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Motorcycles, Life & Advice by Capt. Crash

Ever get bad advice? The “why did I listen to that guy” kind of bad advice? WAIT—don’t answer that. Let’s talk about good advice. Has someone ever given advice and you carried it around with you and one day, suddenly, it pays off? Remember, advice isn’t always that Shakespearian “to thine own self be true” stuff. Advice can be very focused and to the point. You’ll get lots of motorcycle advice like: “always put your kickstand down when you fill up” or “keep your cellphone in your jacket so if you get separated from your bike it’s with you”. Advice is easy to come by—and you never know when it’s gonna come in handy.

I work as a freelance camera operator at large, multiple camera sporting events. A couple of times a year I get to do rodeo. Rodeo is fun because I keep a few cows, a bull, and a couple of horses and it’s fun to hang out with cowboys and act all ‘rancher’. One thing I’ve noticed about cowboys is that they are a religious bunch. You wouldn’t believe how many of them are back there behind the chutes praying right before they get on rough stock (Bareback/SaddleBronc/Bullriding). I know because I usually stand on the back side of the chutes with them and get those shots where they strap in and then the gate flings open and all hell breaks loose.

Bullfighters intrigue me also. They’ll get right in there with those big ole bulls and smack them around and distract them so cowboys can get away. Its nuts—until you talk to them and you find out they are truly professionals. They know what they’re doing, it’s not just a dive in there and hope the bull doesn’t kill you enterprise, they have a craft and they hone their craft.

I was talking to a bullfighter once and I asked, “How do you keep from getting squished like a bug?” He replied, “IF a bull comes after you, run like hell; then, right when you’re sure you’re gonna die, take one more step and turn right or left as hard as you possibly can”. Turns out bulls can’t turn on a dime. Watch sometime. Bullfighters turn INSIDE the turning radius of a bull, they wait till the bulls right there and then they turn tighter than the bull. Bull goes wide, often loses interest and game over.

Tricky part is you can’t turn too early or the bull can adjust his line and still get you; hence the ‘run till you’re sure you’re gonna die AND TAKE ONE MORE STEP.” That little bit of advice is designed to make sure you don’t turn too early. Neat advice but when are you gonna use it? Probably never—unless you own a bull like I do. My bull (2000lbs) got out the other day. He jumped the fence to romance the ladies in the next pasture. Part of bull romance means beating up the bull those ladies belonged to. By the time I got there he had been 3 rounds and was doing OK. We got him separated and PFC Crash and I were trying to get him into the neighbors corral to load him into the trailer when things went a little sideways. (What made me think that bull would find me soooo intimidating I’ll never know; I just went up to an animal that had been beating up another 1 ton animal and figured—“yeah, he’ll do what I tell him”.)

Let me just say this: when an animal that weighs 10 times what you do and looks DOWN on you starts running at you—that’s a breathtakingly frightening moment. As I started running for my life suddenly these words of advice came to my mind: “IF a bull comes after you, run like hell; then, right when you’re sure you’re gonna die, take one more step and turn right or left as hard as you possibly can”.

Running like hell was easy. I looked over my shoulder and the bull was right there, head down, I could feel him back there breathing, I thought ‘I think I might die’, took a couple more steps, then when I was SURE I was gonna die, I TOOK ONE MORE STEP, and turned left as hard as I could. I looked back over my left shoulder to see what was happening and the bull veered off to the right and ran a few more yards before stopping and giving me the evil eye.

I turned to the wide eyed PFC Crash (who was astonished his old man was first, alive and second, could still move pretty dang fast) and I said, “I believe we’ll just leave him alone a while.”

What does any of this have to do with motorcycles you ask? A lot! Because advice on motorcycling, solicited and unsolicited is shockingly easy to get once you’re ‘outed’ a motorcyclist. Once you’re tagged as a rider, advice starts flowing in. Your family may give you motorcycle advice in the forms of “riding is crazy!” or “sell it” or just “BE SAFE!” Your biking friends have loads of advice; some good, some bad. TV has advice about motorcycles, ever see a public service announcement to “Look Twice for Bikes”? I’ve found that advice about bikes is easy to get; just as advice about bullfighting is easy to get. You can get it in the stands at the rodeo—go up to the beer line and start talking bullfighting and someone’s gonna tell you how it’s done. You MIGHT get good advice or you might get crap advice. If you want to know about bullfighting maybe the best place to find out about it is from bullfighters; REAL PCRA bullfighters, not the 44oz kind in the beer line.

Motorcycles are the same way. Look for good source material, you can read things like “Proficient Motorcycling” by David Hough, or “Ride Hard, Ride Smart” by Pat Hahn. (Sportbikers will like “Sport Riding Techniques” by Nick Ienatsch) or you can take an MSF course or find a local Track School. Online offers great possibilities too, like Motorcycle Safety Site which has everything from a ‘vault speed calculator’ (how fast were you traveling when you got launched—you mad projectile you) to forums on how to get started riding. Another great beginners site is Beginnerbikers.org or http://www.motorcycleforum.com/ I like them all. Are they the only forums out there? NO! I also like Motorcycle Journal and SquidBusters odds are you can find like minded people and get good, sound advice somewhere out there on line. Just Google “motorcycle” and you’ll be shocked at the amount of help out there.

Do you get nutty advice sometimes? Sure, just be ready to ignore some! Just because I don’t take bullfighting advice from guys in the beer line doesn’t mean you won’t meet a bullfighter in the beer line.

These are sites and references I’m comfortable with. Hough-Hahn-Ienatsch? I trust them. MSF? Trustworthy. Websites? Well, I wouldn’t mention them if I didn’t trust them but the bottom line is you have to decide who YOU trust. Remember that motorcycle saying “it’s just me and my bike baby”? It is. YOU have to decide who you trust. I will tell you one thing, when that moment comes and you realize you’re in trouble? It’s pretty darn comforting to know someone who knows what they’re doing has given you a bit of advice to hang your hopes on.

“Increase pressure on the inside handgrip—the bike will lean more” has gotten me out of trouble just like “run like hell; then, right when you’re sure you’re gonna die, take one more step and turn right or left as hard as you possibly can” did. Don’t be afraid to talk about bikes and how to ride—you never know when you’re gonna need a nugget to get you out of trouble.

OH! How did we finally get that bull taken care of? We used another piece of advice Grandpa Crash gave me: “Use the right tool for the job”. We went and got the horse.

Be safe.
 

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. . . odds are you can find like minded people and get good, sound advice somewhere out there on line. Just Google “motorcycle” and you’ll be shocked at the amount of help out there.

Do you get nutty advice sometimes? Sure, just be ready to ignore some!
If you have some bad ideas when you go looking for advice, you'll just as easily be able to find those "like minded" people who will reinforce you're bad ideas and give you some new ones. I'm sure that if I was a new rider looking for a RR crotch rocket, I could find some people who will encourage me and maybe even suggest I get a liter bike because I'll grow out of the 600cc bike quickly.

Generally, when I go looking for advice online, I try to get multiple opinions from different sites. Good advice on basic, life saving topics is generally the same from multiple sources such as the merits of full face helmets; most of this advice will make a lot of sense, and it'll seem like people are just pointing out the obvious or semi-obvious. Other, less vital issues, such as oil types, will have varying and contradictory advice from many well respected sites and people.
 
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