The entire 2004 archive (original BCN posts)

by on November 21, 2004
in Misc Updates

August 23 – “Bikers in the City”
WOW cool event! A local group that markets events in downtown Des Moines, the Downtown Community Alliance, sponsored a great biker event this past weekend called “Bikers in the City.” I’m not a very good judge of crowds or numbers, but I’d guess there were maybe 800 bikes. They closed off several streets in the downtown restaurant district and the idea was that bikers would “ride in”, park in columns on the streets, and enjoy live music, beer, and the area’s several trendy restaurants. We spent the day Saturday riding with our friends Garry & Shirley, and “rode in” to BITC at the end of our ride. Beautiful day, beautiful evening, LOTS of bikes, great supper at Spaghetti Works, just an awesome biker day!

September 24 – Another Season “First”: Bike Night at Porky’s
Took me all summer to overcome a mental block I had about riding my own over to Bike Night at Porky’s; finally accomplished that last Thursday and – it was kind of anti-climactic. My problem had been that 1). Porky’s is notorious for having HUNDREDS of bikes there on Bike Night – a potentially huge crowd for me to potentially fall down in front of; and 2). They had a really goofy/dangerous entry/exit where cars frequently bottom-out – I was convinced that doing this entry/exit at a slow speed would cause me to fall down if only from trying to avoid hitting someone in the crowd. Learned two important things: the driveway had been fixed (probably long ago and I just wasn’t paying attention) and a bowling alley down the street that started a rival Bike Night on the same night has taken a LOT of Porky’s crowd away. What can I say, I’m an idiot – but I’ve now got “Bike Night attendance” under my belt in addition to all the other “firsts” from this awesome riding season!

September 27 – Leather Jacket Search update
I’ve been looking all year for a good leather riding jacket… wanted something a little unique, but I am so hard to fit. Narrow shoulders, broad in the bust, and no waistline. Typical “apple”-shaped female body, which the Fashionistas usually choose to cover only with loose-fitting styles. Discovered I am really kidding myself – can’t even find the “traditional” biker-jacket styles in a size that fits, let alone something a little different. I knew womens’ leathers usually run small, so normally being a 2x or 3x depending on the style I ordered a 5x in a black-and-purple fringed style from a woman on eBay. Due to shipping problems from her overseas vendor, it ended up taking SEVEN WEEKS for me to receive the coat – only to find out it didn’t even come close to fitting. The refund is in the works, but I’m very disappointed. Going to have to settle for a boring bomber-style if I want to ride this fall.

October 1 – Leather Jacket Search Ends
I finally gave in and went up to Walgreens (yes, the dime store), where for the last several years in the fall they have had a growing selection of fleece pullovers, denim shirts, and other fall clothing… and this year, purchased a leather jacket. The price was right ($59.99), the jacket fits well with a little room for outstretched arms and a sweatshirt underneath, and I finally have some leather. The downside is, it’s very plain. Guess I will have to customize it.

October 12 – What is ABATE?
With the 2004 Toy Run now behind us, it seems a good time to take a moment and consider the organization which sponsored the ride, ABATE of Iowa. Who is ABATE? ABATE is a non-profit organization dedicated to lobbying for “biker’s rights” and advocating biker safety. ABATE’s most “visible” position is probably their stance on helmet laws: they encourage all bikers to wear helmets, but they oppose helmet laws – believing instead that bikers should be permitted to choose for themselves. If you look around over at the ABATE website, you’ll find some good reading on their various legislative activities, safe-rider education efforts, and of course the annual Freedom Rally now to be held each year in Algona, Iowa. Check it out, maybe even become a member!

October 24 – Beautiful Day!
Wow, today was awesome! Bright, clear blue sky, about 75 degrees, light wind, autumn colors at their peak. We got a 70-mile ride in up around Saylorville Lake, Polk City, Sheldahl and Madrid. Then a quick stop at the car wash to hose off the bugs – LOL. It was just a beautiful day, LOTS of bikes out… one of those days where you can take a moment here and there to really appreciate the colors of the season. Beautiful day, great ride!

October 29 – Final ride of season?
Took the day off work today (Friday)… the sky turned blue (first time all week) and the streets dried up some, so I went for a short (30 mile) ride and hit my 1,800 mile mark for the season. Boy it sure was windy… I cut the highway part of the ride short cuz I kept getting pushed over to the left, but it was still a nice ride. Ran out of gas and had to pull over and stop to switch to reserve, but I was close to Casey’s so it was no big deal. Nice ride, glad I got one more shorty in before it gets too cold.

November 6 – Short ‘n Sweet!
Another short 40-miler today, not as windy but cooler. Lots of bikes out, folks just don’t want to give up.

November 21 – Still seein’ bikers out
Been in the 40’s and low 50’s lately, still seeing the hardcore bikers out. I want to ride, but somehow seein’ them only makes me think, “DANG they must be cold!”

Q & A: What’s the best way to learn to carry a passenger?

by on November 3, 2004
in Riding Tips

Have a question for the Biker Chick? Just send me an email!

I’m a biker chick but neither my husband nor my son rides. I’d like to learn to take a passenger, but I don’t know how to do it. Does the passenger get on first? Where do they hold on? Can a 10-year-old be a passenger on a bike? Help!

It’s important for me to start by saying that I have never taken a passenger on my bike. Inexperience aside, there are a few things that I believe I have “learned” by listening to others and thinking through what they’ve said, and by being a passenger for many years on my husband’s bike.

The first thing is, you should not take your child as your first passenger, especially if that child is not an experienced passenger or some reason cannot physically get on the bike (too small to reach the pegs, etc.). It simply is not fair to ask them to be the “guinea pig” while you are getting used to the extra weight – for one thing, they could get hurt if you do happen to tip over, and as a parent you probably don’t want that on your conscience. And for another, it could scare them away from bikes for a long time if they have a bad first experience. (It’s also my opinion that a child should absolutely wear a helmet and protective gear – at the very least a leather jacket and long pants – every time they are on the bike. If you don’t have that equipment for your 10 year old, I would not recommend putting him on the bike.)

Second thing is to instruct your passenger in the safety measures associated with being a good passenger. This means: do not get on or off the bike until I tell you I am ready. Do not wiggle around, stand on the pegs, or make sudden movements while riding. And, do not try to lean *away* from the direction of a curve. More on each of these:

I believe the best way for a passenger to mount the bike is to wait until you have mounted and have the bike pulled upright and properly balanced. You should have both feet on the ground and the handlebars straight. Then tell them it’s okay to climb on: put one foot on the left side peg and hold onto your shoulder, then push themselves up and swing their leg over the back of the bike. Get seated and make sure they find both foot pegs. If the bike has been running, be sure they don’t touch the hot pipes. They should, of course, be wearing long pants, socks and sturdy shoes. In dismounting, you should have the bike at a complete stop, balanced in an upright position or possibly with the kickstand down, whichever feels safest to you and your passenger.

They need to remember that sudden movements will throw off the bike’s balance and could result in you losing control. They should always hang on to you, especially if there is no backrest. It’s preferable that they ride with their arms around your waist if there is no backrest. The other option is to hook their fingers through your belt loops, assuming you have any – but certainly this won’t give them as good a “grip”. They could also reach around behind and hold onto the sissy bar if you have one. In my opinion, a backrest for the passenger is really a must – especially for a child. I used to get really nervous about my daughter riding with my husband on his old bike which had no backrest, because it just looked to me like she could fall off very easily, especially when taking off from a stop, and especially because he is a big guy and she could not even come close to getting her arms around him.

Regarding handling curves: it will be natural for the passenger at first to try to “help keep the bike upright” when you go into a curve by leaning away from the direction of the curve, because they subconsciously feel the bike is going to tip over. But, by leaning away from the curve they are making it more difficult for you to complete the turn because they are “fighting” the lean of the bike. Tell your passenger not to try to actually *lean* one way or the other – just turn their head so they are looking over the driver’s shoulder in the direction of the turn, and that will redistribute their weight sufficiently to help the bike around the turn.

Finally, carrying a passenger really DOES change the feel of the bike, so you need to practice in a parking lot with a willing adult before you hit the streets. That way you’ll get used to the additional weight without encountering other traffic.