Motorcycling News
Louise Reeves

Louise Reeves

March 10, 2014

Random Tidbits

Coming soon to a theatre or motorcycle dealer near you, Why We Ride is a documentary about the passion of motorcycling. Its synopsis states that is a story about “individuals with a desire to dream, discover and explore. It’s a story about the journey, not the destination. Motorcycles represent the milestones of our lives.

Turning Rightly

When I was learning to ride, I found I could not make the bike turn right. Left turns were no problem, but right turns? I couldn’t do it. Some theories suggest that it’s instinctive to want to protect your “dominant” side, but I’m a lefty, so that doesn’t hold.



Recently I witnessed a very frightening event with a young man and his passenger on a sport bike. Coming out of a corner gas station, he could not master a right turn, ending up in the center lane of a five-lane highway from turning so wide. He stopped, corrected himself and went into the left lane to enter the interstate. While making the left maneuver, he again had to correct himself by putting his feet down, and then went zooming down the ramp and onto the highway. Needless to say, I crawled far behind him, not wanting to be a witness to the wreck that I thought was soon to come. Of course, I felt he has no business having a passenger. One should learn how to handle their machine before putting a second body on it.



So why do riders have a hard time with right turns? I can’t find a definitive answer. but the issue seems to be fairly common. From a dead stop, the problem makes sense because making a right is a much tighter maneuver, there’s a difference in leaning (and not much, if any, counter steering) and then there’s the throttle and clutch to contend with while trying to start the turn. Left turns don’t require the hard lean or quick throttle to clutch action, so they are, in theory, easier. However, none of this explains why it is harder from a moving position.



I did find one article by “Motorman” Jerry Palladino that touches on why many riders have trouble with dead stop right hand turns and how to correct a very common error they make. Rather than try to rewrite his very informative column, I will just link it and urge all riders to click here to read and practice what he talks about.



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It’s Fall, Don’t Fall



I can’t believe autumn is here already! Please be careful. Wet leaves, sudden rainfalls, quickly changing temperatures are all part and parcel of this most beautiful of seasons. A lot of groups plan fall foliage tours; the countryside can be gorgeous but it can also be fraught with hazards, not the least of which are other groups, especially car and bicycle clubs.



It was on a country road in the Fall when my cousin had his near fatal crash. In his case it wasn’t the wet leaves that caused the accident, it was his trying to avoid them by riding the centerline. Never do that, especially on a winding country road.



Ride safe and if you want to share a story of inspiration, please do!

January 1, 2014

Riding Safe on Red

Does the state you ride in allow “safe on red”? Only twelve do and the list of them is below, along with the stipulations and the year the law was passed in each state.

Joan Krenning walked into her local Harley-Davidson dealer in 1986 with the intent of purchasing a brand new Softtail. The dealer was insistent than she have her husband’s permission and that he also cosign her loan. After complying with the dealer’s terms, Joan got her bike and a life forever changed.

No life is perfect, and Joan’s was no exception. A few bad turns put her on the wrong path for a short time but she persevered. She called riding her “mental therapy,” and it gave her the second chance in life she had been seeking. With the support of friends, siblings and her two sons, Joan is embarking on a three-year journey of hope and American pride.

Joan’s business, Wraps of Hope had her spending a lot of time on the road visiting retailers and going to bike events, but always in a car. She missed riding; however, she noticed when she was at Sturgis and again at the Thunder Mountain Rally that there was a lot of political disparity-people were arguing and it saddened her. Where was the brotherhood? Somewhere between Fort Collins, Colorado and Kansas City, Missouri she had an epiphany “of the patriotic sense” and from September to January she fervently began planning a trip that would take her to every Harley Davidson dealer in the US within the next three years.

Before hitting the road, she hired an instructor to update her riding skills. She went on a ten-day ride with her boyfriend to help her get used to long rides and remember important safety lessons. She enlisted the help of her company’s marketing director, reached out to dealerships, sponsors and enthusiasts and on February 4, 2013, Joan Krenning began her life’s new chapter.

Joan stated during our interview that she felt Americans are forgetting who they are and are not remembering the integrity of the past. We fight over politics and seem to have forgotten what the Bill of Rights means. “It shouldn’t matter to anyone what another’s position is,” Joan explained, telling me that if someone asks her what her own political stance is, she declines to answer. She wants her journey to send a message of hope for Americans to come together, “to be the change you wish to see in America.”

Joan wishes to accomplish three goals with this tour: first goal is to promote American made products. All her sponsors are US companies, from her Harley Street Glide to her goggles. Her second goal is to bring back pride in being American and her third goal is to promote hope. She will be helping charities along the way, including Wounded Warriors and Helping with Horse Power. She says in her mission statement, “My mission is to ignite the power and passion in Americans, to breathe warmth into every day and clear the way for new beginnings. When you change people’s hearts, that’s when you change their lives.”

Joan’s enthusiasm becomes contagious when talking with her. She told me, “We can choose to be happy. I feel so blessed. I am the luckiest girl in the world.” She had only been on the road for two weeks but people everywhere wanted to meet her at her next destination. She has 2013 mostly planned out, with stops throughout Texas, Daytona, and Arizona by April. She is scheduled to be in Washington, DC for the Rolling Thunder memorial ride and will then continue northeast through the summer before heading to Ohio and North Dakota.

Her 2013 Street Glide will be transformed into the “Freedom Glide” and she has arranged to have the bike wrapped in graphics displaying the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Her daily adventures and photos from around the country will be featured on her blog, LadyRoadDog.com. and on her Facebook page. She is requesting a donation of two dollars from anyone wishing to take a photo of her bike, with 100% of the proceeds going to her charities.

Although Joan is making the journey alone and without the aid of a support vehicle, fellow women riders have already arranged to meet her and ride alongside her between stops. They volunteer to be her tour guides and I am sure in the weeks and months to come will probably open up their homes to her as well.

Joan is accomplishing what most of us only dream of doing. We spoke of why we ride, the feeling of freedom and how it saddened her that so many with a common bond seemed to forget all that in light of the political bickering. She saw something wrong and is taking a strong stand to make it right again. With the love and support of her family and friends and now strangers who agree and understand, Joan is taking a spiritual journey through the US and making sure we all remember why it has always been the greatest country on earth. It is a three-year journey that took a lifetime to achieve. 


April 1, 2013

Recent News

A new Florida Department of Transportation study reveals that 60 percent of the time, in crashes involving another vehicle, it is the cager’s fault. In analyzing 10 years of motorcycle crashes, in addition to finding cagers more at fault in multi-vehicle crashes, 34 percent of motorcycle crashes involve one vehicle, compared to 19 percent of all single-vehicle car accidents. Many of those single-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur when bikers are navigating curves but fail to slow down.

'When you ride a motorcycle, there's a good chance you'll crash by yourself, a little higher than if you were in a car,' said Lee, who is part of FDOT's Motorcycle Safety Coalition.



When looking at really severe and fatal motorcycle crashes, 50 percent of those accidents involve just the motorcycle and no other vehicle. However, in the more severe and fatal motorcycle crashes, drivers of the four-wheel variety are more to blame. Reasons vary, but mostly these accidents occur simply because drivers fail to notice motorcycles or gauge their speed correctly. A car going 45 mph, for instance, looks faster and more intimidating than a motorcycle going the same speed. This gives cagers a false sense of security when making left turns or pulling into traffic.



It's also a matter of awareness. In driver surveys, FDOT has asked people how often they see motorcycles. Those with motorcycle endorsements on their driver's licenses report seeing motorcycles all the time, while those without endorsements who live in the same area report occasionally seeing motorcycles.



Ideally, said Chanyoung Lee, a senior researcher at the University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research, motorists should be heeding the advice of the FDOT and “Look twice for motorcycles.” At the same time, Lee said motorcyclists need to make themselves more conspicuous by wearing brighter clothing instead of the traditional black leather.

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If you were always concerned about not seeing everything going on behind you while riding, fear no more. Reevu’s new MSX1 motorcycle helmet has a rear-facing camera positioned on the side of the helmet, giving you a nearly 360-degree view of the world around you. The camera transmits the views to a small screen located just above the eye slit. The camera is positioned on the side of the helmet rather than in the back, so drivers will still be able to get a view of what’s behind them, even when a pillion passenger is holding onto the driver’s waist. As for glare, Reevu says the helmet has reflective surfaces that limit the intensity of reflected light. They make no mention of a record function, however, so your highway antics will have to be recorded with your regular bike-mounted camera.



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Joan Krenning is becoming a social media darling with her three year-journey across America. Her friends list has topped 4,700, and her page, Lady Road Dog, has over 500 likes as of this writing. Her “Freedom Glide” Harley-Davidson has been fully customized, with custom dual straights, custom engraved wheels, fenders, and graphics. All suppliers of the Freedom Glide items are featured on Lady Road Dog.

Valerie Thompson, a five-time land speed record holder and owner/driver of Valerie Thompson Land Speed Racing motorcycle team, will have returned to Wilmington Ohio’s Airborne Park for the East Coast Timing Association’s Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed Challenge, April 27-28. Thompson set three land speed records during ECTA’s Ohio Mile and Throttle Nation Top Speed Challenge events in 2012 with her BMW S 1000 RR and has already earned membership to the “Texas Mile 200 MPH Club” this year with a personal best speed of 212 mph.



In addition to setting land speed records and racing ECTA, Valerie has also competed in the All Harley Drag Racing Association and National Hot Rod Association drag racing series.



Off-track, Valerie donates her time to support and inspire children overcoming personal challenges with charitable organizations such as HopeKids.org, which earned her the “American Women Riders Community Hero Award” in 2011.



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You might want to take extra precautions if you ever want to ride in Maine. The Maine House has voted overwhelmingly to reject bills calling for mandatory motorcycle helmets and banning the use of cell phones by most motor vehicle drivers. Regarding the helmet bill, representatives voted 123 to 21 to kill a bill requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets in Maine. Current Maine law only requires motorcyclists under 18 years old to wear a helmet when driving or riding as a passenger. Two days later, the Maine Senate also agreed to kill the bill.



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The House also rejected a bill banning cell phone use in vehicles by a vote of 104 to 38. Opponents claimed the bill had too many exceptions and that Maine already has a distracted drivers law. I wonder how many drivers using their cell phones would agree that they are distracted.



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Just as Joan Krenning is beginning her three-year journey across America, another adventurous woman, Alison DeLapp, is in the midst of her own journey from Los Angeles, California to the tip of South America. You can read about her journey and see her beautiful pictures at http://alisonswanderland.wordpress.com or on Facebook. Previously, Alison rode to Alaska and back.



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Mark your calendars for the seventh annual International Female Ride Day on Friday, May 3, 2013. International Female Ride Day is a global campaign for women motorcyclists who own, ride, or have access to a motorcycle. The day invites women to “JUST RIDE.”



There are myriad sites that either cater to women riders or at least include them in their information and offers. What I will attempt to do this month is go through as many as I can and bring to one place some resources and businesses that have what women want, need, and didn’t know they wanted until they saw it here.



As women make up more and more of the total riding community (at almost 25% now), we can expect to see more businesses, ezines and internet sites continue to come along that are devoted primarily to their needs and their unique perspective. The links below are a small sampling of all the places women bikers now have to go for everything they want; businesses that not only cater to women riders but also are owned by them as well.

Black Widow Bike Works is owned by Joy Montefusco and located in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. It is a full service custom motorcycle shop, Harley-Davidson certified, but will work on all bikes.



Motoress, founded by Vicki Gray who is a racer, instructor, coach, and journalist, is an ezine filled with information for the female rider.



The Original Cutthroat Customs is located in Humble, Texas and owned by Heather Wright. Heather designed Joan Krenning’s Freedom Glide Harley. She also designs beautiful wedding invitations and does freelance graphic work.



Speaking of Joan, she is the founder of Design Wraps Brands, Inc. headgear and apparel made in America.



Women Riders Now is another ezine devoted to women riders. From reviews to the latest news, WRN is the go-to site, even for me.



Sheila Mace owns Art By Weeze, where you can order custom painted helmets in addition to traditional original works of art.



Lady bikers can find some unique, American-made clothing at Daytona Thunderwear. You will see choices for women, children, and pets. The guys have to go elsewhere.



Another source of great information such as reviews of everything from bikes to boots, news, along with a Facebook page with all their latest news is Women Motorcyclist.



Disclaimer: Please note that listing these businesses is not an endorsement of any of them.

We all remember the dates that change our lives. Birthdays, wedding dates, the day of a major loss--they all become engraved in our mental tablets, and everything else in our lives is related to those times. On May 20, 2006, a purple minivan made a left turn and changed Cat’s life forever. But not how you might think.



On that fateful day, Cat’s friend had passed away suddenly. To deal with her grief, Cat did what she always did to clear her head--she went for a ride. It was on this ride that she became an unfortunate statistic--another biker injured in a cager-caused accident. She had a broken right leg, a punctured lung, a traumatic brain injury, and lost her left leg below the knee. The losses from this accident would soon multiply in other ways. But the gains would be amazing.



From a family of veterans and motorcycle riders, Cat’s first bike was a Yamaha 550. By the age of 26, she was on a Harley and taking her young kids with her on rides, much to the chagrin of everyone else. Now, she says, she realizes how dumb that was, but back then, it was what they enjoyed, and “it was all I knew.” She still has that old Yamaha on which her son learned to ride.



Cat said the loss of a limb affects you like a death, and you can either choose to remain angry or make the decision to walk. What helped her cope were the veterans she shared rehab with. Part of her therapy was visiting with a “trauma shrink” which did little to give her any insight into the life she was now facing. But she said the veterans made her see she wasn’t a “freak,” “Self-pity is toxic,” Cat said.



“I have to ride. If I don’t ride, I am not pleasant to be around,” Cat told me with a chuckle. The day her friend died, she had to ride to clear her head, and it was this same attitude she took after that fateful day in May. She was going to ride again and worked feverishly toward that goal. “It would be easier to give up breathing than riding,” Cat continued. “It’s my narcotic. It’s where my healing happened.”



Seven months after her accident, one day after Christmas, Cat rode for the first time since her collision with that purple minivan. “It clears my head and soothes my soul. Nothing on the planet makes me feel like I do when I’m on that bike.” “That bike,” her 2006 Harley Fat Boy, was rebuilt by friends, and “it was like being reunited with my best friend.” The bike had been lowered with an extended kickstand to accommodate her prosthesis, and because of her neck being injured as well, ape bars were added. She carries a prescription for the bars from her orthopedist due to their height, saying she gets pulled over frequently.



Her family and husband did not want her riding again, but she couldn’t and wouldn’t listen. Her life continued to change with the loss of her career, a divorce, and loss of her house, all within a year and a half. Still, she rode. Her son asked her why she wouldn’t give the bike up, and her reply was, “There is nothing I would rather do. The day I can’t ride is the day I’m done.”



“Everyone has something they are not willing to waiver from,” Cat told me. Hers was riding. She rode for 25 years and wasn’t about to let a thing like the loss of a leg stop her now.



Before her accident, Cat would shop at places like Macy’s. After, when she would go into the store with her prosthesis, she got “attitudes from the salespeople.” She needed help finding jeans and clothes she could wear, but they weren’t willing to help. But at the local Harley dealer, she not only got the help she needed, the sales girl told her, “Just give me the damn leg” and went off with it to find Cat some boots to fit it.



Cat has gone cross-country three times and logs about 15,000 to 20,000 a year. “That’s nothing to sneeze at for a one-legged girl,” she told me, laughing. She lives in Wisconsin, where the winters are pretty long. Cat told me she’s getting tired of those long winters as they interfere with her need to ride but has no plans to leave soon.



Five years and one month after her devastating accident, Cat once again cheated death when a deer rammed her beloved Fat Boy, splitting the frame and shattering her prosthesis. And once again, the bike she had named the Phoenix was rebuilt.



This past May Cat and her friend Ruth decided to ride with the veterans in Washington, DC. A “bucket list ride,” as she called it, they traveled a total of 3,000 miles round trip. Cat has to bring extra parts for her leg, saying that sometimes the leg parts take up more room than her clothes. The ride was in miserable rainy weather that hovered at just 40 degrees during the entire trip, and Cat said had they known ahead of time, they might have cancelled until next year. But if there is anything as dear to her as riding it would be US veterans, and she felt that of all the sacrifices they have made, she would do this ride.



Cat’s work with veterans continues on with visits to homeless vets shelters (“There is something so wrong about that”) and donating her time to various veteran charity organizations. She says of her devotion, “My mind and soul find healing in paying it forward. Though my TBI and amputation are not from military service I do understand a personal war in your mind. Today I am a grateful one-legged blonde. I am a veteran lover!”



Her accident seven years ago has also given her a new job, in addition to already being a motivational speaker. She is a “pilot” for a prosthesis company, meaning she tests out their prototypes. Currently she is piloting a leg that would allow her to use it like a natural ankle for riding her Harley. She has to bring spare parts and tools whenever she rides and reports on how the new leg is faring. So far she is impressed with their latest build. While she would not name the company, saying things are still in the testing phase, “I can put my left foot flat while on my Harley and almost flat on my floor board. To all who totally get what I am saying it has been 7 years!”



With all that has happened to Cat in the past seven years, there was not a shred of sadness or anger in her voice. She told me, “life is more…blessed.” And I am finding that that expression is the common denominator with these inspirational women bikers. They faced the worst life had to offer them, but came through the shadows with the help of their deep love for riding. It is this gratefulness and feeling their lives are blessed that allow them to pay it forward and tell a stranger their stories with a smile that can be heard.

When Sons of Anarchy debuted in 2008, it was like nothing ever before shown on TV. A combination of soap opera and crime drama, it resembled Shakespeare’s Hamlet as told through the world of a 1%er biker club. People compared it to The Soprano’s with its conflicted main character and his crime syndicate, trying to balance the love of family with killing people. And like The Soprano’s, Sons of Anarchy has become not just a “cult” favorite, but a writing and acting force to be reckoned with. Katey Sagal has reinvented herself once again through the character of Gemma; actors that were previously just footnotes in movies and other TV shows have been relegated to god-like status.



The last TV show to feature a motorcycle-riding protagonist before SoA was Then Came Bronson in 1969, so I suppose it was a long time coming. But Bronson wasn’t a criminal, although he was a loner with an unspoken past. The show ended after one season in 1970, but still comes up in conversations today. It was the antithesis to the previously released Easy Rider and earlier “biker” movies that showed bikers as irresponsible low lifes who only cared about drugs, riding and getting laid. If ever we needed another Bronson, now would be a good time.



When something becomes a massive hit on TV or in the movies, it apparently is a law in Hollywood that everyone with an AmEx card and a camera jump on the proverbial bandwagon. It is with this in mind that we have now been visually assaulted with two shows on the Discovery Channel: Devil’s Ride and the new Warlock’s Rising. The former is about a wannabe 1% bike club, the latter about a long in the tooth 1% bike club.



There have been rumblings through the Internet that Devil’s Ride is fake or full of bit actors. Some rumors have been that the Laughing Devils MC was created for television. I have tried to watch this show, really I have. But it is ludicrous to me. Everyone gossips about other members or “former” members like teenage girls at the food court. They talk trash and puff their chests threatening to beat each other down and rarely, if ever, do. (I couldn’t stick around long enough to find out if any threats were carried out.) Discovery Channel actually had this show back for a second season. Let’s hope there isn’t a third.



Warlocks Rising is the new entry onto the “aren’t bad bikers cool?” SoA coattails. The Warlocks was started in the late 60’s, so they have some bragging rights, but only “some”. They’ve been reduced to a page in motorcycle club history, competing with the like of Pagans and Hell’s Angels for bad biker status.



There is nothing redeeming about these old criminals, but the producers certainly try. One man wanted to visit his dead wife’s grave in peace, but wears his colors and goes with his brothers, also in full “rags” to do so, prompting the local MC to show up and ride by. And so it goes in every scene; apparently no one can live a private life without having to wear his club’s rockers everywhere. Another portion of the show features a member and his three-year-old son, born with Spinal Bifida. He tells us how he defied the doctors’ predictions by walking his son all the time and how, unlike his own father, he will make it a point to always be with his son. Cut to him buying this three year old his “first motorcycle”. He puts the kid on it with no helmet and lets him go. Of course, he falls off and everyone laughs and laughs. What part of this segment pointed to his being a “good father”?



In attempting to show the “real life” answer to Sons of Anarchy, what the Discovery Channel has done instead is to affirm for those who don’t like bikers exactly why they feel that way. I guess they felt that following a group around who isn’t into crime or rowdiness or even pissing contests wouldn’t be much of a show and they are probably right. Most of us just want to ride, not fill our lives with more conflict and stress, even if it is staged for cameras. So thank you, Discovery Channel, for setting the attitudes of the American public back five decades.

I had put announcements on women riders’ Facebook pages to tell me their stories as to why they started riding in later years. Not one response. I would hope it is because they were too busy riding to see the requests, but the cynic in me says they just did not want to share. Too bad. The number of women riders has grown faster than any other demographic in the past four years. I was sure there would be some inspiring tales out there as to why. I am not giving up and hope some women will want to share their stories with us all.



One inspiring story that I found on my own has to do with an 81-year old woman in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, who had a lifelong dream to ride on the back of a Harley. She got a little more than she wished for. Area MCs got together and greeted Anna Mae Diehl at Wellington Place assisted living facility with a dozen bikes and her own riding gear.



The Blue Knights motorcycle club teamed up with the Natchez Trace Harley Hog chapter and Christian Motorcycle Association to make Miss Mae’s lifelong dream come true.



Anna Mae was given her own leather vest and a helmet with “Born to Ride” on it. She may have been born to ride; it only took 81 years to actually get to do it. “Wish of a Lifetime” organization helped to get Anna Mae’s dream become reality. Their first stop was to visit her brother in a nearby nursing home.