Another vote for Melissa Pierson's book about John Ryan as an accomplished icon and herself as a riding aficionado incidentally comparing their motives and character. I am on my third reading, and I keep finding more depth to the characters of John and Melissa.
The book is not about the nuts and bolts of riding. It's about the perceptions, incentives and mandates real riders might feel.
John currently rides a Yamaha and a BMW. Melissa rides a Moto Guzzi and a BMW.
Best I've read in a while is Running with the Moon by Jonny Bealby. No agenda, no preaching this or that, just a great African adventure ride, solo.
Look, you and I both understand that every time we jump on and turn the key, we put ourselves "out there". We are subject to the laws of nature, the stupidity of those who think driving a vehicle is a god given right instead of a privileged and our own private perception of how and what we ride. The point of the book is to help some riders (newbies or old pharts) get a little bit of a better grasp on what can make them a bit safer when they ride by understanding those things which may not be totally apparent. The overall objective is to help them get home safely from the ride. I am sure you agree that this is a good thing...
It sounds like you and I (like many of the guys on this site) learned from the school of hard knocks... the "get yer ass out there and learn from experience" school. I've dropped a bike twice at speeds over 65 mph. Guess what? I learned... and both times they were one hell of an education. I also wish someone had the guts to tell me the things that I know now, early on in my schooling. Then, maybe the learning process would have been a little bit easier to take.
I also realized that had I done my homework, I may not have had to drop the bike... twice. I might have learned a little bit about tires, had I asked the right questions or studied with the right group who was willing to share what they knew. I might have learned something about being a little bit more than just "haze" in the traffic pattern had I just figured out early on that extra lights might have helped a lazy brained person wake up and see me as I was getting on the freeway.
So I read and hear questions like this that crop up from time to time. I'm not forming an opinion about the person asking. It's a legit question, and I think someone should stand-up and answer it.
"I was told that XYZ tire is better then ABC tires, should I try them?"
"The seat on "Rocket Ship" is hard as a rock. Can I do something about it?"
"My buddy just had someone turn in front of him and he rides a megalith cruiser. How can I avoid that happening to me?"
"Isn't a ride leader on a group ride supposed to tell you something about the rules and regulations of riding in the group?"
Here's the thing. Riders on two wheels are taking chances the moment they clear the drive-way. Making the percentage of failure on that ride as small as possible should be the game plan of every rider. I mean, you don't think to yourself, "well, my tires are bald, the brakes haven't worked in 3 months and the foot pegs are just about rusted through... But I am damn sure, at least I'm 65% positive, that I will return from this 100 mile tour."
I doubt that you would get on and ride any bike that's not as close to 100% ready to make the trip. I also doubt you would carry a passenger on any road when you have a sever medical condition that could jeopardize your trip. That's the premise of the book. You can lessen the chance of the Lazarus Complex taking a much larger part in your ride... or you can just jump on, turn the key and wonder "Did my tire guy put the tires on with the arrow in the right direction? Aw, it's OK. That kind of thing only happens to other people, not to me. And if it does happen to me? Well... I'll be just fine. They will fix me up or bring me back from the dead and I'll be riding again in a couple of days." (sort of sound familiar?)
I started riding on 2 motorized wheels before I could drive a car. There is no doubt in my mind that over 25% of the folks on these forums have probably been in the same early learning school of hard knocks. I have ridden in snow, sleet and the kind of rain and hail you see in Texas on a really bad day. I have been in the softest of sand and the harshest of temps. I truly hope that others will have the same "safe" experience on the road (any kind of road or weather) that I have had. In no way do I wish a problem or accident on any one. And that's why there is "The Cruiser Motorcycle and the Lazarus Complex". If I have been able to impart a small portion of knowledge that could save them from harm or headache at some point down the road, then I like who I am and what I have done. I don't care if you ride a Harley or a lawn mower.
To know something and not impart that knowledge for the benefit of others... is, well... just plain selfish.
Hello again I hope this doesen't keep going too much.
Mark I wasn't criticizing your book . I do make use of all the information I can gather on a subject I'm trying to learn about or have a passion for. That's hoew i landed in BMWOS. I saw my RT in a friends used car lot at what I thought was a good priceand told him if he still had it in a few weeks I's be interested. I ended up in the deal before I had a chance to research the bike. I found a wealth of info in this forum and a person who was kind enough to email me a wiring diagram and schematic for the '99 RT. So I joined as a way of pay back and future needs. I keep my mouth shut usually unless I were to hear someone telling something I know to be dangerous or completely off track. There seems to be plenty of experience around.
Anyway I guess I was caught off guard by the thread. "best book read in a while" followed by the opinions . buttonholeing cruiser riders as irresponsible and wreckless. Hell until a few days ago I didn't even know I was a cruiser rider. So I sorta unloaded for all the bs I had heard deriding the people dressed like pirates or beach bums as they rode.I don't think riding is a privilage, as that denotes something you can do with someones permission rather than a right fought and died for so we are free to express or be ourselves. I am responsible for all my actions that is why I carry insurance and try to keep my bike in tip top shape. But 90% of the bikes I get on are in need of or just plain dangerous ( work in a MC shop). I don't always have the luxury of fixing all the things I see wrong. But if you want to ride a motorcycle that is potencially (sp?) danerous I know its your right as an adult and I will try to make you more aware.
I think I was trying to get across a live and let live attitude. The world is getting to intrusive in peoples choices. I just don't want it in my riding and will probably always spout off when I feel it encroaching what I consider mine. I am afraid of the folks who are always screaming for or blindly accepting "LAWS" forcing things that should be a choice or just plain not allowed . there are too many more than willing to use motorcycle enthusiasts as an excuse to enact restrictions on everybody.
Ahh I've done it again too much opinion . I'm going out. Lets just ride and enjoy this life while we can. there are those that would have us in seatbelts and crash bags for our own protection. I may not agree with your need for full body armor and helmets but I'll fight and die for your right to do it.
I grok you Elm.Say no more,say no more!!(BTW that is a line from a Monty Python skit ,it doesn't mean Elm should say no more,it means we know what we know).Kay?
Sometimes,nothing is a real cool hand.