Friday, June 21, 2013

Fishkill NY and the Catskills

I had an opportunity to spend some time with the New England Riders in Dutchess Country New York, riding the Catskill Mountains. It was a fantastic weekend of camaraderie and motorcycle riding.  I came away with many fond memories of the twists and turns, the unexpected vistas, waterfalls and lots of animal sightings; both dead and alive. One of the favorite roads that the group I rode with came to loving call “the goat trail” came to feel like a dodge ball game. This typically quiet road was like grand central station. By the time we came to travel this stretch, there were a couple of races heading up the hill as we were right then traveling down.  On this very steep grade, there were bicyclists, and joggers heading up. The bicyclists trying to manage the hill were weaving from one side to the next, with the motorcycles trying to avoid them, while also avoiding the joggers on the berm. As we were finally clearing through the crowd, we witnessed an old woman standing at the end of her drive giving us all a thumbs down. It was funny and scary all at the same time. And the sad part is, I have not ONE photo to show for it. 

                Back in 2008 when we were planning our trip to Colorado, Utah and Arizona, I practiced snapping photos on the fly with my point and shoot. This involved wearing the camera around my neck on a lanyard, lifting it up with one hand, finding the on/off switch with gloved hand, snapping the photo and then turning the camera back off and letting it drop to my chest. I got quite good at it, but the camera suffered; especially from grit in the lens. I’ve had it repaired a few times and have been thinking of another camera. Yet, I didn’t want to pay big bucks just to ruin another camera lens on its first trip. Then when I missed all the action in photo and video on the goat trail, along with the scenic views I knew I needed more than a point and shoot.
                This summer, we are planning a two week adventure in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In the planning of this trip I am stumbling upon some great photos of the area. There is no way I’m going to miss anymore great photos so I’m on the hunt for a decent affordable helmet cam. While GoPro has a great reputation I’m not sure I want a box on my head. I’ve checked the others too, but the prices have me hesitant.  I think I’ve found the solution for my first adventure with helmet cams; the new Panasonic XS80. It has just enough features to make me happy, and the price is just under $200. In the meantime you’ll have to take my word for how beautiful the Catskills are, or take the trip yourself.
As an aside, I would encourage all of you to visit the New England Rider website. Use this link;; to download some of the best roads in New England and parts of New York. Much work has been done in developing and posting these routes so if you’re planning a trip to the area your work is half done for you. The New England Riders also post photos from these rides so you can see some of the great places you could be visiting for yourself. Which brings me back to my first rant of needing a new camera.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Motorcycle Touring Community

             This year I celebrate 6 years of blogging about motorcycle adventures.  It has been a journey of discovery, adventure and passion. At times it’s been my therapy, soapbox and vehicle for looking at life and understanding its mysteries.  I have had many memorable journeys I’ve posted about, from photos of breathtaking vistas, to meeting great people like Don, who shared his family’s story of 9/11 in Shanksville Pennsylvania. I’ve said goodbye to special people like Bill, who’s riding adventures were cut short by cancer. And I’ve come to know and appreciate more deeply the people I call “friend” when we have traveled together.

               Worry not, this is not goodbye. I will continue to blog about motorcycling, and the observations of life it produces. Blogging fulfills my passion for writing. Yet while I love to express myself here, it is mostly a one way conversation.  There is so much for us to share; from great places to visit, gear that works and doesn’t, mobile apps that are great for the road and helpful tips that are useful to know. When I have a new destination in mind, I want to talk with you about it. I have questions I want to ask you.
               In planning my new adventure on two wheels, I opened the search engine and started browsing. Page after page I scrolled through bits of information. As the time ticked on, and time as we know is so precious, I bemoaned the fact that the tips and tidbits were so scattered. That is when the light bulb started to flicker, and the Motorcycle Touring Community on Facebook idea was born. What’s different about this community? It is your community. A community that is not region specific, focuses on the enjoyment of long distance touring, that is interactive, and whose members can share destinations, photos, ideas, helpful tips, cautions and any tidbit that improves our next adventure.  Best of, we can ask each other questions.
               I hope you will join me in the debut of the Motorcycle Touring Community page on Facebook. Like us. Share us. Post photos of your favorite spot on the globe. Tell us what you like. Tell us what you don’t like. Most of all let’s get to know each other better and get the two way conversation started until KSU!