Sunday, December 27, 2009

Year End Reflection

As many of us do at this time of year, I become reflective on the events of the past twelve months. It is often the turmoil we see most instead of the blessings. Yet, without the turmoil, the blessings often slip by us unnoticed. One of my many blessings for which I am thankful for are my mentors. One helps me view my turmoil as opportunities, another helps me focus on my gift for putting words to paper, yet another leads me down paths of spiritual awareness. Wrapped in all of these blessings is one that many in this country are struggling with, and with each cashed paycheck I pray for those who go without steady income.

This year, Blaze and I found each other and traveled nearly 10,000 miles together. We were both blessed to return home safely. Our trip to the Great Lakes, while a fantastic adventure, found me in the midst of personal turmoil. I could have easily tossed off all and given up without the help of friends. Teaching me to focus on what I want versus what I don’t want helped me to better places in my life.

My grandson arrived into the world this year. We worried and stressed when doctors suggested he may have a disability with life long effects. Yet, with prayer and time, he was found to be whole and healthy. We rejoice in his perfection each day.

Another grandchild would not be so lucky, and in the first trimester lost its grip on life. This grandchild lives in our hearts if not our home. His sibling however, it strong and continues to grow, a blessing we anticipate in the coming year. The one who was lost taught us that life is fragile and precious and not to be taken for granted. We are ever mindful of this truth.

As the New Year approaches, along with the unknown, I am resolved to focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. Hold positive images in my mind, representing success. Leave the past behind, and focus on the future. Love family, and appreciate more, those who call me “friend.” In this way, like the old year, the New Year will take care of itself, and I will emerge at the other end, even more amazed and delighted at what has unfolded than even my own imagination could envision.

Be mindful of where your thoughts travel. Keep them focused on where you are going, not where you’ve been. Appreciate all that is good, and transform that which isn’t into something that is. You can do it! Anybody can. I wish many blessings to all of you in the coming year with a special thank you to my mentors. Life is better because of you, and I am blessed to call each one of you “friend.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It Could Have Been Worse!

I’m humming Christmas tunes to myself, and heading home having received a surprise gift from the boss in a ½ day off, my mind turning over the stuff I want to do with this bonus. Only 15 minutes from my destination, I slow a bit to make room for a white pickup coming off the ramp onto the roadway. He’s no sooner in front of me when “CRACK” something hits the windshield. The steering wheel literally vibrates from the impact. The bed of his truck is full of junk. Some of it looks like torching equipment. I follow the truck to the lights up ahead. The first is green, I proceed. The second is red, so I honk a few good ones, throw it in park, put on the flashers and jump out.

The driver sees me coming and cracks the door.
“Something’s come off your truck and given my windshield one hell of a star burst.” I tell him.
“What was it?” He asks.
I’ll be damned if I know. It happened so fast!” I say as I look into the pile of junk in the truck.
He steps out to take a look at the window. Then turns to me and shrugs his shoulders.
“Oh well, just road hazard.”
“What?” I ask.
“Look” he says. I don’t have insurance and it’s just road hazard anyway.
“You don’t have insurance?” I ask incredulously. I’ve heard of such things but never ran into someone who didn’t carry any. The truck looks pretty good so I’m surprised. He should at least have liability.
“My truck is paid for” he says as if that explains why a person wouldn’t have insurance.
I can see my Dad now, a retired insurance guy listing the reasons someone should never be without at LEAST liability.
I already have his plate number, and he gives me his name, which I write down.
He turns on his heals, jumps into the truck and takes off.
I return to the car and ….yank yank….CRAP, I’ve locked myself out! The engine is still running and here I am out in the cold wind.

I get myself out of the road, and call my husband on his cell. It goes straight to voice mail. CRAP again. I call the office instead and tell the lady who I am, who I’m looking for and that it’s an emergency. She puts me on hold to go look for Andy. Once I’m on hold I look up and notice a state trooper coming toward me. I hadn’t even noticed that he pulled up behind my car. I tell him what’s happened and that I’m on hold waiting for my husband. I’m hoping he can bring the spare key.
“Unless you can open it for me?” I ask.
“Sorry, no.”
The trooper puts out flares, and calls dispatch to send a local cop. “Just a courtesy as this is their jurisdiction.” Since we are standing there waiting for the local and my husband, I strike up a conversation.
“And I thought my day was going good. First I get a bonus ½ day off, but then this happens to my window and then the guy tells me he has no insurance. Don’t things come in threes? What next? Maybe I’ll run out of gas.”
“It could be worse” he says. “Today is my day off.”
I stare at him a moment, start to chuckle, put my hand on his shoulder and say “you win!”

I change the subject, and tell the trooper that I can’t believe folks drive around without insurance.
“I got hit in the cruiser by an uninsured motorist” he tells me.
“You’re kidding!” I say as I look the cruiser up and down.
“Not this one” is his next comment. And we both grin looking at the sparkling new vehicle.

He gets back in the cruiser to talk on the radio. He asks me a few times if I want to get out of the cold. I politely decline. On the third time around, he indicates that its only 20 out and who knows what the wind chill factor is.
“Thank you officer, but I’d rather not get into the habit of sitting in the back of a cruiser” I say.
“No” he says.” “What you really don’t want is to get in the habit of sitting in the back of a cruiser in handcuffs!”
I really start laughing now, and walk around to climb into the cruiser. It is certainly much warmer in here, and it smells good too. That is when I notice two pizza boxes on the seat beside me.
“Oh damn!” I say. “It looks like I’ve interrupted your lunch. And maybe not yours alone!”
Then he tells me he’s been on duty for 16 hours and was just heading home to have lunch with his wife. I ask him his name and then apologize for the cold pizza.

The local cop finally pulls up behind us. It has now been 45 minutes since the first one has arrived. The trooper gets out, walks around to let me out. (Not a good feeling having no control over the door handles.) The local cop doesn’t seem in a good mood. He has his all business face on. The trooper tells him what happened to me, and the cop takes notes. We see Andy coming around but he’s stuck in traffic. Some of this traffic is my fault too! The trooper goes off to eat cold pizza leaving me to chat with the local.

Since I can’t get my registration out he’s asking my name and address, you know, all the details. He calls it into dispatch wanting to make sure I am who I say I am. We talk about the incident so he can make a report. While he’s writing I notice his name tag.
“I have a couple of neighbors by that last name” I tell him.
Without missing a beat the office says “Yup, and one of them is my brother.”
There is a slight pause.
“Jeremy is your brother!” I ask incredulously.
He nods.
“Gee this day keeps getting better and better. Now you even know where I live!”
The cop finally cracks the smallest discernable grin, but it vanishes quickly when Andy finally arrives with the spare key. We wrap up our question and answer session. I get some pointers on what to do next and head home.

I don’t know why things happen as they do, only that they happen for a reason. During riding season we look at our local finest as the enemy to be avoided when we want to open the throttle for a bit more wind therapy. Today however, my gift was getting to know Scott, and how he works lots of overtime so the wife can stay home with the kids. That Hunter takes his job seriously, but has a compassionate side too, wanting me to understand what all my options are in the details he was willing to share. I came away with a new respect in what dealing with the public must be like; it’s a Christmas gift of empathy and understanding.

Things indeed could have been worse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Warning about Cheap Imitation Knockoffs

There has been a lot in the news lately about cheap imitation knockoffs. The media gives advice on everything from handbags, watches and clothing to electronics and cell phones. We are advised what to watch for and how to spot a fake.

Of all the great advice that is given to protect ourselves from fraud, there is one piece of advice that has yet to be brought to light.

Please move the children away from the screen. This could result in them needing therapy….

Santa would not be caught dead on a scooter!

Please have a frank discussion with your children and grandchildren and let them know that any Santa on a scooter is probably a fake, and the gifts possibly all knockoffs.

Then present them with this next photo. Clearly this is the real Santa; trying to avoiding detection and zipping along to make sure every child gets their gift under the tree on time!

Just thought you should know.

(It was for your own good.)

Merry Christmas!

And many blessing in the New Year!

photo source: Flickr

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Love Handles

Here is a motorcycle accessory that I have not seen before, and may be just right for some of you out there. Just in time for Christmas too! It’s a product called Love Handles. I just love that name! Love Handles are moveable armrests that can be easily attached to a wide selection of motorcycle backrests (sissy bars) for the comfort of those who ride on the back.

Love Handles is the brain child of Bill Freer and Mary Martin. When Bill purchased his new Harley, Mary became reluctant to travel by motorcycle saying she hated the bumps and turns and could never find a good place to grip. It cut down on the number and duration of their journeys. Neither was pleased with the turn of events and knew something had to be done.

Their product, they believe, promotes companionship between rider and passenger. It offers a sense of confidence and promotes a comfortable ride for the passenger resulting in longer and more frequent rides, bringing couples back together.

Love Handles doesn’t stop at just offering a sense of security to the passenger, it also doubles as a multifunctional accessory. Solo riders may be interested to know that it can double as a luggage carrier. The product can be attached to most Harley-Davidson, Suzuki, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha motorcycles in about 10 minutes, and detaches within seconds.

To promote their new product Bill and Mary will travel much of the winter promoting their product at motorcycle tradeshows nationwide. You can check out some of their other products at and They also have a newly formulated blog which will be used for other riders to share stories about trips, riding and experiences. When you’re at the show this winter, be sure to look for Bill and Mary and check their product out. You have to admire a couple that will go to any length to solve a problem.

example of Love Handles

Friday, December 4, 2009

Harry Hurt
Dec 13, 1927 - Nov 29, 2009

The motorcycle world lost an icon this week. Harry Hurt, principal investigator of the Hurt Report, died Sunday at the age of 81. His groundbreaking research still used today; is the basis for motorcycle safety programs and is credited with saving countless lives.

Harry is acknowledged as the giant in motorcycle accident research, working relentlessly to uncover the facts, and make them public, which sometimes irked folks when his facts didn’t support their pet theories. His studies proved that helmets can prevent brain injury; speed is not a factor in most crashes; two-thirds of motorcycle crashes involve cars and two-thirds of those were caused by car drivers who violated the motorcycle’s right of way. Harry Hurt’s study was based on 900 motorcycle accidents in Los Angeles from 1976 to 1977. Similar studies have been done that support his findings.

Harry was a lifelong motorcyclist and never had a crash in his life. He rode a cornucopia of motorcycles, even an off-rode trail bike to walk his dog.

Despite the evidence that has helped save so many lives, 5290 people still die yearly in motorcycle crashes. To that end, the US DOT announced a new Crash Causation Study in October. The government agreed to contribute 2 million to the study with the understanding that partners in the research would come up with the matching funds. The MSF agreed to kick in 3 million in funds. Since then however, the price tag has risen, being estimated at between 8 to 9 million dollars. The government then decided to cut the scope of the study from the 900 -1200 (as in the Hurt report) to only 300 crashes. This was not in the agreement MSF signed on for and they are now withholding funds saying the study will be compromised in being comparable to those in the past.

You don’t need me to rehash all the details here. You can find information about the study at Read the MSF statement here: And if you agree that the study should remain at 900 crashes and not cut to 300 you can sign a petition here: I think we owe it to Harry Hurt, who probably has saved many of us because of his study, to see that the report is done right.

Harry is survived by his wife, two sons, three daughters and ten grandchildren. A remembrance will be held at Paramount lab in January.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pin Up Girl

We couldn’t believe the temperature was inching toward 50 on Sunday. After all, it was November 29th! To celebrate, Blaze and her pal decided to take an afternoon jaunt down some roads less traveled. Since this is the latest in the season I have ever ridden, I wanted this day to be all about Blaze.

The New England Riders put together a calendar each year to raise a few dollars for some of the fun stuff we do. The photos come from the riders themselves. There are rules of course. The photo must be bike themed, have a motorcycle in it, or be taken at some NER function. The photo should be taken and submitted in the month for which the photos are being collected. At the end of the month all members of the New England riders can vote for their favorite. If you are lucky enough to have snapped the prize shot, you get to be in the following year’s calendar selection.

I happen to feel Blaze is a beautiful subject model, so I expressed my desire to stop at November looking spots and snap photos. What is a November looking spot? Well in my mind that would be trees devoid of leaves, brown and copper colored undergrowth, and maybe a long shadowed photo. While I’m not sure any of the photos are calendar worthy, it certainly isn’t because Blaze isn’t a good subject. It’s quite possible the photographer needs more practice. Never-the-less, it was a fun day. If she could talk, Blaze would tell you she likes the Big Red photo herself. Not for any monthly theme, but for the “Big Red” reference. Take a few moments and enjoy the photos of the pin up girl herself.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Best Kept Secrets

“Wanna go ridin’?” It’s amazing what can develop from three small words. Since it is late November, we know we won’t travel too far from home. This time of year the days are short; then start cooling almost as fast as they feel warm enough to ride. During the season one tends to travel far flung and visit places only distance riding can bless you with. This day we will loop around our neck of the woods.

Andy wants to take me to a covered bridge not too far off that he stumbled upon recently. Dave likes the idea and has a few others in the general area we can visit as well. Along the route to our first stop we see a couple of other riders up ahead. They fork right and we fork left and loop around to the bridge. We find the two riders there before we are. I guess we’ve taken the scenic route.

Andy has a chat with the riders while I’m snapping photos. He tells us these guys are visiting covered bridges too. Off they go, and we are on our way shortly as well. We bump into them at the next bridge and the next. We start to have short conversations with them. At what we think is the last bridge in the area, we have a more extensive chat. One pulls a book out about covered bridges in New England and points to one not far from where we are. Even Dave, whose stomping grounds we are in, did not know of its existence. It is our last bridge of the day. In all we’ve visited five covered bridges I have never seen before; right in my own back yard.

The sun is heading for the horizon and we head back from whence we came, but before we take the final leg, I want to visit Cathedral of the Pines. This beautiful and sacred spot was devastated by last December’s ice storm. I have not paid a visit since then, so we make it our last stop of the day. It’s a quiet place that lends itself to meditation, the appreciation for natural beauty, and wonder at what our Creator has fashioned for our enjoyment.

We arrive home with the setting sun and we find ourselves quiet. I think about our forefathers building these bridges, toiling the earth and scraping out a living from this hard granite soil. I feel this day has imprinted on my soul the memory of strong Yankee work ethic and love of God and nature in the beauty of the bridges and the views from Cathedral of the Pines. One need not travel far flung to see the wonders of the world. Some of the best kept secrets are right outside your door.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Massachusetts Man Plans 7000-mile Motorcycle Trek

A Lawrence Massachusetts man and city detective Carlos Vieira will take part in the Iditarod of Harley-Davidson to raise money for veterans’ charities like Paralyzed Veterans of America and Warriors Weekend.

The event takes place next June, and Carlos is one of 1,000 Harley riders who will ride 7000 miles beginning in the Florida Keys and ending in Homer Alaska. The plan is to complete the trip in 14 days. There are two other riders from the area; a retired Brockton officer and another man from Maine who will take part as well.

Vieira rides a 2007 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Patriot Edition, one of only 166 made, for which he had to show his Marine Corps discharge papers in order to buy. He has never been on a ride this long, but plans to ride for 18 to 20 hours a day and complete the trek in 10 days or less. Most of the traveling he plans to do at night to minimize traffic and keep the engine cool.

While Vieira claims to be a year round rider, and can tolerate temperature extremes, I think he is in for a surprise. The trip includes 62 mountain ranges and eight deserts. I’ve traveled 2400 miles in eight days in such terrain and know how demanding it can be. His plan to sleep from noon to 2:00 p.m. might be advisable while traveling the desert. However, my experience with traversing mountain ranges is that weather extremes happen moment by moment and can become treacherous in an instant. Large animal encounters such as elk, are almost a certainty too. Does he really want to be doing this at night?

The article in the Eagle-Tribune does not tell us how familiar Vieira is with the continental landscape. New England does not prepare one for the long open stretches of prairie, the intense heat of the deserts, and the mountains here are but pimples compared to the Rockies. With all that said, man oh man is America beautiful! I wish him well on his trip, but if I were he, I would want to see this magnificent country in the light of day.
Read more about Carlos Vieira’s plans here.

Carlos Vieira
(from the Eagle-Tribune)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Motorcycle Trip of a Lifetime

How would you like to travel around the world by motorcycle on a 248 day, 40,000 mile odyssey? Well then, you are in luck. An Austrian company that has been organizing professional motorcycle tours for 30 years is doing just that. To celebrate their 30 anniversary, Edelweiss Bike Travel is planning an expedition that will cover 5 continents.

Beginning November 14, 2010 the tour leaves Paris and heads to Dakar in Senegal. From there the riders and motorcycles will fly to Buenos Aires. Then the group will cross the Panama Canal and head for California.

The next leg takes them in a flight over the Pacific to traverse the Australian continent. Riders will need to be fit and posses great stamina for this 7,000 trek across the continent. The last legs of the trip cover Beijing, the whole of Asia and half of Europe. Just toward the end the riders will reach the Alps for some spectacular riding, returning to Mieming Austria on July 20, 2011.

Learn more about this trip at Follow the link at the revolving globe; Discover Our Earth Expedition and download the PDF file with the complete details.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sunset of our Riding Season

November is not typically renowned in New Hampshire as a great motorcycle riding month, but on occasion Nature drops a beauty into our laps. So it happened on Sunday when the mercury reached into the 60’s.

I am barely finished my morning cup of coffee when Andy struts past in full riding gear.
“Is it warm enough?” I ask.
“It’s 40 now and by the time you’re ready it will be.”

Andy’s prediction is correct and we depart for a pleasant day’s loop. He makes a spontaneous change to the route he said we’d take. This is typical of Andy. I have to pay close attention at all times to body language and directional signals. This day, he diverts almost as soon as we are on our way. He takes a left into unfamiliar territory. Typically I am not a fan of these sudden moves as they generally lead us to unpaved roadways that narrow and disappear the farther along we travel. I need knobby tires for some of the places he has taken us.

Surprisingly the detour turns out to be spectacular. The road climbs and crests the hill. We happen upon a treasure; a symbolic parallel reflective of the season. There on the rise is an old bucket of bolts, its rusting hulk as brown as the leaves that skip across the pasture. Repurposed into a field sculpture it serves a new role. In the autumn of its useful life it is not too old to hoist the colors of Red White and Blue. A solid stone of granite lends its usefulness to holding firm the old truck bed.

At high noon long shadows stretch across our path letting us know full well that the days are indeed getting shorter. The old truck, the helpful block of granite, the banner that flutters in the breeze will not leave my mind. The symbolism is hinting of something seemingly complex, yet so simple it takes the full ride to sink into my soul. In the sunset of our riding season, we will steady ourselves like the granite block upon the antique truck as we await the return of spring. The banner representing our enthusiasm for motorcycling as it is passed from one generation to be carried by the next.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Salute from Harley-Davidson and Supermodel Marisa Miller

How would you like to meet supermodel Marisa Miller? Or better yet, met Marisa Miller as she hands over the keys to your favorite model Harley motorcycle? Well, if you are on active duty in the military or a military veteran you have an opportunity to do just that.

With Veterans Day just around the corner, Harley-Davidson wants to salute our service men, women and veterans by giving away a brand new Harley. Follow this link for more details. Harley-Davidson’s rich heritage with the military is the brainstorm for this promotion. The winner will get the bike of their choice, a trip to Las Vegas (for four) and an opportunity to meet Marisa Miller.

For those of us who have no military background, there’s stuff for us as well. Stop by your participating Harley Dealer to purchase postcards and posters. If you are U.S. Active Military or Veterans with valid identification, stop by on November 11th for your free calendar.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know how I feel about our vets. While some may say this is strictly Harley taking advantage of our sensitivity for their own self promotion, I say bah! If the end result is to raise awareness, then it’s OK by me. After all, many large organizations raise millions of dollars a year for charities while promoting themselves. The end result however, is that the charity benefits too. In this case it turns our attention to veterans and our military personnel. To me they are true American Heroes who should not be forgotten or overlooked.

This Veterans Day, I plan to salute my favorite Navy Veteran from the Greatest Generation; my Dad!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Don’t Witches Wear Underwear?
(And other things to talk about on Halloween)

Saturday, October 31st proved to be unseasonably warm in these parts. It may have made for great fall riding if not for the persistent drizzle that began late morning. So rather than chance slipping around on wet leaves, I took myself over to Dave’s for the afternoon. He, Lee and Deb had scheduled a photo shoot. With a few muscle man pictures being planned, how could anyone want to miss out on that? Off I went.

If you took a look at RoadRunner’s current issue, you already know that Dave takes great photos. He is working at perfecting his portrait shots and some of us have raised our hands to be practice models. Saturday was Lee and Deb’s day. Having heard what Lee had in mind, I was all about being a fly on the wall.

Dave had everything ready, and I thought for sure the ribbing would soon begin when I overheard comments about “man hair.” What? Did I miss the first zinger? But Dave was all business and would not be easily distracted. He did not even crack a smile with I offered up my Halloween joke. “Why don’t witches wear underwear?” Lee was all over the punch line, but Dave was ready with the snap snap snap to capture the grin on Lee’s face. Deb, as usual, anticipates Lee’s antics and is as gracious as ever.

I got my notepad out (as good writers will do) to be sure to jot down the one-liners. I had my camera ready too, as I wanted some behind the scenes photos of my own. Soon we were all business too, watching Dave do his thing and learning a few tid bits about photography as the day wore on. Dave adjusted his umbrella lights and the soft box to chase away the shadows from the backdrop. He added rim lighting for greater effect on some of Lee’s muscle man photos. He gave direction, adjusted his camera and worked up a real sweat as he got into his favorite hobby.

It turned out I was not that useless either. “Hold your hand here Pat” I was asked to dispel a bit of light. “Hold the reflector” so he could get a bit more light under the chin. I was impressed! Dave is on his way to perfecting his portrait shots. The afternoon zipped by. Dave has posted a few favorites on his Flickr site. Here you can enjoy a few behind the scene pictures I took.

Oh, and if you want the punch line to my Halloween joke, you will have to send me e-mail. Use the link in the menu bar to the right.

You can leave Dave comments about his photos at his Flickr site. If you have any words for Lee or Deb, I’ll be happy to pass them along.

Being a fly on the wall can be so enjoyable!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Will Electric Motorcycles Catch On?

I stumbled upon a news article in my local paper about two guys riding from Detroit to Washington on electric motorcycles. The two men were recreating the trip of auto industry leaders who converged on Washington to beg for billions in bail-out money. The two hope to convince the president to extend the Energy Department’s Grant Program to include two wheeled vehicles and also expand the Federal Tax credit already available to electric vehicle buyers under the Economic Stimulus law to include electric motorcycles.

The pair rode the Enertia, Brammo’s electric motorcycle, 700 miles in 45 mile increments to reach Washington. The motorcycle weighs 280 pounds, has no gears, shifting or clutch, has a top speed of 60 mph and plugs into any wall outlet. It takes four hours to fully charge the 6 Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries (made by Valence) for a cost of about 30 cents. Their target market is the commuter. You can buy one for $12,000 at Best Buy.

My first reaction while reading the article is that no one I know would buy one. Neither would I. First, I am not crazy about taking my travels in 42-45 mile increments. Then, where do I plug this baby into? If I have mechanical trouble (or in this case electrical trouble) where do I go? I felt I was being too harsh at the onset, so I dug further to find more answers.

The pair put up a website to promote their trip and asked for volunteers along the way for places to plug in the bikes. They would reimburse the cost of electricity if asked. Not many of us want to tap all our family and friends for electric hookup on our next trip. Nor do I think they want to entertain us for four hours while we get charged. As for repairs, call the Geek Squad at Best Buy. First, I NEVER shop Best Buy for personal reasons, so that is out. For all you others, I don’t remember seeing too many Best Buys along the rural routes of our great Nation. So you would certainly have to be a commuter within the city limits.

There are two other components to electric vehicles that I always wonder about, and that is the claim of reducing our individual carbon footprint. Isn’t the power supply I’m using provided in large part generated by fossil fuels? By using wall outlets powered by fossil fuels we are merely shifting carbon emissions from vehicle to power plant. Currently, only 11.1% of our power in the United States is generated by renewable energy.

Now let’s think about the batteries. A regular car has one battery. The Enertia is powered by six. The Lithium Ion Phosphate batteries are good for 2,000 charges. I may never need new ones, but help me get rid of them once I do. They are hazardous waste after all.

While the intent at reducing carbon emissions is a worthy fight, those who develop electric and hybrid vehicles will have to step it up. There is technology already at work by which the vehicle itself recharges the batteries. This technology is already at work in some hybrid busses around the country. The motorcycles in this instance need to have a longer range than 45 miles. Many people I know commute that distance one way each day. Will the company they work for let them plug in at work? My guess is “no.”

In Europe, where the electric motorcycle is already being used, the makers had to add “fake” engine noise to draw customers. Brammo understands this and has built in noise. However, I don’t think a little fake noise is going to make up for the lack of shifting, distance riding, and lack of power outlets available to the general public at this time. The riding season is short in northern climates too, limiting their use. The claim on their website that if you can ride a bike, you can ride the Enertia is a frightening claim. Take a look at a few statistics from random cities around the country of those who purchased scooters last summer when gasoline prices were sky high. If you’re on two wheels, you need riding training. Period.

Right now, the Enteria is too expensive, has limited range and limited use in Northern climates to save much energy or have much effect on your carbon footprint. Brammo is focused on too narrow a spectrum of the population in my opinion to be successful. Inner city and urban riding is scary enough in congested traffic on a motorcycle with limited profile even with louder noise levels. Do you want to try that on a smaller, very quiet electric motorcycle, without rider training? Now there’s a frightening thought.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who Needs Halloween?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember my posts Unsolved Mysteries Part l, and Unsolved Mysteries Part II. While these incidences are peculiar and unexplained, they are by no means stand alone incidences in my life. Recently, there have been a number of small unexplained occurrences that have the hair standing up on the back of my neck.

A few years ago, our company moved us into new space. The inside was completely gutted and fitted out to suit us. We moved in and began to enjoy the new space with all its upgrades and features. Then the strange little things began to happen. They were nothing of consequence really. We thought that with a building full of people someone may have just forgot a light, for example, or that with the rush to occupy, the workers had cut a few corners with the wiring etc. Sometimes, we could not come up with a reasonable answer to some of the weird stuff going on. With The Common Man Restaurant just down the street and long know for its paranormal activity, our receptionist began to jokingly ask if our office was built on an old Indian burial ground.

I can’t blame forgetful employees any longer for the strange stuff that goes on. As with many companies these days, our building has long been empty of the throngs that used to walk the halls. I am relegated with my few colleagues to one corner of the premises. While I am very thankful to still be employed, it is getting a bit creepy to take care of the place.

There are days when I am the only woman in the building. I walk into the ladies room, enter the stall, and within a few moments the paper towel dispenser by the sink discharges a sheet for me. For a while, I thought maybe I was activating the sensor when I passed the mirror, or that the stall door caused a reflection of some sort the set it off. I went to great lengths to test these theories and avoid the triggers I imagined. The paper still dispenses without hand activation. Now I just say “thank you” into the empty room.

One morning, an employee approaches me and tells me the lights are on upstairs. She has noticed them from outside while parking her car.
“Not again!” I moan.
Those darn networked lights have never been right! I walk to the master panel and there is no indication that the lights are on upstairs. I work the buttons a few times thinking maybe I can reset the switch. To be certain they are off, I make the trek upstairs. I enter the suite and the dang lights are on. I go to the upstairs master panel and the switch is off. I work that a few times to no avail. I walk around the suite looking for the alternate switch. I work that a few times and the lights finally go off. I don’t like this suite; there is a broken office window. One day it was fine, the next it was shattered. It creeps me out and I leave the suite.

I decide I better walk the entire top floor in case more lights are on. Our building used to house developers and to protect “secrets” all the doors have card readers and access is limited to those with access cards. I walk the entire top floor using my card to get from one place to the next. As I head to the last and furthest reaches of the building, one of the card readers at the door to a former lab beeps. I stop and look at it. The indicator light goes from red to green. It clicks and I know the lock has released. My access card in hanging from my hip, but is on the opposite side from the door. I cover it with my hand. I watch the access panel. After a moment or two, it clicks, letting me know the door is now locked. The indicator light changes from green to red. “OK” I think “that’s enough.” I don’t check the rest of the building but make my way back to the first floor.

When I’m safely back, I calm down. It dawns on me that if my card had somehow triggered the lock, it would be recorded. I use my access card to enter the secure room. I log into the machine that monitors the doors. The current activity scrolls up onto the screen. I see my name listed near the lobby stairwell, suites one and two, and so on as I moved through the building. Where is that lab door? I can’t see it activated. I scroll through again and still don’t see my name near that door. I take each line one at a time. Not only is my name not recorded near that door, the door itself has not been recorded as being activated. Since I know I was fully awake and did not dream this, the hair is once again standing up on the back of my neck. Who needs Halloween? If the season doesn’t give you enough goose bumps, stop by the office and I’ll give you a tour.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Read Me in RoadRunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel Magazine

If you are not a subscriber to RoadRunner Motorcycle Touring and Travel Magazine, you may want to pick up a copy of the Nov/Dec issue at the newsstand. Flip to page 94 to begin reading an article that I collaborated on with my good friend David Headley.

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon the call for submissions at the magazine’s website. As I read through the guidelines, I knew instantly what I wanted to write about. This favorite ride is something we do first thing in the spring, or the last thing in fall. While we may take the same route for the most part, it is almost a different ride each time. The fall foliage changes things that much.

The guidelines call for 10 to 20 high resolution photos. Dave was the man for this, and he did not hesitate one breath when I asked if he’d like to help me out. I worked on the text for a bit to get an idea of what we should photograph. Off we went on July 4th for a very long day of stop and go as we photographed nearly every inch of the 130 mile loop. Dave shot 190 photographs. That was the easy part. The hard part was deciding which 20 we would send along with the article.

I had a blast writing the article and thumbing through all the photos reliving the day again and again. Part of the submission guidelines asked for a map and if possible a GPS file to be submitted with the route description. I gave myself an education tweaking that route in MapSource, because although I am good at downloading files and following them to some extent, I have never actually drawn up a route on my own. You can download the file for Garmin GPS units at the website. While you are there you can read the text and look at some of Dave’s photography.

One of the most interesting aspects we encountered on July 4th was the courtesy that folks extended to us as we set up our shots. Many stopped their vehicle so as not to disturb our photo; they slowed, waved and were generally cordial and friendly. The bonus too in taking photos on Independence Day was the fact that many town centers were bedecked in banners of red, white and blue.

No sooner do I put the stamp on the envelope to RoadRunner when Dave is asking when we are going to do the next article. You don’t have to look far for ideas. New Hampshire is prime motorcycle riding territory. While many folks will think “White Mountains” or “Kancamagus” there are more great roads in New Hampshire than just the tourist attractions.

Here are some photos taken by Dave that you won’t see in the magazine.

Want to see more of David’s photography? Visit his Flickr site. Let him know what you think. He’d appreciate hearing from you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

California Bike Week's Love Ride

Two years ago Andy and I attended California Bike Week. Back then I wrote about how much fun we had at the show. Each year as the time rolls around again I like to check the website to see what’s new and exciting. One of the major attractions of California Bike Week is the Love Ride. The Love Ride was founded in 1984 by Oliver Shokouh to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. (Having two nephews who died at a much too young age of this terrible affliction, it is a charity of interest to us as you can imagine.) Over the years the Love Ride has grown to raise money for dozens of other children’s charities. To my dismay, I saw announced on their website, that the Ride this year has been cancelled. The poor economy is cited as the reason for the cancellation.

Instead of the Ride, Glendale Harley will sponsor an autograph session with Peter Fonda to commemorate the 40th Anniversary “Easy Rider.” The event will take place at the dealership. The Ride is such a big draw that its cancellation had a domino effect in that several other venues were cancelled as well. All of Friday’s events, including Wall of Death, Stunt Shows, Ride-in Custom Bike Show will not take place. The Wall of Death and the Stunt Shows are two of the events I enjoyed the most. While the Love Ride has been cancelled the founder hopes that folks will still consider a donation to the organization’s charities.

Check out their website for full details and the address of Glendale Harley. If you live in the area and were thinking about going to the show I am interested in hearing about your adventure. Or better yet, if you are patient enough to stand in line for an autograph from Peter Fonda, get a second one for me! And while you are at it, if possible consider a donation to one of the organization’s charities. After all, while we may be missing out on a bit of fun, it’s the children who are really losing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

~ The assumption that seeing is believing makes us susceptible to visual deceptions ~
Kathleen Hall Jamieson

The neighborhood was taking part in a town-wide yard sale on Saturday, so we decided to take advantage of the increased traffic to unload “stuff” we never use. Andy pointed me to the front hall closet to seek out items for the tables. At first I didn’t think there was anything in there that I wanted to part with, but I managed to fill two crates with “stuff.”

Andy walked around the yard, pulling “stuff” to the roadway. Over the years he’s collected quite a bit of “stuff” of his own. Some of this “stuff” I have been complaining about for years.
      “What the heck do you need so many 55 gallon plastic barrels for?” I moaned time and again.
      “They might come in handy for something” he would reply.
He sold five of those barrels easily for $5.00 each. Not too shabby.

One of the items Andy pulled to the roadway was a dilapidated utility trailer. It looked like nothing but wood rot and rusty hinges Sure the frame and tires were good, but look at it! A gentleman with a broad brimmed hat stopped, took one look at it and paid the asking price right then and there. He said it was perfect for towing behind his yard tractor. Not to mention, once he fixed it up, he could haul his goats out into that field he needed trimming. The saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” was never more evident as at the neighbor hood yard sale that day.

As for my “stuff” I decided that sentimentality has no place in a house if you are looking to de-clutter. To that end, I placed on the table just for the ladies several sets of earrings that once belonged to a beloved aunt. The earrings were a colorful array of costume jewelry; all flowers. I had bright yellow sunflowers, blue and white orchids, and roses of red and pink all in miniature versions of their real life counterparts. While the ladies examined them and a few sold, it was the yellow jackets who found them the most interesting.

Through each hour of that day yellow jackets worked feverishly in the weak autumn sun to collect as much nectar before the long winter sets in. Time and again, they came to crawl all over those earrings, befuddled by their appearance yet covering every inch diligently. They persisted, never giving up on the assumption that these would produce nectar if visited enough times and inspected thoroughly.

Watching the yellow jackets gave me an opportunity to once again learn a valuable lesson about life. How many times do we waste valuable energy repeating the same mistakes? Had Andy not insisted I clean the front hall closet, it would still contain two crates of junk I never use or want. Just because I thought something was of no use, didn’t mean others thought the same. The bees taught me again that appearances are deceiving and that once we assume a thing is so, we are most certainly mistaken.

With the town-wide yard sale, I assumed I’d unload a few unwanted items and put a few extra bucks in my pocket. What I carried back into the house was a lesson so much more valuable than that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Girl Gear

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for decent women’s riding gear. Now you guys have plenty of selections out there to choose from but women have been neglected in the selection department for a long time. I have often visited women’s riding gear sites purported to be developed by women with selections solely for women, only to be discouraged at what I find. Either the stuff is all pink, offers little real protection, or is in bad taste. So it was with skepticism that I clicked on the link for Girl Gear.

As soon as the page refreshed my eyebrows went up in surprise. There on the home page was a photo of a model wearing one of the jackets. First, the model was not (excuse my selection of words here) a bimbo. She looked like a real legitimate rider. The second thing that caught my eye was that the jacket looked like something I would actually wear. In fact a few years ago I searched high and low for a decent women’s jacket that did not stop short at the waist. The model in this photo is wearing a tasteful jacket that reaches below the waist and looks comfortable. I don’t know about you ladies, but I prefer not to have cold blasts of air shooting up and down my spine for miles on end.

I decided a look around the website was in order. I found an unusual pair of chaps, in that you use your own belt to secure them, by sliding a flap at the hip under and over the belt, and then snapping it at a height that is comfortable for you. Interesting concept in design. There are three selections for short sleeved tee shirts, with a saying on one of them that is reflective of a counter attack to the men’s line. It was the only one I disapproved of. The other one says "'s all girls want to do" which I don’t have a problem with at all. The third tee is something I would certainly wear. It has a V neck, a style of shirt I’m fond off. This one reads “Yes, I ride” with motorcycle in small pink print. The body of the shirt is black with white side panels. I think its attractive looking enough for me to forgive the pink print in the word “motorcycle.” There is a long sleeved shirt in pink as I suppose there are women who do like to wear pink. There is also a tank top available. I have been known to wear a tank top now and then, so no problem here. The prices too are all in line with typical riding gear.

While the selection is minimal, I was pleased overall with what I saw. I’m sorry that I missed checking out their gear at Americade in June. If you are like me and like to touch and feel before you buy, there are a couple of upcoming events where you can check them out. The first is at the International Motorcycle show in Minneapolis MN coming February 5-7, 2010 and the International Motorcycle Show in Chicago, IL from February 19-21, 2010. If you go, drop me a line and tell me what you think.

*photo from Girl Gear website.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biker Lingo
(updated older post)

Lingo is so prevalent in our society today that those of us who engage in its use sometimes fail to realize that others may not be fully aware of just exactly what we are saying. Having spent a considerable amount of time around techies, I’ve become sensitive to this reality. So it was with interest that I stumbled upon the Biker Dictionary at the Clutch and Chrome website. What follows next is a compilation of events that have happened to me compiled as a single event told in biker lingo. Use the link to the dictionary if you need help.

I awake to a glorious day, sun shining, the air sweet and work looming ahead of me. So as not to waste a perfectly good day I decided to take the V-Twin for my commute. I’m not entirely sure of what happened next, but the stars must have aligned in some strange convergence of energies. It seems the idea of a two wheeled ride was not mine alone.

I am happily humming a tune to myself at a stoplight when a thumper pulls up in the lane beside me. We nod courteously to each other, and I notice the flower pot he’s sporting is as old as the thumper itself. The sad state of the thumper is making me feel a bit pompous straddling my bagger. After our nod we both look ahead, avoiding each other’s eyes, knowing full well, we are looking sideways and inspecting each other’s rides.

The light is taking longer than usual. A Hardly-Abelson pulls into the turning lane. I notice that he is in bad need of new sneakers. Across the intersection an ape-hanger pulls to a stop. I’m glad he’s riding in the other direction. My personal feeling is that ape-hangers are an embarrassment and people who ride them can’t be serious bikers.

Out of nowhere a crotch rocket screeches to a stop beside the thumper. He cracks it a few times and smiles menacingly at the thumper. The light changes and with one final crack the crotch rocket does a cat walk across the intersection. The cagers don’t look too impressed. I’m thinking he’s headed for some nipple surfing when I catch the cherries flashing. He is soon stopped in the breakdown lane receiving his performance certificate.* The rest of us are happily moving along knowing we no longer need to mind our P’s and Q’s now that the crotch rocket has the attention of the locals, but not before we watch the Hardly-Abelson leave a rainbow behind him as he rides away from the light..


*You won’t find performance certificate in the dictionary. I got this new one from Nomad Willie. It’s related to Fast Riding Award if you want to look that one up.

Updated broken links. Thank you to reader who alerted me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kevlar: Not Just for Bullets Anymore

“You should get a pair of mesh pants like mine.” I had a New England rider say to me earlier this spring. I then sheepishly admitted that I had a pair. I just wasn’t wearing them. That day I preferred to take my chances in a pair of jeans. The New England Riders are all about safety, which is something I like most about them. In addition to promoting safe group riding and tips on street survival, they also recommend good riding gear.

Fast forward to our weekend in Stowe Vermont. This time I had my mesh riding over pants with the wind/rain liner zipped in. It came in handy on our Saturday ride as we encountered rain for the first few miles. I later shed them when it became warm. I could have zipped out the liner and put them back on. They are mesh after all, and the wind goes through nicely to cool me off. But the on again, off again quick change artist routine is not something I’m fond of.

Later that evening as we were sitting about chatting, the topic of riding gear came up. This is not an unusual topic as we are all motorcycle enthusiast after all. However, I detected that some of it was intentionally directed toward me, albeit in a most subtle and caring manner. “You know” someone was saying to me, So-and-so “has a pair of Kevlar liners he wears under his mesh riding pants. He takes the armor out of his mesh pants because the liners have optional armor you can put in at the knees and hips.”

It seems So-and-so doesn’t even bother with jeans anymore. The Kevlar liners are mesh and the riding over pants are mesh. In the heat of summer he’s cool as a cucumber and protected from road rash and armored for impact. Hmm…I decided to do some investigation of my own. I at least owed that much to the person who delivered this news to me in such a loving and tactful manner.

I found what I was looking for at the Draggin’Jeans website. I should mention here that I do own a pair of Draggin’ Jeans that have never fit me right. In fact, I passed them on to my husband who wears them in comfort. I found the jeans too narrow in the hips despite the fact that I purchased the women’s. I attributed the imperfect fit to “classic” style when I probably should have purchased “relaxed.” Needless to say, I clicked onto the website with some skepticism.

From Misc

I read through the details quickly to make sure I had the correct product. I then skipped over to the customer reviews. It seems women here had the same issue with the pants that I did. However, they are giving glowing reviews about the Kevlar liners. I like what I am reading. The price is still a sticker shock, but what riding gear doesn’t give you that? One has to think about what your flesh is worth to you intact as opposed to lengthy medical bills or worse.

So as not to be swayed by a website trying to sell me their product, I did more searching. I found a great review at webBikeWorld. Take some time to read their review. Not only does it give details, there are photos that let you see the mesh weave up close. The reviewer lives in my part of the country too, which is a bonus for me on what I can really expect.

Just so I cover all the bases, I decided to compare them to Bohn-armor. At their website they even have a video that is supposed to show how easy it is to wear this armor under your jeans. I wasn’t especially convinced. And while it’s good to have the armor for impact, what about abrasion protection? I think I’ll head back to the Draggin’ Jeans website. Now if I could only remember who So-and-so is, I’d like to get an opinion straight from horse’s mouth. Even if my clouded memory doesn’t clear up, I still think the Kevlar liners are my best bet. In the meantime, if you have experience with this product, I’d like to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Trooper

Our niece Christina is visiting us from the Los Angeles area for a few weeks. When she began planning her trip, I noticed that it fell right along side our weekend getaway to Stowe Vermont with the New England Riders. I asked her if she would like to spend the weekend on a motorcycle.
“Sure Aunt Pat. I’d love to hang with you and Uncle Andy and your Bad Biker Buddies!” she said.
“What a trooper.” I thought.
With that we put her on the back and took her away to Stowe Vermont. We thought we were going to show her a good time. What I didn’t expect is how she gave us the best weekend we’ve had in a long time. Tina found everything new and exciting. Having just escaped the smoke and ash from all the fires in the LA area her first question was,
“How do I bottle this fresh air and take it home?”

On Saturday we followed a few other New England Riders on a trip north from Stowe. We encountered a misty rain for the first 30 miles or so. Tina did not complain one bit.
“Rain!” she said with excitement. She sees so little of it, and there is such a need for it back home that it was refreshing to be in a bit of damp. Along the way, the small towns and farms where of great interest as well. General stores, small libraries, town halls and small fire stations; all were photographed by her at our stops and from the back of Andy’s bike.

We made our way to Lake Willoughby and stopped there to enjoy the lake. Christina wondered if it were possible to reach the Canadian border, just to say she had. On our lunch break, Ed, our leader, adjusted his GPS to accommodate the request. Added to that request was one for “maple” something. Ed found a quaint general store where Tina found maple candy and a bonus too; a bone for her dog Buddy.
“Buddy won’t know the difference” she said. “But I will!” With that she happily packed it away with her other treasures.

Our ride back to Stowe took us through Smugglers Notch. This was my first time through the notch. The road narrows so that there is barely enough room for two vehicles to pass each other in opposite directions. There is no center line painted in the roadway. Added to that is the fact that the road twists and turns through the notch around boulder outcroppings so that navigation is blind turn after blind turn. Yet, Christina hung on and even managed a couple of photographs of me negotiating my way through the maze.

We took the leisurely way home on Sunday to give Christina the full experience of Vermont, taking in parts of Route 100, which as any motorcyclist knows is the best motorcycling road in all of the country. No ride into Vermont is complete without a stop at Curtis’s for ribs. Here Tina purchased a bottle of their barbecue sauce. With all the food treasures she has collected, she is planning a meal for her family fit for a king when she returns home; and Buddy will have his treat too.

Take a moment to enjoy a selection of photos taken by Christina. It won’t be long before you understand how she had us seeing things with new and appreciative eyes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Greylock Revisited

The access road to the summit of Mount Greylock is open after being closed for two years while they repaired the road. Andy and I climbed to its summit in 2006 over a very rough road indeed. With the road recently reopened, we decide on Saturday, it is time to check things out again. We head west on route 101 but as is Andy’s habit, I see we are not going by the route he described to me on Friday.

Just before we get to route 12 in Keene, Andy takes a left onto a road I have not traveled before. We connect with route 32 and head in a southerly direction. We are not long on our way when the road narrows and potholes appear. Yet Andy presses on. This road deteriorates so badly that kicking into second gear is taking your life in your hands. I remark to Andy over the radio that this is exactly the type of road on which his tire finds sharp pointy objects.

We travel at a snail’s pace never exceeding 25 miles per hour when finally the road improves and we find ourselves on the back side of Tully Lake. From there it is a short ride to route 2A in Athol Massachusetts, then to route 2; the Mohawk Trail. I love this section of route 2 that takes us through Pioneer Valley. There is a Powwow taking place along our route that lends to the whole atmosphere of the Mohawk Trail. It is now past noon so we start looking for someplace to eat.

We spot several bikes in the lot of the Mohawk Park Campground and Pub and decide to stop here. While the food isn’t too bad, this place is more of a bar hangout. I enjoy checking out how establishments choose to decorate. The most impressive feature is the well preserved oxbow hanging over the bar. I’m not impressed with the slow service or the flies.

After lunch it isn’t long before we reach the hairpin turn and drop into North Adams. We begin watching for Notch Road and the signs for Greylock. We find it easily, and begin our assent. There are several hair pin turns on this road and we meet quiet a bit of traffic. While the going is slow, I don’t mind at all. The weather is clear and crisp and the views are fantastic. We reach the summit and I’m surprised at the crowd.

We park in the designated motorcycle area and begin our tour of the peak. There is a wedding taking place which explains the crowd. I’m not too happy that they have set up right in front of the best views. In addition they are occupying the granite wall on which are depicted the peaks in the distance along with identification. Since last time we got fogged in, I’m getting more annoyed that I can’t get a good look at the views. Andy tells me I’m too harsh. Maybe so.

Instead we climb the Veterans War Memorial Tower. The inside of the tower is packed as well, now I worry about H1N1. Who needs that? We watch the wedding from the window above and when things break up, we head for the granite wall and the views. I sit and commune with nature. With views all the way to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and full expanse of the valley below our smallness in the world is never more evident than here.

We spend about 90 minutes at the summit then make our way back to the bikes. I take out the hand sanitizer and make Andy use it as well. There were a lot of hands on those handrails in the tower. We descend the mountain via Rockwell Road into Lanesborough.

Our ride home takes us up route 100 in Vermont then to route 9 and over Hogback Mountain. With the exception of route 32, the roads on this day’s trip have been excellent. If you are looking for great motorcycling, there is none better than Pioneer Valley, the Mohawk Trail, Mount Greylock, Vermont’s route 100 and Hogback Mountain. The best part is; it’s all in a day’s ride.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Saturday heavy rains pelted New Hampshire as the remnants of Hurricane Danny moved across the area. Then true to the old saying “if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute” the skies cleared into a beautiful crystal clear day by Sunday. With a sigh of relief, Andy and I donned riding gear and headed three miles down the road to meet the New England Riders.

From Misc

The New England Riders began their journey north to New Hampshire an hour earlier from Westford Massachusetts. Their first stop put them close to home where we joined them for a planned loop through Southern New Hampshire. This loop encompassed some of my favorite roads and I had been looking forward to this ride for weeks. It certainly turned into a well attended ride and we divided into two groups; the power riders, and the flower sniffers. As for me, flower sniffing suited me just fine.

I greeted Wingman with surprise and inquired what he was riding these days as he had sold the Wing sometime back.
“The silver Suzuki over there” he replies.
I’m looking all over creation for a silver Suzuki, when finally he points to the silver SUV parked near the building. (You can see it in the photo above.) I’m surprised by this, but Wingman never misses a beat.
“No one said you had to be on TWO wheels.”
Well, it is a Suzuki….close enough.

I’m feeling bad for Wingman, but as it turns out, Wingman had the better deal. A mere 15 miles into the ride Andy’s voice comes over the two-way radio announcing “something is wrong.” We pull over in Francestown, and can you believe it, he has a FLAT! That was the end of our Southern New Hampshire Loop. The next few hours involved trying to inflate the tire (pointless), putting Andy on the back of Blaze and heading home for the trailer, back to the bike with the trailer, then back home again. We reunited with the New England Riders later in the day at Kimball’s for ice cream. There I learned that Wingman and his SUV had come in handy when one of the passengers got a bit dehydrated and rode along with him for recovery.

At Kimball’s the woman who had been behind Andy as the flat became apparent, had also been behind him in Maine for the previous flat. Small and petite, she stood right up close and pointed upward to his chin and proclaimed how she will never get behind him on a ride again! You just have to chuckle at a sight like that.

As for Andy, he has owned his bike for four years. For each of those years he has managed to ride over something to give himself a flat tire. Only one of those times was the tire a bit thread challenged, thus giving him an excuse. I am not sure how he is attracting pointy objects to his tires but I’m beginning to believe he is cursed.

*Happy Birthday Andy*

(Photo by GoldwingBob)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A "Two-Fer"

A few years ago, a co-worker of mine arrived in a foul mood. Actually, foul mood is an understatement. That morning in the news he had read about a group of war protesters at the funeral of a fallen soldier. When he told me the story I was incredulous. No matter what side of the fence you sit politically, it is inconceivable to me that people were so heartless as to violate the solemnity and dignity of someone’s funeral. Unfortunately it was true. The loved ones of this man had to endure the unbelievable while one of America’s sons; one of their very own, was laid to rest.

Shortly thereafter my co-worker became a member of the Patriot Guard Riders. For those of you unfamiliar with the Patriot Guard Riders; their main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. This organization has grown nation wide and even into Canada. What they have in common besides motorcycles is a respect for those who risk their lives for freedom and security. When attending funerals by invitation of the family they shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions caused by protesters. They accomplish this through legal and non-violent means.

I catch up with news of them now and again by visiting their website. I am impressed with the work they are doing. Not only do they continue the work stated in their mission statement, but they have gone above and beyond. This non-profit organization raises money for scholarships. The recipients are the dependents of US military members who have died in the line of duty. They have a Coins for Wounded Solders program the assist those recovering from injuries requiring Critical Care in VA facilities. They offer Help on the Homefront to soldiers and their families. Visit their website to see all they do for our men and women in the military. I am amazed at what is accomplished by volunteer efforts alone.

Now I have a challenge for you. It’s a “two-fer.” What’s a two-fer” you might ask? It’s one action that gives you two beneficial results. Two for the price of one so to speak. Do you have some decent motorcycle parts or accessories sitting on the garage shelf? Why not donate them to the Patriot Guard Riders? The items you donate are sold on eBay to fund their Legal Defense Fund. Yes, unfortunately even volunteer organizations need a lawyer from time to time. Right now they are working to retain the right to use their logo. The two-fer is that you get a clean garage in the process.

Here are the details I’ve pasted from the website:

As we accessorize and customize our bikes we all end up with a garage full of parts that collect dust and take up space. We can't bring ourselves to get rid of these items, but we have no good use for them and may never need them again. Well, the PGR now has a need for those items. We need you to go through your garage and DONATE all of your good, clean, unwanted motorcycle accessories/parts to the PGR. We will sell these items on eBay and all proceeds (sales less shipping costs) will be used for the Legal Defense Fund. Motorcycle parts/accessories include pegs, seats, lights, handle bars, grips, kickstands, sissie bars, luggage, bags, mirrors, etc...
Please follow the simple steps listed below should you choose to participate in this event.

Ship your donated item to:

PGR Garage Sale
900 N. East Ave.
Panama City, Florida 32401

Include a description with all pertinent info such as Part #, Make, Model, and Year if the item is bike specific.
Please include your name and email address as we will email you a receipt for your tax deductible donation. It will be up to each individual contributor to list the value of the donated item(s) on each receipt when received.
Should you have any questions that are specific to this fund raising event please email them to:
The link to the garage sale on ebay is:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Whiz Freedom ®

I like to keep up with the latest news for women riders so I subscribe to a few sites that update regularly. Yesterday, I received e-mail about new content at one of the sites I frequent. As I scrolled down the page, I was stunned by a new gadget they thought some of us women might like. I stopped munching my apple mid bite when I saw this picture of the new product.

From Blogger Pictures

The new product is called Whiz Freedom. You don’t need any imagination to understand what that means. I thought, “give me a break” if you don’t suffer from a medical condition why in the world would you need such a thing? Just hover for Pete sake! I started to read the article and there among the descriptions for use they are saying I could use it without removing my clothing. Really? How’s that! I look at the photo again. This whiz thing looks big. Do I really want to be seen marching off into the woods lugging that? I couldn’t see anything about the size on the WRN site. If this thing is 12 or 16 inches long, I don’t want to be seen strolling off with that and I don’t want to waste good space in the saddlebags either. The only thing left to do was go to the product web site and investigate.

I read through all the product information but nowhere does it say how long it is. It does say the thing weighs only .5 oz (14 gr). There are three photos here too. One shows it up against a ruler. It looks like a 12 inch scale. I’m thinking “too long” when the next photo shows how flexible it is. By the photo it would appear that the product is made of some rubbery material as it is shown folded in half. OK, so maybe you can palm it. I can feel myself softening (no pun intended) to this product. When I feel I might be bending to advertising hype I pull myself up by my bootstraps and get a grip. I’m still curious how to use it without removing clothing. The next link leads me to this graphics page. The text here is very helpful too. Now I’m not only impressed with how detailed the website is, I’d also like to meet a few of their technical writers. If you are wondering about that last statement, and haven’t yet visited any of the links, here’s a sample below.

Ensure that the Whiz® is held snugly against the body (it's not designed to enter the body). It will not leak, over-fill or splash back.

Try your Whiz® in the shower and you will see how easy it is to use - sitting standing hovering or crouching - whichever is most comfortable until you're confident enough to use it away from home.

To avoid disrobing completely try pulling your panties to one side (unless you are wearing boxer shorts) and then using the Whiz®.

Aim the Whiz downwards and never use it facing the wind!

Now seriously, tell me you can’t read that without wanting to meet a few of these writers! I’d buy the product just because I’m impressed with their work.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One Commuter's Gift

The clouds part after many a long days of damp and dreary existence. The leaves on the trees are teasing the sun and playing hide and seek shadows that flicker, flash and dance like fireflies across my chest. I am taking in the scent of sweet grasses sprinkled with tiny dew droplets that refract the rays and send a prism of color in tiny orbs away from their centers.

It is a day for riding, yet responsibilities call, and I put jacket, helmet and gloves on to head for work. I leave the face shield up to smell the earth drying out from so much damp. With the damp are scents of fresh baked goods wafting from the local vendor I pass, roasting coffee beans from the specialty store, a gentleman’s cologne from the Lexis to my right. While all these are pleasing to the senses, and make me forget my destination, none compare to one single moment of that commute.

The lean into the bend is intuitive as I follow the circumference of the roadway that takes me around the local town. Here the highway undulates like the waves of the sea, and as I near the crest, I receive an early morning gift from the celestial beings. On the horizon is a lone hot air balloon. It is suspended in the firmament as if time stands still. After so much rain, it’s as if the sapphire sky presents herself as a bejeweled princess; a gift to her subjects below. I pay homage. Then from the crest of the hill, I dip once again and the sight is no more. Yet, it burns in my memory still.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How Being a Riding Girl has set me Free

Are you a woman who paints her toenails in summer so your feet look pretty in those strappy sandals? Are you wearing that wire jabbing brazier with the too tight elastic so that everything stays in place when you wear the sundress? Or do you go to extremes to find the sticky stuff dancers use to keep their costume in place so you won’t have a wardrobe malfunction? If this sounds like you and you are wondering what the big deal is, you are not a motorcycle enthusiast.

When I was a teen, (long long ago) it was fashionable to wear your eyebrows in pencil thin fashion. White lipstick (gasp) was in vogue and let’s not forget those go-go boots. You weren’t cool if the hair didn’t hang long and straight as a pin and your legs better look great in those hot pants too. And while the short shorts were mandatory, if you put on a pair of denim jeans, make sure they cover your shoes, and for goodness sake don’t wear white socks!

I have never been the “girly girl” type. Oh sure, I (once upon a time) could put on a few of the requisite outfits and look the part. I even painted my nails, plucked my brows and cared if my hair was mussed. Then I got on a motorcycle. Helmet hair is expected, and the only padding I need is at elbows and knees. No one cares if my toenails are painted, and makeup is optional. I like that the only thing I need to keep stuff in place is Velcro.

When you see me riding by with the wide smile of my face, (no grin as that lets the bugs in) it isn’t just the wind therapy for the spirit that’s affecting my soul, but the freedom from all the trappings that hold women hostage. Keep your hair spray, ribbons and bows; I’m off riding with the wind in my face and the sun on my back. No one cares if my jacket is the latest style, if my gloves are soft calves leather, or if my boots make my feet look petite. Least of all, me; as I have been set free.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Little Souls

I’m peeling away the layers of my emotions as one would peel away the protective riding gear after an untimely slide down the asphalt. As happens, life is not all joy riding, happy motorcycle travels or shopping for bike toys. Just as the flesh oozes with anguish from angry road rash, so are my emotions. I dab at them as with antiseptic and try to sooth myself with sleep to shut out the world.

Our family has suffered a loss. It leaves me stepping away from the bike, folding my gloves, and hanging my helmet by the strap. Then slipping the jacket from my arms, I wrap them around my daughter and try to console her. She has suffered a loss so profoundly deep, that only others who have been here can understand. Her joy, only so recently shared, has turned into grief. The new life within her has been cut short. The ripple is spreading wide, and we are taken up in the wake of sorrow for her and for us. For we have suffered too; suffered a loss, a dream, a hope and a promise.

While our grandchild’s heart has ceased to pulse with life, this child will not soon be forgotten. This child will live forever in our memory and in our hearts. Left behind are two parents that loved this child from conception. In our helplessness, we scoop the other babies in our arms and realize, as if for the first time, the true miracle of life. As my daughter moves forward stepping each day away from this sorrow, she tries to be hopeful.

“I know there is a little soul out there that needs a home. I don't know when, but I do know it will happen.”

I know too, that she will be ready when that time comes.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


MMA ALERT: Motorcycle-Only Safety Checks in Sterling, MA
Friday, July 24, 2009
This year, a significant number of cases have been reported of Law Enforcement creating their own versions of Massachusetts General Law concerning Sound Enforcement for Motorcycles. This has taken the form of roadside stops and warnings, to the recently enacted City Ordinance in Boston, to a recent “Motorcycle-Only Safety Check” in the small hamlet of Sterling, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association is working with our members to be more aware of these incidents as well as help our members fight unlawful citations.

In the latter case, Police have worked diligently over the past few weeks to stop only Motorcycles around the intersection of Routes 140 and 62 in Sterling to perform “Safety Checks”. Reports of “hundreds” of Motorcycles being stopped and cited for anything from illegal Helmets to a lack of EPA stamp on their Motorcycle Exhaust or other safety equipment violations. More than a dozen MMA members have corroborated this report and the MMA is providing them with Information Kits concerning the “real” Massachusetts General Law. We encourage all Motorcyclists to join the MMA to obtain this information and fight any citations issued that they feel are unjust.

In order to collect and provide more information, the MMA invites all Motorcyclists - Members and Friends - to attend the next monthly Worcester County meeting at the Singletary Rod and Gun Club 300 Sutton Ave Oxford MA on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 730 PM. This issue will be the main focus topic of discussion - more background on the issues, the "real" Massachusetts General Law, and how to respond. Several MMA Board Members will be in attendance to address these and any questions.

In the interim, if you are stopped, without question, you want to be respectful and cooperative. While perhaps ill informed, these are still Law Enforcement Officers. Please remember to:
•Obtain the officer’s name and department – he or she should be wearing and/or carrying identification. You have every right to it. If the officer refuses to provide any, you have the right to call 911 and inform them you’ve been stopped by someone who has refused to identify themselves. •Make notes (and if possible take pictures – many cell phones have cameras today) of the procedures being used to inspect and test your motorcycle. You are NOT legally required to assist in those tests. •You are NOT legally required to answer any unreasonable questions without advice of legal counsel. •Contact the MMA with the name and description of the officer and any other details you can provide regarding the incident. If you are issued a warning or citation, we would like a copy of that document and will work with you to fight it in a Massachusetts court of law. For additional information, please contact or


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On My Soap Box

I try to be diplomatic and see two sides to ever story. Even if I am alerted about some issue, I see myself as listening to the whole story to see if I can find middle ground. I said I try. However, recently there was an ongoing thread on my favorite forum that had me stewing. There are two items actually the seem to fly in the face of violating our constitutional rights, but I will focus on one that concerns motorcyclist since this is the main theme of my blog.

A forum member reported that at a particular intersection in their local town, the police set up a roadblock and pulled every motorcycle over. No cars, trucks or any other vehicle, just motorcycles. Through inquiry and by an article in the local paper it was learned that the citizens of this fine town were tired of the loud motorcycles at this intersection. OK, this is a legitimate complaint, especially if there is a noise ordinance, or decibel level requirement for motorcycles in this area. So why was each and every motorcyclist pulled over? One can hear a loud motorcycle. Why not just pull that one over? This is not what happened. One person was even ticketed for loud pipes although the officers did not use a meter to measure the decibel level. One forum member made a statement that you don’t need a meter to see straight pipes. (His assumption of course was that the pipes were indeed straight.) Still, if the law requires a meter, then one should be used.

There is another concern. It seems the police were checking for motorcycle endorsements on the licenses. I didn’t read anywhere that indicated the police pulled over cars and trucks to see if the drivers had a license? There is a whole ball of wax I could go into with this. For example, in some states, you cannot be pulled over simply for non-seatbelt wearing, but if pulled over for other reasons can be ticketed if you are not wearing your seatbelt. Well, if the pipes are loud, pull the person over, and then look at his license, check to see if he’s inspected, if he has an approved helmet etc. Can you see how things would go if the police pulled over every vehicle on a particular given day to inspect if your wearing your seat belt, if your license plate is displayed properly, if you are indeed licensed? We can’t seem to get habitual offenders off the road, but it seems OK to target a particular group.

In three other towns of this fine state, checkpoints are being set up to stop bikers with loud pipes. The police will be equipped with decibel readers and will not ticket but “educate” the rider about legal noise limits. That sounds better to me. In NY, the police set up roadblocks and stop motorcycles that are on their way to Lake George for the annual rally. There are some legal and constitutional issues with targeting groups. Motorcycle only roadblocks in my opinion violate Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Stopping a particular group on the way to a gathering is a violation of the First Amendment rights to freedom and assembly and freedom of association.

“What’s the big deal” I have had some say to me. It is believed that it will blow over, and the citizens will once again have a quiet corner. The big deal is that as a nation we have become complacent at having are liberties chiseled away, little by little. Why? Because “what’s the big deal” or “why rock the boat.” I say if you don’t stay vigilant you will soon be stripped of the liberties that are granted to you in the Constitution. Now don’t even get me started about banks demanding they fingerprint you just to cash a check.

I know I have rambled and this is not my typical free flowing form, so here are a few links to help you understand the magnitude of the problem.,0,7908266.story

And I don’t have a link for this but here’s the text:

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - June 8, 2009) - Proner & Proner, Attorneys at law, have filed a Federal class action lawsuit in the Federal Court for the Northern District of New York against the New York State Police as well as New York State and county authorities to stop them from conducting motorcycle-only roadblocks near popular motorcycle events. Last year the New York State Police and county sheriffs stopped every motorcycle en route to twelve different events for "safety checks." With the riding season starting, the New York State Police expect to conduct up to fifteen motorcycle-only roadblocks throughout the state this year. The events targeted include Americade in Lake George, the largest motorcycle event in the Northeast.
Mitchell Proner, an active motorcyclist and personal injury attorney, is initiating the lawsuit on behalf of all motorcyclists. Mr. Proner said that the New York State Police "uses the pretense of safety inspections to delay and harass motorcyclists without any reasonable belief that any laws are being broken." Although courts have upheld DWI checkpoints as generally permissible, "These motorcycle roadblock stops are lengthy and do not address any legitimate safety concerns," according to Mr. Proner.
Mr. Proner alleges that these motorcycle-only roadblocks violate the motorcyclists' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In addition, by specifically targeting motorcycle events, New York State is infringing on the motorcyclists' First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
For further information please contact Proner & Proner at 60 East 42nd Street, Suite 1448, New York, New York 10165, (212) 986-3030 or on the web at