Wednesday, September 15, 2004

First Ride - Yamaha Tour Deluxe

No market is more segmented than motorcycling. We've got customs, sport, touring, cruising and sport touring to name a few and now, according to Yamaha's research, we've got cruiser touring.

When I look at the research fed to us by the OEMs I can't help but compare the numbers of people riding to the general population because after every marketing presentation I'm sure that there are more people researching motorcycle trends than there are people buying and riding motorcycles. Regardless, new models are spewed out with the regularity that I wish I still had.

My lack of a high-fiber diet aside, the market research reveals that the older we get the more we ride. It sounds logical; empty nest, full wallet, accrued vacation time/retirement and being too crotchety to let anyone tell us that we can't. My translation of Yamaha's charts indicates that we'll enjoy a 33% increase in miles traveled from age 40 to 64. Just what I needed to know! Now I can budget my gasoline expense for the next decade and a half.

The marketing gurus also inform us that the cruiser segment is the fastest growing, up 500% over the last ten years. The research also says that cruiser riders are different than other riders. They want to 'really' feel the torque and they want engines that rev slow enough to count the RPMs at a stoplight without a tachometer yet leave copious amounts of rubber when the light turns green and the throttle is twisted. Additionally cruiser riders also like to bolt on lots of chromium goodies then buy lots of stuff that lets them wear their marques on their sleeves.

Yamaha's latest segment-chasing machine is the 2005 Road Star Tour Deluxe, a supposed one-bike solution for multi-segment riding, boulevard cruising and touring.

Load up the matching bags, top off the 5.3-gallon tank, fold down the floating passenger floorboards for your better half's heels and hit the highway. Later you can pull off the windscreen and backrest and you're ready for styling down Main Street.

The 1298cc liquid cooled DOHC (counterbalanced) v-four is tuned for true cruising-style laid-back performance, which belies the available power of the 98 ponies stashed inside. The beast is fed by a 32mm Mikuni carb with heated throttle body and puts the power to the road through a 5-speed gearbox and shaft-drive.

If your destination is less that 200 miles away and you've got an iron bladder you'll get there non-stop in luxury style and comfort. Air-adjustable suspension, plush saddle, bar end weights and the floating floorboards see to that.

Settle into your motel then strip her down. (I'm talking the bike; but you do whatever you see fit for the moment.) You'll find that the backrest, which kept your honey's butt from polishing the fender, pops off with ease ditto for the windshield.

In fact the latch mechanism on the windscreen wins my vote for the best innovation. During a previous incarnation as a Rally Rat I rode a bike equipped with a large Plexiglas barn door of a fairing, the mail-order variety. It claimed to be removable and was, at the expense of large chunks of epidermal tissue of the finger and knuckle variety and a little blood. Yamaha's latch is fit, smooth, easy to operate, logically located and positive locking.

Yamaha offers a lined case for the fairing but it's an accessory. As a former detachable owner I offer some advice; you need this bag! Large disembodied motorcycle parts attract objects that scratch. The chain on your wallet, the doorplate to the hotel room, the jack handle in your trunk, need I go on? If you buy the bike buy the bag or at least argue the dealer into tossing it in to close the sale. Years from now you'll thank me, each and every time you polish its scratch-free surface.

I had my first look at the Deluxe in Charlottesville Virginia at the historic Boar's Head Inn on the University of Virginia campus, which happens to be a stone's throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Boar's Head Inn is a typical media launch location, interesting surroundings, great roads and luxurious comfort. Everything needed to distract a journalist from the job at hand.

Regardless of the specs or marketing savvy it's the bike that offers the last word. It's my job is to listen to the bike, to really see what the bike has to say, despite the corrosive influences of plush hotels, bottomless bar tabs, waitresses from a Warren Zevon fantasy and seamless ribbons of asphalt.

Morning arrived and after breakfast all us jaded journalists met at the Yamaha trailer for a rider's meeting. First thing that the 2005 Road Star Tour Deluxe said to me was, "I'm fat!" And the next thing I heard was our photographer barking orders. Which resulted in me spending the next four hours riding the same turns over and over and...

But as it turns out, that's the best way to test a machine. I learned the turns then tried to see how far I could push the bike's envelope.

After the first photo session I tossed the windscreen in to the photo van and the same for the backrest. They just weren't necessary for the local roads we were on.

I gotta tell ya', she may be fat but she's got a great personality. I rode her cruising style, hot-rod style and hooligan style yet she gripped each corner and purred as I twisted the throttle, happy to be in the wind.

As our little cadre of hooligans terrorized the secondary roads surrounding Boar's Head Inn and Blue Ridge Parkway the true colors of the Tour Deluxe emerged.
With a wheelbase of 67 plus inches, shaft drive and a 150/90 15-inch rear tire, highway travel is a cakewalk and the cruise control (standard equipment) is the icing. The gear ratios in fourth and fifth are designed in the overdrive category allowing highway speeds at low RPMs, which adds a thumping cruiser feel to hypersonic speeds. And yes-this puppy can cost you a license if you don't pay attention.

The clutch is hydraulic, adding to the smooth feel of the machine and complimenting the constant-mesh gearbox.

Yamaha's cruiser mantra: Style, Personalization, Performance is evident in the Tour Deluxe. There are enough dedicated accessories available to choke a credit card statement. Over one hundred Official Yamaha Accessories were designed along with the bike from solo seat rails to fender tips and billet floorboards to billet mirrors to stainless hydraulic lines. And undoubtedly there's more to come.

I'd like to see a tachometer that compliments the retro-design of the dash, not that you even need a tach, just keep the motor running slow enough to hear it. The Tour Deluxe offers comfort though not unequalled comfort. She tracks respectably for a heavyweight cruiser and there's certainly enough power but the only outstanding grace is the removable fairing and backrest.

The Deluxe isn't the jack-of-all-trades as no-doubt the marketing materials will expound; its got a definite purpose, a purpose as singular as a dirt-bike or race-bike. It's a long and short of it bike; lock on the fairing and load up the luggage with wife/girlfriend/poodle and head for parts unknown. Later, with you're brood safely nestled in suite 109 at Camp Ramada or the Holiday Caves, unlatch the fairing, lose the backrest, rent the luggage out to an immigrant family and hit the local biker haunts. You won't be disappointed, just remember to buy the fairing bag. Which, as I said before, should be included despite the respectable $13,999 asking price (which includes a five-year unlimited mileage warranty and 24 hour roadside assistance plan).

The 2005 Yamaha Road Star Tour Deluxe should be in showrooms by the time you read this but a really neat exercise would be to sign on to Yamaha's website and build yours first in virtual reality.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Fear & Loathing: Laguna 2004

Fear & Loathing in Laguna Seca

When the road is your religion the racetrack is your temple and Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway is one of the most challenging and pictorial internal combustion cathedrals in the country. My first visit was last year and I was hooked before I rode through the gate.

Superbike weekend in Laguna has become the annual ritual for west coast sportbike culture. It’s really the only true sportbike event in the country. If you can imagine Daytona Bike Week crossed with Laconia Race and Rally Week in weather, topography and racing, then squeezed out 98% of the cruisers and dropped the entire wad in northern California, you might get an idea of what Laguna Seca is.

Much like the beginnings of Daytona, which started with races down the beach and around town, Laguna Seca’s roots follow a similar pattern albeit almost two decades later.

The books of the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) opened on November 1, 1956 as a non-profit group who’s mission is to “benefit local charitable and non-profit organizations and to promote the economic vitality of Monterey through motorsports events.” The group leased Fort Ord land from the Army, built the track and staged its first race on November 9, 1957, a little over a year since its inception.

According to the Laguna website, events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca have generated more than $1 billion in revenue for area businesses, while providing over $10 million for more than 100 charitable and civic groups.

Currently SCRAMP is trying to build a walkway and terrace outside the famous “Corkscrew”, a spot popular with the fans because of the views, most of the bikes get some air. Rich Oliver was famous for tossing his equipment to the fans on the corkscrew after he won a race. A tradition maintained by the younger racers, such as Jamie Hacking and others who tossed knee sliders to the fans throughout the weekend.

The 2.38-mile track with eleven turns is nestled in the hills of the outside of Monterey. This is the land that was the inspiration for John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and “Cannery Row.” You can still visit many of the places and buildings he mentions in his books, like the bordello in East of Eden or Doc’s Laboratory in Cannery Row.

Because he wrote about real towns-people (and not always in pleasant situations) Steinbeck was treated about as well as visiting scooter-trash of that era. He found that he couldn’t rent an office and was harassed by the wartime rations board over buying fuel and firewood, so he moved to New York.

The historic canneries, once occupied by Steinbeck’s characters, have been replaced by expensive spas and hotels, the details of where they stand now merely footnotes, their memory preserved in old photographs.

Things had changed by 1956, when the track was under construction; his hometown of Salinas contemplated naming the North Salinas High School after him. Steinbeck wrote a now-famous letter opposing the idea, “If the city of my birth should wish to perpetuate my name clearly but harmlessly, let it name a bowling alley after me or a dog track or even a medium price, low-church brothel; but a school!”

The man could have been a biker.

During Honda Superbike Weekend in Laguna you won’t find rows of posers on Chromo-cruisers but at night on Cannery Row, where sportbike burn-outs are de-rigueur, you’ll find crowds of enthusiasts milling about the restaurants and shops, “kicking tires and tellin’ lies”. This year however, there was a noticeable crackdown by the officials.

Unlike Daytona and Laconia, in Laguna all the real action is at the track. Along with the racing there are a couple miles of ten-by-ten tents with vendors offering everything from helmet deodorant to frozen Waborittas (an alcohol and lime concoction that will freeze your brain from the inside). All the major OEM’s demo trucks with bikes on display are in the infield and Ducati takes over the island, which is aptly dubbed “Ducati Island” for the event.

Unique to California Motorsports, there are the girls, what are you looking for? Just pick a bra size and there’s at least one pair within fifty feet and she’s guaranteed to be wearing tiny clothes, have a flat stomach with a bejeweled navel, an umbrella, and definitely be too young for any of us old codgers.

Which brings me to the great dichotomy of motorcycle racing; as a journalist, official or team member, you’re not allowed in the hot pits or on the track unless you have the correct credentials, you’re wearing a minimum of a t-shirt that covers part of your arms, long pants, and closed shoes. That is, unless you’re a female with an umbrella, at which point you must wear high heels, expose as much skin as possible and smile endlessly for photos with testosterone charged fans (93,000 of them according to the track’s release). So now you know why Laguna was MUST-ATTEND event for us.

City Cycle’s plans for this years pilgrimage began with a seed planted by our Senior Editor, Fred Nemiroff. Fred hadn’t been to Laguna for five years and I was already booked, so we decided to make the ’04 pilgrimage a staff event. Of course anywhere I go becomes a staff event as I’m the only full-time staff member. Later it was decided that we’d turn the ride up into a story by conducting a dual-sport shootout/comparo.

We placed Lee Parks in charge of deciding on, and collecting the motorcycles since his ranch in Victorville would be our embarkation point. At Lee’s relentless insistence BMW provided us with a new R 1200 GS, KTM lent us a very abused 950cc Adventurer and Robert Pandya at Aprilia amazed all by pulling a Caponord out of thin air, at the last minute. Triumph had promised us a Tiger but the unit designated for us wasn’t returned to the press fleet by the major glossy rag (who shall go nameless) that had borrowed it.

Monika Boutwell of Triumph remedied the situation by borrowing another Tiger from a Southern California dealer. The only problem was that it wouldn’t be ready until we were already rolling. However the last member of the tour, Ray Englehardt, was slated to arrive a day later, so we arranged for Ray to pick up the Tiger and meet us at the Blue Sky Lodge in Carmel Valley. (And Ray almost didn’t make it; read CC Staff Member Assaulted on page 31.)

Lee also arranged for us to borrow an Electra-Glide Ultra Classic from the Motor Company’s press fleet. When I asked why, since it didn’t exactly fit the dual-sport category, Lee replied that it was so our two two-up passengers could get a “butt break”. Of course it became my job to pick-up the Harley immediately after my flight landed.

Dawn rose over the desert illuminating a cloudless sky and signaling the time to pack bags, empty bladders and hit the road. Many hours, and a few home-made cappuccinos later our motley caravan snaked out of Victorville, the magnificent seven of us; Lee and Jennifer on the Harley, our attorney, Andy McKinney and his wife Kit on the KTM, then Fred on the Caponord, Stu on his personal Ducati Multi-Strada and myself on the BMW.

We rode through daylight and into the darkness. We swapped bikes then compared information and opinions on them all, even the Harley. We even stopped to shoot some video and pose for still photos. One of the last things we did on the road was vote not to let Lee pick any more restaurants. (Its not that Lee hasn’t got good taste, he just picks lousy places to eat.)
After fourteen hours of twisty canyon roads, twisty hot desert roads, a twisty road that was temporarily closed by fire and one really (glad I packed a sweater) cold highway, no Cop cars, and a couple of terrible meals we arrived at the Blue Sky Lodge, pumped and in love with motorcycling. (Although all us East Coasters were still looking for a good meal.)

For those of you who find yourselves wandering California on two wheels, you’ve got to ride 33 from Ojai to Taft and 58 to 229 to Paso Robles, and if you’re of the Alpine riding ilk, try to set a speed record going up the Laureles Grade into Carmel Valley.

At some time in the wee hours before daylight we finally found the Blue Sky Lodge, checked in and managed some much needed sleep.

The next morning we began, what would become a tradition; terrorizing the new waitress at Margy’s Diner, which is really to only place to have breakfast in the village of Monterey.
The next few days at the track are really a blur, the racing was phenomenal, Jake Zempke on the Erion Honda earned my respect as he had the crowd standing on the seats when he went from the back of the pack (due to an oil leak) to finish on the podium. Short story is that we enjoyed some best racing of the season but before we could exhale it was time to travel home.
The team again met at Margy’s diner in Monterey on Monday morning at 9AM where breakfast mutated into a one-act play entertaining Margy’s staff, her patrons and fellow riders. It was 10:30 by the time we filled our tanks, side-stands were up and we were pointed at Route One. Which is where I decided to see how crash worthy the Ultra Glide was. (Details in my column on page 6, if you haven’t read it yet.)

Having met with the Monterey Sheriff more than once on this trip (thanks to Ray’s incident little fracas), I’d seen enough uniforms by the time they showed up for us, and the Sheriff was followed by the California Highway Patrol, the Fire Department, and the Paramedics, all of them relieved at how minor our injuries were.

We got a ride back to the Big Sur Garage, it was a $100 cab ride to Monterey Airport where I rented a car. The guy at the Hertz counter was a sympathetic biker so I was able to rent a sub-compact and he upgraded me to a Mustang Convertible. When Kit and I loaded all the stuff emptied from the Harley’s luggage I realized that we were overloaded. It all barely fit into the trunk of the Mustang!

We arrived in Victorville at 4am the next day where I had to shower, pack, take Andy and Kit to the Ontario Airport then make a Vespa event in Santa Barbara (more about that next month).

I dreaded making the telephone call to Harley but 9am came around and while I was stuck in stopped traffic on “the 10” I made the call.

“Oh!” exclaimed Gene, Harley’s fleet keeper, trying to make light of the situation, “remove gas cap, install motorcycle and replace gas cap.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we couldn’t find the gas cap.

The Season of the Crash: Laguna '04

Except for some tense moments on the track, few friends, or even close acquaintances have suffered a serious get-off in almost a decade. Until this season, and I'm afraid that we're not halfway through it yet.

The first, and hopefully the last, City Cycle Crash Test Program was officially inaugurated by Lee Parks while competing in a Supermoto race held at LaGrange Motorsports Park in Victorville California. Lee, a former championship roadracer and incredibly competitive person, was determined to grab a podium finish on his first time out. Hell, he had to; the track is practically in his backyard.

On the last lap after the last turn, in full tuck, doggedly battling for the third place spot, Lee rocketed down the home stretch past the checkered flag only to be surprised by the three bikes in front of him slowing to a crawl. It seems that in his enthusiastic effort for a podium spot Lee forgot that there was no cool-down lap.

Avoiding a four bike pile-up by grabbing too much brake, Lee performed an unintentional yet monumental high-side with a flawlessly executed mid-air flip (witnesses estimated it at over 25 feet) eventually landing flat on his back in the desert sand (and missing a hay bale by inches).

Mr. Parks in one of those rare moments when he isn't promoting.

That little gymnastic session earned him some time in never-never land followed by a two-hour ambulance ride to the Loma Linda Trauma Center. While the ER medics diagnosed Lee's mild concussion from an MRI, Lee confirmed it by regurgitating everything he'd eaten that day: a colorful mix of chilidogs with mustard, relish and jalapeño peppers from the Meaner Weiner girls, followed by a few cans of Red Bull. (Not that the contents of my stomach was much different.)

I know this because I was waiting when they rolled Lee in from x-ray sporting a plastic tray on his lap containing said concoction. Dare I say that it was the perfect illustration of losing one's lunch only to have it returned? (Insert groans.)

Fortunately for us Lee is back to his old self, riding, racing and throwing his two cents of advice around (really, every month we send him a check for $0.02). He can't remember his Olympic grade ten-point high-side although he does remember that there is no cool-down lap in Supermoto at LaGrange.

I returned to our New York office from that particular trip to receive dark news of Arthur Coldwells, publisher of the new Robb Report's MotorCycling rag. Arthur was at speed and carving a classic California canyon curve when he collided with a propane truck making an illegal u-turn.

After hearing about the extent of his injuries I was both surprised and relieved to see him at Laguna. He was wearing a big smile despite being scarred, stiff, and limping, proof that his chronic charismatic demeanor had survived both the crash and recovery. Then again, Arthur was enjoying handicapped access privileges-tooling about the venue on a pit bike, courtesy of Honda, which at Laguna is enough to keep a smile on your face and generate envy among the other bipeds.

It was at the track we learned that Mel Moore, our media man at Kawasaki, had crashed on the ride north. Mel was airlifted to the hospital having suffered multiple fractured vertebrae. Kawasaki issued a press release saying that he's alert and resting comfortably. (As we go to press Mel is back home.)

That Saturday night, courtesy of the Motorcycle Industry Council, I was a dinner guest at the Sardine Factory, an upscale restaurant on Cannery Row where I found myself sitting next to Merv (yeah, just "Merv"), Art Director and motorcycle maven at Stuff magazine. A few months back Merv had broken his wrist riding the V-Strom 1000 at a Suzuki media event. I'm happy to report that Merv is just as much fun at dinner as ever and enjoying his newly discovered talent for setting off metal detectors. Still, I had to shelve my compassion because his Frankensteinesque scar is the perfect fashion accessory to generate sympathy from those luscious Stuff models, and Merv is single, young enough to enjoy it, and smart enough to work it.

Closer to home, two friends from the Ramapo Motorcycle Club, Vince and Janice Blehl, were riding on Route 106 in Bear Mountain and lost traction when their rear tire hit a patch of sand. While Vince escaped with a few broken ribs, Janice has a leg up with multiple fractures to the tibia and fibula. Both are recovering at home and planning their next ride.

And finally there's the shiny new Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra, reviewed by Lee Parks in this edition, which I personally wadded up in Big Sur.

I was riding solo on the first leg homeward enjoying BMW's newest 1200cc adventure machine until we made a rest stop in at the Big Sur Village. After draining kidneys and kicking tires with some fellow two-wheeled travelers Lee tapped me on the shoulder and said, "You take the Harley."

Suited and saddled it took a bit of effort to lift the bike off the sidestand so I rolled to a level surface for Kit to climb aboard. Leaving the parking lot the bike felt like it bottomed out but since it was so gentle I wasn't sure, nor did I realize that although Jennifer (Lee's passenger) was petite, Kit was hardly in the anorexic class.

I was happy to leave before the rest of the group because I'd planned on being that much slower. It was one of those glorious riding days; cool, dry weather, unlimited visibility and light traffic. Kit and I got into the rhythm of the turns and the Harley was performing perfectly.

[OK Mom, this is where you can go get another glass of wine, maybe wash down a Valium or two with it...]

We entered a series of esses and as the turns started getting tighter I slowed to a speed far below the digits posted on the yellow signs. Had I been on a sportbike or any of the other rides we had in the stable I could have easily negotiated those turns at close to triple the speed we were at.

I scraped a floorboard, not uncommon in a cruiser, suddenly there was another scrape and I was thrown onto the road. I landed on my right shoulder and slid then rolled across the double yellow and the northbound lane. I saw assorted streaks of black (Kit's BMW denims), yellow (as in double-yellow line) and silver and red (the bike) go past my helmet. At some point the bike flipped over because there were scratches on the top case.

At the scene a Monterrey Sheriff's Deputy said that we "were lucky" that we had our gear on. I found it necessary to explain to him that we ALWAYS wore our gear. "It's not like we flipped a coin and said, "Hey it heads, we wear helmets today." I told him.

While Lady Luck had nothing to do with wearing our safety gear, she must have been around since we didn't meet up with a northbound truck as we slid across the road.

Speaking of helmets, not a scratch on either of ours, and Kit was wearing a BMW Denim riding suit, which took a couple of scuffs without tearing a seam. All she suffered was a poke in the stomach from landing on the handlebar when we went down.

I was wearing a Roadcrafter suit which has since been retired by Aerostich because repairing the crash damage would cost more that half the price of the suit. Bottom line is that our gear worked when we needed it.

After hearing of our get-off, Andy Goldfine the Sales Manager at Aerostich called to see how I was doing. Pleasantries and details exchanged he said, "That while we appreciate the information gathered by these impromptu crash tests we'd prefer that our customers not indulge in them."

With my better-than 20/20 hindsight I remember that the bike seemed 'off' when we first got on it. Unknown to me, the top case had been packed far beyond the recommended twenty-five pound limit and with both of us on board the bike must have been far outside the weight/balance envelope.

There's a deafening quiet to that nanosecond between not enough gravity and too much, and as anyone whose experienced it will tell you; it is not a pleasant moment. The next time I hear that little voice in my helmet that makes me double and triple check things, I'll listen.

To paraphrase an ancient aviation adage; "Motorcycling, while not inherently dangerous, will to greater effect than the sea, take advantage of any incapacity, carelessness, or neglect."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

But For The Deeds Of A Few, or, Why RTW Day Is So Important

A few careers ago I had a boss who was very liberal with his "attaboys." He was always the first one to tell you that you had performed your job well. Emptying the trash without being asked would earn you an "attaboy." Restocking an item before anyone noticed the empty spot on the shelf would earn an "attaboy." Just showing up early made him happy enough to toss a few "attaboys" to the staff.

At that time, I felt very lucky to have a supervisor who appreciated my work, and I told him so. At which point, he felt obliged to spew out his memorized lecture about the "Attaboy System of Rewards." Due to space constraints, and the fact that it wasn't that funny, I'll abbreviate the lecture.

Management is fond of the Attaboy System because each individual attaboy has no commercial or monetary value. So, it stands to reason that any number of accumulated attaboys are as worthless as the first. Nothing times nothing is still nothing. In fact, the value of an attaboy only exists for the precise moment that it is issued.

Those who unwittingly try to accumulate attaboys are shortly introduced to the anti-attaboy, the "aw, shee-it." I had always been suspicious of the "aw, shee-it" so I checked with Hoyle's, where I discovered that the "aw, shee-it" is the black hole of the attaboy system. Just one tiny little "aw, shee-it" mumbled completely destroys any and all record of attaboys, regardless of where you are or whom you work for.

If you think this has nothing to do with motorcycling, think again, because the Attaboy System has embedded itself in the American Collective Unconscious.
Remember the "Art of the Motorcycle" at the Guggenheim Museum? ATTABOY!
The millions of dollars generated by the "Ride For Kids?" ATTABOY!
Matt Lauer rides onto the set of The Today Show. ATTABOY!

Yes, bunkee, Motorcycle Attaboys have been showering down on us for a few years now. And we'd been enjoying it, until along came a bunch of bikers from more than a state away who had a vendetta with some other bikers on Long Island. By the time the cops sorted it out, one biker was shot, many arrests were made, and lots of illegal stuff was confiscated. (Please note that I'm not naming names!)

The story made the front page of all the newspapers, it was the lead story on the local tv and radio news, and the anchorpeople said the words "motorcycle gang" like they were shouting "fire" in a crowded theater.

Can you say, "Aw, shee-it!?"

Now, not a motorcycle attaboy can be found anywhere from Montauk to Cape May to Bear Mountain.

In Asbury Park, the town went to court and closed up the Fast Lane Biker Magazine Swap Meet and Bike Show, costing the promoter thousands of dollars. Shortly after that, the County of Nassau presented a national charity with a bill for the SWAT team that they felt needed to be hired to protect their event. No more Long Island Motorcycle Festival, after a successful five-year run.

A few years ago, Community Board 2 in Manhattan wanted to ban motorcycles from their little corner of the island. There was a meeting, and many motorcyclists tried to explain to the politicians that all motorcyclists are individuals and that penalizing all of us because of the behavior of a few is bigoted.
Thinking about that meeting still infuriates me. These politicians and politically active citizens, in what they call the most inclusive community in Manhattan, the West Village, couldn't recognize their own prejudice, to the point of booing us out of the room.

Recently, a state tried to pass legislation to the effect that, if three or more motorcyclists were traveling together, they could be considered a "motorcycle gang" and could be stopped and searched. Thanks to politically active motorcyclists, that law was never passed.

Just once I'd like to hear the newscasters report, "A gang of mothers was stopped and questioned by police today for walking their babies in strollers down the middle of Broadway, in Nyack. The mothers wore L.L. Bean cardigans consistent with membership in so-called 'Mother's Clubs,' or 'MC's,' which have menaced the lawful driving community lately with their strollers, carriages, and specially modified baby buggies. These MC's typically claim to be recreational in nature but are known to show no respect for traffic, pedestrian rights or our Department of Highways, and we all pay higher insurance rates because of their recklessness. The mothers were searched, cited for endangerment and other moving violations, and released. Lawyers for the mothers have vowed to contest the charges."

So what's a rider to do? If any of you have a solution, I'd sure like to hear it. ATTABOY.

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