Saturday, November 3, 2007

California DMV

California DMV. Since I first got my driver's license in 1964 on the day I turned 16 I have had many experiences at the DMV. It is usually a very colorful experience in that one can view a really amazing cross section of humanity there. So after over 40 years of these kinds of experiences I found myself unprepared for what I found recently. This time I felt like I was in the third world somewhere with people having very sort of dysfunctional experiences. There were people almost coming to blows with strangers and various sorts of confusion. It was almost as if half the people there were either on some strange drugs or had been very recently.

My first experience was of standing in the information line and overhearing a young woman complaining to someone about just getting out of jail. What was strange for me is that most people I know would never speak of something like this around strangers. So immediately, I felt like I was in some new surrealistic world I didn't want to be in right then.

Don't get me wrong. I have in the past been a counselor for juvenile offenders ages 12 to 17 and they had to have 7 violent felonies in order to speak to me as a counselor. So I'm very well qualified to deal with these kind of people. However, to find oneself unexpectedly and psychologically unprepared for these kinds of situations is quite another thing than spending the night before psyching up and preparing for counseling really troubled people who can be violent at times. The main joy in this kind of work was that I and others had a 25% chance of saving young felons from a life of crime. The other 75% were already too jaded and committed to their lifestyle.

So, when a 20ish young black man threatened another man who was obviously confused for taking to much time at the counter I realized since no one was getting hit or dying that the right thing to do was just to remain quiet. The people around me all did the same.

I was there to get a motocycle license. I missed one more than I was allowed. I could blame my near miss on the people there. However, from my point of view God put me there to pray for these people. Besides, I have an agreement with God that I will only get a motorcycle license if it is safe for me to ride off road again. So although I was disappointed I know that God is always on the job.

I find the motorcycle tests completely crazy. Because if I actually did ANYTHING on the tests the way they are written while riding off the pavement it would cost me my life anytime I rode a dualsport motorcycle. So for me the trick is to take the test and pass without actually doing anything they say off paved highways. For example, to use ones front brake anytime to stop in dirt could be fatal. A dirt rider only uses the back brake for stopping and the front brake when stationary on a hill or slope. Anyone who has ridden motorcycles basically 50 years like me knows this.

So when I'm told to downshift and use the front and back brakes I have to say to myself. "Well, if I am on the pavement that might work if I was really skilled. For such a thing attempted by someone who wasn't really skilled would be fatal both on or off the pavement. However, one must in order to do this leave twice as much room between the car or vehicle in front of them in order to stop or wherever one has to stop like at a stop sign or stop light. So, for a beginning motorcycle rider on or off road I would recommend not to downshift or use the front brake and only use the back brake until you are skilled enough not to die doing the other method. For a novice the first thing that would happen if you downshifted, you then wouldn't have time to stop with either brake. The second thing that would happen is that if you locked the front brake and didn't realize it was locked that you would crash and possibly die.

So telling people to do these things likely will kill novice riders who don't know any better.
The best thing I see happening in California is that many community colleges offer motorcycle competency courses instead of a dmv test.

I am looking at a Kawasaki klr 650. I have sat on one and am tall enough for it not to be a problem. Also, the Army has converted klr's to diesel so it is literally the most reliable dualsport on the road. When one is 50 or 100 miles from the nearest service station or person, reliability is really really important so one can survive that situation because often ones cell phone doesn't work that far out in the boonies(bush). I'm also looking at the new Honda crf230l which is also a dualsport bike for my wife to ride off road with me.(However, I have to teach her to ride first.)

Also, a friend was mentioning to me a motorcycle trailer that he bought from Home Depot for about 400 dollars that is low to the ground for easy loading of off road, dualsport or highway motorcycles. However, I'm not sure Home Depot sells them anymore or not. However, this trailer appears to be the safest way to transport motorcycles of all kinds because it is so safe to load and unload them. For example, many people are injured trying to load or unload pickup trucks full of motorcycles. So a low trailer is a much better option.

Note: In regard to the braking thing I could see if you are only driving a highway motorcycle like a hog it would help immensely to SLOWLY learn to be proficient in the downshift back and front brake method of stoppping because if one is only using the back brake and that's all it is possible to wear out the back brake and then when you needed it it would be gone and all you would have is downshifting and the front brake which might be fatal. So what I'm saying here is that off road riders tend to ride a lot less overall miles than highway motorcylists do. So off road riding is a completely different ball game than highway riding. So whenever you switch be very careful the first 5 or ten minutes until you convert your senses for the other mode of riding.

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