by Gus Breiland
205mph Folk Hero or Court Jester
By now you have read of Minnesota’s poster speeding squid boy. Samuel Armstrong Tilley, the 20-year-old Stillwater motorcyclist ticketed in September for going 205 miles per hour on Hwy. 61 near Wabasha. The legs of this story are almost as amazing as the feat itself.
Rather than dying off the quiet death that all motorcyclists should hope for it has turned into multiple debates forcing riders to explain/disprove/prove the feat and non-riders wondering why sport bikes are allowed on public streets.
As is always, the knee jerk reaction when humans do stupid things with machines is to ask why we are allowed to own said machines in the first place. Sport bikes have been the target of local media over the last few months with the prevalence of street stunters and riders racing around the metro area 94 loops. While the majority of 2-wheeled riders are sane commuters it is the fool and his machine who gets noticed. And we have a new fool.
Motorcycles have multiple hurdles to leap with every passing news cycle. From riders dying in mass at large events to Tilley who single handily raised the radar guns of every state trooper in our direction so that they can prove that their guy was right and that Tilley was wrong.
It is MMM’s opinion that the calibration of the aircraft perched State Troopers thumb and stopwatch might be off. However, the State Patrol is standing behind State Patrol pilot Al Loney, a 27-year veteran and their report that Tilley was covering a quarter-mile in 4.39 seconds. Tilley was given a ticket for 205mph in a 65, reckless driving and driving without a motorcycle endorsement. With a good lawyer, we expect Tilley to walk away with having beaten 2 of the 3 charges and a slap on the wrist for not having a cycle endorsement.
Rather than being a discussion on a stupid decision made by a young man who apparently failed physics it has morphed into a discussion of motorcycles excessive speed. Not only has Tilley raised the ears of many journalists, it is this stupid act that raises the ears of politicians and legislation against us as a viable mode of transportation. It is this kind of irresponsible riding that starts conversations as to why we are “allowed” to have these machines.
Thank you Mr. Tilley for making sure that riders around the state, if not the county will be donating a fair amount of their salaries to the Minnesota State Patrol and their efforts to buy better equipment. If you continue to ride like that, we hope that you will take the advice of Neil Seinberg in the following article.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg Labels Motorcyclists as Organ-Donors
September 22, 2004–If you believe Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, motorcycle riders are pretty sure bets to become organ donors simply because they ride motorcycles.
As a motorcycle rider, you know that’s not true. But if you’re not a motorcyclist, like most of his readers, you may take the ill-informed comment to heart. What’s worse, Steinberg thinks it’s a joke.
In a column with the headline “Hop on a motorcycle, fill out your donor card,” that appeared in the September 22 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times, Steinberg wrote: “Why are there many more heart transplants performed in the summer than in the winter?
“It’s one of my favorite brainteasers, good to toss out at parties. It almost always stumps people.” he wrote. “I like to give them a moment to think hard, squirm, then give up, before I spring the answer–so obvious in retrospect:”Motorcycles.”
Steinberg goes on to say in his column that he has daydreamed about getting a motorcycle but abandons the thought when he thinks about hitting “the twig, or pothole, or whatever” that would “send me flipping into the guardrail, the flash of which would be my last sight on Earth.” Steinberg added: “Besides, there are already too many dumpy middle-aged guys racing on motorcycles, dreaming they’re something they’re not.”
Outraged, AMA Public Information Director Tom Lindsay dashed off a quick e-mail to Steinberg to set him straight. “Speaking on behalf of this nation’s seven million motorcyclists, we found your characterization of motorcyclists-as-organ-donors insulting and ill-informed. Perhaps your intent was dark humor or tongue-in-cheek commentary — but comments like yours are irresponsible and promote a malicious and unjustified bias against motorcyclists.
“Motorcyclists are doctors and lawyers, office staff and factory workers, and probably your colleagues at the Sun-Times. We’re among the most safety-conscious motorists on America’s highways,” Lindsay wrote. “And while you’re making light of the recent increase in fatalities, responsible motorcyclists – and responsible journalists – are joining us in an effort to reduce them.
“Please set the record straight with your readers. We look forward to reading your retraction.”
Steinberg’s response: “Thank you for your comment. There will be no retraction.”
If you would like to let Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg know how you feel about his column, you may e-mail him at email@example.com.
MMM also urges you to contact Neil. His ignorance of our chosen mode of transportation is dangerous to our sport. This attitude that we are all riding organ banks has crept into multiple bills in state legislation around the county. There seem to be a few people that feel you are harvestable commodity because you choose to ride and these few people are writing bills or columns that have the potential to sway the uninformed opinion.
Now Motorcyclists Can Be Distracted by Cell Phones Too!
Munich, Germany–14 September 2004–Motorola and MOMODESIGN today announced their first Bluetooth enabled motorcycle helmet that will make it possible for motorcycle riders to scoot around town and stay connected.
Built on the design of Motorola’s popular HS810, the wireless helmet headset is the latest addition to Motorola’s leading portfolio of innovative Bluetooth products.
The best-dressed riders are already wearing MOMODESIGN’s helmets, and now they can stay in touch whilst looking good, as the new helmet marries MOMODESIGN’s distinctive style and innovative design with Motorola’s technology expertise. The helmet is stylish and open-faced, its design draws inspiration from air force pilots helmets, with anti-scratch visor and carbon fiber details for fashion conscious people with a modern approach to travel and city life.
Whether chatting to friends or work, the Motorola / MOMODESIGN helmet means riders will no longer get tangled up in awkward wires getting on and off their bikes. Taking and making calls is easy as all functions (answer, end, redial, voice dial and volume) can be made from the cover on the helmet.
An essential accessory for urbanites who demand to stay in touch at all times, whether in the car, on a bike, in the office or at home. The Motorola / MOMODESIGN helmet offers you seamless communication due to the unique headset module. There is no break in the conversation when you get off the bike &endash; just remove the headset module from the helmet, attach it to the neck loop and continue talking &endash; no one will even know you’ve changed locations.
The Motorola wireless helmet headset is manufactured with a noise reducing microphone to help minimize traffic and wind noise when riding at highway speed, as well as a cover designed to withstand whatever nature throws at you.
The battery lasts for up to five hours talktime and 100 hours standby time, so you won’t need to charge it too often. When you do, just remove the headset module from the helmet and plug in.
The Motorola wireless helmet headset also will be available as an aftermarket kit. The kit, containing the helmet adapter (microphone, speaker, cover), Bluetooth headset module, lanyard and charger, would easily attach to a consumer’s own helmet with the included strong 3M adhesive. Both solutions are universal, making them compatible with any Bluetooth enabled handset. Availability is expected in early 2005.
All right folks, some of you are reading this and thinking “Cool, I need that” and some of you are thinking “Great, our accident numbers are about to go straight through the roof”. What is the number one complaint of a motorcyclist? They (cagers) are all out to get us with their cell phones, hermetically sealed cars and other distractions within their automobiles. If you want to talk on a cell phone on the way to work, drive your car. It makes shaking my head in disdain in your direction easier.
Indian Larry Dies After Crashing While Performing Stunt
September 07, 2004–The sudden death of Indian Larry (Larry Desmedt) has caused bike builder fans and riders alike to mourn his loss. He was a master motorcycle mechanic and stunt man who was killed following an accident while performing at the Liquid Steel Classic and Custom Bike Series show at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord, N.C.
Indian Larry was performing his most famous stunt, standing on the seat of the moving motorcycle, when his lack of control caused him to fall off the bike. After a weekend at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, he died in September from head injuries. Desmedt’s remains have been cremated as per his request.
Larry gained fame with his unique “old school” choppers, and through his appearances on the Discovery Channel’s “Great Biker Build-Off” series along with several other appearances with builders Jesse James, Billy Lane and Paul Yaffee. But while friends and family will remember his old school creations, it was Desmedt’s personality that left a mark on their hearts.
Known for his “Bobbers”, his bikes had minimal flash and parts but they had plenty of “old school” style. An autobiography on Larry’s life is scheduled to be published by Crown Books (A Division of Random House) early in 2006 tentatively titled “Grease Monkey, The Life And Times of Motorcycle Artist Indian Larry.” The family has requested that any donations be sent In Memory Of Larry to:
National Council Of Alcoholism
1675 Whitehorse-Mercerville Rd
Hamilton, NJ 08619