All posts by Bill Whitman

Aggressive Vehicles?

I’m currently reading the Proficient Motorcycling book. After four decades of riding a motorcycle, I thought it was about time to read this book. I might learn something, which would be a good thing. It seems like a pretty good book, color pictures, tables and a CD. What more could you want? On Amazon.com 244 people have written comments about the book, which is pretty good. Considering it’s not on Oprah’s booklist that’s really a lot of feedback.

No sense in starting from the beginning, so I jumped right into a certain section and started reading. Everything was going along just fine until I read the buzzword “Aggressive Vehicles.” Okay, maybe I need to go back and reread that section again. Could it have been that I read it wrong, maybe it said aggressive drivers? Maybe our new dog Bailey distracted me while I was reading the section. He runs around the house like he’s high on speed or something. No, I didn’t misread the section, it said “Aggressive Vehicles.”

Okay, go along with program, new term to learn, “Aggressive Vehicles.” As I read the section, I learned that when a larger vehicle hits a smaller vehicle, the small vehicle takes most of the damage. Good thing I read that because I would never figure that out.

There’s even a table with a list of aggressive vehicles on it. This list came from NHTSA that collected the data. So someone didn’t just make up this list. The most aggressive vehicle according to the table is a Dodge B series van. When I see Dodge B series van I’m going to get the hell out of the way.

The section goes on to talk about when a motorcycle hits an automobile, the motorcycle driver flies over the automobile and hits the ground. When a motorcycle driver hits an aggressive vehicle, he or she will do a body slam into the side of that vehicle. I think all of these things any motorcycle rider can understand.

Riding a motorcycle is a risk-taking event. You can take classes on motorcycle safety, read books and wear safety gear. Every time you get on a motorcycle,  you’re taking a risk. That’s a fact. So when someone gives a vehicle a rating of “Aggressive” that’s stupid talk to me.

I would want to know why motorcycles are involved in accidents with these vehicles at a higher percentage than other vehicles. Maybe they’re design flaws in these vehicles that create blind spots for the driver. Who knows?

Why we need to go fast.

The earth rotates on its axis at about 1000 miles per hour. The earth also files around the sun about 67,000 miles per hour. Our solar system moves through the Milky Way galaxy at about 492,126 miles per hour. Do you see pattern here? Do you get the idea? We’re all on the move.

You have been moving since you were conceived, it’s not your fault. It’s in your DNA. The construction or design of your DNA surely was influenced from all of this motion. So I guess it’s only natural that we have created things that make us go faster. You have been told that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but that’s not going to keep us from trying.

My favorite thing to go fast on is my 2010 Yamaha Vmax. When I turn the throttle enough– the keyword here is enough; notice I didn’t say all the way, just enough– I go into the “Oh shit” mode. Not the “Really fun” mode or this is “Really cool” mode. No, it’s right to the “Oh shit” mode. The “Oh shit” mode is whole different place. What exactly is the “Oh shit” mode? Well, let’s use this analogy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfs8cxkPZFE]

Let’s suppose you like skydiving. You jump out of the airplane and after certain time period you reach down to pull the rip-cord. But in your haste to jump out of the airplane, you forgot to put on a parachute. Yep, there it is, the “Oh shit” mode.

As I get older, I thought that my need for speed would decrease, but it didn’t for some reason. Maybe “this a bad idea” neuron didn’t fire in my brain yet. It could be that the connection is disconnected during acceleration or it was blocked by “this is fun” neuron.

It seems that going fast in a car is not the same as going fast on a motorcycle. There’s a lot more feedback when you travel fast on a motorcycle. This is what going fast is all about, feedback from acceleration.

So the next time you get pulled over for doing 100 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour speed zone, just tell the officer that it’s in your DNA. Also remind him that you were really going 492,126,100 miles per hour. See how that goes.