Your regular Skidmarks Correspondent, Gabe Ets-Hokin, is on an extended leave pending official investigation into the true meaning of his last column. We have provided the following roundup of this week’s motorcycle news highlights in place of his regular writing.
Santa Cruz, CA (AP) – Fresh on the heels of its announcements of its new models for 2016, Zero Motorcycles announced that if battery and computer technology advances at the present rate, it should be able to offer an affordable motorcycle capable of inter-dimensional travel.
“No longer will motorcyclists suffer range anxiety on their electric motorcycles, confined to within a 50-mile radius of their house or office,” said VP for Astrophysical Projects Neill DeGrasse Bryson. “In fact, they won’t even feel confined to this dimension, time, or galaxy.”
Bryson then went on to explain that a new battery-storage system, the Q-Force, will have a small cold-fusion generator capable of supplying enough electricity for every toaster in Seacaucus, New Jersey, to lightly brown a medium-sized plain bagel. That much energy can also be used to apply voltage to all four points of a diamond-coated pyramid mounted on the motorcycle’s sissy bar, which may or may not send the vehicle and rider to other dimensions. When asked to elaborate, Bryson gave a vague answer about “terrible, terrible things,” mentioning an entity named “choo-loo” had shown anger and may demand a sacrifice before Zero’s IPO.
Motorcycle enthusiasts remain unimpressed. “If I’m going to travel interdimensionally on a motorcycle, I want to know I have decent range and the ability to refill at a gas station in minutes, especially if the alternate universe I’m in is a dystopian hellscape without a 220 outlet,” said Wanda Symes, a noted motorcycle blogger and scrapbooking expert. “I’ll also miss the sound of a V-Twin’s straight pipes echoing off the walls of a cosmic wormhole. How else will other interdimensional craft hear you coming? It’s an obvious safety issue.”
Orange County, CA (Reuters) – James Ferns, noted motorcycle journalist and author of the 1997 novel Explosions!, died after a probable suicide last Thursday at his home office in Garden Grove, California. He was 57.
Garden Grove police investigators have not yet ruled out natural causes, though Ferns was declared dead on arrival at Mercy General Hospital after apparently inhaling 16 cans of Fix-a-Flat. He also left a note.
“I have worked too hard, written too many great things, to face the reality of writing how-to articles, middleweight cruiser shootouts and tire reviews until I get old. Goodbye cruel world!”
Ferns, who has worked from home since a forced separation from Motorcyclist World magazine in 2009, had not been seen since late August, when he picked up some new tires to test for Motorcycling.com, the website he contributed to as Executive Senior Editor at Large.
Ferns’ motojournalism career began in 1977 when his motocross career ended abruptly following accusations of an unnatural act involving several cans of STP oil treatment and the underage daughter of a racetrack promoter. He began writing for Motocrosser World and was promoted to Editor-in-Chief in 1988 when famed motojournalist Arthur Healdsburg, Jr. unexpectedly passed away while attempting to jump a Husqvarna over Mount Kīlauea. He based his best-selling novel Explosions! on the life of Healdsburg. The book was made into a movie notable for being the lowest-grossing Steven Segal film of all time.
When Enron Corporation purchased Motocrosser World in 2001, Ferns was made group editor for several enthusiast’s publications. In 2004, Dow Chemicals purchased 27 magazines including Motocrosser World and consolidated them into Motorcyclist World, where Ferns was made Editorial Director in addition to Office Manager and Housekeeping Supervisor for a local chain of by-the-hour motels also owned by Dow. In 2009, he was replaced by a typing horse (and two-time Preakness Stakes competitor) named Speedy Nathan.
Ferns is survived by a sister, three ex-wives and a daughter, Michilina. A spokesperson for his cats declined to comment on whether or not they had eaten his eyes.
Weskegau, WI (AP) – A woman was crushed to death and three other people were injured after an awning-deployment accident at an Adventure-Trailering rally in southern Wisconsin last weekend. The tragedy has called into question the safety of these events by state and federal authorities.
National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials are investigating the accident, which occurred at 1:00 am last Friday morning. The woman, identified as 44-year-old Megan Hartwigg of Clambake, Mass, was attempting to set up an awning when the three as-yet-unidentified men dropped a fully loaded BMW Adventure-style motorcycle from the top of a double-deck trailer onto Hartwigg’s trailer, which fell over and crushed her. The three men were trapped under the motorcycle for three hours until rescue workers cut through it with the Jaws of Life. Two of the men are expected to never fully recover, condemned to riding trike conversions to Aspencade for the rest of their lives.
Transportation Committee chair Danielle Parker (D-WA) called for immediate hearings on motorcycle trailering event safety. “How much longer will Americans stand and watch while our grandparents, aunts and uncles are killed and injured lifting bikes on and off of trailers?”
Motorcycle safety advocates have been calling for a ban on these events since the Knoxville Tragedy of 2007, when a team of 16 Shriners was killed by an out-of-control motorcycle trailer.
The National Motorcycle Trailering Association resists any attempt at limiting these events or instituting safety reforms.
“The First Amendment grants us the right to assemble peaceably, regardless of risk, so we resist any attempt by big government to legislate this sport,” said Wayne LaPeters, President of the NMTA. “After all, if trailers are outlawed, only outlaws will have trailers.”
Anchorage, Alaska (UPI) – A passionate and excited Honda motorcycle enthusiast has been located in the wild, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, ending speculation that the species has died out completely.
Rangers with the federal agency found the 61-year-old specimen in a remote section of the Tongass National Forest, about 165 miles from Juneau, Alaska, wherever that is. At first, it was assumed he was a bear until a Park Service biologist identified his distinctive Red Riders t-shirt and tranquilized him so he could be tagged and studied further.
“This is an exciting find for us,” said Brigitte Kelly of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “We thought this species was extinct, as years of drought, human encroachment and a general lack of performance-oriented and exciting product from Honda Motors have wiped out these once-numerous creatures.”
Honda fans once roamed North America in massive herds and supported a vast habitat of Honda dealerships, aftermarket companies and t-shirt vendors. But a lack of major updates to Honda sportbikes since 2008 and the introduction of a 101-horsepower, $184,000 MotoGP replica caused a complete collapse of this fragile ecosystem.
The remaining individual, nicknamed “Hondie” by his keepers, will be brought to the Orlando Motorsportsological Gardens, where he will live out his natural life. His identity as one of the few remaining Homo Enthusiasticus Honda Motorcyclis specimens was confirmed when he saw a photograph of a CTX700 and started cooing contentedly. Biologists are searching other zoos for a female in hopes of matching a breeding pair.
Prospects are not good. “There’s Elsinore, at the Cleveland zoo, but she’s 58 years old and past mating age,” Kelly told UPI. “We’ve tried breeding North American Honda enthusiasts with European or Asian Honda Enthusiasts – who are much more numerous – but the offspring have such high expectations they frequently die of disappointment within hours of leaving their nests.”
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the recipient of the 2011, 2012 and 2014 Gabe Ets-Hokin Awards for creative journalism.