Category Archives: All About Safety

Winter Hazards


We all ride throughout the year here so “winterizing” our rides consists of dusting them off and putting on some leather and a heavy jacket before we ride.  We are fortunate to be able to ride all year round but we often forget those little winter hazards that can crop up at a moment’s notice.  Here’s a little reminder for us all in regards to those nasty little road hazards…


ANY painted surface on a roadway can be extremely slick during the winter.  A small amount of moisture can turn these lines into an experience you won’t soon forget!  Be very cautious when it’s foggy as the moisture collects on the painted surfaces and is not visible to the rider.  Watch those lines on the curvy roads because you won’t have time to react if you happen to cut a corner a little and get that front wheel on the wet line!


It’s not like you haven’t seen these before.  These can catch you front wheel and dump your bike.  Pay attention to the angle the tracks cross the road.  Use as much of the road as necessary to get a safe attack angle.  Be aware that occasionally tracks cross roads at a weird angle (Highway 43 near Poso) and this can ruin an otherwise great day of riding.  Also watch the crossing areas as some have metal or wood instead of asphalt between the tracks.  If you’re crossing one of these in a turn, you’re in for a surprise.


We have a few of these in our area.  Always try to cross these at a 90 degree angle and be very cautious if they might be wet.


If you encounter any of these on the road, chances are you’ll have an issue before you can react.  Always scan the road ahead for spots that look wet or different from the rest of the pavement.  I once hit diesel fuel as I was approaching a stop sign.  The bike slid through the stop sign and across 2 lanes of traffic onto road side.  This happened at Lerdo Hwy and Porterville Hwy.  Yeah, I know, it wasn’t my time.


This can turn the roads into a skating rink.  Let the rain wash the roads clear before you ride them.  A half hour can make a huge difference.


This can be deadly.  Gravel is more common as the road becomes twisties.  It seems cars have a hard time staying on the pavement when there are corners.  Gravel problems tend to be worse in spring due to winter rains.  A little bit of gravel should be avoidable if you’re not riding too fast.  Unavoidable gravel covering the entire corner can be taken in stride if there is plenty of asphalt showing and you are prepared to let the bike slide around a bit. The key is to relax, don’t over-react and keep steering towards the exit line. Bikes are surprisingly stable and will usually ride it out. The real problem is a heavy gravel patch in a corner. Surviving that is mainly luck given you were already going too fast to stop or go around it…my best advice is to treat it like light gravel and hope the bike rides it out. If the back-end washes out, steer like a dirt bike and hope the rear tire doesn’t suddenly get traction!

Having said all that, most “gravel crashes” were unnecessary. Usually the rider is lacking in fundamental skills. Common physical errors are not looking far enough into a corner so not picking up the gravel soon enough, not being able to brake at the bike’s capabilities, not being able to turn at the bike’s capabilities and over-reacting when hitting the gravel (a one inch slide feels like a mile so people panic). Common mental errors are missing signs of probable gravel (tight corners, earlier history, gravel shoulders or embankments, hills that might have been washed out etc) and riding without regard for suitable error margins.


They look innocent but are worse than gravel…ESPECIALLY IF WET!


Don’t just charge through water like you would in a car.  Depending on tires you can hydroplane which will make the bike feel like it’s on ice.  If you are unlucky enough to experience this, make no steering inputs and ride straight through.




The Psychology of the Ride

WHAT!!! Are you nuts?

Contemplating traveling 1,000 miles in 24 hours on a motorcycle causes the reader to have one of two reactions. How would I do that? Or, the second title comes to mind. One has no trouble grasping the idea of climbing into a cylindrical object, much like a roll of toilet paper, sitting down and being hurled through the atmosphere to travel 1,000 miles, but the idea of going outside to your driveway, sitting down on a magical chair and spending the day observing the sunrise, smells, sights and experiences that will be remembered the rest of one’s life is foreign to most.

As with all great things the trigger that causes success in any endeavor is curiosity. I salute you for reading this far because once you become curious the wheels start turning and the question gnaws in your mind until the answer unfolds. Also required in the success of any mission is planning. Hopefully this article will arouse your curiosity and provide a blueprint for your magic carpet ride.

Thorough planning for this ride will leave one with a joyous expectation of the ride with successful results. Poor planning will yield frustration, anger, and quite possibly death. Now that we have covered the disclaimers, let’s get on with eating the elephant.

Let’s break down the ride a little; the first part is going 500 miles. The second part is coming back. Let’s look at the first half. Assuming one’s tank has a range of at least 170-miles, one starts with a full tank and burns that off. They stop, fuel, and burn that tank off. Then they fuel again and burn that tank off. Presto you have just completed your five hundred miles! So the question is can you ride 170 Miles? Can you do it three times? If your tank has a range of 125-miles you would fill it three times after you start.

There will never be any external pressure from any one else to make you succeed. So travel the first tank, see how you feel, fill it up and burn off the second tank. If you are feeling good, fill it up and continue on. With victory in sight, this decision to continue after filling here will be the critical one. Knowing that you will succeed after burning off the third tank is gratifying. Some may say; but what about the other 500 miles? Well, you made it here didn’t you? This is the Iron Butt, not the Delano taco run. Quit your belly-aching and go home.

That is the entire psychology of eating this elephant. Leave with a full tank, fill up twice more, and then go home. That is all there is to it. Can you do that?

Sounds simple doesn’t it? But there are a few other things we need to consider. The first is time. Let’s look at how time affects the ride. Assuming one was to average 65 mph one would have seat time of 15.38 hours. (1,000 / 65 mph = 15.38 hours) If one averages 75 mph one will have seat time of 13.33 hours. If one averages 80 mph they will have seat time of 12.5 hours.

We will be leaving at 5:00 A.M. Add your choice of the above times and that theoretically will be the time you get home. This does not include any time for fueling, eating, or potty breaks. It is better to travel constantly at your comfortable speed and minimize the time spent on stops rather than go like the devil and have poor stop management. This increases fuel usage which causes one to stop more often, wasting more time. One has to balance the needs of the bike with the needs of the rider. Ideally it would be most efficient to fuel, intake nourishment and liquids while relieving themselves, all at the same time. Hopefully your planning will not demand such desperation.

Since we know the bike will need to stop at certain intervals, it will be most efficient if the rider can time their needs to correspond with the needs of the bike. The primary way to do this is through fluid intake management. Unless you have a catheter installed, you will need to stay hydrated while yet being able to wait until the next fuel stop to relieve yourself. Remember every second that is not spent moving is a second longer it will take to get home. Careless attention to stop management will destroy your ride.

Next we should consider fatigue. Early in the ride is the greatest opportunity to make time. While in no way advocating one break the speed limit, early in the morning is an opportune time to eat up the miles. There probably will be a slight tailwind heading east and a headwind on the return run. The head wind will cause additional fatigue as well as decrease your mileage. Expect it and adjust accordingly. Expect it to take longer on the return. As you travel east note fuel stations that are not your designated stops. You may need them on your return run. Remember the sun will be in your face both ways and it is brutal combined with the wind from punching a hole through 1,000 miles of air. Travel at your comfortable cruising speed.

Although we will be leaving at the same time it is imperative that we do not have 40 bikes traveling and stopping together. If we were all to stop for gas at the same time and location it would take an hour for all of us to fuel and use the restroom. Because of tank and bladder differences, we may have 40 riders traveling the same direction but we will each have our own ride plan. As the day progresses there will be times when we pass each other and perhaps there will be times when we are traveling alone. Enjoy the freedom of being able to choose how you execute your plan. Some riders will spend an hour for lunch. Join them if that is in your plan as well. Some may be planning on making it a two-day trip. You do not want to be riding with them if you are planning to do this in one day. Some may be trying to do 1,500 miles in 24-hours. Do not be intimidated or influenced by the behavior of others. Remember the tortoise and the hare. Stick to your plan.

If you are planning on having your ride certified by the IRON BUTT ASSOCIATION please go to Here you will find the rules and requirements to qualify for the Saddle Sore 1,000. The gas receipt showing the time, date and address of your first gas purchase is the official starting time and address from which your ride will be measured. The official starting point address for those certifying their ride is the Chevron Station east of BHD at 35326 7th Standard Rd, Bakersfield, CA, 93308. Our route will be 58 east to Barstow, Interstate 40 to Needles, 95 south to Blythe and Interstate 10 east to Phoenix. The 511.1 mile turn-around point is the Chevron Station at 1615 N 99th Ave, Phoenix, AZ, 85037-4314. For more information on the IRON BUTT ASSOCIATION please go to


The most important thing you can do to insure this will be an enjoyable adventure is to develop a plan, in writing, that allows for contingencies. Start by determining what the range of the tank on your bike is and go from there. In your plan include a realistic time schedule for the entire day including stops. This will help keep you on track. If you see you are falling behind schedule relax and adjust your schedule. This trip is not worth your life. Go to the Harley Davidson ride planner website to develop your plan. Once you are at the map hit the fuel symbol at the top of the page and the Shell stations will be displayed on the map. To find Chevron station locations go to

Expect your plan to change as the day wears on and prepare for contingencies such as a flat, mechanical trouble and a motel should you decide to call it a day. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS TRIP UNLESS YOU HAVE SOME TYPE OF ROAD SERVICE PLAN. Have emergency contact numbers with you and carry a cell phone. Take at least a gallon of water. Eat a hearty dinner on Thursday and eat a light dinner on Friday. For additional tips go to I look forward to seeing you on the adventure. Who knows, maybe we will do it again on Million Mile Monday. This is going to be fun!!!

Charlie Klint

Road Captain Handbook 2009

The chapter Road Captain Handbook was recently updated for the new year. If you are a Road Captain, interested in becoming a Road Captain or a member that wants to know the rules we us on our rides, the officers highly recommend you download the document and read the newest version. Safety is important to all of us.

The handbook explains the responsibilities and the guidelines of the Road Captains. It contains some information that all riders should know about group riding.

Bakersfield HOG Road Captain Handbook

Other important information:

  • Hand Signals are important and need to be known and understood by all riders. They can be seen here.
  • The staggered formation we use on our rides, the distance between you and the other riders can be read about on our Safety Page.

Fatigue and Motorcycle Touring

Today I received a great article from Bakersfield HOG Member Charles Klint about how fatigue can affect your riding abilities. It is an excellent read and recommended to all, especially those that put on the miles. Sleep, or the lack of, affects us all differently and knowing a few signs could make a big difference in your safety. Download the ‘pdf’ file to learn more about how sleep really can make a difference.

File: FatigueAndMotorcycleTouringByDonArthur.pdf
Good safety tips are always welcome. If you have a good safety tip and want to share it, send it to or

Note: The files above are in Portable Document Format. They require you to have a program like Acrobat Reader on your computer to view the files. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you can download it from the Adobe website for free.

Riding and Surfing

I was recently asked about a computer virus that was found on Facebook. It quickly made me think about the comparison of ‘surfing’ the internet and riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. To be honest, the internet is a dangerous place. Sure you may not get ‘road rash’ if you go to the wrong website but you could lose personal documents, special family photos or even your personal identity.

The recent virus outbreak on Facebook really wasn’t on Facebook but rather the makers of the virus used Facebook to funnel people to a malicious website. It used Facebook members’ friends list to email users about a factious video. The fake video was not on Facebook but rather on a ‘bad’ website. Once the user went to this other website the user would get a message that they needed to update their computer’s software to see the video. Clicking on the update button put the virus on the user’s computer. Facebook quickly shut down the messaging process of the virus and posted instructions on how to remove the virus if a user’s computer was infected.

This is only one example how easy it is to get into trouble on the internet. To help let’s compare using the internet to riding. As we all know, it is wise to put on protective gear, glasses and a DOT helmet before we ride. There are more items that could be on that list, but for this example I will keep the list short. If you jump on your Harley without checking a few things or gearing up properly you are more likely to get into trouble. Without protective gear a little something could become a big something. Without the glasses you would have trouble seeing your way. And without a helmet a ticket from a nice police officer is the least that could happen. The same types of precautions need to be taken when using the internet. A minimum list would include an up-to-date antivirus program, a recent backup of your documents (pictures, settings, and personal documents) in case bad things happen, if you are using Windows make sure it has the latest security patches and use safe internet practices. Just like watching that car next to you and expecting him to move into your lane, always look at where you go and what you receive from others while on the internet. Most viruses are sent through emails or installed by clicking OK while on a bad website.

With the Facebook incident there were a few hints that users can learn from. The message took the user to an unknown website. Always be careful when going to unknown websites. The Facebook example sent a message to friends stating ‘I found this funny video of you’. This might be a neat idea, you on the internet, but think for a minute, what are the chances of a video of you being funny showing up on the internet on some website you have never heard of. I joke, but a little thinking goes a long way while having fun chatting with friends, searching for the latest food recipe or watching something silly on YouTube. There are bad people out there that want nothing more than to ruin your day.

Just like evaluating a turn you should also evaluate where and what you do on the Net. Another hint with the Facebook example was the unknown site required the user to download software to watch the video. This is where the real virus got permission to infect the user’s computer. Clicking the OK button told the user’s computer it was OK to install the virus. When we surf we have to be very careful with what we download. It is always recommended to use the software vendor’s site when downloading or updating software online. Most reputable sites use common software that can be verified easily.

Some might think it is a stretch to compare ‘surfing the internet’ to riding a Harley, but there are some similarities and everyone should take precautions with both. Being prepared and protected is always more reliable than being lucky.