Motorcycle blog

This week I personally know a person who got into an accident while on his motorcycle. And I learned all about it after I have arrived at work – on my motorcycle. The good thing is that my friend and colleague survived the supposedly fatal crash. The bad thing about it though is that it’s one more person added to the statistic of victims of motorcycle-related accident – whether by his own fault or not. Now anti-motorcycle advocates are out once again with their almost unending see-I-told-you’s that seeps even thru the inch-thick helmet padding.

These days, proponents of the motorcycle seem to be losing their case as the incidents involving their favorite two-wheeled vehicle shares the headlines with reports of employees being laid off. Incidentally, these two headline makers are expected to thrive more while the financial crisis continues like an un-curable itch. Nowadays, a lot of people are trying to save and one way of saving is by saving on gas. Of course when gas gets mentioned, the thought of having a motorcycle, specifically what others call mopeds, scooters or underbones enters the picture. These crotch rockets are gas misers and it’s no wonder that almost everyone wants one. And that’s because almost everyone can actually afford one – frighteningly, even the irresponsible ones.

This is when motorcycle safety advocates begin to have nightmares about this uncontrollable or unregulated scenario. There are just so much eager and capable buyers (and sellers) that the aspect of safety is often forgotten. Anyone with a cash or downpayment which is normally just around Php3,000 (approx. $ 60) gets to go home with a decent motorcycle – once again, with or without a “valid” license, training, or worse, even without the common sense.

Now, other motorcycle riders may cry foul about all the stereotyping. Some will instinctively point their fingers to the four-wheeled vehicle drivers for causing all the troubles. Others may even blame the accidents due to poor road lighting, open manholes, wayward pedestrians and I’ve even read complaints about dog poops. All fingers are pointing to other factors but so far, only a few have done some self-reflection and immediate correction. Sadly, these are reasons why live motorcycle crash test dummies continue to exist.

Failing to recognize the risk is often what leads to unnecessary crashes – regardless if it is minor or major. I remember from one defensive driving seminar I once had the four guides of a responsible driver:

  1. Identify (or anticipate) the risk or danger.
  2. Act accordingly. Example, adjust following distance depending on the driving condition.
  3. Control whatever you can as you can’t technically influence others. (This is what I often forget. Hehehe.)
  4. Take or consider a plan B if everything else goes wrong.

Unfortunately, with the fact that not everyone seems to take time to even read (or search thru the internet) about all this driving safety stuffs anymore is what makes the road a far less safe place to drive…especially for motorcycle riders like me. It’s already a given that riding makes one vulnerable to elements – like reckless cage (a term used by riders to distinguish a car) drivers. So I went further to identifying every risk that I possibly can. After more than six months of riding my motorcycle, I have actually listed several of these hazards already.

Stay away from riders without the basic gear or clothing. Since riders are sitting open to almost everything hazardous, the least one can do to protect himself is to wear long sleeved-shirts (thick jerseys or jackets preferred), long pants (jeans if possible), and a closed-toe footwear. These of course should be paired with a decent helmet. If you spot one without such means just one thing: he doesn’t care about himself and most likely he doesn’t care about you. So stay clear.

Stay away from those with confused persona. These people are easy to spot: they have rosaries and crucifixes wrapped around their motorcycles (mounted on the dash if in cars) but when you actually see them, they are either poorly clothed (at times even lewd) or drives like someone who have just escaped from a straight jacket.

Stay away from cars with Japanese or Chinese stickers or decals. Some of these have even extra large ones that almost cover the whole rear window. These stickers scream anything but “I understand what my stickers say”. If these people don’t even know what those stickers meant, most likely they don’t even understand what an amber light is for.

Stay away from skinheads who for a moment are seen driving slowly over an ear-shattering base music. These people (often in their teens) are beat-driven so expect them to speed up anytime the Snoop Dogg rhythm picks up.

Needless to say, also stay away from pony-tailed or dreadlocked drivers especially if the car’s interior appears foggy despite the un-tinted windows.

Stay away from truck drivers especially those concentrating on picking their noses. I’m thinking that this is as distracting (or even more) as using a cellphone while driving.

Stay away from motorcycle-riding policemen without helmets. Period.

Lastly, stay away from someone who is absent-mindedly composing a blog while riding a motorcycle. He’s easy to spot. He made this blog. Ti abi.

 

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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Cold Blog


It’s been cold for days, literally. And this has brought some changes in my routines other than the mandatory blanket curl that made me look like a huge fetus for several early mornings already.

Yesterday, I had to don 3 layers of clothing on my way to work. Being on a motorcycle may be beginning to be a fun ride but the biting cold made it necessary to add just another layer so that I don’t get stiff nipples. I’m now even considering getting a riding glove not for the looks but rather for the insulation that it can provide. I just can’t imagine myself riding a motorcycle somewhere in Europe. Back there, I’m quite sure that Vespas are not among their favorite transport options right now.

Blogging has to be rescheduled as well. I now prefer sleeping earlier as the cold early evenings seem to suggest nothing but to hit the sack, that is, after everything about the baby has been taken care of. I now blog whenever I get up sometime between midnight to early morning which is at the very least an hour ahead of my wake up alarm. Though on the contrary to what majority of the people would opt to do, I find the cold and calm morning more conducive to write.

I heard from the news that this cold season may be until another month more or so. This means that I’d have to get used seeing our thermometer stuck at 22 degrees Celsius or less. This means more alarms to be snoozed. And every time I wake up, this means that that I’d be wondering for a few more weeks how much it would take me to install that water heater in the shower. Ti abi.

 

 

 

Mood: 2/10 Honks!

Rookie Rider’s Day Out

 

Almost a week has passed after I bought my motorcycle and I’ve ridden it only once inside our village. It was one quick ride and I’ve been craving to do more. However, since the day after that I had to report to work and rain has been pouring since then, that left me no choice but to lock and cover it up in front of our yard until today.

This morning, weather hasn’t improved and it isn’t exactly what I call a motorcycle-friendly day – it’s gloomy and the threat of rain is looming over the horizon. But the call to take another ride took over my worries of getting wet. I felt a sudden mix of anxiety and excitement once I got home after dropping my wife off the shuttle bus stop.  After parking my car I prepared for my maiden motorcycle ride.

And so from the very start of the preparation alone, I was awaken to the world of MC riders; little by little I experienced what it is like to be taking a ride out of the comfort of my car. Here’s my log for today’s ride:

1.       MCs are meant to be started and left idling for a few minutes before taking it for a ride – It’s not unnecessarily wasting gas but it’s a requirement to warm up its engine unlike cars that you can start and step on the gas right after.

2.       I wore (needed) shirt, jeans, sneakers and a helmet (which I got free from the MC dealer).  These are the minimum – although one item in the newly debated LTO guidelines state that a leather jacket is a must.

3.       A P500 in your wallet is more than enough for a full tank.  I have a full capacity of only 3.7 liters or P200 worth of gas. That’s just sweet. I’m yet in the process though of figuring out how far 1 liter can go.

4.       Signal lights do not automatically turn off after executing a turn. Don’t forget to manually switch it off or you’ll be giving wrong signals to the vehicles behind you.

5.       A jacket is needed for an early morning ride like I did. I realized midway of my trip that my nipples are getting harder with the cold wind blowing all around me. Ti abi. The LTO must have the thing against stiff rider nipples.

6.       You can’t scratch your nose or any part of your face while your helmet is on. I unconsciously tried doing it and saw some smiles by the sidewalk. That’s embarrassing.

7.       Fixing something somewhere in your crotch is a no-no.  Need to elaborate?

8.       Water puddles isn’t fun anymore. I love to go fast on these while driving my car (making sure of course that no one’s around to be reached by the splash), imagining myself in a Peugeot and trying to beat Sebastian Loeb.  Now I guess I’ll have to get used to imagining beating Jeremy McGrath instead. Just kidding.

9.       Coasting isn’t possible. My MC’s shifting pattern does not allow (or I may be wrong) me to shift to neutral after achieving a sustainable speed like in a downhill.  But then, other than being illegal according to the rule of defensive driving, MCs fuel consumption is already thrifty compared to cars (or cages, as MC riders call it) so coasting isn’t significant anymore.

I covered 32 kilometers for this morning’s ride and it felt good to be out on the road and coming home safe. It’s not actually scary as most people (usually wives and those without MCs) would say. The rules that need to be followed are still similar to driving a car except for some other things that need to be observed – such as staying visible to other motorist, giving more focus due to the obvious reason that the rider is exposed to all elements and maintaining balance at all times.  

With my introduction to the world of MCs, it opened me to a new perspective. I’m now beginning to feel empathy to those people who have no choice but to take an MC to work despite heavy rain, I now respect their space on the road, and I now understand the need for car (and any other 4-wheeled vehicles) drivers and MC riders to co-exist in order to create a healthy and safe commuter environment. Of course I still believe that education is the key to achieve orderliness and hopefully, more people will soon get educated enough to drive safely.

 

Postscript

Having holding back from telling my mother about the idea of buying an MC, I finally called her after this morning’s ride and told her all about it. I was expecting some sort of worried remarks coming from the other end of the line, but I was all smiles when I heard her say, “Ay gali? Ano ginbakal mo? Ang mga pambabayi na motor? (Really? What did you get? Those feminine motorcycles)

 I was laughing when I asked her what she meant by “feminine” motorcycles and I laughed harder when her description fitted that of the underbones –the one I currently have.  She must be expecting me having a motocross (also known today as motards) which I remember were the “in” thing when I was yet a kid. Anyway, I explained to her that underbones (and scooters) are now the trend as they are cheaper and have lower displacement – thus, lower fuel consumption; AND that they’re not just for women. (she’ll be mobbed in the forums with those remarks. hahahaha)

I was still wondering about the unexpected jolly remarks from her after I ended our conversation, and then I remember that she was the one who taught me how to ride a bike during my elementary days. I recalled her patiently holding on to me until I felt comfortable with the balance and she eventually came running along while I pedaled it all by myself.  From my late high school to college years, she  likewise never questioned my scuffed shoes, tattered jeans and tiny bruises when I was into BMX flatland.  AND she even approved when I came home with a haircut which has the word “BMX” shaved behind my head.  Come to think of it, she’s a cool mother. (Baw!)

 

 

Damned

Whoever coined the phrase “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”…well, must have been damned. Recently, other than my favorite acronym SSDD (Same S____ Different Day) – which I love to interchange meanings – the damned phrase (pun intended) enters my brain more often than before. Right now, I can’t think of a better cliché that is so applicable each day of our life. And why is that so?

In our science classes during elementary grade, we were told that we humans actually belong to the animal kingdom. But what sets us apart (other than we can write lame blogs) from our crawling, flying, swimming and walking (i.e., apes) brethrens is the capability to make choices, not instinctively, but intelligently – although the bible is one proof that our great great great ancestor Adam “might” have instinctively gave in to Eve’s temptation to take the supposedly fruit of knowledge (and that I find ironic). For whatever the real reason is, I think we won’t know, but I have a suspicion (hint: they’re fully naked back then).

I find this capability to think and to decide a double-edged sword – that is, it cut both ways. Each action we make right after a decision will be taken or understood differently by different recipients of that action. To complement this, Newton’s third law of motion states: “For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction.” It’s just the way it goes – no more, no less.

So does that mean that the author of the damned phrase may possibly have been Newton as well? Actually, I don’t give a damn. But whoever it was, he has my respect because I find it simple yet striking. It summarizes one lifetime of decision making into just 8 words.

Now are you wondering what made the damned phrase go in and out of my mind like an LSS? In the past days, here’s a couple:

·         Company business updates that gets majority of the employees jumpy and grouchy. My take on this? It’s just same story with a title that changes every time, as I always tell those I’m conversing with about this topic. That’s 15 directly under me, and several other colleagues that at times I find the topic get so monotonous that it makes me think of recording my replies for the next similar discussion. Sooner than soon, this story will end (I’d like to divulge, but I’d rather do it as a Grinch-who-stole-christmas type story. You’ll read about it soon. Probably Christmas time).

·         Bayani Fernando who has been in the news, forums and FM radio lately. My take on him? Ever since I learned about this guy’s work, principle and vision, my admiration for him started. I’m one of those Filipinos who look up to a strong leadership which have become so scarce for years here in the Philippines.  I read from one survey that he’s not winning approvals from most people because of the way he operates – that is, quick and he doesn’t care who gets in the way. Although, he’s got some kinks to work out among his group (i.e., MMDA), I believe that his personal policies are firm and he’s just the type of leader that we NEED. By the way, he has mentioned that he’s running for president come 2010.

·         The latest and hottest subject lately – motorcycles – due to new LTO guidelines, frequent accidents involving motorcycles, and wife protests (hehehe). It’s now a fact that with the current gas prices up and I predict, will go up again – this prediction doesn’t need a Nostradamus to do – everyone now thinks of an alternative to go around town. Both of those who used to take the public transport (e.g., buses, jeepneys) and even those with their own cars are now considering buying scooters or underbones. My take on this? It’s a no brainer that with the almost unstoppable gas price hike, an alternative transport is a must have. However, if a motorcycle is your choice, it requires a fully “functioning” brain to drive it defensively. Brain drives Rider. Helmet protects Brain. That’s Win-Win.

With our daily life being about decision making from the moment we wake up, drive to work, deal with people at work and until the time we get back home and sit front of the TV (and start changing channels), it’s really no wonder if every now and then…we will be damned.

Donut Choices (Photofunia done by wifey)

Donut Choices (Photofunia done by wifey)

Back on 2 Wheels

 

What do these things have in common?

1.       Vietnam

2.       Discovery’s American Choppers

3.       Nat Geo’s Long Way Down

4.       Nat Geo’s Rides

5.       The movie Wild Hogs

6.       Mo Twister’s most hated

7.       Motorista magazine

If you still haven’t got it right, the last one is supposed to be a giveaway.  Yes, it all relates to motorcycles big or small; slow or fast; flashy or funny. And so today I got my own – my first one.

Now I’m back to riding (or better yet, learning) on two wheels – this time it’s motorized. Following careful and lengthy considerations and several discussions with my own self – yes, been talking to myself as to whether or not I need to get a motorcycle (or MC) – I finally convince myself to give in to this urge of riding one. I’m quite sure though that my dear wifey still has some reservations on my recent toy – disguised in the name of “beating the gas prices”.

Well, how can I blame her for having such thoughts when we were both together when we witnessed an accident right in front of our very eyes? And if that’s not scary enough (other than the fact that some newscasters deliver it like the world is coming to an end with their exaggeration) the news of motorcycle riders clashing with other vehicles or pedestrians is so common nowadays that one will get confused if the news he’s currently watching is a reply of last month’s.  That’s the bad side of motorcycling: motorcycles have gone so cheap that even those who don’t have the capacity (read: brain) to ride defensively can buy it as long as he’s  got the cash to pay for it.  Needles to say, it’s this ignorance that results to these accidents.

But as any motorcycle advocate will tell you, accidents are bound to happen – whether you’re in a car, in a bus, in a train, in an airplane or just even while walking leisurely to your destination. While I’m so sure that this reasoning will raise an eyebrow or two, it is just always true. It doesn’t matter what transportation you’re in if the one who’s in control like the pilots, captains, bus drivers or yourself (in the case of driving a car) doesn’t know what he is expected to do. And that’s when training comes in. But for all we know, it may even just need good judgment and a common sense to do it, at least for driving on the road. But then again, common sense is not so common.

Luckily nowadays, MC newbies like me have the world wide web to help us coach on how to go about in learning how to ride. A couple of googling in just a couple of hours will lead one to a numerous motorcycle-related sites (e.g., MSF) and forums (e.g., MCP). It now depends on how one comprehends what he reads. And individual learning curve will tell how soon one becomes adept in this new kind of transportation.

So how am I doing so far?

(From hondaph.com) This is my toy. No name yet...

(From hondaph.com) This is my toy. No name yet...

After spending a couple of my time reading all about motorcycles since more than a month ago and right after I got my brand new unit this morning, I’ve given it a try only once by doing a couple of rounds inside our village. I did it by noontime where sun is steaming hot but with fewer people outside. I was actually rather more embarrassed than nervous for riding it like a sissy unlike those I’ve seen that were so relaxed, confident and at some point, irritatingly showy. A few more practice and I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. And I swear I’ll stay safe by then.