Friday Fives: Five things car drivers do that annoy and endanger motorcyclists

by on June 3, 2016
in Friday Fives

Another Friday Five | Biker Chick NewsI don’t know about you, but I’ve found over the years of riding a motorcycle that I have actually become a better driver overall. In particular, I diligently look for motorcycles. Sadly, I still see many, many drivers who do not wish to share the road, pay full attention to the task at hand (driving safely), or do their part to prevent accidents. I’m sure there are many variations on these themes, but broadly, here are the things drivers do that annoy and endanger motorcyclists. What would you add to this list?

1. Use their cell phones while driving. This one is so all-pervasive it isn’t even shocking anymore. I cannot count the number of people I see daily on the road, yakking on the phone or, worse, reading their phone and/or texting, just flat out ignoring the fact that they are in command of a four thousand-plus pound steel vehicle that is hurtling through the neighborhood. But this isn’t really just about cell phones. It’s about anything that grabs the driver’s attention away from driving. I understand it’s hard to avoid every possible distraction, but engaging in some – like phone use – is purely by choice.

2. Incorrectly gauge our speed. Granted, this one is difficult – bikes may be closer or farther away than they appear, and because our profile is smaller than a car it is not easy to tell how fast we’re approaching. But the rule should be, when in doubt wait it out – meaning, let the bike safely approach and pass in front of you before pulling out into traffic. Come to think of it, that’s a good rule no matter what might be coming down the road.

3. Fail to give us adequate room. Cut us off in traffic, turn left in front of us, veer into us in our lane, hit us from behind, don’t allow us to safely merge… etc. etc. As a car driver, you should just assume that a motorcycle is going to use at least as much space as a car. This is in your driving instruction manual, which most people probably haven’t read since high school, coincidentally a time when they were ALSO not paying full attention. Don’t pass us in our lane just because we are only using half of it. Look at what’s in the lane ahead of you when coming to a stop at a light or stop sign. Don’t assume you have enough time to turn left in front of us. Give us room to merge onto the highway by slowing down or moving over.

4. Throw stuff at us. You shouldn’t be flicking out your cigarette butts (your car has an ash tray for that), tossing out fast food containers (litterbug), or throwing anything else out your window anyway. For bikers, these things are not just an annoyance – dodging them (or being hit by them) can cause serious harm. And if you’re purposely throwing something out of your car in hopes of hitting a biker? You’re a special kind of ass-hat and I want nothing to do with you on the road or in any other facet of life.

5. Break traffic laws like speeding, traffic signals, etc. These practices don’t make you a menace just to motorcycles – they make you a menace overall, to everyone on the road. You’re not above the rules, and failure to pay attention is NOT an excuse. There was a post on Facebook recently making the rounds, written by a guy who was apparently sick of all the entreaties to “be on the lookout for motorcycles.” He was quite adamant that he would do absolutely nothing to watch for motorcycles, and that bikers should not consider themselves deserving of special treatment and should probably just drive cars like everyone else. The thing is, bikers aren’t looking for special treatment. We’re riding legal vehicles that leave us a lot more vulnerable than an automobile, and we simply ask that other drivers understand we have a right to share the road. You know – the same courtesy they might extend to their own mother, son, daughter, father, etc. should they encounter that person in another vehicle while driving.

BONUS ITEM #6. THIS. You are a Level Five Asshole. You have NO RIGHT to do this to ANYONE. Kindly rot in Hell.

 

BONUS ITEM #7. 

Pallets make terrible cargo | Biker Chick News

 

Okay, now that I’ve ranted a bit about sharing the road, I’ll let you in on a little secret: we bikers are not all law-abiding angels.

Whhhaaattt??? I know, you’re shocked. As was I when I figured this out. But it’s true, sometimes bikers do things that annoy cagers. So, that’ll be covered in an upcoming post. Because this blog is nothing if not fair and balanced!

 

 

Divas ride to Ogden and Boone

by on May 30, 2016
in Iowa Rides

Had a lovely ride on May 23 with a small contingent of the Chrome Divas, with plans to have lunch in Ogden and then a visit to a small museum in Boone.

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News

We left Sambetti’s around 10:30 in the morning and traveled north through the Saylorville Lake area, on to and through Madrid, and north toward the Iowa Arboretum along R26, but instead of turning east on E57 to the Arboretum, we turned west and then north again on R18. This took us to the junction of Highway 30, which we crossed, and then turned west to head into Ogden, Iowa along E41, part of the original Lincoln Highway.

This was a very pretty ride on a couple of roads I’ve never been on before – always so happy to discover a new path!

Ogden is a small town of about 2,000 people in Boone County, quiet but with a great little restaurant called The Lucky Pig – bigger inside than it looks outside, and excellent food… tenderloins, pulled pork, shoestring onion rings, and dessert… typical Iowa, too much great food at an affordable price!

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News

After lunch we headed east out of Ogden to the town of Boone along E41, which is a really beautiful and curvy little stretch that on this day was showing off large patches of purple blooming Dame’s Rocket all along the way. (Although at this point in the ride, I admit I was not able to focus much on the scenery… just outside of Ogden, I ran over a black plastic piece of something and heard a sort of “kitt-oonk” noise under my front tire… I was worried sick for a few miles that the tire was going to blow out or go down. Fortunately this did not materialize but I know I missed getting my full measure of appreciation for E41!)

Our destination in Boone was to be the Mamie Doud Eisenhower birthplace and museum.

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News

Mrs. Eisenhower served as First Lady of the United States during her husband Dwight’s Presidency from 1953-61; she was born in Boone, spent some time as a small child in Cedar Rapids, and then was eventually raised in Colorado. She traveled extensively throughout her husband’s military career. In fact, it was not until they left the White House in 1961 that the Eisenhowers actually owned their first home – a farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Mamie Eisenhower 1953 | Biker Chick News

Mamie Eisenhower is said to have ushered in the widespread use of pastel pink throughout the 1950’s because of the pink gown she wore to her husband’s first inaugural ball in 1953.

The birthplace home in Boone is lovely: a small yellow frame house on a quiet residential street, located directly across the street from where it originally sat. (It was moved to make room for a larger church, and since we parked our bikes in a church parking lot across from the house’s present location, it’s likely we parked our bikes right in Mamie’s original living room!)

The house has been fully restored and furnished, and is now managed by the Boone County Historical Society. It features original Doud family furniture, a period “summer kitchen” and garage (apparently including Mamie’s 1962 Plymouth Valiant in the garage!), and is surrounded by neatly tended perennial plants and landscaping.

Alas, despite indications that it was to be open for visitors until 5 pm, the museum was closed when we arrived around 1 so we could not go in. We pouted on the front porch, took a couple photos through the windows, and enjoyed the landscaping to the extent that we could.

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News

Our trip home took us through Boone along Mamie Eisenhower Avenue and then South Story Street, which we took south out of town and became a park road through Ledges State Park. We continued through and exited the park, heading east and eventually junctioning with Highway 17 just north of Luther, Iowa.

Chrome Divas Ogden Ride | Biker Chick News
A honk and a wave as we passed BFE Vintage Motorcycles in Luther – where they had all their vintage bikes parked out in the parking lot… a stop here would’ve been a great vintage bike show for sure! – and we continued on southward through Slater, Sheldahl and Polk City, again through the Saylorville area and then each of us “toward home.”

We will have to return to Boone to take the tour of Mamie’s house – and, maybe it’s time for another ride on the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.

 

A moment to reflect

by on May 30, 2016
in Commentary

“Today we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. May God bless the souls of those who died defending our liberty.” – Senator Marco Rubio

Hope you have many moments today to pause and reflect upon the sacrifices made for us by those who gave their lives serving America and defending our freedom around the world.

Memorial Day 2016 | Biker Chick News

Start a motorcycle in neutral, or in first gear?

by on May 29, 2016
in Riding Tips

I was reading an article online the other day in which the author laid out her motorcycle start-up sequence. Because I am a believer in doing my start-up tasks in the same order every time (so I don’t miss something important), I decided to write down my own sequence in case it might be helpful for someone else.

I noticed when I did this that there was one notable difference between my sequence and hers: she starts her bike in neutral, and I start mine in first gear.

I have no idea where I picked up the habit of starting my bike in first, but i immediately wondered if one method was recommended over the other.

Turns out, yes. And it’s not mine.

I looked for this information a few different ways: I polled my knowledgeable tribe of biker pals… I looked online in Harley Davidson support forums… and (HORRORS) I broke open my owner’s manual for a quick review of HD’s “official” recommendation.

Start your bike in neutral or first? | Biker Chick NewsBased on all that exhaustive research, although I’ve been starting my bike in first gear for as long as I can remember, I am changing my ways and will henceforth be starting in neutral.

The obvious benefit to this is, in neutral, I don’t have to worry about the bike lurching forward and possibly getting away from me. (That’s assuming I am absolutely certain it’s in neutral. )

Or, as my friend Shirley said when she responded to my non-scientific poll on this question: “I always start in neutral. Why? So I don’t forget and run into the garage wall!”

Aside from this bit of common sense, there’s also a mechanical reason for starting the motorcycle in neutral, especially when the bike is cold: starting in neutral allows the fluids and clutch plates to warm up before you attempt to engage them by putting the bike in gear.

This is helpful because when the bike is cold, the fluids have also cooled and settled away somewhat from the parts they are protecting.  The clutch plates are therefore likely to be somewhat stuck together due to the suction created from this cooling and settling.

If you start the bike in first gear, you’re attempting to unstick those suctioned plates without benefit of first warming the fluids.

Think about the viscosity (resistance to flow) of other cold fluids vs. their warmed-up counterparts. You know the old expression, “slower than molassses in January”? That’s not just something a pioneer hillbilly made up one day while sitting on his front porch, waiting for his kin to come along with a washboard so they could start the jug band jam. It’s actually a perfect illustration of how temperature affects viscosity: molassses is slow in January because it’s cold. And cold impedes flow.

HD owner's manual start-up procedure | Biker Chick NewsFor motorcycles, flow (of fluids) is critical for smooth operation. When you start the bike in first gear, you’re asking moving mechanical parts to unstick from and engage with each other while surrounded by cold, poorly-flowing fluids. You are causing unnecessary wear and tear on those parts. You are being unreasonable. And you are annoying the hell out of your motorcycle.

Stop annoying your motorcycle, and start your motorcycle in neutral. You’ll improve its overall performance, and you’ll (probably) avoid running into the garage wall. 

Win-win!

New rider to attempt record-setting journey

by on May 27, 2016
in Other Biker Chicks

Deena Mastracci | Biker Chick News(Editor’s note: See additional links related to this ride, in the comments!)

American endurance driver Deena Mastracci intends to walk into the DMV in Santa Clarita, California on June 1 and get her motorcycle license, and then immediately set out on a 9,000-mile motorcycle journey as her “first ride.” But not just ANY 9,000 miles, because Deena’s route includes portions of Alaska, the Arctic Circle region, the Yukon, and finally, through the Midwestern United States where she will then conclude the ride in Pennsylvania.

Deena plans to use her journey to call attention to the work of the Motorcycle Relief Project, a nonprofit charity that helps veterans with PTSD and other injuries.

“I am taking on this challenge to show women, veterans, or anyone intimidated by something new that the best way to overcome that fear is to drive through it,” Deena states.

She’ll also set the record for the longest journey completed by a newly-licensed motorcycle rider. She’ll be accompanied by her fiance and fellow endurance driver Carl Reese, and by paramedic Jeremy Fox, both on their own motorcycles.

According to a news release posted online at PRWeb, “Followers can track her progress with live GPS vehicle tracking provided by GPS Insight, a technology leader in fleet tracking software. Mastracci’s live map is available on carlreese.net, and additional updates of her journey will be posted on Facebook and Instagram.”

 

Do you have sufficient arrogance?

by on May 20, 2016
in Commentary

Do you have sufficient arrogance?

I don’t mean to ask, “Do you think you’re better than everyone else?” What I mean is, do you know just how knowledgable you really are, and do you believe in the value of what you know?

Speaking from a business perspective, marketing blogger Scott Hartshorn years ago made the point that it’s easy to assume that other people in your industry are better or smarter than you, and therefore more credible. And this assumption can keep you from putting yourself out there, getting known, taking risks, and reaping the rewards. 

I believe that this notion can be applied across the board: not just to Scott’s industry of commercial blogging, but to work, family, parenting, hobbies, socializing and even community involvement.

More recently, moto-blogger Rachael (Fuzzygalore.com) noted that for many of us, there are two yous: Your You and Someone Else’s You. And, that Someone Else’s You is almost always “bigger and bolder” than Your You.

Sturgis 2006 on an 883 Sportster | Biker Chick NewsI think Scott & Rachael are saying the same thing – though in different words and from two different life perspectives: that we hold ourselves back from our true potential because we just don’t think our experience and knowledge are as valuable as that of others. We believe, for whatever reason, that outsiders are the experts while we are just… us.

Having been a business owner, a Chamber of Commerce leader, the “new gal” for various employers, a first-time parent, a newbie motorcycle rider, and even a newbie blogger at various points in my life, I can relate to this concept of “insufficient arrogance” on many levels. So many times, I’ve realized (perhaps too late) that I didn’t start out a new phase of my life or a project with the belief that what I brought to the table was just as good, if not better, than what other folks brought.

In short, I’m not sufficiently arrogant!

Or to put it in Rachael’s terms, My Me is standing in the way.

Is this because I’m too dependent on the approval of others? On the notion of being liked? On the idea that what I know is somehow less valid than what others know? Am I – inconceivably – allowing the hard-won knowledge I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve had in life to hold me back me rather than propel me?

And the questions too painful to ponder: What has my insufficient arrogance cost me? What opportunities have I missed because My Me did not measure up? Am I not yet who I wish to be simply because I didn’t think I was good enough to start?

I can tell you this: more and more, when I feel hesitant about a new idea, I am trying to take a conscious look at myself through the eyes of Someone Else’s Me. Because yeah, she’s bigger and bolder. She works harder than My Me. She puts herself out there. She owns the failures, and reaps the rewards.

And she ends up doing some pretty cool stuff.

 

 

Park for the exit: tips for parking your motorcycle

by on May 14, 2016
in Riding Tips

Look where you want to go.

Scan the road at least 12 seconds ahead.

Slow, Look, Press, Roll.

These are some of the best pieces of advice you’ll hear for riding and controlling your motorcycle. One of the least-discussed aspects of riding, however, is what happens at the end of the ride: parking!

And, while it’s tempting to simply cruise in to your destination and hop off the bike, it’s far better to actually put some careful thought into your stoppage. Because quite honestly, how and where you park will determine the ease with which you eventually leave. So I’ve got one more piece of advice for you to consider:

Park for the exit.

What I mean is, park your bike with leaving – not arriving – in mind. Because truly, how you park your bike determines what challenges or problems you’re going to have when it’s time to leave. Here are some tips for smart parking.

Park level. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make this a top priority in parking your bike. Whenever you can, pick a level spot so you don’t have to do a drastic lean to one side when preparing to leave.

Park Smart! Tips for Motorcycle Parking | Biker Chick NewsPark solid. Mud, gravel, and even hot-baked blacktop can cause your bike to sink where it sits, especially considering that all the weight of the bike is transferred to that tiny contact point at the end of your kickstand when you’re parked. You can improve this situation by re-distributing the weight of the bike, using a parking disc or small piece of wood placed under the end of the stand.

Nose-out. Taking the time to park “nose out” has saved me many headaches when leaving a parking spot. What I do is pull into a parking lot, quickly scan to identify my target space, and then make a U-turn in front of it so I can back in – assuming, of course, that doing so leaves me level and solid. Where this really saves me is in a space where the parking spot slants downward toward the curb. If I’m nose-out, I don’t have to try to back the bike out and up an incline.

Stick together. In a group, as the ride leader, I try to scope out an area big enough in the parking lot so that our entire group can park together. This ensures that we’re more likely to be able to leave as a group and less likely to inadvertently leave someone behind.

Share a space. This is more of a courtesy shown to other vehicles. A single parking space is almost always big enough for two bikes, especially if one parks a little ahead of the other. If I’m at a very busy venue, I try to occupy as little space as possible if I can do so without compromising my parking safety or that of my spotmate. It might go without saying, but I don’t actually put myself into a space with another bike if I don’t know that person. I only share a space with my own riding companions.

Shut down, lock up. I have a shut-down procedure (and conversely, a start-up procedure) that I go through almost every time I get off the bike. This involves locking my ignition as well as my front forks, removing gear, etc. etc. Although it may seem a little OCD (or even overkill) to do things the same way each and every time, I’ve found that practicing a consistent shut-down sequence ensures that I won’t miss performing a really critical task like… ahem… putting the kickstand down.

These are my tips for smart, safe parking. What else would you add to this list?

 

 

IFRD turns 10 – May 7

by on May 6, 2016
in Events

IMG_20160505_151700Although I will not be riding on May 7 (International Female Ride Day), I certainly hope YOU get the chance to do so! Be safe and have fun on IFRD’S 10th “ride-a-versity”! As for me, I will be traveling to Orlando to visit my daughter, the beach, and the Magic Kingdom!

 

 

Will this be the year you learn to ride?

by on May 4, 2016
in Get On

Will 2016 be your year, the year you learn to ride your own motorcycle?

If you’re like me, you don’t just jump in to something like this: you take some time to educate yourself about the potential joys and dangers, pros and cons, and what you need – physically, practically, and mentally – to get started.

And if you’re EXACTLY like me, you stomp around for two years in your wanna-be boots, trying to visualize your two-wheeled future. But I digress.

GET ON e-book | Biker Chick NewsWhether or not this does turn out to be “your year,” you might find it helpful to gather perspectives from women who DO ride, on what you need and what it takes to be successful in getting started.

If you follow this blog you already know I love to write… So hopefully it’s no great shocker that I have compiled my perspective on those very topics into an e-book. :) An e-book that I hope you find entertaining as well as helpful! An e-book that costs less than nearly everything at Starbucks! An e-book that has been judged by other women riders to be “not completely hideous!”

“…the final push I needed to get started. Janet is educational, honest and very funny.”

“Love the book and what it stands for. If you are a woman who has thought that maybe you’d like to ride, check out this book to see that you certainly can!”

“Janet Green nails it with great solutions and answers to difficult questions potential riders will struggle with. Don’t think about riding, just read this book and ‘Get On’ right now!”

Here are the shopping links to purchase your copy of “Get On: A Guide to Riding Motorcycles for Women Who Think Too Much” for just $3.99 (cheap!):

Buy GET ON for Kindle here!

Buy GET ON in PDF or ePUB formats here!

Beyond the e-book, I am always keen on fielding questions about anything related to riding. Share your questions anytime by commenting on blog posts, finding me on Facebook or Twitter, and/or by email! See my sidebar links to connect via other social sites, and thank you for reading!

 

 

Divas ride: a truck, a tree, a trail, and some cool vintage bikes

by on May 1, 2016
in Iowa Rides

Okay I promised to try to share some of last year’s rides, so here’s a wonderful trip that our Chrome Divas chapter took in April. This was our first ride of 2015, but as it turned out, the weather was really crappy so we ended up riding together in Seven Over’s truck instead. (Her plan for the day was irresistible, and we decided that having “social time” would be just as valuable as having “bike time.” Turmed out, we were right about that!)

sambetti

Our monthly chapter rides are always the fourth Saturday of the month, and in 2015 our date happened to coincide with Arbor Day. As it also happened, author Mark Hirsch was making an appearance at the Iowa Arboretum near Madrid to showcase his unique book, That Tree. Janet/Seven Over is a huge fan of this book, and in fact has met Mark several times.  Our first stop was therefore the Iowa Arboretum, where Mark was scheduled to participate in a tree planting.

arb4

An experience like this always fascinates me because it seems you just never can really know another person’s path unless you take time to talk with them. What I mean is – on the surface, isn’t it cool that a guy used his iPhone to post a picture-a-day of a particular favorite tree, and then published a book of the photos? Sure – but, there is so much more to the story. In Mark’s case, he was an active photojournalist who became the victim of an accident that left him with long roads of physical and emotional recovery. The photos he took and shared of “That Tree” actually became a huge part of his healing process.

hirsch2

We attended the tree planting at the Iowa Arboretum along with Mark and several other brave-the-weather Arboretum supporters, including a group of Cub Scouts. It was here that one of the folks on the Arboretum’s board of directors told a joke that made me giggle to the point of distraction. “Did you hear about the two silk worms who competed in a race? They ended up in a tie.” I’m serious, I almost peed my pants over that one.

hirsch4

But I digress. After meeting Mark and participating in the tree planting ceremony, we traveled just a couple miles up the road to Luther, Iowa where we took some time to discover BFE Vintage Motorcycles.

bfe8

BFE is a cool little bike shop filled with old bikes of various makes and models, in various stages of repair or restoration. They have a small showroom full of bikes, multiple projects going at once, apparel for sale, and of course friends and fans on hand to talk shop.

bfe1

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Our final stop on the day’s journey was a fun little restaurant in Woodward called The Whistlin’ Donkey. This is a great example of a phenomenon in Iowa that I call trail bars. We have an extensive network in Iowa of bicycle/recreation trails, and there are bars and restaurants along many of them. Primarily they cater to bicyclists using the trails, but they’re often great stops for motorcyclists too and we have tried out several. The Donkey served up an excellent lunch and also invited us to record a message for their Facebook page.

Despite the mostly uncooperative weather, we had a wonderful day of fellowship and Iowa sight-seeing!

 

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