Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My first ride of the season was very eventful thanks to some obstacles on and off the road...

I managed to grab a little time to take the bike home from work for the first time in many, many months.  Mile by mile, what happened on the way home took me right back to the basics and the things I talk about on Hot Metal’s weekly motorcycle talk show: Road Hogs with Rocky Marks on DVE.  (Insert shameless self-promotion).

I jumped on my bike and decided to head across the street to the gas station to top off the tank.  Less than .3 miles under my belt I managed to cover my tank with gas by being in such a rush to get gas in and get going.

After wiping the mess (and my pride) off the tank, I headed out onto the road.  Within the first mile, I met my first challenge, a pothole.  I failed.  I was looking right at it and you guessed it, ran right over it.  I talk about this every week, wherever you are looking that is where your bike will go.

Within three miles of the shop I had someone almost merge into my lane by texting on the phone.  Wow, I totally forgot about “those people”.  I thought to myself, “Okay, I really need to get my defenses up.”  Thinking back to all the things I’ve learned I tightened my grip and rode on.

Mile five was interrupted by a fancy BMW with tinted windows weaving in and out of traffic without it’s turn signals on.  I knew I had to give myself distance from that person as they were an accident ready to happen.  A little further down the road closer to the seven or eight mile mark, a sport bike passed me on the berm. 

By this point I’m just shaking my head.  I discuss these situations every week on the show, and now I feel like I’m caught up in the madness of the beginning of motorcycle season and I’ve only been on the road for 15 minutes!  So what do I do next?  I decided the best thing for me to do was simply relax.

Yes, even after all of those situations, I decided that it was time to go back to the basics:  put 4 seconds between me and the car in front of me, look 12-14 seconds down the road and play the “what if” game.  It’s the one where you think about what if “this” happens or “that” happens, how am I going to take evasive action and get to safety.

I think it’s a pretty good game, especially for this time of year where most of us have been sidelined due to what seemed like a never-ending winter.  My final ten miles home were very relaxing once I went back to “the basics” and enjoyed the therapy that the motorcycle was originally intended to give me in the first place.

As we get into “Motorcycle Awareness Month,” let’s all get back to the basics. Maybe think about a free refresher course from the state before they get booked up or simply pick up a copy of the PAMSP manual at a local dealership or DMV.

I can tell you firsthand, once I went back to the basics around mile ten the second half of my ride home was very refreshing as was every trip out of the garage I’ve taken this year.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My thoughts on how to do a charity run.

Few things are as enjoyable as a ride on your bike with a group of fellow enthusiasts, knowing that your donation went to a good cause! This is the time of year when we start seeing the posters for charity rides pile up on the bulletin boards of dealerships all over the Western Pennsylvania Area.  

Over the winter and into early spring, I've had many people come to me to inquire about what it takes to start a charity bike run. My first answer would be "time."  These rides don't come together overnight, and the more successful rides are those that have been doing them annually for several years.

There has to be a lot of planning well in advance to make a successful charity ride. People often think that you can start one month out when in fact you should truly be starting more than a year ahead of time to make a successful charity run.

Another thing to consider is "manpower."  How much help do you truly have?  Help will be needed far in advance of the ride day.  Many things to consider including start and location destination the timing the route the distance you want to travel not to mention the price what you want to include T-shirts dinner giveaways and prizes go as well as other factors when planning a ride.

Often people see rides with large numbers of motorcycles. But these rides have been around for quite some time and have been well planned in thought out over the years.

Another question that often comes up Is police escorts. Do police escort motorcycle runs? The answer is sometimes. Often we see many motorcycle rides taking the law into their own hands and blocking for other riders. This is illegal.

Getting a police escort also requires planning in advance, The cause of the ride, and the location of the ride. Please departments often do not like to travel into other jurisdictions. Frankly many police departments are often understaffed as it is and to take a car away from a shift would interfere with the operations of the police department. So it's not that the police do not want to escort, it's that the manpower isn't there to provide an escort for every single ride that happens.

There is a lot to consider when planning a ride.  For more info, email rocky@hotmetalharley.com