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Kim and I attended the Sang-Froid Riding Club’s 5th Annual Alley Sweeper event.
This was our first time at the event and the bits of info I found online were not super forthcoming about what it was. I gathered it was a low key, do-what-you-want rally where you can go through a lot of unpaved back alleys, all public streets, and see a side of Portland most don’t know about.
Started with a lot of bikes:
Some needed extra TLC on the road:
We gave out cookies:
Started with a large herd:
After everyone started getting off the suggested route, we picked up some riders who figured out a sidecar passenger makes a wonderful navigator, and we hit a lot of great alleys.
After the riders spread out, the event was a lot more fun. Less worrying about being clipped by impatient solo bikes. We got stuck due to lots and lots of stickerbushes necking down to just enough room for a solo bike and had to turn around, helped by the dozen of riders behind us. Aftermath:
What stopped us, with plenty more of the same behind it:
Joined the group at Dusty’s, took photos there, got the Urals and the Triumph outfit all gathered together.
Hit the bonus stage and moseyed home for an entertaining evening. Good humorous stories about brushes with Portland’s finest, to retell at another time.
We met a lot of great folks, saw excellent motorcycles and had a good time. Even with the occasional rain shower, it was enjoyable and I can’t wait for next year’s Sweeper!
The Scrambler is sporting a new Dauntless Motors sidecar, the 599 is about to hit 55,000 miles and the Ruckus is back to road-ready after difficult bouts with a carb that gunks up if you don’t ride the scooter every single day.
I’ve got some classes scheduled in March with Team Oregon amongst familial obligations and the Portland Shamrock Run.
As fall makes itself known in Portland by dumping rain for days straight, it’s as good of a time as any to get the ol’ blag up to speed.
Summer lent itself to all kinds of good times. I’m now fully signed off as a range Instructor for TEAM OREGON, I wrapped up my sixth year with Idaho STAR, I ran a Tough Mudder in Seattle and there’s a new sidecar from DMC almost ready to be attached to the Scrambler.
Since most of the good weather was occupied with getting into a groove in Portland, there’s almost nothing to report for motorcycling excitement. This will be rectified next year: I’ll be getting in a trip, full stop. Maybe two, but we’ll not get ahead of ourselves.
There have been big changes at Motoblag headquarters. Earlier this year, we picked up stakes and moved to beautiful Portland, Oregon. New jobs were acquired along with a nice place to live with a small garage. The weekends have been filled with events of some kind or another, mostly wet with rain.
The stable still consists of the Honda 599, Triumph Scrambler sidecar rig and the Honda Ruckus scooter.
Last weekend, Kim and I did a sidecar dual sport skills class along with the Sunday run of the Black Dog rally. Photos and a writeup coming next week. It was a total blast!
We finally got our snow last week. The sidecar rig is the only motorcycle outside.
Thankfully the temperatures climbed back up shortly after this accumulation, and I got a change to work on the bike and take it to work since. Still looking at either making a set of chains or getting a cheap set of knobbies and doing the DIY studs.
The Velorex tub was real beat up from the Alaska/Canada road trip. After pricing out getting my own plastic welder, I instead poked around and found an auto parts store/body supply shop can do it for me. After taking the tub off, the damage was worse than I thought.
I also bent the rear tub support back into shape. I think it was still off from the outfit’s initial, err, barrel roll. Now, the tub doesn’t move around nearly as much and doesn’t crash and bang over bumps. Right on!
In case of an accident or near-miss, you must take one big step: placing responsibility on yourself.
Don’t blame your bike. Don’t blame your tires. Don’t blame other motorists. Identify what you did right, what you did wrong and learn from it.
Identify the Mistakes
Start with what happened. We’ll use a story to illustrate our point:
Joe Rider is riding down a street with two lanes each way when the truck ahead of him in the left lane slows before reaching a crosswalk. Joe recognizes the brake lights but as far as he can see, his path of travel is clear, so he keeps his speed up. When Joe reaches the crosswalk, he just misses clipping a pedestrian appearing from the front of the truck. Arriving at his destination, he takes off his gear in a huff and tells all of his friends about the stupid pedestrian that almost walked into his bike, but he is still glad there was no damage done to anyone or anything involved.
What happened here? Joe Rider was aware enough to identify the crosswalk and truck slowing. However, he did not take into account the reduction of visibility the truck caused. The larger vehicle effectively shielded the pedestrian from Joe’s sight.
Mistake one: not realizing the truck was causing a reduction in visibility. Joe could have slowed or changed position in his lane to improve what he could see.
Mistake two: not slowing. The truck was slowing. The driver may have been turning without signaling, but that would be an incorrect assumption.
Mistake three: trying to put blame on the pedestrian. “They were walking too quickly.” “They should have been looking.” It’s the motorist’s responsibility to yield to pedestrians.
Mistake four: rationalization. “A miss is as good as a mile” is the wrong attitude to have. What if the next time this scenario happens, the pedestrian is a little bit faster? The rider and pedestrian could end up in the hospital. The rider needs to learn from their mistakes.
If Joe realizes it’s his fault if he collides with a pedestrian, he will start looking into why it was a close call. He will hopefully identify the mistakes listed above and determine why he made them, how they affected the scenario and how to fix them in the future.
Once the mistakes have been identified, the rider can determine what they did wrong, what the did right and how to improve their safety in the situation. Joe needs to take a close look at what he deems is acceptable visibility of his environment and how to improve his riding to meet a stricter standard. For example, he could have slowed his motorcycle to reduce the effect of reduced visibility from the truck.
Learning from Mistakes Made by Others
As a rider, you need all the learning you can get. Any time you hear or read about an accident, find out as much information as possible, identify possible mistakes and figure out what you would do in the situation. Learning from mistakes other folks make is a valuable method to avoiding tears and expensive damage to your bike or your body.
Coming off last week’s post, I want to discuss a tangent, one I’ve been pondering for a while. As the title of this post says, perfect is the enemy of good.
To tie in to the adventure posing scourge, there’s a sizable amount of motorcyclists who think they need the absolute latest and greatest to do anything. They’ll look at a gravel road and think they need some big ol’ knobby tires to even think about traveling on it. Or when wanting to go long distances, they’ll upgrade their bike with a fuel tank to beggar some cars, get a huge windscreen and a GPS wired into the bike before they even take a day trip.
What they should be doing is heading out on the road, getting some experience and find out through that first-hand knowledge what they should change on their bike. It’s easy to find what internet forums think one should do to the motorcycle, but the most important drive should be from seeing what needs to be fixed. That small fuel tank? Not a problem unless you’re tackling one of a handful of roads in North America. GPS? Getting lost, I mean finding an alternate path of travel, is a great way to find and connect with some locals.
This is not to disparage the use of GPS and other items to make traveling easier, but it’s not for everyone. Sometimes motorcycling is about the simplicity of being out in the wind and using what you have.
You don’t need perfect to enjoy the ride, you just need good enough.
One of my biggest points of contention is not folks modifying their motorcycles, but thinking their motorcycles won’t do what they want, before they try it. I was taken aback when someone stumbled on my first trip to Alaska on the 599 and their response was “wow, he did that on such a small bike!” They were under the assumption you needed a big bike with a big engine to attempt the trip. I hope they realized whatever they are riding is more than likely enough. Seeing a big touring bike kept as a garage trophy instead of seeing the world, even a small slice of it, makes me shake my head in dismay. That’s my opinion: some folks enjoy sitting in the garage, drinking a beer and polishing the bike, but that’s not what motorbikes were made to do. Maybe the owner would feel better if they became a weekend warrior, or picked a riding goal and made it a priority to improve it. For example, there’s plenty of aspects of cornering that every ride can work at polishing. And I hope they eventually do make that a higher priority than researching the best polish on the internet.
I would like all my rambling about motorcycles to be encouraging to folks to try things out. See if touring is up your alley, or endurance riding, dual sporting, scootering, racing whatever you have toggles your fun button, but try something new. Just try!