Liz Ray has Mad Throttle

Getting rear-ended and other misadventures...

Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 2)

Mad Dogsled

When the weather does not lend itself to riding a scooter, whatever is one to do?  How to get from Point A to Point B when it is freezing cold and the world is covered with snow?  Answer: Dogsled.  Uh oh, is Liz about to confess to hitching her two Chihuahuas to Rosebud and forcing them to drag her through town?  No.  Kiwi and Chloe, sadly, are not that strong.  Maybe if I had thirty Chihuahuas… Hmm… Idea forming…  BUT, anyway — let me suggest that I do now have first-hand empirical evidence that dogsleds do not handle like Lamborghinis on hairpin turns…

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Veritas: Or, How Harvard Looms

Today I received an email alerting me that my 20-year college reunion is coming up.  (Gee, thanks, random person from Class of 1997.)  The email included a cheerful, unsolicited update from someone who shared how her Harvard years had given her a career on Wall Street (which she traded in for a career in Milan) and a husband (also Class of 1997), a home in Greenwich, Connecticut (translation for the uninitiated: $$$$ — in case the Wall Street and the Milan didn’t clue you in), and three perfect children who are bound for Harvard’s Class of 20-something-or-other.  And there, all of a sudden, my day went from pretty-OK/nothing to complain about, to crappy.  Because I was reminded that there are things in this world that I’m theoretically supposed to compare myself to.  In response to her request to share with her how I am doing, I shared.  (Hey, she asked.)  After I told her about my Wall-Street-less, Milan-less, S.O.-less, Greenwich-less, kid-less (but, in all honesty, I’m relieved about that — if it can’t eat out of a bowl on the floor or poop in a box, I can’t be responsible for its well-being) existence, I admitted to “not being a Harvard success story.”  She actually wrote back (wasn’t sure I was expecting a response) and thanked me for the honesty.  And she shared that she had a couple sisters whose lives resembled mine.  And she acknowledged that Harvard is a thing that “looms” over the lives of those who went there, constantly challenging what it means to have “success” in life…

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Back To The Future

back to the futureToday’s post involves traveling back in time, through the miracle of microfiche.  So you know that it is going to be good.  Because anything that involves Liz Ray trying to find one very specific nuanced thing by combing through spools of microfiche at the public library is exactly the type of thing from which hilarity will inevitably ensue. Continue reading

My Brush With Victory

First Person ArtsIn the spirit of self-congratulatory horn-tooting, I wanted to share that one of my scooter-related tales came within a hair’s breath of winning last night’s First Person Arts Story Slam.  (The theme was “En Route” — which virtually cried out for me to slam on something scooter-related.)  After a failed attempt to get picked to compete at a prior slam, this time my name was the last one to be pulled out of the hat, and I got to take the closing tenth-position slot in the competition.  At the end of the night, however, I had to accept second place.  My slam based on The Night of the Road Cone was not enough to beat the tale from the recently-come-out lesbian Peace Corp volunteer who adopted a homeless Macedonian street cat from the former Yugoslavia and then stayed awake during a 17-hour trans-Atlantic flight to keep the kitty (which was locked in a toilet paper closet by the airline) from crying.  But, in fairness, how can anything beat that?  I mean — impossible.  I guess if I have to lose, it’s OK to lose to her.  Still, for my first time on center stage, I think I second place is a good showing.  (If FPA posts a podcast of me, I will be sure to share it here and on the FB page.)  A special thank you and shout out to my friend Nancy, who first received word about last night’s slam and who came into my office saying, “Come on, with that blog of yours, you must have something that would be perfect for an en-route theme.”  There are eight story slams left for the season — so eight more chances to win the opportunity to compete in the “Grand Slam” in November.  And there is nothing I like more than a good competition (well, with the possible exception of my scooters and a well-made Manhattan).  As always, thanks for your support, blog-following-peeps.

If I Had a Million Dollars

BNL-if I had a millionIs Mad Throttle announcing that she won PowerBall? Sadly, no.  Is Mad Throttle soliciting donations?  No, but, I wouldn’t turn away your money or any in-kind contributions.  What I’m saying is that I rode out to the Mann on Saturday night to see the Canadian rock band: Barenaked Ladies.  And they were spectacular…  Continue reading

Dropping Bikes & the Importance of Failure

dropped-motorcycle-750x480 The one year anniversary of the second time I dropped my BMW C600s is in a few days. We have all done it. It is something we learn from. It is failure.

Society does not tell us to put on our pants, get out there, and fail. No one ever said, “Lose one for the Gipper.” Bikes are born to be ridden, not dropped unceremoniously onto their sides.  But mine are… Continue reading

I-95 Happens

I-95 shieldI thought about scooting to the Aldi on Oregon Avenue today, but when I opened my front door, the balmy essence of Zero Kelvin hit me in the face like a brick. Not a temperature compatible with human life, let alone riding to Aldi. As I closed my door against groceries and certain frostbite, I fondly recalled the time last summer when I rode down to Dewey Beach with a friend… Continue reading


I love DMVWhen I wanted to get a bigger scooter (i.e., a bike without a clutch), I had to get an M-Class license (i.e., prove that I can ride a machine with a clutch).  Kinda like how we require drivers who want a bigger car to first get their pilot’s license (oh, wait, no we don’t)…

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Don’t Get Them Wet…

“Don’t get them wet.”  This is good advice for gremlins, anything made of suede, and streets — which, in Philadelphia, are a lot like gremlins.  Relatively innocuous when dry, but expose them to water and they transform into malevolent little psychopaths with hearts of pure evil.

(I didn’t intend to ride to work in the rain this morning, but I naively believed that the “20% chance of a light shower” that had been predicted meant that it actually might not rain.  Now I know the language is meteorology-speak for “heavy rain is certain; best to stay home.”)

Shielded from the elements and stably set on four wheels, cars are generally impervious to the nightmarish rain-induced terrors that charge at bikers like a pack of mentally unstable wolverines.  The most challenging obstacle that a car faces in the rain is squeaky windshield wipers.  While those can be pretty annoying, I’m unaware of any that resulted in death.  And a PubMed search for “squeaky windshield wipers” and “excess all-cause mortality” yielded no relevant hits.  (It does not get more scientific than that.  Sir Francis Bacon would be proud.)

Since motorcycles and scooters don’t have windshield wipers, we are spared any related hazards (even if they existed).  On the other hand, we do face a litany of other hardships…

Leaves, for example.  So idyllic in their rustic autumn tones — they’re great when dry and they know their place: Staying the hell up on trees.  But moisten the little bastards and put ’em on the road, and they want only one thing:  Death.  Deciduous trees are, quite simply, a bad idea.

And a wet manhole cover may as well be a pressure-activated, anti-personnel land mine.  ATF should regulate the damn things.

Even the deceptively innocent crosswalk is out for blood and maiming once that paint is wet.  Who knew that the main ingredients in road paint are hydraulic machine oil and Astroglide?  In winter, we put salt on the roads to make them less slippery if snows.  Why are we OK marking pedestrian areas with stuff that turns the street into an Olympic luge track?

The solution here is obvious: I should install a flame-thrower on the front of my bike — you know, to dry out the road ahead.  (It should nicely balance the mini-gun that I’m planning for the back to ward off tail-gaters.)  Unfortunately, my attempts to acquire a flame-thrower from standard sources (i.e., Amazon, ebay, Craigslist) have not been successful.

It seems ATF has figured out how to regulate those.  (Dammit.)

Event Horizon Asphalt

Not even light could escape the infinite nothing and its unrelenting gravitational pull.  In its yawning maw, I could see only darkness as I pushed hard left to avoid a fork-bending careen into the bleak chasm of oblivion.  Feeling cheated, the cosmic abyss could only lie in wait to ambush an unsuspecting victim.

Was I scooting by the accretion disk of Cygus-1 today?  Nope — just down Delaware Avenue — where I had to dodge the event horizons of countless potholes, lest my scooter and I be catapulted into wreckage.

Some cities honor the quant notion that roads should be smooth, well-maintained thoroughfares that permit safe and expeditious travel.

Not my town.

My city recognizes that overcoming hardship strengthens character — and that conquering adversity builds self-esteem.  (The more adversity, the better.)  And to help ensure that no citizen suffers from a dearth of personal-growth opportunities, my city provides a broad array of potholes, depressions, and miscellaneous road voids.  To be sure, filling potholes would be a paternalistic over-reach by city government run amok.  There’s no telling where such behavior could lead.  Drunk on power, a pot-hole-filling municipality might further oppress its citizenry by plowing snow or providing good schools.  Thus, our unfilled asphalt singularities stand as symbols of our individual liberty and a staunch reminder than freedom has not perished from this earth.

(Glory, glory, hallelujah, etc., etc., blah, blah.)

Nonetheless, with all the opportunities for personal growth, redemption, and enlightenment that I get from other areas of my strife — I mean, life — it would be OK for illumination to relent when I’m trying to scoot home with at least most of a dozen eggs.

A particularly remarkable aspect of potholes around here is their tremendous diversity.  Like black holes, potholes come in a range of sizes.  Scientists classify black holes as stellar, intermediate, and super-massive.  I classify potholes as: Shit, Oh, Shit!, and Holy Shit!!  While black holes are borne of collapsed stars, potholes are borne of collapsed infrastructure.  Since our infrastructure was put in place at the same time as the transcontinental railroad, it collapses a lot.  (Horace Greeley probably told people to “Go west,” in order to get away from all our water main breaks — which erupt throughout the city like the fountains at the Bellagio.  If I had more time, I’d figure out how to synchronize our water main breaks with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture or something.)

Not satisfied with having “regular” potholes, Philadelphia pioneered the notion of the Manhole-Pothole hybrid.  This chimera results when an attempt to repave a street somehow manages to leave manhole covers that are six inches below the surface of the roadway.  These beasts can never be filled in (lest the manhole be blocked) — with the result being a shiny, new street that is littered with a series of scooter-eating death traps at periodic intervals.  (We can hardly blame the city for these — it’s not like the city already knew where all these manholes were or anything.  Most likely the manholes spontaneously generated and tunneled into the road like bot flies.)

Coveting Yellowstone’s infamous Death Gulch, Philadelphia has also innovated its own take on that concept (i.e., the potgulch).  When ravines are carved into a road to repair some something-or-other that lives underneath, we leave the channel in the middle of the street.  Because, well, why not.

The Milky Way is believed to contain a few hundred million black holes.  I estimate that Philadelphia contains about that many potholes, probably a few more.

OK, OK, a lot more.

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