Physical Therapy for Bikers

rp_Roadking18.jpgLast evening, I rode my Harley to a session with a physical therapist who is helping me deal with the issue of my severely strained, but improving, back ligament. The therapist asked me what activity was most difficult or concerning to me about potential future back strain so she could teach me skills to manage it.

I explained that I was most concerned about being able to mount and dismount my Harley. While the therapist is rather disapproving of motorcycle riding or wearing boots (she is definitely a “sneakerphile”), she agreed that if indeed that was the activity that could well possibly be a cause of more back stresses and strains, that I should show her exactly what the difficulty was.

So I rumbled aboard my Harley to the therapy center, decked out…
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See and Be Seen

My beloved spouse worries about me riding my Harley to work in the dark. I arrive at my office each day very early, long before the sun rises, even in summer when the days are longer. Bless him, he bought me a pair of very bright “motolights,” which are halogens mounted on the front brake calipers at the bottom of the forks. See what they look like…
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No InfoTainment

Ah crap… the other day, I was lamenting to my spouse about never being able to find a new four-wheeled vehicle (if I ever were to replace my aging truck) because I don’t want bluetooth, rear backup cameras, on-board computer or GPS, satellite radio or internet, or any of that crap. It’s a truck (or car), not a friggin rocket ship! But so few vehicles made today come without those bells and whistles that I will never use and do not want to pay for.

HDinfotainAnd now Harley-Davidson is promoting their new “Boom! Box InfoTainment System” on certain 2014 motorcycles. Inevitably, this new system will be “standard” on almost all new Harleys. So Harley-Davidson is emulating what many 4-wheel vehicle manufacturers are doing in what they say is in response to customer demand.

How do I feel about that?
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Easing Into Riding Routine

The weather forecast for yesterday was spot-on. It was 55ºF (13ºC) at oh-dark-30 when I leave my home to drive to the downtown of my hometown where I work. Time to get the Harley out and ride!

But preparation for a safe ride is the key to a pleasurable commute.

Anticipating the good weather, I got my Harley ready for the trip the night before. I spent an hour going making sure that every nut, bolt, and cable was secure. I checked the brakes, lights, horn, sidestand, chassis, and tire pressure. Man, those tires lose air quickly, but fortunately I have a small air compressor, so I put in air to bring the tires back to recommended pressure. All set.

In the morning, I pulled my truck and my partner’s car out of the garage, and then my Harley which is parked behind them. I donned my heavy leather retro chaps, gray biker jacket, gloves, helmet, and took off.

Oh, what boots was I wearing? I decided to wear my Wesco Motor Patrol boots. So comfy, tall, and protective. Vibram 430 lug soles provides good traction. The foot of the boot looks dressy with nice clothes, so no one ever noticed that I had tall boots on all day at the office. Truly, NBD.

I was a bit surprised that condensation was visible on some of the less-traveled roads which had cooler surfaces. But the main road — the road on which I travel the longest distance of five miles (8km) — was perfectly dry.

I still don’t like to ride in the dark, but at least my new rear light bar lit me up brightly to be more visible to vehicles behind me. I even had a county bike cop pull up next to me at a stoplight and wave. “Nice morning to ride!” he said. “Yessir, have a safe day!” I said back. He smiled, then the light changed and I watched him pull out in front of me, observing the glint of a shine on his patrol boots reflected from a street light.

It’s still something to get used to again, this riding-to-work routine. I need about 15 minutes more in the morning to get ready. I felt a little sore last night, but I’m sure that is transient. I have not ridden that much during the past few months of winter.

The best part? Free parking for motorcycles in the public garage near my office. I worked long and hard to support the legislation that our county council passed which provides that benefit to us bikers, so I truly appreciate taking advantage of it.

Life is short: ride!

Be Seen!

My partner is so very thoughtful. He followed me on my Harley one night, and said, “man, I couldn’t see you that well.”

He fixed it — as he always does, the solver of problems. He bought me a new light bar for the back of my Harley. Gave it to me for Christmas. I just had it installed.

Now I can be seen!

I sure enjoyed taking the long way home yesterday from the place where I had the lights installed. The weather was unusually warm (65F, 18C) for January 31! Woo-hoo, I’m riding to work today, February 1! Who woulda thunk?

Life is short: Ride Safe!

Who May Legally Ride a Police Motorcycle

I read an interesting internet search that landed a visitor to this blog (but on a page unrelated to this question…). The question was, “is it legal to ride a police motorcycle if your not a cop?”

Good question! And the answer is….

Yes! It IS legal to ride a police motorcycle if you are not a sworn peace officer provided the motorcycle is not equipped with working lights, sirens, or has official markings on it such as the name of a law enforcement agency or the words “police” or “sheriff.” (I guess I should add: don’t wear a law enforcement replica uniform while riding it, either.)

I have several friends who are not sworn law enforcement officers and who have purchased used police Harleys and ride them. When the motorcycle was sold or surplussed by the owning police agency, all markings were removed, along with the equipment (flashing lights, siren, radio, and so forth.) The running lights on the front of the bike were changed to clear lenses (instead of one having a blue lens and one having a red lens). The electronics were changed to make those lights stay on, rather than alternate to appear as if they were flashing. All LED lights along the sides and back of the bike that would flash when activated by a cop were also removed. Essentially, they returned the bike to look like its civilian cousins.

Funny, a while back someone in my motorcycle club who is part of a close clique who talk about me behind my back found an ad on an internet auction site that was offering a used Police Kawasaki that was the same make and model used in the TV show, “CHiPs.” He sent me the link with the implied suggestion that since I own a CHP replica uniform, that perhaps I would like the bike to go with it. Nope; I have one motorcycle, and I’m not into maintaining an old bike. Plus, I don’t have anywhere to keep it. This incident shows, in a way, what straight guys think about gay guys who like to wear replica uniforms from time to time. They just can’t figure us out.

Anyway, back to the topic. My Harley Road King is almost exactly the same as some police motorcycles, but it does not have the equipment that cops have on theirs. My buddys’ police Road King motorcycles look similar.

What makes a police motorcycle different is the equipment added on to it (lights, siren, radio), its markings, and (for a few model years), the engine size. Police Harleys had a 103cu engine (1688cc) since 2007, while other Harleys of that class didn’t get the 103cu engine as standard until the 2012 model year. There are also a few adjustments made to how the engine and transmission operates and the size of the tires, but those changes are not a big deal.

To summarize, it is legal to ride a police motorcycle if you are not a cop provided you do not try to impersonate one by wearing a replica uniform that looks like a police uniform while riding the bike (i.e., implying you are a cop), and that the official markings and police equipment are removed from the bike. Just like it is legal for a guy who is not a cop to wear police motorboots.

Good question! Too bad you landed on my blog post about the legality of wearing a replica cop uniform on Halloween! LOL!

Life is short: ride!