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!