Friday, April 27, 2007

2007 Motorcycle Awareness Rally

The Idaho Coalition for Motorcycle Safety is sponsoring the annual "Awareness Rally" Saturday May 5. Meet at Sandy Point (just below Lucky Peak Dam, east of Boise) beginning at 11am. "Lights on the Highway" at 1pm.

It's a rare opportunity to ride with 1500 or 2000 of your best friends.

These days, the ride goes along Highway 21 to the intersection with Federal Way (near Micron), then down Federal Way and Capitol Boulevard, ending up at the Statehouse.

(I've been participating for years. Back in the good old days, we met at the park right next to Meridian Speedway, and would take I-84 and "The Connector" - it was pretty awesome that they'd block I-84 for 20 or 30 minutes while the motorcycle parade went by.)

People generally gather along the route to watch the bikes go by. If you want to see a wide variety of motorcycles, from dusty "rat bikes" to "bike show custom," to 180-mph crotch rockets, to strange "Road Warrior" trikes, etc., get there an hour or so before departure time. Once at the Statehouse, there are generally some speeches about motorcycle safety, what various organizations are doing to further motorcyclist rights, etc.

I believe the Rally has two purposes:
1) To raise awareness in the minds of the General Public, that they are sharing the roadways with motorcycle riders, who are particularly vulnerable to driver stupidity, and
2) To promote safe motorcycle riding practices.

Some personal observations:
1) For many motorcycle riders, "loud pipes" is the one safety practice they can really get behind! (What a joke!)
2) If you ride, you want to BE CAREFUL! The guy riding next to you, or in front of you, may have been riding for 40 years, or 40 minutes!
3) To me it is amazing to see a sizeable percentage of participants (at a safety rally!) who are helmetless. It's great to avoid accidents, because if you're in one, you're likely to get injured or kilt. But there's precious little you can do to mitigate the chance for injury if you're in an accident, heaven forbid... one thing you can do is HAVE A HELMET ON! (Oddly, many of the helmetless participants will be all decked out in shiny black leather... evidently they can deal with a brain injury, but that road rash stings!!) (What a joke!)
4) You'll also see the shorts-and-flip-flops wheelie-poppin' crotch-rocket riders (at a safety rally!). It's nice they hold the rally in the spring, because some of those punks won't make it thru the summer. Sadly.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are you a POSER?

There's a lot of "psychological baggage" that accompanies the act of owning and riding a street motorcycle.

I've even written about it before.

I s'pose it's natural.

The reasons for riding a motorcycle are endlessly varied. It's NOT always "to get from Point A to Point B." Some people ride a motorcycle to "make a statement." Some ride to be seen riding. Some ride because "it's a way of life." Some ride for the camaraderie and social interaction. Some want to see how much of their motorcycle they can rub off in the twisty-turnies. Some just ride because it's enjoyable, relatively economical transportation.

When there are so many different reasons for riding, some people like the confidence in knowing their reason for riding is more valid than the other guy's reason. (And in many cases, they're also totally hung-up on knowing that the brand, and year, and selection of aftermarket accessories, etc., is somehow superior to the other guy's.) And that's when the accusations tend to fly.

"Poser." "RUB." (That's "rich urban biker.") Etc.

I try to avoid rushing to judgment on somebody else's selection of motorcycle, why he rides, etc. (Sure, mine are the best... but not everybody has to know that - hahaha.)

This may seem like treason... but I'll even occasionally wave at somebody who's riding a different brand of motorcycle!

JUST THE SAME... I've come up with what I feel is a reasonable "Poser Gauge." One question, that will determine whether that rider is the real-deal, or a shamless pretender.

QUESTION: Have you been on a motorcycle ride where you finished up the day someplace besides where you started?

(And I don't mean at your friend's place across town, or face-down in a gutter, or in jail... I mean DIFFERENT TOWN.)

If all of your trips have been to your favorite local waterin' hole, or to the motorcycle shop, or even a day-trip to some nearby destination, with a return trip later in the afternoon... you're not a "real" motorcyclist.

From there, it's just a matter of degree. Two nights on the road. Then two days headed AWAY from home, before you set sail on the return trip. Then riding every highway within 500 miles of your home base. Maybe the Iron-Butt challenge would appeal - 1000 miles in 24 hours. At some point, you need to get the missus to put money in the bank account, so you can just keep on goin'!! (Unless she likes to tag along, of course!)

(I don't know about "biker." That's a whole 'nother story. I think you have to have to wear your leather jacket JUST RIGHT... and take a solemn secret pledge to NEVER wave at a "non-biker"... and your motorcycle has to be from Milwaukee and more than 15 years old or something... it's secret stuff that I don't know about.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Target Audience

I subscribe to a couple motorcyclist-oriented magazines. (Rider and American Rider, specifically.)

And on a somewhat regular basis, I shake my head in wonderment at the ads, mostly for motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson's are particularly nauseating. They seem a little on the "poetic" side. Blah-blah-blah about the open road, leaving civilization behind, being an individual, etc. (Much to-do about the "experience," very little to do with the machine they are selling.)

A Kawasaki ad most recently caught my eye. For one of their metric cruisers.

It's a streetscape, with small-town buildings. Fashion-model-looking babes are everywhere - in the crosswalks, struttin' their fashion-model stuff down the sidewalk, etc.

Their attention is involuntarily drawn to the hunk-of-a-man on his Kawasaki metric cruiser, rolling down the street.

The copy reads:

One does not earn respect with side air bags and a power moon roof.

... followed by a superlative-laden description of some of the motorcycle's features. And then...

... all the power, confidence and charisma you'll ever need.
Others can't help but worship the ground it rolls on.

So - who's the target audience?

One must assume it's aimed at men who:
- are lacking in confidence and charisma
- believe that if they ride a motorcycle, they'll finally get the respect they deserve
- are buying a motorcycle to impress people who will see them riding.

You can tell all those babes want, in the worst way, to be on the back seat of that awesome bike!

I s'pose people make purchasing decisions for many reasons.