA on DVD. He tried all during his visit to get me to sit down a watch a couple of episodes with him. Finally on his last day, I let him pop in Season 1 and the wife and I got our first exposure to this cultural phenomena.
He left the next day, without his DVDs. He started this, so by golly he can just pick them up on his next visit. We went through three seasons in little more than a week. We’d be sitting, bleary eyed in the living room at 1:30 am convincing ourselves that we had time for one more episode. It was the Sopranos all over again. We were hopelessly hooked on a show I was a little ashamed of watching. But you’ve got to admit Ron Perlman just looks like he’d be the leader of a motorcycle gang. And darn it, Jax is really trying to do the right thing. And his girlfriend is a doctor. You get the idea. None of my high minded ideas about responsible viewing lasted through the first episode. So toss me in the basket with the other trillion or so SOA fans. We watched season 4 as it aired with the rest of America.
And now, they are getting into merchandising. There will be hats, shirts, stationery and other bric-a-brac. But the real kicker will be the 100 SOA Harley Davidson motorcycles. It is my understanding there will only be 100 of them, set to sell for $25,000 apiece. I’m curious about how that will work. First come, first served? There may be some throw-downs at some dealerships. I’m guessing at auction these bikes (if truly limited) would go for between $50,000 and $100,000. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go for more. Another show I watch is called “Hollywood Treasures.” I’m frequently amazed at what people will pay for memorabilia from a TV show or movie they like. And a whole lot of people really like “Sons of Anarchy.” Guess I’m one of them now. Will season 5 EVER get here?

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 6
Watch for Motorcycle signs in Grand Prairie Texas.” width=

The “Watch for Motorcycles” sign was donated and installed
Tuesday, May 29, in Grand Prairie by Allstate to help prevent
motorcycle crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 46 percent of all multi-vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Often this is a result of one vehicle making a left turn in front of another trying to go straight through the intersection. In 2009, this type of collision accounted for 40 percent of motorcycle crashes. This is especially dangerous for motorcyclists. Being on a small vehicle with no surrounding structure for protection means a greater likelihood of serious injury or death. This becomes even more unfortunate because motorcycles are more likely to go unnoticed by the operators of other, larger vehicles.
There are several reasons why motorcycles are less likely to be seen. One is of course the smaller size and profile of the vehicle, especially from head-on. The image of a motorcycle head-on just doesn’t take up much room on a retina. But another, and probably larger, factor is due to the way humans process visual information. This has been studied at great length and there are thousands of volumes devoted to the subject, but it boils down to the simple fact that we don’t see what we don’t expect to see. If we look at an intersection for cars, we’re unlikely to see a motorcycle. I’ve done two previous blogs about visual perceptions as they relate to motorcyclists. “The SMIDSY” and “Now you see it now you don’t.” I won’t repeat those details here except to say that this is as much a physiological problem as it is a psychological one.
The previous two blogs dealt more with bikers recognizing and understanding this phenomena, and ways to lessen its impact. But another important part of the solution is to educate the drivers of other vehicles. Allstate insurance company has instituted a program called ONE (Once is Never Enough) that works to educate drivers to look twice for motorcycles. Working with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) they have developed a standardized sign. Some of the first signs have been installed in Grand Prairie Texas, where a test program identified particularly dangerous inerrsections.
Hopefully these new signs will start to appear at other intersections around the country as other transportation agencies begin to adopt them. And hopefully we will see a decrease in the number of motorcycle crash fatalities as a result.

- Guy Wheatley