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ABATE Local 6 has opened an account with San Diego Blood Bank which is accessible to members, and non-members. Now you can donate blood to be used in emergency situations. These donations will be "banked" for future use by ABATE Local 6 members, or ABATE Local 6 recommended uses, for emergency situations. Go to any local San Diego Blood Bank and mention the Code "AL06" when checking in!
For a list of Donor Centers, go here: http://www.sandiegobloodbank.org/donors/donor-centers

To report a pothole in San Diego call (619) 527-7500
or use the San Diego Street Division online Service Request system.

by John Del Santo

Whose road is it, anyway ? What will you find in the road right around the next curve ? It would be nice if we could depend on a clear road, but the good rider knows there are more possible hazards along the open highway than space invaders in a video game !

Deer are the most common animal hazard and the most unpredictable. The months of October, November, and December, is the period that motorists are most at risk of colliding with these animals that have no innate sense of avoiding other moving objects.

Drivers would do well to be on high alert during this year-end period. The National Motorist Association reported last that deer-vehicle collisions increased by 20 percent during the preceding five years, even though vehicle miles driven across the U.S. only went up 2 percent during the same period.

Deer will stare at you as you approach and then leap into the road as you reach them. Every year there are well over a hundred-thousand reported collisions with deer, resulting in the loss of more than a hundred human lives.

Be extra alert when visibility us at a low, in areas where trees come up close to the road, and where there are posted deer-warning signs. There is controversy regarding whether deer can hear those little plastic deer-whistles that you can mount on your vehicle. If you see two deer cross the road, expect a third….If you see three, expect a fourth.

Animals don’t wear reflectors at night and can be closer than a hundred feet away when your headlights pick them up. Even at 40 MPH you need more than 100 feet to stop, so swerve around them if you can, but not at the risk of driving into oncoming traffic or into a big Oak tree. Someone’s instantaneous reaction would be to avoid the deer, but if their choice is the deer or a large solid object, then it should be “Sayonara, Bambi” !

Secondary state highways often resemble petting zoo’s for all the animals we find out there. Larger animals may not be as common as deer but can be a lot more deadly. Moose and horses can weigh up to a thousand pounds, and are taller than your bike. A cow on the road can make a massive blockade if you are overdriving your visibility. A “cow” warning sign or steel pipes built into the road (or vertical paint stripes) indicate an Open Range Area where the cows are not fenced in. Many drivers have struck dogs and then were badly bitten when they tried to comfort or move the animal.

Our fellow two-legged critters should know better, but often require as much care and caution as four-legged road hazards. You can expect almost anything in your lane, right around that next bend in the road including a stopped car with the driver taking pictures of the deer that just crossed the road, a flock of joggers, or a herd of bicyclists. It’s best that they be made aware of the fact you are approaching, with a tap on your horn, so they don’t swerve out to avoid a pothole or puddle. Many states require this by law, but prohibit using a horn when approaching a horseback rider.

Whose road is it anyway ? No matter how many wheels or feet the other road users have, and no matter where they pop up from, the good rider will expect the worst and do the best at avoiding hazards. Defensive Riding will take you a long way toward seeing the end of a trip with nothing bigger than bugs stuck to the front of your bike.


Collected by John Del Santo

We all know that one of our most common accidents takes place when a car is turning left, and violates a biker’s Right Of Way and turns into our path. These thoughts were gathered from different written messages on the Internet.

BUGMAN : I don’t seem to know what to do in that situation. Do you brake and turn into the space vacated by the vehicle ? Do you brake and turn hard to the right and hope you don’t collide ? Depending on when the “cage” turns it seems like a ‘no win’ situation. What are your options ?

BRUCE : I think the best advice here is to “ride like you are invisible.” Whenever I come into an intersection I try to think that. I try to identify what the potential threats are, and devise a mental game plan for responding to them if need to be….And as you enter the intersection, as the guy who fell off a was heard to say while passing a third-floor window, “So far, so Good”…

NICK : Something else about intersections that drives me nuts. People that are getting ready to turn left and are stopped, but have their wheels turned in the direction of the turn while they are waiting. . People need to keep their wheels straight while waiting to turn. (The two threats here are these….If a car is waiting with their wheels turned left and they are hit in the rear, they will be coming head-on towards you in an uncontrolled rush, as happened to Nick’s Sister. And if a car is waiting to make a left turn with their wheels already cut, and they decide to “jump” into their left turn, they are ready to go, and you will get no warning other than the start of their movement).

JOHN : “That guy ran the light and almost killed me! My light was green….I had the Right of Way !!” “Waddya Mean…..No I didn’t” ! That driver was supposed to yield the Right of Way, but if he doesn’t, then we don’t HAVE the Right of Way ! ….…. “What doesn’t kill me…..Should make me a Smarter Rider”……

ANON : There are no guarantees that others see you. Never count on "eye contact" as a sign that a driver will yield. Too often, a driver looks right at a motorcyclist and still fails to "see" him. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. If a car can enter your path, assume that it will. Good riders are always "looking for trouble" — not to get into it, but to stay out of it. Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides the best view of oncoming traffic. Provide a space cushion around the motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. As you approach the intersection, select a lane position to increase your visibility to the driver. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. After you have entered the intersection, move away from vehicles preparing to turn. Do not radically change speed or position. The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. “Use a headlight or high-beam headlight during the daylight hours. I will not flash my high/low high/low headlight to warn them….They may come from the days when people flashed headlights to other vehicles to let them know it was time to “GO”.

Ron : When you are approaching an intersection, if you are following another vehicle too closely in their right-track, you are just about totally invisible to vehicles coming from the opposite direction ….especially vehicles that are waiting to turn left….They can’t see you, and they think that you are just an empty space into which they can complete their left turn. Be Ready !

SuperRookie : A few days ago, coming upon an intersection with no escort in sight I encountered the worst of all left turners. The 'nosignalohcrapwasIsupposedtoturnherescreeeeeeech' left turner. I'm always prepared to stop at intersections. Cover your brakes……..Both of them.

by John Del Santo

William Shakespeare wrote “to be, or not to be….that is the question”. To motorcycle riders though, “to see….or not be seen” is the question that will get you through the day.

Blind “spots” is a cool sounding name….but Blind “AREAS” is a better description of what we deal with out there. Why do they call them “Blind Spots” ? because there are areas all around many types of vehicles in which we are not visible at all !

We will be in someone’s Blind Spot about a thousand times each day. We just need to stay there as short a time as possible, and when we are temporarily IN someone’s Blind Area, we need to be aware of it and be ready to move OUT of that space on a half-seconds notice if a driver appears ready to move towards you.

Today’s cars are being built so tight and soundproof, and have such powerful audio systems, that the drivers of many of them are not able to hear a motorcycle horn. And “Loud Pipes Save Lives” may look neat taped to your helmet….but don’t count on car drivers actually hearing you.

When you are approaching an intersection, if you are following another vehicle too closely in their right-track, you are just about totally invisible to vehicles coming from the opposite direction ….especially vehicles that are waiting to turn left….They can’t see you, and they think that you are just an empty space into which they can complete their left turn. Be Ready ! Any intersection is a “Bad Neighborhood” and is filled with Blind Spots ! The safer place to ride is any place where you can see.... and where you can be seen.

An S.U.V. or large Pickup has more blind spots than smaller cars. The problems occur when someone who has been driving a small auto for most of their lives, now gets into one of these big status symbols and doesn’t realize that along with taller and higher and wider comes a GREAT increase in Blind Spots !! They can’t see us approaching as well, and totally lose sight of us when we get close. The right-rear wheel area of an SUV or Pickup is an especially high target area.

Big Trucks are usually piloted by professional drivers who are more aware of what’s around them, but there is a huge blind area about a hundred feet long behind a Big Truck, and a large, dangerous blind area just off their right-front fender. If you cannot see the driver’s face in the mirror……they cannot see you !

As a motorcyclist, to see and be seen is the goal that we want to ride with. As soon as we “assume” that other drivers know that we are there, or “assume” that they know what we are going to do….We will be setting ourselves up to be caught in someone else’s mistake.

By John Del Santo

“A 54-year-old motorcyclist died in a highway accident near Julian Saturday when he slammed on his brakes to avoid rear-ending another motorcycle, was thrown to the pavement in the oncoming lane of traffic where he was run over and killed by a third motorcycle.”

“A motorcyclist was following a truck through Ramona that was pulling a tall utility trailer. When the traffic came to a stop, the rider saw that the trailer did not have brake lights…..too late. She swerved out over the yellow line to avoid the trailer, into the path of two lanes of oncoming traffic. Luck was on everyone’s side, because there was no collision. The rider swears to this day that the whole situation was the fault of the driver who did not have brake lights on their trailer.”

“There was a group of riders heading Northbound on the I-15 Freeway, which is four lanes wide at this point. The Lead bike slowed down a bit to avoid something in the road. The second bike slowed down a little more, the third bike slowed down even more……and the next five bikes smashed into each other and were spread all over the Freeway.”

On each of these collisions, If the riders had a full two-second following distance from the vehicle in front of them, the collisions would probably have not occurred. Period. When the bike or vehicle in front of you passes a crack in the concrete or a shadow or some type of mark……and you count “one thousand and one, one thousand and two” and then you pass that mark, you have a two- second following distance. At that point, no matter what happens around you, you have an excellent chance of not being involved in it….You will have time and room to slow, brake, or move someplace else that is safe.

People will tell you “Yeah, But, you can’t do that in rush hour traffic”….Of course we can…..that’s when we need it the most ! Watch the professionals…watch the big tractor trailers, they leave tons of room ! Many utility trailers or boat trailers have no brake lights or poor brake lights. Following one of them, especially when they are tall and block your view of forward traffic, is a good time to keep a minimum of three seconds following distance. Folks like me who have aged into the Grey Panther Brigade, should automatically keep at least three seconds distance. Ya’ can’t fool Mother Nature.

Riding with a group, or with club members, or with friends still requires a full following distance….Physics and Friendship are two different things, that don’t cancel out the need for the other. We want to “bond” with our brother or sister riders, but we would rather that the “bonding” did not include a plaster cast or lying in a hospital bed near each other.

A good following distance is the best and cheapest insurance that you can get….and it’s yours for the taking ! Following distance is like money…..You can never have too much of it, but if you have a little less than you need you can be in trouble !

A guideline by John Del Santo

When a ride is being planned and set up, one rider takes the responsibility of being the Ride Leader. The Leader's job is to set the rules, and also chooses a responsible, experienced person to be the “Sweep” Rider or “Back Door”….The very last bike in line. There should be an alternate Sweep so that if the main Sweep needs to stop for someone, the alternate then takes over right away. Ideally, the Sweep rider has some means of communication with the Ride Leader. The Sweep will be keeping their eye on the group in front of them and if someone in the group is riding unsafely and endangering other riders, should not hesitate telling them to behave or leave….Don’t worry, their feelings have been hurt before.

The Sweep should know the route of travel or the final destination for the ride. At the pre-ride talk, all riders should be told that if they need to leave the ride unexpectedly…. they should wave-off the Sweep rider so the Sweep knows that there is not a problem. At the pre-ride meeting the Leader and Sweep should discuss what method they want to use to accomplish lane changes. When riders in the front of the group make Right-turns-on-Red, that tends to leave riders in the back of the group stranded….So it’s a good idea to avoid this practice on group rides.

On the Freeway some riders act as if permitting a car to cross their column of bikes is a violation of their religious and constitutional rights, and can make a driver already in a panic about missing his exit quite dangerous. Do address this problem... It's best to ride in sub-groups of four to six bikes and provide a gap of four or more car lengths between each sub-group. We are not a “convoy”. We are individual vehicles. Even Army convoys and funeral processions lose their right to individuality once they enter a freeway. Anyone leading a ride should be aware of a strange quirk of Physics that happens. In one big, long group…. If the lead rider is going a steady 65 MPH, then the riders in the back of the pack will be going 85 MPH. ? ? ? Maybe an Engineer could explain that. Regarding group rides read more at : http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/streetsurvival/group_motorcycle_safety/viewall.html (thanks for the info).

The Ride Leader will always signal early, and slow down gradually. Periodically riders should check the riders following in their rear view mirror. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down a little so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without the unsafe pressure of doing the “100 MPH Catch-Up” Trick.

If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.

Enjoy each other’s company, but ride your own ride.

Read more at on group rides at : www.msf-usa.org/downloads/Group_?Ride.pdf

In the event of one of the group riders having a breakdown, a slip & slide, an unplanned dismount, a collision, or a medical problem….. That’s when the Sweep rider becomes in charge of the area. He or She will send someone to call for whatever help is needed, will send another rider at least a quarter-mile down the road to stand OFF the roadway and slow down oncoming traffic, and then the Sweep sends everyone else away from the scene….Up the road to a wide safe area….. Everyone will want to stand around the scene and be concerned, but you don’t need a big clump of people standing next to the road waiting to be slammed into by an inebriated or distracted driver coming around the bend. The only riders that stay will be someone who is a Nurse, Doctor, EMT or Mechanic…. depending on who is needed.

Quote for the Day : There is no bigger pain in the butt than someone who shows up for a group ride with an almost-empty gas tank.

by John Del Santo

An ideal riding situation calls for our tires to be nestled firmly against the roadway, responding as we ask them to. We should start with a good tread pattern on properly inflated tires. Improper inflation will cause our tires to cup or crown, and less tire will be touching the road. Balding tires and canoes go sideways in the water. But, you don’t always get what ya’ want….There are the common items that cause us some concern, like rain on the road…Dry road will exhibit a coefficient in excess of 0.7, (3/4 of a measuring unit), while the same pavement when wet may exhibit friction values down to 0.25 (1/4 of a measuring unit). When you are on a ride up in the mountains and the water starts to ice up, the available friction may be as low as 0.05…Slip Slidin’ away !

We are also aware of the danger of those steel construction plates…When we get on one of those, we don’t even think of touching our brakes ! The ability to stay off our brakes when necessary, is one of the reasons that we always keep a good following distance. Some of the other hazards that sneak up on us are sand, gravel and steel sewer covers. When you come around a corner and find your front wheel on either gravel, sand, or steel, if you gas or brake at that moment, the front end and back end of your bike will want to react differently and move off in different directions.

Then there is that substance that the highway crews put down to help us out…but very often does just the opposite…..Pavement Paint. Paint markings are put on the pavement to guide drivers, but the degree of skid resistance that they provide is of increasing concern with the growing use of plastic materials. Painted markings generally lower the skid resistance of a pavement and when applied over large sections, will increase the distance it will take you to come to a stop. There is a multitude of different paints that can be used; Fast drying white paint with beads are ok; Hot plastic with beads are not as safe; and the worst…Smooth cold plastic with no beads. Non-beaded plastic has the friction level of Hydroplaning or melting ice. Unfortunately, as we are approaching a painted pavement marking, we have no way of guessing which paint was used !

When one of your tires is on pavement and your other tire is still on a painted marking there will be differences in Friction Coefficients and will create difficulties in controlling your bike when braking or accelerating. There is even a difference in Co-efficiency of Friction between Blacktop and Concrete. Marking materials generally lower the skid resistance of a pavement, and differential friction caused by marking materials may also give rise to hazardous situations, such as excessive vehicle yaw during locked wheel skids. ( I looked up “yaw”, it means “side-to-side movement”…That’s different than “Y’all” ).

To sum it up, when we are approaching any painted surface we should probably assume that it’s the more dangerous type, and do most of our braking before we actually get our tire on the paint….Or to avoid doing any big-time acceleration until our back tire is off the paint. . Smooth….Even….and Easy does it !

by John Del Santo

The Emergency Organizations tell us that in a severe emergency…fire, flood, earthquake, we should be prepared to be without water, electricity and other essential services for at least three days. As motorcyclists we are already more resilient, rugged, and practical, and therefore further ahead in the Survival game than the general public…..but here are some suggestions and a checklist.

Set up a specific emergency meeting place with your friends and family, a park or a motorcycle shop. So that everyone in your crowd will know where to find each other, a place to reunite, if they get separated in an emergency….and have a pen and paper with you so that you can leave them a note.

Next we have to consider the items we would like to have with us to make the next three days go well. Rather than wasting hours wondering what to bring with us, We should have an emergency kit packed in a knapsack, closed in a plastic trash-can and sealed with duct-tape to keep it clean and dry for years…. but ready in a time of crisis to open the can, pick out the Kit …and GO ! We keep our trash-can-kit stored under a big bush in the back yard. If we keep it in the house and the building collapses, we have just lost our kit and now become dependant on other people.

Our most important need is one gallon of drinking water per person per day. Once packed in a dark place, bottled water will last at least two years before needing replacement. We prefer 16 ounce plastic water bottles which pack nicely in the knapsack. There is a good selection of freeze-dried foods (with a six-year shelf-life) at the camping stores. Pick up a cheap, folding Sterno stove and canned fuel, a Boy Scout Mess-Kit, one big serving spoon, and some plastic dinner-ware. Anti-biotic hand cleaner is good…infection is bad. Pack a couple of disposable butane lighters…..or you will get to just sit around and stare at the dry, cold food. A bag of Protein bars from the health-food store takes up very little space, but comes in real handy. You should pack a good knife, if you don’t already have one on you. If you are at home when the crisis occurs, and you have any domestic animals, leaving a big bag of dry food and a big pot of water before you hit the road, will surely be appreciated by the animals.

Is there someone in your crew that has a need for a daily medication ? They should have a three-day stash with them. It’s also nice knowing that someone in your crew knows CPR and First Aid. If you don’t have a sleeping Bag that you normally tie to your bike, a few of those aluminum “space blankets” in your kit is good. Many motorcyclists already carry a First Aid Kit, but if you don’t, you really should put together a minimum for your emergency kit. Infection travels fast. Other Goodies ? A couple of small flashlights., 50 feet of parachute cord, a roll of quarters, a small packet of toilet tissue, a siphon hose and a small cheapo AM radio to keep up with news and weather……You will have food and drink…and a lot of other people won’t………..so stay aware of your surroundings for your safety and security.

It is common practice after a long days ride to leave enough gasoline in your tank to get to the gas station in the morning, park your bike, kick-off your boots, crank up some tunes, and relax. If an emergency happens during the night and the whole area loses electric service….then the whole area loses the ability to pump gas… In a perfect world, the last stop of each day would be to top off your fuel tank.

Reading this list, it sounds like you would need a pick-up and a small trailer to haul everything around, but NOT SO !……..everything listed here will fit in a knapsack !

by John Del Santo

A good set of properly inflated motorcycle tires with good tread keeps us attached to the road and separates us from being just another flying object. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. estimates that hundreds of thousands of crashes could be prevented if vehicle owners kept their tires properly inflated. This agency recommends checking your tire pressure at least “once per month”. When you’re on a trip, checking the pressure every morning is not a bad idea. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage up to 3.3%. And this quote was made before gasoline prices reached four bucks a gallon!

The MSF’s “T-Clock Inspection” advises us to check : “(TIRES) Tread depth, wear, weathering, evenly seated, bulges, imbedded objects. (AIR PRESSURE) check when cold.. adjust to load/speed”. If you do a lot of one-type riding, such a lot of Freeway, your tread will wear unevenly…part of the tread can wear down while other parts look deep enough. Watch for the “wear bars” in the tread. When you change a tire, invest in a new valve stem.

Depending on the shape and size of the wheel and the valve stem, it can be a pain in the butt to check the air pressure on your bike. “Aw….what the heck…the tire looks round, it must be OK”. I bought a small, brass, right-angled valve stem from San Diego BMW that attached to the valve stem on my wife’s bike and made her life easier. Some Honda’s come with a large L-shaped valve stem that sticks out and simplifies reaching the stem with a gauge or air hose nozzle. That stem comes with a plastic support to keep the stem from vibrating, and if the stem is installed without that support, road vibrations can cause a crack in the stem…..and cause an instant “Air-Out”. That was an exciting experience !

AccuPressureCaps.com sells a valve stem cap that changes color when the tire pressure starts to get lower. If your tire pressure is too low, or too high, the tread will start to cup or bow and not make proper contact with the road…..that kinda defeats the whole purpose of having good tread. The recommended pressure printed on the side of the tire is there for a good reason.

Any time a tire starts showing ozone cracks in the sidewall, it's time to replace them right away. Sidewalls operate at some pretty high temperatures due to the fluctuation of the sidewall and any separation on a sidewall can cause catastrophic tire failure. A tire has a wax-like preservative in the rubber compound to keep it from hardening and splitting. This material is like sun blocker.…It's that off-color material that seems to show up on your sidewalls for no reason. It protects the compound against ozone which is produced by the sun and also by electric motors. This protectant helps the compound to stay soft, but It can be worn away, washed away, and chemically washed/leeched out of the tire.

Do NOT clean your tires with stuff like Armor All. There are a few solutions that Detailers use on tires that will not harm the tire…if you are into “pretty” instead of functional…. but when applying even these, you can use it on the sidewall but not past the line that separates the sidewall from the tread area.

There are many important Round Things in life….like Silver Dollars and Crispy Donuts….but the most important are our motorcycle tires ! They keep us alive and keep our knees in the Breeze ! Take good care of your tires and they will take care of you.

By John Del Santo

We’re riding down the road, wind in our hair, breeze on our knees, and there appears a sign that could spell trouble for a motorcyclist: “ROAD CONSTRUCTION AHEAD”. If we knew the road work was happening there, we probably would have picked another route, but it often comes as a surprise. How we get through it depends on how we read the road ahead.

First and Foremost we need to show attention to, and care for, the construction workers. “Give ‘em a Brake” as the sign reads. There is usually plenty of warning when lanes are closing and traffic is merging together. Plenty of warning that is, for those drivers around you who are bothering to look down the road. A lot of them don’t aim high, and spend most of their time being surprised by things that happen. Use your hand signals when slowing in tight traffic… people tend to see that sooner than they see your brake light. You know there are a lot of drivers out there with a “me first” mentality who get impatient and selfish and meaner than snakes whenever they’re forced to slow down for anything. Be ready for them to do something radical. If everyone just followed the rules they learned in Kindergarten…You know, “Be nice” “Share” “Don’t hit”, then merging would happen smooth and easy. Cars in the lane next to you that don’t have a decent following distance will suddenly swerve one way or another when the traffic slows down…Don’t stay in anyone’s Blind Spot any longer than necessary and be ready with your throttle, brakes, and horn. Work zones are famous for rear-end accidents…So in stop-and-go traffic it can be a good idea to position your bike near the outer edge of your lane and keep an eye on your mirrors… If traffic is stopping and the guy behind you doesn’t seem to be paying attention, you can make a move out between the rows of traffic and not be smushed like a bug.

We’re keeping a Giant following distance, much more than usual, so we can see far enough ahead to spot any hazards in time to handle them. We’re watching for unevenly paved lanes, you know… the dreaded Edge Trap… you can probably ride off the edge, but trying to ride up the edge will drop you in a flash! These are especially dangerous at night when all blacktop looks the same and our depth perception is poor. We’re staying alert for loose gravel, which will lengthen our stopping distance, holes in the road, and steel trench plates…Slippppppery ! We don’t even think about touching the brakes while on a trench plate ! Be watching for paint lines that used to guide traffic in one direction but now go somewhere else…maybe off the road or into the next lane of traffic. Watch for the driver in the next lane being confused by that, and drifting into your lane.

Once we’re out of the Work Zone, we’re prepared for other drivers jackrabbiting up to speed and jumping around from lane to lane trying to make up the time they lost. Tires, especially truck tires, can pick up stones in a construction area, and then as they get back up to speed will slingshot those stones back at you. By keeping a healthy following distance we stand a better chance of not being in range of those thrown stones, and not be feeling like a duck in a shooting gallery. Following distance is like Money. You can never have too much, but if you have a little bit less than you need… you can be in trouble !

So, to avoid turning a Construction Area into a Destruction Area, avoid the Cone Zone if you can… and if not, Be Alert, Ride Easy, and Ride Safe !

John Del Santo-RIP
Former ABATE Safety Officer

by John Del Santo

Listen to a conversation between a bunch of motorcycle riders, and the phrases you’ll hear repeated most often are “what ?” and “Say that again”. Along with other things we’ve done in our lives, riding a motorcycle can put a lot of strain on our hearing. Usually it’s not the sound of the bike that does the damage, but the sound of the wind passing our ears for thousands and thousands of miles year after year. A ‘full’ helmet doesn’t guarantee hearing protection, and some helmets increase the noise in our ears. A good set of earplugs is a great way to protect our hearing.

Everyone loses some hearing over the years depending on genetics, our trade, or the sports we’ve been involved in during our lives. Folks who listen to music with headphones and the volume cranked up can expect trouble down the road; people who exercise at the gym with earphones on and the volume high can do excessive damage; . Are you one of the “I-POD” crowd ? Hearing experts recommend never having the volume set higher than ¾ on the scale.

Anyone who spent a lot of time at rock concerts or clubs will probably spend a lot of their later years not being fully included in many conversations. If we add motorcycle riding to any of those, the earlier we start to protect our hearing, the better.

Some people, (like this writer), don’t give the subject much thought (what, me worry ?) until they start hearing tones or sounds like there’s water running in the next room 24 hours a day, or find themselves saying “what ?” an awful lot. You can pump iron to get your muscles back in tone, or even do exercises that will improve your eyesight, but like diamonds ….hearing loss is Forever.

You can find good washable, reusable earplugs, custom fitted plugs, or good disposables. If you use a computer, try (www.webbikeworld.com/Earplugs/earplugs.htm) You can also try safety supply houses, motorcycle shops (I don’t think they make earplugs in chrome, yet) or at sporting goods stores. If you are not a user yet, try out a pair; follow directions putting them in, and take them out slowly and carefully to avoid damage to the eardrum. Keeping the right and left plugs separate is considered to be a safe thing to do to prevent the transfer of ear infection.

They are a little weird when you first start using them… your engine sounds different, and you’ll be concerned that you may not hear that car moving into the lane next to you. But after all, we should probably save whatever we can, or get used to writing notes to each other somewhere in years to come.

Be Alert, Ride Safe, and ……Hear! Hear

By John Del Santo

We shop for a good deal on a bike, search for a good mechanic who does reasonably priced repairs, and compare prices on accessories and gasoline. Saving a buck can be tough these days. Being cost conscious should also make us concerned about that car waiting to make a left turn at the next intersection. If the driver has been drinking, he or she could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars…or cost your family way more than that to pay off your funeral expenses… and even way more than that for your family to support themselves for the next forever without you around. That person who has been drinking and jumps in the car or on the bike has their own expenses to be concerned about. They can be arrested for a DUI/DWI after only four drinks. The average DUI arrest will end up costing about fifteen thousand dollars before it’s over, and cause tons of grief to the family and friends. If they cause a collision while they have been drinking, they may have to live forever with the memory of the kid whose death they caused because of a couple of brews or some nice table wine at dinner.

If someone has a couple of drinks, that alcohol should theoretically be out of their system in a couple of hours. Four drinks, four hours. That’s how the average body processes alcohol. Tests have shown that only two drinks causes from 35% to 50% longer reaction time to an emergency situation… not to count longer perception time and the possible inability to make the correct decision on what action should be taken.

The National Safety Council reviews arrest records and estimates that on any given day, one out of every fifty drivers around you is drunk… that number changes to one in every ten drivers around you on Friday and Saturday nights! Is that the one approaching you at the next intersection? In half of all single-vehicle motorcycle accident fatalities, the rider had been drinking, and alcohol is involved in half of all motor vehicle fatalities. Even if the pedestrian down the block looks directly at you, don’t trust them to make the correct decision; Of all the adult pedestrians killed by cars every year in this country, forty percent of the pedestrians were drunk at the time they were killed! And twenty five percent of the adult bicyclists were drunk when they were hit by other vehicles and killed.

So be careful out there! Hey, we’re adults… Drink what you want, but ride sober, and think defensively so that you’re not trusting anyone around you to make the right move. Ride Safe, Ride Sober, and Ride Smart.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Jim Mitchell.


by John Del Santo

A recent nationwide study showed that at least 100,000 collisions happen each year caused by people falling asleep while operating motor vehicles. I knew a man called ‘Bear’ who fell asleep three different times on motorcycle trips from Arizona to San Diego, so it can happen to us, too. After each incidence he woke up in the sand, lying near his bike . If you were to ask a large gathering of motorcyclists for a show of hands on who has “Dozed behind the Handlebars”…. even for a few seconds or worse…. You would be surprised at the large percentage of riders who have experienced that. There have been several newsworthy incidents about excellent long-distance highway riders, who just rode right straight into the back of big trucks, without any apparent reason.

Yawning a lot can be a sign that we are getting sleepy. Yawning is a sign from our body telling us that it needs more oxygen…. this is usually not a problem on a bike, because we are getting plenty of air, so if you are yawning while riding…. your body is telling you something important.

One of the disadvantages while riding is that the excess wind, noise and vibrations can wear our body out sooner than while driving a car. If we recognize that fatigue sneaking up on us, then we are ahead of the game. If we are traveling in a group, remember that different riders have different abilities, habits and needs… If one of your group needs to stop, the whole group should stop.

Most falling-asleep accidents happen during daylight hours. People 18 – 20 years old have the highest incidence of falling asleep behind the wheel, and commercial truck drivers have the least. Adequate rest, planning and preparing for your trip and consuming the right food and drink are considered ideal steps toward having a safe ride. Traveling during hours of the day when you are normally asleep is asking for trouble. If you are drowsy, and figure that the wind will keep you awake on the ride home, then you will find that as bad an idea as the sleepy car drivers who think that rolling down the window will keep them awake.

Ways to recognize fatigue while riding ? Inability to focus; yawning; loss of concentration; poor memory of the last few miles that I traveled. If my head nods ONCE, or if I close my eyes and they feel sticky and don’t want to open, happens ONCE… Get off the road RIGHT NOW…. That may be the only warning that I will get before falling into deep sleep…. maybe forever. Thinking that we are only a few miles from a good destination, and that we should be able to make it that far, would be a big mistake.

Don’t fool yourself with stimulants…Using caffeine-based over-the-counter stimulants may get my brain awake, but when the buzz wears off, we will crash into sleep immediately with no warning.

What to do next ? Pull over and get a nap…. many riders can sleep stretched-out on the tank of their bike, and there are many places like gas stations who will let you stretch out on one of their office chairs, if you explain the situation to them. When you wake up, have a cup of coffee, walk around some, have a high-protein snack, and see if you feel like going on. If you are really tired grabbing a motel is always do-able… There is nothing in the world that can’t wait another day. You would just need a really good story for your Significant Other explaining why you stayed away in a motel overnight.

California Helmet Law / A PERSONAL REQUEST

Do you like California's mandatory helmet law ? If not, are you doing anything to change it ? I have heard repeatedly that there are riders around the state who are receiving helmet-law tickets for one reason or another, and who just roll over and pay them.

If anyone that you know gets a helmet ticket, please have them make a good clear copy, include their phone number and e-mail address and send it to me for safe-keeping. I will hold them until we make some type of a stand.

E-mail the copies to: chopbfmc3@yahoo.com
Or, by USPS Mail to: Brian Trum 4602 Sauk Ave. San Diego, Ca. 92117

Thank You,
John Del Santo

By John Del Santo

“Oh No ! Elizabeth, This is the BIG One” ! Most of us have heard about heart attacks, and some of us have experienced them or the results of them with family or friends. How the situation ends up can often depend on what we know and how we use it.

If I started feeling like someone parked a motorcycle on my chest, it would make me feel a bit better knowing that someone I ride with, or live with, had taken a CPR class in the not-too-distant past. There have been some changes in the method of administering CPR. You could arrange a class within your group, or call a local hospital and ask if they know of a CPR class happening somewhere in town. Doing a search on your computer will show you a whole list of local classes. They usually only cost a couple of bucks, (less than a new piece of chrome) and having that kind of information, knowing that you have the ability to save the life of a family member or friend, can give you a good feeling. You can carry a small bottle of children’s chewable aspirins on your bike or in your first aid kit…The word is that chewing on three of these little babies could even stop a heart attack that’s already in motion. This could give someone time to get to the hospital before it’s too late. We can do preventative maintenance on ourselves by getting a check-up, and if our blood pressure is too high or cholesterol count is out of whack, we could get ourselves into better shape…. climb some stairs, throw away some cigarettes. Being in good shape is not a surefire guarantee though, because heart problems can happen to someone who looks like the least likely candidate. Want some more info ? Check out www.americanheart.org.

The movie image of a heart attack is a middle-aged man clutching his chest and falling over onto the kitchen table…Heart attacks are not just a “guy thing”, they are The Number One killer of women ! Recent research has shown that women can show completely different symptoms or warning signals, than the traditional signs that we expect to see in a heart attack victim. Some of the signs that women will feel are sweating profusely; dizziness; vomiting and diarrhea; a bloating just below the sternum; or high gastric pain. Some of the typical male warning signals include: Pain in the left arm and chest; a little ache that can radiate to the back and one or both arms; and aching in the jaw or neck, then squeezing , burning and crushing. Not all signs occur with every heart attack, and most will start slowly. Sometimes they go away and then return. On the road we react quickly to brake lights coming on in front of us, and we try to react in the correct manner….We should do the same thing in the presence of cardiac warning signs…CALL 9-1-1 fast ! Many people experience the beginning signs of a heart attack, mistake the signs for food poisoning or indigestion and then the don’t follow up. Toughing it out may be an admirable trait in most parts of our life…but we need to use common sense in matters of the heart, and don’t get carried away…(you know, by six of your best friends).

Knowledge is Power. Ride Healthy, Ride Straight and Ride Safe.



T – TIRES AND WHEELS: (TIRES) Tread depth, wear, weathering, evenly seated, bulges, imbedded objects. (AIR PRESSURE) check when cold.. adjust to load/speed. (WHEELS) (SPOKES) bent, broken, missing, tension… check at top of wheel, “ring” means ok, “thud” means loose spoke. (CAST) cracks & dents. (RIMS) out of round/true =5 mm… spin wheel, index against stationary pointer. (BEARINGS) grab top and bottom of tire and flex: no freeplay (click) between hub and axle, no growl when spinning. (SEALS) cracked, cut and torn, excessive grease on outside, reddish-brown around outside.

C - CONTROLS: ( LEVERS) broken, bent, cracked, mounts tight, ball ends on handlebar lever. (PIVOTS) lubricated. (CABLES) fraying, kinks, lubrication, ends & length. ROUTING: no interference or pulling at steering head, suspension, no sharp angles, wire looms in place. (THROTTLE) moves freely, snaps closed, no revving.

L – LIGHTS: (BATTERY) Terminals clean & tight, electrolyte level ok, held down securely. Vent tube not kinked, routed properly, not plugged. (LENSES) cracked, broken, clean, securely mounted, excessive condensation. (REFLECTORS) cracked, broken, securely mounted..(WIRING) fraying, chafing, insulation, routing ok, pinched, no interference or pulling at steering head or suspension, wire looms and ties in place, connectors tight, clean. (HEADLAMP) cracks, reflector, mounting and adjustment system, aimed properly.

O - OIL: (ENGINE OIL)… Check warm on centerstand, dipstick, sight glass. (HYPOID GEAR OIL)…Transmission, rear driver, shaft. (HYDRAULIC FLUID)…Brakes, clutch, reservoir or sight glass. (FUEL)… tank or gauge. (COOLANT)…Reservoir and/or coolant recovery tank, check when cool only. (CHECK FOR LEAKS AT:) ENGINE OIL: gaskets, housing, & seals. HYPOID GEAR: gaskets, seals and breathers. HYDRAULIC FLUID: hoses, master cylinders, calipers. COOLANT: radiator, hoses, tanks, fittings, pipes. FUEL: lines, fueltaps, carbs.

C – CHASSIS: (FRAME) Cracks at gussets, accessory mounts, look for paint lifting. STEERING HEAD BEARINGS: No detent or tight spots through full travel, raise front wheel and check for play by pulling/pushing forks. SWINGARM BUSHINGS/ BEARINGS. Raise rear wheel, check for play by pushing/pulling swingarm. (SUSPENSION): FORKS: Smooth travel, equal air pressure or damping, anti-dive settings. SHOCK/(S): Smooth travel, equal preload/air pressure/damping settings, linkage moves freely and is lubricated. CHAIN OR BELT TENSION: Check at tightest point.. Lubrication of belt/chain sprockets, check side-plates when hot..(don’t let lubrication get on belts.) SPROCKETS: Teeth not hooked, securely mounted. (FASTNERS) THREADED, Tight, missing bolts, nuts. CLIPS: broken, missing. COTTER PINS: broken, missing.

K – KICKSTAND: CENTERSTAND cracked, bent. Springs in place, tension to hold position. SIDESTAND cracked, bent (safety cut-out switch or pad if equipped). Springs in place, tension to hold position.

by John Del Santo

What a day ! In the wind ! the sun is shining and you’re rolling down the highway without a care in the world…. and then an evil force grabs hold of your front wheel and starts shaking it like a dog with a bone !! You’re in a treacherous “High Speed Wobble” !

There are a number of things that can contribute to the creation of this attack, including an uneven lane drop; worn steering head bearings, worn front wheel bearings, or worn swingarm bearings or bushings; front or rear shocks that are uneven, under-inflated, or which have leaked; narrow front tires on ruts in the road or on freeway rain grooves; improperly balanced tires; Riding a tire which has been under-inflated and which has caused the tire to ‘cup’; handlebars which are not balanced because of a previous fall; or a sudden loss of air in the tire.

Rear wheel wobbles can happen, too, when a tire goes flat, but they’re usually easier to handle, as long as we don’t hit the rear brake.

When the front wheel is affected, it can at first feel like the wind is starting to push you around, and then it becomes apparent that something bad is happening…. and the front wheel starts to be yanked hard right and left and right, trying to rip the grips out of your hands. At this point there is still a chance that you might salvage the day. Get a good hold, and roll off the throttle gently… Don’t ‘chop’ it off suddenly or weight will transfer to the front wheel where you’d rather not have it. Lean back, Don’t touch the front brakes ! Start applying the rear brakes gently but firmly, but don’t lock them. This can be a real touchy situation if your bike has an integrated or linked brake system. If so, you may need to decelerate and let your engine slow you down. If you downshift, you’ll need to let the clutch out smoothly, which is easier to say than do with the handlebars whacking back and forth. That’s an awful lot of decisions to make in a very short period of time, and the evil spirits may decide now to push you through the final gate…..

If the front end starts slamming back and forth all the way to the stops, you are in the dread “Tankslapper”. At this point it would be a good thing if you are wearing clothing that allows you to slide on the roadway rather than clothing which will cause you to tumble, because there is an excellent chance that you and your bike will now part company. Being relaxed and ready to slide instead of tensing up will allegedly lessen your injuries when you land…. that sounds good in print, but I don’t think most riders remember that last couple of seconds anyway. I guess we could lessen the chances of being hurt if we stayed home on the couch, but most Riders feel that it’s better to wear out than it is to rust. So… be prepared, and do your best to handle whatever comes along.

Enjoy yourself, Ride Sober, and Ride Safe !

by John Del Santo

We’re spending a lot of time on the road, and Loving it ! Knees in the Breeze ! The weather is fine, but there are still hazards around. Summer temperatures overheat tires and batteries…. Are yours in good shape and not too old ? How’s the tire pressure ? Many people who are broke down on the shoulder of the road are struck by cars….That can be a Major Bummer on a nice day. The heat also affects the tires of other vehicles. Even though you will see big pieces of truck tires, “Road Gators,” on the road all year long there will be a lot more during the hot weather. Point down to give the “road hazard” signal to riders following you.

Group Rides can be fun. We should be considerate of any riders with us who are less experienced…They may try to stay up to the speed of the pack even if it is beyond their ability. Breaking the pack into two groups, with the less experienced riders in the rear pack, works. Each pack should have several of your best riders bringing up the “back door” so they can keep an eye on the group and one of them can drop out to assist anyone with problems. Ideally, they should have cel phones and phone numbers of the Lead Rider. Bikers don’t desert their comrades. Everyone should know the exact destination you have planned so they can find you if they need to drop back.

Summer riding pulls a lot of water out of our system. You can ride naked if you choose, but the more skin you have exposed, the more dehydration will occur. For extreme hot weather riding, some people soak their shirts with water, and then put a dry jacket on over the shirt…. this helps keep the body temperature much lower, kind of a “Swamp Cooler” effect.

Taking frequent breaks is a good way to stay well watered, or our reflexes and reaction can drop off just when we need them most. If we stop to fill up our tanks, and someone doesn’t need to use the restroom… that’s someone who is probably dehydrated. “Just a cuppla cold ones” sounds good…. but beer is a diuretic that will drain more out of our system than it puts in. Heat Exhaustion is serious stuff that can make us feel like just stopping and laying down next to the road and going to sleep. Maybe forever. Drink! Drink! Water and Sports drink, Get in someplace cool, dump water on your head and down your shirt, rest…. Because next in line comes the worst… Heat Stroke… which can worsen from heat exhaustion with little warning. The body’s temperature-control stops working…. Feeling hot dry skin, severe headache, exhaustion, hallucination. THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE POSSIBILITY OF DEATH. First call 911 Move the victim to a cool place, douse with water, fan breeze onto the victim. If we act quickly and correctly, maybe we can prevent permanent brain damage or death. Once someone has suffered a heat-related illness, the chances of it happening again in the future are higher.

Do you see someone parked on the side of the road, off their bike, jumping around doing the “Bee Dance” ? If you have (“non-drowsy”) Antihistamines in your First Aid kit, it could help them out. Is there anyone on the run with special medical problems ?.... They should tell at least one other rider about it. There are many riders who will be carrying a small First Aid kit, and the Leader should know who in the group is qualified for CPR. We don’t go around looking for trouble (most of the time) but it’s nice to be prepared.

So….. Enjoy the weather and the road and the company of good people.

Ride Free, and ….Ride Safe !

by John Del Santo

Job Opportunity: Men and women needed who are able to operate motorcycles over long miles through all weather conditions…Must also be a qualified Mind Reader. Sounds like an awful lot to ask, doesn’t it ? But that’s what a rider must do to avoid being caught in the mistakes that other drivers make on the road.

You’ve probably heard the statistics that the average road-user makes one and a half driving mistakes per mile, and that at any time of day at least one out of fifty drivers around you is intoxicated. You…the Pro, must spot these people before they hurt you.

It’s Dusk and there’s a car in the left lane going 10 mph under the speed limit Don’t trust him ! Don’t pass him on the right unless you are sure that he sees you…He may panic and move right into your lane as you start by…or he could spot his exit and make a dive for the ‘off’ ramp. Passing on the right is a hazardous move in any situation, and it’s not a good idea to make this move near an ‘on’ ramp or you could be mousetrapped between the merging car and the one in the left lane.

The right lane is blocked up with traffic heading for a major off-ramp or junction, and you are passing them by. Anticipate one of those cars jumping to the left…right in front of you to gain a few car-lengths. Watch for their head moving to look in the rearview mirror or for their wheels starting to float towards your lane…Be ready with your gas, brakes, and horn. As you get near an exit, the car on your left speeds up…you know that he’s going to make a dive for the off-ramp…right across your nose. We have to keep in mind that they can’t see us !

At night a car near you keeps the high-beam headlights on…You’re probably dealing with a drinking driver. Because many of them are so bagged that they don’t see well, they think those high-beams will help them. And drunks tend to drive toward what they are looking at ! Watch out for the car that stays behind you no matter how your speed varies… That Drunk thinks the cops won’t spot him is he stays close to you…He’ll do every thing that you do…Except Stop !

Your mind-reading act can be enhanced by checking out your surroundings. Are you near a school ? Senior Citizen Housing ? Or a couple of saloons ?.......Near a business area around lunch or quitting time ? Are you approaching an intersection that is painted with a lot of brake-skidmarks ? A good healthy following distance and keeping the space around you as clear as possible will go a long way toward insuring your escape routes and protection.

Your Title ? Biker and Mind Reader ! Anticipation and Defensive Riding should get you home in one piece and with the Shiny side up at the end of a run.

John Del Santo

by John Del Santo

Sharing the road with big trucks can be an advantage because most truckers are better trained and more experienced than the other drivers around us. A large percentage of truckers are also motorcycle riders, and are more conscious and considerate of bikes around them in traffic. To keep from becoming a hood ornament on a Peterbilt though, we need to show the proper respect for the vehicles length, width, and weight.

A Semi, bus, or RV traveling at any speed is creating big changes in the air around it….the vehicle is pushing a wave of pressurized air out in front of it, like a bow-wave in front of a boat; there is accelerated air lifting along the sides (the same effect that causes lift on an airplane wing); and there is a vacuum swirling and filling behind it. When you pass a Semi going in the opposite direction at highway speeds, there will be a big rush of tumbling air following the truck about two seconds behind it. If there are heavy crosswinds blowing, the crosswind will be blocked by a passing truck and will hit you again at the other end…be ready for it.

Size creates an optical illusion that distorts sense of speed and distance…Expect that truck coming at you to be moving faster than it appears, and expect the one you are approaching from the rear to be going slower. Don’t attempt sharing a lane with a vehicle that already fills the whole lane.

Construction trucks drive off the paved road and can pick up rocks in their tires. When they get back up to speed on the highway, those rocks can shoot loose and zero in on you like a duck in a shooting gallery. Don’t hang out behind open-topped rigs…Full or empty, the high speed airflow will sweep almost anything out in your direction. If you’re following a truck and a small piece of tire tread seems to fly out from the wheels….Back Off ! There’s more, and bigger, pieces on the way !

Keep an eye on their turn signals. Tractor Trailers need a lot of room to make a turn; The back of the truck will cut in closer to the curb, and the driver cannot see the area by the back wheels in the mirror. There are many blind spots around a Semi. The worst are… a blind spot a hundred feet long behind the truck, and another big one just off the right-front side…..If I can’t see the drivers face in the mirror…The driver can’t see me ! !

The massive weight and velocity of a truck creates the need for the driver to keep a HUGE following distance. If the driver loses his or her following distance, and is forced to lock up the brakes, the rig can jackknife across four lanes of traffic…..So if I cut in front of a truck and steal their following distance, I am digging my own grave and probably putting other drivers in serious jeopardy.

So let’s share the road properly with the Big Rigs. The old (and incorrect ) saying is “those airbrakes can stop on a dime.” We need to Ride Smart so the dime they stop on is NOT the one in the pocket of our jeans.

by John Del Santo

How many times has that line been used when a relationship was headed downhill to disaster? Communication is important. Communication is very Important when you are getting ready to change directions on your bike. The more you let the other drivers know what you are going to do, the less chance there will be that they’ll do something unexpected and get in your face. Signal your intentions. Naturally, people being what they are….we should keep our eye open for those “me first” drivers who will see our signal, and then will try to beat us to the opening that we are heading for.

When we are slowing or changing lanes, many of us feel that hand-signals are noticed quicker than directional-signal lights by the cars close to us in traffic. A brain picks up motion quicker than light. A California law reads that if our bike has (working) electric directional signals, then we must use them; we aren’t supposed to just use hand signals alone. But we could certainly use both if we want to….clicking on the directional signal, and then using a hand signal to communicate to the drivers that are near us in heavy traffic. Whatever works.

When we are downshifting for a stop or turn, a couple of flashes on our brake light should wake up the driver behind us to the fact that we are slowing down so that we don’t surprise them… we’ll reduce the odds of being mowed down by someone who’s not paying attention. In the early morning and late afternoon when the Sun is glaring low in the sky and most of the other drivers are squinting, trying to see, having our headlight switched to High-Beam will make our presence a little more evident. And….don’t hesitate laying on your horn (AND being ready with throttle or brakes) if someone near you in traffic looks like they might change into your lane without checking their blind spots. Wake ‘em up ! A rider that I know has an interesting technique….When the traffic suddenly slows, she puts her left hand, in a fist, straight up into the air! That really seems to catch the immediate attention of the following traffic.

Hey! There are a lot of different ways to communicate! Hand Signals; Horn; Directional signals; Brake Lights; High Beams on during heavy daytime traffic; Modulating Headlights; Reflector Vests; Whatever fits your style! Communication! It will help us avoid disaster, and help us keep the Shiny Side Up !

by John Del Santo

When we decide that the car in front of us on that two-lane road is going slower than we want to go, we have several observations and decisions to make that can result in a number of different outcomes…..Such as: Making a successful pass, being passive until a nice space comes along, Lying in a hospital bed with life passing us by, Or maybe even….Passing Away.

A poorly done pass can result in a Head-On collision which is the most deadly type of collision we can be involved in. At only 50 MPH, two vehicles approaching each other are closing the gap at 150 feet per second ! When we decide to pass, IF the other cars don’t speed up, and IF the slower car is aware that we are starting to pass, and IF no one pulls out of a driveway down the road, and IF we haven’t misjudged anyone’s speed or distance, then it will still take us about a quarter of a mile to make a safe, clean, pass. If I don’t have that much room, or if I can’t see at least that far down the road, then I don’t start the pass ! Another opportunity will come along in a minute. If the approaching car appears to be standing still, then that car is at least a quarter-mile away from me. If the car looks like it is moving towards me, if I can see motion, then it’s closer than a quarter of a mile, and it’s probably too close to complete a safe pass !

Not everyone uses their signals for one reason or another. That car in front of you that is going slow, or slowing down, may be preparing for a left turn…Surprise ! Surprise ! Most of them don’t use their mirrors except for shaving and combing their hair, and they don’t even know that you’re back there.

While waiting for a good spot to make a pass, some Riders move in close and tailgate the slower driver to demonstrate their impatience. This action gains nothing, doesn’t leave much room to accelerate into a passing run, and limits their visibility of what’s happening up the road. It would also take only a small, sudden mistake on the car drivers part to transform the tailgating motorcycle into a big dent on the back of the slow guys car…and then the whole purpose of the trip would become passé.

While it is against the law to pass over solid-yellow centerlines, the main reason we shouldn’t consider passing over them is that they are pretty good indicators that we don’t have enough space or visibility to make a pass, or that the possibility for interference from cross-traffic is high.

If we do it right, then our Pass will have become past history, and we will have done it with a passing grade.

by John Del Santo

They look big enough to be adults, they seem like they’re old enough to be responsible, and they are coming down the lane right next to your motorcycle. While only four percent of the cars around you are driven by young people, they are at fault in Sixty-Six percent of the deadly collisions. We cannot assume that any of the drivers around us will make the correct driving decisions at any given time, but there are ways we can try to improve those statistics.

This is also an important decision time for you if there are children in your family who are reaching that driving or riding age. As the new-driver laws stand at the moment, www.dmv.ca.gov someone age 15 1/2 to age 17 1/2 must first finish a Drivers Education Class before they can apply for a learners permit. Once they pass the DMV written test and obtain a permit, The Permit does not become legal until they have taken at least one lesson with a State Licensed Driving Instructor. I have seen the reason for this in my many years as a driving instructor…..when a new student gets “practice” with Dad or an older brother first, and then starts the six-hours of mandatory training with a professional licensed instructor. The instructor has to waste valuable training time trying to correct improper techniques and misinformation already fed to the student. Also keep in mind that many teenagers start off wrong if Dad or Mom are not safe and legal drivers…….If Dad speeds and Mom tailgates and doesn’t use her signals, how do you think the new driver is going to start his or her career on the road ? Any teenager has been learning how to drive for twelve or thirteen years, just by watching….You are setting an example for them every day of their lives. Do it right and their lives may be longer. Cellular/Text phones are Weapons of Mass Destruction and should be locked in the trunk.

There is a new law for young motorcycle riders. It is called “Jarrad’s Law”, named after a deceased teenager who had a learners permit, but no proper training. Fixing the Loophole in response, Jarrad's Law took effect in California on January 1, 2011. Now anyone from age 15 1/2 to age 21 who wants to obtain a motorcycle license must first complete a 15-hour safety course overseen by the California Highway Patrol’s California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP)

www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/programs/california-motorcyclist-safety . From age 15 and 1/2 to age 18, they must also either have class C licenses or complete regular drivers education and training classes. After the motorcycle safety course, they must pass a written test to receive a permit. The learner's permit must be held at least six months to become eligible for an actual motorcycle license. While operating a motorcycle with a permit, a rider may not carry a passenger, ride on a freeway, or ride at night. Have you read the drivers manual that the DMV gave to your son or daughter ? Knowledge is Power.

Those of us with young Drivers or Riders in the family, should try to put them out there with a better chance of getting to be old Drivers and Riders.

DISCLAIMER :This guide attempts to provide accurate and authoritative information on this subject. If expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

John Del Santo

By John Del Santo

Do you want to talk about exciting !! You’re toolin’ down the road on your bike on a beautiful, sunny day when out of the blue comes a 4’ X 8’ piece of plywood, flipping off the roof of a car, tumbling through the air at you! Wow !! Super Adrenaline Rush !!! Do I have time to move to another lane? Is someone in the next lane? Will the plywood shift to another lane before it lands? If I have to hit it, at what angle should I try to hit it? If I brake hard enough to avoid it, will the car behind me have enough room to stop before he squishes me? Decisions, decisions, decisions, and you only have about one second to make them. Seeing the problems a little earlier would be a definite advantage. Are you aiming far enough up the road to see cars swerving around something, or to see a bunch of brake lights come on all of a sudden? Just about everybody is driving a van or SUV these days. If you’re following one of those, you can’t see through it, so leave enough following distance to see around it? Do you have enough space to stop or accelerate out to someplace safer?

The most common foreign objects to find laying on the road are bungee cords, and the hook on those can puncture a tire. The next most common things to find laying on the road, are the things that bungee cords were holding down. As we’re riding down the highway, we check out the cargo on the vehicles in front of us. If we can’t see any visible tie-downs, we don’t stay there! The average driver has no clue as to how much force the wind can create.

They’ll watch the news on TV and see a 65 mph gale blowing down houses and tall trees on the Florida coast, and yet they’ll put wooden chairs, a mattress, or an empty garbage can in the back of a pickup and drive down the highway at 65 mph and expect the stuff to stay there! Expect sudden attacks by beach chairs, empty coolers, barbecue grills, couch pillows, living room chairs, and aluminum ladders. When this stuff appears on the road, how will the car in the lane next to you react? Will they brake in a straight line, or will they get all Freaky and Swervy? If you’re in their blind spot when things go bad, be ready to alert them with your horn. You can run across these anytime, but more so in the hotter weather you’ll find big pieces of truck tire, “road ‘gators”, on the highway. If you see a piece fly off a truck, expect more pieces to be launched at you real soon.

Once that foreign object is on the road, will it stay still where it is? Big plastic Bed Liners have a nasty habit of popping out of the back of pickup trucks. Recently, a rider saw a Bed Liner laying in the next lane of a freeway as he approached ….”Whew, got lucky on that one!” And as the van in front of him passed the Bed Liner, the vacuum in the air behind the van sucked the Bed Liner into his lane where his motorcycle smashed into it. Major Damage!… Major Bummer!

It sure would be nice to expect a clear highway in front of us. But until we can fence off a couple of hundred miles of road, and not allow anyone else on it, we’ll just need to stay alert and be ready for just about anything that’s out there where it shouldn’t be.

So, be aware, get your knees in the breeze, and….Ride Safe!

John Del Santo

By John Del Santo

There are a bunch of laws written in a lot of books, but there are certain laws the good rider knows cannot be violated. These laws are : Friction, Momentum, Centrifugal Force, and Gravity. A rider won’t get a ticket for breaking these laws, but will end up in a ditch or up against a big tree.

Friction, or traction, is the one that keeps you stuck to the road. The first step in insuring traction is a good set of tires with good tread and proper inflation. If the air pressure is too low, the tire tread will cup or bow, and will lose traction.

Read the Road……What looks like wet road can be Black Ice. You’ll often find this first on the shady side of the hill and on or under overpasses. Is it an older road that is not banked ? Or worse yet, banked the wrong way ? Hit your brakes hard in there, and it’s adios’ traction and hello centrifugal force. What’s around that curve ? Does the curve get tighter halfway through ? Is there a cow or a bunch of stopped traffic just around the bend ? If you need to brake hard in a curve, you need to brake through it in a straight line….. Straighten up so that you are not tipped, and hit the brakes as hard as you can. If you are running out of room and heading toward the apex of the curve, point your front end more into the curve and brake again in a straight line. If your back brake locks…..Leave it locked ! If you unlock a skidding rear wheel, you are looking at a severe change of balance, a terrible loss of control, and a Highside Crash. Depending on who you talk to and what kind of riding they do, there are different braking techniques. Concerning braking, you can never get enough practice. Even taking an Experienced Rider Course again would certainly be a plus before the day that you really need to stop !

When on slippery roads, anything that changes the smooth flow of your forward momentum can cause your bike to head off in a direction you had not intended. Easy acceleration, light braking, and smooth steering are necessary. If you double your speed, you will need almost four times the distance to stop because of the increased velocity (Inverse Square Law). Triple your speed and you will need nine times the stopping distance ! Following Distance is like money…. You can never have too much, but if you have a little less than you need, you’re in trouble.

Keep your bike in shape and yourself in shape. The good rider will know when to call for a break…. While your reflexes and reactions are still sharp. Kenny Rogers said it best in a song; “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em”. Follow that advice and you won’t end up like Paul Simons’ song; “Slip Slidin’ Away”.

Respect the laws of Physics and ….Ride Safe !

by John Del Santo

Getting prepared for the Big Ride ! Over the mountains, across the desert, Through the Heartland, and Beyond. Wow !

I’m pretty sure that I’m prepared for the trip. The last time I had the Bike tuned-up was last year at that neat little shop we found in Cache Peak, Idaho. The altitude was about 12,000 feet, and I am going through Death Valley next week, which is about 280 feet below Sea level, but I don’t think I need to be concerned about the carburetor setting. What the heck ! This baby just takes a kickin’ and keeps on tickin’ ! I changed the air filter just last year, just before that dust storm in Arizona, the oil and filter were only changed about 8,000 miles ago…this modern oil really lasts ! I did check the oil level last month, so it should be O.K. And the tires look round, so the air pressure is probably fine.

We have pretty much just described a rider who must spend a lot of time sitting next to the highway, and spends so much time in the back of a Pickup Truck that he gets Frequent Flyer Miles there. All of us recognized what the rider was doing wrong, and none of us would start a trip this way….But how often could we start out when our physical condition is less than it could be ?

Some possible results are:

  • Sleep Deprivation:
    That sounds like a pretty fancy term, but if I spent a lousy night on that lumpy mattress, but then ended up getting a few good hours of sleep, and started out on a long days ride, then that is sleep deprivation. Our body needs the down-time…and we didn’t get enough of it to last the day.
  • Dehydration:
    Is one that can sneak up on you. Lower or higher elevation, hot or cold temperature, Drink! Drink! Drink! Gallons each day ! And not diuretics like coffee or alcohol drinks… they just make it worse. Our body needs the liquid, and if we don’t get enough, gallons, our body will let us KNOW about it, sometimes with…
  • Heat Exhaustion:
    That can make us feel like just stopping and laying down next to road and going to sleep. Maybe forever. We can fall asleep as easy on a bike as we could driving a car… and “falling” asleep has a whole ‘nother meaning when it happens on a bike. Drink! Drink! Water and Sports drink, Get in someplace cool, dump water on your head and down your shirt, rest. Because next in line comes the worst…
  • Heat Stroke:
    which can worsen from heat exhaustion with little warning. Our body’s temperature control Stops working. Hot dry skin, severe headache, exhaustion, hallucination. THERE IS AN IMMEDIATE POSSIBILITY OF DEATH. First call 911 !!!! Move the victim to a cool place, douse with water, fan breeze onto the victim. If we act quickly and correctly, maybe we can prevent permanent brain damage or death. Once someone has suffered a heat-related illness, the chances of it happening again in the future are higher.

Feel like the road is beating you up? Take a day off ! ! ! Sleep late. Sit by a brook with water running over your feet. Look at some scenery. Take a nap. Sack in early. And start the next day as a whole new person. We may get there a day later, but So What! The Journey is the Goal.

And then as we climb up the mountains, up to 12,000 feet….It’s Cool, It’s Beautiful, but if you don’t live at this altitude for most of the year, then Altitude Sickness may be the next thing to affect you. From what I know, you can’t beat it, you can’t stop it, It’s just THERE until it decides to go away, maybe in a couple of weeks. There’s a fuzzy kind of feeling, your timing is a little off, when you’re walking, the ground is just a little bit further down than your head thought it would be. Your Perception and Reaction time is just a bit off, and your Blood Pressure goes DOWN.

Follow the old rule found on medicine bottles: “Don’t use any power tools or operate heavy machinery.” The local Pharmacist said there is an over-the-counter med that might help a bit. Any one of these maladies can affect us and be a serious health problem. If we are traveling and we ignore the symptoms, and these sicknesses double-up on us, we can expect Big Time Trouble.

Drink, Drink, Drink, Rest, Rest, Rest,…….

How the heck are we supposed to get any riding done ???

We WILL get it done, and finishing the ride in good shape will make the Journey that much better.


John Del Santo

John Del Santo was a Champion in the Motorcycle Rights world, sadly he passed on, he still is missed.



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