THE MECHANIC’S BEST FRIENDS: WD-40 AND GAFFER TAPE

26 April 2017 from THE CLAN MOTOGUZZI

If you were stranded on a desert Island, just you and your bike, and you could only choose 2 things to have by your side, what would these be?

Never mind food, telephones and all those other things that are inextricably tied to our very existence as human beings (but actually of secondary importance only), if we want to ensure that our bikes carry on going for a long time then the most obvious choices are WD-40 and gaffer tape. It is said that with these two items we can fix any problem, whether motorcycle-related or not.

Here is the story of how these bestsellers were born and some of the most interesting and creative ways that we have found to use them.

WD-40
Penetrating oil to loosen stuck bolts and nuts, water repellent, rust remover, stain remover, polishing liquid, anti-ageing product and even excellent as a men’s cologne. Ok, let’s face it, the last two uses are perhaps a little over the top (don’t try this at home), but it is undeniable that this virtually miraculous liquid is one of any mechanic’s most faithful and reliable allies.

WD-40 is an acronym that stands for “Water Displacement, 40th formula”, where the “40” stands for the number of different formulae tested by San Diego California inventor Norm Larsen before finally coming up with the perfect rust remover recipe back in 1953. Norm developed this product specifically to protect nuclear missiles against the ravages of water, but the product was soon being widely used in various other fields, including in domestic applications, before it was first marketed in 1958.

The precise recipe of WD-40 is still a closely guarded secret to this day but what we do know is that the key to its success is that it works exceptionally well and is easy to use. The lubricating and protective ingredients are diluted with a volatile hydrocarbon to lower the viscosity so that the product can be sprayed on and will penetrate into any crack. The volatile hydrocarbon then evaporates, leaving behind a viscous lubricating oil.

When and how to use WD-40 on your bike. The main and most well-known uses for this product include the following: as a penetrating fluid to loosen stuck nuts and bolts, to prevent rust and to remove tar and petrol stains from vehicle bodywork. After applying WD-40 and leaving to soak for a few hours, screws, nuts, bolts and small rusty metal parts can be cleaned off and loosened easily without any risk of the typical kind of damage usually caused by acids, such as occurs with the old home-remedy using Coca-Cola (but that’s another story altogether).

It is however better not to use WD-40 as a lubricant for any O-ring chains, not so much because it attacks rubber but because its extremely low viscosity enables it to penetrate between the chain links, removing all the grease trapped inside by the seals. For those of you whose bikes have a shaft-drive, things obviously just got a lot simpler.

Then there are many other somewhat more unconventional uses for this product such as, for example, it is perfect for loosening up stuck zips on garments, it is an excellent insect repellent, it removes chewing gum and stains from carpets and rugs and finally, it is sufficient to spray a light coat onto a snow shovel to prevent the snow from sticking to it.

Gaffer tape or duct tape
We all know what this is, partly thanks to all the Hollywood movies in which this silver-coloured tape is often used to gag the victim in kidnapping or torture scenes. Excellent for quick repairs, protecting components, sealing pipes and for any task that requires a really strong adhesive tape, however, its actual potential uses are only limited by the creativity of the individual user.

Some people have even turned its use into an art form and, incredible as it may seem, it has even been touted as an effective way to remove warts. As regards this tape’s strength, the myths are legend. In the well known television series MythBusters, its strength was put to the ultimate test when duct tape alone was used to lift and hold a car up in the air and to build a working cannon, a sailing boat and a thirty-metre long suspension bridge.

But where and how was gaffer tape or duct tape actually born? Its origins date back to the Second World War when Vesta Stoudt, a factory worker and mother of two sons who were seamen in the U.S. Navy, wrote to then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to inform him about a type gaffer tape that she had been testing in the factory. The tape, which could be cut by hand, was designed for sealing ammunition boxes and would save the troops in battle precious time. 
This green tape, which was strong but easy to apply and remove, was immediately put to use for emergency repairs to weapons, vehicles and military equipment. After the war ended, the gaffer tape became generally available in hardware stores and initially being called “duck tape”, retaining the slang name given to it by the soldiers, probably due to its being waterproof much like the feathers of a duck or after the DUKW amphibious vehicle (pronounced “duck”). The silver colour and the “Duct Tape” name by which it is known today in most English speaking countries actually comes from its widespread utilisation in the building industry from the 1950s onwards to seal metal air-conditioning ducts.

Another interesting snippet of information is that according to NASA Engineer Jerry Woodfill, duct tape has been standard equipment on every space mission since the Gemini programme. This tape has been used by engineers and astronauts alike to carry out various emergency repairs.

All in all, if gaffer tape can save an astronaut’s life then just imagine what it could do for you and your bike? It’s always a great idea to have a roll of this tape in your rucksack, especially when you’re on a road trip and you don’t have all your tools with you. For example, you could even use it to temporarily patch up your bags, riding gear and boots. A clever way to ensure that you always have some gaffer tape with you is to wrap a small amount of this tape around the shifting spanner that sits in your toolkit.

With WD-40, gaffer tape, a few cable-ties, water pump pliers, a puncture repair kit and a few other bits and pieces you will be able to handle any situation that may arise. If that’s not good enough then you can always rely on other bikers to help you or else look around you and ask yourself “what would MacGyver do?”

What other unlikely or creative uses for these products have you come up with in the past? Is there anything else that you wouldn’t ever dream of leaving home without?

 

palindrome

[pal-in-drohm]

noun
1. a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward, as Madam, I’m Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop.

The Blue Groove Father’s Day Edition For Morley Graham 1922-2008

One nice Father’s Day post from The Blue Groove

Free Range

Man and Machine

Some men talk. Other men get to work

Unlike hobbyists—and, alas, writers—he was not sentimental about machines. It didn’t matter if it was a rock crusher at the cement plant were he was a machinist or his motorcycle. They were all the same. They were built to come apart and made to go back together. 

In the photograph, from the mid-’80s, we are at a decommissioned military airport running in a freshly rebuilt, but as yet unpainted, Triumph twin. We (and when I say we, I mean he) had rebuilt the Triumph into a functioning motorcycle from a $50 basket case. The previous owner had separated every piece that could be unbolted from anything else (the valve guides, even, had been driven from the head) and had tossed everything into a dozen Wiser’s Deluxe whisky boxes, which may explain why the bike never came together again.

I ordered parts books and rebuild manuals and sent them from the city down to him, but the telltale signs that they’d been used (greasy thumb prints) were missing. I asked if he’d opened them. He grinned. What I didn’t understand at the time (which was pretty much everything—I had just left my teens) was that all mechanical devices are essentially the same. A bearing is a bearing, and a transmission gear for a Cockshutt tractor does the same duty as a gear from any other transmission. 

I’d phone or visit on weekends and he’d have notes for me. “Third gear on the layshaft needs to be replaced.” I knew better than to ask for a part number. That was my department. When it was finished it started on the third kick. The idle was too high but a few turns of the in-line adjuster in the throttle cable brought it down to a nice burble. I jumped up and down like I’d won the lottery. He hunkered down and checked for oil leaks. 

I could be finicky in those days. Everything had to be perfect. Or as perfect as I could make them. I spent hours making the aluminum primary case cover shine like chrome. My father found this fussing amusing, though he never said anything about it directly. But a month or two later, after a friend of his died, he told of going to the estate sale and finding everything that this man had coveted lying on tables to be sold to the highest bidder. His point was made, though it took another decade for the lesson to sink in. 

Ten years ago I wanted to show him the mid-’90s 900SS Ducati I’d bought. I rode to the senior’s home where he was living and in the parking lot he circled the bike. It had been used for track days and was a little rough, but he didn’t see the dents and scratches. He poked his head down deep into the fairing and asked me to explain the specifics of the desmodromic valve system, which dispenses with conventional valve springs. He marvelled at it, and we talked about flatheads and about long-forgotten sleeve valve engines and about how, in the old days, you’d set valves on an engine not with feeler gauges, but by the sound they made when the engine was running.

It was the last significant conversation I had with my father. Four months later he was dead.

Object of my Affection

Tools for Life

Even a humble ratchet has a story to tell 

After his death, I got the tools. It’s all I wanted, and I wanted them because I needed them. Micrometers and taps and dies and saw files and feeler gauges coated in oil and tucked into Sweet Caporal tobacco tins. And homemade wrenches beaten and welded into odd shapes and meant for hard-to-reach nuts for who-knows-what. In a notebook, neat hand-drawn diagrams noted dimensions for tools to be spun up on the lathe: spacers, sprockets, and punches to drive rumbling bearings from their races. The toolbox could be a museum. Luckily, it isn’t.

Good tools are expensive, and my father, with a punch ground to an extra sharp tip, initialed the most expensive so they wouldn’t migrate to someone else’s toolbox. Occasionally, it’s his first and last initials—MG—but mostly it’s just G. These are the first tools I ever used. I’ve never known them without the G. And because I’m a G, too, I don’t usually notice the inscriptions. When you’re in the midst of taking the shock off a Ducati 851 and worried the bike may tumble onto its flank, there isn’t time for rumination.

It’s difficult not to make the dead even more dead. Shrines on a shelf (a few dusty photographs, a framed certificate or two, an old watch) reduce a life to lifeless. But my father’s tools are always on the go. They’re with me at road races and they get knocked into the grass after dark at dusty flat tracks. They even tagged along last fall beneath the seat of my VW bus on my honeymoon to Cape Cod.

Last Wednesday, near midnight, with Copeland’s Appalachian Spring crackling in from an upstate New York NPR station, I was in the garage. I was putting the front end back on the 851 after last season’s clavicle-snapping crash. Just as I was about to tighten the steering stem nut, my thumb, which was coated in grease from the headstock bearings, slid up the body of the Snap-On ratchet. As my thumb travelled over the G punched into the tool’s body, it was like reading braille. I was startled into fresh awareness of what had become familiar. I imagined my father resting the tool in a V-block and punching in his initial 40 years ago. And then I imagined him, after seeing me pause mid-way through a task, saying, “What’s gotten into you?” That snapped me out of it. On went the triple clamps and back onto the front wheel stand went the Ducati. Stability—for all in the garage that night—had been regained.

The Lowdown

There Will Be Blood

When he was working on a motorcycle, part of him stayed behind 

He was trim, in 2002, at age 80, he was the same 165 pounds as he was in 1939, the year he enlisted in the army. He was just shy of six-feet tall—not a big man. Except for his hands. His knuckles were broad, his fingers long, and the meat of his paw had the heft of a bear’s. Try finding riding gloves for those hands.

Before the Internet, to find anything motorcycle related (or anything) we were entirely dependant on local shopkeepers. If a store didn’t have what you required—or the interest in doing the legwork to help you find it—you called dealerships and hoped someone would help. Sometimes you just couldn’t get what you needed. Like a pair of really large gloves.

For my father, gloves marked large were laughably small. Extra large gloves—if he could get them on at all—would stretch to where they looked like rubber gloves overinflated with water. He rode with gardening gloves, and, during a luckless period when we couldn’t find anything that fit, welding gloves. But then, at the back of a motorcycle shop, I found a pair of new (and filthy) Craig Vetter branded gloves from the ’70s. They were astonishingly ugly. Pink and orange and yellow and brown and magenta leather scraps quilted together. They weren’t retro. They were regrettable.

I tried one on. I lowered my hand to my side. The glove fell off. I knew I’d found them. He was thrilled. He didn’t care how they looked. He appreciated the cut of a fine suit, but the notion that motorcycle gear could be stylish held no interest to him. Together with his two-tone leather jacket (light leafy green and deep forest green) he was a sight. In the presence of other motorcyclists, I always expected someone to make a quip—good-natured or otherwise—about his gear, but no-one ever did. It took me years to register that my father, even as an old man, had a physical presence that discouraged criticism.

The hands lost little of their strength as he aged, but his skin became as thin as tissue paper. At the least provocation they would bleed. Just handling a piece of emery cloth could cause blood to seep out. A genuine cut caused a bloodbath. He’d never stop midway through a task, but later I’d see bandages on his hands. Only once or twice did he curse under his breath about the frustrations of growing old.

Through those hands and forearms he could summon great amounts of torque. I’d have all my weight on an 18-inch breaker bar and not be able to make a nut budge. He would clamp his hands down directly over mine and lean into it. And, always, a drop or two of blood left behind. Sometimes, after he’d gone back into the house, I’d see blood on my hands, and think I’d cut myself. But the blood I’d thought was mine, was his.

Can it be done?

(By Michael Kneebone for IBA Premier News, May 18, 2017)

The IBA has a rich heritage trying to answer the question, “can it be done?”  In our corner of the world, that means the long-distance ride.  Sometimes that means exotic ride to hard to reach places, but for an entire culture, pushing the limits of the man-machine combination is THE challenge to conquer.  Currently, the Aussies are pushing the displacement limits, riding tiny 90cc Postal delivery motorcycles cross-country, while the Fins and Swedes are pushing the age boundaries.  For example, did you know that the current motorcycle age record for a 1,000 mile day is held by Jari Vourela on a 1931 Royal Enfield ridden in June of 2009.

May 20th is the 90th anniversary of the first solo trans-Atlantic flight, a record set be Charles Lindbergh.  To celebrate that historic flight and to push the IBA boundaries a bit more, IBA Swedens’ Magnus Fransson (we all simply know him as Magnus), will attempt a 1,000 mile day on a 1926 David Senning 750cc.  A motorcycle designed by a veterinarian so he could better reach his patients, a pioneer who after wearing out many motorcycles, finally said, “Hey, I can do that. I can build a better bike myself”  and so he did.

Magnus had been following this particular motorcycle for nearly 40 years before he was able to finally convince the current owner for a long-term loan for this insane ride.  This is a serious attempt, Magnus has spent the last year getting the bike ready.

There is a great page devoted to both Jari’s 1931 Royal Enfield and Magnus’ attempt this weekend.  They will be posting a SPOTWALLA link before the ride takes off.  The photos alone are work a visit, to try to imagine how Jari pulled off his ride and how Magnus will be attempting his. Please visit:

https://forum.ironbutt.org/index.php?threads/oldest-ironbutt-bike-in-the-world-a-new-reign.1408/

it is worth the time.

Magnus, we wish you the very best of luck!

Michael Kneebone

Give me a Certificate, I really deserve it. (PV)

In a recent post Ted Simon wroteWhen I first told Harry Evans, the editor of the Sunday Times, that I wanted to ride around the world I was thinking only of how to describe the journey, to make it understandable – saleable, if you like. The act of making a complete circle was not at all important to me personally. I just wanted to see as much of it as I could. But I needed to raise some money and if I was going to write a book – which was always my aim – then that label, that headline “Round the World” would be important. And so far as we knew, I’d be the first to do it.

Since those days in the early seventies the business of making and breaking records has grown with record-breaking speed. The Guinness thing has become a huge business. Everybody wants to swallow more eggs, jump over more buses, swat more flies, fly, float, drive, swim, climb, drop, skate, crawl further, faster, longer, than anyone else and get a certificate.

I wasn’t thinking about records when I travelled. It would have been easy, for example, to nip across a few borders here and there to rack up a few more countries but it didn’t occur to me because that wasn’t the point.”

Getting a certificate is the name of the game, not only for specific skills like welding, building scaffolds, cabinet making or baking cakes.

If you search for “certificate of superior intelligence” (a quite vague definition) Google offer three millions three thousands eight hundred results in 0,26 seconds.

The lion share goes to company providing tests of IQ certifying that you have a brain (at higher cost, one can obtain the same result with a EMAR scan with the additional benefit of hard copy to frame).

Forget IQ,  Mensa and all the controversies about the measurement of thinking capacity; on the millions of results one can enjoy “Certificate of Applied Emotional Intelligence”, “Certificate of Competitive intelligence”, Certificate of Web Intelligence”, “Certificate of Social Intelligence” moving than to “Military Intelligence” (Online degree available) and Central Intelligence Agency (Field experience required).

Certificate of positive spirit (I was getting desperate in being generic) gives less results (1.350.000) but offers jewels such as “Merit Certificate”, “Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology” and “Certificate of Emotional Energy”.

There is a certificate for everybody and one does not need to go Citius, Altius, Fortius to obtain it: it just available on line from the comfort of your couch.

The “Certificate” is supported by a grading: a set of numbers (from 0 to 10) or a set of letters (from A to D) or a set of precious metals (from Bronze to Gold). The most complicated systems are regularly introduced to justify grading as politically correct. For example, Primary school children in UK are now graded on a standard of 100 “for KS1 SATs a score of 100 means the child is working at the expected standard, a score below 100 indicates that the child needs more support and a score of above 100 suggests the child is working at a higher level than expected for their age. The maximum score possible is 115, and the minimum is 85” Complicated? Confusing?

What about One More Mile Advance Riding Observation score with 80 as negative level, 39 as sufficient and 20 as perfect? It can be explained but the explanation (as per KS1 SAT score or Mensa IQ score) does not take away the stigma of grading or, what I consider the stigma of a value-base evaluation system. And Simon is clear in is question “what is a record?” He went around the world to see, to learn, to share and to report: a certificate of “record” was not, even remotely, in his goals: and yet Jupiter Travel has been the front runner, the beginning of all “around the world” travels including crazy record not anymore registered in Guinness Book.

Since we started going to school and to university to get “a piece of paper” (certificate) the quality of tuition and the quality of participation to culture sharing has been plummeting. “University Degree online” search beats all records with 490 millions of results. Among the 490 million we have qualified “online courses and remote teaching/learning” as serious as the most demanding University, nevertheless the majority of results are jut easy way to “get a document of certification”

And this is the key issue: when the search for improvement, the curiosity for knowledge, the passion for creativity are fading, mechanical grading comes in with numbers or with option: we give numbers to the beauty of women and men, to hotel comfort and services, to pictures taken. We search for large number of contacts, like, share, visitors: the social media are turning into a game of numbers and, not so slowly, numbers turn in our mind as criteria for judging all. Standardized measurements of varying levels of achievements invasive and viral, very viral.

We all know that a grade is limited in time and in situation: getting an “A” in History only means that in that day and on that subject I per firmed well: change subject or take me on the wrong day and the result will change.

We play a game of chance for the sake of “certificate”.

Take a rider passing a “grading session” from any “school” and passing with a high grade (Advanced, Gold, Diamond, Blue Ribbon or 22… whatever); he or she will be happily show the result in certificate, pin, sticker of other gratifying media. Forever.

But the grading just evaluates that specific ride, under the specific circumstances, along a specific itinerary.

It does not express the overall level of competence; it only fixes a moment in time evaluating the temporary performance.

In old time access to an artisan profession required years of apprenticeship for the evaluation of “repeated competence”, the capacity to perform well again and again. Today the apprentices are mistreated in TV UK by multi-millionaire Lord Sugar and in USA by Arnold Schwarzenegger replacing the President Mr. Donald Trump.

Since we want everything now and since the process must be instant, no more time is available for “continuous evaluation” and “grading” is the fast service of competence.

Signs of change (in positive terms) are at the horizon with school and universities replacing grade by overall evaluation supported by extensive knowledge of the candidate and intelligent, human guidance toward improvement. Time for all of us to revise our “evaluation system” rejecting mechanical ways to express like or dislike, to judge performances in any area.

And when a test is required better to adopt the “pass or fail” system that oblige the evaluator to take a clear position supporting it with meditated documentation.

PS. Please give FIVE STARS to this article….

Spring Riding: Fluency comes with Frequency (from Aerostich)

“If you don’t ride year-round, you should know that the rate of motorcycle accidents and injuries is higher in the early part of the year than later” 

This simple advice comes from the people at Aerostich and the suggestion continues:

Four primary reasons, not in order of priority:

1. Car drivers don’t expect motorcycles or understand how they move as well.

2. Residual sand and winter debris on the roads.

3. Riders are more likely to ride overly ‘enthusiastically.’

4. Riders’ skills are rusty.

The last one is easy to address. Even if you are a very experienced rider, spending anywhere from ten minutes to an hour simply riding around a vacant parking lot playing with the capabilities of your bike makes a difference you’ll notice in the days that follow.

Set up some imaginary games using the car-space (or other) lot striping. Repeat controlled hard-breaking panic stops from low and medium speeds to pre-defined spots. How close can you come? Do some slow extreme weaves.  And some faster turns. Again and again and again.

The trick, because you are not learning this stuff for the very first time, is forcing yourself to repeat these made up maneuverability exercises over and over, trying to better your results a little each time.

It can be hard to practice something you already ‘know,’ but forcing yourself to do it will bring incremental improvements that may make a difference in some traffic situation later on. If you have time and want to improve even more, take an organized rider-skill class if one is available in your area.

The mental side of biking – May 2007 (PV group discussion)

I was walking and chatting with friends in the early hours of spring morning: it was a brisk walk designed to bring some aerobic advantages to our aging bodies. With the mileage increasing the conversation faded away in search of breath. Mind started wandering to the “things to do” ahead: plans for the day, the week, the month.

Then an internal voice crept in “It is walking time and you better think of walking”.

Following this inner advise I focused on the muscle of the legs, on the correct movements and on body posture. Without changing pace visibly, just focusing on the right thing to do, I immediately gained a good advantage over my partners. Nothing to do with physical strength: just the result of concentration and attention. Of being on the moment and rejecting multi-tasking and distractions.

The same applies to biking: in classroom and on the road the message from the experienced trainers is the same: “focus on the right positioning of the bike, the right standing of the body, the right line. Focus without distractions and leave all other thoughts at the garage door” 

To maintain concentration alerted even for a short ride is not easy. We are used to do many things at the same time and our mind wander, sometime aimlessly, as lost in a web browsing.

Momentary distraction, lack of focus on the action can bring dramatic results: in most cases it may be recoverable after few seconds but, when balance, centimeters  or speed come into play,  a small lapse of attention could be fatal, especially when your skin is the first line of defense.

The power of the mid to maintain the focus under strict control is the real “advanced step” for all of us passionate bikers. From attention to the “now” comes as well a capacity to constantly judge “how we are doing” and from it what Hans Heinz Dilthey calls it “realistic self-evaluation”.

From biking to real life focusing completely on the task at hand is a good cure to “illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing the ability as much higher than it really is”

The Dunning–Kruger effect is not only creating intolerable presumptuous idiot making our life miserable but also affect large part of the bikers population with the “I know all” virus.

Knowing what you know and, more important, knowing what you do not know, your limits, is the first step for constructive change, for moving ahead in skills and attitude: a better rider is, after all, a better human and vice versa.

Tips for speeding (RAPID TRAINING SCHOOL UK)

I recently had a close encounter with the “men in blue” and got a quite expensive fine for excessive speed: it may happen and one should take it with a stoic attitude, learning without complaining. Still I felt very depressed considering myself a real stupid: you see, I was caught in speed radar 6 miles from home in a stretch were all locals know police wait in ambush. I went back home and looking at the archive of wisdom of OMM I found this interesting set of advises for dealing with speed limits written by the English Rapid Training School: as we said, one thing is to know, another is to behave and to apply.

  1. Don’t speed in town. This is where 90% of speed enforcement is conducted. Most accidents (although not most bike accidents) occur in 50 kph speed limits, therefore resources are targeted at the problem area. Cameras and the man with the hair dryer are all to be found in these areas. If you find it difficult to quell your urges, remember going too fast in town won’t allow people see how cool you look. Do slow down so they can take in your stylish use of florescent green and yellow!
  1. Don’t be the fastest vehicle on the road. Whilst being overtaken is a concept most motorcyclists will never quite get their heads round, having someone flush out the police from the road ahead can be very satisfying. Especially useful on long Motorway journeys – let the Rep revving the nuts of his Mondeo slide past you… it is just plain decent of him to collect fines on your behalf.
  1. Never exceed three figures on the Motorway. For some obscure reason the powers that be think this is dangerous and you are likely to lose you license. There is no pleasure in speed in a straight line so get off the Motorway and find a more challenging route.
  1. Use speed sensibly. You are more likely to get away with a bollocking, if you didn’t also take 500 meters of solid white line and force an oncoming car into the ditch.
  1. When you are stopped for speeding, be humble! Grovel as best as you can, be amazed by his prowess is catching you, remember you are playing a game where the copper holds the entire deck. There is little point getting stroppy or asking if he knows his parents.
  1. Of course the best advice is don’t speed! And we all stick to that, don’t we?

Robert M. Pirsig, Author Of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Dies At 88

(original article by Chris Kallfelz on motorcycle.com)

Author Robert M. Pirsig died at his home today in South Berwick, Maine, he was 88 years old. Pirsig, best known for his philosophical work of non-fiction, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, An Inquiry Into Values, first published in 1974, spoke to a post-Vietnam/Watergate generation searching for truth and meaning during a tumultuous decade.

The book follows Pirsig and his son, Chris, on a motorcycle journey into a metaphysical landscape as the author pursues the meaning of, “Quality,” an elusive qualitative measure in an increasingly quantifiable world. Along the way he examines Plato, sophists, the pre-Socratics, and eastern philosophy, as well as the nature of condensers, mechanical points, and shims fabricated from discarded cans in his search for the good.

He humbly summarized his philosophical treatise-cum-motorcycle road trip in his author’s note, “What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact. However, it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.” He begins his tale by telling you what his book isn’t thus inviting the reader to take the journey with him and answer the question for themselves, “What is good?”

Pirsig endeavored to show us.

Elite or Elect… Evolution or Demolition? (AU)

Learning and improving is a personal responsibility and duty that cannot be delegate to other entity outside the “self”.

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves” (Mahatma Gandhi). Still the myth of blaming others (the leaders, the society, the circumstances, the family) is the most normal reaction when we are confronted with our limitations or with “what is wrong” around us.

My friend-in-thinking Aydin sent a letter reacting to what he calls the “good piece in the latest Bulletin, titled “Elite or Elect?”

A strange letter that whose content seams for the major part addressed to the “iniquities” on the world around us. As good detective stories, the letter has an unexpected turn and change of direction at the end. If you are wondering, keep reading. (edited by PV)

“I have been thinking about “Elite or Elect?” from a different perspective coming back to biking as well.

In many countries today we can see the rise of right-wing, nationalist, populist leaders appealing to the racist, bigoted and xenophobic feelings so present in what we call well-developed countries. I don’t think this is a ‘history repeating itself’ kind of phenomenon; it seems to me rather the World is turning up-side down: populist leaders appeal to the dark side of that part of the population that feel excluded by the extreme inequality. They cry in defense of the little they own: presumed identity, false race the blood thirsty tribalism… my village, my city, my nation, my borders. Nationalism becomes the norm, closing, building walls and considering the “others” enemies turns into mass attitude.

In this way the word elitist is used almost as a curse, something to be ashamed of. In their eyes, elitist is a person who thinks unjustifiably that he knows something better, whereas actually everybody knows everything.

The need for changing, developing and embrace diversities is forgotten since everything is already invented and readily available in social media.

And all the information is at the internet anyway.

Individualism is rejected and elitism is for minorities only. Masses where everybody is similar to one another and get more similar as the time passes are in control: the different values of the individual and the discipline to learn of elitism are replaced by conformism. But elitists, or individualists, are actually the ones who would take the society further – they are the elements of evolution.

If knowledge and service are evolution the opposite is demolition.

Maybe, just maybe, human race is not only demolishing itself and the earth we all live in but it’s demolish as well the species we love.

Bikers have a built in anti-elite instincts thinking “who the hell is that guy trying to teach us how to enjoy our hobby?” only occasionally balanced by a desire to improve-to-feel-better. Here ignorance may appear as a bliss: some un-trained riders may have more joy than a competent one rider till fate strikes but he/she will not have the deep happiness and satisfaction that comes from continuous self-development” and so on….

Yes, I was feeling great, enjoying putting some thoughts on (electronic) paper, thinking I’ve written clever things and concepts that Bulletin readers might like. But upon reading Elite or Elect once again, I got shocked to see how blind I’ve been. How I missed the point.

You, Paolo, were not complaining about the populism, anti-elitism or ignorance of some riders, you were not into that at all – you were just into your own.

From the very thought that “biking is a way of thinking”, comes the conclusion that it’s of no use nor benefit to think about who is right and who is wrong once you make a crash or fall; you would be the one who’d get hurt.

One should blame only the self for not having anticipated the situation and the hazards in timely fashion.

And you can only develop yourself, not the others. And the more you develop yourself, the more you can be of help for people seeking to change.

Elite or Elect is a piece demonstrating the truth of self improvement again, at a much higher level yet with great modesty.

So I felt ashamed. I had just complained – thinking that I (and some few friends of mine) was right, but the rest of the World was plain wrong. Was I really that lost? That hopeless, that tired? I really have to find a way to be better than that. I will.