Sarah’s Travels

The Melted Motorcycle Tires and the Wheelchair
By:Sarah in California
Date: 28 July 2013

You just passed the pictures of the rear wheel of a racing motorcycle that I saw parked at Mother's Kitchen Restaurant, at the top of the Palomar Mountain where I went for a ride on my own bike. I had never seen a tire like that before. If you look closely you will see that the surface of the tire is totally smooth, no grooves, no nothing. I looked and looked and finally took a picture. One of the riders who were sitting on the deck of the restaurant/store a few feet away started talking to me about the tire. He told me that the reason the surface is smooth and looks like it has melted is because it has melted. Yep, melted. It's because this Ducati racing bike - which happened to be his (it's the red one on the picture below) - is used for cornering, i.e. turning curves extremely fast. Fast enough that normal tires would get so hot that they would melt considerably, creating in the process a dangerous wet surface that would make the bike lose control and slip off the road. But this special tire material is softer than normal tires, does not get as hot, does not melt as much and sticks to the road under very hard cornering.

Mother's Kitchen Restaurant at the top of Palomar Mountain (near the Observatory):

OK…. That made me look further at the bike. This is when I saw the license plate just above the wheel. As you can see, it has a Wheelchair on it. I asked Bruce, the rider - a tall and slim man in his mid fifties - why there is a Handicapped sign on the licence plate of a racing Ducati... He said it is a joke in a way…

And also it is not a joke: He then pointed at the one foot high black leather belt/band that he wears around his waist following bike racing accidents where he broke his back and required multiple surgeries (surgeries that made him worse...). Despite very strong pain killers, he feels pain night and day. And that's for the rest of his life.

He had the wheelchair added to his licence plate in order to send a message to those who see it. I asked if the message was that if you ride a racing bike, you may become handicaped. He said that most folks miss the message - like I just did - which is that handicapped people are not what most folks think they are. Indeed, many are people who - despite enormous difficulties that most other people can't understand - keep being active. They keep pursuing their dreams and they keep doing extraordinary things.

Like racing and burning tires...

Bruce kindly allowed me to take his photo for this website:

A powerful message, Bruce!