What’s with all this Leather Anyway?

Local Switchbacks

Local Switchbacks

Here are some answers to questions I often get from non-riders. Riders may have answers of their own which differ. They may be better answers but this is what I’ve got.

  1. Q. How can you wear a jacket and gloves in this heat? What’s with the all this leather anyway?
    A. I would rather sweat than bleed. Even a small crash can cause major damage if a rider isn’t wearing protective gear. Road rash is treated in the ER with steel-bristled brushes which actually remove skin to be sure no dirt is left. It’s called abrading and it’s no picnic. Also, my riding garments contain body armor which can absorb impacts, enabling me to walk away from a crash which may have otherwise left me with broken parts.
  2. Q. Why do you cut through traffic? Can’t you wait your turn like everyone else?
    A. In most of the world outside the US, “filtering”, or moving between cars to get to the front at a stoplight is perfectly legal. It protects riders from being crushed between cars in rear-enders and, because of motorcycles’ superior acceleration does not put the passed traffic at any time disadvantage. We are way down the road in a minute.In California we are allowed to split lanes as long as we do it safely and sanely. This reduces freeway traffic and has been shown in recent studies to be safer than following behind and between other vehicles.If I lived in a state where filtering was illegal I would gladly risk the fine as opposed to being crushed by a distracted or impaired driver. Texting Kills.
  3. Q. Why do you weave all over your lane?
    A. What may appear to be weaving may be a rider avoiding road hazards such as potholes or oil spills. By law, a motorcyclist has access to the entire width of the lane. We “claim” our space by riding in different sections of the lane at different times. We also adapt and change our lane position to maximize visibility and to better negotiate curves.Often a lane wiggle is done to get the attention of an oncoming driver who is signaling to make a turn which could put them directly in the rider’s path. A wiggle-manoeuver catches the driver’s eye and says, “Hey, Hang on a second – I’m here and I want to survive my ride”.
  4. Q. If it’s so dangerous, why do it?
    A. If you are sure you will see tomorrow by staying off motorcycles I have some bad news for you. Things will happen. Sure, you take precautions to minimize risk. So do most riders. We attend classes and constantly study and practice our skills. We accept a higher amount of risk and balance it with a high amount of risk mitigation.
    And we cannot imagine living without the exhilaration, joy, boundless vistas, camaraderie, and heightened sense of feeling alive which riding brings.
  5. Q. Do you race?
    A. No, I personally don’t race. I lack the experience it takes to operate a bike on the very edge of its physical control limits. I have great respect for those who race at any level. It’s something I will forgo due to my late arrival to riding. But I enjoy following racing, especially MotoGP and the great Valentino Rossi.My personal “checkered flag” is pulling into my garage after another safe ride.
  6. Q. Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall over when the bike is leaned over? Why do they look like they’re going to tip over?
    A. Above a certain speed motorcycles must lean in order to turn. And they must turn in order to lean.  To lean a motorcycle – or a bicycle you must push forward on the right grip to turn right and on the left grip to turn left. Sounds crazy but it’s called “counter steering” and over a certain speed it’s the only way to turn a bike or a bicycle. Try it sometime. You’ll see that your initial push in the “wrong” direction makes the front wheel track outside the path of the rear wheel, inducing “lean”.Leaning is probably at least 75% of the fun of riding for many of us.7. Q. Why did you write this section and do you think anyone will ever read it?
    A. I don’t really know why I wrote this and I highly doubt anyone will read it but it     went well with my after-ride coffee this morning.

    1. Yes, it's my one and only bike again.

      Yes, it’s my bike again, this time fitted with the Sceptre silencers.

      8. Q. Why do you wave to each other?
      A. We are saying, “Yes friend, this is great and should you have a problem I will stop and be there to help you.”

    2. Q. What’s with the “A” and the “B” all of a sudden?
      A. I have no idea what I’m doing here blogging, but I’m having a good time doing it.
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