Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smoke Chasing

We riders don’t need excuses to get on the motorcycle when a beautiful day presents itself. However, we seem to have to explain why we aren’t home, where we are going, and when we will be back. Yet, people who take off for the beach on a gorgeous day don’t seem to have to explain why they are throwing off responsibility in the same way we do. The difference between beach lovers, and motorcyclists is that beach lovers are not always looking for a new beach. Riders on the other hand are always looking for new roads and places to visit. So when I read on the NER forum than one of the guys had signed up for the Smoke Chasing Grand Tour, my mind started working overtime.

The Smoke Chasing Grand Tour is a self-paced challenge to visit 20 BBQ joints during a specific time frame. There are a few rules of course, a fee which supports a charity, and a few prizes which are more for bragging rights than value. To make things interesting a few side challenges are tossed in for extra fun. When I signed up I discovered that only 20% are ladies, only ¼ of those ladies are solo riders and the rest are 2-up.

When my mind started working overtime, here are a few of the things I thought about.
1. I have a sense the summer will be crazy with no time for a more detailed trip.
2. Last season we were scratching our heads about where to head off to at the spur of the moment.
3. My pal Dave is a rib loving fan and we don’t get to drag him off riding as much as we’d like. I thought I’d dangle this carrot of him.

I checked in with Dave and he was onboard and willing to take photos too! While investigating more, the forum offered up a great link to all the BBQ joints in NH and in 7 surrounding states! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I started reading that list in amazement at the BBQ places in New Hampshire alone. My stomach started rumbling and I thought about Curtis’ in Putney Vermont, one of Dave’s favorite places. When Curtis’ came to mind, it had me looking down the list for seasonal places that cook outside like they do. What do you know! There are several. I’m flagging these to create routes we can take to visit them.

While my stomach was rumbling thinking or ribs, I get an email from Dave. It appears his stomach must be doing the same and he suggests a rib run to KC’s in Manchester NH to get us in the mood. On Saturday Dave picks us up and we head over to KC’s. The food is finger licking good and the photo opportunities abound. When I saw the shovel appear, I knew this Smoke Chasing Grand Tour Challenge is going to be fun. I can’t wait to see how each of these places makes themselves unique.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Passion is Ageless

I’m sitting comfortably on a sofa at the dealership, typing away on my iPad, while my car is being serviced, when a young man approaches me and asks;

“Does that thing work?”

“The iPad?”

“No, the keyboard. Cuz I’ve read some reviews that were not that favorable.”

“It works great!” I tell him.

I continue on telling him that I use it all the time because I write.

“In fact, I’m working right now writing my next article. I’m a contributor for a public website. “

“What do you write about?” he asks.


There is a moments silence and he blinks a couple of times.

“Really?” he asks.

“Really.” I say.

Then the usual questions about what I ride, and where I ride. In mid-sentence he holds up a finger in a “wait a minute” gesture and disappears into an office. He reappears a moment later and holds out for me a color snapshot, edges cured, of a vintage Triumph. We start talking bikes and the both of us are really enjoying ourselves.

“I had an unusual upbringing,” he tells me.

“I think most kids would say that.”

“No really, my Dad is a bit different.”

“Again, I think most kids would say that.”

“Do you know Sammy Hagar?” he asks.

“I’m not too sure,” I say.

“He was lead vocalist for Van Halen before he went off on his own. My Dad is a musician and played back up for Sammy. I grew up a roadie. My Dad’s passion is vintage bikes. Indians, the real ones, Panheads and Triumphs.”

He spent his youth restoring bikes with his Dad. His favorites are Triumphs. We’re really enjoying our conversation, swapping tales of motorcycling. His description of his Dad has me telling him that he sounds like all my classmates. This has us looking at each other suspiciously. It turns out his Dad is only a couple years older than me, and he himself is 30 years old. There’s a pause in our conversation.

“Please don’t be offended,” he says. “But…”

“I’m old enough to be your mother?”

His cheeks turn a bit pink. He shrugs an acknowledgement.

“Yes, but we’re talking bikes, and you get it!” he says.

I do indeed get it.

Note: Next time you’re at MacMulkin in Nashua, be sure to look for Doug Wiltz. He’ll want to sell you a car, but I know his love is motorcycling. Tell him I say hello.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Taking the Edge of the Winter Doldrums

The Early Days

For a lot of motorcyclist this time of year is tough. Many suffer from PMS. That would be Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. Some try to relieve the symptoms by visiting a motorcycle trade show in the area. There are even those who travel out of state to attend a show and pay big bucks for fancy hotels just for the pleasure of sniffing leather and wearing shades to cut the glare from all the gleaming new motorcycles on display. They run their hands along the smooth tanks and fenders, gawk at chrome covered accessories and trash talk with each other about some ride they mastered on the twisties.

I have to admit, I do like a good trade show and I had planned to visit one this weekend. To my dismay, my husband flipped the calendar to February and I realized that I lost a week someplace and missed the show. I’ve been cruising the internet for more shows, and discovered one in our area come March. I’ve marked the calendar, and since it’s near my birthday, I’m likely not to forget what week we’re in when the time draws near.

My PMS hasn’t been too bad this winter though as I’ve been reliving rides from years past. As I scroll through the photos and remember each ride, I almost feel the warmth of the sun on my back despite the cold snap outside. Why am I reliving the past this way? It’s all for my new writing gig with CuratorPR. As one of Curator’s content contributors I get to write about what I love most, motorcycling. Talk about the best job in the world! The site is due to go live soon and I’m waiting anxiously to see my blog posts on-line.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying all the photos again. Mountain vistas, waterfalls, covered bridges, rivers, ferries, lakes and ponds; ribs, diners, pork rinds, grits, burgers; faces, friends; all of these trigger senses that contribute to great memories. I’m dreaming of my next new destination. Each time we set out on the bikes, we discover another treasure in our own backyard.

I’ll keep writing to fend of PMS. I don’t care what prediction the groundhog has for us. For me, spring is never so far off I can’t dream. The map’s up on the screen, the rally brochures fanned out, a few touring magazines litter the floor and the cold snap can’t last forever.