I am an ordinary guy who enjoys riding motorcycles. I love riding all makes and models. I love short rides, long rides, and multi-day road trips. I post reviews about motorcycle gear, motorcycles, roads, restaurants, sights, gadgets and more. The Motorcycle Facts,Trivia and History page has a lot of good info. Be safe and enjoy the ride, Oz.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Why on earth do you do that?

*** The following is also on the I Just Want 2 Ride blog as a guest post ***
 
I must admit, as a child my parents asked me that question many times. As an adult, I still get that inquisitive look and even if the words are not said, the eyes shout that question to some degree. When I first told friends that I was going to volunteer to get up early, keep my eyes on the track, and pick up crashed motorcycles at the races I both saw and heard “why,” or in a few cases “how did you arrange that?”

Until 2012, the only races I watched were Olympic Track and Field races. I did not watch or follow any motorsport racing. I first started watching motorcycle racing when my son, who was 14 at the time, did a research paper on Valentino Rossi. He and I accepted the invitation of a friend to watch the MotoGP races at his place. After several Sundays of watching races, my interest rose and I began studying the rules, regulations, classes, and riders. Two years later I was hosting MotoGP watch parties at a local BBQ joint in the “party room” and inviting people in the area who either already watched, had the same curiosity I had a few years ago, or were just looking for a way to hang out and meet others who rode. We would connect the laptop to a big TV and watch the replay of races that often happened in the early hours of the morning, as they were held overseas. Some years we had door prizes from local dealerships and shops for attendees at the first and last races of the year.

 
Opening Race 2023 was well attended and full of fun and excitement.

When it was announced the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, TX was hosting a MotoGP round in 2013, I decided to attend with some friends. The live action was amazing and I was hooked. Before the event, I had received an email from one of the track marshal organizers asking if I would share the request for volunteers with my Christian Motorcyclists Association friends (at the time I was part of the North Texas Leadership Team). I knew nothing about track marshaling or what it entailed, so I passed the information on to others but did not volunteer myself.

Two years later with my son being 18 years old, we researched what track marshals did and both registered to volunteer at the 2015 race. (flaggers and rider assist positions were also available). Our volunteer applications were accepted and we were able to learn even more that weekend at COTA. It was a fun experience and to see and hear the bike go by that close to us was something you couldn’t get from normal seating at the track. I returned to volunteer in 2017, 2020, 2021, 2023, and again this year, 2024. I also was a track marshal for the 2023 MotoAmerica round at COTA. The MotoAmerica paddock is more open and fans are allowed a lot more access to riders.

 
 
My son and I were waiting for the trailer to take MotoGP Legend Andrea Dovizioso’s bike that ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap. Dovi placed 2nd and had already caught a ride to the podium celebration.

So why do I volunteer three full days to be a track marshal?

1) A love for motorcycle racing and the view of the races is the best you can get. You not only see the races, you feel the races. DO NOT volunteer if you are trying to get content for social media - there are strict rules concerning personal cameras, cell phones etc…

2) The opportunity to help provide a safe (as much as possible) racing environment for the riders.

3) To help represent the USA on a world stage by being part of a high-quality track marshal team.

4) The chance to promote, and encourage motorcycling in America. Without volunteers, most racing series would not survive.

5) The chance to meet volunteers from around the world i.e. Czech Republic, Australia, Mexico, England, and others. I now have friends in many other countries that I have met while volunteering at these events. One friend, Roberto, I now pick up at the Austin airport and he stays with me and other friends who attend the race at a rental house for the weekend.

6) The opportunity to walk the paddock and meet riders and their team members when allowed. While there isn’t always a ton of time during the weekend, occasionally there will be opportunities to experience some of the event as a fan as well.

7) The opportunity to share your passion for motorcycling and motorcycling racing.






What is needed to be a track marshal volunteer?

1) Willingness and commitment. Please DO NOT accept a volunteer position and then not attend. Each year I am surprised at the number of “no-shows” that take place. One year over 100 volunteers didn’t show! The volunteer organizers work hard every year to recruit, rearrange, and fill in as needed to make sure America does not fail MotoGP.

2) A good attitude. This is not the place for egos. People need to be flexible, humble, helpful, and willing to follow instructions. The only line to be “drawn in the sand” is one’s safety.

3) Willingness to attend virtual training sessions before the race weekend. Usually one or two training sessions of 1 to 1.5 hours.

4) Understanding and commitment to do your best regardless of the weather conditions. Rain, cold, or hot and sometimes all three in one weekend can happen, but the races go on.

5) Come with a humble attitude and willingness to follow directions given by experienced team members. Not following instructions can lead to problems and/or injuries.

 
The global MotoGP feed is running while I help Aleix Espargaro #41 after a high-speed crash

What do track volunteers get for their time and efforts?

1) The best seats in the house! Nothing blocking the view of the race as they ride by your station.

2) Breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided. Water and sports drinks are provided at each station during each day.

3) Opportunities to walk on the track, meet riders, and be a part of the event

4) “Swag bag” for each volunteer. Items in the bag may change but each year I have received a custom volunteer cap, t-shirt, race program book, and other items. Past goodies have included a COTA or MotoGP mug, sunglasses, a keychain, sunscreen, a small notebook, etc.

5) Free parking (at the volunteer lot)

6) Three complimentary tickets to share with friends or family. Each ticket is good for one entry so one person can enter each day or three could enter for one day. This year (2024) my complimentary tickets helped two friends get seats on the starting grid opposite the VIP suites and stands!

7) A satisfaction and sense of pride in being a part of the team ensuring the event is successful.

 
Celebrating with Joe Roberts after finishing 2nd in Moto2 - first American to finish on the podium at an American GP since Ben Spies in 2011 at Indianapolis. Joe took my flag on the celebration ride and garage celebration.

What are the “value-added” aspects of being a track marshal?

1) Meet other race fans and make new friends from all over the United States and the world. Over the years there have been track marshals from Australia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Ukraine, South Africa, and others!

2) Future preference when volunteering to marshal other racing events, including MotoAmerica and Formula 1 (provided you fulfill your commitment and aren’t one of the “difficult” marshals). Leadership will even help if you want to try to marshal at an international race!

3) Potential opportunity to help riders who have gone down, and see the most expensive, high-powered motorcycles in the world up close!

4) To be a small part of the MotoGP World Championship and the racing excitement that has made you a fan of the sport. As I mentioned before, they rely heavily on volunteers to make these events operate smoothly and continue to be something we can enjoy for years to come

5) For riders who enjoy track days, club racing, or are considering either can see the best of the world and get a clearer idea of advanced riding techniques.

 
2018 Valentino Rossi’s bike getting prepared for the race.

What jobs are available for volunteers and what do they do?

Track Marshal - check track for debris before and between races, quickly assist a down rider restart or remove the bike (“be quick but don’t rush’), help ensure riders safely get off the track.
Flaggers - when appropriate or directed display the appropriate flag to communicate with the riders track situations or conditions.
Rider Assist - assist medic in cases where a rider is injured.

*** All three positions work as a team to ensure the safety of riders and volunteers. ***

How does one go about volunteering?

1) Visit the Circuit of the Americas volunteer page and register.

2) Visit the MotorsportsReg page and search for the event you want to work.

3) Central RoadRacing Association volunteer opportunities.

4) Central Motorcycle Racing Association volunteer opportunities

5) Visit the webpage of the track you want to marshal at and search for the volunteer tab.
 
As a fellow track marshal, Rich Overton, stated "Sometimes it takes until the last race of the last day, but every event I have worked, something happens that makes the whole weekend worthwhile, and you never know what is is going to be until it happens."
 
Not all motorcycle races have the same volunteer organizers, so you may have to search the internet or call the track. Volunteers are needed at all levels and all types of motorcycle racing so there are a lot of opportunities. Give it a try and I believe you will find it rewarding.



Saturday, March 30, 2024

Bob's Cafe - Ethridge, Tennessee

When out riding a good hamburger for lunch is hard to beat and I have been known to plan routes to coincide lunch with a good burger joint.  One of my all time favorite restaurant for a burger is Burger Land in Paris, Texas and is the benchmark for great burgers.  Recently, after a fun time at a local gun range, my son and I decided a hamburger and fries sounded good.  I had seen and heard about Bob's Cafe in Ethridge, TN.  We headed that direction and were hoping we would not be disappointed. 

Bob's Cafe sits on the west side of US 43 adjacent to the Amish Welcome Center & Wagon Tours.  Which if you have time riding around the large Amish community is very interesting and shopping at the Amish market is fun.  Note - the Amish market and Amish family businesses are closed on Sundays.

Signs at the end of Amish driveways states what is made and sold by that family

A traditional Amish home with a white farm house and a red barn.

 The Amish community in Ethridge is a thriving and productive community.  It is fun to ride or drive around and see the farms and the products made and sold by each family.  After lunch my son and I visited a couple of families that built cedar chests as I was searching for my wife's birthday gift.  The next week I ending up buying a four level bird house from one family and a cedar chest for my wife's birthday from a different family.  The protocol is to drive up the the house and someone will come and you ask to see the cedar chests (or whatever it is you are looking for that they sell).  The people were very friendly and helpful.  Take cash as they do not accept checks or credit cards.

Bob's Cafe is easy to spot from US-43

Bob's has plenty of parking and a simple country style front porch.  As we entered we received a friendly and warm welcome before being seated promptly.  Tables are spaced with plenty of room and the decor is country, welcoming and comfortable.


Country decor and comfortable seating

The menu had several great options so we considered some of the options but Richard and I were craving a good country hamburger.  Of course we were able to individually customize our burger.

There are plenty of good options at Bob's Cafe.

As we waited for lunch we enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere.  I noticed some motorcycle related signs on the walls and that piqued my interest.  I went to wash my hands before eating and notice even more motorcycle related items and a China cabinet turned trophy case that caught my eye.

In the cabinet/trophy case there was a motorcycle helmet and two simple trophies with a motorcycle  on each one.  As I read the trophies I was impressed.  Each one was from the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials! 

500CC and 2000CC land speed records

The trophies were engraved with the following:

Bonneville Speedweek            Bonneville Speedweek
2006                                         2006
Aug 12 - 18th                                Aug 12 - 18th  
Record                                         Record
#6211B                                         #609B
Goldwing Lyon Bobbi              Goldwing Lyon Bobbi
500cc / MPS-VBF                  2000cc / M - BG
69.427 MPH                           129.629 MPH

I asked if Bobbi was around, but she was not.  Bob's Cafe is named after Bobbi and she is there sometimes.  I hope to get to meet her and visit with her on one of my next visits.  

Back to lunch - The burgers and fries arrived in a timely manner and were made just as we ordered.  The meat was fresh and seasoned well, but not over seasoned.  The "fixin's" were also fresh and tasty.  Richard added bacon and he said it was good bacon (as though there is bad bacon :) ).  
 


The traditional hamburger and fries tasted great and satisfied our hankering.  We both enjoyed the food and the atmosphere.  I will be returning to Bob's Cafe.  If you find yourself near Ethridge, TN and its time for lunch or dinner give Bob's a try, I believe you will be happy with your meal.


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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Arai Helmet Review


There are so many helmet manufacturers and a plethora of models.  Making a choice can take some serious time and involve both online research and/or in person research.  So many questions need to b e answered by each individual to help make a decision that one will not regret.  Some of the questions are: What is my budget?  What type of riding do I plan to do?  What features do I want?  Is ventilation or quietness more important?  Do I want built in drop down sunglassess? Do I want full-faced, 3/4, 1/2, modular?

Taking into consideration all my answers and what I wanted in a helmet I started looking for a new helmet after I realized my AGV K1 did not have the ventilation I desired.  Ventilation locations are engineered with specific riding styles in mind and I was not riding a supersport bike so the AGV K1 wasn't what I needed.

 
I researched and read reviews before going to three different shops in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to see and try on various brands and models. I spent a good amount of hands on time with the helmets checking features, design, fit and finish.

I kept going back to a couple of Arai helmets but they just did not feel as good as the only other Arai I ever owned - Arai Profile Hotrod  I bought at a silent auction in late 2016, but that model was not available in the shops I visited.  I decided to check online for the helmet I wanted.

I found a European website, Motocard, that had the Profile!  They had a few different paint schemes including the Nicky Hayden replica.  I was so happy and placed the order.  In seven business days I had my helmet.


The Aria Profile Nicky Hayden pays tribute to the last American MotoGP champion with a high quality design and finish.  The air vents are plentiful with a big chin vent, two scalp vents,  two brow vents located at the top of the visor and five exhaust vents.  The removable and washable liner and the cheek pads are plush and durable. And, to top it off the helmet is designed for safety with the Arai "glance off" technology.


The newer version of the Profile is easier to change the visor with its pop-off side pod.  This system makes changing the visors quick and simple.  The visor comes pinlock ready and the pinlock works great and is easy to install.


Now after wearing the helmet for over a year I can say without hesitation this is the best helmet I have ever worn.  When riding at a "spirited" pace the road noise is less than other helmets I have owned.  The vents provide good air flow keeping heat to a minimum.  
Two top vents, two brow vents and a big chin vent

The big brow vents allow at airflow.


The plush interior is comfortable and wicks moisture away. Even at the end of a long day of riding (300+ miles) my face and head are not fatigued from the helmet.  

If you are looking for a quality helmet and your budget will allow $350 - $450 I highly recommend you consider the Arai Profile. 

Connect and follow Biker Oz on the following:

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* I have personally ordered from and/or visited these businesses and based on my experiences I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with the businesses, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!
 
Feedback on these businesses is appreciated.  You may comment below.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Two Wheels to Train Tracks

 

Riding in the Colorado Rockies, July 2023
 hi

Riding in the Rocky Mountains is always a great experience.  Each mountain town has something fun, unique, historic, beautiful or a combination.  Durango sits on a portion of US Hwy 550 known as The Million Dollar Highway.  This road is deservedly on many lists of great roads to ride.  I have ridden it several times and enjoy the ride each time.  However, I have not always taken the time to stop and enjoy various towns, sites, attractions and experiences that are available along the way.

My 2023 Beat The Heat (BTH) tour was based out of Durango and we had five great days of riding and enjoying the breathtaking views, the unique and at times quirky mountain towns in Southwest Colorado.  Over the years I had ridden through Durgango several times but had not made time to experience the Durango - Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, well in July 2023 that changed.

The crew is preparing the train for the day's trip.

The Durango - Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has a rich history having arrived in Durango in 1881.  Transporting both people and freight the train was very busy. Over time it is estimated the rail hauled over $300 million in precious metals through the years.  The train is a registered as a National Historic Landmark and Hollywood has used the trains while filming various movies including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Today the train is a popular attraction and provides year-round rides.  Several differnt rides/experiences are offered, all using original locomotives and cars.

Hollywood used the train in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

We decided on the excursion day of the BTH 2023 we were going to ride the train.  The most famous option is the ride to Silverton and back, but that is a 3.5 hour each way ride with a two hour layover in Silverton.  We were riding the motorcycles through Silverton the next day so we opted for the Cascade Canyon ride. 

The gondola allowed us to experience the ride in the fresh mountain air
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The BTH group reserved seats in one of the gondolas (roof and seats but open sides) going to Cascade Canyon.  This would be a 2.5 hour ride to Cascade Canyon with a one hour lunch time stop and then the ride back to the station.  We packed our own "brown bag" lunches for the day; however, an option to order a lunch in advance is provided, as well as a concession car is available during the ride.

There are several engines and cars with rich history

We arrived early so we could view the trains, checkout the gift store and some went to the free museum. Parking was easy, but in July there are a lot of people on vacation in Durango.  The staff did a great job of greeting everyone and when time for departure, ensuring we all loaded in a timely member. 

With a tradition long whistle from the steam engine the train pulled out of the station.  The tracks run almost parallel to CO 550 aka the Million Dollar Highway and along side the Animas River for about 16 miles.  It continues to run near the river and rises in elevation through scenic San Juan National Forest in the La Plata Mountain Range.

Our train winding up the canyon
 

Running along the Animas River the views were breathtaking

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The train ride meanders through the forest and rises to 8,500+ feet in elevation.  The train stops in Cascade Canyon allowing riders an hour to explore, eat lunch, relax, play in the river... before the designated whistle signals it's time to board for the ride back to Durango.  

We enjoyed lunch a walk around Cascade Canyon

View from Cascade Canyon

Although the trip back to Durango is on the same tracks you get a different view of the mountains, canyon and river.  Of course the angle of the sun illuminates and shadows different areas making the views different.  

The Animas River carves through the canyon

The train left the station approximately at 9:45am and we arrived back at the station about 3:00pm leaving us time to walk to Cream Bean Berry for some great ice cream!

There is always time for ice cream

When you are riding in southwest Colorado take some time and enjoy a relaxing and scenic ride on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Train.  I bet the the fall or winter train ride would be awesome.

Leave a comment below of your favorite Rocky Mountain town, sight or attraction.


Connect and follow Biker Oz on the following:

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Please visit the following great companies:

 

Ordinary Biker Oz YouTube Channel has video reviews and more


* I have personally ordered from and/or visited these businesses and based on my experiences I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with the businesses, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!
 
Feedback on these businesses is appreciated.  You may comment below.

 


Sunday, January 28, 2024

Is the End of Motorcycles Near?

 

For several years now I have seen more headlines and read more articles lamenting the end of motorcycling (as they see it).  Different authors and pundits point to a plethora of stats and demographic information to bolster their case.  Age of current riders, cost of ownership, declining sales, out of date image of a "biker," safety concerns and tightening regulations are just some of the "worrisome" signs for the motorcycle industry. 

However, as I continue to ride my experiences differ from many headlines on the topic of motorcycling.  My experiences; however, are not scientific in nature or method.  A little research on recent sales numbers shows positive growth in the market, although previous years had some declines.

There is a general push to attract younger riders.  Marketing for most motorcycle manufacturers is geared towards the 20-somethings and 30-somethings.  

Motorcycle Sales Chart 2018 

Autoweek stated in a July article, "Following an increasing trend in motorcycle sales and ridership started by the COVID-19 pandemic, motorcycle manufacturers are continuing to see record sales numbers in 2023."  

MotorcycleData.com reported a 1.1% increase in sales in the first 9 months of 2023.  Other publications and websites expressed similar statistics.  So what are we to believe?

I don't know, but I do know I enjoy greatly riding motorcycles, talking about motorcycles, writing about motorcycles, going to motorcycle charity events, watching motorcycle racing and most other motorcycle related things.

I do believe the more motorcyclists we have the healthier the entire industry will be.  A healthy motorcycle industry means more market competition, which means better pricing, better products and more options for consumers.  A larger and healthier motorcycle community also wields more clout in regards to regulations.

How Far Can You Lean a Motorcycle? (Max Lean Angle!) - Bike Restart
Experience the excitement of motorcycle racing

So I was thinking how can we in the motorcycle community help promote this sport, lifestyle, industry, mode of transportation, and community we love?  How can we create a win-win situation for all of us that are involved and connected to motorcycling?  

Motorcycle Humor – Humorous Motorcycle Short Stories

Below are ten ways I thought of to bolster motorcycling.  I am sure there are more and I would love to hear your ideas.

Ways to promote the wonderful world of motorcycles!

1) Ride - ride often, ride to any place, be seen having fun - just ride!

2) Assist and encourage new riders, especially on social media.  I have read too many post where someone's comments are sarcastic, unhelpful, mean or anything less than encouraging.  Why would someone want to be a part of that?  

3) Support local shops, stores and dealership.  This doesn't mean I don't order online at times, but I do make sure to buy some things locally.  I will also give them a chance to match the price.  If we lose local shops it hurts the biker community.

King of the Baggers set for European arrival with new M... | Visordown
600+ lb King of the Baggers on the race track!

4) Follow, watch and talk about the various motorcycle racing series. There is some great racing of all types of motorcycles.  Watch some of all and see what you like.   MotoGP, World Super Bikes, MotoAmerica, Supercross, Motocross, Flat Track just to name a few. (I know some require a subscription in order to watch so it's difficult to watch them all.)  The King of the Baggers  class in MotoAmerica is awesome to watch!  Search YouTube because some are free to watch there.

5) Support the sponsors of a race series - connect on social media, buy products and/or email companies and thank them for supporting motorcycle racing. 

6) Connect with riders and/or series on social media, this will increase a riders" or series' "value" to sponsors.

7) When possible attend a motorcycle event - rally, race, show, bike night...

8) Host a watch party for races.  For the past 8 years a good of friends and I have hosted MotoGP race watching at a local BBQ restaurant and plugged in the computer to the big TV and watched races that took place in Europe, Asia or other countries.   We invited others through social media and all gathered to watch even when it had taken place hours earlier.  It is fun and I met a lot of other riders and/or want to be riders.

Opening round of the 2023 season watch party at Rudy's Country Store

9) Increase knowledge and skill in order to keep yourself safe and to be prepared to give correct and safe information to less experienced riders.  Use layman terms when talking to a new or prospective rider.  Some riders talk down to new riders to show how much he/she knows.  Be encouraging, accepting and accurate, but use terms less experienced riders will understand.

Accepting and helping new riders is good for everyone.
 

10) Join a motorcycle/rider rights organization - American Motorcycle Association, Motorcycle Riders Foundation, ABATE to name a few.

I really believe when individuals see riders enjoying life, having fun, making meaningful contributions to the community, welcoming ALL riders and getting along regardless of different make and models those individuals will be drawn to motorcycling.  New riders will be good for the community.  

What ways do you see to help the motorcycling community?  How can we grow the sport/activity we love?  Add your thoughts in the comments.