Many years ago, as a motorcyclist surviving the streets of NYC, I had a great teacher. Armen Amirian taught me a lot of things, including things about myself. That I’m more a rider than a wrench, as I lack the patience to do most motorcycle maintenance. One of the more valuable lessons he taught me was how to plug a tire so it will stay plugged. Most bike shops won’t do this for fear of litigation. You can do it yourself quickly and easily on any roadside. Of course, this is all at your own risk. I’m only telling you what’s worked for me. I can’t guarantee that this will work for you. Armen prefers the mushroom type plug, which requires a fancy set of tools, the ability to separate the tire from the rim, and basically a proper workshop. If you’re stranded on the side of the road, or can’t afford to pay someone else to do all that, this is what has worked for me…
When Midnight Ridazz started rolling through my neighborhood on Friday nights, I was curious. I wondered what it would be like to ride with them. Years later, I was living downtown when the first CicLAvia flyers were posted. They warned us that our street would be closed. I knew I had to try this cycling thing for myself, and that CicLAvia would be a great way to try it. So I borrowed an old beater from a friend and pedaled around DTLA for the first time ever.
My ego simply adores telling people my age and seeing the look of shock on their faces. I look a lot younger than 44. After almost 30 years on motorcycles, I can tell you what’s worked to keep me from looking like leather face in Grease.
First and foremost- since one year before the helmet law went into effect in California, I’ve been wearing a full face helmet every time I ride. Not only is this protective in the event of a crash, it’s also great for your skin and hair. It keeps the smog and crap off your skin and keeps your scalp’s natural oils where they belong- on your hair. Yes, hair can get a bit greasy wearing a helmet, but that’s why we have washable helmet liners! I highly recommend wearing only a full face helmet with a removable liner. Plenty of times I’ve gone too long between washings and the amount of filth that comes out is astounding. Those cheek pads absorb quite a bit of the tailpipe gunk that would otherwise end up all over your face! Most major brands have removable liners.
The main reason I’ve noticed the excellent anti-aging properties of a full-faced helmet is that my neck is starting to show my age. It’s the only part of my body that gets exposure to the elements when I ride, and the only part that has any real signs of aging. So now I’m faced with ever more costly skincare treatments all in the name of vanity. If only someone had told me 20 years ago to keep all that smog & wind off my neck! Now I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing a scarf tightly wrapped around it on every ride. Be sure to tie the scarf in a knot and tuck it securely into your jacket. When I find the cure for neck tightening, I’ll share it. Continue reading Hair & Skincare for Bikers
Sure, pretty much everyone at the track loves motorcycle racing. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t. Some love racing more than others. But some love more than racing. Some, like me, love feeling special. I like feeling like I’m in the inner circle, not just a fan among fans. I was feeling very introspective this weekend, being at a GP without the press pass I’d grown accustomed to wearing. I had to think about where I most wanted to watch the races. Not just this weekend, but in the future. Everything has a price, or a trade off, and race spectating is no exception. Everyone at the track has a role, and is helping keep the sport alive through their passion.
Some of the roles I’ve held are:
Fan (general admission or varying levels of ticket access)
Guest (well, usually not for the entire weekend, as sponsor guest passes are really for the sponsors)
Volunteer worker (riders for health)
Roles I’d like to hold, in order of awesomeness:
Team Press Officer
Grid Girl (not just for the access but for the validation)
Racer’s wife (less of an option now as most racers are young enough to be my kids!)
Sure, I’d love to be a racer, but I discovered in my club racing days that I really didn’t have it in me. So I’m content to watch the talented ones do their thing.
This bike was not only fun to ride, but blew my mind with the range. Sure, it’s got twice the battery capacity of my Zero FX, and weighs a lot more, but wow. I could totally sell the R1 and go all-electric… Full story on Gas2.
Photographed juicing up at my favorite westside lunch spot- Malibu Country Mart.
Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. I have to work hard to develop it. But sometimes it’s easy.
Riding a motorcycle means I….
On the Freeway
In the Rain
In Los Angeles (where nobody knows how to drive in the rain).
But even I have to draw the line at doing all of the above right after the Superbowl (or any other major drinking event). A simple detour to one of my favorite quiet surface streets made a potentially fatal ride home quite pleasant. Beverly can get you from Hollywood to DTLA just as fast, even faster sometimes.
Today I also got to ride my R1 through sand, out in Joshua Tree. That was exciting. But I kept my speed down (around 6mph!) and didn’t make any sudden moves, and we made the half mile trip (each way) successfully. It was exciting, especially having to turn corners where the sand was actually a couple inches deep. Luckily traffic wasn’t an issue. I am dying to play in the dirt more, now that I’ve learned how to do so through Shelina Moreda’s dirt camp, which I did last year. In case you missed it, the full story is on RideApart.
Winter has finally come to SoCal, let’s all keep the shiny side up!
Here’s a recent article I did for Gas2…
Zero had a massive showing again this year, with a central spot on the show floor at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, CA. As press entered the show we were greeted by a pair of ladies handing us Zero brochures and reminding us not to miss their presentation.
Judging by how late most of the paper magazines were to report on these bikes, some even reporting on 2013 models when they’re all sold out, you’d have think they missed it last year. You know we didn’t. Full coverage here. And exclusive video interview with Zero owner Terry Hershner on the completion of his first (of MANY) cross-country trip on the Zero S. Oh how that bike has changed over the year! It was sad that the only Brammo at the event was the wheelie “ride” bike I saw outside near the stunt arena. The show continues in New York this coming weekend. Story continues on Gas2….
Shockingly, I never got around to watching this film until this week. It was released 2 years before I was born, rated X, so the first 15 years of my life, I just wasn’t likely to see it. I’ve known about it since the 80′s or 90′s, friends mentioned it, and of course I’d seen That Suit. But given the crowd I ran with from age 15 on, when I started riding my scooter, you’d think it would’ve been playing at some art house or something. But nope. I saw Born Losers, which was my favorite 60′s era “Bikesploitation” flick. Until now. And not just for the flawless Lanvin custom leather suit. I’m already plotting how to make a replica with D30 armor inside instead of fur.
I’ve been thinking about SIPDE lately. It’s the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s acronym that’s very handy for riding- Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. They must be done in order. Don’t mix that up. Scanning used to be so automatic is wasn’t even conscious. Then I started riding a bicycle. At 15mph, your eyes can safely wander. You notice stuff you’d never see at 20+mph.
The hard part is getting back to 20+mph vision, which requires consciously ignoring shiny distractions and ONLY seeing the things that matter. Mainly the big, fast things that could kill you. Not much else matters. Not that intriguing billboard. Not that new store that looks like it might be interesting. Not the cute guy waiting for the bus. None of that matters. It’s rather annoying that I have to re-train my brain when switching from bicycle to motorcycle. But there it is.
If I was a snake, I would’ve bit you…
Identifying hazards is pretty simple, but requires an awareness of your environment. Like the guy I had to pull a Lorenzo on while riding the bike path on Saturday. Two men rode side by side through an underpass, convinced they were the only people on the whole bike path, on a Saturday afternoon, and that nobody could possibly need to get some momentum while trying to get up the hill at a considerably faster pace than them. They failed to identify the possibility that others may want to share the path with them, particularly through an area where traffic noise was likely to drown out any calls of “on your left!” I think the only injury was someone’s pride. I thought when they told me I was supposed to ride slower than guys they meant fast guys, not all guys.
Tonight I exited 110NB on 9th st as usual. Except my timing was such that I had to tuck in behind a gravel truck. I could’ve passed him on the left, as there are 2 lanes to the left at the bottom of the exit ramp. But I saw another gravel truck merging from 9th st. Being a local, I knew that the major construction sites are on 7th and 8th, accessible at the very next left turn onto Figueroa. So I waited a second, saw that the 9th st gravel truck was signaling left, and of course the one I could’ve passed on the left also moved to the left. Waiting a second and then passing both trucks on the right was the safer decision.
People think Predicting is hard.
It’s not. Except when you’re riding too soon after your last concussion, you should be able to predict that cab which is lit up as available is going to dive across 4 lanes of traffic, or stop suddenly, or both, to pick up that fare that just shot their arm up. But that’s NYC. LA is a lot less predictable, because most LA drivers are not only NOT professionals, they’re actually not even driving. They’re getting stoned, or looking at their phones, or both.
But some things you can predict. An LA driver will almost always turn right then immediately head for the left lane, and vice versa. It’s an LA thing. It took me awhile to become comfortable riding here (again) when I moved from NYC in 2001, but eventually I found the flow. It’s not a natural, smooth flow like Rome, or even NYC, but it’s predictable enough. Just keep an eye on the front wheels of cars as you’re lanesplitting and try to avoid splitting past a gap in one lane. Someone next to that gap may suddenly decide that’s the void they’ve been looking to fill their whole life. And take it easy diving in as traffic is just starting to slow, those are the people most likely to want to change lanes.
And always expect the car waiting to turn left to not see you. They know you’re not big enough to hurt them, and unless you look like you just rolled off the set of Sons of Anarchy, you don’t look like a threat. So I make myself more visible, because wearing neon pink actually isn’t enough. (proven). When approaching the intersection, I’ll put one hand out in a “stop!” signal, while shaking my head “no!”. As I pass them safely, that hand changes to a thumbs up for good behavior. I don’t care if they were just waiting for those pedestrians in the crosswalk, they still get a gold star for not hitting me.
He who hesitates in war is lost.
This phrase is something I live by. I rarely hesitate when riding in traffic, and when I have I know it wasn’t ideal. Make your decision and OWN IT. Sometimes that decision is “Here is where I get to exercise patience and tolerance. these “muscles” are weak as hell, and could use some practice.” Other times that decision is “fuck yeah I can fit there!” That sort of decision can be fatal if you second-guess yourself because that gap you were counting on is constantly changing. It could shrink to nothing in a split second.
Now go out and RIDE! I’m sick of meeting motorcyclists who live in LA but refuse to ride here. Be part of the solution. And if you’re nervous, find a group ride, or a buddy who’s got some patience to ride with. I suck at riding slow. But the East Side Moto Babes meet up most Tuesdays for a nice chill ride. You don’t have to ride vintage to ride with them, but it helps if you’re a babe.