Our despicable Governor of Virginia has joined with the leaders of Maryland and the District of Columbia to issue a "stay at home" executive order. We're not supposed to leave our homes except for certain defined reasons (buying food, medical care, etc.). It's a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. But the Governor said that he wasn't looking to jail anyone.
So can I joy ride my motorcycle? The executive order language is, "Individuals may leave
their residences for the purpose of ... e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements." That's a "yes." But I suppose, as in all things dealing with the law, this is dependent upon the mood of the policeman pulling me over.
It being such a nice day yesterday I talked my wife into a nice ride through the woods in and around Clifton, Virginia for about an hour. We looked at the big, expensive houses on five acre lots. The one I liked best was $1.78 million according to Zillow.
30 March 2020
On Friday I took a short ride on the Harley to visit the Winchester Harley-Davidson dealership. I've never been there before. (VIDEO. That spoken intro is really doddering. I was doing some creative mental work while talking: I came up with the phrase "King and the Road King" on the spot to describe Tom King and I. I'm really not turning into Joe Biden, I promise.)
I learned that the entire length of Route 50 from Aldie to Upperville was one big running cavalry action during the Civil War. Since getting into the saddle I've discovered all sorts of minor Civil War actions and sites. I was only really acquainted with the big ones before. Route 50 from Aldie to Upperville is very picturesque. When the weather gets warmer I need to plunk my wife down on the Harley and spend a Saturday out there.
27 March 2020
It being a sunny day I took a little ride into Clifton (VA) yesterday and encountered this Austin-Healey Sprite. My friend Bob who likes old British sports cars tells me that it's a Sprite Sebring - very rare. Only six of them made that year. I think it's a really pretty car. No way on earth I'd ever be able to fit into it. I saw a cool little sports car like that parked near the Golden Mall in Burbank when I was fifteen or so. I think it was an MG. The owner showed up and invited me to sit in it. I couldn't even fit into one of those at age fifteen! What a tragedy for a guy who likes everything British.
Speaking of small, under-powered British sports cars I am now writing an article for a future HOGs newsletter (I'm stockpiling articles so future deadlines aren't a problem) based on a sentiment I saw as a comment in a Harley-Davidson YouTube video: "It's more fun to ride slow bikes fast than it is to ride fast bikes fast." I think I know what he means. At any rate, even if I don't I'm getting an article out of it.
Friday. Yes, ride today, probably with my friend Tom. I don't know where we're going to yet. The guy in my neighborhood who rides a loud orange Ultra Limited CVO may be coming along as well. Or not. It's up in the air right now. Perhaps I'll bring the GoPro and do a video which you will get to see on Monday.
26 March 2020
Yesterday I sent in the completed April HOGs newsletter; it'll be made available to the membership early next weekend, I'm guessing.
I finished another article for a future HOGs newsletter yesterday; I'll let you see it before the HOGs see it: Your Moto-Astrological Guide. (I'm proud of the astrological Harley graphics.) I see that I misspelled Erik Estrada's name. I'll fix that when I actually run the article later this year. It's a reworking of a similar article I wrote in 2000 for a rugby website, which is based on an idea I swiped from somewhere else and adapted c. 1989 for my Civil War reenacting website JonahWorld! Hahahaha! As I go through life picking up hobbies I keep adapting this idea...
23 March 2020
Afterwards my riding friend Tom and I met and took a ride out to Front Royal to look for toilet paper. The only TP to be had was with one opportunistic little grocery store in Marshall who was selling an oddball brand of some environmentally-friendly brand for $2 each. I declined, thinking that if it was available in Marshall it should also be further out in Front Royal. Nope. But it was a pleasant ride as the temps were in the high 70s/low 80s.
19 March 2020
I've been creating new articles for the HOGs newsletter and doing front covers for same. I'm all the way into June 2021, Hahahahaha! Well - I find it relaxing.
17 March 2020
Arrrrggghhh! No HOGs rides until at least the 13th of April! The culprit? You guessed it: Coronavirus.
16 March 2020
I liked the ride on the Road Glide Ultra with the hotter 114 cid engine. Stock exhaust, so it had that sewing machine note I think is way wrong for a Harley. This time I also blasted the radio. I must have been the only guy on a Harley to ever play the classic music station on the bike. With earplugs and a full faced helmet I can still hear the stereo, but I'm wondering what's the point? It seems to me that if you have to listen to music on a motorcycle the only way to really do it is via earplugs and an iPod. I may try that for some ride some day, but as it stands now I like the no-distractions aspect of motorcycle riding.
As is the case nowadays, I fretted not about the greater weight of the Road Glide Ultra. After riding my big, heavy old Road King for more than a year I'm used to a heavy, big-frame bike. I prefer it, in fact. As is also almost always the case, the comparative weight of the bike disappeared when I got it to speed. Modern heavy bikes feel and ride a lot more nimble than they feel in parking lots. What's more, I think I'd look a bit silly on a small bike.
On Saturday I tried to do yard sales, but there were none. Coronavirus impact again, I wonder? Instead, I bought a plate of steel and fabricated a mounting bracket for my McGregor, Minnesota digital thermometer. (As I did this I felt the approval of the Motorcycle Gods looking down upon me.) This is a much more secure and better-looking mount than stuck upon my rear view mirror or double stick-taped to my brake fluid reservoir. I don't care about hearing music on a ride, but I do like to know the temperature!
The April HOGs newsletter is about 80% finished. Last night my graphic arts-trained son came by and improved the front cover. These are really coming along quite nicely.
13 March 2020
Hahahaha! I rule! So... I edit the HOGs newsletters using MS-Publisher 2003, which version will not take a .pub file and save it as a .pdf file. What I had to do as a workaround was go to a somewhat dodgy limited use website and create my .pdfs that way. Not good. So I obtained an installation disk for MS-Publisher 2010, which will natively save a .pub into the needed .pdf. Hooray! Except that every time I attempted to install it I got an Error 1311 (missing PA561401.CAB file). I supplied the correct .CAB file, but that didn't work. After dorking around with various suggested remedies (including snooping around in the Registry, which is always complex and chancy) I finally tried just installing MS-Publisher and nothing else. Bingo! That did it. I rule! (Sometimes, prevailing against a computer is a simply matter of refusing to give up.)
It's supposed to be warm and nice today and the roads are drying out from the rainstorms that passed through the region in the early morning. Motorcycle ride! But to where? I don't know. I do know, however, that I have to be in Fairfax for a sinus CT-Scan at 3:30.
11 March 2020
An email went out to the HOGs officers last night, asking if we should cancel tonight's membership meeting. The answer was "Hell no," so meet we will. I suspect that the usual hugging and handshaking will be curtailed somewhat, however. Do you suppose that there are staffers at Patriot Harley-Davidson wiping down bikes with disinfectant wipes?
10 March 2020
The weather yesterday was a-maze-ing. 73 degrees and sunny. So yes, I did take a little motorcycle ride. Very pleasant. No windshield. I love riding my Road King without the windshield.
9 March 2020
I took a ride on Saturday to Front Royal to further explore the place as a retirement home. (VIDEO.) The more I travel out that way the more I like the place. Nice library, too. (Libraries are important in my life.) This time I did a quick stop with a Realtor, got a couple of leads on developments 5 and 9 miles outside of town along route 340 and took a look. As it was a nice, sunny day it was fun.
Sunday was church and yet another ride - this was a simple one to Quantico, up Joplin Road, up Bristow Road, though Manassas and home again. Sunnier and warmer. Spring is here! I found a new area just outside of downtown Manassas that has new homes: 3 bedroom, 2 bath townhomes with two car garages in the mid 400's. BUT. I asked how much the tax was on these and the salesguy replied about $6,000/year - which is about as high as Fairfax County taxes. Add in the homeowner's fee and the place doesn't look very appealing.
I also rode to and looked around at the Manassas airport. Never been there.
Since I've started riding a motorcycle I've found a ton of Civil War sites and little battlefields that I never knew about...
6 March 2020
Bleah! Cold, cloudy day with a probability of rain. So no motorcycle ride.
4 March 2020
A bracing ride into work this morning, 47 degrees, no windshield, dry roads and a rosy sunrise to the east. That goes away next week, however, as we get more daylight on the other end of the day and it's back to riding into work in the dark. I'll take it.
3 March 2020
Wow... I was so taken up by composing stuff for the HOGs newsletter I forgot to write this blog update! I attended a HOGs officers meeting last night and made some notes for stuff I thought of to write. So it was off to the races with that. The last newsletter was well-received. Those guys ain't seen nuthin' yet.
So, rides. It being a nice sunny day yesterday I did a ride to Manassas, up Sudley Road, down Waterfall and Hopewell Roads and turned right at The Plains and rode 8 miles to visit Middleburg. Lots of motorcycles in town yesterday. I came back home by way of Manassas and I-66. It was a very scenic Virginia countryside ride on a beautiful day. (VIDEO.)
28 February 2020
My poor wife was feeling sick today and took the day off. If you know her and her work ethic, you'd understand that this takes a lot. She must be very sick indeed. This being the case, how could I possibly hop onto the Harley, be out all day, and return at 4 PM or so? So I didn't do that. Instead, I did some necessary errands (important tax-related mailing, shirts to the dry cleaners, get cash, drop off stuff at son's house) and mostly stayed indoors.
I did do a 2 1/2 hour ride with her acceptance, however. I rode over the Harley dealership in Fairfax and interviewed a couple of staffers for a "Know Your Patriot Harley-Davidson Staffer" article I do for the HOGs newsletter. There were very light snow flurries! That was weird.
Speaking of which, I sent out the March Stars and Pipes issue today to great acclaim. Back when I was doing Civil War reenactments with the 3rd Maryland I was the newsletter editor from 1988 to 1990. In those three years I raised the day-to-day, be-here-on-this-day-at-this-hour-here-are-the-directions format of unit newsletters into something like an art form. Reenactors in other units all up and down the east coast wanted copies. We all have a certain, God-given ability; mine is producing interesting newsletters. (And websites. When I played rugby I used to do the club's site at rugbyfootball.com - this got great acclaim, too.) So I'm doing that sort of thing now for the Harley-Davidson crowd in my HOGs chapter. By the end of the year they will be astounded.
27 February 2020
A nice ride into work this morning; it was a balmy 40 degrees with a light breeze. At one point I sat at a light and watched part of the sky beginning to turn pink and red, and saw some planet in the sky. It was a cool moment. The days are getting longer!
26 February 2020
I'm still piling up a backlog of covers, articles and filler material for the next nine 2020 HOGs newsletters; yesterday I wrote a review of Harley and the Davidsons (2016). Producing an interesting, readable newsletter isn't hard. You just need to keep your mind open as to ideas for material and make sure that there's a personality or some human interest behind every article or filler piece. Actually, when it comes to newsletters, the baseline is so low that you just have to make some kind of an effort! How many times have we opened a newsletter that was page after page of really dull, dry informational stuff?
I'm going to think aloud, here: So what sort of stuff provides some sparkle to a newsletter sent to Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts?
- Articles about Harley-Davidson history
- Articles about the motorcycle culture or Harley culture
- Riders profiles featuring the members of the club
- Profiles about the staff working at the chartering dealership
- Ads and announcements from the chartering dealership
- Book, film and television reviews
- Articles about the various Harley-Davidson bikes and motorcycle engines
- Articles about cool old photographs or Harley advertisements
- How-to's about maintenance
- Articles about safety
- Gear and equipment reviews
- Links to especially good YouTube videos (with reviews and comments)
- Write-ups about especially good or significant rides
- Pages featuring interesting recent photographs (we have two photographers)
- Articles about interesting local places to ride to
- Re-running old writing or articles that still have interest and relevance
- Pieces about interesting motorcycle quotes or humor
I'm sure I can think of more, but this is a great start. It also takes some literary confidence: I've done this sort of thing with Civil War reenacting-related unit newsletters and a rugby website. I like to claim that I rarely, if ever, have writer's block and am always in need of some creative outlet.
An important aspect is also making the membership feel enthusiastic about the publication so that when I hit up people for articles and contributions I get more material. There are always X number of people in any organization who like to write and see their names in publications. It just takes finding them.
All this being the case, bring on the monthly HOGs newsletter deadlines!
25 February 2020
I spent some more time building up a library of Harley-Davidson-related articles for future HOGs newsletters. Yesterday I wrote one about Harley-Davidson perfumes, hahahaha!
24 February 2020
I'm sure the Kennedy Center performances on Friday were great, but I didn't go to them. I didn't even take a motorcycle ride! It was cold and gray, and I did other things instead. I bought an air cleaner for the Harley at the Harley dealership - I installed it when I got home, it was easy - and had a most interesting conversation with a young manager there about colorblindness.
20 February 2020
Last night I attended a HOGs meeting at the local Harley dealership. When it came my turn to speak - I'm one of the officers - I piped in from the seat of a Road Glide (I don't like sitting in the folding chairs), "Gimme articles!" Somebody asked, "What's the deadline?" I replied, "No deadlines. I work fast. Get it to me when you can and I'll put it in!" I have the March newsletter 90% done; in fact, I'm working on stuff for the April one. My plan is to develop material well in advance so putting these things together isn't such a last minute writing/editing chore.
18 February 2020
Yesterday was fun. The weather being sunny and warmish (50s and into the 60s) I got out on the Harley with a friend, who rode his Ultra Classic. (Video) We rode through a place I have never been before, Remington, VA - known previously as Rappahannock Station. There were two minor Civil War battles fought near there: the First Battle of Rapphannock Station (1862) and the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station. The Second Battle was a notable victory for the Union, the first instance in which Union troops had carried a strongly entrenched Confederate position in the first assault. (The Union Army learned again and again that assaulting strongly entrenched Confederates led to nothing but a lot of graves having to be being dug afterwards.) It was very pleasant being out.
James May rides a hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric bike. I like his comment, "Motorcyclists are pack animals and require a leader." I'm going to use that one in the next HOGs newsletter...
17 February 2020
Some time was spent this past weekend on coming up with material for HOGs newsletters. Right now this isn't difficult. I find an old photo of a Harley or people around a Harley and we're off to the races with commentary. The photo of the H. Addison Bowie dealership in Washington, D.C. in the 1920s is a good start, for instance. All sorts of interesting detail in that.
Today I'm taking a motorcycle ride with a friend from work. I don't know where we're headed. But first I have to do some blood work at my doctor's.
12 February 2020
Good grief. It just dawned on me that the President's Day weekend is coming up. I get Monday off. But first there's St. Valentine's Day on Friday. I already bought my wife a gift: we did a gift-wrapping thing at Patriot Harley-Davidson on Saturday, and, digging through the sale items, she found a great pair of motorcycle boots that fit on sale for $55, down from over $200. I urged her to buy those and she did. So now she has a good quality H-D leather jacket she got for free from our daughter and a terrific pair of sturdy boots. Now all we need is good riding weather.
Friday's ride was rather short because of wariness about standing water and tree debris on the roads; we had a blast of severe weather that morning. Nevertheless, conditions were safe enough for me to eat lunch in Clifton and take a short ride to nowhere in particular, just following roads to see where they led.
I also changed out the spark plugs in the Harley. Wow, what a difference! Acceleration is much more zippy now. The change-out was easy to do; I think I'm going to change the plugs every 15,000 miles from now on. (The Harley recommended interval is 30,000 miles, but it's easy and inexpensive to do.)
7 February 2020
Rain, rain, rain - and wind. In fact, we had a mighty blow this morning. So it doesn't look like I'll be doing any motorcycle rides today, does it? But after Noon it's supposed to stop raining and simply turn partially cloudy, so perhaps I'll get one of my short "Better than Nothing" rides in. Maybe I should use the day to put new spark plugs in the Harley...
I finished One Up, Four Down, the personal narrative about motorcycles by a Welshman living nearby in Fairfax. I wrote a book review of it for my next HOGs newsletter. I enjoyed this novel (despite the fact that this fellow owned only one Harley).
5 February 2020
I did an oil and filter change on my Harley yesterday. Every 5,000 miles. It went well; garage floor oil spillage was kept to an absolute minimum by my trick of putting a cardboard trough under the filter while I'm removing it. Next: spark plugs - but I need to buy them first. I think I'll get NGK Iridium IX's. When I changed the plugs on my Suzuki Boulevard I noticed an instant improvement in get-up-and-go. I expect it'll be the same with the Harley.
On Friday I took a ride on my Harley on a gray and cold day. The temps stayed about 42/43 degrees on the road. I started somewhat late and I didn't want to go far... the gloomy clouds just took my mood for it away. What's more, I was making all sorts of little motorcycle mistakes: When I came to a stop a couple of times I was somewhat off-balance so I couldn't stay in place with just my left leg and needed both legs, I once shifted from second to third without using the clutch, I nearly did a lane change into a car (it's a good thing I always turn my head and visually confirm where I'm headed), sometimes my feet in my new boots were a bit clumsy coming off the floorboards, etc. So I decided to call the ride quits after a short trip to The Plains and went home. It was the first ride I've ever done where I didn't feel an attitudinal lift for being on the Harley.
29 January 2020
Nice motorcycle commute into work this morning. As a practical matter, 40 degrees is much warmer than the high 20s!
27 January 2020
On Friday I took a ride on the Harley to go see what Leeds Manor Road was like; it was the result of staring at a Google Maps page and looking to find places and roads I haven't been to yet. I rode it from I-66 to Warrenton. It was a gray and dreary day... when I got to Warrenton it started to drizzle, and by the time I got to Gainesville it was raining lightly. Ugh! That and temps in the 40s is no fun. So I headed home. But I took a VIDEO. As it turned out, Hume, Virginia, which I rode through, has a few interesting historical features.
Weekend recap: On Friday I didn't take a motorcycle ride. It was too cold and I didn't feel up to it at all. I read and did errands instead. The following day, Saturday, it snowed just under an inch. I had a HOGs calendar planning meeting I attended. On Sunday I took a short, cold bike ride to Clifton and back. I should have worn my heated gloves.
17 January 2020
Brrrrr. It was 31 degrees outside when I woke up and it's only supposed to be about 38 degrees today. Sunny - which helps. But I like it to be at least in the 40s if I'm going to spend the entire day out on a bike. I'm still getting over a cold I had; I may forgo the usual long Friday motorcycle ride today.
16 January 2020
The ride into work on the Harley yesterday was 47 degrees and drizzly - this morning it was 56 and clear. What a difference nine degrees makes! It was much pleasanter today.
13 January 2020
A very motorcycle weekend! On Friday morning I replaced the heater blend module on Big Red, which required some more contortions under the dash of Big Red. The hot-cold air control works fine now. Then, feeling kind of crummy from a cold, I went back to bed. I was lying there thinking, "This is a Friday. Get out and ride!" So eventually I did. I do tend to feel a lot better when I'm on the bike. I recall rugby practice being like that fifteen years ago or so: You don't want to do it if you don't feel 100% up to it, but once you get out there you're fine.
I took a short ride: up Sudley Road from where it begins in Manassas, past Catharpin, to where it ends 13 miles later at Route 15 at a place called Woolsey. I then tooled around some back roads a bit, saw a couple of Civil War sites I've never seen before and went back home to bed. No video this time.
On Saturday morning I attended the Motorcycle Show in the D.C. Convention Center. It was... good. I met Spurgeon from Revzilla, a YouTube personality. I asked him some questions he didn't expect (I can always do that) about presentation skills, etc. He admitted that he was in theater in high school. I thought something along those lines may have been the case. I'm wondering how many of those YouTube personalities have the usual backgrounds: degrees in broadcast journalism or theater, etc. I suspect the answer is, few.
The motorcycle show could have been and should have been bigger, though. Last year it was in the main hall; this year it was in the basement! I "rode" a stationary Harley Livewire, their new electric bike, and had my questions answered by a Harley rep.
In the evening Cari and I attended the HOGs banquet, which was a lot of fun. This year it was held at a classy locale: the Fairfax Army-Navy Club. I got a number of compliments on my newsletter... the one for March will be better.
Maybe I'll be able to ride today when it warms up a little. Normally I enjoy being out in the cold on a bike (dressed appropriately, of course), but this week I've been draggy getting over some kind of cold. My voice sounds like I'm recovering from laryngitis. Maybe I just need more caffeine. Or perhaps I ought to just go back to bed.
Tomorrow morning I attend the Motorcycle Show in D.C., and in the evening Cari and I attend the HOGs annual banquet. It's a Total Motorcycle Saturday!
9 January 2020
The monthly HOG chapter meeting was last night and I attended to have my picture taken for the display case in Patriot Harley-Davidson. Two years ago if you had told me that my likeness was going to appear in a display case in a Harley dealership I'd have told you that you were nuts.
People seemed to like my first newsletter for the club. I have a bunch of ideas to make it better.
7 January 2020
I also attended a long HOGs officers meeting last night. When I was invited to do the newsletter the commitment was for 11 issues a year. At some point the thinking became to do 4 a year - a quarterly. When it came my time to speak I mentioned that I thought I could deliver enough content to do the eleven I signed up for and that the club had been producing for years. So we're back to eleven issues. By the end of the year I wonder if I'll regret that action...
Nah. It's a personal challenge, obviously, but I'm pretty good at producing content and I think I can come up with a publication that people will find interesting. I have some ideas. (I always have ideas. It's a gift.)
"Ousted Motorcycle Club Member Bought A Fake Hells Angels Patch Online, Uploaded Pic on Facebook To “Scare” His Former Club Buddies!" - I don't really think the phrase "stolen valor" applies here. Reading articles like this unavoidably remind me of the scene in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure where he encounters Satan's Helpers MC and knocks all their motorcycles over.
6 January 2020
No motorcycle ride on Friday - it rained, just like the weather guys said it would. But I did got in line for a safety inspection and had the bike stickered for 2020 before the first raindrops fell.
This evening I meet with the other officers in my HOGs club for an officers' meeting. Since I'm the newsletter editor I get to attend. All I really want to do is ride...
3 January 2020
I don't think today is going to be any good for a motorcycle ride. The streets are all wet from this morning's rain and the weather prospects for the rest of the day aren't all that great. Nevertheless, I need to take the Harley in for a safety inspection at the nearby gas station, and I may be doing a short "Better than Nothing" ride. I have a lot of errands and little projects to catch up with today.
1 January 2020
Yesterday I did a "Last Day of the Year" ride with the HOGs. A short one, 82 miles total (which includes my ride to and from). We rode from Patriot Harley-Davidson to a pub in Great Falls, VA. Took a photo. That was it. I did not do a video of this one, which was a shame because we had 21 Harleys on the ride. We drove through some very expensive properties in the woods. (CNNMoney ranked Great Falls first in the nation on its list of "top earning towns" in 2011. Another statistic of interest: The median income for a household in the Census Designated Place of Great Falls was $189,545, and the median income for a family was $201,250.)
I did indeed take a motorcycle ride on Friday, this time to Fairview Beach, VA in King George County. (It qualifies as a beach because it's on the Potomac River.) What was once just a place on a map is now known to me. Is it a candidate retirement home? Probably not. Too small. But I should investigate King George County some more. On Friday I wrote, "...I'm in the mood for a longish, contemplative ride down a freeway." Not on Friday! I spent an undue amount of time sitting in traffic because of people travelling back home after the holiday. I probably should have headed west and not south down the frequently jammed I-95! VIDEO
Oh, and I need to get the Harley safety inspected. This is basically a matter of riding it up to the garage doors of the local gas station after waiting about 45 minutes, blowing the horn, confirming that the turn signals all work and showing the mechanic the tires and brakes (they're new) and getting a new sticker. Automotive safety stickers are part of the Virginia Nanny State, urged on by legislative lobbies such as those funded by Jiffy-Lube, Advantage Auto Parts, etc. My friend tells me that when the electorate in Utah decided to get rid of the practice those were the bugs who emerged when the lights were turned on as being the proponents for safety stickers. And read this: "...there isn’t a clear-cut correlation here between requiring a safety inspection and fewer deaths or lower insurance rates."
Did you ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I did back in the Nineties as a part of a post-graduate college class. Complete waste of time. Anyway, the Honda motorcycle that the author mentions in the book has surfaced.
27 December 2019I rode to the Patriot Harley dealership in Fairfax hoping for, say, a half-price mesh jacket for summer wear - but no. I did get a nice little ride in. Highs were in the upper 50s and sunny. My new Harley boots work great! They are much warmer than the Dingo boots I've been wearing (in fact, they're waterproof), and provide a more positive and solid road feel when I have to maneuver my bike around with my feet on the pavement.
Friday! The weather is supposed to be cloudy but into the mid-50s. That's motorcycle ride weather! Where shall I go? I really haven't a clue right now. But I'm in the mood for a longish, contemplative ride down a freeway.
24 December 2019
I installed a new battery on the Harley yesterday; thanks to a YouTube video it took all of about twenty minutes. The bike starts a lot more readily now. With that and the battery tender I shouldn't have any starting problems during the winter months ahead.
23 December 2019
My bike starts in cold temps with the battery tender, but it doesn't start as readily as it used to. I suspect the battery is growing weak. If it's the original battery - and I suspect it is - it's now three years old. It's probably time for me to get a new battery. Either that or get stranded somewhere while on a ride on a cold day.
20 December 2019
I have the day off. I'll ride somewhere on my Harley when it warms up a bit... last time I looked the outdoor temp was 24 degrees. VIDEO - ROAD KING LIKES AND DISLIKES.
17 December 2019
On Sunday my wife, being a good sport, went out on a cold Christmas lights HOGs ride with me. (VIDEO) After an hour riding in 39-40 degree temps we found ourselves in Springfield and so ended somewhat early and went home, her feet frozen. I was fine. Her comment was, "I'm not getting on that bike again unless it's at least 55 degrees out!" Being cold is not her thing at all. Me? I'm fat enough so that I'm usually fine.
Speaking of HOGs I am now the newsletter editor, and have created and formatted five pages of the January-February newsletter. I'm waiting on some direction about ads and some other contributions, but the issue is underway. I have done this sort of thing before with Civil War reenacting units and doing my rugby club's website. It appears right now that my primary challenge is technical: producing a .pdf formatted file that can be uploaded to the HOGs website (somebody else is managing that) from a Microsoft Publisher .pub file.
5 December 2019
|Me in 1966: Ape hangers, banana seat, girl on the back.|
One of the completely unexpected things that has come with riding my Harley involves being out on cold days dressed in my leathers. Being out and about in 40 degree temps on the freeway and country roads has caused me to vividly remember the thrill I got riding around in cold weather on my 1964 flamboyant lime Schwinn Sting Ray. I loved that bike. I'd put on whatever ski jacket or cattleman's jacket my mother bought me and ride about the neighborhood all day, enjoying the fact that I was out in the cold. Breezes only amplified the feeling. I found it bracing, thrilling and just plain fun. Blasting down I-95 with the temps in the 40s causing a good wind chill factor reminds me a lot of the high I used to get as a kid. Apparently, somewhere deep down inside of me I find riding a bicycle/motorcycle in the cold to be immensely fulfilling. Gusty days only make it more invigorating.
Perhaps needless to say I'm a lot better dressed on the Harley than I was on the Schwinn! I wear a lined leather "Perfecto"-styled jacket, battery-powered heated gloves, a full face helmet with a scarf, and thermals under sturdy cotton canvas Carhartt pants with leather chaps. I also wear thick socks under my boots. Dressed like that I'm comfortable down to the low 30s (high 20s for shorter rides). And subcutaneous fat... let's not forget about that! I don't get cold easily. I've caught my reflection in store windows occasionally; I look like a black bear on a Road King.
"Cold weather" in Burbank, California when I was a kid usually meant the 50s, not the 40s or 30s as in Northern Virginia.
I'm an engineer, so numbers are important to me. This being the case I attached a digital thermometer to my left rear view mirror so I always know what temperature it is. This, too, fulfills some deeply-ingrained need within me. It's also practical. For instance, I know once it hits the fifties that I don't need the scarf anymore.
The presence or absence of sunlight is also important. On a motorcycle, sunlight is very cheering. It may be meteorologically cold, but it feels psychologically warmer with the sun out. (I may be getting some heating from sunlight striking all that black leather.) Also fun: You stop into a Starbucks or some other place for some hot chocolate and people demand to know, "Isn't it too cold to be on a motorcycle outside?" No! Only for the faint of heart! Hahahaha! (Bragging rights in one's sixties are hard to come by.)
Yes, yes, pleasant weather motorcycle riding is a lot of fun - but cold weather riding has its charms as well. And, as they say, "You never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychologist's office." Seasonal affective disorder? As long as the roads are in good shape I know how to keep it at bay!
3 December 2019
I haven't ridden my Harley in a week! Not good.
25 November 2019
I did no motorcycle riding at all this past weekend; it rained on Friday. I spent the day mostly indoors and out running errands. I visited Patriot Harley-Davidson where I found a great pair of boots on clearance, $126 down from $209. They're waterproof and have grippy, oil-resistant soles. They also have additional leather on the tops where the shift lever comes in contact. Nice.
21 November 2019
A warm ride into work this morning on the Harley: 39 degrees. It sounds cold but compared to 29 degrees it's much better! Plus I'm becoming used to the cold weather now.
Ford is coming out with the electric Mustang to challenge Tesla. Sure, I can see it. Who better? But talking with the guys in the local custom motorcycle shop they were incensed, like an electric Mustang represented some kind of heresy. (And the article comments contain some of that: "If your Mustang has four doors and an electric motor, you don’t have a Mustang.") I guess Harley guys - and Mustang guys - are deeply wedded to gasoline engines. My guess is that most of them haven't experienced the astonishing and gratifying instant torque that electric motors can make. I have!
I was at the shop the other day to investigate installing 18" ape hangers on my Road King. They brought out a couple of heights of handlebars and it appears that an 18" height is about right for me. It looks like this. Or this. I like that look. Classic 1960s Schwinn Sting Ray - which was trying to look like Harley choppers of the era. I'm a tall guy, and so 18" apes make my arms about level with my shoulders; going higher than that is a mistake. Two of the white-haired bike guys - wizened with age and experience - asked, "Are you uncomfortable with what you have now? Do you get shoulder or back pain after long rides?" As my answer is "no," their suggestion is, "Then leave things be." They can do it for $750. I can do it for less. I'll... think about it.
Lemmy, an articulate and knowledgeable motorcycle writer, has this to say about apes.
The guys in the shop have a 1982 FLH I wanted to test ride (it has apes), but the bike has shift and throttle problems and I wasn't able to get it moving. The shop guy - used to old bikes - could, though.
20 November 2019
I accepted the position of Editor within the HOGs yesterday, so I have a newsletter to produce in January. (And February, and March, etc.) I said I'd do it for at least a year. I got in touch with the present editor who sent me the .pub file from the last issue, which I can successfully open and manipulate using MS Publisher. I have an idea for the cover of the January issue: a Harley-Davidson logo with snow piled on top. Mostly stark white.
19 November 2019
Yesterday I took a short ride on the Harley to Quantico and back to fetch a proper Marine Corps sticker for the back of Big Red. (Every car I have ever owned has had one of these on the back window.) Recently it has come to me that being on my Harley in the cold blustery weather reminds me a lot of being on my Schwinn Sting Ray in cold blustery weather when I was a kid - it was something I weirdly enjoyed doing. There's a certain mental high involved with being out in the cold but dressed warmly in leather; I guess you can call it a Weather Defiance High. Anyway, it's good for my soul. "You never see a motorcycle parked outside of a psychiatrist's office."
18 November 2019
I didn't do the Friday HOGs ride for family emergency reasons. Oh, well. I was looking forward to it but there will be others.
15 November 2019
No Friday ride today. I got a 1:48 AM call from my son to watch grandsons #'s 1, 2 and 3 while #4 was being taken to the hospital for croup. Family trumps motorcycling! (The baby is better.)
14 November 2019
Me and a big Can-Am were more or less keeping pace on the Express Lanes. Those things have 1300 cc engines - I see they can hold 75-80 mph. And at one point at a light a guy on a signal yellow Honda Gold Wing pulled up next to me. We looked at each other and laughed, as if to say, "Why are we on these things in this cold?!?" It was fun, really.
I attended a HOGs meeting last night, seated upon an attractive 2020 Road Glide Limited. You can get one for less than $30K! And the fact that I think that's some kind of a deal tells me that I've become accustomed to Harley-Davidson sticker shock. Most of the HOGs, I've noticed, ride top-end Harleys. I'm kind of slumming it on my Road King. But don't get me wrong: I love my Road King...
Funny things seen on a motorcycle helmet recently.
13 November 2019
26 degrees this morning. I'm too lazy and I have not yet acquired my winter acclimatization to cold, so I drove the car into work rather than rode this morning. Perhaps tomorrow morning will warm up to a balmier 30-something degrees and I'll ride.
12 November 2019
|The Honda Motocompo|
We all split up to ride home and I discovered that one of the HOGs lived in Springfield - in my yard sales hunting grounds as it turned out. I followed him. He showed me an interesting alternate path home from Manassas along a pleasant country road. Fortunately it was a nice day yesterday. It started out cold (heated gloves, long johns and chaps necessary) and by 1 PM or so the weather hit a sunny 70 degrees.
The day before, Sunday, I did yet another motorcycle thing, the monthly "Bikes and Breakfast" gathering in Clifton. VIDEO I've been to a number of these. At this one I met a guy from work I used to supervise, so we talked and talked. Somebody always brings something novel and interesting to these: At the end of the video you can see one guy's 1983 fold-up Honda Motocompo scooter meant to be transportable in the trunk of a car!
So it was a real motorcycle weekend: something going on Friday, Sunday and Monday. Hooray for good riding weather in November!
11 November 2019
Happy Veterans Day! I have today off, and am going on a ride with the HOGS. These being the HOGs, we will undoubtedly be doing something honorific.
Yesterday I took a ride to Clifton for the usual second Sunday in the month "Bikes and Breakfast" gathering. There I bumped into a guy I used to supervise at work. We chatted, and me and a few Marines (there are always former Marines at any motorcycle gathering or dealership) all wished each other a happy birthday (10 Nov, 1775). VIDEO
On Friday me and Tommy took a ride up to Motorcycles of Dulles; he's never been there before. We found ourselves test riding a Polaris Slingshot - that was fun. And yes, there's a video for that, too.
Wow! I have 107 videos in my motorcycle playlist. That was quick.
8 November 2019
Right now it's 37 degrees outside. I'm meeting my friend Tom for a ride at 11 AM. Today will require heated gloves, long johns, leather chaps and a scarf. I zipped in the liner to my leather jacket, too. And we won't be out until 4 or 5, either - it gets too dark too soon these days. So my Friday winter rides won't be quite as epic as they can be during the summer.
Today's image? Well, I have a reader who sends me a text message whenever I post a photo of a striking woman. He's partial to brunettes. So today's image is what I suspect may be a Hispanic gal riding a chopper down San Fernando Road in Burbank, circa 1970. It was originally in a copy of Easyriders magazine, I believe.
I've never seen (or heard) this gal riding by, sorry to report.
7 November 2019
I road-tested my Harley with 42 psi in both tires. It rides just fine; I can barely tell a difference. This morning it was 45 degrees riding into work - heated glove weather! And it's time to zip the liner back into my leather jacket.
It occurs to me that I need an obnoxious 130 dB motorcycle horn since drivers don't bother using their mirrors.
5 November 2019
Big motorcycle news! I stopped by the local custom shop, the folks who installed my new tires, and asked them their recommendation for tire inflation. They said 42 psi front and back. (Harley says 36 front, 40 back.) "Why?" I asked. Because that's Dunlop's recommendation. And they should last a bit longer with the higher pressure. Hm. Normally I've been going with Harley's recommendation, but I inflated the tires to 42 psi each and will try riding around on that and see if I notice any handling or cornering differences. I'm guessing that I won't.
On Sunday a family friend from church - a young mother - asked me for a ride on the Harley. Her father used to ride her around on a Gold Wing in Canada in the fall and so I gave her a nostalgic ride through the pretty woods to Clifton and back. (We are just past the peak of the season insofar as leaf colors is concerned.) While waiting at the world's longest red light at the intersection of 123 and Lee Chapel Road, WHAM!, a truck hit a deer (better the truck than us), the carcass of which went sliding into the middle of the intersection about thirty feet to the front and side of us. After a bit of kicking the deer died.
I know how to show a girl a good time.
4 November 2019
Eric Peters hates Harley and electric bikes. Garbage article, as I point out in my reply (I'm in the comments section as "Jonah B"). The problem with motorcyclists and their opinions of electric bikes is that very few have actually ridden one. In conversations I have yet to talk to a motorcyclist who, like me, has test ridden one. I've test ridden two Zeros: Zero S (their base bike), Zero FXS. They are a hoot to ride and make perfect sense as commuter bikes.
29 October 2019
Yesterday, my daughter being in town, I took her out on the Harley to lunch at my usual hangout in Clifton, then to the Manassas battlefield, then to Linden (the Apple House - a favorite motorcyclist stop) and back. 125 mile ride. It was fun! The leaves are in full autumn color in Virginia and it was a sunny, pleasant day. She borrowed my wife's helmet and I installed the passenger backrest.
25 October 2019
|Balloon Road King|
24 October 2019
One of the things I did while I was in McGregor, Minnesota was to buy a digital thermometer while in an especially well-provisioned Ace Hardware store. I spray painted it black and stuck it to one of my rear view mirrors. Before, I got a reflection of my shoulder as well as the lane in back of me. But now I can see what the temperature is.
During yesterday's 70-80 mph blast up the I-395 Express lane to work it was 52 degrees. This morning it was 45. My ride to work usually takes only about 20 minutes, and I am now at the point where if it were to take longer I'd want my battery-powered heated gloves and long johns! Visor fogging is still a problem. I have to keep my visor cracked a little - which isn't objectionable at 45 degrees with the windshield, but would be were it colder.
According to this motorcycle wind chill chart, this morning it was around freezing. It didn't feel like it. My thick leather jacket is really warm!
21 October 2019
Yes! I did go on a motorcycle ride on Friday. VIDEO. It was a cool but very pleasant and sunny day. Hearing on the news that the Park Service had recently re-opened Beach Drive through Washington D.C., I put a ride together involving heading north through D.C. along the Rock Creek parklands to the LDS Temple in Kensington, then riding through some small and pleasant communities between D.C. and Baltimore (I ate lunch in front of a Quaker meeting house), then rode to Baltimore's Federal Hill and Ft. McHenry. I took Route 1 through Laurel, a community between D.C. and Baltimore where I lived 33 years ago, and encountered unpleasant traffic on the Beltway home. T'was a fun and unusual 153 mile ride for me - but I won't be taking the Road King through major cities anymore. The Road King was designed to maintain 70+ mph on highways for days on end, not muddle through crowded city streets! You want a lighter, more fleet bike for that - like an electric Zero SR-F.
17 October 2019
Perhaps I ought to consider a flaming skull mask for Halloween. Ride around on Halloween Eve and scare small children. All right, who makes one? There's this one, indicating that the technology is available, but this is a custom job and, frankly, looks dangerous. And then there's this one, but it looks lame (but not as lame as this). Or simply buy this. Here we go, THIS ONE!
On second thought, I'll just stick to my Bell helmet.
10 October 2019
Well, I was planning to attend the HOGs meeting last night, but then I learned that a friend of ours had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. So we drove down to Fredericksburg to visit him. He's doing better and is under observation, so... good.
I always ask, "And what have we learned?" Calm down! (Especially once you're retired...) I had a nuclear exercise stress test in early 2015; all is well. No scary blockages.
I rode the Harley into work this morning. A little chilly! So I wore my leather jacket and thicker gloves. It's a transitional season right now: leather jacket and thicker gloves into work, mesh jacket and mesh gloves to go home. Nothing remarkable this morning save that I got into work in a flash: about 17 minutes in the Express Lane. I drove the Bug yesterday and it took almost 40 minutes along regular I-395.
8 October 2019
I picked up my Harley from the shop yesterday. It now has two new tires in addition to new brake pads. I'm safe! Well, safer.
7 October 2019
I did indeed take a motorcycle ride to Deale, Maryland on Friday - and that video is here. What did I learn? We're not going to be retiring anywhere in Maryland. Realtors are generally the most optimistic people in society. When two of them shake their heads "no" when you ask about the possibility of retiring in Maryland that's pretty bad! The realtors in North Beach said exactly the same thing that the lady behind the antiques store counter in Deale said: "People leave Maryland to retire in Delaware or Pennsylvania. The taxes here are too high." I figured that.
There is no way I'd consider retiring in Delaware.
When I rode back into Springfield I brought my bike to the shop to get a new front tire fitted. I thought maybe they could do it on Saturday, but, no, it'll get installed today. I hope.
4 October 2019
Today is a Friday - and that means motorcycle ride. I think I'm taking the Harley out to Deale, Maryland, a Chesapeake Bay community about an hour away from where I live. Could this be a retirement location? It would be cool to spend half the year on a beach and the other half atop a mountain in Utah... The main drawback: Maryland, Moneywise's Worst State to Retire To in 2019. (Although their criteria - "congested roads, surprise tornadoes and winter storms from the Atlantic Ocean" - seems bogus.)
Kiplinger puts both Utah and Maryland on their 2018 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees list - so, hmmm, maybe not. Cari is fond of saying that the right thing will show itself when the time comes, and I'm thinking this will probably be the case.
I'm also kind of hoping that the Right Thing will be Front Royal, VA. Retirement in a low tax county near the fabled Shenandoah Valley seems attractive, especially as it's only just over an hour away via two routes (I-66 and Rt. 55) from the D.C. suburbs - and my grandsons.
30 September 2019
Friday was a lot of fun! A very nice day weather-wise, I rode up to the Antietam Battlefield and other sites nearby. Of course there's a video. It's curious that I have never bothered to see the first Washington Monument before. Too busy with Civil War sites, I guess. Anyway - saw that. And I also saw my friend K.C., who I did Civil War reenacting with in 1984...
25 September 2019
Tires wear a lot faster on motorcycles than cars. Forget about getting 30-40,000 miles. The guy at the place where I got mine done says that he'd be upset if a tire lasted 8,000 miles or less and happy if it lasted 15,000 miles or more. At 12,000 miles, mine was showing red with my H-D tire tread depth gauge. My front tire is reading yellow with the gauge. Time for a new front tire, too. Next month.
As it turns out, the guy who replaced my tire at the shop has a son who goes to the same school as my grandson Gibson; they know one another!
24 September 2019
My Harley is at a local custom shop getting a new rear tire. I miss it so. :(
11 September 2019
Patriot Day... it corresponds with tonight's regularly-scheduled HOGs meeting, so we'll have a short meeting and motorcycle up to the Pentagon Memorial. (Note: I didn't go. It rained and as my rear tire was badly in need of replacement and I had to fly out to Utah the next day, I passed.)
9 September 2019
On Friday I did a little ride of about 90 miles. I wasn't able to test ride a Suzuki Bergman at the dealership I visited because they sold their last one! So I rode to Manassas for lunch and then visited the curious town of Quantico, VA (the town surrounded by a military base and the Potomac) to purchase a new USMC sticker for the back of my VW. I also spent some time yakking with motorcycle people.
I eschewed yard sales and did the Asphalt Roller Coaster ride with the HOGs on Saturday. That video is here. It was an all-day ride; I did 234 miles. It was advertised as being a "challenging" ride, but I did fine. At one point on a twisty road on route 211 I confined myself to my usual speeds and fell somewhat behind, but this was okay. (We were told to "ride your own ride" by the Boss Hog.) We all gathered again on the downward straightaway. It was fun!
Sunday was another "Bikes and Breakfast" in Clifton - video. I attended that and then church, and then took a little ride down to Maryland on the Chickamuxen and Riverside Roads. I got to the southernmost point on Riverside Road, which was something I wasn't able to do last time I was there because the road was flooded and closed.
6 September 2019
Motorcycle Friday! What's my destination for today? Well - I'm not sure. I'm going out on a long ride tomorrow with the HOGs, so I really didn't plan anything major for today. I might just pop down to Coleman Powersports in Woodbridge and test ride a Suzuki Burgman, a maxi-scooter capable of doing freeway speeds. I've always wanted to test ride one of those.
5 September 2019
My first HOGs magazine, printed by Harley-Davidson, came in the mail the other day. Good read. I think I'm going to submit an article for their $100 dollar ride piece. (The ride has to cost $100 or less for gas and food.) Hm. The Snickersville Turnpike recommends itself.
3 September 2019
On Friday I took a ride to Calvert County, Maryland, to look over "beach" (Chesapeake Bay - not ocean) communities. Of course there's a video.
Cari and I took a pleasant motorcycle ride to Clifton for lunch. She likes the windshield to be on to reduce the wind buffeting she feels on her helmet. On hot days I prefer it off - but we're approaching the season where the windshield goes back on permanently. By the end of this month I expect it'll be time to get the leather jacket from out of the closet, too.
30 August 2019
The weather is supposed to be nice and sunny today. So what's in the cards? A motorcycle ride to Prince Frederick, in Calvert County, Maryland, I think. I haven't been there since the 1990s. We once considered moving to "Prince Fredneck" when I had a job in Lexington Park, MD, for a few months in the Spring of 1993. It might be a place to retire. Anyway, I'll check it out, although I'm pretty sure that moving to Maryland after retirement is a no-go. (It's a high tax Blue State.) I'll bring the GoPro.
29 August 2019
It may still be summer, and we still have a few 90 degree days ahead of us, but I motorcycled into work this morning; the air temp was 65 degrees and I could definitely feel autumn waiting in the wings. We're moving into the transitional weather sub-season where I'm between my summer mesh jacket and mesh gloves and my leather jacket and leather gloves...
27 August 2019
I rode the Harley into Clifton yesterday for lunch. I had to. It's curious, how necessary riding a motorcycle has become... While dining I got an angry cell phone call from my wife, who had come home from lunch and seen the bike missing in the garage, "What on earth are you doing on a motorcycle when you're sick?!?" Good question, but by the time yesterday came around I was well enough for a little ride.
23 August 2019
There's a HOGs ride today but I won't be going on it, drat the luck. This head cold I have has morphed into occasional chills and I feel weak and achy (probably a flu) - that being the case, being atop a Harley is not a good plan. Especially when the weather forecast is, "...rain showers early will evolve into a more steady rain for the afternoon." There's a high of only 75 degrees, much cooler. So, no, I'll be taking it easy in bed all day, DayQuilling it.
22 August 2019
There's a HOGs ride tomorrow. If, tomorrow, I feel like I did this morning, I'm not going!
21 August 2019
If I had Trump's money I'd buy one, however.
20 August 2019
Yesterday was HOT. I was riding around town on my bike and, at times, could feel surprisingly hot waves of air hitting me.
19 August 2019
Weekend recap! On Friday I took a motorcycle ride with my friend Tom from work. We rode to Culpeper to examine the area around Cedar Mountain, then rode to the Wilderness battlefield. At one point we swapped bikes; he rode my Road King and I rode his Street Glide. (My son commented, "This is cute.") He has a rider backrest - I wanted to see if it makes a ride more comfortable. The jury is still out. I suspect that it will reduce back discomfort after being in the saddle all day.
On the way home on I-95 I passed through a heavy rain. I had just enough time to pull over onto the shoulder and put my rain suit on. I stopped to let the storm pass at Quantico Harley... and that video is here.
On Saturday I met with some of the Fairfax HOGs (Harley Owners Group) to do a show and tell thing with motorcycles at my local library - video here. Yes, I cleaned the dried rain spots from off of my bike beforehand. Kids enjoyed clambering onto the seats to pose for cellphone pictures their parents took. Fortunately no kids put their shoes onto the painted areas of my bike, which emerged from the experience unscathed. I was there for about an hour and a half; interacting with kids and parents was easy for me. I did that for many years in Boy Scouting.
I wrote an article for the HOGs online newsletter: Motorcycle Things Part One. I'll do a part two, obviously.
16 August 2019
Motorcycle Friday! I'm riding out again with Tom the Reb from work. Where to? Culpeper, it seems. We shall see.
Did I mention that I attended the Wednesday HOGs meeting at Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax? No, I didn't. I discovered that it's far more comfortable to be seated upon one of the dealership's bikes during the slide show than a folding chair. Wednesday night I plunked myself down on a Road King Special.
I think I'll do one ride with the HOGs per month. Fortunately, they hold what are called "TGIF" rides, on Fridays. The next one is on August 23rd to a pizza joint.
15 August 2019
I took the Harley into work today. It's getting darker in the morning - the days are getting shorter! And I got a visit from an old cold weather friend: visor fogging. It was humid outside.
I got my Harley back from the dealership all inspected and with new oils. Does it ride any different? Not that I can tell. But the engine internals are cleaner and that should make the engine last longer. I hear about Road Kings with 100,000 miles on them with a strong engine. That's my goal. Geez - I'm 1/10th of the way there. (I average about 1,100 miles every month. I'll hit 100K miles in less than 7 years at the rate I'm going.) I also wanted a Harley mechanic to lay eyes on the bike. Nothing amiss!
12 August 2019
|9 August 2019, on a hill overlooking the Shenandoah River|
On Friday a Harley-rider I know from work, Tommy, and I rode out to Warrenton and Luray, Virginia. The video of that ride is here. We stopped at a Luray attraction called "Cooter's Place," the epicenter of all things Dukes of Hazzard. Say what you will about Ben Jones, the country-tinged actor ("Cooter") who was formerly a Georgia Representative and now a political pundit and singer, the fellow has certainly carved out a niche for himself. From there we took a scenic 35 mile country road along the Shenandoah back to Front Royal and Route 55 - deeply Trump country - and thereby to Fairfax County - deeply not Trump Country.
On Sunday I once again attended "Bikes and Breakfast" in Clifton (my video is here).
My Harley is at Patriot Harley in Fairfax right now getting its 10,000 mile service, which includes new motor oil, transmission fluid and primary fluid ("three holes") and a bunch of other checks, inspections and adjustments. While I primarily intend to do my own work on my bike, I wanted a Harley tech to lay eyes on the thing at some point, just to make sure all is well. I'll do the 15,000 mile oil change myself just as I did the 5,000 mile service.
9 August 2019
Motorcycle Friday! I'm heading out to Luray with a friend from work. (Yes, I do have a couple.) No video this time.
Yesterday morning on the way in to work I saw a truck cut off a guy on a BMW motorcycle. Yes, the guy in the truck did indeed get the fickle finger of fate.
8 August 2019
The only motorcycle riding I did while in Utah for nearly two weeks was a little ride on my daughter's (loud) 2019 Harley Sportster 1200.
22 July 2019
VIDEO. Was it hot? Yes, it was. Temps in the mid to high 90s, I think. But as long as we were moving along it wasn't bad. There was one point where traffic was backed up along Route 15 because of a car crash, which required us to poke along at 2 mph for a mile or two. (This is in the video.) That was obnoxious!
On an air-cooled Harley a ton of engine heat rises up to fry your inner legs and your left hand is constantly working a mechanical clutch lever: engage clutch - disengage clutch - engage clutch, etc. After ten minutes or so of this, poking along, I did the only thing I could: I starting yelling, "This is GREAT! Give me more! HARLEY-DAVIDSON! Wahoo!" much to the amusement of the guys on bikes around me. I'm a mood-maker. Anyway, I was out for nine hours and rode 237 miles. I think this was my third highest mileage ride thus far. It was certainly my hottest!
The guy scheduling the ride made a mistake: we did our ride the weekend after Gettysburg Bike Week. :( So no demo rides. Actually - it was too hot to do those, anyway. Me and another guy lit out to take a very short tour of part of the battlefield - we went to Little Round Top where it was shady! But it was a fun ride and I'm glad I did it. I think the video turned out well. The only thing I'm sorry about was that I didn't have the GoPro running on the way back when we passed an enormous U.S. flag. The shot of Harleys going down the road with the flag waving in the background was visually arresting - but it's only in my mind's eye. I couldn't activate the GoPro fast enough. Sorry.
On Saturday evening I went on another little ride to the Manassas battlefield, and on Sunday me and Geoff went to Clifton for breakfast.
The odometer on the Harley now reads over 10,000 miles. Time for a service. I'll bring it to the dealership next month.
19 July 2019
This morning I'm meeting the HOGs at Patriot Harley-Davison for a ride out to Gettysburg. GETTYSBURG! Why Gettysburg? Because it's Bike Week up there. I see there will be demo rides from the local dealership; I like demo rides. I want to try riding an FXDR 114.
Yes, it'll be hot outside tomorrow. The forecast is for a high of 96 in the late afternoon, so I'll be riding without my windshield. Air-cooled, in the breeze, the way I like it. I'm bringing a bunch of pre-frozen insulated bottles with ice in them and some Gatoraid. I've been to Gettysburg in the summer wearing dark blue wool uniforms (Civil War reenacting) and I'll be there wearing motorcycle gear. The motorcycle gear will have to be cooler! In fact... rugby and motorcycling are both much cooler than reenacting.
I'll take a video of the activities, of course.
16 July 2019
Stats: I'm riding my Harley a lot. How much? I bought the bike on 12/11 of last year, just over seven months ago. I've put 7,610 miles on it since then. That works out to about 1,087 miles a month, or an average of 271 miles a week! I'm riding that much? Gee, it doesn't seem like it... On last Friday's ride, which was mostly freeway riding, I got just over 42 miles per gallon. In mixed city/freeway riding I get about 37 mpg. A bit better than a car, but, "Only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window. Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul."
15 July 2019
On Friday I rode out to Harpers Ferry via the Snickersville Turnpike with a Harley-owning friend from work. (No video this time.) It was a lot of fun! It's been quite a while since he's been there and so I was able to point out the stuff that the Park Service has added - a lot since the 1990s. It turned into a hot day, but I broke one of my rules about always wearing a protective mesh jacket and rode in shirt sleeves, cop style. It was a 156 mile ride; I left at 9 AM and returned at 5:30.
On Sunday morning me and Geoff - the fellow who bought my Suzuki Bully - rode to Clifton for their "Bikes and Breakfast" event. It was fun! VIDEO. I think I liked that pretty Ducati best, the one with the Italian flag in back. There's a gathering every second Sunday of the month in the morning - this is the first one I've ever done. But it won't be the last.
12 July 2019
Going for a ride out to Aldie, Philomont, Bluemont, Mt. Weather and maybe Linden via signed Virginia byways with a guy at work. He owns a Street Glide. (We're meeting at Dulles.) I'm hoping the roads are dry and in good condition; we had quite a downpour yesterday.
11 July 2019
|At the HOGS meeting, looming over everyone else.|
Did I forget to mention that I own a Harley?
You have to admire the Motor Company's (what the Old School Harley guys call Harley-Davidson) aggressive advertising, brand placement and clothing distribution. It's the kind of thing that McDonalds or Starbucks would love to have. Get that logo out there! Here's an interesting article about Harley branding. "Occasionally, however, a brand emerges without the panoply of wall-to-wall advertising and in-your-face marketing." I beg to differ! I get daily e-mail summons to buy clothing: clothing for men, clothing for women, clothing to ride, clothing to drink, clothing styled in the manner of stuff prior to 1950 - you name it. Ah, well, if you're having difficulty selling motorcycles, sell clothes.
9 July 2019
I got my HOGs (Harley Owners Group) SWAG in a mail yesterday. They are big on patches and pins...
8 July 2019
My usual Friday motorcycle ride was short. Rain was expected in the afternoon plus I had to be back earlier to visit a person in a hospital (a church thing). So I simply rode down to Fredericksburg to the Indian dealership and test rode a full dresser bike, the Indian Roadmaster. I liked it better than the Harley model with the fork-mounted fairing (the Ultra Limited Classic), but not as much as the Harley Road Glide Ultra, with the frame mounted fairing. I like the uncrowded, no-dashboard-in-your-face ride. Video. I had a crappy lunch meal served to me in a Fredericksburg diner - I'm not going there anymore!
5 July 2019
So, today, Friday. I normally take a long motorcycle ride. The problem is it looks like rain or thundershowers in the afternoon. I'm not sure where I'm going.
3 July 2019
My Harley has more than 9,000 miles on it now (I bought it in December with just over 2,000 miles on it), and so I'm looking for a dealership for a 10,000 mile service. I suppose I could do this stuff myself but I think I'd like to have a Harley tech put his eyes on it. The more or less standard cost is just over $400, but one dealership wants over $600! What's the deal?!?
1 July 2019
|Harley Road Glide Ultra|
Cari and I took a motorcycle ride to Manassas Battlefield Park on Sunday; that was our longest two-up ride thus far. She likes the windshield attached. I thought my body in front would be blocking her, but as she's sitting higher, no, she gets the wind buffeting it in the helmet doing 60 mph or so. So, when she's on, so is the windshield!
The forecast is for HEAT (94-96 degrees), on my motorcycle ride Friday. Will this keep me off the Harley? Hahahahaha... NO. It's true that riding a Harley on a hot day can be a real challenge. Mine has a 103 cubic inch engine. That's equivalent to nearly 1.7 liters; I once owned a Porsche which had a smaller engine than that! My awesome Road King, being a touring class bike, has the temperature management system which switches on during hot days. When the computer detects that the engine reaches a certain temperature and that you are sitting at a light idling, it shuts down one cylinder. The engine then makes an odd puffing sound. You can disable the system, but I'm used to it and I figure I'll get more engine life using it.
Given that a 103 Twin Cam Harley engine is entirely air-cooled, that's a lot of heat rising up at the rider at stops. Solution? Don't stop so often (avoid crowded city streets and, certainly, I-95) and ride on shady, tree-lined streets. I have some local rides in mind where I can do that. I think, also, that I'll perhaps get an earlier start and get back home no later than about 1:30, before the heat of the day begins pouring it on. Then I'll go home, sit in my comfy padded chair in an air-conditioned room under a ceiling fan, pour myself a Fresca on the rocks - I may even insert a little umbrella into the glass - and play something cool, Daddy-O.
24 June 2019
This past weekend was great! On Friday I took a very pleasant ride out to the Snickersville Turnpike and also Unison and Cool Spring, VA - two Civil War sites I never knew about. Yes, there is a video; a long one. I think from now on I'm going to simply show the plaques and invite viewers to watch them if desired and not read them myself. That'll lower running times.
On Saturday morning me, my wife and a friend rode our bikes out to Clifton for breakfast.
I joined the HOGs (Harley Owners Group)! Well, that is, the national group. You get one free tow to the nearest Harley dealership if you break down somewhere, worth $100. Also, you get a magazine which I've read and like. And some patches and other stuff. I haven't yet joined the local chapter; this is where the HOG rides get organized.
21 June 2019
It's a perfect day for a ride - and so I shall. The plan is to ride up the Fairfax County Parkway, west on I-66, north on Route 28, north on Braddock Road, west on route 50 and up the Snickersville Turnpike, where I shall take my time looking at this historic Virginia byway. Then I ride west on 50 to a Parker Lane, the end of which is the Cool Spring 1864 Civil War battlefield I've never heard of, let alone seen. Then, possibly, to Harpers Ferry, 25 miles away. It's interesting that I'm stumbling across minor Civil War sites I've never known about. I've seen a bunch of them since I've been on two wheels.
17 June 2019
|The (Photoshopped) Snickersville Turnpike|
Friday's motorcycle ride was to Routes 17 south and 301 north in Caroline County and King George County in Virginia - initially, in search of retirement places to live. Is there a video? Of course.
I didn't plan to turn this into the John-Wilkes-Booth-escape-from-D.C. Tour, but that's what it became. I had forgotten that Route 301 was his escape route south - I rode north on it, maintaining my strange occasional habit of experiencing things backwards. (Note: The only Lincoln assassination sites I had seen prior to this was Ford's Theatre and the Surratt House.) So... new American history sites. Cool! It was also a very pleasant day for a ride. I liked what I saw of Caroline County out that way. ("That way" being drive down to Fredericksburg and take a left.)
While in Port Royal I stopped into an antiques shop and came across this photo. I like it. Not because it's me - I never wanted to ride a motorcycle as a child - but because it describes the boys in my generation so well. That bike is classic Schwinn. I had one like it when I was twelve, a Ram's Horn Fastback.
Saturday was fun, too. I attended a Harley Owners Group presentation on group rider safety - got a patch, they're nuts about patches - then took a cool group "new member" (still not one) ride out to the Snickersville Turnpike and Linden, VA. There is a video of that, too. Cari went to Frederick, MD to pal around with a friend. I want to take her on the Snickersville Turnpike ride someday; it is incredibly scenic. I've been a Virginia for 32 years and I've never heard of it - amazing. (Although, in fairness, I am discovering that the historic places a Civil War reenactor would have likely have visited are not necessarily the places that motorcyclists like to visit.)
I didn't get to read any of the markers along the way - a problem with group riding - but the Snickersville Turnpike is a Virginia Byway and a "thing." We rode over Hibbs Bridge. And hmmmm.... a Civil War cavalry action. Interesting. Clearly, I need to take another ride to this place and get to know it better!
The Open Road calls to me and my Harley. Where am I headed? Down Route 17 east, I think. You ride down I-95 to Fredericksburg and turn left. I'll take a look at the area and the homesites thataway - toward Dahlgren. This is another chapter in my continuing search for retirement communities that are affordable (more affordable than Fairfax County - which is like 95% of the U.S.) and yet easily commutable to the D.C. 'Burbs. I do not believe I have ever been to Dahlgren.
Yes, there will be a video.
Tomorrow morning I'm attending a couple of HOG seminars and a ride. No yard sales. Yes, there will be a video. (I produce lots and lots of media.)
13 June 2019
Last night I visited the Harley-Davidson dealership in Fairfax where a meeting of the HOGs (Harley Owner's Group) was taking place. I'm pretty sure I'd like to join - but I haven't yet. (I'm a cautious soul and always want to make sure I know what I'm getting into. It took me nearly a year to decide upon enlisting in the Marines.) They have a couple of thing things going on this Saturday I'll probably take part in (as Cari will be away): A group riding and two up riding seminar on Saturday morning and a new member ride on Saturday afternoon.
There was light rain on the way home in the dark, but, meh, big deal. I just rode more cautiously than usual and got home just fine. I was wondering why there so many cars in the parking lot when I arrived. Now I know.
REMINDER: MY MOTORCYCLE-RELATED VIDEOS ARE HERE.
10 June 2019
I feel better this morning than I did Friday, the day of the surgery, but my sinuses have been bleeding for the last three days. That kind of took things out of me. For instance, I haven't even wanted to ride my motorcycle for the past few days!
I've ridden 11,200 miles on two bikes since 1 April 2018, an average of 772 miles per month.
7 June 2019
Whoa. Sinus surgery this morning. I feel dozy and light-headed, and there is some pain. I took an oxycodone. My nose is bleeding. My sense of time is all messed up today. Is it 1:30 PM already? Geez.
Motorcycle ride today, as is my wont on Fridays? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
I'm going to bed...
3 June 2019
Friday was cool; I motorcycled to Harpers Ferry on a very pleasant day. I have two videos: (1) The normal video style with talking, etc. (2) One for Civil War buffs with horrible period music featuring the ride in and out of the historic district. (This is for people who have never been to Harpers Ferry but would like to get an idea of the lay of the land.) In the evening we watched the grandsons.
I also fitted a genuine Harley-Davidson Tour Pak to my Road King; it took some finagling. I had to take apart a lever and oil it. But it works just fine now. A guy at work traded in his 2003 Road King for a Road Glide but kept this to give to me. I talked to three Harley parts guys who all said that a 2003 Tour Pak shouldn't fit the bracket on a 2016 Road King. I didn't believe them and tried anyway. It does. Photo one, photo two. You can fit a full size helmet in one of these. Hooray!
A friend at work gave me the leather tour pack from his 2003 Road King. I'm in the process of seeing if it fits onto the bracket on my rear fender. It also provides a passenger backrest. And pretty much entirely conceals my license plate.
A friend at work had a 2003 Harley Road King; he bought a new Road Glide Ultra so he gave me the tour pack from his old bike. I'm going to see if it fits the bracket on my bike or if I can get an adapter bracket for it. Or a new adapter. I'd like to make it work if I can as it's a nice piece of motorcycle luggage.
I rode the Harley into work, risking a 30% chance for thundershowers at 4 PM. The weather guy on TV last night said that the showers would arrive later towards the evening. I hope so! (Update: No rain or thunder. But HOT, 93 degrees.)
The other day we found a plaid fall-winter shirt for me in a J.C. Penney store that looks very much like something you'd find in a Harley-Davidson dealership - marked $15. When it came time to ring it up it was only $3 and some change! I plan to get a couple of embroidered H-D patches and sew these onto the shirt!
28 May 2019
On Friday I finally did my ride out to Front Royal and visited that Confederate Museum. VIDEO. Sorry for the raucous rock music at the beginning. I realized that it's really the wrong music for the subject, but I was too lazy and preoccupied to go back and remaster the video to change it. Anyway, it was a good visit because I learned that when one rides down Route 55 to Front Royal (a scenic and very pleasant ride), one is traversing a Civil War battlefield - the Battle of Wapping Heights, July 23, 1863, which was fought just to the east of Front Royal. 440 casualties. Most Civil War battles have two names, and this one is no exception - it's also known as the Battle of Manassas Gap. Once again, a new thing was learned: When one is on Route 55 to Front Royal, one is making his way through a geological feature called the Manassas Gap. Why? Manassas is nowhere near it...
The rally/party at the Harley dealership was fun, too... that's depicted at the end of the video.
In fact, it was such an interesting event that on Saturday I put the passenger backrest on the bike and took my wife to it. We hung out and met a rugby-playing and motorcycle-riding friend who gave me a set of Smith and Wesson handcuffs. Afterwards we biked to Tyson's Corner, did some shopping, and biked home. This was the first time I took her out on the Beltway on the Harley. She enjoyed it.
Sunday was the day of the Rolling Thunder Rally at the Pentagon and in D.C., and in the morning I ventured north to the Pentagon outskirts and got caught up in a part of it. That video is here: A Tiny Part of Rolling Thunder. It's well-named: all those motorcycles actually does sound like distant thunder. This is supposed to be the last Rolling Thunder event, but I can't believe that thousands of bikers will be content to just forget about it and not show up at something or another.
Three day weekend coming up (for me, four days) - Memorial Day, the traditional beginning of summer. The weather forecast for Friday is good. Hooray! No rain! Perhaps now I can finally make that trip to Front Royal I've been thinking about. This is also the weekend of the area's biggest motorcycle rally, "Rolling Thunder." I have no plans to take part. I'm a little nervous about being around a whole lot of motorcycles. An experienced friend of mine tells me that it's somewhat scary: riders waving at the crowds and not really paying attention to their riding, etc.
21 May 2019
Yesterday my friend Bob sent me this text message: "Wes, you need to do a long blog post about why you like riding." Okay, can do.
Ever since I can remember I've been a ride-the-rides sort of guy. I distinctly recall a visit to Disneyland when I was about five or six. Mom demanded that we stand in a huge line to get pancakes at the Aunt Jemima Pancake House, and so we did. I loved pancakes as much as any kid, but one can get pancakes at any time. We're in Disneyland! There are rides here! Why aren't we riding them? In those days you paid for rides with tickets, and the back of the ticket booklet had a checklist of the rides available, with a little empty box next to the names of each of the rides and attractions. I recall looking at it impatiently while Mom finished her pancakes.
(Note: I once did a day at Disneyland with the friend who requested this blog post. I insisted upon getting there early and we did not leave until closing time. I basically ran him ragged. We rode some of my favorite rides multiple times. On the way home he said that he had no idea that it was possible to ride so damn many rides at the park in one long damn day.)
But it's only recently that I made the motorcycling-theme park ride connection. I find myself biking out to Clifton rather frequently these days; it's a little hamlet in the woods about fifteen miles away. There's a popular little general store/pub there where I buy myself an 8 oz. ice cold glass bottle of Diet Coke; I sit out on the porch and chat with other guys (often retirees) while I drink it. Clifton Road is designated a "Virginia Byway," which means that it's picturesque. One of the first features of this road one encounters is a spot where the trees are high and come together at the treetops, providing a natural tunnel of solid green shade. On hot days it is noticeably cooler under the trees than elsewhere on the road, and my spirit always lifts when I enter this woodsy part on my Harley. It reminds me of the shady Kindergarten playground at my first elementary school. When I see the light slanting down from the treetops the years fade away and I am young again. What's more, it's uphill. Whenever I reach this point I lean back and go Ahhhhhh.
The speed limit is 35-40 mph on Clifton Road, and I feel no need to go faster than that. I've discovered that I can leave the bike in third gear practically the entire way (the revs are right in the power band) and put my feet comfortably up on the highway pegs. It's a very pleasant little ride. There are fields, woods and nice homes with weathervanes to see.
Pulling into Clifton, the road descends through a series of tight, decreasing radius corners and the entry into the downtown area is very much like a Disney dark house ride. It's almost a theatrical effect, in fact. I park in front of the general store/pub - often with other motorcycles parked there. Clifton is a big motorcyclist destination.
But Clifton is just one ride and one place! In the thirteen months I've been motorcycling I've made all sorts of trips, and they are covered in my YouTube Motorcycle Playlist. There are 78 videos here.
And then there's riding in the open, heading down a freeway or a country road. I can ride at 35 mph or at 65 mph - I really don't care. I'm happy either way. Oftentimes I don't really care about the views from the bike, either. A nice country scene is very pleasant, but I get almost as much enjoyment as when the view around is cars and concrete embankments. There is something about being perched atop a big V-twin engine cruising at speed that is deeply satisfying and therapeutic. My Harley 103 cid twin cam is a shaky proposition at stop lights (it's just what Harleys do), and when it's hot the rear cylinder cuts out to help the engine run cooler - at these times the engine sounds positively odd, huffing and puffing. But at speed all the vibrations mostly disappear and one is soothed with the throaty basso of the pipes and the distinct feeling that one is riding a sort of wave - the way surfers describe. I think of it as an engine wave: compress, fire, expel, compress, fire, expel...
And then there's the slipstream, the wind. I love being in the wind. I have always looked forward to windy days - I like it when the scenery is shuddering - and being atop a bike is like being in a never-ending windy day. The windshield on my Road King is removable. For all-day trips where I'm doing a lot of freeway riding it makes sense to have the windshield on. It moderates the 65 mph buffeting one gets on the chest. But a lot of the time I like to take the windshield off - especially on hot days. The wind blows right through my mesh jacket and the cooling is wonderful.
The standard Harley Road King is notable for having lots of chrome. Nowadays the blacked-out look is popular - that's the Road King Special - but I love chrome. On sunny days when there are clouds, all that gets reflected in the chrome. It looks amazing, especially though the Transitions-darkened visor on my helmet. The pink, orange and blue of sunrise reflected in a chrome front end is just indescribable.
And then there's The Freedom. Harley-Davidson's advertising makes a constant point of this, but it is inarguable that being atop a motorcycle makes you more a part of the scenery than being in a car. You have a much closer connection to the road (your boot heels are making direct Flintstonian contact with it, in fact), and a long as there have been American roads there has been American freedom. And where we don't have roads, we make them. I think wanderlust is in an American's DNA the way it isn't with Europeans or anyone else. Whether it's freighthopping on a train or riding an iron horse motorcycle down a road, the ability to pick up and leave and journey is a deeply-rooted American liberty.
Finally, I've ridden Suzukis, Zeros, Kawasakis, Victorys, Hondas, Indians and Can-Ams. They're all great, but nothing makes me feel the way I do riding a Harley. An American on an American bike on an American road. DANG.
So, Bob, that's why I like to ride. Well, that's a part of it, anyway.
20 May 2019
My Friday motorcycle ride was a rather short (107 miles) and unexciting one: I rode to Fredericksburg, visited Classic Iron where I bought my Harley, had lunch at a diner I like, then stopped at a Harley dealership in Triangle (where I had a good conversation with one of the sales guys) and had a Coke in Clifton. Stuff I've done before. Stuff I've done too often, probably.
I-95 backed up badly because of a crash on the way home - a frequent occurrence - so I had to use Route 1. So my ride was no big deal and certainly nothing I haven't done before. But it was a ride... which is all that counts. Being on that motorcycle is therapeutic in a way I cannot describe. I wish these thunderstorms would quit appearing in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley on Fridays - I want to ride west!
I went home, sat in my favorite chair and took a nap, and something happened to me that has never happened to me before: I was startled awake by a dream, twice. I dreamed about being on a motorcycle, and was happily riding down a road. All of a sudden I can see a car in the opposite lane coming into my lane and I’m headed right for him - I woke with a jolt, my eyes wide open. I’ve seen this sort of thing happen with television and movie characters, but I have never had it happen to me. Weird. So I tell my wife about this and settle back into my chair where I again doze off. (This is only about five or ten minutes later.) Again, I'm on a motorcycle riding down a road when I see a mother and her children stepping off a curb and into my lane; I'm about to hit them. BAM, startled awake wide-eyed again! Weirder still!
As I currently have some worrisome health concerns my wife suggested that this is at the root of the anxious dreaming, and she's probably correct.
Yesterday was pretty hot. Before and after church I took a short motorcycle ride to get out into the breeze. I chatted with a talkative fellow who arrived in Clifton on a Harley Dyna festooned with "Sturgis" everywhere, Sturgis being a big annual motorcycle gathering in South Dakota. He was sharing stories about his various motorcycle mishaps. A careful listening and cross examination by me confirmed that all of his accidents happened as a result of his doing something that was not entirely wise. When it comes to motorcycles, I try to learn from others' mistakes. It's less painful that way.
17 May 2019
I was planning a long and ambitious ride west out to Front Royal to meet a friend, then a ride to Madison and then home again (about 215 miles total) - but he developed a fever with chills. So he's out. The other thing is that the weather forecast changed overnight... now there is upwards of a 50% chance for thunderstorms in the afternoon out west. Hm. Same situation I had May 3rd. The weather forecast is more promising to the south - so I guess I ride south again!
14 May 2019
Yesterday I wrote about the Zero FXS, an electrical motor-powered bike I was impressed with. At one point I got around to viewing Zero's promotional video for it. Let's see: our rider starts out precariously balanced atop a parking structure wall, he mounts the bike and does wheelies, two wheel jumps, rubber burning, he's wearing no gloves, he blasts down what appears to be a sidewalk, stands upon the pegs, balances upon the front wheel... Zero appears to be marketing the FXS to the young amputation candidate. How did Zero's legal counsel give a green light to this video? The FXS is an absolutely sensible commuter bike for those of us not desiring chronic pain - but you wouldn't know it from the video.
|The Zero FXS: $8.5K or $10.5K depending upon battery.|
Saturday was fun. I got an email from Indian Motorcycles telling me that if I test rode an Indian bike in May the "Call of Duty Endowment" (funding organizations that prepare veterans for careers) gets $50. Okay! So I test rode an Indian Chieftain, which is their version of the Harley Street Glide, with a fork-mounted fairing. I took a video. Nice bike but... I'm happy with my Harley Road King. The Indian - with its big 116 CID V-twin engine - reminded me of the Harley Heritage Softtail with its big 114 CID V-twin, which I also test rode. To me it feels like you are not sitting on a fully-designed motorcycle but upon a big, lumpy engine surrounded with a frame and handlebars. I suppose the 103 Twin Cam V-twin on my Harley can also be said to be like that to some degree, but it feels more like I'm sitting on a product designed to give more of the feeling of a comprehensively-designed vehicle. That is, all the parts are in balance and functionally reinforce one another. The bigger V-twins are popular right now but I get the sense that they cannot and should not get any bigger.
(Asterisk: My 103 Twin Cam engine is very shaky at stops. It's the classic thing that Harleys do and are loved for. What I'm talking about is vibration at speed. My V-twin smooths out at speed. The bigger V-twins feel shaky when on the move.)
I also rode a Zero FXS electrical bike. Video here. Whoooo-boy, was that fun! 78 foot-pounds of instantly-available torque in a bike weighing less than 300 pounds... it flies! Last year I rode a Zero S, which was my introduction to the world of electrically-powered motorcycles, so I knew what to expect. The FXS has a somewhat better seating position for me than the leaned forward one on the S. Every time I came to a stop in the S it felt like my body wanted to fly forward over the handlebars. The FXS has more of an up and down touring bike seating position. That being said, it's no touring bike, however. Being on that seat for more than about an hour would hurt. I can see why guys own more than one motorcycle - "the proper horse for the course." The Road King could be my all-day touring bike and the Zero FXS a commuter bike for my 25 mile round trip to and from work. The $8,500 version with the 50 mile range would be suitable. (Pay an extra $2K and you double the range. Pay $600 for the speed charger and you dramatically reduce the time to fully charge.)
I am unlike the typical dismissive Harley owner in that I think electrical bikes are cool. No clutch, transmission, oil, coolant, spark plugs or exhaust... maintenance is easy. I suspect these things may be the wave of the future in the way quartz watches took over the market share from mechanical watches. However, old forms persist: fountain pens, mechanical watches and vinyl records became the desirable luxury items with "soul." Perhaps in another 10 or 20 years gasoline-powered motorcycles will become the luxury items if most motorcyclists own electric bikes.
Coming back from lunch in Clifton - my wife was out shopping for fabric - I encountered some rain, which gave me the opportunity to wear the Harley-Davidson rain gear I bought on sale in Utah. It stows nicely in my saddlebag. It works fine! I think I need a black velcro band to secure the pants bottoms more closely to my legs, however. I'm concerned about getting the rain gear plastic near the hot exhaust. Melted plastic is almost impossible to get fully off of a hot chrome pipe.
At dusk my wife and I encountered something in the car I fear while on a bike: deer leaping over the railings to dash across the street. Hit one of those in a car and you have bodywork to repair. Hit one on a bike and they do repair body work on you.
9 May 2019
Last night I understood that there was the monthly meeting of the HOGS - Harley Owners Group - meeting at the local Harley dealership, so I stopped by to check it out. When I got to the door an employee told me that the meeting was cancelled because it conflicted with a funeral. I guess I should have double-checked. So I buried my disappointment with a couple of scoops of Baskin-Robbins ice cream.
8 May 2019
I fixed the rear flat tire on my motorcycle yesterday... I pulled the piece of metal from the tread and plugged it, which is exactly what a gas station would do. And now I understand tire plugging technology! So far it holds air just fine but I shall check again today - and more often.
So how long can I/should I ride on this tire? I have read accounts of people driving for 10,000 miles and years on a plugged tire. (I think we did this on our Hyundai.) The rear tire on my Suzuki was plugged; I changed it later. The tire has 6,700 miles on it. A motorcycle guru yesterday told me, "If you got less than 8,000 miles on a motorcycle tire you'd be disappointed. If you got more than 15,000 on a motorcycle tire you'd be happy." There's still an acceptable amount of tread on the tire so I think I'll just leave it on until I replace both tires. Or perhaps before that a little voice in my head will whisper, "Change out that tire."
7 May 2019
Flat rear tire on my motorcycle! I unknowingly rode all the way home from Clifton with it that way... the front tire felt kind of odd and twitchy in turns so I thought the problem was there. Nope. Good thing the tire has very stiff sidewalls. I somehow acquired a piece of metal in the tread. I don't know if it can be plugged or if I need to get a new tire. (When I bought my Suzuki the rear tire - which I later replaced - had a plug in it.) Whichever it is, I won't be riding it for a while.
Hey, look, an animated Harley Twin Cam engine! This is the one in my bike. (If you don't see it, change browsers.)
6 May 2019
My Friday motorcycle ride was exactly as I described that it would be - a trip to Spotsylvania Courthouse. The video is here. There are a lot of Civil War locations in Virginia and, despite the fact that I've lived in the state for nearly 32 years, I haven't seen them all. Riding the length of the Brock Road from Spotsylvania Courthouse to the Wilderness Crossroads was cool.
Dropping the key on my front fender and creating a paint chip on the immaculate Harley-Davidson paint job was heartbreaking, but I'm over it. It hit it with the touch-up paint and it isn't so glaringly visible. As my friend Kelly might say, You can either ride the bike or baby it. A problem came to light, however, when I attempted to check the tire pressure on the back tire: I can't. The valve stem core seems to be jammed. I can move the tiny rod in the middle of the valve down, but no air comes out. It looks like I'm going to be replacing a valve stem core. It isn't a difficult operation, but getting my big hands past the disc brake which blocks the access to the stem is a challenge.
Friday! Day off! Where to ride to today? I was planning to take the mighty Road King west to Front Royal to visit a Confederate Museum in town that I've never seen, but the forecast out that way is for thundershowers in the afternoon. While I have some rain gear in a bag that sits in my saddlebag, I won't knowingly ride into thundershowers. The forecast for points south is clear - so it looks like I head south.
One trip I'm considering is a ride down to Fredericksburg to the Stafford Courthouse Road, then up the Brock Road to Orange Plank Road. I've never done that. At least, not that I recall. So it looks like a Stafford County day today.
I think I'll take the GoPro.
2 May 2019
I'm wearing the Harley-Davidson shirt I bought myself for my birthday.
30 April 2019
My daughter Meredith is doing well on her Harley Sportster. She took it onto the streets the other day. She's taking the same approach I did last year, little by little, expanding her boundaries...
29 April 2019
Friday: It rained, but not until about 2 PM. I did various errands. Had I known the rain was going to hold off I'd have ridden somewhere.
Saturday: It was a beautiful day so we secured at about Noon and my wife and I took a motorcycle ride into Clifton where we had lunch. That was a lot of fun. The day was bright, dry and gusty - it reminded me of California.
Rain. Grrrrr. Today I have to drive a car around like ordinary people.
25 April 2019
I got some rather unfortunate health news yesterday - I won't be explaining it here - and so in the afternoon I took a 100+ mile motorcycle ride out in the country to clear my head. It worked wonders. Just me, the roar of the bike as muffled by my earplugs, and my thoughts in a full face helmet.
There are motorcycles with powerful audio systems (Harley's Street Glide, Road Glide and Ultra), but I don't need that at all. If I have to listen to music while out on the road there's my Volkswagen. My Road King has everything you need for all day riding - saddlebags, a bigger touring frame for a more solid and planted ride on freeways, a windshield and cruise control - and nothing you don't need.
My ride took me out to the The Plains, Virginia, along I-66. I started by heading down I-95 in the HOV lane and taking the Prince William County Parkway from I-95 S to I-66 W. I've never done that before because I didn't know the two interstates were connected. I know it was a country ride because when I got home I had to clean off the bugs from my visor, windshield and forks... As usual, I avoided the rush hour traffic by taking the back roads home which took me by my usual haunt of Clifton, VA, where I enjoyed a Coke and briefly chatted with a pair of retirees.
The forecast is for rain tomorrow - drat! The second Friday in a row where the weather has messed up my ride day.
A perfect motorcycle commute into work! Why? (1) The days are getting longer and it was dawn at 6:08 AM when I left the house. It's much pleasanter to ride in with the pretty colors in the sky (reflected in my chrome) than in cold darkness. (2) The temperature was 67 degrees when I left the house, so I wore my summer armored mesh jacket. It's nice to feel the breeze blow through the fabric, which was aided by, (3) I took the windshield off the Road King. Hello Spring and Summer!
The more I think about it, the more I consider my Harley rides to merely be a continuation of the rides I used to take on my 1964 Schwinn Sting Ray when I was a kid. I appears that one of my lifetime pleasures is riding around the neighborhood or region on a bike, motorized or not. Yesterday I rode to Clifton, as is my occasional wont, and saw the pretty red Indian Springfield that I sometimes see parked or heading down a street in Springfield. The owner came out of the pub wearing a mesh jacket exactly like mine, which I used as a conversation starter. We chatted about our bikes. He's about my age and height, and lives in Springfield/Burke. We'll probably bump into one another again.
Did I mention this? No. My daughter Meredith passed the MSF motorcycle course last weekend! (Video.) And a couple of days ago she and her husband bought a Harley Sportster 1200! Am I worried? Of course I am. I'm her father. But... she has really good balance and seems to take to it naturally. The videos I have seen indicate that she's really good at low speed riding - which is a challenge for anyone. She's a fitness instructor so that's why, I suppose.
Because of rain on Friday I didn't get much of a motorcycle ride in (video). But on Saturday my wife was away for three hours or so, so I took a short ride to the Manassas battlefield where I sat at the base of a tree on Henry House Hill and watched the big puffy clouds blow by. It was a clear, breezy day and was quite pleasant. That's the Widow Judith Henry house on the horizon. Her story is a sad one. From wikipedia: "On July 21, 1861, the house was inhabited by ... Judith Carter Henry, and their two sons. The 85-year-old woman was bed-ridden and unable to leave the house. Mrs. Henry was mortally wounded when a projectile of the Union artillery crashed through the bedroom wall and tore off one of her feet and inflicted multiple injuries, from which she died later that day." The takeaway: If you are a frail old woman who is confined to a bed, have somebody get you off to safety before your property becomes a battlefield. Come to think of it, even if you are able bodied, a battlefield is a poor place to attempt to hunker down in the house.
19 April 2019
Good Friday... at 9 AM I set out on my Harley to get at least an hour or two of riding in before the forecast thunderstorms arrived. Here's the video:
A "Better than Nothing" Ride to Clifton, Virginia (4/19/19)
I used some nice copyright free music offered by YouTube, "Sunflower" by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena. The strummed guitar chords seem pastoral and woodsy. You get about six minutes of it.
Until I get a different GoPro and a microphone in my helmet so I can narrate, I think my moto-video blog style will have to be video, music and captions. Well - it's different, anyway. All the other motorcycle blog videos feature narration.
16 April 2019
I was able to get a little motorcycling riding in yesterday during lunch: I rode to the independent Italian-owned pizza place near me, Bozzelli's. The wind was very gusty, but other than make a lot of noise in my helmet it doesn't really impede a 300 pound man atop a 800+ pound Harley. At no time did I feel like I was in danger of getting blown off course.
On Friday I got a short motorcycle ride to the dry cleaners and the library in before it started raining.
On Saturday morning I drove over to the Patriot Harley-Davidson dealership in Fairfax for their Demo Day. Demo Days are cool; this is where you get to ride all sorts of different Harleys than the one you own after signing the scary legal document indemnifying the dealership against anyone's injury. You also agree to be responsible for any damages to the bike. I break out in a cold sweat whenever I sign one of these. Just to be familiar with Harleys other than my twin cam 103 cid Road King, I rode:
2019 Heritage Softail - This is a deservedly popular bike. It's neither too big nor too small, and looks great. (Not as great as the Road King, but great.) I had ridden a 2018 107 cid model before; this was the hotter 114 cid version. It's feels exactly like what it is - you sit atop a big powerful engine. But it's a lot of fun and is an accessible, easy to ride bike. It doesn't have the big heavy stable touring frame of the Road King, but I'd still ride it for long distances. It is more nimble than a Road King. I'd imagine this is a great bike for negotiating twisty mountain roads.
2019 Fat Bob - The last time I rode a bike with a big wide rear tire - a Victory Hammer - it felt like that rear wheel had a will of its own. Not so with this aggressive-looking bike, which is a sporting machine. It is very quick and nimble; I was enjoying making it swerve and turning corners in it. It has pegs, however, and I found myself missing the floorboards for my big feet. Not my kind of ride, but I was glad to have been able to try it.
2019 Sportster Iron 883 - "Iron 883" is a cool name, no? There's some marketing going on, here. The Sportster, or, colloquially "Sporty," is Harley's traditional everyman bike. They start at only $9K and are meant to be something of a starter bike, or, since it has a smaller, lighter frame, a bike for women. When I got on it there was some amusement from the other guys riding with me: big guy, small bike. (The rides are led by a member of the HOGs - Harley Owner's Group - along a defined route which includes street and freeway riding. A HOG leads it and a HOG follows up in the rear.) Now that I have a bike with a 103 cid engine I found the 883cc engine wanting in low end torque - I was constantly shifting. The seat was small and made my rear end sore. The Sporty is not my ride at all and it wasn't designed to be.
2019 Road King standard - After the Sporty I wanted something my size! The 2019 has the 107 cid Milwaukee 8 engine with improved horsepower and torque over my 2016 twin cam 103, and I could feel the difference. Stock pipes... the Milwaukee 8 sounds something like an aggressive sewing machine with stock pipes. It needs aftermarket slip-ons to give it the deep throaty sound people associate with Harleys. But it's a great ride! I have ridden a 2018 M8 Road King on another occasion; I wasn't used to the mini-ape handlebars and found it a little concerning. Now that I'm used to them I prefer them. Do I want the M8 with greater power? No. I'm fine with my twin cam 103. "More horsepower will not get you out of the problems that horsepower got you into."
Another cool thing about Demo Days is my ability to climb on an unfamiliar motorcycle and just ride it. I was doing just that all last year, but now I feel more confident about it. I have to do different things with my feet in order to shift and use the rear brake pedal, but I adapted. (As it turns out, my Road King has the floorboard and shifter ideally placed so that I don't have to move my left foot at all. I rarely use the heel shifter - it's not really needed.)
11 April 2019
A brisk ride into work this morning. This time I took the I-395 Express Lane north into Shirlington. The temperature was 50 degrees, which, even when traveling at 70 miles an hour, doesn't feel especially cold to me. Riding all winter made me thoroughly acclimatized! A few people at work, seeing me come in wearing leather and carrying a helmet, ask what it is I'm riding. I squint my eyes, stare challengingly for a moment and, in my best imitation of a Sam Elliot mutter, I reply, "A Harley." This seems to satisfy the questioner.
Yesterday I showed a guy who recently bought a big expensive Road Glide Ultra the best way of getting on his bike: Put the right foot on the right floorboard, and, holding the handlebar and gripping the front brake lever (so the bike doesn't move), stand putting your entire weight on the right side of the bike, then lift your left leg over the seat and sit. This way you don't attempt to fling a leg over a backrest or a tour pack in the back. It's also easier than lifting and throwing your right foot over the seat from the low side of the bike, which is the usual way of getting on a bike with a tour pak. My way is easier and keeps your boot from scuffing some painted surface. When I described this method to him he wondered if that technique wouldn't stress the kickstand or cause the bike to lean over and fall. No. I demonstrated that it actually takes some weight off the kickstand, and even I - at 300 pounds - won't be able to overcome the weight of the bike to tip it. (I can easily get on my Road King this way and my bike is probably a hundred pounds or so lighter than his Road Glide.)
I developed this method for when I have my bike parked in the garage sideways in front of the VW and I therefore cannot get on via the low (kickstand) side. I was initially lifting and throwing my left foot over the seat, but that caused some back muscle pain. The floorboard mount technique is easier.
10 April 2019
I had a nice ride into work this morning as it's now getting lighter earlier. Pretty colors emerge in the sky at around 6 AM and I don't have the inky darkness of the dead of winter. Hooray! On a motorcycle it's always better if you can see the road ahead with some clarity. I use my high beams a lot but, still...
9 April 2019
I rode my Harley to lunch yesterday, just to get it out before the rains came. The temps were in the high 70's/low 80's, so I rode without the windshield, letting the wind blow through my armored mesh jacket. Sitting at lights was a pain but riding in the wind - feet on highway pegs - was very nice.
My Road King got a compliment from a guy where I had lunch... that happens fairly often. It is a handsome bike! I am almost as proud of that Harley as I was of my 1964 flamboyant lime-colored Schwinn Super Deluxe Sting-Ray when I was eight. Almost.
8 April 2019
Saturday was nice so we took the convertible top down in the VW. We stopped at the nearby Harley dealership and got a removable passenger backrest for the Road King, and I took my bride out for a ride to Clifton (a short ride). This was a lot of fun, and she feels much more secure with the backrest - and I don't have to worry about accelerating under her and leaving her somewhere on the road. (This was never likely to happen, but it kind of felt like it could.) The backrest, a genuine Harley-Davidson part, was expensive: HD - "hundreds of dollars."
On an intersection on the way to Clifton a guy in a BMW changed his mind at a light and unexpectedly decided to go through rather than make his left hand turn, almost pulling in front of us. BMW drivers are the worst. But don't take my word for it. More. More.
"If you ever feel like your life is a waste, reflect that there are Germans in factories who attach turn signals to BMWs."
5 April 2019
Arrraughhh! It's raining. On a Friday. Rainy and raw. All day long.
Knowing this was coming I pulled the windshield off the Road King, put on my summer mesh jacket and gloves and rode around my neighborhood at dusk yesterday for nearly an hour. Very pleasant. Unlike the ride home from work yesterday in 70 degree weather, which required my wearing the leather jacket and thick gloves I wore into work when it was 40 degrees. I need to plan better!
There was a monumental crash on I-95 (overturned truck) yesterday that tied up traffic for miles around, so I came up with a new way of taking side streets home. It took longer and involved rather long waits at lights. It was warm enough yesterday that the Engine Idle Temperature Management System (EITMS) on my bike activated: when the engine reaches a certain temperature and the bike is at idle, the fuel injector for the rear cylinder shuts down to cool things. It makes a weird puffing sound that takes some getting used to - it sounds like something is wrong with the engine. I'll be hearing this all summer... (It can be deactivated, but why do that?)
4 April 2019
I rode the Harley into work this morning. I like the ride back home better than the ride into work - it's light outside! Riding with traffic in the dark always makes me nervous. I wear a blaze orange pinafore with reflective tape that I got at the Harley factory tour; it makes me more visible. I'm looking forward to dusk arriving earlier so I can ride in the light...
1 April 2019
Yesterday marks one year from the day that I first nervously rode my new Suzuki onto the nearby commuter parking lot and ran it around, getting used to it. So I've been riding for one year. No drops or accidents yet... knock on wood. There have been a lot of minor mistakes I hope I have learned from, however. I have put a total of 8,840 miles on the Suzuki and my Harley in that first year.
On Friday I rode out to Winchester, VIDEO. The clouds kind of bummed me out - I didn't get the usual high I get blasting down the freeway, feet up on the pegs. And then it started raining lightly when the forecast said 0% chance of rain. Hmf. The forecast is for rain this Friday.
And yes, that's right, I'm looking at the weather for Friday on a Monday morning. I live for the weekends!