SHARING IS CARING?

I was touched by a message that appeared on PC screen after I shared a webpage with a friend: “sharing is caring” red the pop-up and in my critical mind it opened the classical question: Why? Why sharing a piece of information is a sign of caring for the people involved in the exchange?

The young persons from the Macedonian town of Veles who launched in the last months 140 US political websites and “shared” thousands of fake news about the candidates for the US presidency, surely these teens had other objectives in mind other than caring for the audience: “watching as money began trickling into the Google AdSense account” was probably the first motivation. Still many choose to believe to fabricated news without any supporting reference instead of trusting serious journalists spending efforts and time to document the information.

I guess the same applies to the zillions of pictures that we share in social media: sharing is self satisfaction and caring depends only on the reason why one share.

Example: riding to Cappadocia, one of the most important sites of Turkey, is definitely worth sharing with fellow riders. Sharing pictures of shining bikes and shining helmets on the foreground of Fairy Chimneys is not too much caring but only showing what one can do with money and bike.

Sharing the itinerary with suggestions about the best roads, where to stay, how to meander on unbeaten paths, the best places “biker friendly” this is, in my opinion, a way to care.

Offering a reason to go out and repeat the ride, definitely illustrated by good pictures.

When a teacher (any teacher or trainer) share the knowledge with somebody desiring to learn it is not an obvious act of caring: think about the numerous teacher we had a school that did not care at all about our person and our learning: they were just “showing” their competence, building their authority, pleased to demonstrate our ignorance. Sharing (maybe) not caring (definitely).

Still the statement “sharing is caring” contains a deep truth: it is impossible to really share without really caring for the person we share with. Without understanding and appreciation of the person we share with, there is no possibility of sharing.

I was thinking about this during a recent meeting of motorcyclist discussing the best way to improve competence and safety in riding: we spoke about the opportunity that technology offers for sharing, we spoke about new initiatives for sharing our way of living motorcycling, we spoke very little about our kind attention for fellow riders and our passion for going out on two wheels. The deep friendship that connects all bikers is now reserved just to the members of our group. To use R. D. Putman terminology we have more “bonding trust” than “bridging trust” and the “social capital” of the motorcycling community is at risk.

While connected by many and intelligent way, we risk to use the social media and the social opportunities to reinforce the affiliation to the small group we belong instead of using the same tools to open up to new experience, new bikers and new ideas coming with them. In the old times we were spending hours (normally Saturday mornings) in MC dealers’ shops, in places selling MC accessories and gears, in workshops where bikes were improved or repaired, in café nearby where bikers would stop.

We met every time new people, bikers or would-like–to-be-bikers sharing with them experiences, planning new rides, listening to amazing (and sometime incredible) acts of bravery. We shared and, more important, we cared about each other, about building a lasting friendship with persons who will rarely met again.

This atmosphere of sharing and caring can be felt today at some racing events club level.

I went to see the departure and arrival of the Baja Anatolia, an enduro event that generous bikers organized on the south coast of Turkey to fill the place left empty by the cancellation of the “Transanatolia International Rally”. The intelligence of the organizers, the care they took for pilots and spectators, the spirit and friendship of the whole events were to me a good example of caring and, as result of caring, they managed to share knowledge, information and passion.

It is the lesson from every good ride: a group of friend caring with kindness for each other deeply share with passion the learning from the “road”.

Kindness in caring and Passion in sharing are the two elements that must be present in any social network: without these two elements sharing turns into a selfish celebration or a commercial act.

Valentino Rossi on “who is crazier?”

In the now far away May of 2008 Valentino Rossi gave an interview to the journalist Emanuele Farneti for the Italian magazine “Panorama”. A very candid interview that covered, among many subjects, the test that Valentino Rossi did in 2004 (12 years ago) with Ferrari Formula One team.

In 2004 – asked Mr. Farneti- you tested a Ferrari thinking of moving to Formula One; then you decided to stay in MotoGP and on two wheels. Do you regret that decision?

It was a difficult choice – answered Valentino Rossi. Very difficult. Regretful is not the right word but sometime I am looking back since I am left with the curiosity of knowing what I could have done in that sport.

I was fast in the tests and it has always been my dream to race with Ferrari. Still, at that time I was not ready to jump, therefore I continued with motorcycling.

Driving a Formula car and riding a GP motorcycle are two emotions, two sensations totally different.

F1 is the extreme pleasure of driving: you are not in a car, more a Jet plane giving to the pilot great motivations. For a motorcyclist it is a strange sensation since you have to put legs into a black hole.

The F1 pilots tell us that we are crazy because we stay OUTSIDE while we, the bikers, tell them that they are the real crazy because they stay INSIDE the box.

Who is crazier? I believe we are.

ESSENTIAL LIBRARY: A classic seriously meditative. Justifiably famous. Most literate literature.

I received an interesting suggestion for the MOTORCYCLIST’S ESSENTIAL LIBRARY from our Bulletin reader Boran Gökbulut. Chris Harman “A People’s History of the World” is the suggested book: History – wrote Mr. Harman- is about the sequence of events that led to the lives we lead today. It is the story of how we came to be ourselves. As such this book can help in understanding how we came to be motorcyclists if you have the strength and time to go through 620 pages in small print. I consider this book one of the best account of human history and I strongly recommend the reading: nevertheless, I cannot insert it in the MC ESSENTIAL LIBRARY without changing the criteria of selection.

The book of this month entering the hall of fame of the library is a classic one: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (in picture)

Aerostich catalog have few simple words presenting this masterpiece: “No rider’s library should be without this classic account of one rider’s search for a philosophy of value and his quest for meaning in life. Beautifully written. Filled with ideas about sanity, quality and values. An amazing story. Seriously meditative. Justifiably famous. Most literate literature”

SO FAR, IN THE ESSENTIAL LIBRARY:

When not listed differently all books are available in English on line at Aerostich

  1. Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider’s Handbook to Better Motorcycling (available in Turkish at OMM)
  2. Full Control (available in Turkish at OMM)
  3. Total Control: High Performance Street Riding Techniques by Lee Parks (available in Turkish at OMM)
  4. The Perfect Vehicle: What It Is About Motorcycles by Melissa Holbrook Pierson
  5. “The Upper Half of the Motorcycle: On the Unity of Rider and Machine” by Bernt Spiegel
  6. “Bodies in motion” by Steven L. Thompson
  7. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Prising

The HOOK: talking of Bobby Zimmerman, Bob Dillon and Nobel prize Bob Dylan (by Bob Higdon)

The Bob Higdon is a combination of great personalities in one genious human: scolar, philosopher, lawyer, writer, joirnalist and “million mile Rider”. An examplary set of talents for all of us who for many years enjoyed his articles and learned from his speculative sense of humor.

With the surprise nomination of Bob Dylan as Nobel Prize for litterature 2016, I asked Bob to give permission to reprint a mistic article he wrote time ago on the famous singer and poets here united to Andy Goldfine the creator of RoadCrafter. Bob magnanimously agreed.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Aerostich company, Andy Goldfine invited friends, family, and fans to Duluth, Minnesota at the end of August last year for the third iteration ― he’s been putting on this event at five-year intervals since 2003 ― of the Very Boring Rally. Included in the rally package was a list of things to see in the area, notably the boyhood home of Bobby Zimmerman at 519 N. 3rd Avenue E.

I rode over to take a look. The house is a duplex, clinging gamely to a fairly steep slope. Lake Superior sits at the bottom of the hill to the southeast. I shut down the motor and stared at the house.

“This is it,” I thought. “The hook. Two dudes from Duluth. Zimmerman, the guy who can’t keep a motorcycle upright, and Goldfine, the guy who treats bikes as a transformative personal and social good. It’s perfect. The conflict is built-in. The story will write itself.”

And it did, though it took six months and produced more than a little soul-crushing inadequacy. But I see that I am a bit ahead of myself. I need to explain a couple of things.

First, the hook. If you take a motorcycle ride and write a story about your adventure, you need to tell your readers more than what you paid for gas and how the eggs were cooked at Mom’s Cafe. That’s what is wrong with all the worthless touring stories that appear in motorcycle club newsletters and magazines. There’s no hook, nothing to grab the reader and say, “Here, this is what makes my ride unique.” Every good story ― from a half-hour television comedy to the King James Bible ― snares the audience.

Second, Bobby Zimmerman. That was his name before he reinvented himself as Bob Dillon (later Bob Dylan), moved to New York, and became part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene in 1961. He would be my bad dude in counterpoint to Goldfine, my good dude. There’s the hook: a modern western with Duluth as a seminal O.K. corral, guy in black hat, guy in white hat, and motorcycles instead of horses. Nothing to it.

Making a villain out of the youthful Bob Dylan was child’s play. Upon arriving in New York he immediately began erasing all ties to his middle-class background, telling gullible interviewers that he’d traveled with the circus for six years, struggled with a $25/day heroin habit, and worked occasionally as a male whore. He treated friends shabbily, but he had raw talent and finally got his wish. The curly-haired kid from N. 3rd Avenue E became famous.

Then on July 29, 1966 near Woodstock, New York he crashed his two-year old Triumph T100, a cut-down version of the 650 Bonneville.

Over the years he told at least three versions of how the accident happened. The simple truth was that his motorcycle skills were marginal at best. Joan Baez wrote that Dylan “used to hang on that thing like a sack of flour.” He most likely had been starting out on cold, underinflated tires and crashed in the first fifty feet.

Although he claimed that he’d shattered several cervical vertebrae and was in critical condition for a week, no cop or ambulance was called. He was taken not to a hospital but to the home of a hippie physician who specialized in keeping the press away from his patient for the next six weeks. The wreck gave Dylan time to restructure a life that had been spiraling wildly out of control for several years.

He told an interviewer, “I probably would have died if I had kept on going the way I had been.” He would not go back out on tour for eight years.

Painting Andy Goldfine as a righteous cowboy was equally easy. He has spent his adult life trying to keep motorcyclists in one piece, so to speak. In 1982 he acquired some industrial-strength sewing machines, fit only for producing outdoor clothing like snowmobile suits.

So what do you get when you take a college philosophy major who rides a bike and owns a bunch of sewing machines? The iconic Roadcrafter one-piece riding suit.

Although designed as utilitarian commuter-wear, it was quickly adopted by the motorcycle press corps and by a more adventurous and determined audience. “I get photos from riders at the four corners of everywhere,” Andy says. “I’d be just as happy if they were riding the suits to work.” Be that as it may, the modern symbol of the long-distance rider, John Ryan, was so inextricably identified with the Roadcrafter that he was laid to rest in one last fall.

For Goldfine it’s always been about more than selling stuff.

He really believes that riding a bike makes you a healthier, happier, more well-adjusted person.

He will go on endlessly about dopamine and endorphin secretions. He gets excited. His eyes light up. He’s his own ShamWow commercial. But wait! There’s more! Riding a bike isn’t easy. Ask Bobby Zimmerman. Both hands and both feet operate in an intricate, sophisticated dance. All five senses are on alert. The brain and the ass and everything else battle for control. Pull this trick off actually guide the two-wheeled bitch to a finish where and when you want to and you’re a self-validated genius. No wonder you feel so damned good.

I tossed in a final paragraph about Dylan spending his life blowin’ in the wind and singing the same song two hundred million times, while Andy’s times were always a-changin’. Cheap tropes, of course, but easy.

The column was in the bag. I e-mailed it to Bill Shaw and Mike Kneebone with a note: “I’ve sent it to Andy for fact checking, but I think he’ll sign off.”

He didn’t quite.

He mentioned in a return e-mail that he and Dylan are first cousins once removed. I felt a little queasy. It got worse. The duplex where the Zimmermans lived on N. 3rd Avenue E was owned by Andy’s grandparents. Ouch. And maybe I was being a little rough on the young Bob D.

Sure, he was telling some tall tales in the early days, but if you’re nineteen and desperate to be noticed, you’ll say anything.

I stopped reading and called Andy.

We talked for 40 minutes. I wasn’t trying to save my story. I knew it was atomic dust. My entire concept had been premised on smacking an ambitious kid eager to make it in the toughest racket imaginable, a guy who would rewrite the history of American music.

He had a dumb bike crash and was embarrassed about it; like I haven’t, again and again. Fifty-something albums in 50+ years. Dust. Every word was dust.

We hung up. Why hadn’t he told those of us at the rally about the history of the Zimmermans and Goldfines? I shook my head. Not his style. By now I’m feeling a little neurotic. The deadline was days ago and I need a new hook. Panic. Self-loathing. How could I have gone so wrong? Stay calm. Crank up an MP3 album. Hmm. Nashville Skyline. Hard to find anything better than that. This will work out. It always does. Need some caffeine.

SIPDE Process: Five steps to keep you safe

When, in June 2000, I started the FOUR CORNERS of TURKEY, a long distance ride that remains today unchallenged, Cemil Turker, a good rider and excellent friend now dead, came at the departure with a piece of Post-It and placed it inside my windscreen.

On top was written “SIPDE” and since then we often use the military acronym in riding and training. “Progress” the magazine of LAM presented a good explanation of it. Norton Hawes (LAM Group Chairman) gave us permission to republish.

Experienced riders make a practice of being aware of what is going on around them. They can create their riding strategy by using a system known as SIPDE. SIPDE is an acronym for the process used to make judgments and take action in traffic.

It stands for: Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide and Execute.

Scan
Search aggressively for potential hazards. Scanning provides you with the information you need to make your decisions in enough time to take action.

Identify
Locate hazards and potential conflicts. The hazards you encounter can be divided into three groups based on how critical their effect on you may be.

  • Cars, trucks and other vehicles – They share the road with you, they move quickly, and your reactions to them must be quick and accurate.
  • Pedestrians and animals – They are characterized by unpredictability and short quick moves.
  • Stationary objects – Pot-holes, guard rails, bridges, roadway signs, hedges, or rows of trees won’t move into your path, but may create or complicate your riding strategy.

The greatest potential for a conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. An intersection can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on a residential street – anywhere other traffic may cross your path of travel. Most motorcycle/car collisions occur at intersections. And most of these collisions are caused by an on-coming vehicle turning right into the path of the motorcycle. Your use of SIPDE at intersections is critical.

Predict
Anticipate how the hazard may affect you. The moving direction of a potential hazard is important. Clearly, a vehicle moving away from you is not as critical as a vehicle moving in your path.

Determine the effect of the hazard – i.e. where a collision might occur. How critical is the hazard? How probable is a collision?

  • This is the “What if..?” phase of SIPDE that depends on your knowledge and experience. Now estimate the consequences of the hazard. How might the hazard-or your effort to avoid it-affect you and others?

Decide
Determine how to reduce the hazard. There are only three things you can do:

  • Communicate your presence. Communication is the most passive action you can take since it depends on the response of someone else. Use your lights and horn, but don’t rely on it.
  • Adjust your speed. Adjustments of speed can be acceleration, slowing or stopping.
  • Adjust your position. Adjustments of position can be changing lane position or completely changing direction.In both cases, the degree of adjustment depends on how critical the hazard is and how much time and space you have. The more time and space you have to carry out your decision, the less amount of risk you’ll encounter.

In areas of high potential risk, such as intersections, give yourself more time and space by reducing the time you need to react. Cover both brakes and the clutch and be ready with possible escape routes.

Execute
Carry out your decision. This is when your riding skills come into play and this is where they must be second nature. The best decision will be meaningless without the skills to carry it out.

RESOLUTIONS for THE NEW YEAR

Any serious and competent motorcyclist should take a look at the following RESOLUTIONS for 2017 and, just for a change, should try to implement 2 out of 5 beating most of the current politicians in their electoral promises.

  1. LOVE & SPEED In 2017 I will keep under any circumstance the prescribed speed limit and I will show appreciation for any law enforcer who catch me in default.
  2. LOOK & POWER In 2017 I will never look at the HP presented on model’s specification to select my future bike. Look is better than power.
  3. PATIENCE & TRAILERS In 2017 I will never overtake on the right (or on the left if you are riding on the wrong side), I will patiently wait for that trailer to move away and I will thank the driver, smiling, when he finally it does.
  4. In 2017 I will modify my language and my way of expressing feelings for the drivers who:
    1. Swerve without notice
    2. Open doors without looking
    3. Cross intersection without waiting
    4. Do not see bikes and feel sorry.
  5. TECH & ULTRAPROTECTION In 2017 place a limit to safe gear refusing to wear new items such as: a) titanium protector for inner elbow b) gluteal inflatable shock absorbers c) carbon fiber nails protector for internal or external use with pro-gloves d) stainless steel auto visor displacing in front of the helmet in case of crash. f) self ejecting seat (BMW models only) operated by recessed switch in the front pocket of the Adventure jacket (fly by wire) g) transformer bags with inertia activated displacement turning into additional lateral wheels.