|Biker with a Badge|
I have reported for several months that there was a bill coursing itself through the federal government, to make a national mandatory motorcycle helmet law. Within this bill, “Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act-2011”, was a national helmet law amendment brought to you by Senator Lautenburg (D-NJ). This was met with the roar of straight pipes from several of the leading bike associations just as the bill went to committee. Not only has the amendment been defeated, Senator DeMint (R-SC) had language removed from the bill that would have ended a present ban that would have allowed funding for the federal government to lobby states to enact universal helmet laws. Fellow bikers your voice was heard. Speaking of… I picked up something on the radar from our brothers/sisters in the great white north. It seems that a city in Canada has installed the first sound-cam. This nifty device will home in on a loud vehicle, IE. Motorcycle, and then snap a photo of it so you can receive your noise citation. I really wonder if they have that big of a problem to spend a lot of money on this device? I have personally taken a stand that red light cameras are a useful tool. Not only is it a force multiplier, but with time (education) I believe it will save lives. A noise-cam? Really? I have yet to see some loud pipes kill someone in an intersection.
Since this is a magazine about riding, I like to mention one of my little adventures when I get a chance. January’s long ride was from Tampa, down and around Lake Okeechobee and back. About six of us met up at the 301 Family Restaurant for breakfast before heading out through Seffner, Dover, and eventually south on a county road. We like taking the back roads that twist and turn through the Florida farm and cattle land. The farmland eventually gave way to the phosphate mining pits with their towering excavation shovels and lime green ponds. Taking the scenic route let us spot one, big’a--gator in one of those ponds. We also made a stop at the Limestone Country Club to make a pit-stop and grab a beverage. This is just a little shack of a place, but friendly and truly a biker oasis. We took state road 70 out to highway 27 and south into the City of Okeechobee, where we picked up 441 to route us around to the west side of the Big Lake.
Now a little tourist note; unless you go off the main road to a “lake viewing” area, you cannot see the lake from the highway. The name Okeechobee is an Indian name for “Big Water” and rightly so. The “Big-O” is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the 7th largest in the US. It covers 730 square miles, but… has an average depth of only 9 feet! And so why can’t you see it, you ask? The lake is surrounded by a 30 foot high, 100 foot wide dike. The lake is home to many game fish, including wide mouth bass. Thank you and please remain seated until the tram has come to a complete stop!
We made our next stop at Roland Martin’s Marina and TiKi bar for lunch. This was a nice stop located in Clewiston, with a wide variety on the menu and a full bar. Observation: Killer desserts! The ride back around the east side of the lake was a little slower. You drive through more small towns and the road is mostly a two-lane. This is farming country and a lot of semi’s and farm equipment share the road. If you look at your map and find yourself at Pahokee, there is another good little mom n’ pop place called Jimmy’s Catfish and More. Stop in this bike friendly shop on Lake Ave, Pahokee and tell’em GOFAR sent ya. We continued north on 441 until we hit SR 60 and headed west back to Tampa. Over all, that was a 600 mile trip in the course of about 12 or so hours. For you north of Tampa peeps, south Florida is “The Flatlands”! We drove on roads that went for miles, straight as an arrow. Still, you couldn’t ask for a better ride day.