Bloom’n Idiots On Two Wheels

On multiple occasions here at RC USA I have separated myself from “bikers” in catagorizing myself as a “motorcycle enthusiast”. In February I tried to completely remove myself from this label. Now that I declare it impossible to say I am not something I can’t help but be I have to say it is partly because the community of two wheelers is chock full of bloom’n idiots! I would rather not be associated with many of my two wheel associates. Especially in the spring time! It’s like idiots on parade. I saw so many of them today that I just wanted choke them. Maybe by next month they will put the bikes back in the garage and only come out for Hooters Bike Night. One can only hope.

Top 10 list of annoyances:

1. Biker fashion over function including all biker related t-shirts. Is it really necessary to wear a motorcycle related t-shirt whenever you ride to prove to people you really are a biker? Ooohhh a big skull and cross bones on your back must mean you a real rider. Why not wear a Dodge Ram, Duck Commander or NASCAR t-shirt? Will people all of sudden think that rider doesn’t know what he is doing wearing a non two wheel themed shirt! My gosh what was he thinking?! No advertisement? Doesn’t he realize you need to pay the MoCo $40 for the right to advertise their dealerships on the back of a bar and shield decorated t-shirt in order to be road worthy? Does anyone care that you went to Sturgis, Daytona or The Dragon? Does advertising where you went on vacation make you more bikery then someone who keeps it a secret?

2. Smoking a cigarette, riding no hands, one hand cooly resting on the tank. Saw this one today on a populated street. Really? Must I go any further? Save these tricks for the backroads buddy. Good skills but no one is impressed. Maybe just a little bit… but still stupid.

3. No hands, bike in neutral at a red light. Might as well have both thumbs stuck up your ass, remove your mirrors and wear a target on your back that says “run me over because I don’t have a brain anyway”. What happened to “watch your ass, the cagers are trying to kill us”?

4. Beachwear! Maybe I am over cautious by always dressing for the crash but shorts, bathing suits, no socks, flip flops or sandals really hits a nerve with me. It’s one thing to not wear a helmet, it’s another to ride practically naked. Road rash waiting. Flaunt your stupidity. Snub your nose at the thought of respect to the road and the machine. Your bike should be taken away.

5. No helmet, no gloves, no boots, no eye protection or any combination of these. OK maybe this is extreme but this is pretty basic riding wear. Lets say you have the freedom to choose, doesn’t it make sense to choose the logical protective wear. Especially with all those idiots in cars out there trying to kill us or just not paying attention to us? They would rather text each other than pay attention to your loud pipes. Get real. Wear a pair of boots and gloves for crying out loud!

6. Big and or tall guys on Sportsters. Fat guys on sport bikes with plumbers crack exposed. Chicks with 9 inch spike heels not riding passenger. No further explanation needed right? I probably owe an apology to plumbers for this one. They should not suffer the humiliation of being lumped in with fat guys on crotch rockets.

7. Parked on sidewalk. We all pay the same taxes. There is no special parking permit to pull up to the front door of Planet Fitness and park on the sidewalk. Saw this one today. Do these riders think they are the only ones who have a bike? What if four other riders come to the gym? Are they all supposed to park on the sidewalk too? That will do a great amount of good for our image. Maybe he thought he would be too tired after his workout to make it across the parking lot like the poor fools in their cars and trucks. I think I’ll go somewhere tomorrow and say “good bye honey, I’m taking the bike so I can park on the sidewalk next to the front door of wherever my lazy dumbass is going.”

8. Those jerks who ride by my place of employment during the work week mid day with their loud pipes knowing I am stuck inside watching them go by from my window office on a nice sunny day. Complete assholes. They do it to torture me! I curse the bastards with drool running down the corner of my mouth and fist in the air.  I mumble “I hate you”. I would flip them the bird but I have to maintain a minimal amount of professionalsim.

9. People obsessed with pins, patches, t-shirts and hot dogs that were supposed to be free with registration. “Sorry we ran out.” Is a damn $2.00 hot dog really this important to be giving a volunteer holy hell over? You haven’t seen an angrier person than a HOG member who rode all day to a state rally and didn’t get the pin he paid for. The world is going to come to an end over this! Don’t believe me? Work the registration booth as a volunteer at the next rally.

10. Motorcycles parked outside a bar mid day while the sun is shining and the riding is awesome. Can you see your buddy saying: “Hey lets stop. This riding is a real drag. Lets go inside a dark dingy fly infested hole in the wall and get a Budweiser. It will be just like we never left home. I’m glad I got this motorcycle to experience the wind in my hair and bugs in my teeth but I really want to pay $5.00 and tip the bar maid another $1.00 for a long neck instead of paying that same amount for a six pack on the way home. Then after we get a good buzz we can ride in the cold after the sun sets and maybe hit a deer in the dark. Sound like a plan?”

Sorry to offend any of my target cruiser riding audiance but being offensive is probably better than not writing at all which I did for several months. Probably because I was sick of being associated with bloom’n idiots. Are you glad Road Captain is back? Maybe I should go back into hibernation and leave my keyboard back to collecting dust.

The Itch Is Back

It’s 5:30am on a Saturday morning and it wouldn’t be unusual for me to sleep in another 5-6 hours even though I have a busy day ahead of me. Actually that would be the norm. I have poison ivy and the itch has woken me up even though I applied the prescription strength 2.5% hydrocortisone.

That’s not the only itch that’s back! In February I wrote a goodbye post saying it was time to move on and stop writing about being a biker. I even relinquished the title of “biker”. Very easy to do during a polar vortex.

Winter is over. Spring is here. It’s time to ride. I have been busy reading non motorcycle information and honing my public speaking ability. To stop writing would be a mistake. I do intend on starting  a new blog but I haven’t done so yet. So I announce this morning to the blogosphere “The itch is back! I tried to not be a biker anymore… but it’s in my skin bitch!” Sorry for the Wild Hogs referance and foal language if anyone got that or was offended.

I only went on one overnighter last year. This year will be different. Turning off the things I started in 2008 even though I have newer interests would be a mistake. So even though I may not post a minimum of once a week like I did for several years… Road Captain is back in the saddle and at the keyboard.

I Am Not A Biker Anymore

“I am not a biker!”

Sounds strange to declare this to the motorcycle blogosphere where it is a badge of honor to be called a biker. We biker bloggers have bickered about who wears the badge and who doesn’t. Furthmore, it is strange because two posts ago I declared that I had returned after taking a break… but I was mistaken. To return would be to go backwards or stagnate. I am a fast moving training projecting forward! Been there, done that, not returning!

Nothing against motorcycles and bikers. I still love bikes (and my biker freinds) but they are not my only passion. I also love muscle cars, the outdoors, tropical vacations and so much more. I argue today that a biker is someone who defines his or herself by their obsession with motorcycles. This is their single most important defining character trait that tells you exactly what they are all about. I no longer fit that catagory. Sorry, I am past the point of no return. I obsessed on the motorcycle lifestyle for most of the past ten years. Time to expand my horizons and not feel guilty about it. Motorcycles will no longer define who I am, how I dress, who I associate with and my attitude toward life and other people. I am so much more than I was!

I owe the motorcycle community and the Harley Owners Group a debt of gratitude. For awakening the spirit of adventure in me. For introducing me to hundreds of new friends. For giving me the opportunity to develop as a leader.

I will continue to be a Harley-Davidson enthusiast, a writer, a speaker and a leader but it is time to take off the blinders. I refuse to be a walking talking billboard for Harley-Davidson. I paid my dues. I took a lot of two wheel trips, paid a lot of mechanics and bought alot of motorcycle accesories. In many cases I wish I had that money back. Anyone want a black t-shirt? I have extra. 

I am not a biker anymore. But I still love them and still ride… but not until spring.

I might not post here anymore but I will keep the webiste up for now. It was a labor of love. We have too much invested in it to take it down. Please read the blog posts if you are new to Road Captain USA. If biking is your passion then please continue riding and enjoy the journey. For me, the journey has only begun. There is more to see and do before my time is over. I hope you understand and don’t take offense.

Farewell motorcycle blogosphere… after blogging about motorcycles for six years it might be time to blog about something else. Keep the rubber side down and the shiney side up my friends. I’m outa here!

Are Bikers Comical?

It seems ironic or somehow dynamic to me that although we have accepted the leather clad tattoo’d biker figure as threatening in our culture… more often than not media depicts the biker as a clown. For example take the latest Mr Clean television commercial:

You can go back to Beach Blanket Bingo of 1965 to see an older example:

Although in real life some bikers are scarey like the more realistic depiction in Terminator 2 from 1991… why do you think it is so easy to depict them as silly like the Black Widows in Anyway Which Way But Loose from 1978 or more recently the Del Fuegos from Wild Hogs in 2007?

Although I own black leather jacket, vest, chaps and boots you won’t find me grocery shopping or doing housework in them. I don’t lounge around the house wearing them. I find the leather jacket and chaps functional but the only good use for my vest is to display patches. With all the synthetic jackets out there that are waterproof, warm, abrasion resistant and easier to see in brighter colors I’m not sure why I stick to leather. I have stopped wearing “biker boots” and traded them in for traditional Timberland brand work boots that are more comfortable for walking when I get off my bike. Honestly, I sometimes feel silly in my biker gear at gas stations and restaurants. Reminds me of the 2008 blog post by Steve Johnson at Motorcycle Philosophy called How To Look Like A Biker.

Click here to check it out.

Back to the question: Why is it so easy to make fun of the biker image? Are we silly looking?

Return Of Jay

After blogging at least once a week since 2008 I completely missed July and August of 2013 and have not posted since June. My priorities have changed and I am no longer obsessed with motorcycles. After about 20 years I am returning to an obsession with network marketing. We’ll see how that goes. I hope affordable green energy is more lucrative than soap.

I took a break from being a Road Captain as well. It’s been about 13 months since I officially asked to be benched. Today I led my first ride since then and will lead another next month. Maybe I’ll lead a third ride in November before it gets too cold for me.

A Great Group at Woodside

We had a great group. Part of my dislike for Road Captaining that led me to taking a break is the large groups we get in HOG. In my opinion, 6 is the perfect group and anything over 8 is too many. So today’s group of 7 bikes was perfect for me. Another thing I changed to suit me was the start time. For awhile riding got my blood flowing and I could get up for these things in the morning, but as riding became less exciting for me I returned to being a late sleeper on the weekends. So I put up a ride that met at lunchtime. That’s about when I’m ready for the day to start. Before then I’m just getting warmed up.

I also had to take a break because I felt overly responsible for everyone’s well being. I was Director of First State HOG Chapter for three years and got to feel like the members were my family. I actually felt like I was the parent and the members were my children and I was responsible for all of them. I never had kids so this was my substitution for what was missing in my life. Silly isn’t it? Now combine that with witnessing a fatal accident on one of our rides in April of 2009 when I was riding sweep. We lost a close friend. Motorcycle accidents became very real to me after that. So leading large groups of twenty motorcyclists who I felt were all my children and under my protection became too stressful. I definitely needed a break from Road Captaining soon after my three years of Director were over.

This is a good time of year to return to the front of the pack. Fall weather is perfect for riding. Here is a picture I took today. A sign of things to come. Sometimes I feel like the lone red leaf among all the green leaves. Sometimes? More like all the time!

A Sign of Things to Come

Split Second Decisions

I just finished reading Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a fascinating book about rapid cognition. Our brain is a super computer and although you make thousands of decisions a day that you are aware of, you also make thousands of decisions everyday that you are not aware of. Within the blink of an eye, or about half a second, you might be able to decide if you like a new model motorcycle you see on the showroom floor. You don’t know why you like it or don’t like it. But your super computer has taken in the data, computed it and made a decision. Some people call that a gut feeling, instinct or prejudging.

Interestingly enough, the more you think about something like this motorcycle and try to think of what you like about it and what you don’t like, your mind can change. You can over think the situation as you take in more information. If you take that same person who on a half second impression likes a certain motorcycle but instead give him a whole bunch more information and more time and ask him what he likes about the motorcycle and why, he might decide to buy something else. But guess what? That first impression was correct and we dismiss it because we don’t trust our brain’s rapid cognition abilities! The psychologists and scientists that have studied this phenomenon have found that when it comes to minor decisions like buying a toaster, we get better results taking in all the data and making an educated decision. On the other hand, they find that when it comes to important decisions where the stakes are high, like buying a new Harley-Davidson, we make better snap decisions than if we over think it. That explains all the Honda sales! Too many people over thinking. Just kidding. Like I said, the book is fascinating!

Our brains rapid cognition isn’t always correct. In fact there are many instances where we can be led astray. I’m sure that many police officers see a leather clad biker and immediately think “this is a criminal”. This is a perfect example of where rapid cognition can be misleading. Understanding good rapid cognition and bad rapid cognition is the key to harnessing The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

We have the ability to read people’s faces. Since we are not trained in it we probably use this skill at a very limited level, but you could call this skill mind reading. There are experts in the field that study facial expressions that can pick up things and tell what peoples intentions are without hearing a thing about what is going on. Like the fictional character Gibbs on NCIS. He can pick up on things on a person’s face that tell him when someone is innocent, guilty, lying or being truthful. There are situations where people lose their mind reading ability. When we are in a state of arousal (not sexual arousal) our heart rates soar and our adrenaline flows. This is how humans deal with extreme stress, the kind you experience in life or death situations. In these cases our brains shut down a lot of unnecessary functions to increase performance in order to survive. Some situations get so extreme that the brain can shut down muscle control and you mess your pants!

Lets say you haven’t taken your meds today and you go crazy and lead some cops on a wild high speed chase. You’re doing 100mph on your Honda (because in this example you are a nice person) through a residential neighborhood and the cops are on your tail! All of of sudden you come to your senses and stop for the police. You put your hands up and surrender. Guess what might happen! Think of the Rodney King incident and others like it. Those police officers have entered into that state of high arousal. The excitement of a high speed chase has put them in a state where their mind reading ability doesn’t work anymore. They don’t recognize that your intentions are now peaceful. They very well might shoot you! So don’t ride a Honda, take your meds, and if you lead the police on a high speed chase… don’t get caught!

The optimal state of arousal is when our hearts are at 115 to 145 beats per minute. I can think of a few examples of when I have experienced this heightened state of awareness. When I was a teenager I raced in one motocross on my 1980 Yamaha YZ80. I was fourteen or fifteen. I remember entering the first turn after the holeshot. Everything was in slow motion like in a movie where the fireman enters a burning building to save a kid. There was dust everywhere, all the racers were jammed together elbow to elbow. It was bumper to bumper or tire to tire. Other kids were crashing and falling down all over the place. Some right in front of me! Somehow I was able to steer in and out of the chaos and I remember it all in slow motion although we are talking about a period of thirty seconds. Until reading about this state of arousal I didn’t understand that memory or how I was able to do that. Some star athletes are able to function in this state during the key moments in a sporting event. They see everything around them in vivid detail, their senses are keen and they see the action in slow motion. They score!!!

I have another memory like this involving my YZ80. A not so pleasant memory. It was shortly after the above mentioned race when my father told me that was the end of my racing career. He thought if he took me to one race I would get it out of my system. That was my dream! I wanted to be a motocross racer with every once of teenage angst in my fourteen year old body! I lost my mind and I actually did lead some police on a high speed chase through a residential neighborhood and into the local motocross park. No, I did not get shot, but I did get arrested and my parents wanted to shoot me.

From the time the police car turned on the lights and I made the stupid decision to hit the throttle adrenaline coursed through my veins and took over my body.  I got tunnel vision and even though I had crossed into the motocross park where a car could not follow me, I felt like a fox being chased by hunters with dogs. My brain and body reacted to the extreme stress of being chased by police.  I was running for my life! My field of vision narrowed to what was directly in front of me. I couldn’t slow down or stop even though there was no reason to. The police really weren’t going to chase me into the off road park. They couldn’t. I crossed an impossible creek crossing at high speed that involved going straight down five foot ditch into the muddy creek and immediately back up the opposite side. Then I raced through another residential area before coming to my senses and stopping. I started to walk my motorcycle home because if you didn’t know it, riding an unregistered motor vehicle that is meant for offroad use only is illegal on a residential street or any other kind of public road. Especially when you aren’t old enough to have a driver’s license! Of course the same police car that initiated a 5 second chase ten minutes earlier came cruising by, saw me walking and stopped to make the arrest of yours truly. Having racing numbers on my jersey, motorcycle, and helmet didn’t make it too hard to identify me. I didn’t understand from a scientific stand point what had happened until now!

After 145 heart beats per minute bad things happen! Motor skills breakdown and we can’t do simple things like dial 911 successfully. At 175 our ability to think breaks down. Our forebrain shuts down and our mid brain takes over. This is the same part of the brain that all mammals have. Basically we become the equivalent of a frightened animal like a dog. In the above story I didn’t lose my motor skills but I do feel like a primal part of my brain took over. I felt like an animal being chased and my only thought was to flee!

There was another time where I did experience a full breakdown momentarily. I thought it was shock. Maybe it was. I was at the crash scene of a motorcycle accident where my friend was killed by a driver under the influence of drugs. Two other friends were injured in the same horrific incident, one with a broken leg and the other with a broken foot. There were police cars, fire trucks and a medevac helicopter. Motorcycles, parts and luggage were scattered across the highway. Firemen were instructing me on what hospital to go to and all I could hear was “wa wa wa wa” like when the teacher speaks to Charlie Brown. My brain and my hearing could not function at that moment. Another friend was standing with me and remembers the same exact thing. We stared at each other blankly and asked each if the other got that. We both shook our heads “no” and walked away in opposite directions.

What I was really trying to blog about in regards to this book was how it relates to split second decisions on the road. Motorcyclists often encounter situations where a split second decision is the difference between going home or going to the Shock Trauma Center and having a leg amputated or taking a dirt nap at the local cemetery. All the training and practice you do on your motorcycle is data for your super computer. All the reading you do about motorcycle safety goes into your super computer. When your riding and all of a sudden a car illegally enters your path of travel cutting you off you are going to activate your powers of rapid cognition! Some rider’s brains will crunch the data, calculate their options and come up with “lay her down”. Others will subconsciously access the routine for a quick stop. Others might “instinctively” swerve. Worse yet, but not uncommon, are those who come up with nothing! They just freeze and ride straight into the oncoming vehicle because they never learned how to execute a quick stop. This is why it is so important to visualize what you would do ahead of time, to practice ahead of time and to get training and books on how to handle these situations. You’re brain will have a fraction of a second to rapidly access the information in your head and react. It will happen too fast for you to be cognizant of what is going down! In an emergency situation like this your super computer will take over and make a split second decision that will either save your butt or not. I think understanding and harnessing the powers of thinking without thinking are worth reading about.

Read Blink! It’s fascinating!