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Girl Friday. 6/30/2006

Put it on. 6/29/2006

I have been using a helmet when riding all through my riding career. Although it was mandated by law, I initially had that “rebel” thing going, and would ride my bike without a helmet any chance I got if I thought I could get away with it without being caught. I’ve certainly ridden some distances on very deserted roads, sans helmet. I’d strap the helmet to the back seat, and ride along, just wearing sunglasses for protection.

This is, as I know now, a bloody stupid thing to do. The human skull, which is in itself a masterpiece of safety design, is simply not meant to take the impact of hitting the tarmac at anything much over 10 miles per hour. Even then, you’re likely to shake your brain around and give yourself severe migraines for a long time. Or the rest of life, whichever comes first. And let’s not mention the road rash, and what your face is likely to look like. Try an image of scraping your face against a grater, and you’ll have a good idea of what it feels like.

I started with a cheap, locally produced open face helmet. It didn’t cost much. In fact, it cost me nothing at all, because the shop I bought my first bike from threw it in free. I used it for a few months, because, really, that was all I needed. Full face helmets were illegal here at the time. In many cases, they still are, because they do not have the local standards sticker stating compliance for safety testing. Even though they might have a DOT, Snell, ACU, AS, EC, or JIS sticker on them. A local traffic cop, if he really wanted to be a bastard, could cite me for for wearing “non-approved” safety gear, even though the gear has been tested to an overseas standard which is equal to the local standard. Or in many cases, much higher.

I bought my first full face, a Shoei, a few months after I started riding. Mainly because I got real tired of getting my daily supplement of protein from catching bugs in my teeth. That Shoei cost me a few hundred in local currency, a very princely sum in those days. Still is a princely sum, for many of the riders I know. The justification of putting premium protection on your head is something that evades many riders here, who wear head protection purely to comply with the law, not to protect themselves.

I used a few other brands after that first Shoei was retired. The one I hated the most was a British brand called Griffin. It used snaps to keep the visor on, and they were fiddly in the extreme. The wind noise at speed was horrible. And the visor fogged up if you went into a tunnel. I traded the Griffin in for a front tyre, and was glad to see the back of it.

I used a Bell, which was good, in spite of what it cost me. An Arai followed, because a certain Mr F Spencer, from Shreveport, Louisiana, was much in the news at the time. That first Arai, and the ones that followed after, were among the best helmets I have ever used. The fit and comfort were excellent. The price, on the other hand, was heart stopping. For a starving university student, the price Arai was asking for one of their top of the line helmets represented a lot of beer and pizza.

I went back to Shoei after a while, and stuck with Shoei products till the mid 90s. The best Shoeis I ever used were the RF-800, and the TX. And if anyone can remember the TX, and what made it special, I would be very surprised. I then reached that stage of my professional and riding careers, where I could actually think about dedicating helmets to specific purposes. And multiples of them at that.

I currently have 2 low end helmets, made in Taiwan I think, bought for a little under US$100 each. These are used for daily road work, i.e. the daily commute. I tend to use them for about a year, and then dump them, getting another model from the same line. The accumulated sweat and grime makes them uncomfortable to wear after a while, and the stink would be enough to make a groundhog gag.

I have several other helmets, the latest additions to which are a Korean brand, in black chrome, and an Icon Mainframe Skull. Both are definite “fashion victim” helmets, and I am sometimes a little reluctant to wear them, because of the attention they attract. Aside from those, I have helmets I use only at the track, which were purchased on the basis of their fit and safety.

The point I’m basically trying to make is this…I don’t ride anywhere without a helmet on. The contents in my head are more valuable to me inside my head, rather than on the outside.

Marching orders. 6/27/2006

I’ve just formally received notification that the PD wants to see me tomorrow, probably for an exit interview.  And my old outfit wants to see me right after.

One of the advantages of working for a big multinational is that there is always somewhere in the organisation where someone like you is needed.  Whether you want to, or not, is another question.

The SM came into my office a while ago, and I asked him point blank why my assignment on site wasn’t being renewed.  He tried to dodge the question, badly.  But what it boiled down to was that he thinks I can’t work in the team.  That may be so.  My school report card used to say “does not play well with others”, much to the despair of my mother.  But I have been professional during my tenure here.  I don’t go in for ass kissing or ball licking.

Unfortunately, it’s a part of the corporate game here, and one I do not choose to play.  I prefer to stand on my professional reputation, as a professional, and I’ve got the bloody pieces of paper, some obtained at great personal sacrifice, to prove it.   And my work experience in certain segments of this industry are second to none.  I am the best at what I do, and know.  And I am not bragging when I say that, just stating a fact.  Which this particular does not have in their current crop of morons.

And the SM prefers to have a certain kind of person working for him.  So be it. All I can do is shrug my shoulders, I guess, and move on.

More helos.

Picture taken at dawn, under a very low cloud ceiling, of helos flying past a couple of months ago.  2 Seakings, 2 Bells, and 2 Alouettes.

Blackhawk. 6/26/2006

 This came zooming past over my head this morning, a white UH-60B Blackhawk.

Moving Target.

I had a fabulous start to this Monday morning. I got hit.
By a woman driver in an MPV.

Gymi had this to say about incidents like this a week back.

I was riding on my morning commute, as usual. I was splitting lanes, as usual. There was a car in front of me straddling the lanes, trying to get into the next lane, as usual. I went left around him, still in my lane, as usual. I got hit in the left pannier, which wasn’t so usual.

I managed to stop the bike from tipping over, and I pulled over in front of her. I got off the bike, and she came out of her car. A slim waif of a girl. I was expecting her to be apologetic for hitting me. Fat chance. All she had to say was that I wasn’t injured, and there was no damage and let’s all be on our way. I gave her a few choice expletives, and told her to show a little more respect for bikers in the future.

I walked back to the bike, and got on. I thumbed the starter button. And the carburettors were flooded. I cranked it a little, and the battery was giving up the ghost. And she didn’t start. I looked around at the woman, and shouted a few more expletives at her. There was nothing I could really do.

There was too much traffic for me to contemplate doing a racing start. There was no real emergency lane, and the bike was sticking out into the traffic, making it dangerous for traffic behind me. I lit a roll up, and decided to wait it out. If the traffic cleared enough, I might be able to push start her.

After 2 roll ups, and baking in the early morning sun in my riding gear, I decided to give it up for a lost cause. I pushed the bike further down the road. And I was glad to see a disused turnoff on the left side. And this turn off had a slight slope to it. I rolled the bike over, grateful that the morning rush hour traffic saw me pushing the bike, and giving way for me, something a certain ungrateful woman driver had decided not to do.

I rolled, snicked her into second, and she fired right up. I muttered a thanks for sub 150 kg bikes, and shot off, none the worse for wear really, except that I was now sweating buckets.

10 things a woman should know about bikes. 6/24/2006

Never make a man choose between you and his ride. You will lose. Even if he gives it up.

Bills, windows, blocked sinks, everything else can wait. New tyres and oil for the bike come first. Or a ride.

Bikes are cheaper than mistresses. But not by much.

Yes, we need more than one helmet, pair of gloves, pair of boots, or riding jacket. However, we will make one pair of jeans last an entire lifetime’s worth of riding.

Don’t touch a rider’s bike, or his tools, or his gear. What looks like an unholy mess to you is organised chaos to us. We know where everything is. It’s just that sometimes tools and things like to get together for a chat and coffee in dark corners of the workshop, or under other things.

You will not object when the oven is used for heating up bearing shells, or the freezer is used to shrink a crankshaft. You may, however, voice a quiet complaint when your best pot is used to degrease a chain.

NEVER touch a biker’s colours. Ever. However, sewing on of patches is much appreciated.

When his buddies come over on their bikes for a get together, you have one of 3 choices. Serve them beer and stay out of their way. Join in the fun. Move back to your mother’s and file for divorce. Any one of these options will suit us just fine.

There is no such thing as too fast, too much chrome or too many bikes.

When a man needs to ride, a man needs to ride. It’s his way of blowing off steam. The best thing you can do is to give him a kiss on his way. You stop him at your own risk.

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