Monday 22 September 2008

Two-legged, four-wheeled buffalo

I recently had the experience of being surrounded by a herd of buffalo in Custer State Park in South Dakota. A large number of us were motorcycling through the park when we came across this herd, consisting of perhaps 100 of these very large animals, spread right across the road. No matter what we did, they would not give way until the Griswold family in a grey minivan showed up and slowly inched their way through. We followed like a bunch of ducklings right on momma’s tail feathers

Curious about the behaviour, I checked at the next information centre and was told that, for some reason, buffalo just do not recognize motorcycles as anything to worry about. They will get irritated by the noise, but visually, a motorcycle has no impact on them at all.

I was reminded of this today when a buffalo-minded pickup truck driver just about rearranged my skeletal structure for me.

Fortunately I was doing the speed limit in a 40 kph zone when he pulled out from a strip mall exit, tires squealing, crossed the oncoming lane of traffic, and pulled right into my lane and my space. Emergency braking exercises to the rescue, I avoided hitting him (and he, me) but by no more than a few inches. After a bit of fancy footwork to hold the bike upright, I chased the culprit down to the next traffic light where I pulled up to the driver’s window. The conversation went something like this:

“What the %$#@^ was that about back there?”
“You just about ran me off the road!”
“Coming out of the hardware store.”
“I did? Jeez, I’m sorry. I didn’t even see you.”
“Well that’s *&%^$ obvious. You could have killed me and you wouldn’t even know it. Godammit pay attention before you do kill someone.”
“Sorry man.”
Yeah, right. Sorry man. The driver was maybe 25, a blond-haired surfer type dude (except there is no surf here and the surfer dude look went out in 1970, but never mind, this is Arnprior). And he really didn’t see me.

Which brings me back to buffalo. This guy would most likely have behaved differently if I’d been driving a minivan, but on a motorcycle I was a non-entity. Totally invisible.

But what’s even more worrying is that my normally pretty good sixth sense didn’t give me any tingles at all until I had a windscreen full of white half-ton. Have to watch that – it’s not infallible after all.

Monday 8 September 2008

Amazing miniatures

A friend sent me some photos of miniature motorcycles made from watch parts. The images were amazing, as you can see from the picture above, but there was no indication who the artist was.

Well it didn't take long (thank you Google!) to discover the artist is a Brazilian sculptor, Jose Geraldo Reis Pfau.

Check out his web site for more of his amazing work.