Team Riding: Two Up! Plan Ahead! By: Mary Walters, Road Captain Are you getting ready for this summer’s motorcycle runs? Some of our Top Cats are already out West and the year is under way! And you know that their great memories and stories are developing every day! And for those of us still here – The excitement of spending time on the road is creeping into our thoughts. Those WARM ideas are growing as the cold snowy days are disappearing! As the riding season begins, it would be good for us to start discussing some topics that will add to the fun and safety of the riding season. Many of us ride with a partner… and it can be a challenge when ‘Team Riding’. Sometimes the issues that creep into the trip can change the aura of those ‘special ‘ biking memories This article will take a quick look at the ‘Team Ride’ conversation. “TEAM”, you ask? Yes… Team. Its when two people are riding together… the idea is as follows:
Electrical Storms:Don’t Light up your RideBy: Gene Rigsby, Road Captain Last year Noelle and I were heading out to help set up the” Ride For Dreams” event, which was being held in Woodstock. It started to rain just as we were leaving our garage. We had a feeling it was going to rain, and even though the weather report sounded more promising, we were dressed for rain. This was by no means the first time we ever rode in the rain and I know most everyone reading this article has experience with this as well. Well on this particular day, as we moved down the road through the rain, it got significantly worse as we rode. Eventually, though, it started to ease up and we thought we may be in the clear. But as most of you know as well, those thoughts usually are the indicators of the ‘worse that’s yet to come’! As we sat waiting for a traffic light to change, there was the sudden rumble of a nearby lighting strike! It shook both of us, not only physically, but mentally as well. Sitting in the rain, exposed, with an electrical storm building is an intimidating thing and I felt very vulnerable. When talking about this situation with others, I heard many people compare riding exposed ON a motorcycle to the old traditional thought of being protected from lighting while riding IN a car, I started to research how true this thought truly is. As you can imagine, there is a great deal of information about this on the internet. Google this topic, and see firsthand, the variety of information on this topic. Here is a summary of one article, by James R. Davis, which gives a general idea of the things you need to consider when riding… with thunder and lightning! James R. Davis is a recognized expert witnessin the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics. The article is entitled, “Electrical Storms Riding out from under them could be a big mistake” and the full article can be found at: http://www.msgroup.org.
GPS: Making Travel Better, Easier, and Safer!By Tony Loden, Road Captain Just think how different history and everyday life would have been if devices like the GPS had existed, even in the past hundred years; just for starters, where Amelia Earhart crashed might never have been a mystery. The ‘60s TV show Gilligan’s Island might never have been produced because it would have been rejected as an unlikely scenario. And perhaps more relevantly: that time your motorcycle broke down in the middle of nowhere and you had no means to communicate your location may never have become the epic – or harrowing – adventure it was. Originally designed for the US military in the early 1970’s GPS or the Global Positioning System is a satellite navigational system, predominantly designed for navigation. Twenty-four satellites, eight in each of three orbital planes spaced 120-degrees apart, and their ground stations, formed the “man-made stars” as reference points to calculate geographical positions, now accurate to a matter of yards became fully operational to the general public in 1995. Today GPS receivers have been miniaturized to just a few integrated circuits and have become very economical, finding their way into the aviation, marine, railway, automotive and even cellphone industries. These units work solely by storing all the maps on the device and using the GPS signal to pinpoint your location and then tell you what route and direction to take to reach a specific destination. They have now become the security blanket while travelling thru the skies, crossing the oceans or cruising down the highway! It was only a matter of time before someone strapped a receiving unit onto a motorcycle. Now most of us are wise enough to know that safety comes first when we are out on our prized possessions. That means helmets, leathers, reflective gear, TCLOCK, the whole nine yards. But this little technological advancement has meant that we riders now need to keep ourselves safe in a totally different way. If you are in a car, that glowing map and the voice of your choosing every now and then barking back at you is pretty cool. Translate all of this into the world of the motorcycle rider, though, and GPS is a potential distraction, and “distracted driving” as the safety experts call it, is a common cause of accidents.
What’s in Your First Aid Kit? By Gary Brandt We have heard many times the importance of having a First Aid Kit on our bikes. We often will be asked during a pre-ride meeting for those who do have them to raise their hands. The Top Cats have made great progress over the years raising the level of importance of carrying these kits and of course we have held First Aid and CPR courses every other year or more often.One Web site that has a significant amount of information on this Topic is www.firstaidanywhere.comThey point out that the most common injuries for motorcycle riders are:Burns, both major (from exhaust pipes) and minor (sunburn)Eye Injuries (things blowing in our eyes).Cuts, scrapes, road rash and fractures.Then we have things such as bee stings or other allergic reactions.These are many of the same things we learned in our first aid classes. It never hurts to be reminded often about what we may face.Back around 2007 the Top Cats had a safety kit campaign. Over 30 kits were assembled and sold to our membership. Based on ideas similar to what the web site offers up, many items were purchased in bulk to make the kits.One of the tips we receive often, but in many cases ignore, is to replace items in your First Aid kit each year. So of course that brings us to a real life, Top Cats Story!This past season, I had the opportunity to need some first aid on one of our rides. While riding some great country roads near Galena, a large bumblebee ended up under my sleeve and on my shoulder. It proceeded to sting me multiple times. Due to some past issues, I was concernedabout a possible reaction.
Winter Hibernation By Dennis P. (Wombat) Dougherty As the 2013 riding season comes to a close it’s time to find a comfy spot for your iron steed as it hunkers down for a long winter’s nap. But before you extend your farewell with a heartfelt, “See you next Spring”, there are a few things you should do to help it weather the winter and be ready to go when you first push the start button or give it it’s first kick start when the road first beckons you to hop on board next year. Give Your Bike a Thorough Cleaning Remove road grime and insects. Clean and polish all the shiny stuff. And while you’re at it, finish it up with a good coat of quality wax. If you have a chain, clean and lube it. Add Fuel Stabilizer to Your Gas Tank Fill the tank to the top and run the bike to make sure the gas and stabilizer mix. Shut off the fuel valve, if you have one, and let the bike run dry. Drain the Carburetor, (if you have one) Shut off the gas and follow MOM on how to do it. Don’t let gas pool in the carburetor over the winter. Change the Oil and Filter
Winter Riding By Ric CaseSenior Road Captain OK in the last two KK’s we heard about Fall riding and storing bikes. But what if you don’t want to store the bike? But what about hard core winter riding? Well it takes thin and thick blood and lots of guts. Can it be done safely? Yes with proper pre-cautions, forethought and a few safe practices. Dressing for Sub-Freezing Temperatures First when riding in sub-freezing temperatures, it is best to address those temperatures with electric accessories such as gloves, handlebar grips, vests, jackets, and pants/chaps. Now with all of that gear plugged into the bike, best make sure your bikes electrical system can handle all that electrical draw without blowing fuses. If you are a first timer and want to see if this is something you want to do, you might think of trying snowmobile clothing and be sure you enjoy the cold riding before investing money in electric. (I can lend you all sizes.) When using snowmobile clothing, make sure you can operate all the controls safely because it is bulky.
Time To Get Your Motorcycle Ready For StorageBy Larry ScalzittiSenior Road Captain It’s been a nice week for riding, so the idea of storing your bike for the winter might be off your radar, but . . . it’s never too early to start planning. There are many things to consider – storage location, cleaning, maintenance, tires, and more. I’ll talk to what I think are important items to look at. STORAGE LOCATION First you need a place to store it safely and securely. You want to find a place that is heated, well ventilated, free of rodents and secure. It’s also great if you can have electrical outlets and access to your bike throughout the year.When I was single, I stored my motorcycle in the basement of the apartment I lived in. The base-ment had storage lockers for each tenant, a few wash-ers and dryers, a water heater, a furnace and most im-portantly a 7 foot section of empty wall space. I kept it there for three winters, under a tarp and chained to a large pipe. Much to my amazement no one ever messed with it or complained about it being there. It was probably a good thing that I was the only one in the complex with a motorcycle.
Fall Riding By Bard Boand “Senior Road Captain” The fall riding season will be upon us soon. As you know, each season has it’s own riding peculiarities and things to address in order to ride safe. Here are a few to remember this fall as you plan your rides: Leaves on the pavement are very slippery, especially when wet. Not only will your tires slip, but so will your feet when backing up your bike while parking. Moisture forms on the pavement with rapid temperature change and temperature difference between ground and air. Be especially watchful in the early morning hours. Ever heard of “Black Ice”?
“Bend over and say. . . aahh … I forgot to check my tire pressure!” By Greg Smith How many times have you found yourself chatting with other motorcycle enthusiast and the importance of tire pressure (PSI) and especially the need to check it on a regular basis comes up … But Do We Check It? After having been reminded to ”check your tire pressure” and having it drummed into our heads all the years we have been riding, why do we still get on the bike, start it, and take it for a ride without checking the tire pressure? Think about – we have all done that. We have been lead to believe that a tire pressure deviation of +/-2 lbs. is acceptable. However, consider this; we rely on a tool (our tire gauge) that in many cases may be off +/- 0 to 5 lbs. With a tire gauge off +/- 5 lbs. plus a deviation of 2 lbs., your tire pressure could be off 7+ lbs. This could cause a significant change in the handling of your motorcycle. Now add in that the average rider checks their tire pressure once to twice a year, and when you fail to regularly check your tire pressure the potential of extreme improper tire pressure increases; now you have a huge problem and recipe for disaster. A good quality tire gauge is a must and preferably two. The tire pressure or PSI of your motorcycle tire is calculated by the manufacture to give the maximum handling factor on a motorcycle. It controls everything from the tire’s contact patch on the road to side wall flex, and thus effects tire road grip / overall handling / wear / and of course fuel consumption. Any PSI deviation, either up or down, affects one or more of these.
When there is No Place Else to GO! By Gary Brandt Senior Road Captain We have all either been in this situation or we will be at some point in our riding lifetime… You are heading down the Interstate or some other limited access highway and there is fast developing storm in front of you… This past Memorial Day a group of Top Cats, who also happen to be Rolling Thunder members, were traveling between Buffalo and Cleveland. The weather reports were for clear skies all day be-tween both cities. The interstate that serves this corridor also happens to be set up as a turnpike. This means very limited exits for the entire 300 mile section we were to travel on. Distances of 20 to 30 miles between exits were common. When our group of 3 bikes was around 100 miles east of Cleveland, the sky suddenly turned black almost directly in front of us. There were no exits in site and to make matters worse we were in a construction zone that removed most of the shoulder areas. Within minutes it became clear that we were going to have to get rain protection on quickly. It just so happened that the construction zone ended just as the rain began to fall, with an overpass ahead. The group pulled under the overpass, as far to the right as we could.