Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Monday, May 18, 2020

It's official! The MotoWriter is now on Youtube!

My first ever motovlog has been uploaded and I'm super excited! In my first ever video, I follow up on the post from a couple of weeks ago and document the first moments of the 1983 Goldwing's resurrection! You'll also get to see my pal Brandon take his first ever ride on a motorcycle and you'll get a sneak peek of the MotoWriter stable! 

I hope you like it!
Check it out here- The Goldwing LIVES!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Blogging to Vlogging

Coming soon!!

I've been told that I have a face for radio and a voice for silent movies. Ok, I've never actually been told that, but it's funny and it's how I feel. Self conscious? Me? Yeah, just a little. 
But, after watching a bunch of cool videos from guys like John Maxwell, MotoSarge, The Shadetree Surgeon and a relatively local guy, who calls himself Big Al of Big Al's Compound, who, incidentally, I just found thanks to the Badger's site- Bikers Support Bikers (links to all are below), I figured, why not give Youtube a shot and see how it goes. I figure that I could take some cool video of stuff that I like and that I like to do- riding my motorcycle and talking about motorcycle stuff- and see where the ole' information superslab might take me. I'm not looking for fame or fortune, although eventually making a few bucks to help support my motorcycle addiction and to help me continue creating cool and fun content for y'all might be kinda nice. No, I'm just looking for a fun way to spread my love of motorcycles with more than just the people that I am fortunate enough to see every day. Plus, let's be honest... they probably get sick of hearing me talk to them about motorcycle stuff all the time. 

So, I decided to finally take the leap and do it. I found a couple of second hand GoPro cameras for a good price and I'm currently in the process of  filming some content for my very first motovlog (hint... it's a follow-up on one of my most popular blog posts).

I'll post an update when I get the nerve to upload it. Take it easy on me, but also, please give me some feedback if there's something that I need to do different, or if you like it, please subscribe to my channel and tap the bell icon to be notified whenever I upload a new video.

Be sure to check these guys out when you have some down time:
and of course- ME- The MotoWriter

Monday, May 11, 2020

Advice for new riders- Part 2, Getting the Gear

If you already bought a motorcycle, or have already read the previous post, Advice for new riders- Part 1, Getting the Bike, let's talk about getting set up with some gear essentials. You'll want to get some basic gear that will keep you safe, and comfortable, while you're riding. I'll try to keep this one as simple as possible for now because there's no need for you to go out and spend a ton of money up front on a bunch of stuff you may not need right away. So, let's talk about the absolute basics for now. 

For starters, you'll need a good helmet. Even if you live in a state that doesn't require safety helmets, get a good helmet while you're learning how to operate that machine. When I say a "good" helmet, I mean a quality made helmet that is, at the very least, DOT (Department Of Transportation) certified. You'll know it's DOT certified because it will have a label on the helmet (usually on the very back). Snell is better, but you're likely to pay a good bit more for the Snell rating. Now, you don't have to spend a bunch of money on your lid, okay? Shoei, AGV and Arai helmets are top-notch dome protectors, no doubt, but they aren't cheap, either. Treat yourself to one of these high-end brands after you've been riding a while and have settled nicely into the motorcycling lifestyle (i.e., you are laying down a lot of miles and/or are spending copious amounts of time behind those handlebars). You can usually find a good quality helmet for around, or sometimes under, $100. HJC, Bell and Biltwell are some of my favorites and all are really good helmets but they are certainly not the only ones out there. My best advice for you is to go to a local motorsports shop and try some on. Every head is a little different, so make sure you find a helmet that you can wear comfortably on yours so that you don't mind wearing it.

Helmets come in a few different varieties- full face, modular, 5/8, 3/4, half shell and beanie. Full face helmets offer the best protection for your head and face; Modular helmets look like full face, but the chin bar lifts up to reveal a 5/8 helmet. They are comfortable, but don't buy one thinking that you have the protection of a full face helmet because you won't- it's a 5/8 helmet with a chin bar for comfort not impact protection; The 5/8 and 3/4 helmets are often lumped together and referred to commonly as "open face" helmets. They offer good protection for your head and give you some ear protection. You can also install a communication system or speakers to these- but that's a topic for another day. The last two helmets offer the least amount of protection- the half shell and beanie helmets are usually the lightest and most comfortable helmets to don on a sunny summer day, but they don't cover your ears, so you'll get a lot of wind noise while wearing them and you will get limited protection in a crash, so think about this before you settle on one because of the price tag, as these are also the least expensive of all of the helmet styles. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but if you were going to indulge on anything, this is where you should do it. Personally, for a new rider, I would suggest getting a full face, or at the minimum, an open face helmet.
From left to right, we have a full face, a 5/8 and a half shell
On the left is a 5/8 and the one on the right is a 3/4
You'll also want some good boots. I've been riding for a long time and I do a lot of riding, so I don't mind spending a little more money on motorcycle specific boots (click here to read my 6 month review on my TCX X-Blend boots). By "a little more money" I mean $200 or less... I'm a cheap ass and don't want to blow all my gas money on gear. You can find good boots, perfectly fit for riding, for well under that $200 price tag though. Places like Leatherup, Bikerleather and Sheplers (online stores, links below) are all good sources for riding boots for under $100 and many of them even have helmets, rain suits, jackets, chaps and gloves.

Speaking of gloves- get some gloves. Personally, I wear Mechanix brand gloves. They aren't the safest glove for riding, but they are light, have good airflow and best of all, they are inexpensive (under $20) and they still offer some protection. You can find a good pair of leather riding gloves for around $25-30 if you do some diligent shopping around. Don't overspend, but don't short yourself on safety while you are still learning how to keep that new machine upright.

You don't need to wear chaps or leather pants and you don't need a riding suit that is fit for the Isle of Mann race circuit to get started. Just be smart. A good pair of denim jeans will do a nice job of protecting your legs from burns or slides. Chances are, you already have a pair, but if you don't, a good pair of Levi's will only run you about $35. 

The jacket situation is totally up to you. I live in the Deep South, USA and for those that live in the southernmost areas of Eastern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia, we can all attest that living along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, while it offers plenty of sunshine for riding, it also gets hot and it gets humid. The older I get, the lower tolerance I have for colder temps, so in the late fall, winter and early spring, I wear a convertible leather jacket, meaning, it has a leather outer shell, but has a removable cotton hoodie liner, and it has vents that zip open and closed on the front and back. In the late spring and summer months, I hang the jacket up till the weather starts cooling off again. There are several varieties of summer jackets though, if your'e so inclined to wear one. If you feel more comfortable in a jacket, then by all means, find one that is comfortable and offers some slide and/or impact protection. 

Finally, get some decent riding glasses. Some people will argue that if they have a full-face helmet with a shield, then they don't need glasses and, while that might be true for some situations, what if you have a clear shield and it's really bright and sunny? You're going to need shades. What if you opted for the super cool dark tint shield on your full face helmet... then you get caught after the sun goes down? You'll need some clear lenses. If you're saying "it's cool, I've got these super awesome, really expensive sunglasses from that company that sells really expensive sunglasses, so I already have that covered." Well to that I would ask two questions- do they have glass lenses? If so, leave them at the house. The last thing you need is for a rock to sling up, hit that fancy, expensive lens and shatter glass into your eyes. And the second question is- if they have polycarbonate lenses, are you prepared to drop, or lose those $100+ shades while out riding? Look, there are several companies that make excellent, motorcycle specific eye wear that is both inexpensive and durable. My all-time, number one favorite is Epoch Eyewear and Bobster Eyewear (yep, you guessed it, links below). You can pick up a great pair of foam lined frames for around $30. The foam reduces the wind across your peepers and helps seal out road debris. 

Pick your frame and pick you lens. I love the Foam 2's, I have them in smoke lens for daylight and clear for night.

Just a few of the options at Epoch Eyewear
I hope that this helps clear things up a bit and I really hope that you got some good information out of it. I also hope that you are inspired to go get started in this absolutely amazing community of motorcyclists and maybe even realize that you can do it for less than the price of a crappy used car.  

Inexpensive gear to get you started:
Bobster Eyewear 

Just in case you missed it from part 1, here are the links to the riding classes:

If you found this post useful, please let me know by either posting in the comments or sending me an email. If you want to add anything that I missed, please feel free to share it with everyone in the comments.

Advice for new riders- Part 1, Getting the Bike

Riding motorcycles is fun, exciting, adventurous and for many of us, a way to relax and unwind. But, how does one get started? Seasoned riders often take this for granted, with many of us having been on two wheels since we were kids. But, what about those who want to experience the thrill of riding, but they never had a chance to learn how before adulthood? Getting into motorcycles can be overwhelming if you don't know much about it, so in this article, I'll be giving some pointers on getting started with the right motorcycle, the right gear and most of all, on an affordable budget.

First things first- do you know how to ride? If not, there are quite a few basic courses out there to pick from. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and many insurance companies, sponsor new rider classes, also known as MSF classes for short. Also, Harley-Davidson has their own basic rider class that they call the New Rider Academy, formerly known as the Rider's Edge course and no, you don't have to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to take the course. Most new rider classes range in price around $100 or so, and with your certificate of completion, you can often get a discount from your insurance company to help offset that cost a little. I'll post links below for these classes, in case you need them, or want to learn more. Either way, one of these classes can give you some good, basic knowledge to help you get the confidence and basic skills needed to get comfortable with the controls, handling and overall dynamics of motorcycles in general. Modern motorcycles have standardized controls, meaning that after the 1970's, nearly all major motorcycle manufacturers got in line with the "left side shifting, right side braking" standard, meaning you control the brakes with your right hand (front) and right foot (rear), and you shift using the left hand for the clutch and left foot for the shifter. Most manufacturers also have the "1 down and the rest up" shift pattern- meaning that you step down to start in first gear (from neutral) and you use your toe to lift the lever for each consecutive gear. While the configuration on most bikes are the same, that can be where the similarities end, so now let's talk about the different kinds of bikes.

There are several different styles of bikes... some are crossovers, some are race or track specific and some are long distance haulers. For the sake of keeping things simple, I'm going to cover the absolute basics here.

Dirtbikes- these are, tyically, only off-road machines. They have long suspension, knobby tires and most of them don't have any lighting other than, maybe, a headlight. If you want to learn how to thrash on the trails, jump and get in the dirt and mud, then this is the bike for you. If your goal is to ride to work, take that trip to the local bike night, meet up with your friends and ride to another state, you're going to want to move on to a street bike. 

Street bikes are just as the name implies- motorcycles intended for the street. There are two basic styles of bikes in the street bike category- sport bikes, also known as crotch rockets, and cruisers.

Sport bikes look fast and most of the time, they are. Some are faster than others, but all have a relatively aggressive riding position. Most of them have rear foot controls, meaning the foot pegs and controls (brake and shifter) are set further back on the bike behind the rider's center, essentially pushing the rider into a forward leaning position. They are relatively light motorcycles and often have high revving, 2 or 4 cylinder engines, often in a parallel configuration (meaning the cylinders are lined up with each other), that make a ton of horsepower. This gives them a disproportionate power to weight ratio that makes them very fast. They also have shorter wheelbases (the overall distance between the front and rear axle) and higher centers of gravity (the point of balance of the rider) than cruiser motorcycles, making them very maneuverable. While you can get a sport bike that is slightly less aggressive, riding one takes a fair amount of confidence, and control, to stay out of trouble.

Cruisers are probably some of the most common motorcycles and most bikes that aren't sport bikes get lumped in to this category. One example of this is the Standard motorcycle. The standard is what most Japanese motorcycles looked like in the 1970's and 80's. The rider typically had a more upright riding position, the handlebars were in a comfortable riding position, the seat was big and mostly flat front to back and the foot pegs and controls were mid-mount, meaning that they were positioned just slightly ahead of the rider's center line, putting him (or her) in a comfortable sitting position. The standard is probably one of the best motorcycles to actually learn how to ride on, because they have a very natural feel and they are very nimble to ride. Not to mention, most standards have lower revving engines, most commonly parallel twin, or even large displacement single cylinders, that are a little easier to manage for a new rider. An actual cruiser is your typical Harley-Davidson style bike. They will typically have a lower rider seat and, if they have one, a higher passenger seat. The foot controls will range from mid, like a standard, or forward, meaning the rider's legs are stretched out. Most cruisers will have higher handlebars and most will have V-twin engines, meaning that they have two cylinders that are configured away from each other in a "V" shape. Cruisers are the second easiest motorcycles to learn on, because they typically have lower revving engines that make moderate power that is pretty easily managed and a lower overall center of gravity that makes the bike a little easier to maneuver. Cruisers also have a lower overall seat height that gives the rider a boost of confidence because they can easily plant their feet on the ground at a stop. 

Picking the right bike to learn on is entirely up to you and your personal preference, but don't get caught up in the idea that your first bike, your "learner bike", needs to be the motorcycle that you keep forever. It doesn't and, more than likely, it won't be. There are tons of cheap, used motorcycles out there for sale. Ideally, you'll want to get something that looks nice enough that you aren't embarrassed to be seen on it, but cheap enough that when you drop it, and you more than likely will, you don't get terribly upset that you just put a scratch in the paint or a dent in the tank. I always suggest to people who have never ridden before to look for a standard or a cruiser style motorcycle, somewhere around the 250-500 cc range, that already has a little wear on it but is mechanically sound. You can usually find them for sale locally for under $2,000. Don't go looking for a super nice Harley-Davidson, Indian, Triumph or any number of the really nice Japanese bikes for your first bike when you can usually get a Yamaha V-Star or a Honda Shadow with a few miles and relatively nice paint and chrome for less than a fancy set of tires and wheels for your car. When you get comfortable in the saddle and you feel like you're ready for a bigger, nicer machine, you can easily sell the starter to someone else who needs it (and most of the time, get nearly all of your money back on it). The reason I typically steer new riders away from second-hand sport bikes is mainly because of how easy it is for a sport bike to get away from a new rider, but another big reason is if (or when) you drop it, you're more than likely going to damage the fairing and that can cost a bunch of money to fix or replace. Down below, I've added some screen grabs from Craigslist to give you some idea of what's out there in the $2000-2500 price range.

Once you find that bike that is comfortable for you, go practice riding it. Ride it A LOT. Take it slow at first, riding through your neighborhood. Make lot's of turns, ride in circles (both directions), practice making your turns without putting your feet down and make sure that you are practicing keeping your head up and your eyes looking where you want to go. Practice slow roll off starts and then once you get comfortable with all of that, practice different levels of braking, slowly increasing your speed until you feel confident that you can handle riding in traffic. You'll learn all of this in the MSF or Riding Academy. 

Now that you have the bike, it's time to get the gear. Check out part two of this post, Advice for new riders- Part 2, Getting the Gear, for some advice on getting set up with the basic necessities of riding gear.

Riding classes to help you learn how to ride or just refresh your skills if you've been out of the saddle for a while:

If you found this post useful, please let me know by either posting in the comments or sending me an email. If you want to add anything that I missed, please feel free to share it with everyone in the comments.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

TCX X-Blend Boots- 6 month MotoReview

TCX X-Blend Waterproof riding boot. MSRP $199.99 US
I like good gear and, like a lot of other riders, I only have a few criteria that need to be met- it should be comfortable, durable, stylish, water resistant, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, it should look good enough to wear to the office on "casual Friday", but still be tough enough to survive the abuse of a 500 mile day through thunderstorms or a day of wrenching on the scooter, it has to hold up well and last several years, be made of the highest quality materials and, along with all that, it also needs to be affordable on a working man's budget. All of that seems pretty reasonable, right?

Now, let me preface with this- these boots are not a "new" product, nor am I the first person to review them, however, I am the only person that I know who wears them, and I haven't had any of my riding buddies say that they have ever even heard of them, much less owned a pair. That could be because they are not sold in Harley-Davidson shops, the local shoe stores or any of the specialty boot shops near me. I did a little online research on the X-Blends and, after reading some pretty good things about them and figuring out what my European shoe size was (they're made in Romania), I started looking. No local places had them and all of the "big box" online stores were out of stock. I took that as a good sign and after some diligent searching, I found a pair in my size at Union Garage in Brooklyn, NY (https://uniongaragenyc.com). Get in touch with the folks at Union Garage if you need some gear. Their customer service is out of this world and their prices are fair and competitive with all of the big box "discount" places. Besides, you'll be helping to keep an independent business in business by supporting them.

So, my first impressions were good. The X-Blend is a sturdy boot and it has a nice semi-finished leather outer shell. I went with the brown, but they also have them in black. Initial break-in wasn't bad and the boot really felt well made. I'm probably going to echo the word "sturdy" a lot, because that's how they feel- not cheap and flimsy like other boots, but solid and sturdy. They have some weight to them, but it's not like wearing concrete blocks, either. The insoles were comfortable and the soles were tough. They have a lug-like sole, but they're more linear and grooved to avoid trapping gravel and mud. I liked them, right out of the box.

So, six months and a few days later, I'm still wearing the hell out of them. I could probably ditch most of my other shoes because I wear these boots 90 percent of the time. They are holding up great, as I would expect a boot that cost me two hundred bucks should. You can treat them with leather treatment to add a bit more water resistance- I didn't. I would rather spend time wearing my boots and riding my bike than cleaning either of them. That's not to say that I don't keep them both clean, I just don't obsess over it. For maintenance, all I've done to my X-Blends is, every couple of weeks or so, I'll hit them with a boot brush to knock the grime off.

The soles are showing hardly any wear at all and the leather shell is getting worn-in nicely with a good patina on the leather. I think they look better now than the day I unboxed them. As other's have said, the leather toe-pad on the right boot (brake side) is losing some of the stitching, but the leather pad is still firmly in place- I'll keep an eye on this and update as needed. The left boot (shifter side) is all good. I ride two bikes- a Road King Special and a Dyna Street Bob. The Road King has a heel-toe shifter, so there's not much use of the toe pad while riding it, but on my Dyna, I use the hell out of it. The toe pad is in the exact right place and lines up perfectly with the shift peg. 

When I was doing my research, I read a few comments about the eyelets wearing through, or even cutting, the laces. I haven't seen anything like that happening with mine. The laces are still intact and as strong as they were six months ago. The boots are water resistant, meaning your feet will stay dry if you're washing your bike, step in a puddle or spill your beer on it, but if you get caught in a deluge on a road trip, you're probably going to wish you had put on those rubber boot gaiters that came with your rain suit... the ones you never wear because they look like goofy foot condoms.

The insoles are still really comfortable with just the right amount of support and cushion. These are motorcycle boots, without a doubt. When someone looks down at them on my feet, they immediately recognize them as riding boots. But they aren't your typical riding boots. Most motorcycle boots I've had were built well- solid, thick, high quality leather with oil-resistant soles and a good heel. They offered all the right protection on the bike. ON. THE. BIKE. Off the bike it's another story, though. Almost every slip-on boot I've had sucks after walking more than a couple of hundred feet in them and any of the lace-up boots I had picked up more rocks than a three year old. Neither styles were good to walk in. These TCX X-Blends are comfortable to wear all day long. Seriously, ALL DAY. Mrs. MotoWriter and I took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN last year and my TCX X-Blends were the only footwear I brought with me. We did some hiking, took in some tourist attractions, went out to dinner and even did a rope obstacle course and these boots never missed a beat. They looked nice enough to wear to a semi-casual dinner and kept up in every terrain I put them through.

 Like I said, these boots are sturdy and well made. The only complaints that I have after 6 months of wearing these things, almost daily, is the stitching on the right toe pad and, if I really have to find something, they can be a little warm on the foot. They don't have any vents or mesh panels, which I like because mesh panels are like screen doors on a submarine and vents are usually points of failure on a boot, especially after a few months of heavy wear or during a slide. The price is on par with every good motorcycle boot I've ever bought, with the main difference being I'm sure I'll get, at least, a couple of good years of riding, walking and hiking out of these, while the other boots are collecting dust in the back of the closet. 

 Check 'em out here TCX X-Blend Waterproof Motorcycle Boots 


I'd like to take a quick second to just give a sincere and heartfelt- THANK YOU to everyone that has been so supportive of me. Thanks to all of you who are liking, following and sharing my Facebook page, Instagram page and blog site with your friends and family. Thanks to all of you that have commented, reached out to me in messages and offered words of support and encouragement as I've been putting myself out there with this project.

There are a lot of people that love to see others fail and it seems that when we try something new, something that we love and enjoy doing, those people show their true colors. They try to tear you down, make you feel stupid, roll their eyes at you, make snide comments or talk about you behind your back. Maybe it helps them feel superior, maybe they are just so insecure that they can't stand to see someone else succeed or maybe they are just self-centered jerks. While it's tough to do, because maybe you thought they were your friends, or maybe because you had a lot of respect for them, when they show you who they really are, it's best to just ignore them, move on and be grateful for the lesson.

I never expected that this endeavor would be as successful as it has been and I never thought that so many people would enjoy reading my work. I'm excited to keep it going for you and I'm excited (and a little nervous) about what the future will bring. So to all of you who have been so supportive- THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Are you a REAL biker?

How do you know if you are a REAL biker?

I cringed as I typed that. Seriously, I can’t stand it when we label people. Labels are for underwear and beer bottles, not for people. We all do it; we label everyone. This person is my “best friend and ” that person is my “socafriend” (you’re welcome for that one, by the way); George is a “freak”; Candice is a “slut”; Fred is a “loser”; Tom is a “biker.” We just can’t help ourselves. 

So, how do know if you’re a REAL biker? Well, let’s take a look and see if we can figure out what a real biker actually is. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a biker as, “a person who rides a bicycle or motorcycle” while the Urban Dictionary defines a biker as “someone who not only owns a motorbike but rides it for pleasure as well as mere transport. They tend to be a friendly bunch but any who crosses them will be ‘persuaded’ not to do so again!” Ooohh… UD's definition seems pretty ominous, right? Of course, the Urban Dictionary is implying that a “biker” is someone that may, or may not, be associated with a certain group, or groups, of motorcycle enthusiasts that don’t necessarily consider themselves to be a part of the “99%” of law abiding motorcyclists out there. While not every entry into the Urban Dictionary may be on par with our trusty Merriam-Webster's, the UD certainly is reflective of our societal trends and common colloquialisms. Take the word “ratchet” for example, UD says that “ratchet” is “a ghetto-dialect mispronunciation of the English term "wretched." Meanwhile, we all know that a ratchet is a tool that we use when we are wrenching on our bikes. As it were, it seems that the only thing that these two, certainly reliable sources of literary information, have in common is that for there to be a biker, there must be a bike. 

If we can all agree that a biker has to have a motorcycle, we can move on to dissecting the “REAL” part of the term. We don’t need a dictionary to tell us what real is, we all know what’s real and what isn’t, so what makes a biker real or not? Is it his clothes- does he have to wear a leather vest with patches to be real? If so, what about all those motorcycle clubs that wear denim? Would you be so bold as to walk up to a group of them and inform them that their Levi Strauss denim vests do not meet the proper “leather vest” requirements, therefore they may not refer to themselves or their counterparts as “real bikers”? Perhaps the measure is their particular state of employment? Does a person have to be employed in some kind of labor trade to be a “real” biker, or can they be a doctor, an engineer or maybe even a cop? For that matter, can a woman be a real biker? What about a homosexual? 

Maybe we are just overthinking this whole damn thing… maybe it is as simple as their motorcycle? Perhaps, as the common perception goes, the only real bikers are Harley-Davidson owners. Unless, that is the particular biker in question does not have a Harley, but rather, he has a 1945 Indian… then maybe he can be a real biker. But, wait... what about the guy that rides the vintage Triumph chopper? You know, the guy that hand built his own hardtail frame then rebuilt a Triumph pre-unit that he found in a junkyard, bolted it in, then rode the ole beast across the country? Can he be a real biker, even though he’s kicking around on an old British powered machine? What about the guy in Japan that cut, chopped and built a badass custom bike out of a 1986 Honda Goldwing? And since we are talking about Goldwings, what about the Goldwing riders that have over 300,000 miles on their bikes and have ridden their machines in all four seasons in every state (and abroad) wearing their hi-viz jackets and mustard yellow safety helmets? Are they real bikers? What about Ted Simon, you know the guy that wrote the book, Jupiter's Travels (which, if you haven't read it, I HIGHLY recommend that you do)? Ted Simon wrote that book after he spent four years riding his 500cc 1973 Triumph T100 around the world through 45 countries. Is Ted Simon a real biker? You're damned right he is.

You see, I've known a lot of people that have Harley-Davidson motorcycles who say that people who ride bikes like Suzuki GSXRs, Kawasaki Ninjas, Yamaha Stratoliners or Honda Shadows can’t be real bikers, no matter how dedicated to riding they are, simply because they don't ride American bikes. These are the same guys, by the way, that have their $25,000 Harley-Davidsons parked in the garage 10 months out of the year. You know them, they are the guys that brag about all the rallies they go to, yet their bikes see more miles riding on the back of a trailer than they do rolling on their own rubber; they're the same guys that only ride to the local bike nights whenever the weather is "Goldilocks perfect." I’ve also heard that only men can be real bikers, but I've seen some ladies rippin' the curves in the mountains and they sure as hell looked like real bikers to me. I've known a few folks that live, as the polite folks would say- an alternative lifestyle, that ride motorcycles (some of whom ride Harley-Davidsons). I know cops that are in motorcycle clubs and I've seen more than a few nurses, doctors and several engineers that ride. 

Growing up as a ginger kid, I was given plenty of labels. It certainly didn't help that I wore those auburn locks in a fantastically awful, late '80's powered mullet and wore ripped up, stone-washed jeans. In my youth, I had a few second-hand dirt bikes and I took an old Suzuki GN400X that came to our house in boxes, fumbled my way through putting it back together not knowing what the hell I was doing, and got it running. I rode that thing until my folks got rid of it one day while I was at school. All their best efforts to protect their baby boy from the dangers of two wheels was all for naught, though. I started back on a Kawasaki EX500, then I moved on to cruisers. I've had a couple of Hondas, a Yamaha and... well... a few different Harley-Davidsons. It's bizarre to see it typed out, but I've ridden over 100,000 miles of paved roads on two wheels and countless miles of dirt trails. Does that make me a real biker? Honestly, I don't know, and frankly, I don't care. Neither should you. If you want to call yourself a biker, or even the highly coveted real biker, then go for it. It's just a silly label anyway.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020


We all have friends- even the most socially distant, introverted and anti-social among us. Some people have 3,135 friends (as recorded by their social media platforms), while others have, well, less than that. But how many of those people in your life are true friends? How many of them would be there for you in the middle of the night when you're stranded on some dark, country back road with a busted bike? How many of them can you count on to bring you a gallon of gas when you run out, a sandwich when you're hungry or will call you and comfort you when your dog dies? How many of them have you done that for? Are you the type of friend that, if your kid was having a birthday party and you got a phone call from your buddy saying that he needed some help, you would jump in the car and drive 20 miles to help him out?  Are you that person? 
It seems like everybody in this age of social media, likes, follows, hashtags and emojis has forgotten (or maybe they never even knew) what true friendship really is. Oh, you have two thousand friends on Facebook... sooo great... but, how many of them know you, truly know you? How many of them know that you're lactose intolerant, have diabetes, or that you are self-conscious about your ears? I'm not bashing those that collect "friends", but is it really fair or truthful to call them friends

I've got somewhere around, oh let's say... 5-7 friends. I have a few hundred acquaintances, but only a handful of actual friends. Some I talk to almost daily, others I haven't seen in person in several years and I only really communicate with them through social media. Those 5-7 people are the ones that I know, without a doubt, would be there for me, and I would be there for them at any time. But, I'm also that friend that, when someone calls me and asks for help, I go help them... even if I know, without a doubt, that they will not reciprocate. I've always tried to be there when one of my friends, no... not friends, let's call them so-called friends- "socafriends", for short. I've always tried to be there when one of my socafriends needed me. If only people were honest enough to actually say what they truly meant, it would certainly cut down on any confusion as to who you could, or could not, rely on when you are in a pinch.

"Hey man, can you come work on my bike for me? I know haven't ever done anything but talk shit about you behind your back, but I also know that you are pretty handy with a set of wrenches and know a few things about motorcycles and I really don't want to pay an actual mechanic. So, I'd rather just be nice to you for a little while until you have my bike fixed, then go back to ignoring you, instead."

But, it's not that way, is it? Nope, we have to try the ole, trial and error thing, instead. You spend four hours on a Saturday, helping a "friend" move, then the following Friday, you find out he's having a housewarming party that you weren't invited to. Turns out, he was just a socafriend. Or, maybe you spend a week, working on a "friend's" bike only to watch him sell it a month later and not even offer to give you a few bucks for your trouble, or even buy you lunch. Socafriend. As for me, I've given my friends motorcycle parts that I wasn't using, wrenched, for hours and days, on their bikes, helped them move, helped them fix their cars, given them advice, helped them through tough situations, you name it. But, when the task is done... all I've seen in return, from all but around 5-7 of them, is a whole lot of nothing. They go back to talking shit and making snide comments about me, or most commonly- simply and conveniently forgetting who I am until the next time that they need me. 

Now, I know what you're thinking- when those socafriends call again, don't help them, just tell them to piss off, right?!? Nope. Not me, anyway. I'll help them again. It's not because I'm a sucker for punishment or that I like the abuse, but it's because I am just trying to be a good person and I always try to do the best that I can for the time that I'm here. Look, it's not their fault that they're selfish jerks. They have their circle of 5-7 true friends and I'm just not in it. I'm totally good with that too, because I know that I don't want to be in a circle with people who will treat others like that. Instead, I'd rather be the guy that people can rely on when they need help even if those people don't really deserve the help that I give them. The world is full of shitty people, I don't want to be another one and I certainly don't want my son's to be that way. Besides, that's how you learn who are your friends, and who are your socafriends. As my beautiful and intelligent wife would say- learning is fun! 

I implore you to be that person who helps. Be a good friend, even to those socafriends. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Motorcycles are dangerous! But so is everything, so get out and live your life.

I hear it all the time, "motorcycles are dangerous," "it's not the motorcycles, but all the other people on the road, not looking out for them," "four wheels are safer than two," "there's no seat belts or any protection," ... etc, etc...blah, blah, blah.

I've always believed in a power greater than all- our Lord Almighty. Since I was a small kid, I've looked up at the countless stars, glistening in the dark expanse of the night sky and into the vast blue canvas of daylight and known, in my heart, that there was more to all of this creation than a simple "happenstance" of random phenomena occurring at some arbitrarily perfect moment with such power and brilliance that it created all of this life and wonder. Now, I don't remember when I heard this, or from whom, but I was told a long, long time ago that every person's name is written in the Book Of Life and the Book Of Death and that only our God knows when those dates are. I'll tell you something else too- when I heard that, a whole lot of confusion regarding that ole bony bastard in the dark shroud that holds the scythe started clearing up for me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

You see, to most people, death is unpredictable and seemingly random. There's no apparent rhyme or reason why the guy that gorges himself until he weighs 800 pounds keeps on living, but the guy that exercises every day and only eats the most healthy of diets has a heart attack... or worse, gets cancer. Or, for that matter, how in the hell are all the guys from Jackass not dead? Seriously, if you ever watched any of those shows and watched what those boneheads did to themselves (and to each other), it should baffle your mind as to how they aren't all, at the very least, paralyzed from the ears down!

However... when you consider the possibilities that maybe, just maybe, you're not just some random gathering of cells that developed into the sentient being that your friends and family know and love, but rather, your birth was foreseen, planned, written, before you ever breathed your first breaths of life; and conversely, if you can accept that just as light must have dark and clear skies must have rain- that life must have death, and that the moment that your heart beats for the very last time is also written, then at that moment, you will start to realize that everything that happens in the middle is just a continuous stream of opportunities to make memories, do good for others, have fun and to appreciate all that this wonderful miracle that we call life has to offer.

How liberating is it to consider the possibility that we have absolutely no control over our own death and to acknowledge that we are alive, right now, and that we are not guaranteed tomorrow? How exciting is it when we embrace the notion that our God has given us this day, this moment, and has not promised us tomorrow or even the next hour? Doesn't it make you want to go do something good and righteous for your fellow man? Doesn't it give you the courage to ask that person that you like out on a date, or at the very least, tell them how you feel? Doesn't it give you the determination to do that thing that you've always wanted to do? Doesn't it strip away some of the fears that you have and make you realize that maybe those fears are actually just keeping you from experiencing life? I saw a quote recently, I don't know who said it or if it was just something from one of those cheesy motivational posters that your boss hangs in the office... but I liked it and it summed up what I'm saying in a beautifully eloquent way-

"Fear does not stop death, it stops life. Worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace." 

-author unknown

Now, I'm not suggesting that you throw out all caution and common sense and go into the world with full reckless abandon and a total lack of precaution. I'm also not implying that we are invincible, because we are not, nor are we following some predestined path. We can alter our journeys through life- we can make them more, or less, enjoyable with the choices that we make. The choices that we make today, will surely affect how we live our lives tomorrow, if we are granted that opportunity, so we need to make smart choices. Drink more water, eat a little better, get more exercise and use good common sense, but don't deprive yourself of the simple joys of a good cup of coffee, a slice of pizza, or of doing something that you are only afraid of doing because you've always been told it was dangerous.

Don't be afraid to try something as wonderful as riding a motorcycle, and potentially miss the chance to experience the world in a way that you never could have imagined, just because it seems scary or you think it's dangerous. If you don't have a desire to ride then don't, but I have a feeling that if you are reading this, then you either ride, used to ride, or want to ride. Riding a motorcycle can either be relaxing, exciting or both, depending on where you go, how far you lean or how fast and far you twist the right grip. It can also be very therapeutic.

I've experienced the tranquility of riding alone along a dark, desolate highway in the middle of a lightning storm, watching as the clouds exploded with stunning flashes of the most brilliant light you can imagine, flashing and flickering to a symphony of rolling thunder far off in the distance. I've experienced a glorious array of color created by the morning sun shining through the leaves of tall oak, maple and poplar trees in the mist of an early fall Appalachian morning. I've heard the wind softly rustle the leaves along the banks of a bubbling mountain spring in the Ozarks. I've slept under the stars, breathed the cool mountain air and fallen asleep to the sounds of the night creatures making their way along the forest floor, all while my trusty motorcycle was parked nearby, waiting patiently for the sun to rise to take me to my next adventure.

Motorcycles are dangerous, but so are cars, airplanes, bicycles and even walking through the grocery store. Cheeseburgers, pizza, beer and sex can be dangerous and, let's be honest, any damned thing could give you cancer. You see, as Elvis Presley could attest, it doesn't matter if you're taking risks, or taking a poop, if it's the day that your name is scribbled in that book, then it won't matter what you’re doing at the time, so you might as well be doing something that you enjoy, no matter how "dangerous" it might be.

Don't be afraid. Life is full of danger; it lurks around every corner. But it's far better to face danger straight on, than let its sinister cousin, fear, rule you from within. If you have faith, use good common sense and you take the necessary precautions to stay as safe as possible, you'll experience things in this world that you will cherish for the rest of your life. And when your God does call you home, maybe you won't go with the regret that you didn't get on that bike and take that ride. 

Now, go out there and have an adventure. 

When you get back... share it with me in the comments.