Monday, March 30, 2009

Goodbye HSTA; Welcome MSTA!

Following up on my prior post, the Honda Sport Touring Association is now the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association. The new logo is still being debated. So why the name MSTA? “It's simple really,” says David Brickner, current president, “we ride all brands of motorcycles and having 'Honda' in our name was a stranglehold on attracting new members into the nation's best and oldest sport touring organization." (Plus, it has been many years since the association was actually affiliated with Honda). Says Brickner, "We now have a new name Your browser may not support display of this image.that better serves our unique branding and heritage of riding the nation's tightest, most technical roads - and touring to get there. MSTA members really define the spirit of sport touring as a recreation for motorcyclists."

The MSTA prides itself as an association of riders with advanced safety instruction, and even reimburses members for rider training programs through a special trust fund. Those new to sport touring may elect to ride along with advanced riders under the Member Assistance Program. Other member benefits include a bike raffle (this year a 2009 Triumph Sprint ST) with extremely favorable odds of winning, evidenced by the fact that one MSTA member has won the bike raffle twice!

Join or just discover more about the organization at MSTA's website. Remember, all sport touring and adventure riders, of all brands of motorcycles, are welcome.

The precursor to MSTA was formed in 1982 and is chartered by the American Motorcycle Association (Club #05580). MSTA is incorporated as a 501(c)7 not for profit organization within the state of South Carolina.

For further info about MSTA:
David Brickner - President

Monday, March 23, 2009

Worldwide Ride To Work Day 2009

Mark you calendars -- the 18th annual worldwide Ride to Work Day will be Monday, June 15th. In recent years, RTW Day was held on the 3rd Wednesday in July. This year's motorcycle and scooter commuting demonstration will more than double as many riders become two-wheeled commuters to help demonstrate that riding is an efficient, economical form of personal transportation which makes parking easier and helps traffic flow better. 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". 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, a 501 c4 nonprofit organization, can be reached at:
POB 1072, Proctor, Minnesota, 55810 USA
218 722 9806
Christine Holt
Andy Goldfine

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Review: Bodies in Motion

Why do we ride motorcycles? Why hurl ourselves down the road on thoroughly impractical machinery, in all manner of weather and road conditions? Why do we get a kick out of being leaned over at crazy angles, trusting our well-being to rubber contact patches the size of a half-dollar? Why do we get a rush from a quickly-accelerating motorcycle? Are the reasons biological, spiritual, or something else entirely? Are we programmed for this activity, or are we exercising free will? Former road racer, moto-journalist, novelist, historian, illustrator, and aircraft pilot Steven Thompson provides some answers...or at least some food for thought. I tiptoed into this 417 page book, Bodies in Motion, Evolution and Experience in Motorcycling, with some initial trepidation, not convinced I wanted to know the answer, as experience informs me that once one knows (or pretends to know) why one is doing something, self-consciousness alters the behavior pattern. In short, too much analysis can ruin all the fun.

I eventually began reading Bodies in Motion in earnest, beginning with the gem of a Forward by publisher and Aerostich founder Andy Goldfine. I found Thompson's book engaging, if a little unfocused and arythmic at times. The discussion also seems largely applicable only to Western, adult, male, road riders. His observations and theories, laced with a mix of science and humanity, are nothing if not interesting, however -- great fodder for either quiet contemplation, alcohol-aided campfire philosophizing, or plain ol' shouting matches. Ultimately, I'm not convinced by Thompson's arguments, which I find heavy on correlation, light on causation. It's also tough to get around the fingernails-on-chalkboard reaction I had regarding Thompson's heavy reliance on "Pop Evolutionary Psychology" (the notion that adaptation is to be found among the psychological mechanisms controlling behavior rather than among the behaviors themselves), a field that lacks support in the mainstream science. While the notion that modern people harbor a "Stone Age" mind and that much of what we do today is due to adaptive problems encountered by our hunter-gathering ancestors, is attractive on some level, it's based on the deeply flawed assumption that we can somehow know the psychology of our Stone Age ancestors.

Don't get me wrong; I highly recommend you buy this book! Face it: motorcycle books are largely of the "how to ride", "where I've ridden" or "how to fix it" varieties; this one is something fresh and a little more cerebral. I'm not surprised at all that Bodies apparently kicked around for quite a while before visionary Andy Goldfine did us all a great service by publishing it. While Bodies in Motion didn't convince me Mr. Thompson has the magic answer to why I ride, it has me thinking about why I ride, which I suspect would please him very much.

Bodies in Motion, Evolution and Experience in Motorcycling. Steven L. Thompson. 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-9819001-1-7. 417 ppg.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Motorcycling in March redux

I just re-read this post from March '08, and it's eerily accurate so far as to March '09.  Last Sunday about 8" of snow got dumped on us; tomorrow when I head out on my ride shortly after sunrise it'll already be over 50F.  I may hit some rain on the way, which ain't necessarily a bad thing as it may wash off some of the "protective coating" of salt reside and road grime my ZR-7S has accumulated this winter.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Aerostich Transit Leather Suit

Andy Goldfine (Mr. Aerostich), who introduced a generation of motorcyclists to "Better Riding through Chemistry" via his Cordura/Goretex gear, surprised a lot of 'Stichies like myself by releasing a new jacket and pants combo made from...leather.  But don't worry, Aerostich isn't going all retro on us, because you see, the Transit suit is made from waterproof cows.  Perhaps Farmer Jones fed his heard a Goretex diet, or maybe the smart folks at Gore finally figured out a way to bond Goretex to leather.  In any event, does the Transit provide a happy marriage of abrasion-resistant leather to the all-weather comfort of Aerostich's textile offerings?  Well, I can't tell you firsthand.  Though Andy G. has been velly, velly good to me over the years, I don't believe he was going to hand over one of his new $1500 Transit suits for me to monkey with.  So instead, go read GabeUnchained's review of the Transit, re-posted on his blog from famed San Francisco publication City Bike.