Friday, April 30, 2010

Updated Hits & (Near) Misses List

Riding home from work yesterday, I was on a nice twisty section of PA 841 near Springdell when I rounded a blind corner to find a partially-detached power line crossing my path at about a 45 degree angle relative to the ground with the high end on my side of the road.  The line was about helmet-high in the middle of my lane. With insufficient braking distance, I swerved to the right edge of the pavement and ducked. Pwang! as the line  lightly plucked the top of my helmet.  As I lifted my head up and rounded the immediate left-hander across a small open-grate bridge, I saw that the Miata that had been a couple of hundred yards in front of me had slowed way down, apparently the driver was wondering if the motorcyclist behind him had just been decapitated.   He must've either done some off-roading to avoid the line or  perhaps the Miata was just lower than me.  We pulled over just up the road at The Whip tavern (awesome Welsh Rarebit) and agreed he would call the authorities about the power line.  

This incident reminded me that I hadn't updated my "hit list" post since 9/07. Close encounters with automobiles aren't included; too many of those to count as my fellow motorcycle commuters know all too well. New stuff is in red.


  • 1 each (amazingly only one) squirrel; he must've been real old 'n' slow
  • a small bat that kamikazed into my left hand on I-95
  • 2 nails (only nails that punctured tires count here)
  • a brake caliper slider pin that some kid down the street lost during a curb-side brake job; guess whose rear tire found it?
  • several low-hanging tree branches following storms (helmet and arm strikes)
  • an electrical power line (glanced off my helmet)
Close calls:

  • many deer (live and dead)
  • a large turtle, and another one
  • 2 or 3 snakes
  • thousands of squirrels
  • a few dozen chipmunks
  • a few 'possums
  • the occasional turkey buzzard snacking on roadkill
  • a few dogs
  • very few cats (they're smarter than dogs)
  • a few dozen pedestrians (largely jay-walking college students)
  • 1 young bovine on the loose
  • a couple of ill-placed orange warning cones
  • a construction barrel blowing around in the wind
  • a large plastic kiddie-pool blown by the wind
  • various trash cans and bags of garbage blowing around in the wind
  • 1 water-cooler that flew out of the back of a tradesman's truck
  • the odd piece of lumber
  • dozens of beer bottles
  • lot o' squashed-flat waxed cups (ice has more traction) and soda cans
  • a few Amish buggies
  • a roof from a recently-collapsed small barn (!)
  • 2 foxes
  • some chickens crossing the road
Please share your own list or a few of your weirdest hits 'n' misses by clicking on "Comments" below.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AMA Grand Tour Season Underway

The 2010 American Motorcyclist Association Grand Tours Series in underway, but it's not too late to participate. Sponsored by Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the five self-guided events are hosted by AMA-chartered clubs, and feature events for all types of motorcyclists. Registered participants receive a KOA discount card. Riders who complete at least four of the five Grand Tours will receive an AMA Master Grand Tourer certificate, as well as an extra chance to win a valuable prize from an AMA benefits partner. I've participated in a few Grand Tours in the past, and while I never managed to actually finished any, the tours were fun and helped me decide which direction to point the motorcycle on Sunday mornings.

The five AMA Grand Tours are:

Friday, April 09, 2010

Motorcycle Safety Studies

webBikeWorld is reporting the release of reports of motorcycle safety studies from the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The reports include comparison data on ABS vs. non-ABS brakes, insurance claims in states with vs. without mandatory helmet laws, and the accident rates of formally safety trained v. non-trained riders.  When you read them, consider these studies with a skeptical eye -- the IIHS has been historically more concerned with protecting the insurance industry's economic well-being than it is with motorcyclists' safety.  The IIHS motorcycle-related studies I've read in the past have been long on correlation and very short on causation, so the science is very suspect.  Further, the IIHS seems to greatly favor modifying or banning equipment (remember its proposed sportbike ban a few years ago?)  over modifying rider behavior or rider training as a means of increasing rider safety.  That's not saying that the IIHS doesn't have a few valid points, e.g. I'm sure we all realize that ABS can prevent many crashes in real-world situations, even if we don't all agree that ABS should be mandatory.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A National Park Odyssey

So Kim and Chris of Rochester, NY decided to take a year off regular life to tour all 50 states with their toyhauler and adventure motorcycles in tow, with a concentration on visiting National Parks, of which they hit over 30.  Read all about their adventures, and view their many beautiful photographs, on their blog and on this ADVrider thread.  My jealously meter has just pegged.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Aerostich Gear Xpander Wash!

Hot off the press from Riderwearhouse/Aerostich:
New Aerostich Gear Xpander Wash

The 2010 Aerostich and RiderWearHouse catalog introduces Gear Xpander Wash, a new fabric treatment for the rider whose jacket, pants or riding suit has mysteriously become smaller over the winter. The concentrated wash-in formula works at a sub-molecular level to soften the internal fiber structure of textiles, providing an expansion of up to one full garment size. Garment strength and durability are not affected. After washing, riders immediately wear their damp gear for 20 minutes, which allows the fibers to re-conform where needed. Then the garment is machine-dried to 'set' the fabric at the newly expanded size. Treated suits should not be worn in rainy or damp conditions as the fibers will return to the original pre-expanded size, which can be a choking hazard. Gear Xpander Wash is $847 per 5 oz bottle.