Nuts About Bikes

Writing for a safer world

Ralph Angelo, Jr.

Ralph Angelo, Jr. is on a personal mission for motorcycle safety.

An appliance repairman from Centereach, N.Y. in central Long Island, Ralph is also an avid motorcyclist. He has built a second career as a professional writer, translating his passion for motorcycling to words on the printed page.

He's been dedicated to long distance touring since being bitten by the bike bug. He's seen many miles of asphalt from the saddle –and knows the hazards of the road better than most.

But his writer's eye and powers of observation are often focused squarely on motorcyclists. To Ralph, the hazards of the road go beyond irresponsible car drivers. The way he sees it, sometimes we're our own worst enemies.

Putting passion to words

After years of seeing motorcyclists putting themselves in danger, Ralph started writing down his thoughts. And before long, he realized he had the makings of a book. The result: Help! They're All Out to Get Me! The Motorcyclist's Guide to Surviving the Everyday World.

In Ralph's eyes, the issue isn't carelessness or stupidity. It's education. As in any human pursuit, there's always a wingnut or two. But riders who rub elbows with other riders understand better than anybody that the average motorcyclist is smart, careful and conscientious. The problem is often that nobody ever showed them the right way to go about it. The book is Ralph's contribution to building a better biker.

Putting passion to words

Covering the safety bases

Help! They're All Out to Get Me! Covers a full range of safety issues, from choosing the right bike to safety gear to conduct on the road. It's a thorough primer for new riders and a refresher for the more experienced.

Ralph takes on the pet peeves of the safety-conscious one by one –just about every example based on situations he's seen in the real world.

It starts with choosing the right bike. Ralph sees a lot of riders on bikes that just don't fit. "Height, weight and power are critical to safety even before the rider hits the road."

On apparel: "Does a day go by during riding season that you don't see a guy riding in shorts and a T-shirt? And how many non-certified helmets are out there?"

On passengers: "We see passengers without safety gear. And I often wonder how many of them have been properly trained on how to be safe from the passenger's position?"

On being noticed, Ralph covers lighting, reflective apparel and the limitations of the stock motorcycle horn.

And he spends quite a few pages exploring riding habits and rules of the road. "It's downright scary, what you see out there. Typically at a bike blessing or charity run, I'll see riders five abreast or with very little separation between them. I see guys who don't know how to make a turn, who cross lanes of traffic, who don't use turn signals."

He even covers parking. "Safety can be as simple positioning the bike on the side stand. I've seen riders leave the bike in neutral on a hill and have it roll right off the sidestand," Ralph recalls.

The book is packed with tips and techniques, a wealth of dos and don'ts to help riders stay safer. And there's a bigger benefit. "The better we are on the road, the better we behave –the better off the whole community will be," Ralph explains.

The sad fact is that riders are lumped together in the minds of many. To some, we're all demons. And our behavior on the road can amplify that reputation or help counter it. "Whether we tick drivers off or ride safe and friendly –it impacts everybody," Ralph says.

In the bike barn

Ralph started his two-wheeled odyssey aboard a '94 Yamaha Seca II. Today, his collection includes a '98 Yamaha YZF600; a '95 Kawasaki GPZ1100; an '06 Yamaha FJR1300 and a recently added '01 Kawasaki W650.

He loves them all, but when pressed to pick a favorite, he's partial to the YZF600. "It's comfortable, fast and fun. The look, sound and feel fit me the best of the bunch."

What's next?

Ralph is active with LIME Longriders, Long Island Motorcycle Enthusiasts http://www.limelongriders.info/. Logging some 20,000 miles a year in the saddle, he's got a hatful of experiences to write about. His work has been published in a variety of outlets including Motorcycle Consumer News, Motorcycle Online and Backroads. Next –maybe a novel.