Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Preparing for Motorcycle Travel

               A comment from a reader about motorcycle trip preparation was such a great question that it had me putting fingers to the keyboard again. Thank you to MarvinLWright for taking time to read and comment of my most recent post. Marvin wants to know how we survive long road trips and what type of gear we bring. Surviving takes planning and that is only one of the steps in the process for any great trip. You have already made some great moves in immersing yourself in a motorcycle vacation adventure, and that is to read everything you can on the subject. Here are some of the major points to consider when planning any trip on two wheels. 

                 Prepare. Preparation is key to any successful trip. I like making lists, and I check them off as I go along.  I double check them before departure, read them aloud to my riding partner, who then may have an item or two to add.  There are many great books about long distance travel, and magazines galore focused entirely on the subject. Not only is the content useful and informative, some of the ads associated with the articles can sometimes offer useful items for purchase. 

                Deciding on a destination is just the beginning of your adventure. Read more about the location and sightseeing opportunities along the way in the area you plan to visit. Check online for tourist information offered by the state you plan to visit. They can send brochures at no cost to you that offer a wealth of information. Of course these will be for the general traveler, so once you know where you want to go, do some search of motorcycle destinations in the area as well. This will result in tips on great motorcycling roads.  With this information in hand you can begin your route planning.

                Mapping out your trip is important. Sometimes we plan ours with strict limitations in mind, especially if there are time constraints. At other times our routes will be more flexible. It’s whatever you need, but don’t skip it. If you have a GPS use it and the software. Segment your route by days on the road. Understand where you plan to stop each night and research lodging so you are not trapped into traveling another 100 miles because you didn’t realize there were no places to stay in the area. (This usually happens in the middle part of the country but has happened to us in upstate NY.) Some people like to make reservations. I personally don’t like being tied that tightly into a schedule. I’ve never had much of a problem finding decent lodging on the fly. With today’s technology such as smart phones and GPS, it’s easy to find a place to stay or a place to eat as well as where the nearest gas station is located.

How far you want to travel from home all depends on your endurance ability.  Only you know your limits. If you want to increase your daily saddle time, start long before your travel date. Take extended weekend trips that involve overnight stays. Not only does this help you understand where your endurance levels are, but the learning experience helps build confidence in your ability to plan successful adventures. Know the laws in each state in regard to motorcycle law. This will keep you out of trouble. 

Comfort is paramount if you are going to be putting on the miles. If during your extended weekend excursions you discover that your backside can’t take another minute after 100 miles this is a serious concern.  I have an after-market saddle I like very much. There are several  makes available. Read the reviews and decide which is best for you. If you don’t want the expense, you can purchase a saddle seat pad. My husband uses a sheepskin gel pad he likes very much and so does his own backside.  You also will want to pay attention to such things as foot pegs versus floorboards, and handlebars adjustment. You may even want to consider handlebar risers. You need to keep the stress out of your shoulders and back if you want comfort on long distance riding.

While we are covering motorcycle comfort, don’t forget to prepare the mechanics of the bike for road worthiness. Get a tune up, change the oil and filter. Check the tires for wear.  Take time to check every nut and bolt to make sure they are tight and snug.  Even after all this, things vibrate loose, so don’t forget to pack the tools.  Add a flashlight too, as these things never happen under the best of circumstances. The small LED type are great and don’t take up much room.

                I have adequate saddle bags which I find very useful on long trips. I keep one strictly for emergency items, and the other for items I want to access quickly while on the road. In the emergency bag for instance, I keep a tire pump, along with patch kit. This is only good if you have tubeless tires. A first aid kit is a must, but something I hope you never need. Although I keep pain relieve in there too, and that can come in handy anytime. Again, don’t forget tools. Something always seems to wiggle loose on long road trips. I haven’t had a trip yet when I didn’t pull out the tools. Other items in no particular order that I use consistently in this saddle bag are, windshield bug cleaner, bungee cords, extra gloves, rain gear and a long sleeved shirt for the sudden chill and something for the neck. The neck items are important. If it gets too hot, soak a bandana and wrap around you, if it’s cold, pull the neck fleece out. Layers are your friend.

                In the every-day quick access bag I keep chargers for my electronics to charge on the road if need be. The cell phone for instance can drain if you are in a poor reception area and the phone is searching for the nearest tower. If you don’t have an accessory to charge items on the bike, install one.  You can plug your tire pump into this too. If traveling during times of weather fluctuation I may have a warm weather jacket that I swap for the cold weather jacket during the day. This bag is for whatever is needed quickly. Some women keep their purse here. I’ve recently dispensed with the purse and wear a hip bag. This also helps me learn how to travel light.

                I have successfully packed enough clean clothing in a tour pack to get me through an entire week. Many hotels have guest laundry so that is never a problem. Even then it’s more my persnicketiness that takes over where cleanliness is concerned. One never needs more than a couple changes of riding pants. Shirts are another matter for me personally. I like changing daily along with socks and underwear. Roll these instead of folding for the tour pack and you will find enough room left for wants, like your laptop. As an added precaution, I roll and put into zip lock bags. Then if it rains, I have dry clothing to change into. Don’t forget the toiletries, but remember you don’t need the family size toothpaste. In all things think small.

                And speaking of clothing let’s not forget the riding gear. There are all types of riders out there, from “all gear all the time” to no gear at all beyond that required by law. I fall into the conservative range. Jacket, gloves, boots and helmet always, with denim jeans preferred. I have a pair of Kevlar liners (long john type) but these tend to make me feel overheated. They are great in the spring and fall as they add warmth plus are not bulky under the jeans. Or try Kevlar enforced riding jeans. I have worn these, but again, if it’s hot out you will be too. With riding gear is all a matter of preference in my opinion.  With that said, plan for the area you are visiting and adjust accordingly.

                Now for a word or two about items that aren’t necessary but help make trips more enjoyable over all; electronics. I don’t go anywhere without my GPS. I have a terrible sense of direction. My husband could sail us across the sea using only his finger in the air, but my comfort level is better when I can see he is right. If you don’t have a smartphone, you are missing a lot of handy information. The smartphone lets us keep tabs on the weather, quick need to know information like where the nearest gas station is located. The GPS can do this too, but the smartphone is always up-to-date. It can substitute nicely for your camera and makes one less thing you need to bring. You can find and then call all the area hotels and get the best rate. The uses for the smartphone are infinite.

                My husband and I like keeping connected so we communicate with bike to bike communication. We will be updating this equipment soon as it is so essential for us.  The type we are looking into has Bluetooth capabilities so listening to music, taking a call (is that is what you would do on a bike) or just exchanging information between bikes is all wrapped up in one unit. Some folks have electronic cold weather gear such as heated vest and gloves. I do not have any of these, but it is something to consider if you would like to extend your riding season.  A 12V Power Socket Adapter is handy if you want electronics along on your trip. If you don’t have one, they are easy to install.

                If you plan to travel with more than a spouse or significant other, I strongly urge you to take these people along on your extended weekends. This will allow you and them to experience all the idiosyncrasies one might have. If they still like you at the end of the weekend excursions, you’re golden. When planning the vacation assure you are all on board with every aspect of the trip. Don’t discount the small stuff either, because these are the very things that can suddenly loom large. For instance, my husband can get on the motorcycle and ride until the sun goes down, while I like the sun still above the horizon and some relaxation time before bed. If something comes up that no one anticipated, talk about it and compromise. There are a million ways to say things right, but it only takes one bad way to ruin friendships. Choose your words carefully. Often things work out better than you anticipated. The worst thing you can do is leave something unsaid.
                I had fun reliving some memories while outlining some motorcycle travel tips. While these are broad generalizations, I always welcome feedback. Not only does it help me, but other readers too. In closing, above all else ride safely and with constant alertness.  Take brakes, drink lots of fluids, and have fun. If you’ve prepared well, the only thing left is to have a great time! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tail of the Dragon, Blue Ridge Parkway and Beyond

I haven’t been blogging much. It seems I preferred to kick back and enjoy life a bit more.  Since my friend Dave did such a good job of chronicling our trip to the Blue Ridge, I asked his permission to use his Facebook posts; and he agreed. I have added my own Facebook posts at the end where we parted ways. Enjoy, and visit my pictures on Shutterfly.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 1

605 miles today per Pats GPS. We stopped for the night in Harrisonburg, VA. Good day in the wind. The Harley ran great.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 2

Nice easy 400 or so miles today. Chillin in Marysville, TN for the night. Found the 'Fullservice BBQ' joint for dinner. Good pulled pork & ribs in an out door setting.
Tomorrow we ride 'The Tail of The Dragon', 318 turns in 11 miles. Oh yeah Bubba. Lots of Darwin Awards "winners" have earned their place in history on this stretch of asphalt.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 3

Today we rode 'The Tail of The Dragon' and had a great time. Pat has been worried about how she would do on this challenging road, and it is a serious challenge. Well I can report that she 'Slayed the Dragon' grandly! Same for Andy, he rode it like he owned it.

I was very satisfied with my performance on it as well. It had been six years since I last rode it, and it was cool to prove to myself I can still conquer it.

Next, we made our way to the 60 miles of seemingly endless sweeping curves of the Cherohala Skyway. A must do ride if you are in the area.

Tomorrow we are  hunting waterfalls, then the first leg of the Blue Ridge.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 4

Rain. That's how we started the day, we were on the waterfall ride so I guess rain was inevitable. We stopped at 'Loafer's Glory' talking to a local about rides and good places to eat. I found 2 favorites at the store, home made Pork Rinds and Fried Pies... Food for the soul.

We hit the recommended City Restaurant, a diner, for breakfast then back on the road.

Next up, a little detour due to road work heading to the first waterfall. The detour was just as challenging as the Dragon, but in the rain, fog and with more 4 wheeled traffic. Quite a ride…Pat was great leading on that road, I’m impressed with her riding skills! Well we did eventually find a couple of waterfalls. See the pics post for those.
Next we rode over to Cherokee, NC, and did a little browsing and gift buyng in the Native American craft stores, and it was a nice change from ridding in the rain.
Then we took off for the first leg of the Blue Ridge.  Did bout an hour of riding and stopping at overlooks.  Took lots of pics at Waterocks Knob, at over 5000 ft, with clouds rolling in, up and over the mountain.  Then  down to Sylva, NC for the night. Found a great court house across from the motel.  Dinner at Lulu’s on Main, and now for some well deserved rest.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 5
We started the day in Sylva, NC, with breakfast in a nice little diner, after a significant thunder storm during the night, leaving lots of fog.
Next, back to the Blue Ridge where we exited the day before. We rode, stopped at overlooks and admired the wondrous views and took lots of pics.
I tried taking more photos while riding and managed to get some good shots. Somewhere even as we rode through the many tunnels along the way. See the pics post for a couple of those.
We chatted with various riders we met at the overlooks. We heard about a rider from Norway, and when we stopped at Graveyard Fields for Pat & Andy to do a short hike to a waterfall the guy arrived. His name is Helge, and he is on his third trip to ride the US. His first trip was in the 60's when he came to the US to buy a Harley because they weren't available in Norway. He said he stayed 7 months riding all over the US. He still has that bike.
Now Helge is riding a pretty new Harley and has been on the road for 3 months but is about to head home and ship his bike back with him.
We said g'bye to Helge and headed north. I tried making a movie of us riding while steering with one hand again. And it looks good on the camera, but I can't get downloaded to the iPad, so that will have to wait until I get home.
We went up Mt. Mitchell, 6684 ft, the highest point east of the Mississippi. Gorgeous views.
We are in Spruce Pine, NC, for the night. Tired, but had a great day.

Blue Ridge Motorcycle Vacation, day 6
We started our day with intentions to have breakfast at Grandfather Mountain, our morning destination. So we took off for the BRP in early morning calm and the coolest temps of the day.
The BRP in early morning with just the sounds of a vtwin engine thumping away, the sun low on the horizon, and the sights & smells of the forest is a very special place.
We stopped at a few overlooks, and chatted with a couple guys headed south that are from upstate NY.
We got to Grandfather Mountain, paid our fee and ascended, and immediately discovered the ride up would be 'interesting'...
We stopped to take some pics at the split rocks... See the photo post. Then we toured the museum which is quite nice, had some chow and took off for the summit.
The road has about 10 switchbacks/hair pin turns that make the Dragon look tame. They are much tighter and much steeper, I'd guess 12-15% grades, and any loss of concentration or throttle control and you are done... or down which is not where you want to be, trust me.
The summit has a great swinging bridge that is 5280 feet ( one mile ) above sea level. Pat was brave and crossed it, but she did stick close to Andy.
We scrambled around the summit rocks, enjoyed the wind and vistas, and took a lot of pics.
Then it was time for the ride down... I'm here to report we all made it up and down unscathed, but our nerves were a bit challenged!
Then we hit the road and put in another hundred miles on the BRP. Along the way I made a video of Pat & Andy riding the Linn Cove Viaduct.
We ended the day at Mabry Mill, walking around the water powered grist mill and other buildings.
We are spending the night in Hillsville, VA.
Tomorrow I head home while Pat & Andy continue up the BRP into their second week of vacation. I wish them safe travels... Ride safe, and keep the rubber side down.

(Here is where I pick up from Dave.)

Could not post day 7 as I had no wifi, or even smartphone hotspot. Tower signal was only 28%:-( Thanks David Headley for posting each day of the trip. After we parted ways with you, we finished the Blue Ridge. Saw some glorious views of Roanoke after we took another road with hairpin turns just for the view. Then we started on Skyline Drive, stopped to see Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's headquarters in Elkton VA. Got off the road for the night. Rained after we were tucked in for the night. Today, not a cloud in the sky. But did I roast. Broke more of my own rules and rode without jacket or gloves. Just to damn hot. But back to the day...we got off Skyline Drive around 11:00 and Lee showed up 45 minutes later. Spent some time swapping stories, although Lee's are more colorful as you can imagine. Then we waved him goodbye and spent the day on the Civil War Trail in Front Royal. Tomorrow we are off to PA to see the 9/11 memorial in Shanksville.

Aug 5th
Today we left Front Royal to make our way to Shanksville. We had a wonderful ride over and stopped at one Civil War memorial and a great farm stand where Andy sampled Cherry Apple Cider and dug into his pocket to buy a 1/2 gallon. When we arrived in Shanksville, with only 3 miles from our destination we decided to stop and eat since it was noon. How fortunate for us. There we met Don and two of his brothers. Don's brother was at home on "that day" and new something was not right with that plane. He watched it go down. For the next hour Don told all his family stories. The brother who witnessed the plane crash has moved to Arizona and only comes for the summer. He will not go back to the old house. He just can't. Also as the town became "locked down" as FBI etc decended on them for the recovery, Don and his daughter just home from high school (around 3:30 that day) saw a large "white plane) fly not more than 1,000 feet over the site. He believes to this day it was the President on Airforce One. When we arrived at the memorial, the skies opened up which seemed fitting; and as we listened to the park ranger and she held up photos of some of the 40 passengers I was glad for the rain running down my face. It's a hard place to visit, but I am glad I did.

Aug 6th
We are off the road a bit later than usual because we tried to pack in a full day. First stop; Williamsport, PA. That is where the Little League stadium is where they play the world series. There is also a museum that was interesting. We even walked the infield. Then we headed to Scranton because I needed to get a stamp at Steamtown National Historic Site. I sure wished Aiden had been with us. He would have LOVED all the trains. We are down for the night at a nice motel on lake Wallenpaupack. That is on route 6 (PA). We have hit the jackpot with nice roads. Yesterday after we left Shanksville, we decided to take a couple of routes that we later found out at our motel was listed in PA as a motorcycle destination. (160 to 53). Eating too much on this vacation too. I also like to try the local bears. We are thinking of the Catskills tomorrow and then home to get ready for Kyla and Aiden. But really, the true measure of when your vacation is coming to an end, is how much cash is left in your wallet. :-)


Made our way along the Catskills today. Stopped at Monticello to watch the horses exercise around the track. Dropped a few bucks in the slots; three total. I'm not much of a gambler. Lost of course. Had ice cream for lunch at a great little place called the Ice Cream Castle. I had Apple Crisp flavor. Yum! Then we found a lighthouse along the Hudson to add to my collection of lighthouse photos. This was in Saugerties NY. We love to stop at road side oddities, some I didn't photograph. Finally as the sun made its way to the western horizon, we finished the day along a lovely stretch of route 20 and dropped off for the night in Lee MA. Had supper at Joe's Diner which had many a famous face framed on the walls. The staff was friendly and I ate meatloaf, which was breaking my no beef/pork rule. But it was darn tasty. Heading to the Henderson Homestead tomorrow. Back to carrot juice, sprouts and oatmeal. I'll post a few photos I collected from today.

Aug 8th

We arrived home on Wednesday, after a pleasant ride along familiar back roads. No hurry this day. Just an easy relaxed ride home.  The reflection starts and the fond memories of spending time on two wheels. It will be nice to have a few days without any agenda before I get back to the rat race next week.

Be sure to see all the photos in the previous post.
Thank you to David K Headley for taking time each evening to chonicle our trip.

Next up, a little detour due to road work heading to the first waterfall. The detour was just as challenging as the Dragon, but in the rain, fog and with more 4 wheeled traffic. Quite a ride... Pat was great leading on that road, I'm impressed with her riding skills!

Well we did eventually find a couple waterfalls. See the pics post for those.

Next we rode over to Cherokee, NC, and did a little browsing and gift buying in the Native American craft stores, and it was a nice change from ridding in the rain.

Then we took off for the first leg of the Blue Ridge. Did bout an hour of riding and stopping at overlooks. Took lots of pics at Waterocks Knob, at over 5000 ft, with clouds rolling in, up and over the mountain. Then down to Sylva, NC for the night. Found a great court house across from the motel.

Dinner at Lulu's on Main, and now for some well deserved rest.

Blue Ridge and Beyond

Click here to view these pictures larger

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. "
(A. Lincoln)     

Our days have been quietly marching by; not unnoticed, or ignored, rather viewed from new perspectives. Since our ride with Lee to Connecticut in May, not much group riding has been on our agenda. A trip to Laconia and a hop out to Vermont for ribs with Dave were the only other social activity beside family commitments that we engaged in. Mostly Andy and I have been taking quiet rides, enjoying the solitude. Vermont, Massachusetts and the mountains of New Hampshire have all been our destinations. My mind has been in a more reflective mood as of late. My audio book listening while I commute is lending itself to this state of mind.

                Yesterday, we shook off the bikes for the Lee’s Benz and headed to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut to check out car racing to see what all the fuss is about with respect to race cars. The company I work for, which races a Corvette, was scheduled to participate at Lime Rock. I managed to get my hands on 4 tickets and off we went.  Most of our time was spent in quiet appreciation for each other’s presence, with only a few hours at the race track. I enjoyed seeing the Compuware Corvette in action.

                The day wasn’t without its challenges. An hour into our trip to Connecticut, I realized the tickets were sitting on the kitchen table. Yet with the help of Eckhart Tolle, whose audio book I have just finished, my response was not the meltdown I typically fall prey too. My anxiety ridden self is slowing transforming to better ways to handle challenges.  Tolle has to be one of the most influential and enlighten individuals of our modern times. I feel privileged to have been helped by listening to him.
                I am looking forward to our trip to the Blue Ridge in a few weeks. Yes, I still have anxiety, especially when contemplating traversing the Tail of the Dragon. Those who ride with me know I’m no peg scraper, yet I feel confident that I can master all 318 curves in those 11 miles taking them one at a time. We are all capable of doing what we need to do in any given moment. So I won’t dwell on the 318, but on each one individually as it presents itself.  I will also enjoy the week with Dave that he can spend with us.  Should Lee find a way to connect with us in the second week; well that will just be icing on the cake.
                For now, I will continue planning our trip. I’m working on the GPS files I will need. One for getting to the start, The Tail of the Dragon, Cherohala Skyway, Diamondback and the Blue Ridge Parkway itself. I’ll plug in Dave’s contributions from his trip a few years ago of exits with gas stations, and restrooms. With help from the POI factory for a few other points of interest the planning is often almost as much fun as the doing. Yet nothing is as enjoyable as sharing experiences with those whose company you enjoy the most. That is what I am looking forward to the most.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blaze Set Free

Cars, trains, ships and planes, all have been our vehicles of transport as of late. The planes were to and from the west coast, a rental car, the Midway (aircraft carrier) and the train ride around Safari Park. We saw family, tourist sites, mastodon bones, signs warning of rattle snakes and mountain lions. Yet, when Lee said “let’s go to Connecticut this weekend” he was talking about getting there by motorcycle. No other mode of travel ever sounded so enticing.

Andy and I were itching to get on two wheels again, so neither of us needed convincing. When I slid the doors open to let Blaze free, she looked so forlorn; her fenders dusty, the seat cold. It had been a while since she’d escaped the confines of the stall. I am often struck by how motorcycles “feel” to me. Jade always felt like a young untamed colt; alert, ready for anything. Blaze is more stoic; seasoned, patient and always compliant no matter the situation. I tenderly brushed her clean of dust and pollen, spritzed the windshield to removed the dead bugs, and off we went.

Last year, EasyEd had taken us on some fine Connecticut roads, and we wanted to revisit a few of them. Connecticut is one beautiful state. Andy leads us on a hightail out of New Hampshire until we exited to route 44. Lee took over the lead at that point and we lunched at the Vanilla Bean. After a great lunch, a stop at the Gillette Castle was in order with the obligatory ferry ride across the Connecticut River. From there we meandered our way to the coast, enjoyed the smell of the ocean, and a glimpse of a lighthouse from our saddles. We retreated to our respective rooms to refresh and then headed out for an evening meal, this time with Debra for a foursome and enjoyed our meal, at Saigon City, despite the establishment’s chaos and confusion. Deb having taking the brunt of being delivered a drink she didn’t order, and her meal requests ignored. I ended up enjoying rice instead of the rice noodle clearly labeled on the menu.

The next morning, with Deb back off to NH, we mounted our steeds and headed off to see if we could get closer to that lighthouse. No such luck, so Lee pointed us toward the Devil’s Hopyard, where he understood we could enjoy the cool spray of a waterfall. Once we had enjoyed fully nature’s beauty, I suggested that Lee and Andy might like to glimpse the Frog Bridge. With that Lee pointed us toward Connecticut route 66 and the ride along these roads to our destination were magnificent indeed. While Lee seemed unimpressed with 11 foot frogs sitting sentinel on thread spools, Andy did get a kick out of the sight. With the day marching on, we lunched late and took to the highways once more, opening up the throttle and returning from whence we came. Blaze is tucked back in, feeling better for having kicked up some dust, but by no means satisfied with being confined again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cool New App for Motorcycle Enthusiasts

Lately the itch has set in. I’m antsy, can’t concentrate, and am prone to daydreaming. I can’t point to any one factor for this recent emotional state, but feel it’s a combination of a number of factors. For one, the weather in March for a few weeks seemed more like June, and we got out on the motorcycles and enjoyed being back on the open road. Second, my company recently increased their vacation allocations and I’ve been beside myself with the possibilities this presents me with the added time off I’ll be enjoying this year. Oh the places I’d like to travel; the people I’d like to meet, and the food I’d love to experience across this incredibly diverse continent or ours!

My restlessness had me scouring the web for the ultimate destination. To my great joy and delight, I stumbled upon Motorcycle . I was instantly drawn in. The site is neat and clean, easy to navigate and full of useful information without a lot of fluff. Let’s get to brass tacks, it says to me, you want to ride, we have some great suggestions! It didn’t take me long to sign up as a member to receive the e-newsletter although I could see a ton of other benefits I can take advantage of right there at the website.

When I thought I had just died and gone to heaven, I saw the sidebar add for a mobile web app! Where my eyes deceiving me? Absolutely not! I kept reading. “MotorcycleRoads Mobile web app (AKA MCR Mobile) is more than just a navigation aid; it gives you a ton of travel info you can access on the fly for a flawless, fantastic journey anywhere in America!” The app offers perfectly formatted viewing for your device, has route descriptions, photos, video and supporting facts. The routes are rated for scenery, road quality, and include attractions and amenities. And if that isn’t enough for you, there are links to the local weather forecast and rider comments. Some of these valuable comments provide feedback advice on restaurants, pubs, speed traps and safety hazards.

In addition to the great features I’ve just listed, you can customize with your own “My Roads Wish List” and “Roads I’ve Driven.” You can flag roads that look interesting or exciting to you and add them to your personal list. OK, I was IN. For $2.99 this is a great value! Then I hit a roadblock. The app is currently available only for iPhone or iPod Touch. Shucks! I’m walking around with my Android device. I do like my Android so what to do? Not to worry. They are working on apps for other devices such as Android, Blackberry, iPad and Palm. I signed up at this link so that I can be notified when the app is ready for my device. It was easy!

While I’m waiting for this app to be delivered for my device, I hope a few of you will take advantage of this and let me know how you like it. And by the way, my company is the industry leader in application performance management, and is expert in mobile app devices. So if while you’re using it, you run into any quirks, we can help get them ironed out. I want this app and if you are like me, you want it now and you want it dependable and reliable. After all, we don’t want any complications to come between us and the open road.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Small Victory

On February 28th, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law H.B. 187. The new law prohibits law enforcement agencies from establishing checkpoints where the only vehicles subjected to inspection are motorcycles. I have spoken on the topic before of our personal liberties being chiseled away bit by bit. Imperceptibly, one by one, laws are being enacted that restrict our liberties, so it’s with interest that I read this article recently in the motorcycle news feeds. One by one the ways in which we unwittingly relinquish our freedoms should be enumerated, and awareness raised in the small victories measured against it.

I want to stress here that I am not against pulling people over and ticketing them when clear violations are evident. Cars, trucks and motorcycles should all be in good running order with valid inspection stickers. People should not take to the roads under the influence and put the lives of innocent people at risk. Targeting groups of any kind without cause however, should be guarded against.

The impetus for the measure that introduced the bill in the Virginia house, came after The Arlington County Police Department set up a motorcycle only checkpoint during the Rolling Thunder ride on May 28, 2011. Motorcyclist who participate in this event, ride to Washington DC every year during Memorial Day weekend to bring awareness to prisoner of war/missing in action (POW/MIA) issues. Indeed, it is the very veterans of past wars who are riding so that their fellow servicemen will not be forgotten. Paradoxically the very people who represent freedom preservation are those who are violated against.

I am happy to say that New Hampshire along with one other State, North Carolina, have similar laws on the books. And while the checkpoint was defended as looking for safety violations, the motorcyclist were pulled over in groups and corralled, despite their safety inspection stickers prominently displayed. Communities would be better served if funds were spent on motorcycle rider training and safety along with driver (vehicle operator) awareness programs. Considering that approximately three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most usually a passenger automobile this last seems equally as important as motorcycle training.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

May in March

In all my riding years, we have celebrated kicking off the riding season in March. Typically we are dress in layers, stop often to stamp our feet or to hold our numb fingers just above the exhaust pipes. So when the weather forecast predicted unseasonably warm weather, we were excited to head out on Sunday with our friends Dave and Lee.

When we started to get ready for the ride it was not yet 40 degrees. That of course is perfectly fine. It is March after all. I put my long Kevlar undies on under my jeans, wore the hot chili socks, and layered the top with a thermal undies shirt, long sleeved tee and sweater topped with the riding jacket. Our plan was to ride to the coast and I predicted a stiff sea breeze for which I was ready. Who would have thought it would reach 80 degrees that day!

We headed out toward Hampton via the secondary roads. It was pleasant but odd at the same time. Typically on these byways you can get a scenic glimpse now and then through a break in the tree line. Yet, because it is March, there is no foliage yet, and we had views one doesn’t usually see from a motorcycle along this route. As we approached Hampton, it was clear that we were not the only ones  thinking of the beach. In the distance we could already see the kites skipping along the horizon, straining to be free of their tethers.


The temperatures quickly climbed, and we started to shed our layers once at the beach. We enjoyed a stroll, people watching and kite admiration until our hunger pushed us on to find a place to eat. We headed north along the coast yet at any place that was open this early in the season, the line of people stretched out the door and down the walk, so we pushed on to Portsmouth.

By the time we arrived in Portsmouth, I was becoming drenched and needed Andy’s assistance to remove the thermal undershirt without removal of the top layer. It was a class act for sure, and my modesty remained intact. Finding a place to eat here wasn’t easy either, but we found Me and Ollie where they treated us nicely and we were off again.

In Rochester we parted ways with Lee, and Andy Dave and I wiggled the rest of the way home. Of course Andy and I needed an ice cream fix at Hayward’s which hit the spot on this HOT day. The lines here too were long, but not one person was heard grumbling.

This March week has remained exceptionally warm and it begged a late Thursday afternoon ride. So off again we went, just Andy and I, around the area to put in a couple of hours of saddle time. Summer jacket, no layers, and some of the best therapy I’ve had in a very long time.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Social Networking

Dear Diary, I finally made a meeting of the Monadnock Writers Group; first one this season. Enjoyed seeing everyone and listening to co-authors B. Eugene McCarthy and Thomas Doughton speak about their book, From Bondage to Belonging: The Worcester Slave Narratives. The Q&A sessions afterwards is always interesting too, as you get a sense of what others are thinking during the talk by the nature of the questions they ask. As always after one of these meetings, I feel the itch to get in front of my monitor with a blank word doc before me, waiting to transform it into something of my own.

Back in the car I head to Milford from Peterborough. I need to get the car washed. I have a booklet of car washes I got for Christmas. I love keeping my little car clean. I see I’m not alone with the thought of a clean car. There is a line waiting their turn. I have to make a left turn into the lot. The traffic is heavy and I can’t seem to find a break in the flow to get by. Finally, a pick-up truck flashes his lights and waves me through. As I proceed on through, an SUV behind him stamps on the accelerator and jack rabbits around, nearly colliding with me. With hearts pounding we all sit there momentarily then I move on into the lot. The driver of the pick-up is looking at me with concern and relief and patiently waits for me to get by.

I notice a number of motorcycles on the road today. It is such a nice day for February. I turn over in my mind the rest of the day’s plans and wonder if I too can fit in a ride. After my near collision while trying to make a left hand turn, I remember that this is the doom of many motorcyclists too. I have also noticed how much sand is on the roadways, another thing to be concerned with if you are riding this time of year. As I wait in line at the car wash I try to picture in my mind if the driveway was still ice covered when I left home earlier.

I stop at the market to stock up for tonight’s movie.  An old woman, bent at the waist and hanging on to her basket for dear life, asks me to reach a canned good on a top shelf. She thinks it wonderful to be tall. I smile. I don’t feel exceptionally tall, but I suppose if the average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall, then I guess 5 feet 7 inches would be considered tall.

On the way home, the car in front of me is stopping at every intersecting road to let someone out of a side street. I’m annoyed at first. This is the main drag after all, and no one usually stops to let people out at the side streets. I think of my near miss earlier, and I let my boil calm to a simmer. Then I start cracking up, laughing out loud all by myself in the car. I’m laughing because I remember a friend being in a sour mood, and me giving him some advice to feel better. I had instructed him to do a deliberate act of kindness sure to make he feel much better afterward. Well, he had to stop by Costco and decided to try this with five people. Yet, Costco was unusually empty that night, and he could not find ONE PERSON to do a random act of kindness and left in a mood fouler than when he arrived. Maybe this guy in front of me couldn’t find five people at Costco either! I patiently sit and smile to myself as we continue along, letting people into traffic, one deliberate act of kindness at a time.

I take a walk in the neighborhood along the quiet country lanes, greeting the few people I meet along the way. I rejoice at the sight of the taps in the trees heralding spring and the maple sugaring season. In the evening, we enjoy a movie at home with friends. Good wine, great conversation and a sense that all is right with the world. So ends my own version of a great social networking day.