Tag

Motorcycles

Browsing

Your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker has been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles for many years. Over these years he has ridden perhaps 300,000 miles. Needless to say, that is a lot of journeys on two wheels. I started riding street bikes in the mid-1980s. Back in those days, over three decades ago, mobile phones were quite rare. In fact, the first mobile phones did not appear in the United States until 1983. No one I knew had one – or could afford one. I could get on my Evo-powered Heritage Softail and blast down the roads knowing that most cagers were paying attention to what they were doing – and where there vehicle was headed. The biggest distractions were dropping cigarette ashes in your crotch, children bouncing around the car with no seatbelts on or turning the dial to change radio stations. It is not that way today.

Distracted Driving Today

Today, Grey Beard seldom throws his leg over the saddle without saying a silent prayer – a prayer for God to protect him, to provide him keen senses, quick reflexes and the ability to perceive everything going on around him. But he is always amazed at the amount of distracted driving going on around him. Yes, I am writing this post in the third-person – because I can!

Distracted Driving of the Typical Cager

Distracted driving comes in many forms today. It is most commonly a person more interested in their smart phone than what’s going on ahead of them – and around them! This is a very dangerous practice, even at slower speeds. For illustration purposes, let’s say the young lady above is driving 60 MPH. Every second that passes, 88 feet is covered. At 80 MPH, a typical interstate highway speed here in Tennessee, 117 feet is covered with each passing second. While I am no scientist, or statistician, I can easily calculate that this young lady, pictured above, reading a Facebook post – or posting a selfie on Snapchat – which easily takes 15 seconds – will not see what is going on ahead of her while driving a distance of 1,755 feet. That is 1/3 of a mile she has not been able to see the Grey Beard Biker (or you) slowing down ahead of her.

Other Types of Distracted Driving

There are other types of distracted driving Grey Beard witnesses fairly regularly while riding – and while men also drive distracted, the most common distracted driving, in my humble opinion, is by young women. They may be wanting to capture that special selfie while driving – when the sun is in just the right position. Or they may be doing the unconscionable: farding while they are driving! Yes, I said it! Women farding while driving is dangerous. While it does not smell bad, it does stink!

According to the definition in Merriam-Webster:
Farding (to fard): to paint (the face) with cosmetics; archaic: to gloss over

It doesn’t take much sense for anyone to recognize that applying makeup while driving is a very bad idea. It is dangerous to them – and everyone around them. Just say “NO” to FARDING!

Other things the Grey Beard Biker has seen on the road are people eating, drinking alcohol, women plucking their eyebrows, people reading the newspaper, magazines or books, people changing clothes, women giving their men fellatio, men shaving and so many other really stupid asinine things. But the craziest distracted driver Grey Beard has ever witnessed was a young woman steering with her right knee, while her left foot was up near the driver’s side window, applying toenail polish, all while holding her smartphone to her left ear by tilting her head toward her shoulder. She was using both hands to paint her toenails, all the while blasting down the interstate at well over 80 MPH! While obviously quite coordinated and nimble, this young woman needed to be pulled over and given a serious moving violation!

Ultimate Distracted Driving

New Hampshire biker tragedy – June 21, 2019

The most distracted driving ever created a disaster this past Friday, in northern New Hampshire. It was on U.S. Highway 2, near Randolph, where Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, age 23, crossed the centerline of the highway, towing a larger car trailer, and ran through a group of bikers from the Jarheads Motorcycle Club. This accident killed seven club members and their supporters. Three additional bikers were hospitalized. On June 24, Zhukovskyy was indicted on seven counts of negligent homicide and extradited from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to face a jury of his peers. While much is still not known about the events which led to this tragedy – whether the truck operator was under the influence, or just distracted – it is a prime example of distracted driving which can lead to the untimely death of a biker. Grey Beard Bikers believes everyone is innocent, until proven guilty, but with the speed this young man was indicted, there would appear to be plenty of evidence he was responsible.

Grey Beard Biker Recommendations

One cannot complain about what stupid people do without making recommendations on how to improve things. Here are a couple of things which could be done:

  1. Make it illegal to use any handheld device while driving – Tennessee passed a law doing so earlier this year. It goes into affect on July 1. Severely punish those who break such laws. Unfortunately, there are a lot of states which have not passed similar laws.
  2. Smartphone manufacturers need to use technology to lock phones automatically when it detects movement in a car. Obviously, it can be turned off manually if the person is not the driver. If a driver turns this functionality off, and is on their phone, causing an accident or death, they should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law. iPhones do have a “Do Not Disturb” mode, but this needs to be improved.

Perhaps the most important thing which can be done is for us bikers to always be vigilant. Watch the cars around you. Take a quick glance at the driver before you pull alongside them. If they are distracted, back off. Watch your mirrors constantly. If a car is closing on you quickly, safely get out of their way. If you are stopped at a traffic signal, try to leave an escape route in case a distracted driver is coming up behind you. Always remember that cars and trucks will always win in an altercation with a motorcycle. This means you will LOSE. Always ride defensively!

Grey Beard Biker

The Tail of the Dragon is a marketing genius. Deal’s Gap Resort, US 129 Photos and Killboy have made a killing selling t-shirts, hats, stickers, pins, motel rooms and pictures. Before the road was promoted to gear heads, there was almost nothing at Deal’s Gap. That has changed big time over the last decade or two.

There is no doubt, that the road is fun to ride. But in the Grey Beard Biker’s opinion, it is a total tourist trap. While the road is somewhat technical in nature, there are actually more difficult rides much closer to home – and all over the Smoky Mountains.

Nevertheless, we ride it most trips to Eastern Tennessee because it is included on the route to other great rides. This picture was from our last ride there on May 24. We were definitely dragging the right floorboard here – as we do throughout the Dragon. I ended up buying this picture from US 129 photos as it is a unique view that they had not captured of us before. The pictures are one of the things which make the Dragon a must-do in my opinion.

The Grey Beard Biker

Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort

Memorial Day Weekend means hotdogs, parades and flying the beautiful Stars & Stripes. Your favorite Grey Beard Biker likes doing all of that. But additionally, Memorial Day Weekend means riding with Miss Tracy and our friends in the Great Smoky Mountains.

The mountains of East Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia offer plenty of your more notable roads like the Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway, Newfound Gap and the Foothills Parkway. But it’s the lesser known roads, which are less traveled, that excites the hell out of me. One of those is the Moonshiner 28.

Moonshiner 28 runs for around 100 miles – southeast through North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. We always get to it by taking US Hwy 74 west from Bryson City, NC towards Wesser, turning left on North Carolina Hwy 28. Once you get on 28, hold onto your hat because the shit gets hairy as hell really quick. You will find switchbacks, big looping curves, steep hills, waterfalls and one of my favorite little stops – Highlands, NC. If you find yourself going through Highlands at lunch, dinner or adult beverage time, make sure to stop in The Ugly Dog Public House – a Grey Beard Biker approved establishment!

In closing, do not miss the chance to ride Moonshiner 28 when you are in the mountains of East Tennessee, North Carolina or Georgia. Check out the following video for a taste of the Moonshiner:

Ride often,
Grey Beard Biker

Tennessee Highway 32 – The Secret Road

Living in Tennessee provides many opportunities to ride wonderful motorcycle roads. At least twice a year, your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker heads to The Great Smoky Mountains to ride some of the most challenging roads found anywhere in the United States.

One of those roads is a little known piece of asphalt which is off the beaten path – and is infrequently travelled by the throngs of nature gawkers most of the National Park roads present those of us on two wheels. If you were to travel east of Gatlinburg on US Hwy 321 you would eventually find yourself approaching Cosby, Tennessee. There you will find TN Route 32 – lovingly known, by those in the know, as “The Secret Road” or “The Road To Nowhere.”

The Secret Road is not for everyone. It may well be one of the most technical motorcycle roads east of the Mississippi River. Running approximately 10 miles east from Cosby, it eventually reaches I-40, after turning to gravel. I call it the Road to Nowhere because it does not connect Cosby to anything but the Appalachian Trail and the aforementioned interstate highway.

When you first start riding from Cosby, the road seems fairly tame. But you will quickly find yourself in the midst of a monster! Unlike the area’s most popular road, The Tail of the Dragon, you will find yourself hitting switchback after switchback, with a couple of curves thrown in to provide a short respite. To my knowledge, no one has counted how many curves are on this road, but I would suggest it’s equal in count to the Tail.

If you decide to ride this road, take it easy on your first couple of passes. You will find that there are very few guardrails to keep you on the road if you high-side a curve or switchback. There are also very few motorists or other bikers who will be able to provide assistance. Making things worse, your cell phone will not work in the remote hills surrounding this road. Lastly, if you were to get hurt, you can expect to wait 45 minutes for an ambulance, and an hour to get to the nearest hospital. But if you are up to the challenge, you will wear a grin from ear-to-ear

The Secret Road will not disappoint!