May is Motorcycle Awareness Month
by Bill Hufnagle
Many states around this great nation celebrate May as Motorcycle Awareness Month. Public awareness campaigns designed to increase driver awareness of motorcycles and encourage sharing the road are always appreciated. Of course, it would be even more appreciated if motorcycle awareness could be built into all driver education programs and driver license testing. Yes, having all those crazy cagers alert and aware of us and respecting our rights and safety would be a dream come true.
Between now and when that dream comes true, however, don’t hold your breath&emdash;we all have to be alert, aware, and safety minded enough for ourselves and all those folks in cars on the road around us. Riding a motorcycle just requires more awareness than most folks can muster to get them around; it is only one of the things that makes us bikers a breed apart. In a world filled with drivers who are more focused on their (pick one or more) cell phone, makeup, morning paper, food, CD player, or any of a dozen other distractions, we are the ones most aware of what our vehicles are doing. But exactly how aware are we?
Motorcycle awareness is most often viewed in the aforementioned context of the road and driver awareness. However, there is another issue of awareness regarding motorcycles, and it is all on us. We depend on our motorcycles to be more agile than the cars we are always avoiding&emdash;able to accelerate, stop, and handle predictably. The superior performance of my motorcycles has allowed me to avoid disaster more than once. I take pride in knowing my bikes and their roadworthiness. How aware of the condition of your motorcycle are you? Probably not as aware as you should be. Two days ago, I discovered I was not as aware as I thought I was.
Cars drivers can be considered knowledgeable about their vehicles if they know where to add oil or washer fluid . . . heck; if they know the recommended tire pressure they are semi-pros in car maintenance. That level of ignorance about your ride just doesn’t cut it for someone who considers him- or herself a biker, though. While it may be entirely realistic to accept that you can’t fix a computer ignition failure on the side of a dark road like you could adjust a set of points, that doesn’t mean you can’t be intimately aware of your bike and its roadworthiness. Some sub-systems of your late-model bike are best left to trained professionals, but the rest of your bike has a lot in common with those user-serviceable machines of the halcyon days of motorcycling.
As I mentioned, I got a comeuppance on my own personal motorcycle awareness. It was the first truly warm day of spring, a beautiful Friday afternoon, and the weekend forecast was filled with rain and flood alerts. So, since I work for myself, I let me off early and took my Buell out for a ride. I did a quick once over of the bike before starting my ride, following the basic MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) T-CLOCK inspection. For those of you unfamiliar with T-CLOCK it stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Kickstand. It took all of three minutes and I was off riding. Having done some maintenance on the bike over the winter in preparation for spring, I felt that I was pretty aware of the state of my motorcycle. Well, a few miles from home, one of the fairing lowers let loose from its upper mounts; luckily, I was able to pull over on that shoulderless road, quickly secure it, get back on the road, and ride safely home. Once there, I removed the part and inspected the damage. Fortunately, all that happened was a minor scuffing and the loss of one of the two screws that had vibrated loose. Later that night I went over the bike from front to rear and checked every fastener I could find. What I discovered was that I had lost one of the four screws that hold on the front fender and another was loose. Having a fender come undone at speed would really suck! I was lucky indeed. Now, some of you are probably saying, “Biker Billy, you ride a vibrating American machine, but my (fill in the blank) is so smooth that can’t happen to me.” Well, my friends, remember that all bikes vibrate–some at a low rumble, some at a high RPM buzz–and all well-ridden bikes travel over a lot of bumpy roads. Be aware of your motorcycle, every single nut and bolt of it; modern computers or old-timey electrics, it is still a mechanical device that only you can keep safe.
Hot Hash Browns
Serving breakfast eggs without potatoes is like going riding without the proper riding gear–you just shouldn’t. With this recipe you’ll never have to.
3 tablespoons margarine, or more as needed
1 fresh red jalapeno, stemmed and minced
1 medium onion, diced
4 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Salt and ground black pepper
In a large frying pan melt the margarine over high heat. Add the jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, and potatoes. Stir well and sprinkle with several dashes of liquid smoke.
Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the potatoes, turning often, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and tender. You may have to add more margarine to keep them from sticking to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot
Makes 2 to 4 servings
Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2005. Recipe reprinted with permission from “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” published by Whitehorse Press, Center Conway, New Hampshire copyright Bill Hufnagle 1995, 2004. Biker Billy hosts a syndicated television cooking show, “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” and has authored three cookbooks. Check out www.bikerbilly.com where you can acquire autographed books and also find information on Biker Billy’s touring schedule.