Thursday, May 29, 2008

Very Boring Rally II registration opens (yawn)

The most self-deprecating motorcycle event around, the Very Boring Rally II, is slated for August 22 - 24, 2008. Hosted by Aerostich/Riderwearhouse, manufacturer and seller of some the best motorcycle apparel on the planet, the rally HQ will be perched atop a high hill overlooking Lake Superior, not far from the Aerostich facility in Duluth, Minnesota. There will be seminars, professional entertainment, a trials competition, and general shenanigans. Although Duluth is a nice enough place in Summer (I highly recommend a boat tour of the port and dinner at Fitger's Brewhouse), given the type of rider likely to attend this event I'm sure some serious blitzing around the countryside will be high on the list, too. You can save a few duckets by registering by June 30th. Jump on over to the Very Boring Rally's website for full details.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

AMA Hillclimb, Jefferson, PA

One week until those hillclimb crazies return to the AMA National event at the White Rose Motorcycle Club's hill near Jefferson, PA. I've attended this event three times previously and I hope to make this one. If you've never watched a real hillclimb, you should. It's one of the oldest forms of motorcycling competition, and also one of the toughest...and most basic: fastest to the top wins (or furthest, if the hill beats everyone). At the White Rose hill, riders hurl themselves up a 300-foot dirt hill; two jumps on the way up make it even more interesting. Of course, anyone lucky and fast enough to cross the finish line with momentum to spare takes a final leap over the crest. Bikes range from converted MXers to purpose-built climbers powered by old British twins or late-model 4-cylinder screamers. The first rider launches at 12:30 PM, rain or shine. That the club can be reached via twisty backroads makes the event that much more fun! More event info here and here (click on White Rose in the left-hand column).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ride to Work Day 2008

Motorcycle and Scooter Ride to Work Day is Wednesday, July 16, 2008!

This year's seventeenth annual motorcycle and scooter commuting demonstration will increase the number of riders on the road, according to Ride to Work, a non-profit advocacy organization. "Riding to work on this day shows the positive value of motorcycles and scooters for transportation. For many people, riding is an economical, efficient and socially responsible form of mobility that saves energy, helps the environment and provides a broad range of other public benefits," states Andy Goldfine, the event organizer. Motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts and rider organizations worldwide encourage their members to ride to work on this day.

According to the United States Census Bureau and the Department of Transportation, over eighty million cars and light trucks are used for daily commuting on American roads, and about 200,000 motorcycles and scooters are a regular part of this mix. On Ride To Work Day, the practical side of riding becomes more visible as a larger number of America's 8,000,000 cycles are ridden to work.

Ride to Work Day helps demonstrate how these vehicles make parking easier and help traffic flow better. Studies have shown that across equal distances, commuting motorcyclists reach their destinations in less time than those using automobiles, that motorcycles and scooters consume less resources per mile than automobiles, and that they take up less space on roads. Motorcycle and scooter riders seek improved employer recognition and support for this form of transportation, and more public and government awareness of the positive value of riding.

Ride to Work Day, a 501 c4 nonprofit organization, can be reached at:
POB 1072, Proctor, Minnesota, 55810 USA
218 722 9806
Christine Holt
Andy Goldfine

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sport-Touring (and Sport-Eating), Baby!

Sometimes, not often enough, everything work and home-wise falls into place and I can get in a few days of good, solid riding and general goofing-off. Last Wednesday, I did a long day's ride to the Gettysburg battlefield to see the new Visitor's Center, stopping to eat at Delta Diner (a motorcyclist-favorite) and hitting Rocks State Park, Conowingo Dam and other places of interest in Maryland on the return leg. Thursday was spent at the Retreads Mid-Atlantic Rally (where free ice cream and cookies flow like Geritol) and riding around Lancaster and Lebanon counties in PA, including a stop to do some Bald Eagle-watching at the famous Pinnacle Overlook high above the Susquehanna River off River Road near Holtwood. Had lunch at another motorcyclist-favorite joint, the Gap Diner. Friday saw me back in the office, but it was back to the Retreads Rally on Saturday morning, where I ate breakfast with an Americade buddy followed by riding random twisty routes all over the area: Hershey, Cornwall Iron Furnace, Ephrata, Stoudt's Brewery (no, I didn't drink), and back to Delaware via Maryland's horse country. Oh yeah, I'm fairly certain I stopped for lunch along the way. Three days and almost 850 miles, all backroads. Ahhhhhhhh....
Now this is the view from "the office" I like to see!

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Look for AMA Website!

Among the many recent changes at the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) is one that will certainly be welcomed by all -- a modernized website. Prior to the recent update, navigating the site was a bit, well, "wonky" (stop me if I'm being too technical), and its style a little stale. AMA always has a lot of great information on its site, so perhaps it'll get more readership now that it doesn't look like something that has been around since Miguel Duhamel's rookie year. Thumbs up AMA!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lawn Fire Co. Motorcycle Breakfasts for 2008

One of my favorite recurring "Ride to Eat" events begins its 2008 "season" this Sunday the 18th. The event hosted by the Lawn Fire Co. is growing in popularity, and for good reason: excellent location reached via twisty roads, very good chow, an eating area that is both open and protected, and a very well organized event. And, judging from the photo at right that is posted on the F.C.'s website, the previously graveled portion of the parking lot has been paved. So chart your favorite course to the Lawn F.C. each third Sunday from May through September. More event details and photos in this old post (note that the FC's URL has changed; it's now

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Scottish Games & Gathering of the Clans

OK, this isn't a motorcycle event per se, but the annual Scottish Games and Gathering of the Clans being held at the horse racing facility at Fair Hill, Maryland on Saturday May 17th is a unique event that would be an excellent excuse (as if you needed one) to take a ride. I've attended this event the last few years and had a great time. The caber toss and sheaf toss are incredible! There will be sheep dog demonstrations, marching band competitions and bagpipes galore, not to mention more red-haired folks in one place than you're likely to see anywhere outside of Scotland itself. There will also be plenty of McEwan's strong ale, so go extra-easy if you're on two wheels OK?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Retreads Motorcycle Rally

We're 7 days away from the start of the annual rally hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Retreads International motorcycle club. The rally, as it has for a few years now, is HQ'd in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country. If you're not familiar with Retreads, we're an AMA-chartered club that's been around since 1970. Retreads is a non-profit, socially oriented organization of some 5,000+ members around the world, all of whom share two things: an age of 40 plus, and a love of motorcycling. This rally usually brings around 500 attendees, primarily from the local area, but was also have regulars from as far away as Maine and Canada. There will be well-organized group rides, self-guided tours, poker runs, vendors and food, food, food! The rally runs from May 15th thru the 17th. More info on the rally and Mid-Atlantic Retreads is here; clicky here for general Retreads info.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Rossi Wins GP of China

Valentino Rossi must feel like Tiger Woods sometimes. Not only because both get to fret about how to spend a kajillion dollars, but because they're so much better than their competition that anything but a win is considered a bad day at the office. Rossi hadn't won in, oh, all of seven GPs, which in the eyes of some MotoGP fans meant he's washed up. Well, Vale passed Dani Pedrosa on the 4th lap at Shanghai Saturday (May 4th) and motored off for his 62nd win at the pinnacle of motorcycle roadracing worldwide (that's not counting his 125cc and 250cc wins). Reigning champ Casey Stoner was 3rd. The Yank contingent finished 6th (Hayden), 7th (Edwards) and 14th (Hopkins). Edwards was a surprise pole winner, but an early off-road excursion dropped him out of the running for a podium. Rossi is now two points behind 2nd place Jorge Lorenzo, who finished 4th despite fracturing his ankle in a practice crash on Friday, and only nine behind 1st place Pedrosa. Something tells me Rossi isn't ready for the rockin' chair quite yet.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Motorcycle Safety Training Funds Under Attack!

In this post, I expressed cautious optimism that the US D.O.T. was finally doing something to benefit motorcyclists in the US.  Seems that Secretary Peters, who claims to be a motorcyclist, was on the Dark Side all along.  I'm saddened, but not surprised.  See the March 12, 2008 Press Release of the American Motorcyclist Association below for an overview of DOT's plan.  By the way, it's no coincidence that pro-mandatory helmet law articles are suddenly popping up in the print media all over the country; the DOT has obviously cranked up the PR machine to incite the non-riding public to pressure their legislators and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee.  Whether or not you support mandatory helmet laws (and I've never, ever ridden without one, and never will), no motorcyclist should be pleased that the Federal DOT is trying to steal money that was earmarked for rider safety, and use for purely political purposes -- lobbying (arguably unlawful lobbying at that).

PICKERINGTON, Ohio--U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters reaffirmed her desire to lobby states for mandatory helmet-use laws in testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Transportation Subcommittee on March 6, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

Peters' testimony follows letters she sent in February to U.S. House and Senate leaders urging Congress to allow states to divert federal money away from motorcycle safety training and awareness programs and instead push for mandated helmet use. 

Under federal law, the U.S. Transportation Department is barred from lobbying for or against specific state laws. That measure was passed by Congress at the request of motorcyclists who specifically wanted to prevent the federal government from lobbying for mandatory helmet laws. But when asked whether she would support an exemption to the law to allow her department to lobby the states for mandatory helmet laws, she said she would.

"I support giving the information to states so that they can act on those laws," Peters testified. "And I certainly have made myself available to a number of states, and, in fact, have called governors when I see substantial increases in the number of motorcycle deaths in a state, especially a state that has repealed a helmet law."

Peters is pushing to move funds out of motorcycle safety training and awareness even though the money was specifically approved by Congress at the request of motorcyclists who wanted to beef up the nation's motorcycle safety training and awareness efforts.

In February, in response to the letters Peters wrote, Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, expressed concern that diverting federal motorcycle safety funds to mandate helmet use could harm rider training courses and motorcycle awareness programs that are already underfunded in many states.

At that time, he also expressed concern that Peters' proposal could contradict sections of transportation bills passed in 1998 and 2005 that ban the use of federal motorcycle safety funds to lobby state legislatures in favor of mandatory helmet laws and could effectively reverse that ban.

"Banning the federal government from lobbying for mandatory state helmet laws was the very reason Congress passed this measure in the first place," said Moreland. "What Peters is asking for is not an exception to the rule, it's an example of an exception completely circumventing the rule."

Moreland believes Peters is willing to push for mandatory helmet laws at the expense of rider training and awareness programs designed to teach motorcycling skills that would prevent crashes from occurring in the first place.

"This latest testimony reaffirms our fears--that the U.S. transportation secretary wants to lobby for mandatory helmet laws by diverting funding specifically set aside for motorcycle safety training and awareness to further her mandatory helmet-use agenda," Moreland said.

"Helmet use is certainly one part of a comprehensive approach to motorcycle safety, but the use of motorcycle helmets is already advocated in existing motorcycle safety training programs," Moreland said.

"Congress decided to fund motorcycle safety training and awareness programs at the request of the motorcycling community. This effort by Secretary Peters to divert money away from those programs is an attempt to circumvent the wishes of Congress and those motorcyclists nationwide who wanted to specifically augment rider training and awareness programs," he said.