Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Into My Third Year...

2 June 2020

Last night I had my first HOGs ride since the last day of last year! It was a short ride from Patriot Harley in Fairfax to the Reston park pavilion where we had an officer's meeting - but it was still nice to be out again! I got the June newsletter out yesterday. I asked if everyone was okay with the length of my newsletters (they are running at 33 pages a month) or if they are too tediously long. One fellow said he'd like to see them a bit shorter, so I think I'll do a 10% reduction and make them 30 pages. That also has the effect of stretching out my stock of filler articles.

1 June 2020

On Friday Tom and I did a ride out to a few Civil War sites that I was not acquainted with, VIDEO. Since getting on a motorcycle I'm finding a bunch of these. I'm not sure why. I guess I'm going down a lot more odd little roads than I ever did in a car.

28 May 2020

I spent some quality time on the garage floor with my Harley yesterday, cleaning the dirt and grime from the metal wheels and cleaning the bug splatter from other surfaces; my Road King is all nice and clean and shiny again. But it's raining today and I have to work, so it's a case of being all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I ordered some oils and a filter for what's known as a "three hole" oil change job on my Harley: motor oil, transmission oil and primary oil. I'm coming up on a 20,000 mile maintenance. Normally Harley recommends using their "Syn3" oil - same oil for each use. (It's synthetic and used in all three cases, hence "Syn3.") This time I plan to use Redline special purpose oils for the primary and transmission. I've heard mechanics rave about how this stuff helps you find neutral a lot better and quiets shifting noises, so I'll see for myself. I'll probably be doing the oil change next week.

27 May 2020

I'm nearly done with the June issue of Stars and Pipes, the local chapter Harley Owners Group newsletter. These things kind of write themselves, to be honest. For instance, I got word of this yesterday via a friend: Motorcyclist hits bear crossing Route 29. “Witnesses observed the bear run away from the crash scene..." As much as I'd like to include the phrase "hit and run" in the newsletter, I cannot until we find out what the medical condition of the motorcyclist is.

...which brings me to a consideration. I spent decades doing Civil War reenactment unit newsletters and a website, and years managing a website for a rugby club. I could joke about injuries and include cartoons with those hobbies - for the most part. Motorcycling is different! I have one rather funny cartoon about a tombstone of a motorcyclist that I cannot use because people have had spouses and friends die in motorcycle accidents. It would be a horrible joke. "Clumsy jesting is no joke," as Aesop once said.

It's a little like when I used to take photos during rugby matches. Some guy would come off the pitch bleeding profusely from a head or face wound and I'd wonder, "Should I shoot this?" Turns out, yeah, I should. In rugby a bloody face is a badge of honor - and it got to the point where some guy would get injured and call for me to get pictures!

Except for one time when our polite Japanese scrumhalf broke his collarbone during a match. As he was painfully easing himself into the car for a trip to the hospital he whispered, "No photo."

25 May 2020


Monday: I took a 203 mile motorcycle ride to Luray, VA (a very Confederate place) and other places. Nice weather! VIDEO.

21 May 2020

No motorcycle ride tomorrow. 90% chance of thunderstorms. Hmf.

18 May 2020

I had a nice motorcycle ride on a warm, then very warm, day on Friday. I rode to Berryville and Boyce, VA because I have never visited those two places. VIDEO. Could we retire out there? Yes... I think so.

I also stopped by the Winchester Harley-Davidson dealership and, on a whim, test rode a Suzuki Burgman 650. VIDEO. Test riding a scooter at a Harley dealership? Yep. I've always wanted to test ride one of those. It's in a class of its own: a touring scooter - a scooter than can maintain freeway speeds.

15 May 2020

I just got back from walking the dog - it's warm out there! And it's supposed to be sunny. Which means motorcycle ride!

This time I plan to head out to Berryville, in Clarke Country, VA. I don't think I've ever really visited there. There was a Civil War battle that took place there. I'm also interested in this "battle town" aspect with Daniel Morgan. I'll get there by taking the parkway to route 50 east, then take the ever-scenic Snickersville Turnpike to Bluemont, then head west on business route 7. Getting back will be via some other route. Maybe I'll just follow promising-looking country roads until I come to some recognizable point. I will take the GoPro, so there will be a Monday video.

Gee - I've got 127 videos in my motorcycle playlist. Not bad for just over two years of riding.

12 May 2020


2021 Harley-Davidsons Delayed!│3 Discontinued Models│Pan America and Bronx on Hold
- Big announcements, so this is another video to be linked in the next HOGs newsletter. It's no secret that Harley-Davidson hasn't been doing well coming into the pandemic; the pandemic itself has further slammed the company. They have a new guy in charge - a German! - and they are discontinuing models and delaying new bikes right now.

4 May 2020


I took two motorcycle rides this weekend - to the very same place! I rode out to the Snickersville Turnpike on Friday - then returned there the next day to show my wife. 108 miles on the bike is our longest two-up ride so far. When we completed the ride I asked Cari if she wanted to ride across the country on a motorcycle doing a few hundred miles a day and got a hasty "No!" I think we'd want a Road Glide Limited with the really plush passenger seating for that.

30 April 2020

It didn't rain yesterday and the temps went into the 70s, so I took a ride into Clifton for a "grab and go" lunch - except I didn't go. I sat outside on a picnic bench. While I was there I saw a striking '65 Caddy. Man, those things were long! VIDEO. Later on in the day I took a ride down to Quantico Cemetery and back home. It's expected to rain today and tomorrow so that will be it for rides for a while.

29 April 2020

On Monday I rode my Harley through the little town of Hillsboro, VA on Route 9, and saw many homemade banners and plaques - all relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. It occurred to me that what we are are in now is a sort of first cousin to Stockholm Syndrome (the state of mind when a captive begins to entertain positive thoughts about his or her captor). I call it Covid Culture. Characteristics of it are as follows... (and then I elected to not describe this).

28 April 2020
My birthday yesterday was fun! I did a ride into Harpers Ferry, which was closed. I knew that the Park Service attractions would be shut, but I didn't expect that the businesses (eateries, stores) would be closed as well. But they were.

I rode past the stanchion and into the town, which was deserted like the proverbial ghost town. Very strange. The only sound was my Harley - and then the Catholic Church bell started tolling. Weird! I caught it on video.


After that I rode into Charles Town, and then Bolivar Heights and then took a mountain road I've never been on before to a mountain pass I've never been to, and then rode through the quiet, quaint little towns of Purcellville and Hamilton, VA along old Route 7. It was a 160 mile ride.

24 April 2020


Rain today - no motorcycle ride. It looks like I'm going to be painting the master bathroom cabinets today and tomorrow. 

20 April 2020

On Friday I took a long ride out to visit Flint Hill and some other spots along the Zachary Taylor Highway. I stumbled across two especially interesting plaques: VIDEO. Albert Gallatin Willis... I know he was a seminary student, but what kind of a background prepares a person to lay down his life for his friend in such a dramatic and unambiguous way?

And I've always found John Brown Raider Dangerfield Newby an interesting and tragic character, but I never knew there was such a place as "Newby's Crossroads." I came across it quite by accident.

17 April 2020


Yes, I'm taking a ride today, solo. I'm heading out to Flint Hill to investigate the Civil War plaques I saw there. It's supposed to be cloudy and cooler. Phooey on that. Where's Spring?

16 April 2020

Last night my HOGs chapter did a virtual meeting via Internet. It went quite well. I did a screen grab and summarized it for the newsletter, so there's one more page.  The software used had a polling feature, so this was used to enliven the proceedings: The toilet paper of choice during the quarantine is Charmin (it's squeezably soft), the great majority of HOGs have only done 1-5 rides since the last in-person chapter meeting in March (I have ridden almost ever day) and the binge watch television of choice was Tiger King.

I also did a couple of pages I call "Weird Harleys" - here are two: Hamburger Harley, Mobile Booking Cage Harley (1921 - seen above). I like the gigantic padlock.

14 April 2020


A ton of rain during most of the day led to pleasant riding weather in the late afternoon, so I did just that for an hour or so.

13 April 2020

On Friday I took the Not-Diggin'-It Ride. VIDEO. The winds were pretty intense, and it was cold and usually cloudy. Normally I don't mind being out on a bright gusty day - but the combination of the three things caused me to truncate my ride. I stopped by the Harley-Davidson dealership to buy a small compressor to fix flats while out on the road and also some new mesh gloves.

10 April 2020

OUT ON THE HARLEY AGAIN TODAY! Where to? Flint Hill, VA. There might be a video and there might not.

9 April 2020

I'm still coming up with interesting filler for HOGs newsletters. The other day I did a page on the Batcycles ridden by the 1966 Batman and Batgirl. Batman's was created by a couple of Burbankers. Batgirl's actually has a frilly lace along the edges of the fairing - geez. Not only does it look stupid but good luck trying to keep that clean...

It being in the high 70s yesterday I took a short ride on my Harley. Yesterday I tried something I've never tried before: riding with earplugs connected to an iPod. I didn't like it at all. First of all, I don't need the extra noise. If I want to listen to music I'd rather do it in a quieter car. Secondly, I prefer my custom earplugs which largely removes the wind noise and allows me to hear the exhaust note about 30 dB down. Being on a bike is my time to remove distractions and simply be on the bike. So it's as I suspected: I really don't need or want a sound system on a bike.

6 April 2020


I did indeed take a motorcycle ride into the Shenandoah Valley on Friday; I rode with Dave, a guy who lives just down the street who owns a loud orange Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic (you can hear whenever he goes by) and his friend, who rides a BMW. (VIDEO.) I model my new H-D warm weather mesh jacket at the end.

3 April 2020

Friday! Nice day today - sunny and 60 or so. (Leather jacket weather.) 0% rain in the forecast. Motorcycle ride! I'm riding out with Dave, the guy who lives down the street from me with the loud orange and black Ultra Classic. You can hear his pipes a block or two away. He and some others are headed to the Shenandoah Valley - I think. I'll find out later today. I'll bring the GoPro to do a video.

My new Harley-Davidson mesh jacket arrived in the mail; it looks great and fits very well, being a tall. It doesn't ride up in the back like my other jackets - hooray! I tested it out yesterday; it's a bit too cool to wear it just yet but perhaps I will anyway.

I spent an hour or so washing and waxing my Harley. It looks great - but then, it always does.

2 April 2020


One of the many articles I'm doing for future HOGs newsletter is a survey of past Harley-Davidson advertising; so far I've done them for the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. (I'm saving the 70s - the most fun - for last.) These are easy - I just find attractive images and provide comments. By 1950 the Harley Advertising Guy was well defined: military style crush cap with a H-D pin in front, long sleeved shirt with tie (why?!?), tie clasp or chain, an H-D pin on the shirt and jackboots. I guess in 1950 that's what you wore when you took your Hydra-Glide out for a ride. No gloves, no glasses, no helmet - yikes! By the way, those olde-tymey H-D pins go for over $100 on e-Bay these days.

The other day, inspired by a 1976 Happy Days metal school lunch box, I came up with an article about Hollywood motorcycles: the Fonz's Triumph, Marlon Brando's The Wild One Triumph and Schwarzenegger's Terminator 2 Harley Fat Boy.


Harley-Davidson is a company that has been around since 1903 with a lot of lore; I don't see running out of interesting bits of history to explore anytime soon.

1 April 2020

Today marks the start of my third year motorcycling! Some stats: I rode 8,840 miles on two bikes (my Suzuki starter bike and my Harley) at the end of my first year. Today, at the end of my second year I've ridden 20,320 total on two bikes (this does not count test rides at dealerships). That means I have ridden 11,480 miles in my second year. I have put 14,869 miles on my Harley Road King; still love it! Best of all, so far no drops or accidents! (Knock on wood.)

This is the year to start being especially safety-minded; one must never let up on that. According to the Hurt Report, "More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years." I'm not entirely sure how to interpret this. Am I clear of this statistic because I've had almost a year and a half riding my Harley or does it apply because I have less than 3 years experience? I recall reading somewhere about two spikes in accidents: one within a rider's first six months (inexperience) and another between 3 to 5 years of experience (over-confidence).

The other day I was riding in Clifton, VA and decided to widen out my ride by going down streets I haven't been down before. I came across what looked like an old cemetery with gravel paths. I took the Harley down these and found myself going uphill on a path that had some especially uneven surfaces. The path ended unexpectedly on a grade - drat. So I had to turn around. (It was either that or motor around across graves, which I didn't want to do.) It was very tricky and I did this carefully, telling myself, "I am NOT going to drop this 820 pound bike!" I didn't. But I reprimanded myself for being cocky and resolved to keep the bike on solid pavement.

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Into My Third Year...

2 June 2020 Last night I had my first HOGs ride since the last day of last year! It was a short ride from Patriot Harley in Fairfax to the...