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Bob Tait, III (second from right) and friends in Key West, Fla., November ‘02.

Task Group 66

by Clare Coppa

Bob Tait, III, should have been steaming but he wasn’t.

With his injured Achilles tendon wrapped and elevated, he listened to friends regale him with stories about a motorcycle trip he had planned but couldn’t take. Tait, vice president of Business Development, Tinius Olsen Testing Machine Co., Inc., Horsham, Pa., had organized a ride with friends before the November 2000 ASTM Orlando meeting. “Like true friends they went without me,” he says.

Fueled by the ballyhoo of the Orlando excursion, Tait formed Task Group 66 [as in Route 66] and dubbed himself un-nominated, unelected, self-appointed Task Group chairman and secretary. Based on his friends’ documentation, he wrote and distributed minutes of the Orlando trip, looking ahead to times when they would “eat, sleep, think, and talk about motorcycles.” It was, after all, the first year Tait started riding motorcycles, something he wanted to do for “25+ years.”

Low riders, Fat Boys, bandannas and long rides with friends comprise the scope of Task Group 66. Task Group members usually rent bikes and travel a planned route before or after ASTM technical committee meetings. Most members of Task Group 66 develop standards with ASTM Committee E28 on Mechanical Testing and see each other only at meetings. “The only common denominator is that we all met through ASTM,” says Tait. “We all talk Roberts Rules of Order, uncertainty budgets, and make jokes.” A task group member proposed a mandatory requirement for ballot that the group only stop at tourist sites for 45 minutes or less because “this is about riding.”

They plan detailed itineraries by e-mail. Someone might place a negative when deciding where to eat. “It’s a way to have fun while you’re working, Tait says. “We have one guy that doesn’t ride. He only follows in the chase car. But there is a motion on the floor for him to ask his wife to get a bike.”

Phyllis Ruth had a dilemma riding in a Flagstaff snowstorm with her husband Earl, an engineer. “How do I hang on with these mittens on my hands?” she asked. A photo she snapped of Earl, with his bike’s speedometer in view, caused Tait to write in the minutes: “Mental note: if you’re going to have your wife take a picture and your speedometer’s in the picture, make sure you’re going faster than 48 m.p.h.”

Some members of Task Group 66 are metrologist Gary “Big Dog Hog” Dahlberg, who rides a Harley Electraglide; plumber Steve Witty, who rides a Harley Road King; and Bob “first time in a biker bar” Tait, who prefers a Harley Dyna Wide Glide or Honda Valkeryie. The Ruths like Harleys but rode a BMW that “sounds like a sewing machine”; engineer Mike Tovey “talks a mighty big game in biker bar parking lot for someone riding a Honda Shadow,” Tait says. Engineer Hugh Casper follows the Task Group bikers in a convertible “not wanting to risk life and limb with you daredevils.” On one trip, Tovey’s wife Cecilia lamented, “Why oh why out of all the smart people that are involved in ASTM does my husband choose to hang around these ASTM dregs?”

To date, Task Group 66 has toured parts of Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, coinciding with ASTM meetings. “I hope you all had a few laughs reading these minutes,” Tait concluded, gathering input for future trips. “Let’s get some motions on the floor about possible scenarios. I am very excited about this year’s Task Group activities.”

Copyright 2003, ASTM