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med_motorcycle_skisPeople don’t often ask the question are motorbikes dangerous. Or if they do ask the question they just talk about motorcycles and don’t talk about other forms of transport or activities. The reason I mention this is because I often get ‘The Lecture’ and I’m a bit tired of it.

The one thing I don’t like about motorcycles (apart from the cold in winter and riding pillion) is The Lecture. The Lecture happens when someone you know finds out you ride bikes and decides to spend at least the next thirty minutes talking at you (it’s not a conversation) about how dangerous bikes are.

It’s not as if they are going to change your mind, and they don’t even pause to ask anything about your riding style, what you ride or even if you’ve had any additional training to do with riding. They just talk about injuries or people their neighbour once met on a train. I’ve not worked out how you reply to this conversation. Although a few days ago I had a bit of an epiphany, yes while being lectured. The next time someone starts up on this conversation bring up Skiing.

When I get on a bike I put on a helmet that has to conform to an exacting standard – if not a range of standards – and if it gets hit even once I have to throw it away and get a new one. The clothes I wear are armoured, again to a high government-set standard and my gloves and boots are re-enforced as well as armoured.

Before I even get on a bike I have to pass three tests, which are currently some of the most demanding in the world. These test require me to be able to perform a range of maneuvers including an emergency stop and also cover what happens in an accident and even some rudimentary first aid. And finally if I want to ride a motorcycle on the road I am legally required to have insurance.

Let’s look at skiing. There isn’t a test before you get on the slope, so if you wanted to you could just turn up and go down a black run. Most people’s idea of safety gear starts and ends with goggles to stop snow blindness and even though thousands of people injure themselves skiing all the time there is no requirement to have additional insurance. In fact most travel insurance companies won’t cover you if you are skiing.

So the next time the Lecture starts up mention skiing. Of course this only works if the person you are talking to goes skiing or knows people who do, but it’s a start.

Oh and ski cycling looks excellent, I’d love a crack at that although I think I’d rather wear a helmet than a leather cap.

I’m sure we have all heard the urban myth about the squaddies wearing night vision goggles while driving a sports car with the lights off to avoid detection. The story goes that a lone policeman is watching the road with a radar gun and the gun goes off and reads some silly speed but the policeman can’t see a car. It happens a few times until they finally catch the person and find out that they are using night vision equipment (if you still aren’t sure what I’m rambling on about read this).

Well I’ve been thinking about this myth a bit and I think it might be possible to do on a motorbike, so in the name of science and quality investigative journalism I’m going to give it a go. Of course I’m not going to ride about on public roads with the lights out. That would be illegal and wrong but luckily I’m on a farm which means I’ve got a bit of land to scream around on where I won’t endanger members of the public.

The next problem would be getting hold of some night vision goggles to wear. Not so, I picked some up on Ebay a couple of years ago for more than I care to mention (lets just say that the Daytona fund would be looking a bit more healthy if I hadn’t) and so I have some military-grade night vision goggles.

The Night vision goggles and a cup of tea, what could possibly go wrong?

The Night vision goggles and a cup of tea, what could possibly go wrong?

I’ll need to wear a helmet when riding the bike and I’ve got an old one knocking about that was my dad’s and has seen better days. It will provide the mounting for the goggles, or at least will be modified a bit so the goggles fit properly.

A slightly knackered old helmet

A slightly knackered old helmet

So there you have it, everything is in place for some real scientific testing.

The goggles give you slight tunnel vision so I think that is something to overcome, but I don’t think it will be too hard once I have them focused. I should point out that I will be practicing first on a bicycle before I go anywhere near a motorbike and even then it will be low speeds only

Oh and don’t try this at home.

 

My lid was starting to pong a bit so it was time to give it a good clean. After a bit of searching on the Internet and talking to some friends it seems that you can take helmets into the shower and wash them that way even if it seems a bit wrong. The advice was just to wash it carefully with shampoo and then let it try out naturally over a few days.

Even the cats thought it was a bit whiffy.

Even the cats thought it was a bit whiffy.

 So I took it into the shower and started scrubbing it down, this was going well and then I noticed that the lining came away so it could be cleaned seperately. What a prat. If I’d read the instructions for my helmet I would have known that. There was even a little white tag inside the helmet saying ‘removable lining’. Double prat. I think the reason I didn’t read the instructions was what would they say? ‘Step 1 – Place on head, Step 2 – ride’ 

The offending lining

The offending lining, just after being removed.

Anyway the lining has now been handwashed seperately and the helmet has survived it’s trip to the shower so it clearly is safe to take helmets into the shower to wash them. Another mystery solved.

If you are really concerned just phone up your dealer and check with them. Just so you know, if you tell people you are washing your helmet* be ready for all sorts of sniggers and silly giggles, especially if you mention it got a bit smelly after riding hard.

Oh and I washed my Hein Gericke Tuareg suit in the washing machine and it’s fine. You just have to remove the armour before you chuck it in. Yes for some reason I’m able to read the instructions on a jacket but not on a helmet.

*In Britain at least it’s slang for something rude.

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