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Blood, Sweat & 2nd Gear

Blood, Sweat & 2nd Gear

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By: flash gordon, m.d.
ISBN: 978-1-884313-63-9
Dimensions (inches): 6 x 9 (15.2 x 22.9 cm)
Publisher: Whitehorse Press, 2007
224 pages, B&W sketches and illustrations

First things first: Yep, that’s his real name, and it’s spelled correctly.

flash gordon, m.d., also known as “Doc flash” has been curing patients and kicking around online since before many of our readers were born, I dare say.

1980 was a long time ago — even though it seems like just yesterday to some — and the Doc was there, on a DOS-based bulletin board, dispensing advice and shooting the breeze.

He’s been a motorcycle rider since 1961 and has been commuting by bike pretty much on a regular basis since 1978, and I think it’s fair to say that flash gordon, m.d. is now regarded as “our” premier physician, medical spokesperson and all-around medical advice dispenser for the motorcycling community. He’s a true “Doctor of Motorcyclists”.

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I first discovered the Doc through his occasional contributions to the Internet BMW Riders forum about 8-9 years ago. He’s also well known for his long-running column entitled “Medical Motorcycling”, which appears monthly in Motorcycle Consumer News, and before that for his work with the well-regarded Citybike Magazine in northern California.

Doc flash currently resides in San Francisco, and his outlook on life and how he’s put that into practice (both literally and figuratively) reminds me very much of the “Free Clinic” days back in the ’60’s and ’70’s in The Haight, where sharing and helping was simply the right thing to do and the way things would always be.

I was there, and I look back upon that time with great fondness and joy, and I often wonder what happened to so distort our peaceful outlook from that time and has brought us to the “me only” world we live in today.

But that’s neither here nor there: Doc flash, for one, is still carrying the torch, and I’m glad of it. It’s wonderful to have a real, live Medical Doctor who is also an avid motorcyclist to help and guide us and who is so willing to share.

Some may think that a thirst for medical information is a curious thing for motorcyclists to desire. But I’m not so sure — maybe it’s because motorcyclists live in a more edgy environment than the average white-bread working stiff?  Or maybe it’s because we subconsciously understand the fine line on which we balance bliss and happiness with a handful of throttle with the hovering consequences of a split-second lapse in judgment?

I have always been surprised at how popular Doc flash’s Medical Motorcycling columns have become and the monthly feedback and letters to the editor that respond to his writings. His first book, “Blood, Sweat and Gears” was published in 1995, and was a compilation of his funny and witty columns. That book became so popular that Whitehorse Press followed up with the recent “2nd Gear” edition, which has just been published.

Blood, Sweat & 2nd Gear isn’t my idea of a book to read before dousing the light on the nightstand, but it’s packed with clear and useful information that’s very easy to read and understand — and all of it is related to motorcycling.

Chapters have titles like “Injuries Caused by Accidents” and “Potential Troubles on the Road” and there’s more tips on long-distance travel, the emotional impact of riding and fitness. Anyone contemplating a motorcycle adventure or multi-day trip would be well-served to study some of Doc’s tips, and maybe even carry a copy on board.

For example, do you really know how to handle the medical situation that might arise after a fall?  Or the causes of back problems, wrist ache, eye problems and their cures?  How about carpal tunnel syndrome and problems caused by handlebar vibration?  Or when it’s ok to choke down an Ibuprofen vs. when it’s time to check in to the 24-hour clinic?

And, of course, the all-time favorite: a chapter on farting, with their causes and cures and a digression on their relationship to modern textile motorcycle clothing!

The best part about the book is the Doc’s conversational writing tone and his ability to make complex medical information accessible to everyone. This is no-nonsense, practical advice that should be immediately useful to any motorcyclist.

The only nit I will pick is that there are many suggestions for remedies, useful medical items and accessories sprinkled throughout the book, but there are no links or information on where to obtain these. It would have been nice to either include an addendum or a “For More Information” section.

And it also might have been nice to include some color photos, which I sort of expected expect in a book that costs $19.95.

But overall, I think “Blood, Sweat & 2nd Gear” is a useful addition to a serious motorcyclist’s library, and I do think that many of the tips and tricks can help riders become more comfortable and hopefully have a longer-lasting motorcycle riding career.


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