Provocation does not justify beating of SUV driver

by on October 3, 2013
in Commentary

It’s the biker video that has stunned America: a group of riders in New York surround a family in their SUV, begin beating on the vehicle, and apparently pull the driver from the car and beat him in front of his wife and small child to the point where he requires hospitalization.

The story, as it has emerged over the course of the last couple of days, is that apparently there was an incident that provoked the riders to take this action. If you watch the whole 6-1/2 minute video, it clearly shows the bikes coming up on and surrounding the SUV, and one of the riders pulling in front of it and then slowing drastically. The rider shooting the video looks away just at the moment when the SUV most assuredly must have hit the slower rider.


Here is the link to the full helmet-cam video on YouTube, for which the “embed” feature has been turned off.

The video then clearly shows the SUV actually running over one or more of the riders, after they came to  a stop around him following the collision. Then the SUV speeds away, pursued by the group of riders. It’s at the end of that pursuit that they begin attacking the vehicle. The camera shuts off apparently moments before they pulled the driver from the car and beat him.

I suppose that eventually we will learn the full story – what really set the whole sorry chain of events in motion. Regardless, the tragedy of this situation is two-fold: first we have a father beaten and brutalized in front of his family, and his family traumatized watching all of this take place. Then we have one of the bikers, also apparently a father, possibly paralyzed from being run down by the SUV.

I’ve said it before: I just don’t get the rage. If you engage in dangerous behavior on the bike, you are going to hurt someone or get hurt yourself. Does injury to you, or to one of your friends, justify this kind of vigilanteism?

In my opinion, no. Regardless of the injury to their friend, the riders had a responsibility to avoid further confrontation. And they certainly have no claim of self-defense, having pursued the driver for several miles.

Just stupidity, all the way around.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.



Solo riding

by on August 5, 2013
in Commentary

kittendrakesvilleA few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to spend an entire day riding by myself. Call me a weenie if you must, but I am finding I am just not that into it.

Now make no mistake, I’ve done shorter solo rides and (usually) enjoy them when I do. A few times, I’ve simply wheeled the bike out into the driveway to give it a cleaning, and decided to take off for a putt without planning or fanfare. Those are usually short, sweet, and fun. (The very first time I did this, it was early in my second season of riding and was a bit of a revelation – it occurred to me that there was no reason on earth why I couldn’t just hop on and go for a blow-the-cobs-out test ride. So I did! And came back exhilirated!)

Sometimes, if I know I want to ride but it’s too late to invite anyone and hubby doesn’t want to go with me, I might even pick a nearby destination and ride that by myself. I think this is the type of thing my friend was referring to when she said recently that she admired me for taking off on the solo rides: feeling confident enough, when others don’t feel like going, to just do it anyway. What usually happens to me on a ride like this, is I start out really enjoying myself, but after a fashion start feeling guilty and thinking in terms of “shoulds” – I should cut this short, I should get some laundry done, I should spend some time at home.

janetsolo33My recent trip to Drakesville, with my family out of town and no “shoulds” on the horizon, morphed into a real solo riding opportunity and so became kind of a test. Originally, a couple of friends were going to go with me. But their schedule changed at the last minute, and I was just stubborn enough not to let that alter my plans. Instead, I decided to see if, given the opportunity to take a longer solo ride, I could become really comfortable with being alone on a bike trip.

But even with a full day to ride alone, I found that I could not get past the “what if something happens” mentality. It went beyond simply being aware of potential hazards and looking for escape routes. I won’t expound on this too much because I don’t want to get morbid, but I definitely feel there is comfort in knowing someone else will be around if something goes wrong.

Aside from the short solo rides which are enjoyable until I start to over-think them, I also know that there are people who yearn to take an epic solo journey such as a cross-country trip or even a continuous nomadic experience with no end in sight. They save for it, plan for it, dream about it. Some of them even take it. I would imagine it is life-changing. I am not sure why I don’t share this dream. Without making assumptions about other peoples’ motivations, I wonder if it’s because I don’t ride for “big” reasons like escape or self-discovery. I just ride to enjoy the landscape, the view, the towns and the oddities along the way.

Now maybe 227 miles just wasn’t enough time to put my negative thoughts aside. Maybe one has to ride alone for a week or a month or a year before catching “the bug” to take an epic solo journey.

Maybe I dream too small, think too much, and worry needlessly.

Maybe I’m just not there yet. Maybe it’s just not a place I’m headed.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy – or even prefer – riding alone? Do you always ride alone and yearn for a “merry band” to ride with instead? Are you planning or dreaming of an epic solo journey?




Digital technology gives bikers prescription wrap-around sunglasses

by on April 19, 2013
in Commentary

Editor’s note: Although I don’t wear prescription eyewear (yet!), I’m sure many of you probably do. I hope this guest post from Michael Spanjol at ADS Sports Eyewear will be encouraging – it sounds like  the technology for wrap-around prescription sunglasses is really improving. This is a compensated post. 

by Michael Spanjol

motorcycle_sunglassesPrescription Motorcycle Sunglasses are now available with Free-Form Digital lenses that dramatically enhance a wearer’s field of vision and overall optical clarity. This is one of the biggest advancements in eyewear technology ever. In the past, if you tried putting your prescription into a pair of sunglasses that ‘wrap’ around your face, you would experience a disorienting peripheral distortion known as the “fishbowl” effect. This effect renders the sunglasses useless and is the result of using traditional lens technology that is meant for flat lenses. People who have tried wearing contacts under sunglasses know that they can dry out easily and become a dangerous distraction at times. These problems have been solved with the development of new Free-Form Digitally Surfaced Lenses.

In a free-form digitally surfaced lens the curve is recalculated at every point on the lens. This is helpful in everyday eyewear, but it is critical in the wrapped frames worn by motorcyclists because you do not want a blurred peripheral view or blind spot when you are navigating traffic; it is just too dangerous to be without the sharpest vision available for your peripheral views. A traditional prescription in a wrapped frame will fail you where a Free-Form lens could save your life. Contact lenses can be an irritant in high wind activities making them pale in comparison to the versatility and durability of free-form lenses which can be made Single Vision or Progressive (no line bifocals).

The free-form digital lenses for Motorcycle Sunglasses can be made with one of the two acceptable lens materials for motorcycling and fitted into almost any frame by any brand. The two acceptable shatter-proof materials are Polycarbonate and Trivex. Polycarbonate is the most popular lens material in sports sunglasses. Trivex was developed by the US military as an improvement on Polycarbonate. A version of polarized Trivex, known as SR- 91, costs about 50% more than polycarbonate, but the optics and durability are state-of-the-art. Polycarbonate and Trivex can be tinted to any color, can be polarized, or can feature a transitions lens film. There are no good options that are both polarized and transitions at this time.

Prescription Oakley Sunglasses are now a major player in the Free-Form Motorcycle Sunglasses ring with the recent popularity of their Wind Jacket model. The Wind Jacket features a removable eye seal and very easily exchangeable lenses for those that want more versatility out of their riding sunglasses.

Free-Form Digital prescription lenses for motorcycle sunglasses are a huge step in the right direction when talking about optical clarity and overall safety for motorcyclists. What once took a head-turn to see now only requires a glance.

ADS Sports Eyewear has been selling prescription motorcycle sunglasses and other sport sunglasses for over 10 years. The owner is an avid motorcyclist and certified optician who has performed unbiased testing on motorcycle sunglasses and lens technologies and has trained his staff thoroughly on these topics. They will happily answer all questions you might have on selecting the right pair of shades for any activity.


Short version: Norman Reedus is HOT

by on April 17, 2013
in Commentary

Here’s the thing about me and The Walking Dead: the story, the characters, and the drama are top-notch. Fabulous. Bellissimo!

But I can barely watch the program because of the gore. Quite honestly, the flesh-eating stuff just makes me want to puke. Which, I’m fairly certain, would only attract walkers. So on Sunday nights, when the show is on and my husband tunes in, I am usually sitting at the dining room table with my back to the TV, listening.

Photo courtesy:

Seriously HOT. Photo courtesy:

And turning around to watch only during the dramatic parts that don’t involve flesh-eating. Seriously… when Carl had to kill his own mother? When Rick and The Governor had their summit meeting? When the Governor mortally wounded poor Milton and left him to die in the locked torture chamber with the be-shackled Andrea and she had to reach for the pliers with her foot? WHEN DARYL DISCOVERED THAT HIS BROTHER HAD BECOME A ZOMBIE??!!  (Oops, some flesh-eating in that scene – ew.) Still, all great dramatic moments.

Anyway so recently for the Season Three Finale, I decided to actually sit and watch the show, facing the television. Mostly I watched through my hands in front of my face, but, here’s something I quickly figured out:

Norman Reedus playing Daryl Dixon is hot. It might be the crossbow, or the shaggy hair, or the ripped physique that comes from fighting zombies. Or maybe a combination.

Or, it might be the motorcycle.

Consensus is that the bike Daryl rides is a 1976 Triumph Bonneville Hardtail Frame Conversion (I really don’t know exactly what that means, except for the 1976 Triumph Bonneville part)… maybe a 650cc or 750cc. Whatever it is, it’s a tough old chopper for sure, and Daryl looks hunk-a-licious riding down the highway. And completely at ease, since Norman Reedus is a long-time rider and former Harley Davidson mechanic. Plus, he’s got a titanium skull, or eye socket, or something.

Much debate has taken place online about the “SS” or lightning bolt emblem on the tank. That appears to be a nod to the character of Daryl’s brother Merle, who according to my sources is the actual owner of the motorcycle and who had a bit of a White Supremacy problem.

Another frequently asked question online is, why ride a noisy motorcycle when noise attracts walkers? Well DUH: it’s because Daryl is a sexy bad-ass who’s thumbing his nose at the zombie apocalypse by busting through the hoards in an open vehicle, and if he did that from a frickin’ Mazda Miata he’d be, like, John Cusack or something.

Seriously, folks who ask these sorts of “gotcha-logic” questions really annoy me. THERE IS NO LOGIC IN THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, PEOPLE!

If you’re going to ask dumb questions like that, you might as well ask “where do they get the seemingly endless supply of gasoline,” or “Who’s paying the light bill at that prison,” Or “how come we never see anyone eating… or showering… or pooping?” (POOP – oh dear Lord, noise AND stench! WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THEIR POOP SO IT DOESN’T ATTRACT WALKERS??)

Silly, silly questions we need not concern ourselves with. And yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition. See what the zombie apocalypse has done to grammar? Oh the humanity!

But I digress.

Photo courtesy:

Photo courtesy:

Anyway, Daryl is hot. And tough. And hot because he’s tough. And I give some of the credit to the motorcycle. And, now that he’s stabbed his racist zombie brother repeatedly in the head, I’m hoping he can relax a little in Season Four and hook up with Carol. And maybe replace that Nazi emblem with a “Hey Girl” decal.

This post is probably a good example of why I’m not a TV critic.

P.S. – Shout-out to Merle, brilliantly played by Michael Rooker. Bitter redneck jailbird mercenary for the entire series, but tried valiantly to repair his relationship with his brother and ultimately saved the group from the Governor. Way to go, Merlz!!


Twitter’s not just for Congressmen anymore

by on July 23, 2011
in Commentary

Much like Rep. Anthony Weiner, I find Twitter a lot harder to manage than Facebook. I’m very selective about who I follow, because I’ve found that some folks can really clog up the ol’ newsfeed with useless spammy crap and/or general impropriety.

But, I still want to be able to catch the occasional comment from someone outside my normal universe if they’re talking about a subject that interests me, and it’s here where Twitter has the advantage. With Twitter, I can simply subscribe to a custom feed made up of tweets that include the words “woman” and “motorcycle,” without having to actually follow every Tom, Dick or Congressman out there.

This is a double-edged sword – primarily, the feed is made up of tragic headlines (i.e., “Woman killed in motorcycle wreck…” “Woman thrown from motorcycle…” etc etc). But there are also enough amusing gems out there that make it worthwhile.

So here, I’ve decided to round up a few bits of “wisdom” about women on motorcycles, as posted on Twitter – a snapshot-in-time, if you will, of what folks really think about women who ride.

Some people immediately see the sex appeal of a woman riding a motorcycle:

Some are flat-out inspired:

And some just don’t get it yet:

Sometimes they take note when we do stupid things:

Apparently, some are in total denial about the new reality:

And, some see it but are really uncomfortable with it:

And some (and this is my favorite), know when it’s time to just accept their fate for what it is:

So how about you – are you one of the Twitterati? Find me, and let’s tweet!

Have you ever…

by on May 23, 2011
in Commentary

…Imagined you are looking down from above at your bike as it moves down the highway, giving you a sense of how small you really are in the world?

…Imagined a particular soundtrack playing along with the above “movie scene”?

…Happily recalled days on the bike that were terrifying at the time, but appreciate them now because they make such good stories?

…Noticed that when you ride or drive on a brand new street in your hometown that it just feels really weird, like you aren’t even in the same city?

…Suddenly had to make an emergency head call the moment you got the last of your gear snapped or zipped?

…Wagged your foot at some roadkill to warn your pal behind you, only to remember you’re riding alone? (Cagers MUST wonder what that’s about! LOL)

…REALLY wished you would’ve remembered to put the kickstand down?

Okay, your turn! Just for fun, start with “Have You Ever…” and add your best bike-related question in the comments!

A penny for your (riding) thoughts

by on May 18, 2011
in Commentary

Somewhere around the Internets the other day, the question popped up as to what one thinks about while riding. I think that for beginning riders, this is a tricky question – you are most likely thinking about the safe and proper operation of your bike, as well as simply trying not to panic. (Maybe that was just me…)

For me, now that I have almost ten years of riding under my belt (!), I can honestly say that I primarily think about three things: hazards, scenery, and my own cool factor.

I’m totally serious. The thing I think about most often is still identifying potential obstacles or hazards and how to compensate for them. When riding in traffic I’m dodging potholes, looking for that guy backing out or turning left, and watching that green light that I KNOW is gonna turn yellow just when I reach the point of having to make a snap decision on whether to stop or go.  When riding on the highway I’m looking for upcoming curves, road damage, and animals both alive and (as a TV reporter here once actually said) “others not so alive.”

Second most-commonly, I try to grab appreciative glimpses of the scenery around me. This is tough to do given how aware I try to be of the road and potential hazards, but every once in awhile I find myself going, “Wow, that’s pretty!” as I come around a curve or crest a hill. There’s also a point in South Dakota, just outside of Rapid City, where you can suddenly smell the pine very distinctively. And in Iowa, at this time of year, you can easily catch whiffs of lilacs and other flowering plants out on the two-lane highways. I try to have as many of these “awareness moments” as I can every time I ride.

The third most-common thing I think about is just how hotsy-totsy I really am. I definitely think it’s cool that I ride a bike… that I ride this bike… that I faced some riding challenges and overcame them… that I have friends who are happy to accompany me on my little adventures, or to invite me along for theirs. It’s a great feeling to have conquered the new-rider jitters, and to realize that at that moment I’m very lucky to be doing something I absolutely love to do.

So how about you – what do you think about most often while riding?

Go, Dog, Go! Cool biker dogs hit the road!

by on March 19, 2011
in Commentary

I can’t help but notice that more and more of my friends are taking their dogs along for motorcycle rides. Now I don’t pretend to know a THING about this from a how-to standpoint (and I can say with certainty that my hundred-pound Rottweiler-mix Bugs would need a full-fledged sidecar to enjoy a bike trip)… but I do know from riding with some of these folks that the pups are as safe and secure as the rider – and everyone takes good care of the pooch while on the road by providing water and rest-stop exercise.

I thought it was time to share some fun pictures with you, of friends riding with their awesome biker dogs! If you’ve got a dog that rides, send me a photo via email and I’ll do another post soon!

First up, here’s Cuddles, riding with Cassie in a specially-made back pack AND wearing a bad-ass Harley hat!

Next, Susan (Dakota) rides with her little buddy, Road E. Coyote (Roadee) on an HD Street  Bob. That’s the Freedom Rock near Greenfield, Iowa they’re visiting with Susan’s husband Paul.

And here is Miss Sadie, sporting her bright pink Doggles and hanging out with Papa Stu. Sadie, Stu and mama Donna are enjoying retirement by full-timing in an R.V., traveling all around the U.S. Sadie blogs about all her biker dog adventures at

Finally, here’s my original biker-dog pal Einstein, who rides in custom eyewear and an awesome bomber jacket with his friend Howard. Einy loves being in the wind… and I think he looks downright authoritative perched there at the Freedom Rock!

Kansas House passes “dead red” stoplight bill for motorcyclists, bicyclists

by on February 25, 2011
in Commentary

Have you ever been on the bike, sitting at a red light and anticipating the green, only to sit there… and sit there… and sit there… for minutes on end, realizing that the light is on a sensor and hasn’t detected you? And worse yet, it’s obvious no one’s coming in either opposing direction… but you’re stuck because the only option seems to be to run the light?

Have you ever gone ahead and run the light?

In today’s culture and political climate, you’re more likely to see a personal liberty taken away than restored. That’s why I’m astounded that the Kansas House of Representatives actually approved a measure recently allowing motorcyclists, at their personal discretion, to run “dead red” stoplights.

That’s right, the government decided that motorcyclists were capable of making a decision affecting their own safety.

Here’s a link to the story as run at KMBC, the local ABC news affiliate in Kansas City.

Even more surprising to me is that the state of Missouri has had this provision in place since 2009. Perhaps other states already do as well.

Of course, with such a provision comes the responsibility to use it the way it’s intended. It would not, in my opinion, give bikers the right to treat the light as a stop sign (“stop, look, and go if it’s safe”). It would, however, allow you proceed through an intersection where you’ve been waiting and it has become obvious that the light’s sensor doesn’t detect you.

I would certainly support such a measure were it proposed in the legislative bodies here in my home state, and I’ll be watching with interest to see what happens to the measure in Kansas going forward.


Stoplight photo above is from the Flickr stream of Kris_who.


by on February 23, 2011
in Commentary

I have posted this video just about everyplace I can think of and wanted to be sure to share it here. Enjoy… and dream!

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