Behind the Handlebars header

Bikers – get ready to roll


Have you heard the rev of the engines?  Motorcycles are awakening from a winter slumber.

Parked Motorcycle Syndrome (PMS) is about to come to an end as the daylight hours increase along with our temperatures. No one hates winter like a biker, but eBay sure helps. Shopping for the right bling and ways to improve your ride are great activities for this time of year – that is if you have the money!

Motorcycling generates money – big money.  I researched the financial impact that the Sturgis rally in Sturgis, S.D., had last year.  “Total tax revenue so far during the rally period is $1,183,042,” according to the South Dakota Department of Revenue in a press release dated Aug. 24, 2012.  The same press release noted that combined gross vendor sales at the North and South Hills totaled $16,241,074. This was the reported take from 1,000 vendor’s sales; cash only sales are likely not included.  Amazing that there is that much money to be circulated! And that is not including the motels and gas stations, and restaurants that also benefited.  Granted, the Sturgis rally has been in place for more than 70 years. Support your local rallies and cruise ins as they truly do add to the local economy and all have to start somewhere!

Kick off the riding season by attending a local cruise in! Cruise Ins are not just for riders, but anyone who has an interest in motorcycles, fun, and food.  We like to say “we ride to eat and eat to ride.” Cruise Ins start in April with the first being on Thursday April 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Willow Springs at Pizza Americana on Main Street. Salem will be the site of the second Thursday of the month cruise in, at the Scoops Ice Cream shop on April 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Our own Houston’s Downtown Motorcycle Cruise In will be 6:30 p.m. April 18.

We will be on Steffens Street in front of Side Street Grill as Twist and Shake ice cream shop is closed until May. The folks at Side Street were gracious to provide food and beverage specials for the evening, as well as their great hospitality. After the cruise in, check out their grade-A dance floor, pool tables and shuffleboard.

Licking’s cruise in is always the last Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Sonic.

These local events annually run from April to September, and we would love to see you there. It has been a long winter, and we sure miss our friends and family in the bike community.

As we hit the roads, remember to realize that the drivers do not always see bikers.  As it has been a couple months since we were on the road, they are even more unaccustomed to seeing us out there.

Follow these tips to stay visible on the roads:

––Buffer a safety zone around your bike. Leave space for maneuvering when a driver doesn’t see you. Try to stay out of  drivers’ blind spots.

––Although we are all fans of black apparel, brighter colors are the more visible. There’s nothing like bright yellow, white or red – or anything but black – to keep you seen by traffic and drivers of cars in their peripheral vision. Add reflective strips to garments and use your brake lights to catch a driver’s eyes approaching from behind you.

––Try using your hands when possible to signal to drivers when you’re turning – don’t laugh, and don’t use your hands for any obscene gestures! Sometimes they don’t notice turn signals and it’s better to add the lifting your arm up and do the traditional hand signal for turning.

––Use your headlight high beam when it’s safe. A lot of people install running lamps on their motorcycles to stay visible. The lamps that come on your motorcycle out of the box are not necessarily the brightest or the most comprehensive, so adding extra lights to your bike will make you more visible.

––Use your horn. Often drivers may not see you, but they will hear you.

Be safe my friends. Winter is nature’s way of telling you to polish. Keep the shiny side up and we will see you down the road.

Kerry York is a lady rider and resident of Houston, who coordinates monthly Houston Downtown Cruise-In events from spring to fall.  Email