When You Skid on Your Lid

or Why Everyone Should Wear Full Face Helmets

Update- 9/11/2008: I am living proof after dropping the R on Highway 20 near Spavinaw. The top of my Arai helmet looks like a shotgun victim. I survived the incident with nothing more than scrapes and bruises. And about 6 hours of lost memory.
More…
Nothing lights up a room like a discussion over motorcycle helmet laws. But the argument is a non-starter for me because I always wear a helmet. I’ve ridden motorcycles long enough to realize that falling off of one is inevitable. I’ve also been damn glad I was wearing a helmet when the inevitable happened.

Full Face Helmet with Road RashOccasionally I might ride “nude” for a short test ride– when I’m working on my bike or tuning it. It’s an odd feeling to me. Even at only 30 mph a bug in the forehead smarts. I always pull back into the driveway thinking, “How the hell do people do that at highways speeds?!?”

As long as I’ve ridden street bikes I’ve always worn full-face helmets. The wisdom of that was driven home recently when I came across an article by Jeff Dean (also source of the accompanying photo). That rider wearing the above helmet came away in one piece. In fact, he continued the ride home that day. Most likely wearing a helmet.

The article also features an interesting graphic [pdf] showing the most common location of major impact on riders’ helmets. 35% strike the area protecting your nose and chin. Think about that the next time you strap on a half-helmet.

Related Links


Motorcycle Superstore

New Bimmer: R1150-R

Just picked up the latest two-wheeler yesterday.

It’s a 2003 BMW R1150R that hails from New Mexico. The previous owner was nice enough to meet us in Elk City to make the exchange. I cruised home to Tulsa without incident, doing 75 mph at a leisurely 3500 RPM most of the way.

BMW Motorrad Promo

Pit stop at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton with the new R1150-R.The only glitch was discovered while gassing up before we left Elk City. I made a quick check of the lights and the brake light didn’t work. Or, to be more precise, it always worked. Turned out it was always on– which explained a mysterious “dent” in the tail lamp… it had melted from the heat of the extra bright stop lamp!

I checked the stop lamp switches but both seemed to be working. Or at least I could hear the faint click of the microswitch— which means they were not out of adjustment, a semi-common problem on older BMWs. I unplugged the wire from the bulb connector to avoid further melting the lamp or lens. We decided to head on home with Jackie close behind in the Volvo chase vehicle playing the role of Brake Lights.

Riding a nekid bike for the first time in several years reminded me of two things:
1) You have to hang on.
2) Western Oklahoma is windy.
But it didn’t take long to get used to the extra “weather” I was experiencing. Body positioning is the key, and the seat allowed me enough room to assume a couple of different positions. But enough about me…

The bike runs great- much more responsive than my old GS. Tall gearing allows it to lope along in sixth with this airplane-like drone. The handling is nimble, it doesn’t feel like a 500 pound bike when you flick it around. But each time I passed a semi I was kinda’ glad that it does weigh 500 pounds! The riding position was pretty comfortable– a little short in the legroom department, but not bad. The seat had been “upgraded” by the original owner with some sort of fancy gel foam and it’s great. Jackie and I both found it very comfy.

We stopped briefly at BMW of Oklahoma in OKC to see if the shop might know one of those oh-they-all-do-that remedies for the brake light issue. Unfortunately the tech didn’t have any silver bullets of wisdom so we headed onward.

After a pleasant ride up Route 66 to Tulsa we pulled in the driveway. Average miles per gallon: 47.6.

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Morning Fall

This short film is a submission from the 2006 Moving Pictures Short Film Contest.

Just came across this short on Google Video and thought it was worth passing along. And yes, I’ll admit it initially caught my attention because it involves a motorcycle. Speaking of… I hope they found the Norton in that condition and didn’t waste it for the film!

http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-6316443191185539008&hl=en


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Show Me MO

May 18— Four days of motorcycles, twisty roads and great weather.

Rex, Brad and Chris begin their ultimate adventure.That was the recipe for our recent excursion into Central Missouri (aka the Precious Moments Tour). The Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, MO made a great HQ to begin and end our daily rides. Most of the roads throughout Missouri are well maintained and offer some great scenery. And our timing was perfect– we couldn’t have asked for better weather.


As usual, there is always the unexpected to deal with. This trip was no different. Even before we left Tulsa, the Suzuki Bandit that Chris was riding spat out its drain plug. A fortunate stop at a Quik Trip spared him of any serious engine damage, while soiling their parking lot with the Bandit’s last quart of oil. Amazingly a parts store across the street had a plug of the correct size (14mm x 1.25 if you’re curious).

Here’s a 30 second spot we shot at the resort…
http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docId=-2716245207973939240&hl=en

Everything went great as we rolled along OK-20 into Missouri and stopped for lunch in Noel. After lunch we blasted off on to Highway 90. The weather was still perfect- sunny, no wind and temps in the mid seventies. Then the parades began.

We didn’t realize it, but Highway 90 must have been the Poker Run capital of Missouri on that particular Friday. Suddenly we found ourselves stuck behind long lines of American-made noisemakers, barely managing to maintain the speed limit. After several frustrating miles we were finally able to weave around them and resume “touring speeds” through the twists and turns of this legendary road.

Taking in some Americana at a roadside stop.

Turning north at Cassville finally put us into clear airspace, as we headed north for Osage Beach. Upon our arrival at the Tan-Tar-A Resort I was pretty wide-eyed. We passed the golf course, horse stables, turnoff to the long-term estates, swimming pool, another swimming pool.. it just kept going. The rates were comparable to condos in the vicinity (which look like giant apartment complexes to me), but the resort seemed huge and rambled up and around through the woods.

When we checked in we insisted on a room with a clear view of the parking area. It was a needless concern. The security seemed more than adequate. We parked all three bikes in the last parking space and began the trudge up seven flights of stairs to our room. I was wondering if the “parking lot view” we had requested was worth when I walked out on the balcony. Wow! It looked we had been issued the highest room in the whole complex— our door opened out on to the treetops with a beautiful view of resort and Lake of the Ozarks.

Rex and Brad get in touch with their native roots.

Each day we tried to set off in a different direction. Between glancing at maps and a little dead reckoning we tried to get ourselves lost in the middle of Missouri. On average we would ride about 200 miles a day.

One of the most exciting moments occured Saturday morning as we headed east. Earlier my GS had been running pretty half-ass. At one point accelerating uphill became a luxury I rarely experienced. This particular morning I had tweaked on it a bit and thought it might be running a little better. I lead the way as we meandored along one of the many “letter roads” in Missouri. After a few miles the poor acceleration seemed to return. But even worse now. As I struggled to maintain the speed limit, the big BMW seemed to dig in its heels. I didn’t realize just how right I was!

We’re rolling along past long rows of pickups and people walking around with shotguns. The pops of skeet shooters had caught my attention a mile or so back. When I realized it wasn’t my bike making the noise I returned to the task of struggling up hills. Moments later Brad pulls alongside and hollers something about “..rear.. on.. fire..” between the pop-pop of shotguns across the road. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what he said, I instinctively pulled in the clutch lever. The Bimmer immediately slowed as though… as though the brakes were on!

Now I’m beginning to realize what Brad was hollering about. I get parked on the non-existant shoulder, hop off and run around the back of the bike. The acrid smell of brake pad material is now heavily apparant. As I look down at the rear brake rotor I realized that Brad really had screamed, “Your rear brake’s on fire!”

I’m not sure, but I think I tried to blow the fire out. Only problem was my helmet was still on. Fortunately I remembered putting a bottle of water in my top box when we headed out that morning. I fumbled with the latch and dug out the precious half-bottle of agua to extinguish my burning bike. Disaster averted!

Turns out the locknut on the rear brake adjustment rod had loosened. I spent the rest of the morning rear-brake-less until we stopped at a local chopper barn (seriously, it was called Chopper Barn) and I bought some brake fluid and bled the rear system. But that’s an entire story in itself!

The next day we toured north toward the Missouri River. For lunch we made a quick stop at a local grocery store in Booneville for some homemade sandwiches. A local park provided the perfect break. Afterwards we followed the Lewis & Clark Trail back toward our HQ.

The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful. Not one single fire. Other than that bit of excitement, we definitely plan to do it again.

Precious Moments Tour


Update!
The 2009 rally will be held May 15-17.

So it’s time to dust off the bike and do a little motorcycle touring. The destination is central Missouri. Porcelain figurines may be involved.

If you prefer to stop reading now I’ll understand.

The official base of operations will be the Tan-Tar-A resort. Between rounds of golf, tourists like us can enjoy everything from a relaxing dip in the pool to parasailing to Burger King. It’s located on state road KK just off US-54 in Osage Beach, MO. They have a helpful page with directions from different cities.

Here are some links I’ve dug up that might prove helpful to wayward travelers (and lost Okies) as they meandor during the….

Up above we have a locator map from the Missouri State Parks & Historic Sites. There seems to be a good deal of festive happenings near the Lake of the Ozarks. Just up the road is the University of Missouri in Columbia. Central Missouri is also home to state capitol (no, it isn’t St. Louis) and other scenic and historic junk.

Routes to and from abound on MotorcycleRoads.US, Dan Kalal, Car and Driver and (of course) Places2ride.com.

Nearby accomodations range from rustic (I’m not even sure what a Yurt is!) to houseboats to cutesy B & Bs. For that resort lifestyle we all crave there’s Tan-Tar-A. The most interesting option is the slew of condo rentals available. Rates vary from moderate to wild.

A possible route.
I played around with Mapquest’s new beta version and managed to string together a route free of toll roads or Interstates. It takes a little coaxing to keep it the route on the skinny lines- but it can be done. Here’s a suggested route from Tulsa to Lake o’ the Ozarks.