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)