Friday, February 24, 2012

What People Think Motorcyclists Do

Here's a nice little photo montage showing What People Think Motorcyclists Do (as compared to What We Really Do).

And this one (for my Sport Rider friends)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

USA 4 Corners Tour Planning 2012

USA 4 Corners Planning 2012

As crazy as it sounds, I'm doing another 4 Corners Tour later this year. Am I a sucker for punishment, or what?

I've received my rider packet and the pre-addressed envelopes. All is set for a mid-May departure. My good friend Ted and I plan to depart at 1AM on May 12 and return by late May.

There will be some differences from the last time I rode this as I'd like to quicken the pace a bit and get the entire ride completed in 2 - 2 1/2 weeks. I will do the ride on my trusty BMW GS this time (vs. my Triumph that's been causing me so much grief of late). As well, I plan to use a "Modified X" route. It'll save some mileage initially, then add about 500 miles to the overall ride.

As well, I now have a SPOT GPS tracking device so interested parties can keep track of our progress via these links:

Here's the 4 Corners portion of the route:

Here's the entire route, including the loooooong road home:

Here's the website:

We need to do a few things before, during and after the ride.

1. (BEFORE): We need to send in the paperwork for the USA 4 Corners Tour AND the SCMA membership AND the AMA release. That's $125 ($100 for the 4 Corners Tour and $25 for the SCMA membership. DONE!

2. (DURING): The clock starts once we get the first gas receipt at the initial corner (San Ysidro). It only takes about 15 minutes to get the secret phone number, photo and gas receipt. When we mail the first letter from the San Ysidro post office, that starts the ride.

When we arrive at each point along the way, we must snap a photo of us in front of a certain landmark and mail the pre-addressed envelopes (with receipts and mileage) from the location. We must also write our motorcycle license numbers on the gas receipts.

3. (AFTER): The final stop is a biggie. We must make sure to obtain a dated, timed receipt showing the location (I ask for a 2nd copy from the gas station attendants).

I estimate that the actual 4 Corners ride will take us about 11 days or less and we will travel about 7,100 miles -- well under the 21 days allowed.

Once we mail off the final letter, we have completed the USA 4 Corners portion of the tour and it's just a matter of returning home (no rush as it's not counted as part of the 21 days). Ted plans to visit friends in Mississippi after we complete the ride and take his time getting back home. He may head south from Louisville and I continue west. I plan to travel back fairly quickly, putting on as many miles as I can safely ride.

4. Expenses: Fuel and hotels will likely be our biggest expenses, with gas at $4.60 a gallon in California (cheaper around the US, more expensive in Canada).

5. Route planning: This is a biggie for several reasons. We've decided against the new "True X Route." It'll take more time and more fuel. Where do we go from San Ysidro? Or do we want to start with San Ysidro at all? Maybe we can use that as our ending point. Do we want to travel through Canada? It'll save time and a lot of miles, but it can be complicated and the roads aren't as good. Beautiful riding, though! I prefer the "Modified X" route, where we go from San Ysidro to Blaine to Key West to Madawaska. Returning home, we will cross our previous route somewhere near Des Moines or Omaha.

6. When do we want to depart? I can budget no more than 3 weeks off of work this year, and I prefer to do the entire ride in about 2 weeks. The last time I did this ride (May 25-June 10, 2010) it took me 12 days to ride 7,000 miles. I predict that the way we ride, it will be 10 days to ride it and 3 days to return to San Diego (for me). I have obligations in April, June and July. I hope these dates work as I’m unavailable during certain dates: May 14 – June 1.

See my ride report from my 2010 USA 4 Corners Tour.

More to follow...

Let’s break out the maps and start planning!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lane Splitting: Getting to the bottom of a hot topic

Lane Splitting: Getting to the bottom of a hot topic

I've heard all of the arguments for and against motorcyclists splitting lanes. My own opinion is irrelevant as each rider must make up his or her own mind. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't – depending on the situation (weather, time of day, traffic, etc.). I've decided to address the issue via this forum for my friends and family members who seem to disagree most about this seemingly minor matter.

The Facts: In California lane splitting is absolutely legal, with conditions. That's it in a nutshell. The California Driver's Handbook, Sharing the Road with Other Vehicles, states, "It is not illegal to share lanes with motorcycles."

For example, here it is in black and white from the "Ask an Officer" FAQ thread on the CHP site: (

Q: Can motorcycle riders "split" lanes and ride between other vehicles?
A: Lane splitting by motorcycles is permissible but must be done in a safe and prudent manner.

That's pretty clear. But, you may ask, just what is a "safe and prudent manner?" And therein lies the rub, as the definition of “safe and prudent” is very much up to interpretation by police officers and judges.

Lane splitting refers to a two-wheeled vehicle moving between lanes of vehicles that are proceeding in the same direction. More narrowly, it refers to passing stopped or slower moving traffic between lanes at a speed greater than surrounding traffic. It is also sometimes called lane sharing, whitelining, filtering or stripe-riding. Alternatively, lane splitting has been used to describe moving through traffic that is in motion while filtering is used to describe moving through traffic that is stopped.

Lane splitting by motorcycles is generally legal in Europe, Japan and several other countries, and is illegal in many U.S. states, but is considered lawful in California.

The legal restrictions on lane splitting for bicyclists can be the same, such as in California. In some jurisdictions, such as Nebraska, lane-splitting by motorcyclists is specifically prohibited.

That last part came from a comprehensive Wikipedia article that you may enjoy (

First, some history about lane splitting by motorcycles.

I was told by a CHP officer that the decision to allow the practice of motorcycle riders sharing the lanes with or riding between two vehicles came about after the large, air-cooled Harley-Davidson bikes would overheat in heavy, slow or stopped traffic. Sounds like a legitimate concern to me. Anyhow, that ruling (or actually, not technically disallowing it) evolved into what we have now: ANY bike can split lanes when safe to do so. And that brings us back to "safe and prudent."

All of us have likely witnessed sport bikes weaving in and out of traffic at 75+ MPH. Those riders shouldn't be surprised when they are stopped and ticketed.

Some quick Net research I did revealed that in California it's legal to "split" lanes on a motorcycle, which means you can ride in the lane between the lanes when traffic is slowed to a "virtual halt" and even then it is legal only if done safely. And "safely" is always very much a judgment call. The mere fact that an accident happened while a rider was lane splitting is very strong evidence that on that occasion it wasn't safe to do so. If an accident happens while a motorcycle is lane splitting, there’s a good chance that fault for the accident will be attributed to the motorcycle rider. If the insurance adjuster or court finds that the motorcyclist’s carelessness was a substantial cause of the accident, the rider is out of luck when it comes to recovering damages.

Other states, when considering lane splitting laws, often reference California's success, or lack thereof. In a 3/1/05 Tacoma, Washington News Tribune article (Bill could give bikers free pass through traffic), the following quote says it all: "But the Washington State Patrol is opposed to the bill, according to patrol spokesman Capt. Jeff DeVere. He told the committee that it would be difficult to set and enforce standards for appropriate speeds and conditions for lane splitting. And he said that officials with the California Highway Patrol told him that they wished they had never begun allowing the practice." Hmmmm, very interesting.

Even Arizona put together a bill to legalize lane-splitting in stopped traffic. The bill, introduced by fellow Harley rider Representative Jerry Weiers, went into effect for a one-year probationary period on January 1, 2011. The bill only applied to counties with populations of over 2 million, which is mainly just Maricopa County.

So why are more states not following the lead? It seems that the majority of the car driving population does not like the idea of lane splitting, citing reasons from "it's too dangerous" to "if I'm stuck in traffic, you should be too." Lane splitting can be dangerous; however being at the back of traffic on a motorcycle can also be dangerous. Rear end collisions are very common and deadly for motorcyclists. Then again, just riding a motorcycle is dangerous.

Anyhow, like most riding decisions that we as motorcyclists make, legal or not, it's really up to the individual rider to determine what's safe and how much he or she will "push it." That goes for speeding, lane splitting, riding in groups or riding above ones skill level.

Here are a couple of resources for those who choose to split lanes:

Tips for Splitting Lanes (

That site "Splitting Lanes 101" includes a short video pointing out the dangers of splitting lanes. Man, that dude has some loud pipes!

And here's some new info from a recent study (and an article titled, "Proof That Motorists are Out to Kill Motorcyclists"). Some scary statistics!

According to a survey conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the majority of car drivers are unaware that lane splitting is a legal practice. A small minority, seven percent, admitted to researchers that they'd actively tried to prevent lane splitting. Despite that, the vast majority, 84.4 percent of riders, have never had an incident while splitting. A lot of what's in this report is statistical confirmation of common sense and what you and I observe every day:

- The vast majority of riders are male (93.4 percent) and middle aged (30.4 percent are 45-54).
- Most riders use motorcycles only for leisure (45.9 percent), but plenty use them for both commuting and leisure riding (30.8 percent).
- More riders lane split on freeways (77.6 percent) than on surface streets (63.9 percent)
- You're more likely to be hit by a car while lane splitting on the freeway (11.7 percent) than on surface streets (8.3 percent
- Only 1.7 percent of riders admit to splitting while traffic is traveling at 70mph or faster.
- 10mph above the speed of traffic is the most popular splitting pace (42.1 percent).
- Distracted drivers (30.0 percent) and drivers not bothering to check mirrors before changing lanes (32.5 percent) are seen as the biggest dangers.
- You're more likely to lane split the more often you ride.

Whatever you decide, with regard to splitting lanes, be safe out there.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Motorcycle Crime Around the World: Thugs on Bikes Give Us a Bad Name

Motorcycle Crime Around the World

Because thugs on bikes have been involved in a number of crimes(bombings, drive-by shootings, etc.), more scrutiny has been placed on motorcyclists in some countries (i.e., Georgia, India, Honduras). For example, the AMA recently alerted motorcycle enthusiasts traveling in Central America that Honduras has banned motorcycle passengers. Here are two related articles:

1. Honduras bans motorcycle passengers after drive-by shootings

Politicians in Honduras have voted to ban motorcycle passengers after two drive-by killings threw the spotlight back on to the country's increasingly desperate security situation. MPs approved the law on Wednesday night, during a closed session, arguing that it would help tackle a growing wave of drug-related slayings in the Central American country, now a major hub for traffickers smuggling cocaine into the USA.

"Given the current security situation, we believe that the appropriate response is allowing only one person [to ride] on motorcycles," Pompeyo Bonilla, the Honduran security minister, told Congress.

The move followed two high-profile murders in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
On Tuesday, Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, a radio show host, was gunned down outside her home by men on two motorbikes. The following day, Alfredo Landaverde, a prominent security expert and anti-corruption activist, was killed as he drove through the Honduran capital with his wife.

According to most estimates, Honduras now suffers from the world's highest murder rate. In 2010, there were around 82 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Speaking to the Honduran newspaper La Tribuna, the mayor of Tegucigalpa, Ricardo Álvarez, suggested his country now needed outside support to battle the rise in violent crime.

"I think the entry of an international force in the country is something we must start to discuss and give serious thought to," he said, adding that the ban on motorcycle passengers could be "part of the solution to Honduras' plight."

"We are reaching a point at which we either save Honduras or all Hondurans sink together. We must come together and row in the same direction in order to stop the terrible wave of violence that is plaguing the nation," he added.

As Honduran politicians approved the ban on pillion passengers, there was outrage in Brazil's economic capital, Sào Paulo, over similar plans intended to clamp down on motorbike-riding thieves. The bill, voted through in late November by members of Sào Paulo's state parliament, now needs approval from the governor, Geraldo Alckmin. Alckmin has signalled that he will veto the new law.

"We are enormously concerned with the question of security but we need to be careful not to punish workers and low-income people who use motorbikes as a means of transport or for work," he said.

Writing on Twitter, Luiz Eduardo Soares, a leading security expert, remarked that lawmakers might also want to outlaw the use of shoes or people walking in pairs. "I'm astonished," he wrote.

2. Politicians argue move will help the fight against drug-related murders as country's security situation worsens

NEW DELHI (A P) — Assailants targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia in near-simultaneous strikes Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed on archenemy Iran, and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

The bombing of an Israeli diplomat's car in New Delhi by an attacker apparently on a motorcycle wounded four people, officials said. Israel said an attempted car bombing in Georgia was thwarted.

Monday, February 13, 2012

San Diego Backcountry Adventure Ride: February 11-12, 2012

The post on ADV back in October sounded interesting enough:

"San Diego County Back Country Adventure Route: Looking for a weekend adventure ride in our San Diego back country? If you're interested I plotted out an adventure route through San Diego's back country for adventure bikes like the BMW F800GS, Triumph Tiger 800 XC, KTM 990 and KLR 650. It's a two day route with a mix of mountain twisty paved roads and dirt tracks with awesome scenery. It's got mountains, desert and back country roads laced with dirt tracks to keep it fun. The route was picked for the mid sized adventure bikes."

OK, I was in. The route was being set up by two guys from the local SDAR site ( I'd ridden with a few of them and this sounded fun. So I packed up the bike, loaded the camping gear and off I went.

The after ride report begins on post # 506. Lots of fun!

You can read some of the ride reports and see from the photos that this was a really run ride.

More to follow, but you get the idea.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Riding in the rain: The Rule of One Action.

Here's a great tip for riding in wet weather that I just found. It's called, "The Rule of One Action" and it's very handy for "all-weather" riders.

I know that you are a very complicated person, but in the rain, you need to be a very simple person. Specifically, in the rain, you should think about your tires and what I call the rule of "One Action." What do I mean by "One Action?"

In normal conditions, we put our tires through many different stresses (or actions):

• We accelerate while turning. (two actions)
• We downshift while coming into a turn. (two actions)
• Shifting weight while turning and accelerating (three actions)
• Etc.

In the rain, you should focus on only putting your tires through one action at a time.

In other words, accelerate (one action) after you make a turn (one action). Downshift (one action) before you start to turn (one action). Don't combine actions on your tires together in the rain. Less tension on your tires in the rain is going to result in better traction.

I'm sure there are more great tips out there for riding motorcycles in the rain, this is an important one to remember when riding when it's wet out.