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Helmet Halo

Helmet Halo logo

My helmet at YogaNext to the cost of the motorcycle itself your biggest riding expense is most likely your helmet. If you’re anything like me you don’t like putting your costly lid on the ground or any other surface apt to be dirty, hot, wet or sticky; unfortunately there are times when I have little choice. When I get to the office and the forecast calls for rain and it’s time to put the cover on I’m forced to put my helmet on the hot asphalt. In my cubicle at the office my choices are the floor under my desk or on my desk where I have precious little room. The Scala Rider attached to my helmet is also a concern due to its position on the chin bar. I’ve broken a few brackets when setting my helmet down in the past.

Halo StackHelmet Halo was designed to be a compact motorcycle helmet holder that eliminates these worries. Helmet Halo is made of tough plastic designed to stand up to abuse (trust me I’ve abused it in testing). Helmet Halo is inexpensive, portable, comes in four colors and can be coiled up for transporting. If I could wear it as a bracelet when not in use it’d be perfect; but even as is it’s pretty close.

(Note: Helmet Halo does not attach to a helmet in any way, it is merely a stand to hold a helmet upright.)

Please visit Helmet Halo to order.Helmet Halo

To Feel Normal Again

May_June“To Feel Normal Again”, Zen Motorcyclist’s latest column can be read in the May/June 2016 issue of RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel. Available now.

The full article is now available on my RoadRUNNER blog

The issue is available here in both print and digital versions. RoadRUNNER can also be purchased for Nook   Apple and Android devices and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. As always my Zen Motorcyclist blog for RoadRUNNER can be read here.Normal

A Story Worth Living

A Story Worth LivingA Story Worth Living just isn’t worth seeing (and certainly not worth paying to see). I considered deleting this post but instead thought it a better use of my time to advise readers to avoid it.

Eight day camping trips do not equate to “Epic adventures”. Talking about story might be fine for a podcast but this movie was billed to the motorcycle community (including flyers I received in recent purchases from motorcycle parts distributors) as an adventure film. What it amounts to is a disjointed, wordy mess that tells no story at all. I’m insulted as a motorcyclist that I was duped into paying $14 to see what I can see better versions of on youtube for free. The incessant talking about (rather than showing) the adventure had me squirming in my seat and wanting it to end. What little actual riding footage there is in the film seems to be the same repeated shots and totaling very little of the actual film.

I’m all for adventure but why do admittedly inexperienced beginner riders need heavy BMW800’s with fully loaded panniers if they have support vehicles following them for most of the trip. 1,000 miles in eight days (a lot of which was on pavement) just doesn’t qualify as epic. I’m at a loss to understand how this film was green-lighted for wide theatrical release by sponsors once they’d seen the final cut. This film felt forced, contrived and the religious overtones were uncomfortable and out of place. I’ve never walked out on any film, let alone one about motorcycling; but this was very nearly my first.

In response to the growing criticism the producers are offering refunds here.

ADVrider or Long Way Round (the claimed inspiration for this film) are better places to go for examples of motorcycle adventure.

To Each His Own

March_April“To Each His Own”, Zen Motorcyclist’s latest column can be read in the March/April 2016 issue of RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel. Available now.

This article is now available on my RoadRUNNER blog

The issue is available here in both print and digital versions. RoadRUNNER can also be purchased for Nook   Apple and Android devices and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores. As always my Zen Motorcyclist blog for RoadRUNNER can be read here.To Each His Own

The Evolution of Motorcycle Safety

Did you know that the very first motorcycle was built in 1868? While popularity of the motorcycle didn’t quite catch on until the early 1900’s, it wasn’t until 1967 that the first helmet law was passed. Since 2005, not much has changed to enforce the law throughout the United States. In fact, according to this new info-graphic, it seems that motorcycle laws have become more lenient over the years. More and more states went from a universal helmet law to a partial helmet law by 2005, raising the age limit so that riders 20 and under (up from 17) are required to wear a helmet. This leniency has resulted in 17 states seeing an increase in motorcycle-related mortality rates.

Most states in the southeast and southwest saw higher mortality rates than the rest of the country. The most recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has determined that over 4,000 American motorcyclists died in traffic accidents during 2013, which is 13% of all motor vehicle deaths for that year. If the mortality rate for motorcyclists makes up more than ten percent of all accidents, why isn’t the law being adjusted to keep those motorcyclists safe?

The answer might lie in the mortality rates of the rest of the states. Click the graphic below to find out.

Motorcycle-Safety-IG-FINALmini1

Coming Alive

Coming Alive“, was originally published in RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

Motorcycle Meditation –

coming_alive3Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” —Howard Thurman

I like the mental exercise of thinking and writing about the ways in which motorcycling has made me come alive. Riding started for me as an exercise in redirecting pain from a loss. It has become so much more and has been a conduit of change that has allowed me to become more rounded and open—and to seek challenge rather than retreat from it.

On a thousand mile solo round-trip to visit my sister, something changed in me; and when I got back, I wasn’t the same person I was when I left. I came back feeling I had something to say that wouldn’t be contained. I didn’t know how, but I knew I’d start giving it voice in one way or another; and just a few short years later, I find myself writing this column for my favorite riding magazine. I always think of this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.

I think a lot of us, maybe all of us, go through a similar experience. Sometimes it’s the first ride, other times it’s a long, solo ride; but in either case, being alone inside your own head (I’ve referred to it as a meditation of sorts) has a tendency to allow things to settle, for priorities to realign, and for true desire to manifest.

Paulo Coelho’s boy in The Alchemist says, “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer.” The Alchemist responds, “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams …” I am still (by no means) an extrovert, but the on-going process of learning to ride proficiently has spilled over into other areas of my life in positive and profound ways. I now find it easier to see, and seek, dreams that I never realized were within reach.

To me, it has something to do with having to pay attention to so many continuously changing variables on the road. Each moment on the motorcycle has to be of the utmost importance. Focus has to be on the here and now, so we riders are in a perpetual state of mastering throttle, brakes, balance, coordination, road surface, traffic, weather, wind, and a million other variables. It can’t help but make you feel alive and inspire confidence in someone who does it well and knows it. Once that seed of confidence is planted and nurtured with increasing experience, knowledge, and skill, it grows deep roots and branches that reach out into work, relationships, and life in general.

The fact that the learning process continues for as many years as you ride means we can constantly strive to be better, yet we never attain perfection. There will always be adjustments to make, unique situations and scenarios to consider, and obstacles to overcome. That means we’re always striving for improvement, growth, and new experiences. When are we more alive than when we’re feeling those things?

In my case, I’m not sure if riding was a byproduct of reaching the point in life where I was ready for something to make me come alive or if it was the cause of that feeling. I don’t stop to question it very often. I do know for certain that there is no other place that affects those parts of me that motorcycling does—the places that make me feel most alive. When I’m riding, I’m acutely aware of the desire to move ahead, to get somewhere in the distance, or around the next bend and as good as the last moment felt. I can’t wait for the next one and the one after that.

Some people never take to riding. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, and for them there are other ways to find that life spark that riding provides; but I’ve been fortunate to meet many motorcyclists whose infectious love of life and uplifted spirit have been an inspiration. You can see that they have come alive. They can’t hide it, and as Mr. Thurman said, the world needs more people living their passions and serving as examples to others to live theirs in turn.

Memories and Outer Space

Cajun Burgers, Memories and Outer Space“, was originally published in RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

CajunOccasionally when I sit down to write, I stop and think, What would I like to come across in these pages that would make me stop and spend a few minutes reading? Today I thought I would recount a ride I took one Memorial Day, the kind of ride where the universe sneaks up on you and gives you something you hadn’t counted on or expected.

My day started glumly. My girlfriend was away on a girls-only weekend, and I found myself dwelling, as I am wont to do at times, on what was missing rather than what was present. It was a beautiful day, the start of summer. I had no particular place to be and no schedule to keep. I decided to just ride to the hardware store for some supplies for a bike project I had been putting off.

Supplies procured, I headed toward home but inexplicably kept going. My sights were set on a burger at Moo, a local joint up the road. As fate would have it, Moo only takes cash and the ATM was out of order. I’ll just head down along the river until I find someplace to eat, I thought. An hour later, I was in Frenchtown, NJ, at an outside table enjoying a Cajun cheeseburger and watching the bikes and people go by. I saw an artist carving a tree stump and helped another shopkeeper close up for the day. Mostly I wandered around thinking about my father (who had served in the Navy) and about my friend Jack who had seen combat in WWII.

These aren’t things I stop and think about all that often, but a motorcycle ride can take you places you hadn’t intended to go. The seemingly mundane ride to the hardware store can quickly become a contemplative process that flattens out and exposes tucked away folds of memory. I thought of the many stories I’d heard my father, “Mr. Bud,” tell me a hundred times. My favorite involved him and his shipmates cheering the bulls in Spain, a stunt that got them chased from the bullfighting ring. The posters they pulled from the walls as souvenirs of the event are framed and hang on my walls some 55 years later.

Jack’s stories, while also tending to be humorous, often left me with the feeling that he’d seen horrible things. I think in the 13 years I worked for him, I’d only seen him angry once. I imagine that after having been through the horrors of war, the mundane things people get upset about can seem pretty silly.

As I rode out of town on the pegs and I crossed over the bridge spanning the Delaware, I spotted a man on a bicycle watching the traffic go by. He was largely being ignored, and as it happened I stopped directly next to him as I waited to turn left for home. We nodded to each other and he said, “When was the last time you was in outer space?”

Never been,” I said back to him. He grinned a wrinkled, friendly, hug-of-a-smile, happy to have been acknowledged as I waved and rode on.

Riding home along the river, I thought about how I almost let this day slip away from me. Later, relaxing with a cold beer, I couldn’t help but smile and feel a sense of gratitude for the memories, the sunshine, the characters I’d come across that day, and my satisfaction for having ridden out to let come what may. Motorcycling gives back some of what life and time consume. Sometimes all it takes is deciding to head out the door, mount up, and let the universe fill you up with all the things inside you that you forgot were there.

You Can Go Home Again

You Can Go Home Again“, was originally published in RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel.

Home_AgainAll that he knew was that the years flow by like water and that one day men come home again.” – Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Last Sunday I left a friend’s home early in the morning. I had ridden my motorcycle there the night before with a suit and dress shoes neatly packed in my top box. I was her escort at a lavish party. Many would have taken a car, but it was late September in Pennsylvania with the temperature in the 60s. I’m a motorcyclist and, as I explained to her, “That’s what we do; we ride and find a way.”

As I left for home, the engineer in me thought, “I can jump on the interstate and be there in an hour.” But I decided to take advantage of the cool, foggy, gorgeous morning since I couldn’t pick up my boy, Spud, at the kennel until later that day. So I set the GPS to avoid toll roads and highways and set off to explore northwestern New Jersey. As I rode, my thoughts turned to my former hometown and how, in less than a month, I would be returning to it after a few years away. I had purchased a house in this little community I called home for 15 years. It was where my daughter, Devon, was raised, and it had always reminded me of the town where I was brought up. It’s the sort of place where the mailman also owns the general store, the hardware store clerk knows your name, and the bank tellers know you ride a motorcycle and shake their heads in disbelief when you arrive in December with your helmet under your arm.

One of my favorite movies is About Time. In one scene a father giving a best man speech for his son says, “I’m not particularly proud of many things in my life, but I am very proud to be the father of my son.” It always takes my mind back to my daughter, whom I had the good fortune to have helped raise. As I rode along that misty Sunday, I thought back to that tiny town and the experiences we had there, both on and off the bike. Devon will never be the toddler again whose sleeping weight I gently lifted out of the car countless times (which I am sure anyone who is a parent remembers very well and still wishes to experience one more time). When I move back, it will be with a head full of memories. I will ride past the ice cream stand we used to frequent and where she would carry her helmet with pride as if to proclaim “I’m a motorcyclist.” I’ll ride past the spot where we pulled over to usher a tiny weak-kneed fawn out of the middle of the road and into the woods. I’ll look for the adult male deer we spotted often and nicknamed Ibis (for some odd reason).

I think of those things from time to time when I’m not riding, too. But, for me, there’s a big difference between remembering and feeling. And when I ride, the memories climb up my spine and take residence in my bones and share the ride with me. That’s a hard thing to explain to non-riders. I like to think it has something to do with the level of physical and mental engagement riding demands. When we ride we are living in the moment, not merely moving through it, so the memories are more vivid and the bridge to and from the past seem much more extraordinary.

So I look forward to, once again, being a homeowner (and motorcyclist) in the little town that I’ve always missed. I’ve been ridiculed in the past for wanting to return, as though it was a hindrance to growth. But sometimes the surest path to growth is in recognizing where you grow best and what soil you’re best planted in. You can go home again. Home will have changed of course, and you will have too, as all things do. If you don’t expect it to be the same as it once was, though, you may get to discover new things to love about it. There will be new people and new places—all layered atop the delicious, dripping memories of your past. If you’re careful not to compare it to what you knew, it can be an exhilarating experience, especially from the seat of a motorcycle. I suspect there are memories I’ve forgotten, and I can’t wait to get on those old roads where I cut my teeth as a rider and invite them to come find me.