Monday, October 19, 2009

Biker Update

Okay, I’ve had the Harley for nearly 6 months…taking out the month of recuperation for previously scheduled rotator cuff repair, I’ve ridden 5 months.

I’m less than 50 miles shy of 1,000 miles already. Mostly countryside or back and forth a couple of miles to work and an errand or two.

I feel more and more comfortable. More things are second nature now. Heavy bikes like the Cross Bones are good at a standstill as exercise for regaining balance in your legs.

I have “laid it down” as they say, a time or two. Not while in motion, just getting used to walking it backward in the driveway before starting off and losing my footing. Once a 700 lb bike starts to tip, you just lay it down as gently as possible and then tip it back up which is like bench pressing, believe me. Harley’s use cubic inches for engine size. This one is 96 cubic inches or just shy of 1600 cc’s.

No incidents with autos. So far, drivers have been very vigilant to see me but I’m also much more vigilant about traffic around me than I ever remember being in the Jeep. Being inside a helmet really helps focus and I often wear what’s called an “air jacket,” which works much like an air bag if you’re thrown off the bike.

I’ve learned to watch, particularly for people on cell phones with no hands free. I guess they think they are invisible but I also haven’t seen any of them pulled over for a ticket.

Out on winding roads, I’m practicing the cornering they taught in the class but it is becoming second nature…

I had a small trailer custom made right here in Durham by Bob Pickard, a Durham native who has Bull Durham Trailers just across street to the south from the Durham Farmer’s Market. Great product, all stainless steel with a heavy power coated frame and very cool LED lights.

I trailered the bike a couple of hundred miles with me and took the Bullies along. Worked perfectly once I got used to driving it up on the trailer with enough throttle, then slowing as it went into the wheel chock.

Enough of this but folks have been asking.

It is funny how many folks I come across now who bike including David Harris and Mike Shifflett to name only two.

In North Carolina, according to surveys by UNC, 10% of people who are licensed or registered motorcyclists are under 30 but they are four times more likely to have or be involved in an accident, an age group where sport bikes are dominant.

Contrary to perceptions, most folks my age in the state are registered Honda owners. Harley’s are most commonly in their 40’s and 50’s, although nearly 40% of registered motorcycles in North Carolina are Harley-Davidsons.

Most folks in my age group have big touring bikes vs. cruisers like mine. Overall in North Carolina, 56% of bikers ride less than 5,000 miles a year but the median is 3,000. Younger folks ride less, older folks more.

In North Carolina, the median months of the year for riding is 10…a little more than 80% average 6 months. Younger riders ride less.

About 70% ride several times a week and about 10% ride daily.

The vast majority of folks 40 and above ride on two lane, out of town roads, those country roads I write about.

Ironically, folks in my age group are only 40% likely to wear a full face helmet like mine but they are far more likely to wear a helmet period even where it isn’t required by law.

About 45% of bikers have crashed while moving and 45% of those required medical attention. Only 11% had crashed in the previous 12 months. The percentage in the last 12 months varied by nearly 40% in their 30’s to 6% in their 50’s or 60’s.

Only about 40% of any age group has taken a course of some time and only 25% overall thought it was important. Wow, I can't imagine taking the hobby up without a course.

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