Updated: August 7, 2012


"Rants & Raves" details Metro/ St. Louis motorcycling issues, review of events I have personally attended or worked and interviews with people important to motorcycling, and our way of life. Please feel free to contribute! If you would like to be a contributor, no special skills are required. Zap me your take on an event, your opinion on topics, or anything else which you feel area motorcyclists may be interested in knowing about.


Newest Rants 'n Raves

RANT!

RAVE!

E15 Gasoline & the Future of Motorcycling (8/7/12)

Life, tha' Universe and Bikers (1/22/11)

Steppin' in the Shit Again! (6/1/10)

Crashing SUCKS (3/18/10)

Where IS Everybody??? (11/9/09)

Alton Mayor Declares War on Loud Bikes (10/24/09)

Signs will urge motorcyclists to ride quietly (1/16/10)

Coleman Memorial (8/1/09)

  Vintage Bike Night St. Louis Review (8/7/12)

St. Clair County ABATE 20th Anniversary Party (5/22/11)

 "No Angel" book Review (5/19/10)

Shady Jack's Bi-state Biker Bash (10/20/09)

Freeburg, IL "Moving Wall" Exhibition (8/6/09)

Geo's Wings 'N More Bike Night (7/7/09)

"Colors a' Plenty" at Bike Night (8/6/10)

 


Vintage Bike Night St. Louis Review (8-7-12)
    While I've been riding around the Metro St. Louis for nearly three decades now, I have to admit that about 99% of my riding time is in the METRO (as opposed to "St. Louis"). Don't get me wrong. St. Louis is a great town, BUT I've lived my entire life (aside from travelin' the world with Uncle Sugar) on the same street, in the same small town, in the same small metropolitan area on the EAST side of the Muddy Missip. As I've aged (and commenced to falling apart), I've come to appreciate life which is as drama-free as possible. I find that less drama aids digestion and keeps my doctor from having to increase my happy pill intake. As such, I RARELY venture "across the bridge" (and have been perfectly fine with that for all these years). Across the bridge lies the unknown... It's "helmet law land", fast drivers, large potholes, tall buildings, confusing streets. All the things which conspire to make my (safe) morning gruel back up and start repeating on me.

    This changed recently as my obsession with this interweb thingy continues and that dreaded tentacle called "social media" has wrapped itself around my life. While perusing the nooks and crannies of Facebook a while back, I came across an "open group" of folks who talked about vintage motorcycles, cheap beer, Vespa scooters, Honda scramblers and Harley sportsters all in the same sentence! "My kind of people!", I thought.

    I made a point of feeling out this group with a few minor posts and even engaging in a computer tit-for-tat with a member over the efficacy of motorcycle-only checkpoints (against, by the way), and quickly realized this isn't the group to be arguing for or against anything. It's a group of like-minded people who just want to come together and enjoy the art that is the motorcycle, and the myriad of different personalities which make up their riders. Helmet law debates and thumping chests about gooberment intrusions have their place, but not here. Nope... These folks are here for the higher mission of "just being". There's a lot to be said about "just being". To exist solely to exist. No outside pressures, no drama, surrounded by others who are "just being" sharing a common space with you. This is what I found when I took the plunge from cyberspace across the bridge, and onto the streets of St. Louis.

    I made sure my raggedy-ass bob job had plenty of oil and all my tools were intact before telling my hunny I was going "over there". She crossed herself, gave me a big hug, and repeated her standard "be safe" as I left the house. I knew this was a special ride, as before I even got the bike started, a text message flashed across my phone's screen: "BE SAFE!", it read. This was a ride "over there" and DEMANDED an extra "BE SAFE" to remind me to stay keenly aware of road gremlins, gator backs and distracted cagers. After all, I was going up against ST. LOUIS road gremlins, gator backs and MISSOURI cagers (and we all KNOW what shitty drivers they are!).

    I have to admit, it was pretty cool crossing the MLK into the STL. Aside from a large pothole which attempted to eat me and the bike, and my (rarely used) helmet sliding all over my lumpy head, the ride over was uneventful. Worried about getting lost downtown, I rolled up to a rider on a Triumph at a stoplight, asked if he was going to the "Vintage Thing", and with an affirmative, fell in on his six for the ride in.

    What I found at Vintage Bike Night was surprisingly surprising. ALL kinds of bikes, old and new-- Foreign and domestic-- were lined up for two blocks on both sides of the street. A DJ was computer-mixing nice tunes, bar matrons were on the sidewalk behind a table doling out burgers and beer and an odd (REFRESHING) mix of folks were gathered in small groups ogling old bikes, talking around new bikes, snapping pix of super tall dual sport "adventure" models, laughing, and generally "just being"... together... with the common denominator "MOTORCYCLE" being the one simple, yet strong thread holding it all together.

    Most noticeable to me was the absence of attitude... No "Jap bikes suck" yells from the crowd, no arms crossed, "you-ain't-in-our-clique" poses, no rowdy "look at me" revs and burnouts from the 40K bagger crew... Just folks, clean shaven and bearded, long/short hair, nicely dressed and not, sharing a motorcycle experience. (It was THAT cool!)

    The bikes need no mentioning, for all were great in their own ways. Getting beyond the paint and tin was the fun part for me. Chatting it up with other riders, telling stories of madness and mayhem... THAT is the juicy marrow that I crave.

    After a couple of hours, I decided I better ride back to "my side" of the river. I met and talked with a bunch of folks, saw a bunch of cool bikes, and bad-ass motorscooters (and, YES, motorscooters can be bad-ass), and left feeling rejuvenated. "Our" weekly bike nights are OK on "our" side of the river, but it was cool to see an alternative to the norm. I highly recommend throwing on a skid lid and boogying to Vintage Bike Night. Aside from a few monster potholes, I think you'll find the trip as fun and interesting as I.

    Safe riding, y'all. And "Thanks" to the VBN folks for making it possible. I now have a reason to journey "across the bridge".

Vintage Bike Night Logo

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St. Clair County ABATE 20th Anniversary Party (5-22-11)

     Had the pleasure of attending the 20th anniversary party for my local ABATE chapter yesterday. The usual suspects showed up and all had a great time. Riding home from tha' party, I started to think about tha' chapter's history as I knew it. Back in '92, a biker activist and his wife saw tha' possiblity of expanding ABATE's mission in the metro- St. Louis area and instead of sittin' back and wishin' someone else would do tha' job, organized their friends and thus began St. Clair County ABATE.... A TRUE grass-roots campaign if there ever was one! 

     ANY grass roots, people-driven organization is only as strong as its membership and it's easy to forget tha' movers-n-shakers of past as we try to continue tha' mission today. In this light, it's good to reflect on those people who have passed and those who helped make the organization and chapter what it is who have moved on or moved away. Such is tha' nature of life. I could list individual names, but more importantly, their DEEDS when they were alive or active are what are important, for through their efforts, giving of their time and desire to see tha' chapter grow and continue its mission of informing bikers about motorcycle- related legislation, they gave a small part of themselves to tha' chapter which lives on today.

     Twenty years ago, ABATE of Illinois was re-emerging from a traumatic state-wide re-organization. Tha' original "A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments" was revamped into "A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education". Tha' name, as first envisioned by tha' editors of Easyriders magazine, may have changed but tha' "brotherhood" remained. That "brotherhood" (and "sisterhood") continues to be tha' foundation on which ABATE is built.  Twenty years ago, the federal government was in overdrive in its attempt to blackmail states into adopting seat belt and helmet laws or risk losing much needed highway funds. Most states caved and are encased in seatbelt and helmet laws today, but the bikers of Illinois, showing true brotherhood, united to ensure that the efforts of bikers who had gone before them and battled all the way up to tha' Illinois Supreme Court to have Illinois' original helmet law (yes! we had one!), declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL would not be swept aside for tha' sake of greenbacks from Uncle Sugar. It took guts to stand against tha' U.S. Government, but those dedicated brothers and sisters not only stood tall, but beat back Uncle Sugar and sent him packin' back to D.C..

     Twenty years later, tha' faces have changed.  We who have been around for bit are older, sport more wrinkles, are hopefully wiser, but still determined to see that tha' mission of ABATE of Illinois continues to be to "preserve the universal right to a safe, un-restricted, motorcycling environment...". This mission cannot be done by computers or modern technologies. It remains tha' venue of the person.... Tha' individual, working within that BROTHERHOOD... That one soul who believes enough in a cause to get active, draw a line in tha' sand, and declare "NO MORE!".

     St. Clair County ABATE has literally changed my life and I am SO proud of what has been accomplished these past two decades. I am truly thankful to have been a minor part in tha' chapter's success and love and appreciate those who have stood tha' line all these years and who I am able to call "friend".  I am but a humble servant to tha' cause and am thankful for 20 years of good people, a righteous cause, and great friends.

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E15 Gasoline and the Future of Motorcycling (Excerpt from the American Motorcyclist Association) (8-7-12)

Federal officials mandate consumers must buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain ethanol-blend pumps
Contact your senators and your representative today!
 

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require all consumers to buy at least four gallons of gasoline from certain gas pumps after the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend is introduced into the market, the American Motorcyclist Association reports. The vast majority of motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in use today are not designed to operate on E15 fuel.

    The EPA revealed the requirement to the AMA in a letter dated Aug. 1, responding to AMA concerns that E15 -- a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume – could be put in motorcycle and ATV fuel tanks inadvertently when consumers use blender pumps. A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose.

    “With E15 gasoline, our members who make a concerted effort to fuel their motorcycles or ATVs with E10-or-less gasoline may be unknowingly refueling with residual fuel left in the hose,” Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, wrote in a June 20 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

    “Unlike an automobile or SUV with a large fuel tank, the residual fuel left in a fueling hose could be detrimental to the performance of motorcycle or ATV engines due to the small size of their fuel tanks and the higher concentration of ethanol that would, therefore, be present in the fuel,” Allard wrote.

    “In addition, the use of E15 will lower fuel efficiency and possibly cause premature engine failure,” he wrote. “Use of E15 fuel voids many manufacturer warranties. In off-road engines, the effects can even be dangerous for users.”

    Byron Bunker of the EPA National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, responded to the AMA on behalf of Jackson.

    “EPA requires that retail stations that own or operate blender pumps either dispense E15 from a dedicated hose and nozzle if able or, in the case of E15 and E10 being dispensed from the same hose, require that at least four gallons of fuel be purchased to prevent vehicles and engines with smaller fuel tanks from being exposed to gasoline-ethanol blended fuels containing greater than 10 volume percent ethanol,” Bunker wrote.

    “Additionally, EPA is requiring that retail stations that offer E10 and E15 from the same hose and nozzle use additional labeling to inform consumers about the minimum purchase requirement,” Bunker wrote.

    “Since motorcyclists and ATV users, as you suggest, have relatively small fuel tanks, they should pay careful attention to the labeling of blender pumps to ensure that an appropriate fuel is chosen, in this case E10 or E0,” he wrote.

    The problem with the new EPA policy is that not all motorcycle and ATV gas tanks hold four or more gallons.

    “Not only do we find it unacceptable for the EPA to mandate that our members buy minimum amounts of gas, but the EPA answer simply won’t work because of the sizes of many motorcycle and ATV gas tanks,” said Allard. “Furthermore, off-highway riders take containers of gas with them on their trips, and most times those containers are much smaller than four gallons.

    “The EPA needs to come up with a better solution,” he said. “The EPA also needs to back an independent study to determine whether E15 is safe for motorcycle and ATV engines.”

    The AMA has repeatedly expressed concerns to government officials and federal lawmakers about possible damage to motorcycle and ATV engines caused by the inadvertent use of E15 when the new fuel becomes widely available, and has asked that motorcycles and ATVs be part of any scientific study into the effects of E15.

    In October 2010, the EPA approved the use of E15 in model year 2007 and newer light-duty vehicles (cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles). Then, in January 2011, the EPA added model year 2001-2006 light-duty vehicles to the approved list.

    Riders should pay attention to this list because no motorcycles or ATVs are currently listed.

    The AMA is concerned about E15 because it burns hotter than gasoline that contains a lesser amount of ethanol. In engines not designed to dissipate that extra heat, damage in the form of premature wear can result. Although this is a concern in all motorcycles, it's particularly problematic for air-cooled engines found in many motorcycles and ATVs. Moreover, use of E15 may even void the manufacturer warranty.

    Since the approved list includes many light-duty vehicles in use today, refineries, distributors, and fueling stations may choose to offer primarily E15 gasoline because of this action by the EPA. The new EPA policy should concern all motorcyclists and off-highway enthusiasts because this can affect the availability of gasoline with less or no ethanol (E10 or E0).

    You can send a prewritten email to your senators and representative immediately by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information. The AMA encourages riders to personalize their message by drawing on their own personal riding experiences.

    Send a message to your federal lawmakers immediately, urging the EPA to come up with a better solution and to back an independent study to determine whether E15 is safe for motorcycle and ATV engines.

    Please join the AMA to help us fight these efforts. More members means more clout against our opponents, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to AmericanMotorcyclist.com/membership/join.

COMMENTARY: Do you remember when "Unleaded" fuel came out? Older vehicles, like my '65 Impala, were not rated to accept unleaded fuel. Use of the fuel in a "daily driver" such as my Chevy was said to erode the valve seats leading to engine damage. I had read that leaded gasoline caused mental retardation in kids growing up around refineries and even local gas stations, so I accepted the government's decision to ban leaded fuels with enthusiasm even though it meant that every time I fueled up with unleaded fuel, I had to squirt "lead additive" into the gas tank to compensate for the loss of lubrication the lead provided. Remember "Instead-O-Lead"?

    I accepted this new government mandate, and the increased costs associated with it because the thought of little kids suffering from the effects of lead exposure is frightening even today. Leaded gas went away and I dutifully played my part of the compliant citizen. After all, a relatively cheap and easy fix was available in the form of a lead additive.
    Today, however, we are faced with a government mandate not focused on saving little kids from the effects of lead exposure. Instead, E15 has nothing to do with mental retardation (except, perhaps, as demonstrated by those pushing it). Nope, no little kids saved THIS time around... Why the E15 push? Simply put: MONEY (and lots of it!). (See Consumer Energy Report's article about it)
    The major ethanol producers are putting into place legislation which leaves CONSUMERS on the hook for engine damage they KNOW will occur if E15 is used in engines not designed for it. Instead of coming up a better alternative, or even an impartial study, the EPA being the uncontrollable "Frankenstein" bureaucracy it is, marches onward, banging the E15 drum.

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Life, tha' Universe, and Bikers (1-22-11)

      Another year has come and gone and I have been lamenting my personal  place in tha' universe and what the future may hold. Add to that the continuing encroachment on our personal liberties and I wonder what my remaining years will look like. Do I get to retire to the old biker's home knowing that the country I have served and love is on the right track? Or do I have to worry that by the time I am old enough for said biker's home, the country that I know and love will be around at all. 2010 brought renewed efforts by local, state and federal governments to limit freedoms we have taken for granted and I see no let up in 2011. Bikers always have issues like tha' helmet law, insurance discrimination, and motorcycle bans to contend with yearly, but some relatively new issues such as the "outlawing" of otherwise trademarked symbols (ala Mongols patch), using sealed indictments to detain individuals for long terms even before they are judged (ala Hermanos MC members) and at the local level, imposing unenforcable and discriminatory emissions (sound) legislation and the federal government's funding of motorcycle-only "safety" checkpoints round out some of the issues we face this year. Unfortunately, I don't see much positive happening anytime soon. I hope I am wrong, but here comes 2011, ready or not, and we'll see how things pan out a year from now.  

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 Colors a' Plenty at Bike Night (8-6-10)

     Like most folks, I tend to be "predictable" as I muddle my way through life... I get up at 5:30, feed the cats by 5:45 (after takin' a leak and before they mug me), make my coffee and yadda, yadda, yadda... Motorcycling for such a long time, I have gotten pretty predictable in my motorcycling habits, too. After work Monday through Wednesday, I ride around here and there, usually to one of the local VFW's, or spend some "quality time" with momma in front of the boob tube and on Thursday, check out the two local bike nights in the metro east. Friday is usually a prep evening with a Poker Run or some other "motorcycle-centric" activity on the weekends. Monday rolls around and... Well, you get the idea... There are little crises thrown in here and there for good measure, but I would bet MY routine is somewhat similar to most other folk's out there. This may sound like a gloomy scene, but don't get me wrong. There is a lot to be said for predictability. Predictablility is comfortable; Predictablilty allows life to "flow". Predictablity is, well, predictable... But predictability, I have found, can lead to complacency. Complacency is not a good thing. It leads to hurt and pain, whether it's from slidin' down the road on yer ass at 60mph after some cager decided they liked YOUR lane better than theirs or the pain, both psychological and/ or physical associated with sayin' the wrong thing at the wrong time. In our world, complacency can tear a person's reputation to shreds with one "unguarded" comment, word or gesture.

     So, what does predicatability and complacency have to do with "Colors 'a Plenty at Bike Night"? Bike night in our area is pretty laid back, I would say. Mostly Harley riders are in attendance, but we get a good smattering of "metric" (I prefer to use "Jap" since I ride one) bikes, and even a brave sportbike rider or two in attendance. It's pretty much the same ol' folks doin the same ol' thing. I mean, how many black t-shirts, middle aged spread and jean clad bikers can you handle? In the same regard, how many triple chromed full dressers with their bolt-on doo dads and long, fat tire "neuvo choppers" with their obligatory flame jobs can you look at before you've pretty much "been there, done that"? No offense, to those I've described (as while I may not have triple chrome or fat tires, I definitely have the black t-shirt and middle aged spread covered), but it makes for a fairly "predictable" time in the good ol' 618. HOWEVER, every once in awhile, a cool old bike will show up (like the '77 Silver Jubilee edition Triumph I spotted last night), or a "new" patch will show up. The latter is what struck me last night and why I pound on the keyboard today.

     I've been attending the bike nights for a few years off and on. I usually bee bop in for 15-20 minutes and unless somebody strikes up a conversation, I am back on the road and in the wind. Why waste a hot summer evening sweatin' yer balls off in a parking lot when you could be catchin' some breeze on the scoot? (I'll save that for a later rant). So a new group rolls into Geo's... Actually a few new (aligned) groups make an appearance at Geo's which is cool with me. The more the merrier I say, but the groups to whom I allude are not the Goldwingers club or the boyscouts. They're pretty high up on the MC ladder (as in "not yer momma's MC" if'n ya' get my drift). Predictablility and complacency are NOT two of the attributes I would associate with what I'll call the "heavy hitters". It's been my observation that they move with a purpose, whether we civilians know what that purpose may be or not. Guys from some of the local MC's present seemed visibly tense and while there was nothin' more than some "mean muggin'" while I was there, all seemed hunky dory in biker land.

     Regardless of their purpose, it was cool to see new faces and while my concern-o-meter is pinging just a li'l bit, I am hopeful that things in our little slice of the shit pie that is life will remain cool. Respects to all, ~Squirts

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 Steppin' in the Shit Again! (6-1-10)

Some 15 years ago or so, I was the President of the local ABATE chapter. At the time, ABATE of Illinois was hot and heavy into the Illinois helmet law fight and facing federal sanctions for not complyng with a federal directive to institute a helmet law. We had a lot on our plate. One of the newer involvements for members of ABATE of Illinois was the relatively new process of barring motorcyclists from establishments simply because they rode ("Colors" policies, see "COLORS" for more info).

We had our own version of a "lock out" in Belleville, IL when an establishment which use to be "biker friendly" suddenly and unexpectedly banned bikers from their premises, even going so far as to post signs onto the walls of the establishment declaring that Motorcycle Parking was prohibited on their grounds. Stories vary depending upon whom you talk to, but the most re-told story leading to the "lock out" was a drunken biker riding his scooter into the establishment and doing a burn out on the floor. That act, if it happened as told, would definitely be enough in my book to hand out some individual barrings and maybe even police involvement if the floor was damaged, but the response to ban ALL motorcyclists was, at least in my opinion, not only an over-reaction but a huge act of disrespect for the vast majority of riders who use to patronize the place.

smallschatze.jpg picture by squirtsdawgamber

My part in the aftermath was, at the bequest of the membership,  to send a letter to the owner asking him to reconsider the decision to ban all motorcycles from his lot. After the letter failed to garner any type of response, the membership directed our Public Relations officer and me to go to the establishment and attempt to talk with the owner. We went, and STILL got no response. The guy refused to meet with us....

Years later, the owner of the establishment evidently changed his mind and had the signs removed from the premises and allowed bikers to return. Since then, he has "re-invented" his establishment into a "biker friendly" place and is now pulling in money from riders who have no idea of what transpired there years before. 

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am not always the most loved person in the world. I tend to speak what I think and some folks don't like what I have to say, which is OK with me as I am FAR from always "right" about anything.  Recently, I read about a new event being sponsored by a major midwest biker magazine which would be "anchored" at this establishment. The magazine does LOTS of good events and I have absolutely no beef with it or the people working for it. However, I posted my experience with the establishment all those years ago onto the net and in return got a fair amount of (personal) hurt feelings because I told the story. Basically, I proclaimed that in light of what had transpired I would not patronize that establishment. I don't think my personal decision to stay away rom the event was the problem as I am only one guy. I think, instead, that my bringing up "history" was seen as a personal attack on the people who put the event together. This wasn't my intent, but it happened.

SSSoooo, I am left to wonder if the decision to remind people of history was worth it. There is no denying that what happened, happened. It's on film and old timers like myself remember it. Should the establishment be given a "pass"? Am I digging up bones which nobody really cares about anymore? I dunno.... I DO know that "It Is What It Is". The place discriminated against bikers. That cannot be changed, and I (still) don't appreciate it.

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"NO ANGEL" book review (5-19-10)

Just finished reading the book "No Angel" authored by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson- Shelton. My wife bought the book on sale at our local book mart and brought it home for me to peruse. When she first pulled the book out of the bag and handed it to me, all smiles on her face, I really threw her for a loop when I took the book and launched into a ten minute tirade about how Jay Dobyns was a no good snitch who was such a dumbass as an undercover agent that he and his "posse" screwed up any chance the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) wonks had of catching those mean ol" Hells Angels. My wife, upset because I was upset, promised that she would take the book back and get a refund and I said,"Good!".

            The wifey doesn't get to the book mart but once a week or so. In the meantime, "No Angel" sat on our nightstand waiting for its trip back to the shelf. A few days after my initial tirade, I found the book on the bedroom floor. One corner had been nibbled on, the obvious work of one of our carnivorous felines who either in desperation for some roughage or in a fit of kitty playdom had managed to get "No Angel" to the floor and chew on it. I picked up the book, realizing that "No Angel" was now "No refund"  thanks to the bite marks. I sat the book back on the nightstand and rolled on with life.

            That night, figuring the damn book wasn't going to go anywhere now that it was defaced, I picked it up and began thumbing through the pages. I gravitated to the middle of the book where the picture pages are located and looked upon bearded faces of the main "players" in the investigation. Hell, those guys looked like guys I knew! None had "Bad Guy" tattooed on their forehead and I decided that as much as I didn't like what I had heard about Agent Dobyns, I would see what the ATF wonk had written in the first few pages before throwing the book into the litterbox and encouraging the cats to offer their opinions.

            One page turned to two, which turned to five and before I knew it, I was ten pages deep (and enjoying myself) as I read about the background of Agent Dobyns and the events leading up to "Black Biscuit". While I had heard and read about BB, I never knew the operation was named after a hockey reference (I like detail shit like that). As I read deeper into the book I found the writing to be amateurish at best and I wondered to myself how much of what Dobyns had to say was written in his pen or manipulated by Nils.  

            The first few chapters detail the establishment of a "front" club called the "Solo Angels". The events leading to the establishment of the "Solo Angels" seemed far-fetched to me, but if they are even remotely true, then the Solo Angels have/ had issues, in my humble opinion. The thought of flying colors in a new area without the direct input/ oversight of the mother charter begs the question of how much control that club actually had over their members. As detailed in the book, Dobyns and crew just "slithered" on into the Solo Angels M/C simply because they wanted to. No vetting process, no background checks, nothing... They just found a patch holder, flipped him and became what they wanted.

     The book continues to detail the exploits of Dobyns, et al as they buy and sell "dubious" weapons from "dubious" people and how the Hells Angels become so infatuated with the Solo Angels (Hard to swallow, if you ask me) that the Angels are seemingly willing to drop to their knees to bring Dobyns and crew into the fold. (Also, hard to swallow... pun intended).

I'm not buying it... And, God forbid if it IS true, then shame on the Angels for being so eager to bring new blood into the fold that they would risk their own livelihoods. In the end, many guns are bought and sold, some confessions are made, a little meth is purchased and Dobyns "kills" a Mongol. As Dobyns tells it, he begins to lose his personal identity ala Dan Saxon (undercover agent portrayed in the movie "Beyond the Law') and actually enjoys hangin' with the Angels. That part of the story is easier for me to believe as I would think that a person with stones big enough to lie their way into an "outlaw" organization would almost HAVE to develop a split personality in order to survive.

I was surprised on a number of points throughout the book. First and foremost was the impression I got of otherwise bumbling "old timers" in the 81 who, so desperate for new blood, practically begged Dobyns to patch over. While I am no expert, I have met some Hells Angels who are older, but even then they were not/ are not "bumbling" by any stretch of the imagination. It has been my experience that these "silver backs" who have ridden with the club and lived the outlaw life for literally decades have ridden and survived because they do NOT bumble.

Other eye raising points in the book include the disorganized "Solo Angels" and their seeming lack of communication between the "mother" chapter, the California charter and what Dobyn,s crew was up to as well as the amount of time Dobyns and his compatriots spent away from the Hells Angels.

On a positive note, if half of the events written about in the book are real, then Dobyns deserves credit for truly having "balls that clank" (to take a saying from "Beyond the Law"). Dobyns IS a liar and a whole host of other nasty adjectives strung together. Then again, that is his job and I would suspect that he is good at it. I feel like I have a better understanding of Agent Dobyns after reading the book and found myself agreeing with some of his thoughts on subjects like Law Enforcement clubs playing "outlaw biker" and about how otherwise good men can find themselves deep into unsavory circumstances because of a few bad choices.

I find it ironic that, for better or worse, this man gave his best and then is shuttered away by the very people he is working for (ATF) af ter the case started to disintegrate. This "scapegoating" shows the level of cohesion, (or lack there of) within ATF ranks. The "big dick" issues within the ATF and subsequent lawsuits from Dobyns and Pops toward the ATF provide as much of a picture about "bumbling" bureaucrats as it does lazy or "dense" outlaws.

 After all is said and done, the book was a good read, in my opinion. Keep in mind that you are reading fiction with a smattering of non-fiction and not the other way around. The amount of insight from the perspective of being "inside" the Hells Angels is nothing new. The parties, drugs, and violence have been written about before. If anything, "No Angel" is a book which gives a decent look into the head of a man charged with infiltrating his "enemy" and his subsequent fall into personal/ professional oblivion.

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 Crashing SUCKS (3-18-10)

      After almost 30 years of on and off road riding, I had my first "real" motorcycle accident ("real" meaning one which required hospitalization). I' ve had my share of strains and sprains with about 200,000 miles of road riding under my belt, and a little old lady in a big old Chevy had the "honor" of hurting me to the point of hospitalization. This incident happened on a run a couple of weeks ago (March 6). I was last in a line of 4 trikes and two motorcycles out for a leisurely ride. In a nutshell. the lady either did not see me or was frustrated and said "the Hell with it" and attempted to "merge" on top of me as our little group motored by. I had wondered to myself before the incident what the lady would do with all of the scooters rolling past. Once she began coming over, I found an "out" using the outside shoulder and my plan was to hit the shoulder and gas on the throttle and boogy away from her... The fly in my ointment, however was a VERY deep pothole located directly ahead of me in the shoulder. Seems an odd place for a pot hole, but it was there and I was on a collision course with it. I hit the pot hole square on. My front tire dropped into the hole which shot me up away from the seat and forward. I run 19 inch ape hangers which I leave a little on the loose side. Anybody runnin' apes can tell you how it's nice to be able to pull 'em back or push 'em forward when ya' need to. In this case, I am convinced that the loose apes helped me stay on the bike, for as I was pitched forward, I was able to hang onto the apes until they hit a bump stop on the upper triple tree which caught the bars. Just as I was on my way down, the rear tire hit the pot hole and was coming up. The collision between my butt and the seat was an instant bolt of pain across my butt. While taking only a millisecond, the incident and resulting pot hole collision seemed to take forever. I was able to stay upright and kept on motorin', catching up to the rest of the pack and eventually completing the rest of our 100 mile ride. I knew I had hurt my butt, but didn't realize until Sunday that it was REALLY messed up. Instead of springing for the hundred buck co-pay, I had my hunny call our family doc for an x-ray of my butt and right shoulder first thing Monday morning. By the time I had the x-rays taken I was in a fair amount of pain and walkin' like Quasimodo. The xray and a subsequent CT scan for my right shoulder were completed that Monday and my doc reported a coccyx fracture and a dislocated scapula. The weird thing to me was that the doc reading the CT scan said that my scapula had been dislocated and RE-located. I am left to believe that the impact and subsequent shooting up against the apes dislocated the shoulder which somehow relocated itself. My family doc said there wasn't much to do about the fractured butt, prescribed me some oxycodone and sent me home to lay flat on my back for a few weeks

     Tuesday morning, week number two: I rolled over in bed and the most excruciating pain I have EVER felt shot through my left thigh. Trying to be the "tough guy" and not wanting to go to the hospital, I attempted to "walk off" the pain. Soon it was apparent that something else was going on and to the Emergency Room I went. Through triage and into a room I went for my first evaluation. Thankfully, there is this cool drug called Dilaudid which the male nurse shot into me via an IV. "Big D", from what the nurse said, is the synthetic equivalent to heroin and BROTHER if the high you get with "D" is similar to heroin, I can understand how folks get hooked on it! You could have cut my wiener off and I would not have cared. The emergency room doc had me recount the "motorcycle accident". I told the ER doc that it wasn't a motorcycle accident, but "a little old lady in a big car" accident. He then responded with, "Well, did you have your helmet on?"  Remember that I'm heading toward a nice high and not exactly ready for a helmet debate, so I replied "no". His response was  a shaking of his head and silence. Another set of x-rays and nothing shows up differently. ER doc decides to admit me so an MRI can be done.

     Finally pushed to a semi private room on "D" ward... My "cellie" is a 79 year old guy who has been hospitalized 13 times in the past 15 months... Oy Vay.... My ass hurts..... Take me away, Big D! aaaahhhhhhhhhh.....

     Rolled to the MRI room... I'm requested to stand up and walk the ONE step from the gurney to the MRI table... I'm drooling, hunched over and stumbling as Big D is having its way with me. The 98 pound technician finally gets my 330 pounds rolled onto the table. She straps a large "plate" over my abdomen and tells me that I am going to have two MRI sessions. One for the hip and the other for a pelvic study. I mumble something, she smiles down and as her face starts to melt off, the MRI table begins to move me inside a very little tube. Now, if you haven't had an MRI, you basically become the toothpaste in a toothpaste tube. The bigger YOU are, the smaller the tube becomes. I've had an MRI before, but never while Big D was coursing through my veins. This was a mistake.... Yep, a big mistake...

     Each MRI session takes 30 minutes... Remember that I now have become "toothpaste" and that Big D LOVES toothpaste. The MRI machine is very big, very loud, and the tube is very SMALL. Claustrophobia strolls up to Big D and asks if it can join in on a little three way... LET THE GAMES BEGIN! I am forced to lie on my back with my shoulders held above my head. Remember the DIS/ RE located scapula? Big D must have had his hands full messin' with my mind because in no time at all, my shoulder begins to scream at me. I'm tellin' myself "You're OK... You've done this before..You can handle the pain". Claustrophobia whispers, "Gee Tom, remember that DIET you were going to do? It SURE is tight in here, isn't it? Yeah, TOM, I'll bet you couldn't fit a flat dollar bill between the tube wall and your CHEST!". I concentrate on "good memories" to take my mind off of my shoulder pain and to shut out claustrophobia, but BIG D is there waitin' for me. No matter how many times I try to visualize good times, they all end in death and destruction. Claustrophobia notices this, pats Big D on the shoulder and continues the whispering. By the time both of the MRIs are done I am dripping wet and coming down from Big D's ride. Claustrophobia almost won, especially when thoughts of earthquakes welled up and my being trapped in the tube with no way out played through my altered mind.

     I am carted back to the room. My cellie is there, poor ol' guy has congestive heart failure and coughs and hacks almost incessantly but is never able to cough up the loogie... It stays just inside his chest and rattles and wheezes as he works on making just one more sunrise.... The floor nurse comes along and has brought that lovable galoot, "Big D' her.... Hey,' Big D', I know you didn't mean to make me watch faces melt or make me think the toothpaste tube was bein' squeezed. Gimme what ya' got... AAAaaaaaahhhhhh........

     I spend the rest of Tuesday in and out of consciousness. I get to the point that I can tell when it's time for a visit from Big D. I am blissfully numb as my cellie continues to wheez and rattle for his life...

     My family doc shows up bright and early Wednesday morning. I hear him before I see him as he is laughing and tellin someone the "Big dog love machine" is on the floor. I LOVE my Doc (insofar as a man can love another man and not be wonky about it). He literally saved my life a few years back and I'll never forget him for that. My doc comes in, shakes his head and asks "What's up?". I tell him the same story I've told so many times before and he turns all business and begins filing through the inch thick reports. Seems I CRUSHED my coccyx and it now looks like a big bone surrounded by lots of smaller bones. Thankfully, all are pointing in the right direction and will fuse together in 4 to 6 weeks. The horrendous pain I experienced was my tearing apart a small section of muscle which had already nearly been severed in the original incident. The muscle tore from bone leaving a void which allowed blood to fill in. It, too, should be fine and heal without surgery. My doc reverts back to humor mode, gives me a smile and boogies on out for the rest of his rounds.... My cellie, moved from the room in the night, is on his own path. I hope its the path of wheezing and rattling as opposed to the "other" path but I dunno. I DO know that I don't wanna' be 79, wearing diapers, struggling for every breath with the only change in scenery bein' the ceilings of different hospital rooms.... Oy vay (again). 

     Last on my "Medical adventure" is a CT scan to be performed in the morning to "double check" the x rays and MRIs already taken. Before that, however, is YEAH BABY! My "bro", Big D. Aside from bein' schlepped around like a side of pork to and from the CT room, the day is uneventful and a fuzzy blur. An orthopedist came in to tell me surgery was not needed, to make a snide remark about "Donorcycles" and to prescribe me about four different meds which all do the same damn thing. I could have easily reached out, ripped his ears from his head and eaten them while he stood there watching.... Easy, Bid D, easy.... Next up was the Physical Therapist guru complaining about how the PT department is in the basement and how I should consider joinin' them for some "fun in the dungeon". Followed soon after by a sweet enough physical therapist who rolls me on my side, applies some nice warm goo to my hip and uses a magic silver wand to send rays into the muscle of my upper thigh. It feels good... Gotta' watch it, though...Bev is watchin' and now would NOT be a good time to sprout wood... Think of melting faces, think of melting faces... The nice lady with the warm goo and love wand leaves as my hunny's eyes shoot waves of their own into the back of the nice lady's head... A drill sergeant of a floor nurse follows about and hour later with the TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL  discharge papers. An hour later and I'm home. Big D didn't make it with me, but he had the docs send prescriptions for some oral  Li'l D's with me... I liked Big D too much, so I think we'll suffer a little pain and keep the Li'l D's off the premises... Big or little, I don't wanna' tempt my admittedly weak constitution with too many happy pills. My coccyx is growing together, my ass hurts and I'm flat on my back.... HOME! Big D ain't got shit on THIS! =) Respects

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 Geo's Wings 'N More Bike Night (7-7-09)

     Man! I recently attended Bike Night at Geo's Wings 'N More (4307 W. Main St., Belleville) and was very impressed with the turn out and overall atmosphere. Now, I'm really not a big fan of Geo's. The few times I've eaten there, the wings have been just "OK" and a little on the pricy side. I knew that every Thursday in the summer months, Geo's hosted a bike night and incorrectly thought it would amount to a few bikers sitting around the restaurant chompin' on overpriced, so-so wings.

     What I found, instead was a refreshing mix of ALL types of motorcycles (and even a few scooters) jam packed in the parking lot. Everything from mom and pop's full dresser Goldwing to Joe RUB's fat tired, kidney pounding hardtail and everything (and I mean everything) in between was in attendance. An on-sight DJ kept the music goin' while Geo's set up a convenient outside "refreshment" stand with beer and wing specials. A smattering of everything from seats to neon were on hand to liberate bikers from the Banjamins. I'm a rat bike guy and figured the balance of the few motorcycles in attendance would be various types of chromed out Harleys and their stretched out, fat-tired brethren. I ran into some hard core rat bikers and had a good time talkin' about flat black paint and rust (I love tha' stuff!). Most impressive to me was a LACK of police presence on Main Street. Belleville is not known as the most "biker friendly" place in the Metro St. Louis area. I did not witness any attitudes and everyone seemed to get along well.

     As is customary at most of the bike nights I've attended, each rider leaving the event felt the need to "clear out" their pipes with a twist of the throttle and blast down Main. If the Belleville PoPo wanted to harass this event, they could have easily. Instead, happy bikers, lotsa' libations, a good mix of bikes and riders and a laid back atmosphere makes Geo's Bike Night a winner in my book. In the famous words of the Governator, "I'll Be Back".  ~ Squirts

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  Biker event nets nearly $15k for Coleman memorial (8-1-09)

Source: stltoday.com
By: Nicholas J.C. Pistor
Posted: 08/12/2009

Illinois - A memorial fund to honor Sheri Coleman and her two boys is about $15,000 richer after this weekend.

Sheriannherboys.com teamed with the annual "Bikers Save Lives" benefit ride on Saturday.

The ride started at Parkview Elementary School in Columbia, Ill., and made its way to the Gateway Grizzlies' GCS Ballpark, where a jersey was dedicated to the slain boys, Garett and Gavin. The ride also went through New Athens, Sparta, and Red Bud, before ending at TopShooters in Columbia.

"At the Grizzlies Stadium, the folding of the flag and playing of taps was very emotional on the family, friends and crowd that attended, but gave the closure that was needed that did not happen at the funeral for Sheri," said Meegan Turnbeaugh, the event's organizer.

Turnbeaugh said more than 1,000 people attended, including some of Sheri Coleman's relatives from Chicago. (Area residents who have closely followed the case's twists and turns on online message boards also attended.) She said nearly $15,000 was raised at the event.

Chris Coleman, 32, is held without bail pending trial on first-degree murder charges that say he strangled his wife, Sheri Coleman, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, in their home in Columbia on May 5.

Sheri Coleman's family plans to build a memorial in Columbia near the Blue Jay football field, where the boys once played.
Click Here for original article

  I've listed this article as both a RANT and a RAVE for a reason, so please bear with me. Bikers are the most patriotic, giving people in the world and even in these hard economic times bikers came through to make this event a success. I am proud of their generosity and caring. That's definitely a RAVE in my book. My RANT stems from the fact that I am a cold hearted bastard and could think of a LOT of better things to do with that 15K than build a pavilion at a park somewhere. Look, folks, none of us wants to think that once we spin off  of this mud ball for good that we won't be remembered. Hell, I'd venture to say that the grave marker and mausoleum business is pretty much recession proof, but what good does a lump of granite, walled mausoleum or park pavilion (estimated cost: $300,000) do for those still trying to eek out their life? Yeah, I know it's easy for me to sit back and armchair quarterback, but instead of blowing the 15K on a "thing" I'd rather see the event organizers and care-takers of the funds set up an endowment or develop a non-profit dedicated to those who have lost their loved ones to violent crime. 15K (let alone 300K) can do SO much more than provide shade somewhere. Respects, Squirts 

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 Freeburg, IL "Moving Wall" Exhibition (8/6/09)

Man! I have a bunch of RAVES to rave about today! One of the best days of ridin' I've personally done in a lloonngg time.... Not so much for the weather, the length of the ride or the free food, but for the "MISSION".... I would like to begin by extending a RAVE to my friends, Mike and Sheila Gallagher. Now, for those who don't know Mike and Sheila, let me fill you in a bit about them.... Mike was instrumental in setting up three local ABATE chapters in the Metro area way back "in the day". He and Sheila have been a positive influence at both the state and Federal level concerning motorcycle- related issues. In all honesty, I do not know how they keep so active. Sheila owns and operates "Gallagher's Getaway" in Freeburg, Il and is also VERY active in her town's politics. She spearheaded the project to raise funds to bring the "Moving Wall" to Freeburg.

My part in all of this is small, but let me be clear about my genuine honor to have helped put the wall together (and standing guard over it this weekend). I have visited "THE Wall" in Washington, D.C. and if you EVER get the chance, I enourage you to visit our Nation's Capitol, if even just for one time (like me). It is a sobering and reflective experience you will not soon forget.

I would say that approximately 200 motorcycle riders showed up at Frieze Harley Davudson in O'Fallon this morning to escort the "Wall' into town. WELL represented were members of the Vietnam Vets M/C and a HOST of other Veterans MC's and organizations including The American Legion Riders, The VFW Riders, Warrior Brotherhood MC, Freedom Cuisers, Band of Brothers MC, Patriot Guard Riders and ROK & Rollers. Other groups which I spotted were the Skyriders, Stone Celt HOG, and members of the GWRRA. If I have left anyone out, I sincerely apologize. I always forget the damn pad and pencil and then have to squeeze my brain cells later on tryin' to remember details.

A big RAVE goes out to the members of the Skyriders. While I counted only about 6 or 8 in attendance, everyone of those guys and gals not only stayed around after the procession, but were active in helpin' to put up the Wall. Many others helped and a big RAVE to each and every one. Local "Freeburgians" were very proud to be hosting the Wall for the first time and, as I learned out, in conjunction with Freeburg's 150th Anniversary.

"The Wall" will be located in Freeburg Park from today until Sunday the 10th. It is lighted and guarded and you can visit 24 hours per day. A "Mini Rolling Thunder" will occur as a part of closing ceremonies on Sunday.

To the people of Freeburg, congrats to you! This is a nice tribute to our fallen from Vietnam and a great catalyst for reflection for all of the men and women lost throughout the years and wars in defense of this great country. We have our problems, folks, but take it from a guy who's been around the world... There STILL ain't a better place to be than the good ol (dysfunctional ) U.S.A.!  Respects and ride safe. ~ Squirts

 

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  Shady Jack's Bi-State Biker Bash (10/24/09)

     This RAVE isn't so much about the biker bash, per se' but about something I learned while attending it. Shady Jack's, for those not in the know, is a cool biker bar located near the river in St. Louis. While I've never met Jack Larrison, the owner, he seems an interesting fella and he's been able to do what few others have by building an establishment which is as welcoming to Joe Rub as it is to your local 1 percenter. (article ).

     While I only live about 10 minutes east of St. Louis, I figure it's been about 7 years since I crossed the river on a scoot, and it was the FIRST time I have travelled to Shady Jack's . I HATE Missouri's helmet law and try to stay on MY side of the river.... Anyway, I heard through a friend about the biker bash thingy so figured "why not"? Since I rarely do the "group ride thang", I googled directions and headed out on my own. Gettin' to Shady Jack's from the east side is an easy affair. You boogie across the Martin Luther King bridge, hang a right and about a mile on the right sits Jack's. The BITCH is havin' to suit up with a friggin' helmet...... Luckily, there's a gravel turn out just before you jump onto the MLK which made for a quick pitstop to strap on my skid lid. The event was decent enough with your typical vendors, band and such but I must admit that you can only go to so many biker events without feeling "blah" about the same ol' same ol'. (One of the reasons I rarely do Poker Runs and organized events).

     I found my friend, bull shitted a bit, looked at all of the chromed out Harleys and leather clad bikers and headed back to my bike. Along the way, I met the Vice Prez of the St. Louis chapter of ABATE for Missouri. (link) . I had a good time finding out more about our "sister" chapter just across the Muddy. We talked about the highs and the lows of operating a freedom fighter's organization and I had the opportunity to introduce him to our chapter president. Who knows? Maybe I'll scooter on over to one of their meetings and he'll jump across the river to one of ours.

     The "value" of an event such as this is not necessarily the chromed out Hogs, scantily clad ladies and blaring rock 'n roll, but in the connections and friendships which are made in the process. It is in this regard that I rave about the bash. While I may be "burnt" on the whole "party thang", I don't think I'll ever get burnt meeting new folks and learning what they have to share.

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  Alton Mayor Declares War on Loud Bikes ( 10/24/09)

     Well, it's been a wild 'n wooly summer here in the Metro/ St. Louis.... We've had our share of biker fatalities, dumb cagers and harassment from the good ol' Illinois State Police, so I guess it's only natural that we should wind down 2009 with word that the new Mayor of Alton, IL, Tom Hoechst, is spreading the word to area riders that "You ain't seen nothin' yet!".

     For those outside the Metro/ St. Louis area, Alton is a medium-sized city plagued with all of the problems of a medium-sized city (diminished business and increased poverty). What makes Alton special, however, is that it sits at the beginning leg of one of the most popular highways in the area, the Great River Road. Alton is connected to Missouri via the relatively new Clark Bridge. Many riders come across the bridge from Missouri and and many others from all parts north and south in Illinois to partake of the nightlife in Alton (good bars and a casino) and to ride the River Road.

     This summer, for the first time in memory, the Illinois State Police set up "Motorcycle Only" checkpoints on the River Road and had a great time ticketing riders and impounding motorcycles for infractions such as loud pipes, no insurance and no operator's license. I'm not a big fan of these so-called "Safety Checkpoints" to begin with and the thought of MOTORCYCLE SPCIFIC checkpoints really pisses me off, but I understand that case law allows for "Revenue Checkpoints"  so there's not much to do about it.

     Following on the heels of this summer's ISP action, the Mayor of Alton has put out the word that Loud Pipes Equals Tickets in his town. Our ABATE of Illinois Region Coordinator has informed us that Mayor Hoechst has instructed his patrol officers to stop ANY bikes with "non factory" exhaust and that there will be NO warning tickets issued. The officers ARE TO TICKET.

     I love the sound my raggedy, barely muffled, bobber makes and you simply cannot beat the hard-charging sound of an old Ironhead Sporty, but it looks like the days of loud exhausts are quickly coming to an end. As a "home rule" town, Alton can pretty much enforce whatever law it wants within its limits and now that the economy has tanked, it looks like bikers who don't heed my warning are going to contribute to Alton's coffers. As for me, I guess I'll weld up a few of the exhaust leaks I have on the bobber and hope that suffices. If not, and I end up contributing myself, then I guess I'll pull out the sleeper exhaust and be a good little boy.

     In the meantime, if you plan to ride the River Road or even if there is no River Road in YOUR neck of the woods, remain vigilant that the sheeple have had enough of our noise at o-dark-thirty in the morning and at least try to keep the pipes in check. My cynical side this is only the first of LOTS more to come... Ride Safely, Squirts

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   Signs will urge motorcyclists to ride quietly (1/16/10)

   I've listed this topic as both a rant AND a rave. I think it's cool that ABATE of IL is working with local motorcycle groups (Southern Illinois Motorcycle Association... SIMCA), but I worry that working with local towns/ cities, etc. will do nothing to head off loud pipe tickets but will cast ABATE in the light of complicity. I dunno.... The only thing I DO know is that while I may ride my bike to and from work in Alton, the town has been added to my personal "off limits" list along with the Great Ticket, uhhh, RIVER Road and Grafton... Targeting ME will result in my NOT targeting them when it comes to spending my moolah. Ride safeyl out there. = ) Squirts

ALTON - A motorcycle rights and safety promotion group plans to pay for signs to "quiet" motorcycles in Alton, as city officials begin the process to strengthen the city's anti-noise ordinance.

"We are going to be leaders in this," said Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst, who campaigned on quieting down motorcycles traveling on city streets and loud car stereos.

At Monday night's meeting of the aldermanic Committee of the Whole, Carleen Grant, state public relations coordinator for ABATE of Illinois (A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education), said the organization will pay for materials for more than 100 new motorcycle noise warning signs.

Two of the signs were displayed at the meeting, both white with black lettering and an image of a person riding a motorcycle with three, right-side parentheses behind it to indicate noise. The smaller sign reads, "When in Town, Keep it Down," and will be posted on city streets where motorcyclists frequent and in bars that cater to motorcyclists.

The larger sign reads, "Welcome to Alton, When in Town, Keep it Down," with the motorcycle silhouette and the words "Please ride respectfully" underneath. Those signs will go up on existing posts at entrances to the city.

Grant said a businessman's donation to ABATE will pay for the materials. The Alton Public Works Department will print and put up the signs after the new chapter to the noise ordinance goes into effect in coming months.
Last year, representatives from ABATE of Illinois and Missouri, 14 motorcycle clubs and three motorcycle dealers met with Alton Police Chief David Hayes to find ways to communicate the need to keep the sound down in Alton.

Since then, Grant and Bob Myers of Jerseyville, southwest region coordinator for ABATE of Illinois, had follow-up meetings with Hayes and Alton Corporation Counselor Jim Schrempf regarding the proposed noise abatement ordinance.

"This is an example of how a great working relationship can be," Grant said. "Two sides coming together with questions and concerns, devising solutions to overcome a concern and then implementing a plan of action. There has been a great line of open communication between motorcyclists and Alton City Hall during this process. Everyone met in the middle of the road."

Myers said the ordinance and reminder signs would not be a cure-all for the noise problem.

"Hopefully, it will alleviate the problem," he said. "A legal motorcycle coming down the road can have a little noise, but with 10 of them, the noise escalates."

Hayes said the process of getting a resolution and working on the warning signs took four months. The proposed addition to the city's noise abatement ordinance also applies to boom boxes, radios, televisions, musical instruments and amplified sirens, horns, whistles, bells or chimes - except churches and charitable contribution solicitors.

Regarding noise from sound amplification in vehicles, or noisy cars, trucks or motorcycles, the ordinance prohibits disturbing "the peace, quiet and comfort of passers-by or is plainly audible at a distance of 75 feet," unless it is an emergency vehicle.

The ordinance also says mufflers or exhaust systems must be maintained properly to prevent noise, and cannot be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device.

People also would be prohibited from yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing in residential or noise-sensitive areas between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., "or at any time or place so as to disturb the quiet, comfort or repose of reasonable persons of ordinary sensitivities." Such noise from someone's bird or other animal also is prohibited; loudly loading or unloading merchandise, materials or equipment would be banned between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The ordinance prohibits "unreasonably loud or raucous noise or any noise that unreasonably disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of reasonable persons or ordinary sensitivity" within city limits.

Factors for determining whether a sound is unreasonably loud include "proximity of the sound to sleeping facilities, whether residential or commercial; land use, nature and zoning of the area from which the sound emanates and the area where it is received or perceived; time of day or night; duration of sound; whether the sound is recurrent, intermittent or constant; and whether the sound is necessary in order to conduct lawful activity."

Among the exemptions are sounds from utility structure repairs that pose a danger, alarm systems, outdoor school and playground activities and other outdoor events.

Grant said she plans to initiate a "media blitz" regarding the forthcoming ordinance, particularly to reach motorcyclists not affiliated with any club.

linda_weller@thetelegraph.com

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 Where IS Everbody??? (11/9/09)

So, this past year I have decided to get active in my local ABATE chapter again after a five year "burn out" break... Comin' back "into the fold" has been a revitalizing experience for me and it's one decision I am happy to have made. Unfortunately, things don't seem to change much in ABATE (and I'm sure in other organizations)... Once again, the vast majority of the grunt work needed to keep the chapter going gets done by a handful of  members (generally 4 or 5 out of something like a 160 person membership). I am dismayed at the lack of active participation within the chapter and even more dismayed at the lack of interest in joining ABATE by non members . I had the chance to work our chapter booth at the local swapmeet and could not believe the amount of disinterest and apathy expressed by the attendees toward not only the helmet law issue, but motorcycling issues in general. The most irksome comment I received at the swapmeet was by a guy who proclaimed that he wasn't interested in ABATE because once he crossed the bridge from Missouri to Illinois, he took off his helmet and didn't care about helmet laws. When I asked him WHY he was able to take off his lid, he didn't respond... I informed him that the reason he could go lidless was because of ME and the other 9,999 members of ABATE of IL... He got this blank look on his face and after a few minutes mumbled "Well, I live in Missouri anyway" to which I replied, "Have you heard of the Freedom of the Road Riders or ABATE for Missouri?". He just walked away....

Even if you believe in mandatory helmet use, it would benefit you to consider joining  a motorcyclist rights organization (MRO) in your state. There are MANY important issues coming down the pike which will have a DIRECT impact on our hobby/ lifestyle. Please don't sit back and think that others will keep you safe and please, should you decide to jump in, be ACTIVE in your chapter. Any MRO  is "grass roots"...It's only as strong as its membership. Ride Safe, Ride FREE!

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