The Motorcycling Declaration of Independance

The Motorcycling  Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the mechanical & spiritual bands which have connected them to the earth by four or more wheels, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station of a single track vehicle, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all vehicles are created equal, that they are endowed by their design with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments institute laws and regulations among operators, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  Those thus governed have a responsibility to obey those laws to the best of their ability while retaining the right to oppose, lobby for and against, and lawfully veto said laws.

The history of the present and profligate mode of transportation is one of repeated injuries and usurpation of the rivers of motor transport for the benefit of 2 track vehicles, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over said avenues of commerce and movement.  We have been harangued, harassed, bullied, scolded and belittled enough. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Roads and Highways are build without consideration of other modes of transport.

Open, covered, and garage parking refuse to provide appropriate, dedicated parking.

Laws, motor codes and legislation that ignore single track vehicles.

Laws, motor codes and legislation brought by those with no experience or interest–nay, by those with open contempt for all but their own needs and a striking disability to desire to understand others.

Laws, motor codes and legislation brought solely for punitive harassment and criminal penalty focused only on single track vehicles to the absolution of other transport carriers.

Unabashed contempt for any personal transport other than automobiles and reckless disregard of the special abilities or needs of other systems.

Willful oversight of the shortcomings of the two track vehicle, including but not limited to:

The muting of the sounds and pleasures of the natural world.

The inability to judge speed due to isolation from the operating environment.

Disconnection from other users and willful neglect of operational responsibilities due to phones, food and cosmetics application.

Lack of awareness of their own size or situation due to poor licensing and oversight.

Willful ignorance of other users due to “Kar Karaoke” and “Riding & Rapping” or “Drumming on the Dash”.

Deflecting responsibility through claiming false victimization and dehumanization of single track users through labeling such as, “All bikers are..criminals”, “Organ Donors”, “Stupid”, “Stunters”, “1%ers” or other statements.  These terms are often used insults often hurled to assuage the guilty party’s own conscience.

In fact and action our two tracked brothers have worked through design or neglect to lessen, marginalize and demonize Motorcyclists.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our two track brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our evolution and tradition here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred which should breed brotherhood instead of an unbridgeable gap of connections and correspondence.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

To wit, we of the single track declare with certainty and resolve:

To ride with courtesy and care, respecting other users rights but retaining our right of self preservation by any & all means necessary.

To ride within the constraints of law and motor codes as often as possible but retain (as all other motor users) our right to flex, stretch and bend said laws while (as all other motor users) taking physical, financial, legal and moral responsibility for our actions.  We pledge to own our behaviors while admitting that there is a time and a place for everything.

To ride with awareness of others, to give way with courtesy, to be polite and forgiving, to stop and aid all in case of emergency according to our skills and abilities, and to ride with prudence and care.  We pledge to be good citizens on the roadway both paved and unpaved.

Though disparate in style, technique, use, culture and goals we assert that ALL motorcyclists are part of one unique and distinct group and should act in accordance with the greater good, striving as tribes to create a unified motorcycle nation.  Any bike is still a bike and anyone who rides is a brother or sister.

We do not surrender our right to our Humanity.  We strive to avoid base sins but recognize they can be part of the human condition, these foibles including but not limited to:

Cursing, spitting, and becoming angry when our rights are infringed by others although physical violence is only acceptable in self defense.  Better to vent than dent.

Having FUN.  This includes exhibiting joyful exuberance by encouraging our motorcycles to join in full-throat song,  using all the lane available to us, riding briskly but responsibly, and (every once in a while) taking our hands off the bars and trying to hold the air as it passes through our fingers.

Personal Responsibility.  Be it upon providence’s own creation to decide what and when to wear it.  Should we choose to ride wind in hair or stitched up like an Imperial Stormtrooper we retain the right of self-determination as to our personal selections in body coverings.  (Tattoos included).

We retain the right of assembly and association.  We can meet with whomever we want wherever we want, to ride with companions of our own choice and be safe from harassment from within or without on the matter of our choice of associates.

We, therefore, as  Motorcyclists of the United States of America,  appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of all Motorcyclists, solemnly publish and declare, to be Free and Independent Riders; that we are Absolved from all Allegiances to bike brand or style, purpose or politics, crowd or culture and totally overlook all differences and see only the common connection between us to be; that as Free and Independent Riders we have full power to ride, peaceable in intent and act, with combativeness when needed, to contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent Riders may do.

We are more than what we wear, ride or the activities we choose.  Our differences do not divide us they define our absolute union.  All bikes are accepted and any bike is better than no bike.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.   God Bless the Bike and the Rider.

By Signature Accepting and Intent to Honor,

Brent “Capt Crash” Allen

***Apologies to Tommy J–but you din’t copyright the thing man!

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False Equivalencies

I like a good argument.  It can be fun and exciting.  Sometimes it can get out of hand but a spirited defense is always fun to test or give.  Problems often come when people argue apples and oranges, you know, the classic “which is healthier” sort of thing.  Both are good for you in different ways.  In fact if you ask me if you should eat apples or oranges I’ll offer you ought to eat both.

I recently found myself watching a nasty spat about motorcycle gear versus situational awareness.  Turned into a debate about apples and oranges.  BOTH are good for you!  Situational awareness keeps you out of a crash while gear will mitigate injury if you get in one.

I love the kind Mrs. Crash because she is both kind and beautiful; creative and intuitive, and can cook the wheels off a chuck wagon but each thing augments the other, there’s no need to figure that one good trait somehow obscures the others.  You need the whole package.

One good thing does not negate another.  Not that hard to understand.

(Did I mention Mrs. Crash is a good kisser too…and smells good…and can bloody your nose at 20 paces with a shoe?  Those aren’t problems are they?)

This is Your Brain & This is Your Brain on Crash

When it comes to crashing nobody wants to. Nobody rides down the road hoping today is the day we bin a bike. Things are quite the opposite! We mentally prepare and think about or imagine circumstances and what we would do if we find ourselves in them. The closest common experience I can think of is how teenagers practice exactly what to say to that attractive member of the opposite sex and when they finally get the nerve up or the serendipitous chance they forget their script and bumble and stutter.

Thinking about it is one thing, living through it is another.

I read those teen moments as simple panic. In an unfamiliar situation, no matter how good our intentions, we often find ourselves unable to grab hold of that brilliant plan and instead end up standing there with no idea where our bullets are. The riding equivalent is when we come into a corner hot and we simply go to the place that we would in our cars–yamming on the binders. In a car that could very well be the best answer but on a bike simply pressing the inside grip is the way to go. Part of the issue goes to actual experience, what has happened to you and how have you survived it? The raw fear that comes with the first time we’re sure of our imminent destruction we rely on a very primitive part of our brains to act and act quickly.

One of my first street crashes came when I stepped out into the oncoming lane to pass a slower car (green Mercedes…diesel…stank…slow…pea soup green…wanted to get out of it’s wake). As I dedicated and moved left this bonehead suddenly turned left without signalling. I managed to grab the brake and turn the bars all at once. To use the MSF parlance, I drastically overspent my available traction.

There was an interesting article in Time magazine recently called “Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts”

http://swampland.time.com/2013/01/16/your-brain-in-a-shootout-guns-fear-and-flawed-instincts

I was struck by several things:

First, in a sudden, unexpected gunfight your marksmanship skills suffer:

“In the New York City police department, for example, officers involved in gunfights typically hit their intended targets only 18% of the time, according to a Rand study.” 

Second, your brain does get wacky. Time does slow down. Recounting one officer’s completely unexpected shoot out:

“As happens for most people in life-or-death situations, his brain began to manipulate his perception of time, slowing down the motion as he fled down the corridor. “The hallway looked like one of those dreams where it is just really, really long,” he says. Later he would guess that it was 250 ft. long; it was really 79 ft.”

Third, we remember some human basics, although the officer in this situation pulled out his gun he had to assist another officer who tripped while fleeing. The narrative picks up once he is in a defensible position:

“Then, having finally taken cover, he turned and pointed back down the hallway toward the shooter. It was a chilling sensation to see his bare hand in front of him, pointing in the shape of a pistol like a boy on the playground. Where was his gun? “I looked at my hand. It wasn’t there. I looked in my holster. It wasn’t there.”

Without being aware of it, Glennon had dropped his gun in the hallway when he’d reached over to help the wounded officer. In moments of extreme stress, the brain does not allow for contemplation; it does not process new information the way it normally does. The more advanced parts of the brain that handle decision making go off-line, unable to intervene until the immediate fear has diminished.”

What would you do if you were turning away from an unanswered door and it suddenly sprang open and bullets were coming your way? This good officer threw himself against the wall, drew his weapon and ran like hell, managed to aid another officer and in the process dropped his weapon. I got no problem with that. Me? I’d poop myself and scream like a 6 year old girl! This officer managed to save himself and another officer.

It’s hard to know what we’re going to do when the sh*t hits the fan. We may be full of good intentions but once your brain goes into pure survival mode all bets are pretty well off. This is the point were gunfights and motorcycling part ways. Stick with me a second…

Ever notice how a bike skittering down the road makes a distinctive sound? Yeah…I’ve heard my bike scratching along on its side–thanks time distortion. Nothing sounds like a bike on its side and sliding, when I hear that sound, on the range or road I turn my head and look. There’s not a moment of “What was that?” or “Where have I heard that before?”

Nothing sound like a bike grinding the asphalt–[I]and therein lies the difference between guys like myself and other, less experienced riders: I’ve heard bikes skittering down the road. I have in fact sent a bike or two skittering down the road. My point here is an esoteric one: When I lose the front, or the rear, or simply come in hot it’s no a new and frightening thing. That’s not to say I haven’t pee’d myself here and there on a bike in the last few years it means that I do not fear that death is imminent. In fact, if you’ve thrown a couple of bikes down the road you understand that surviving is a possible and depends on the actions you take in a few scant seconds. Your lizard brain doesn’t kick in and say “DO NOT DIE!!!” because you’ve been there and not died. The “survival reaction” is to avoid death at all costs reaction and in some ways guarantees failure because you go right to that place where you are so frightened of dying that your brain sends messages like “Close your eyes!” and “Scream like a frightened child!”

Or maybe, “Reduce speed! BRAKES!!!” or “Lay it down! Get to the ground!”

Yup. Maybe.

I’m not a brain scientist or physiologist. I don’t study brains for money. I wouldn’t be a good zombie because brains just aren’t all that interesting to me…I will admit that I’ve thought a lot about how my brain reacts in a tight riding spot and I do believe that with experience comes a certain amount of jading of our fear reactions. What we see as certain death goes to a survivable situation…then a tight spot…and then…acceptable part of the business.

When you are sure you’re gonna die your brain is too and it reacts accordingly. Think about that #1 motorcycle accident; going wide in a turn and striking something. At what point does simply coming in too hot become a situation where you tell your brain “It’s all over!” and your brain reacts appropriately? When someone overcooks a corner death is not guaranteed and maybe, just maybe, a little training and practice can get you into a place where your rational brain doesn’t cede control to that howling primal side that simply doesn’t want you to die.

You don’t panic you just keep riding the motorcycle.

Let your brain chew on that.

Be Safe.

Fear or Respect?

I’ve written two books about riding motorcycles (www.roaddogpub.com)  and neither is a real technical manual.  I lean a bit more…I don’t know…emotional (?) in my writing.  One fellow put it nicely as saying they were “books for the rest of us” and not so much hardcore technical tours but more like having a chat in a bar.  Nice compliment.  Because they are about motorcycling and the more intuitive side of things I address Fear in both of them.  I put capital F in Fear because it is a strong and powerful subject and when we deal with it we’re not talking about uncertainty or worry we’re talking about something that is pervasive and can touch you just about anywhere, has the potential to overwhelm and then stop you from acting in the behalf of others or even yourself.  That’s part of why I like working with Firemen, they can subjugate their fears; drive them down and smother them with skill and altruism.  Don’t get me wrong!  You don’t want someone without Fear to dive into your house to save you.

You want someone who takes Fear and turns it to Respect.

The best example of how we misunderstand Fear is found in the Bible.  I’m not going to say that there aren’t occasions in the good book when the message is clearly “Look out.  God is gonna smite you if you keep that sh*t up.” but there is a shocking amount of times where the text says to “Fear God” and then immediately transfers in to love or respect.  Cruise Psalms sometime with an eye to “Fear God”.  You’re gonna be amazed, in that one book there’s like 35 verses that contain “Fear God” or a derivative.

But you’re not supposed to be scared of God are you?  He’s not the boogeyman.  He’s not overly whimsical in his actions and there is justice but it’s tempered by mercy.  With God you generally get what you deserve although there’s room for change and escape.  Save for Lot I can’t think of any innocent biblical character God ever used to make bets or acted in any way less than benignly toward.  Then again I’m not a Bible scholar.

I believe that most of the admonishments in the Bible to “Fear God” actually mean “Respect God”.  I don’t think God wants us to cower before him or walk around worrying he’s going to steal our car or happiness while we’re in the QuikieMart.  I don’ t think he wants us to take him lightly either…Kinda like horsepower on a motorcycle.  Wait.  Thinking about it a moment we often speak of motorcycles with the same Fear we use when we talk about God smiting us a good one.  What’s the difference between “You’re gonna regret that” when applied to buying a ridiculously powerful first bike or a simple vice like beer?  When we speak of such things there tends to be a puritan streak of “you’re gonna get yours” that almost reads like a wish rather than a warning.  We seem to want others to be taught a lesson by receiving a serious rap across the knuckles with a stainless steel ruler.   There’s almost a streak of green that seems to appear in us when someone is about to make a mistake. especially one that (deep in our psyche) we look at a little covetously–like we can’t stomach the idea of their getting away with it.

I hang out with seriously religious people and when we see another group of folks drinking alcohol or being gluttonous or just getting a tattoo or having a smoke or whatever I  hear things that in normal company would get the soda coming out of your nose.  Things like, “They are going to get killed driving home” or “They’ll regret that some day” or, and this is one I have had dealt to me as a child and still hear being dealt to kids and teens, “They just think they’re happy.”

I’m a bit of an idiot and I never bought that one for a second.

It’s like the idea that an overly gorgeous, spanking new, boy I wish I could get one, high performance  in the hands of a rookie rider will result in unavoidable, sudden, eviscerating death.  You know that fist shaking kinda hopeful “you’re gonna get yours” we slap down on that kid with the ICBM of a bike.  It’s the grumble of old men.  Jealous old men.  I really am starting to believe that is what’s going on–kinda like folks who’ve been following all the rules and how they ‘humpf” about people who flaunt them.   There’s a veneer of “it’s for their own good” or “tough love” that we try to slather on but in the end we just seem to look like angry old farts.

Maybe it’s because we actually do “Fear” those bikes.  I don’t bounce anymore.  If I fall the stitching will break and the sawdust will be all over.  It’s gonna take a while to rehab.  This that place were Fear and Respect cross paths.  When we are griping about someone else’s choices what is our motivation?  Do we actively Fear for them?  Are we Fearful of the activity?

Or do we respect it?  Do we understand the consequences and have the ability to pull someone aside and quietly say, “You know what you’ve got on your hands don’t you?”  Or do we go to that place of public pillory and pile on?  It’s a tough call to know if you’re angry and jealous or concerned and sympathetic; they seem to obscure each other or maybe they are close enough to just get jumbled together in our hearts.  Do I wish I could do it and am stymied and angry or am I genuinely concerned about another human.

Only hit I have to identify which is which is this:  If there’s a finger wag involved you may have a bit of a green eye.

Be Safe.

Married to Your Technology?

I am married to the delightful Mrs. Crash and I never forget that.  You can call me, my bike, my style of bike, color choices or ability to ride into question and I won’t get that bothered because I’m not married to an idea or style.

Call the lovely Mrs. Crash names and all bets are off.  Insulting her is out of bounds and even the most clumsy ignoramus should know that because it is part of our social order.

When we talk about bikes we often talk in a singular way–about the bikes we ride–while ignoring other choices.  We seem to be in a place of xenophobia where there is some narrowly defined “Us” and then everybody else.  I was in a bit of an online spat the other day with a gentleman who was married to his technology.  He would defend it to the death.  Any question of its efficacy or value and he’d just go ballistic ranting and calling me names.  I was called a lot of interesting names.  (My fav was when I was called a “bar stool roadtester” and some other associated nonsense).

What set this knucklehead off?  He’s married to hub centered steering and I’m not.

That’s it.  I simply mentioned that it is pretty dang cool but doesn’t offer enough advantage to be widely adopted.  In his opinion I had just called his wife a dirty hooker.  He was apoplectic.  To his mind, hub centered steering was only being ignored because the unwashed masses didn’t like the way it looked and he was ready to tell me about it.  We tussled in public and (unfortunately) he unleashed some of his best stuff in private messages.  I say unfortunately because they were pretty good, thoughtful, vitriolic insults and better than the weak sauce “nyah, nyah, nyah” stuff he posted publicly. I mean if you’re calling me names in public bring your A game.  We danced and I think I got his goat a little because I wasn’t taken off my game by his petty name calling.

Frankly, I’ve been called worse by better.

Also, when you allow someone to insult you that is a sign of respect.  If you care enough about what they say to be offended–they must be an important person in your life. I’ve got 50 odd videos at my youtube site and I get negative comments but if you let that bother you then you’ve in the wrong business.   This poor guy couldn’t endure a less than glowing word about his favorite tech.  No matter how much I said, “It’s cool!  I love it”  he wouldn’t buy it.  I feel that it doesn’t offer enough advantages to be mass produced he took a lash to me.  Eventually it degenerated into this business that because I never rode it I was unfit to judge it in any way, shape or form or comment on why it wasn’t industry standard.

My answer then and now is simple:  the market economy has judged it and the decision is that there just aren’t  enough advantages to move to adoption.

Boy that pissed him off.

Being married means that you back your partner up.  In a fight?  Mrs. Crash is always right…until we’re alone and no one is around and I’ll say, “are you sure about this”?  Publicly I’m gonna stand there and back her up even if she’s arguing the sky is green.  Because she is my wife and as her husband I’m not there to hang her out to dry.  Will I pull her away from a fight?  Yes.  But if you pursue us?  I will turn and defend her.  I remember one time in a church hallway an associate pastor was quite rude to her.  Later that day I went down to the church, asked for a moment with him and when the office door shut I told him in no uncertain terms that if he ever spoke to my wife like that again I would kick his ass, no questions asked, wherever we were and no matter who was around.

I believe it was an eye opening moment for him.

Don’t be married to your brand.  Don’t be married to your tech.  Don’t be married to something that will someday let you down.

Be married to your spouse.

Be Safe.