Lovin' the Love Bugs

Lovin' the Love Bugs

By Mike Savidge

Larry was screaming at the top of his lungs, “I love you Louise and I want to spend the rest of my life with you”. 

Louise, shouting to be heard over the din of the passing traffic, replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll hold you close and never let you go until the day I die.”/p>

SSSPPPLLLAAAAATTTTTT!!!!!

Actually, I don’t know if Larry and Louise were their real names. And, I can’t say with total certainty that was the exact conversation they were having immediately prior to their demise. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it’s going to take more than Windex to clean up the remains. From my bike's windshield, that is. That’s where the amorous couple, along with dozens of their friends, said adieu to this world and punched their tickets for Love Bug Heaven on a recent warm spring day.

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If you do some riding in Florida for a few years you’ll become accustomed to the biannual swarms of love bugs that seem to be attracted to highways and byways like bargain hunters to those blue light specials. You know you’ve seen them, flying two-by-two, attached end-to-end, doing their own fluttering insect version of the mile-high club. They’re also called the honeymoon fly, telephone bug, double-headed bug, and March fly, but the scientific name is Plecia nearctica Hardy.  They’re less than an inch long, black in color, with a patch of red behind their heads. Girl bugs are a bit bigger than the boy bugs but they need the extra heft to enable them to maintain flight with the male corpse attached. You see, once the male performs his reproductive duty, he dies but continues to remain attached until the female lays her eggs and also dies. (Unless they happen to meet a certain windshield prior to that event.) If successful in avoiding the deadly roadways, or getting devoured by a hungry bird or lizard, the typical love bug can expect to live about two to three days out of the three to five weeks when they’re active each season. 

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A popular myth is that an environmental experiment at the University of Florida created the bugs. The story goes that they were being bred to help control the mosquito population in Florida and some of them were accidentally released into the wild and began to flourish. Good story, but not true. The love bugs are native to Central America and arrived in the United States on cargo ships and spread from the ports into several southern states. Since the mid-1940’s the bugs have been annoying Sunshine State motorists. And, unfortunately, they’ve never been known to have developed that taste for mosquito meat. 

If you ride, it’s almost impossible to avoid them because one of their favorite places to lay eggs is in the dead grasses along our roads and highways. That’s when they perform their only useful chore by feeding on the decaying vegetation. They then take flight looking for love. I’ve gotta believe they’re at, or above, the curve on social networking as you never see them flying alone so they gotta be hooking up somewhere before taking flight. Are there singles bars or perhaps a Starbucks? Mated pairs of love bugs are not what you’d call aerodynamically efficient and I doubt they’re giving their full attention to where they’re going. This results in the bug-splattered vehicles you see on the road and also makes it easier to figure out the bikers who ride without a windscreen. Dude, what is that crawling around in your beard? 

Removing the bugs from your bike should be done quickly and with care as those little carcasses can be lethal to some paint jobs along with looking downright nasty. Come to think of it, those bugs in the beard could be lethal to some relationships. 

(Originally published in Go For A Ride Magazine June 2011)  


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Copycats and Copyrights

Copycats and Copyrights

By Mike Savidge

Technology has made certain kinds of theft easy. It gives us access to an incalculable number of photos, videos, and music files and it's fairly easy to download copies. Therein lies the problem. Many people seem to believe that anything posted online is free for the taking and they can use it as they wish. In some cases, that's true. Some of the stuff posted online or through the social media sites is put up there with the hope that people will see it and share it. That “going viral” type of distribution is precisely what some people want. On the other side are designers, artists, and others who expect, and deserve, credit for their work. The credit could be monetary or some other form of attribution, but the key point is that the item can't be used without the owner's permission.

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What is copyright? The United States Copyright Law gives protection to the creators of certain works, such as books, magazines, newspapers, photos, recordings, songs, and so forth. Collectively these items are known as Intellectual Property and the creator of a particular piece has the right to determine when, where, and how the work is used. The law extends that protection until 70 years after the creator's death. You’ll find copyright notices on all kinds of products but a lack of that notice doesn’t mean it’s not protected.

Copyright protection is pretty much automatic. When you take a picture of something, you own the copyright to that image. Even if you post it on your Facebook page, you still own the rights to that image and someone else can’t legally use it unless you give them permission. Using the Share function on Facebook is not a copyright violation.

If you take the time to actually read the Terms of Service for the main social networking sites you’ll see it includes a rule against posting images that you don’t own the rights to. If you do, you could be violating the U.S. Copyright law. I've seen many music clips posted online with a disclaimer, “I don't own the rights to this song”. Exactly, so you shouldn't be using it. It's like walking out of the store with merchandise and saying “I didn't pay for this” but you're taking it anyway.

You are not allowed to use those images commercially. A few years ago a professional photographer I know found a company using one of his images to promote a holiday sale. He put his signature on all of his work, but it had been removed. He was frustrated but summed it up by noting that the mindset is that if it's on the web you can use it.

So, unless you have the original creator’s permission, you can’t use that photo. Right? Not quite. You see, we’ve also got this very gray area called Fair Use. Section 107 of the Copyright Law addresses Fair Use and lists some of the factors which might allow a copyrighted piece to be used without the need to get permission. Those include when the work is used in news reporting, teaching, parody, comment, criticism, scholarship, and research. Yep, it’s a gray area and the fog gets thicker as new ways to share data evolve. It’s unlikely that any individual person is going to hear from the Copyright Cops for posting and sharing on their personal social network pages. Sharing is what this online socializing is all about.  

The problems arise when commercial entities, such as a motorcycle parts company, use images they don’t own to promote their business. This is especially prevalent on social media sites like Facebook. There’s a lot of pressure these days to have a dynamic website or Facebook page and everyone is trying to be the one to post the next “It’s Gone Viral” online sensation. And as long as you’re using your own creations, that’s a good thing.  But thievery should not be rewarded. However, policing the entire Internet is an impossible task, and it’s very likely you won’t get caught. And hey, everybody else is doing it! Why should you be left behind? Uh, perhaps because you’re an honest person with some integrity?

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Pet Travel 101

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Pet Travel 101

By Kylee

My name is Kylee and I am a brown-eyed four-paw Biker Babe.  I was adopted from the Akita Rescue in Jacksonville and what a life-changing adventure it’s been.  Since that day I’ve been to all the lower 48 states cruising the highways and byways in my chariot.

Now I don’t want to mislead any of my four-footed brothers and sisters, getting started diffidently took some serious work and patients but eventually, Hyway got his act together.  I’m here to tell ya it’s been a fantastic adventure.

First things first.  None of us like going’ the vet, but like havin’ to get a bath, it’s a necessary evil.  Before you even think about going on a road trip you’re gonna wanna make sure you’re current on all vaccinations, including “Kennel Cough”.  You never know where you might end up spending the night or even a few days when on a road trip, could be a rest area, a campground, a motel, or even a friends or relative's house. While I’m on the subject of prevention, those pesky parasites like fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and worm larva-eggs are everywhere!  Be sure to keep up on your Heart Worm meds and flea and tick preventative, not only for your comfort but to keep your travel companion from going ballistic one morning waking up to find they’ve spent the night sleeping in a flea-infested sleeping bag or covered with ticks that have been feasting on them all night!  Hygiene is IMPORTANT; no one likes the smell of B-O whether it’s K9 or human or to get covered in hair when they pet you. Remember you’re gonna be sleeping in a small tent or at best a small room so keepin’ clean counts.  Whenever possible rinse off in a lake or stream but never use any type of soap or shampoo in lakes or streams.  Most campsites have some type of water supply for the campers so take a good shampoo bath from time to time; a good brushing is always appreciated.

Make sure your license tags are up to date, Ranger Rick just might wanna check ‘em out and be sure you’ve been microchipped with all current information.  It never hurts to have a separate ID tag also.  Word of warning tho, don’t put your name on the tag.  Just put Microchipped, daily medication, and your companion’s cell number on it.  Not everyone is honest, if you get kidnapped knowing your name is a huge benefit for ‘em and if they think you need daily medication they might turn you loose, and at least you have a chance to get found by an honest person or even the local dog catcher who will call your buddy or take you to a vet to get the chip read.

I know it’s beyond comprehension but there are some folks who just don’t like dogs or cats so make sure your travel buddy is aware of that.  Respect their opinion, don’t invade their space. The best way to change someone's opinion about you is to be on your best behavior.  Even the most enthusiastic animal lover doesn’t like being jumped on, or havin’ to listen to continuous obnoxious barking!  Basic obedience training is your best bet for converting a non-believer.  The training needs to be well established so that you will be welcome in most places.  The two most important commands is the recall and stay command.  There will be times when you just can’t go in an establishment with your companion so learning to stay and wait is extremely important.  Teaching your travelin’ bud to be aware of your comfort while waitin’ for ‘em is also extremely important. They need to be aware that animal lovers are everywhere watching out for us and they’re not bashful about expressing their opinions or callin’ “Johnny Law”!  You’ll be surprised at how often the folks in charge will “bend” the rules and let you come in from the hot summer heat if you don’t stink, are clean, and behave yourself.

The next thing that needs to be figured out is how you are going to travel.  I personally travel in a trailer or as I call it my chariot. I love the wind in my face and hair (LOL!!!  Helmet laws don’t apply to us!).  The best option is gonna depend on your size, some of my smaller brothers and sisters are content traveling in a crate attached to the buddy seat or the back rack and some bigger ones even have their own sidecar!  It really doesn’t matter how you do it, there are always gonna be risks involved after all motorcycle touring isn’t the safest means of travel no matter how you chew the bone.

One last point, problems are gonna come up anytime you are traveling away from home.  Be sure your travel buddy has some basic animal first aid knowledge and has the 24-hour emergency telephone number of your vet.  In an emergency, they can at least call and get some over-the-phone advice.

Wishing you a doggone good trip!

(Originally published in Go For A Rider Magazine, August 2015. Kylee's road-trip partner was Go FAR contributor Hyway Rebel.)

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Life Of A Race Rider

Life Of A Race Rider

By Lowell Anderson

Over the years, I've attended a lot of motorcycle industry trade shows for work. These shows are great for seeing some of the new products available and they're also great for seeing old industry friends. While roaming around and looking at all the cool stuff, I ran into one of those old friends. After spending 10 years racing supercross,  he decided it was time to quit and concentrate on his family and a new career. Now he finds himself working for one of the big parts distributors as a rep and spending the rest of his free time training some of the current crops of riders.

We spent a few minutes talking about family and friends and catching up on old times. He has two young kids and was telling me all the stories that come with being a father. Eventually, that led to a conversation about his kids learning to ride and what bikes they were on, which led to a conversation about the current race series and some of the riders. It’s funny how the conversation always leads to the passion for riding and racing.

When you get inside the industry it is pretty interesting to hear some of these stories. There is plenty to be told about the riders and some of the struggles they face. First, he told me about one of the top riders he was training. He recently injured his left leg and hasn’t been comfortable on the bike ever since, so he hired my buddy to come down and train with him to get things figured out. After a few hours of testing and watching him ride, the result was that the rider was favoring his good leg so much that he was riding lazily. Not shifting the bike when he needed to and trying to ride the whole track in two gears. He also was riding with poor form keeping his elbows down and riding out of position. All of these things resulted in poor lap times and a lack of confidence for the rider. The rider didn’t realize he was doing these things. It’s amazing that someone can be so good at something and do it so often that they don’t realize when they are doing it wrong. They only see the results and realize something is wrong. Another person's point of view can be helpful at times like this. A few quick adjustments, mixed with some practice, and his lap times fell by a full second, which in this game is a lot of time.

He also told me about another rider who has a health issue. His immune system isn’t functioning properly and it is causing him to have issues maintaining stamina during a race. He gets tired after about ten laps and starts to slow down. At this level that is something you can’t do, so they were trying different training techniques in combination with a change in his diet to try to even things out. It’s still to be determined if it will work.

The public doesn’t get to hear these stories because the riders tend to keep these things under wraps. That’s why I am not putting any names in this article. Any disadvantage is an advantage to the competing riders, so keeping these things quiet is really important. Another consideration is the factory teams talk to each other, so, if you have an injury, letting people know could be detrimental to your future career. Really puts the riders in a tough spot. Who do you talk to, and how do you get help?

People don’t realize all the struggles these guys go through to get to race day. Most people think the riders just show up, everything is ready for them, and they hop on the bike and go race.

That’s not the case at all. These guys spend countless hours training and getting ready for race day. There is a ton of testing and planning that goes into every race. It’s really not as glamorous as people think. It’s a lot of work, and most of it isn’t very enjoyable. The ones that are good at it do it for the same reason as the guys and girls that ride on the weekend. They love it, it’s a passion and they want to be the best. It always seems to come back to that.

(This article was originally published in Go For A Ride Magazine, March 2015.)

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Making A Dirt Bike Look Good

Making A Dirt Bike Look Good

By Mike Savidge

One of the benefits of dirt bikes is you have all kinds of options for making your bike look cool. Dirt bikes use plastic body panels which get covered in vinyl graphics. These graphics are made of a thick durable material with a really strong adhesive. The graphics are usually available in all kinds of different styles and designs so you have plenty of options to choose from. When I buy a new bike, I usually go out and buy a replacement body kit and graphics right away. I save one of those kits, so when I decide to sell the bike, I can make it look like it just came off of the showroom floor. Initially this cost me a little money, but I have been able to get top dollar for the bikes when I sell them so it works out just fine.

The graphic kits usually run about 150 bucks for a full kit with all the trimmings. That seems like a lot of money, but when you consider the cost for a paint job on a street bike…it makes it a little easier to deal with. Full kits should consist of shrouds, rear, and front fenders, air box, front forks, swingarm, and number plates. You can find deals out there, but be careful. Those cheap eBay kits will not last very long and they usually don’t fit well. Try to go with a good brand name with 3M adhesive. Very important!

Over the years I have learned a few tricks for installing these graphic kits. Years ago I was tasked with designing these kits for KTM, so I got real familiar with applying them and determining what worked and what didn’t. You don’t want to rush the job. Take your time and things will go well. Try to rush it and your graphics are going to look like you rushed it.

First thing is to take the bodywork off the bike. Trying to apply them while the plastic is on the bike can be done, but it is a lot more difficult. I always take the plastic off the bike.

Next is to find a clean place to work. Dust or hair is your enemy. Getting anything under the adhesive will cause big ugly bubbles, so petting your dog while trying to put these on is not a good idea.

Clean all the plastic with a mild soap detergent and water. Using brake cleaner or even Windex will leave an oil residue on the plastic. You don’t want that. Even if the plastic is brand new, you have to clean it. It’s the only way to be sure the graphics will stick well. Once I clean the plastic with soapy water, I dry it off and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol. This will ensure the plastic is oil-free and clean.

Ok, now you are ready to start putting the graphics on. I suggest taking some of that soapy water and putting it in a spray bottle. Spray a slight mist on the plastic. While the plastic is still wet, peel off part of the graphics backing and position it on the plastic. Once you get it in place, peel off the rest of the backing and start smoothing it out. Use a credit card and work from one edge to the other applying even pressure. The goal is to lay the graphic without trapping air under it.

Once the graphic is on, then you can use a hairdryer to go over the entire piece. Be careful not to hold the hairdryer in one spot too long. You just want to activate the adhesive. This also will allow you to smooth out any issues where the graphic didn’t conform to the plastic shape. The heat makes it much more pliable. If you have any air bubbles you can use the heat with pressure from the credit card to work out the air bubble. If that doesn’t work, get a straight pin and pop the bubble. Then use the heat and push the air out of the pinhole.

If you take your time your bike will look awesome and your graphics will last a long time. Plenty of cool designs out there to choose from, so pick one out, and go ride!

(This article was originally published in Go For A Ride Magazine, February 2015.)

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