The Law of (Responsible) Hooliganism

Motorcyclists have a bad reputation. You can argue this point until redline, but it always comes down to the same sentiment: The general non-riding public pretty much despises sharing the road with motorcycles. We are all hooligans to them, wether we are rolling a chromed out Harley, clad in black leather, showing off ink and cultivating the badass look or we prefer to showcase the half-naked girlfriend’s asscrack hugging a crotch rocket and looking all Little G. Stereotypes? Of course. Extreme examples? Definitely. But this doesn’t really change the fact that the worst of us pretty much leave the imprint on the minds of many who then judge the rest of us by that first impression. Even the ultra-responsible hard-pannier toting BMW adventure rider isn’t safe from being judged harshly by the unwitting individual. It really doesn’t matter what we ride or how we ride it, when sharing the road with other motorists we eventually run into a taste of said general opinion in one form or another.

We even bicker amongst ourselves. The Harley-riding Badass dislikes the  Wheelie-ing Hooligan on the latest sport bike and would rather run him off the road then yield to a high-speed pass. Adventure Riders laugh at the Rocketeers and everyone is annoyed by the Metric Cruisers, because they represent the worst of both worlds: they are slow and un-American. But that is an entirely different matter altogether and beyond the scope of what I want to get off my chest today. However, let me first state this about the bigger picture: Most of us do get along no matter what we ride and most of us enjoy responsibly and appropriately.

I’m not one of those people who believe that everything should be legislated or regulated or otherwise “dealt with” just because I happen to find it to be completely idiotic or otherwise disagreeable with my own opinionated stance. I don’t believe that we should save others from themselves. We have the rules and laws in place to do that already. We don’t need more rules and we definitely don’t need to add to the contention. However, I do believe in personal accountability and responsibility and with that I am a staunch supporter of education. Inform the people of the consequences and let them do what they will with this information by employing concepts such as personal responsibility and accountability.

You won’t find me judging the rider who makes free use of the lack of mandatory helmet laws in their state. I choose to wear my lid, they choose not to. It’s their noggin, who am I to tell them they have to wear it? Same with protective gear. I myself am a firm believer of wearing my gear, but I am not going to judge the person who decides they don’t need it. I will, however, make every attempt to educate them on the importance of being dressed “for the crash”. I place enough value on my own life to do everything in my power to increase the odds of my continued survival. But this doesn’t give me the authority (or the moral obligation) to regulate the behavior of those who disagree and by the same token, I detest being judged by the idiocy of others. I am a thinking person. I make my own decisions. I don’t need to have someone tell me what is good for me and what isn’t. I know right from wrong and I know how to behave within the social contract. I don’t need a bunch of jackasses force-feeding me. Educate, don’t regulate. You can’t legislate morality (or stupidity) anyway. But I am off on a tangent and am getting way too political for a person with a non-interference clause in her contract and a very dense dislike of politics. I hate politics, I love leadership. But that’s not for this blog or any other piece I’ll ever write.

Every time I get on my bike, I break the law. Every single time. Mostly it’s speeding, but I could have been cited for a host of other offenses had they been witnessed by the proper authority: Illegal drag racing, failure to negotiate a turn, passing in a no-passing zone, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, excessive display of horsepower, road rage, racing, evasion, lane splitting. Those are only the ones that come readily to mind. And I’m a goody-two-shoes. May those of you without sin, cast the first stone! I’m ok with that, because there won’t be a single rock lobbed in my direction. I guarantee it.

Does this make me an unsafe rider? Does this make me a squid? I don’t believe so. I am human, I make mistakes. I have had my share of bad judgment calls. I have messed up in traffic and put myself or others in danger. It happens. I ride well within my limits, I make a concentrated effort to be safe and come home without a scratch on my bike or myself. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m 100% compliant with traffic laws. Nobody is. Safe riding does not equate to legal riding and legal riding does not equate to safe riding. Sometimes you have to make the crapchute decision between breaking the law and saving your ass. And as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six. That’s how I roll and it works for me. I have my machine under full control and I know its limits and my own. I am a safe and conscientious rider. My riding style may look aggressive to some, but I have long given up on keeping up appearances. My first priority is staying alive. But this isn’t the ultimate topic of this article. I’m just setting the stage for touching on something that everybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle on the street for any length of time eventually experiences to one degree or another.

As far as our bad reputation goes? We have ourselves to blame, or those of us who can’t keep things in the proper perspective, at the proper level and in the proper place. When you act the jackass in front of a bunch of motorists who don’t ride, you are calling negative attention to yourself and I guarantee you that within minutes of your offense the phone at the police station’s front desk is ringing off the hook with calls placed by aggravated individuals trying to save you from yourself and ruin it for every other motorcyclist in that area for the next few hours. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and pull a “race start” off a stop line after the traffic light turns green and then find yourself wondering why not five minutes later you see several squad cars policing the area. That shit is called in by the annoyed cager who is already yapping on his cellphone. You don’t even have to speed, but only appear to be speeding.

I was pulled over once by a motorcycle cop on a Harley. This was one of my more embarrassing moments on two wheels. Yours truly sitting sedately on her white Hayabusa wearing a cat-ear adorned helmet with a motor officer in tow. Sitting in four lanes of traffic at the longest red light in the history of carriageway-paving mankind getting the stink eye from several seemingly offended people in their cars and being told by the copper who pulls up next to me on his Hog to please pull over as soon as safely possible. What the hell did I do now? I didn’t get a ticket. He was a sportbike rider himself, was pretty disappointed that he had to ride a Hog at work, and was more annoyed by the situation than anything else. He said he wouldn’t have even bothered to pull me over, but he had to make it look appropriate, since a lot of the cagers where pointing at me, shaking their fists and signaling for the cop to let me have it, to remove the menace that I am from their motoring society. After running my license and plate, making sure I (and my bike) came back clean, he went off-duty and we talked shop for over half an hour. He said that people called me in for leaving a red light too fast when it turned green. And there were also complaints of speeding. He clocked me doing 70 coming out of a curve, but since I had been going more or less the speed limit before and had slowed back down to the flow of traffic after and didn’t endanger anybody else, he didn’t even worry about it. As for executing the alleged drag race start? I didn’t. I left from that stop line like I always do. I asked him if this was a regular occurrence for people to call in motorcycles. He said, and I quote: “All the damn time! And we have to go chase it down and investigate. You guys don’t even have to be doing something wrong and we still get calls about it.” Proof positive that, at least where I live, there is a direct correlation of some douche pulling some asshat stunt out of his bag of tricks and an increased presence of law enforcement in the area. I’ve always suspected as much, but never had any reason to believe it to be much more than mere coincidence until that conversation with the motorcycle cop. I came to naming the phenomenon “calling in a sighting”.

BCSO Squad Car

We all want to have fun when we’re out on a ride, so please do yourself and everyone else a favor and keep it in check and enjoy responsibly. I know I am going to catch a lot of flak for this, but let’s face it: At one time or another we all like to let it hang out a little and enjoy high performance outside of the parameters set forth by traffic laws and safe driving regulations. So, here they are, my ten rules every smart Hooligan on two wheels should know:

The 10 Commandments for Smart Motorcycle Hooligans

  1. Behave yourself in traffic! For crying out loud, what exactly does it prove when you’re doing a sustained 150 mph on the Interstate, passing everybody like they’re sitting still? Or pulling wheelies in traffic or otherwise annoy cagers with excessive display of your elevated risk acceptance. It only proves one thing: You’re an assclown who is going to have a really short riding career and you risk involving others in your shit-for-brains antics by putting them into possible harm’s way. And they might get to run you over, killing you because you fucked up. Now they have to live with THAT for the rest of their lives. No seriously. That’s just stupid. You want to speed and stunt? Find a deserted backroad with little traffic and no intersecting roads and have all the Hooligan fun you want. The less witnesses the better, and please don’t use the same spot all the time.
  2. Don’t involve others in your shenanigans. (See #1 above)
  3. Don’t pass like a jackass! Don’t tailgate! Don’t make other motorists feel pressured to speed up or get out of your way. Make sure it’s safe and give them some space. No buzzing the mirrors or cutting them off by coming back into your lane too soon. Respect their space and make a clean pass. You want to enjoy your ride, let them enjoy theirs.
  4. Be courteous. When someone does pull over to let you pass (this is a frequent occurrence on mountain roads) know that this is a courtesy extended to you. Give them a nod or a friendly wave. Let them know you appreciate their gesture of good will. Again, chances are if you ride their ass they won’t do jack for you. Respect others and they may just respect you.
  5. Speed safely. Yes. There is such a thing. Don’t hold higher speeds at sustained levels. Slow down for oncoming traffic and for areas that pose severe risk at higher speeds, such as intersecting roads, overlooks, pull-offs, parking lots, driveways, and areas with limited sight distance. You should be able to come to a complete stop within your line of sight, no matter what speed you’re going.
  6. Don’t speed stupid! No speeding (or other high-performance tricks, for that matter) in school zones, residential areas, parking lots, construction zones and other populated high-risk zones. The hefty price of a ticket written in any of those places should be your guide, if safety isn’t a main concern for you.
  7. Adhere to your riding group’s rules or don’t ride with them. Period.
  8. Respect the ride of others. We all have differing riding philosophies and have to ride within our chosen machine’s limitations. Make your passes clean, don’t harass other bikers even if you do not agree with their style, and keep the safety of other riders in mind before you act out.
  9. Don’t be a freaking asshole when you get pulled over. Own your shit!!! The cop is just doing his job and more often than not (within reason), if you were not being a jackass or riding like one, you might just get away with a warning. Don’t play the victim. Don’t whine. Don’t give the officer a hard time. You knew what you were doing could have dire consequences if you happen to get caught. We all know the risks involved when we decide to partake in a little throttle therapy that goes above and beyond.
  10. Don’t be a habitual offender. Ride hard, but ride smart. Don’t ride beyond your skill or machine limit. Engage in your criminal pastime in small doses; and, please, wear all your freaking gear, especially when you’re planning on getting “sporty”. No excuses! Dress for the slide, not the ride! Full race gear is wholeheartedly recommended.

You may now cast the first stone…


Girls 4 Ever! @ 80MPH

I was heading west on University Parkway, the stretch of US-29, a four-lane divided highway, between Athens and Atlanta, GA. It was late afternoon on a Friday and a thunderstorm was threatening overhead. People don’t mess around that time of the week. They are ready to get home to start their weekends or, like me, are already on their way to the party and are in a hurry to get there. Time is of the essence when the workweek is done. The average speed on the west-bound side was between 70-75 miles per hour. The east-bound side had been shut down due to a traffic accident and was backed up for miles. I gave quick thanks to the God of Speed for not being stuck in that mess.

Traffic was medium-heavy and I was averaging about 80 mph, making sure that I wasn’t the fastest vehicle on the road but keeping up with the faster cars of the crowd. I noticed a white sedan that had passed me, but then settled down to about my pace a little distance ahead. I eventually caught up and passed the car again. No big deal, it happens, I paid the car no mind as I continued to fling myself westward toward the horizon, bouncing around in my seat, tapping out the rhythm to some Lady Gaga tune with my right foot; I think it was “Bad Romance”. My thoughts were already occupied with playing in the twisties that were scheduled for the following day. The car eventually picked its way back through traffic and got ahead yet again.

Now it’s getting a little weird! After a while boredom and curiosity get the better of me and I am in hot pursuit of my highway stalker. It doesn’t take me long to catch up with my target. The car is still hanging out in the left lane, so I scoot over and slowly pass them on the right. I see what looks to be four college-aged kids bouncing around in their seats, hair flying, talking animatedly and obviously checking me out. Oh, shit! A carload of cheerleaders! They point and wave at me and I smile, — even though they can’t see through my darkly tinted face shield — I nod and give them a peace sign with my outstretched clutch hand. Then I grab a fistful of throttle, twist it quickly to the stop and treat them to a completely “unnecessary display of horsepower”. Gratuitous. I can’t help myself. I have no excuse. I pull triple digits for a few seconds, pass another vehicle by executing two acute lane changes to get a little high-speed lean for effect and then let the engine slow me back down to the speed of traffic.

It doesn’t take very long for them to catch up. Two songs, maybe. I’m astonished to see them again. When they pass me on the left, I see one of them is holding a sheet of notebook paper up to the passenger side window. It reads in bold-red Sharpie print:

YOU ROCK!
GIRLS RULE
4 EVER!!!!

I prop open my visor so I can make eye contact as I pace them. I smile and give them a thumbs up and a fist pump with my free hand. I yell: “Hell yeah!” even though they can’t hear me. I speed up and they stay directly behind me as my wing women until we part ways at a red light a few miles up the road. I turned right and they kept going straight. Each of us heading towards weekend adventure. I wish I could have taken a picture of this or had the video camera going. It’s the little things like these that make even a bored and hurried flight down a two-lane seemingly never-ending straight worth it. For one little instant my path merged with that of four strangers and life was just good.

Peace Out!

That’s one of the reasons I ride.

Riding a motorcycle connects you intimately, even if only for a short moment, with others and the world around you. You become part of that world, rather than being isolated and distanced from it like you are when sitting in a car. This is one of those reasons why bikers refer to cars as “cages”. I’m sure of it.


Sugar and Spice, Cat Ears and All Things Nice

Somebody asked me once: “Why in the hell are you wearing cat ears on your helmet?” My answer was quite simple: “Because I can.” I paused, then added: “…and the kids like it.” He didn’t get it. Why do I wear silly stuff like that when I’m out riding on my motorcycle? It started on the Harley. I actually did it because I could. I’m a dork. I do silly things all the time. I don’t take life too seriously, nor myself; most of the time I actually succeed. I ordered the cat ears (tested up to 175 mph) and stuck them on my lid, and rode around on my black Sportster wearing my all-black gear, my black carbon fiber full-face helmet and black and white cat ears with matching tail stuck to my menacing crown with the aid of suction cups.

I soon noticed that I seemed to have more fans in the younger demographic. Children started waving at me, smiling, and pointing excited little fingers in my general direction. Toddlers’ faces pressed up against the rear windows of minivans became a regular sight. I waved back and acknowledged the little ones; it really made me feel good. It made me giggle, too. Kids also reacted differently to me when I was slowly cruising through a shopping center lot on the lookout for a place to park. They didn’t seem as scared of “big black man” on the big black bike. The engine noise seemed to bother them less also. It is as if the addition of those two small things of fake fur and plastic made all the difference in the world. It opened up an opportunity of curious fascination, rather than induce fear and uncertainty.

Miss Busa's Cat Ears

Miss Busa and The Fat Lady (RIP): Yes, those are cat ears on my helmet. No, I won't take them off. I also refuse to grow up! Why? Because you can't make me. 🙂

That is how Miss Busa’s Cat Ear Tradition started. I am now on my third set. I have never had any negative experiences with them. They are a conversation starter, an icebreaker, and everybody just thinks they are the coolest things ever. Riders and non-riders alike react positively. Who would have thought that such a small gesture would bring about such a dramatic change in perception and hence attitudes?

In South Carolina I have the Clemson University fans chasing after me with their cell phone cameras, asking me if they could take a picture. I wore my tiger set there once and I couldn’t figure out what in the world had gotten into these people. I thought it quite strange and bordering on the verge of freakish. Husband then explained that I was in “Clemson Country”, that those people were Clemson Tiger fans; mostly Football and Basketball, but Clemson University’s athletic department offers a host of other sports for both men and women.

Miss Busa is rockin' the rocket on I-285 outer perimeter, top side.

Miss Busa is rockin' the rocket on I-285 outer perimeter, top side. Tiger (or cat) ears and tail are standard equipment for this girl.

I’ve had a dude on a ‘Busa literally chase me down to finally catch me at a red light, flip his face shield up and yell over the combined sound of our Hayabusas’ engines that I must let him take a picture with his phone, his daughter doesn’t believe that girls ride motorcycles. I laughed and gave him the thumbs up, he whipped out his BlackBerry snapped the pic, the light changed he turned right and I went straight. I haven’t seen him since. Maybe his daughter now rides one of those electric minibikes. 😉

It is stuff like this that makes me love the ride even more.

Before I forget…
And for all you (online) haters of Miss Busa’s magic cat ears who think that this is just the gayest thing ever, let me state for the record: Yes, it is. It’s totally gay!!! Gay, GAy, gAy, gAY, gaY! In the traditional meaning of the word; but you people wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?


No, thank you. I don’t smoke!

Cigarette butts out of car windows have homing devices built into their filters. They lock onto their target, enter the slipstream and take aim at the nearest motorcyclist. If I had a penny for every time… oh well, I could buy a pack of premimum pre-rolled and filtered cancer sticks of my choice.

I am tired of it! If you assholes would just take a moment to think how it would make you feel if some joker walking ahead of you flicked their half-smoked Marlboro over the shoulder at you and it hit you square in the chest. You both would end up sitting in the back of a squad car not ten minutes later, like 7th-grade school boys in the principal’s office. There would be an altercation, and tell me it isn’t so. I’ll eat a pack of Camels lit if you would just brush the ashes off your clean, neatly pressed dress shirt and go about your business without so much of a thought of letting the smoking offender know how displeased your are with their lack of consideration and total disregard for their surroundings.

Chances are the motorcyclist two car lengths behind you feels the same way. The jacket I am wearing cost more than your damn business casuals including your loafers and your cheap knock-off watch. I’m going to go out on a limb here and venture a guess and say that in some cases my ride and gear are worth twice the Kelly Blue Book value of your smelly-ass rolling dirty ashtray of an automobile. We are not just some hooligans who had it coming anyway.

If you don’t want the butts in your car, wait until you get to your destination to fire up the next coffin nail, you stupid moronic waste of human trash. Not to mention that if you flicked your butt at a cop you would get fined for littering! Hefty!

Have you ever considered what could happen if that burning projectile you so carelessly jettisoned from your fresh-smelling (and I mean that with every ounce of sarcasm that I have left) environment found its way into a motorcyclist’s helmet or down their jacket collar? And don’t you dare laugh at the thought. You wouldn’t after you spent some time educating your inconsiderate self in the ways of aerodynamics. Although you probably are too narrowly focused (I just spent the last of my sarcasm/cynicism allowance) to grasp the concept.

The next time you toss the rest of your drink, your lit cigarette, your girlfriend’s IUD out of your car window and then act surprised when some irate bitch on a supersport is pacing you close enough to clip your mirror while shaking a mad fist at you and staring you down with red glowing eyes, hoping you’d pull over so she can lay you out flat on the rumble strip, you might be able to venture a guess as to what the possible cause of her anger is.

We are living, breathing human beings who want the same thing you do: get to our destination in one piece, within a reasonable timeframe and with the least amount of stress and aggravation possible; maybe even arrive in a decent enough mood. The only real difference? We choose to use half the number of wheels to get around. Now quit treating us like we are just another vehicle and part of some machine. That “thing” plopped on top of that motorcycle — that is now close enough for you to reach out and touch — is 57% water, just like you and is very vulnerable unlike you in your cage constructed of high-tech plastics and metal alloys, with airbags all around, rolling down the avenue on four pieces of round rubber which are probably too low on air pressure.

Quit behaving like the world is yours and nobody but your deluded self matters. Next time don’t be surprised when I come up alongside you with my emergency window breaker and a can of mace at the ready. What do you think us two-wheeled menaces to society have stashed in those tank bags anyway? That’s where we keep a bottle of water, our stockpile of marshmallows, a handful of ball bearings, a couple of Glocks, extra high-capacity ammo clips, pink lip gloss and some hard candy. Now you know.

The “share the road” philosophy embodies more than just a sentiment to move over two inches for a bicyclist or a pedestrian. It also does NOT entitle you to laying on your horn every time you see a woman walking or cycling!

Oh, will you look at that?!? I still have a balance in my profanity/name-calling account.

You fucking douche bag litterbugs!


Two’s A Crowd (In The Same Lane)

I must be a glutton for punishment, because there is no other reason for me to go play in traffic around 4pm to duke it out with the crazed Christmas shopper cager crowd. But that’s me. Hardcore. I don’t “plan around”. I was on a mission to exchange my DOA Jawbone BT earpiece for a new one and I had to get some gift cards for the teenagers on my Santa list. Yup, hardcore and procrastinator extraordinaire. I was burning up a clutch tooling down Washington Road at painfully slow speeds, practicing the Slow Race. For about a mile, I was riding the friction zone, with my feet up on the pegs, to see how slow I could actually go before the Fat Lady decided she might rather take an asphalt nap instead. I was so absorbed into the task that I neglected my mirrors. I know, I know. Situational awareness is everything. I shouldn’t be rolling down the street blissfully unaware of my surroundings. La-dee-da… Therefore, it came as a complete surprise when this blue sedan slowly eased up next to me in my lane space. I was riding the right wheel track, looking down the dashed white line, between the long lines of cars. The thought of white-lining it all the way to the next red light occurred to me briefly, but some of the vehicles where too offset to grant me safe passage. I fought the impulse to squid it on down the boulevard being the envy of every cager stuck in the jam without options. So, here I am, being squeezed by two old ladies in their old-lady car and am completely speechless. No, I’m not. I put my foot down. Literally. I had to or I would have fallen over, maybe I should have. Fallen over, I mean. Right into that shiny blue passenger door of theirs, with my helmeted face plastered against the glass. Heh. The good ideas always occur to me after the fact. I could have gotten myself some new Tupperware on the left, which is marred from that unfortunate incident of temporary dumbassery we’re not going to further mention here. Tupperware, a new stator cover, left side mirror, and throw in a new can on that side, too. A repair upgrade due to a ‘not-my-fault’ happenstance after the original fact. I can see it now… stating my case between sobs: “But officer, they nicked my mirror with theirs, scared the shit out of me and I fell over. I AM entitled to the entire lane, no?” with tears streaming down my face and the most innocent and sad Bambi look I could possibly muster without cracking up. Damn! Another missed opportunity… But I digress, so I’m sitting there, inches away from a mirror-to-mirror kiss and I can’t help but stare at them and yell something to the effect that I would like to know where they think they are going to go. The driver is saying something to her passenger and she rolls her window down. I flip up my shield and yell over my ear plugs and tunes: “You know that I am entitled to the ENTIRE width of my lane, right?” while animatedly waving a pointed right index finger in front of me, indicating the lane we were currently sharing, “Just like a car.” The driver is starting to look a little shocked. I almost feel sorry for her. Almost. I watch them talk animatedly, hands waving in the air. After they fall silent, I add: “You know, it’s stuff like this,” more finger waving, “that can get me killed!” I almost regret it as soon as the words leave my lips. Almost. They both now look very apologetic and a little bit shaken, the driver more so than her friend. I think I’ve made my point. I ease forward, power-walking The Fat Lady into a spot between them and the car in front of them. I don’t want to look at them anymore, because now I really do feel bad. And I’m sure they’ve had enough of me, too. I figured it’s better I move before somebody is having a heart attack. Why do I feel bad? Old age doesn’t excuse their behavior. Was it their body language that seemed to express honest apology? I’m sure the lesson was well received and they will never do this to another person on a motorcycle. But why am I not really all that enthused about it? Here I am complaining about all these driving-skill inhibited ass clowns and I finally score one for the home team, and it’s a hollow victory. Would I do it again? Affirmative! I’m not going to let stuff like that slide. I can’t help myself. I think it is imperative that other motorists understand that motorcycles need their space. That we are very vulnerable, considering we aren’t separated from potential disaster by the relative safety a car has to offer its occupants. That our only defenses against calamity are separation by distance, situational awareness of our surroundings and our riding skills.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry