There comes a time when every licensed driver/rider in California must report to the Department of Motor Vehicles to be tested for license renewal. I know, because I was just there. Rules have changed since I was last tested. For example, where do you position your hands on a steering wheel? The correct position used to be 10:00 and 2:00, but it’s now 8:00 and 4:00. What is with that? But no worries; I had read the handbook and passed with no problem. My problem was that I had not expected a written test on motorcycle, and I failed it. I swear, I do not recall ever before having to take a written motorcycle test for license renewal. When did this start? After sitting in a corner with the motorcycle handbook I passed and got out of there, but fair warning—read the book if you are going in for retesting. It is like every other test you have ever taken—to pass you have to regurgitate answers and your opinion does not count. If you are riding in town and passing a line of cars parallel parked, what is your greatest danger? My answer would be a car door opening. The DMV says it is a car pulling out. Here is another one: Where do you position beginner riders when group riding? The DMV says to put them up front directly behind the leader so the more experienced riders can watch them. I think this is so wrong. Why would you put them up front and piss off an entire pack of experienced riders? Put them in the back, directly in front of the tailgunners whose job is to watch out for the pack and take care of new riders. There are other examples, but get the handbook and see for yourself. Let me know what you think… Happy birthday to all Harley riders who celebrate in February. Happy birthday to IHR member Sandi Long in Pocatello, Idaho, and to Mike Golden, Dennis Heekin and Walt Nagle in Santa Cruz. Happy birthday to former Santa Cruz H.O.G. member Beci Ladson Vigil, and to Iron Steed H.O.G. members Dodie Dillon, Keri Clements and Bobbie Jo Hurst. Happy birthday to Linda and Ernie Vasquez in Coarsegold, to Diana Roher in Sacramento, to Frank Calabro in San Jose, to Jim Snawder of the Viet Nam Vets MC, to Kathy Statham in Spearfish, South Dakota, and to Peter Donovan in the Intermountain H.O.G. chapter in Boise, Idaho. Happy birthday to Arnold Cain, Wayne Harrison and Dave Heppner, all of the Hot Chocolate Gang in Santa Nella. Happy birthday to Allen Aldridge, co-manager of Jamestown H-D, and happy birthday to celebrity riders John Travolta and Peter Fonda. A special happy birthday to my significant other, Jack Munoz… But wait! We have one more very special birthday. Happy, happy birthday to Ed Martinez in San Jose. Ed, does your bike look just like the one ridden by Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider? Wow! How do you think I know that? I have been talking to your brother, Samuel, and I want you to know that Sam said that although Mom always liked you best, he is better looking!… Take a look at your helmet. Vega Helmet Corporation in Tukwila, Washington, is recalling about 30,000 XTS helmets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration contacted Vega and reported that some XTS helmets in sizes large, extra-large and extra-extra-large made after March 2011 did not meet safety standards and may not adequately protect a rider in a crash. The NHTSA said that only four out of the many tested failed the safety test, but rather than take chances, Vega is recalling this entire model. The problem seems to be caused by a new design in the shell, and Vega is correcting this immediately… John Fanene from Napa was only 38 years old when he was killed. John was a 15-year veteran of the CHP, and he was a motorcycle rider. He was off duty and riding his Kawasaki Ninja westbound on Highway 12 near Jameson Canyon when a pickup driver made a left turn in front of him. It appears that traffic was heavy and the driver thought he saw a break in the traffic that would enable him to make the left turn. John’s motorcycle could have been impossible to see before the traffic gap got even with the driver. As he made the turn, he saw John coming. He accelerated in an effort to give John room to get around, but he was unable to clear the lane and John clipped the rear of the truck. This caused John to be thrown from his bike and onto the roadway where an eastbound car ran over him. Although a motorist stopped and administered CPR, John did not survive. Heartfelt condolences go to his family and friends… I don’t know about you, but I had never before considered that oncoming traffic might not see me on my bike and think that there is a gap in the traffic. I am not even sure how a rider would be able to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Would you hug the centerline to be as visible as possible to oncoming traffic and hope that there isn’t a car up ahead waiting to turn right and join your stream? Would you ride from centerline to right line weaving back and forth? I don’t have an answer.