Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Into My Third Year...

From this point on my motorcycle content will be in my usual blog.  It has become too clunky to type up text there and then re-post it here. Also, all motorcycle-related videos will be in my YouTube Motorcycle Channel

23 December 2020

I rode my motorcycle for a couple of hours yesterday, it being a sunny, cool and gusty day - my favorite kind of weather. Riding through leaves blowing in the air is a singular pleasure for me. I only went to the Harley dealership near Quantico, but the enjoyment-to-time-spent ratio was very high. I do enjoy getting out. Earlier in the day I bought lunch for a friend who is retiring in four days and rode my bike to Clifton wearing the wrong pants and got cold legs. If you're going to be out on a bike in the cold you have to be dressed for it! (Time to fetch the thermal underwear from storage.) And now I need to wash the bike.

22 December 2020

I took the Road King out for the first time in a couple of weeks. I did about thirty miles. The streets are in good shape; it was nice to get back on it! In another 500 miles or so it'll be time to do an oil change. My bike also needs a wash.

8 December 2020

I attended a virtual HOGs officer meeting last night. Some officers I worked with this year are leaving, and many are staying on in new roles, but I'm still going to be the newsletter editor in 2021. (I have all sorts of articles in the buffer for use.) They eliminated the role of Historian because that's basically what the newsletter is. But Covid is still making its presence felt in the club: no banquet in January, fewer rides, etc. It hasn't been that great of a year in the club as far as rides are concerned - let's get the vaccine distributed! 

Yesterday in the late afternoon - with riders from the local VFW Chapter and a bunch of fire trucks - I did a parade ride past the Fairfax home of a 100 year-old World War II veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars. That was cool. Literally. It was about 40 degrees outside. Definitely heated gloves weather. 

In the two years I've owned my Harley I have put 22,206 miles on it; that's an average of 925 miles a month. I suspect in the coming year I'll be averaging somewhat less than that. It's not that I've lost my enjoyment of riding - it's that I now feel somewhat less driven and compelled to ride. 

25 November 2020

The December Fairfax HOGs newsletter is now finished. I let my wife look at it for a final edit and then off it goes, newsletter number 11 (January-February is combined) for the Plague Year of 2020. Quite an achievement, I think. I'm happy with the content and format of these and am reasonably sure there aren't many HOGs chapters with anything like them. 

23 November 2020

Friday was fun! Me and my frequent riding buddy Tom rode to the Shenandoah Valley to visit some sites of interest along the Valley Pike (now Route 11). Yes, there is a video. I've ridden through the attractive little town of Woodstock before and noticed a curious outline of a little soldier holding a pike used as a representative town glyph. Wondering about this, I supposed that he might be from a weathervane atop an important building, like a courthouse. So on a whim I led us to the Shenandoah County courthouse right there on Route 11, and, yes, there he was on the weathervane. So there's that mystery solved. We also found and rode through Virginia's only working covered bridge - that was cool.

16 November 2020

On Friday my riding friend Tim and I headed out to a celebrated burger joint in Winchester. The beef comes from nearby Berryville, is fresh, and the food is as good as reported in an "Only in Your State" e-mail we get. Somewhat expensive, but good. You get what you pay for.

On the way home I was leading and we agreed to follow 55 all the way. At one point, where 55, 17 and I-66 all become one on I-66, I noticed he wasn't behind me. So I waited, phoned, and then backtracked, wondering if he hit a deer or had mechanical trouble. I rode back about ten miles to where I last recalled seeing him behind me, but never did find him. I left another voice mail message, and then went home - the case of the disappearing motorcyclist. Turns out he look a turn on a road he always assumed was the continuation of 55, but wasn't, and that's how we got separated. It was a fun ride nevertheless. I bought a Harley-Davidson Christmas ornament at Winchester H-D. It's a little gas tank. Cool!

13 November 2020

It's Friday, which means another motorcycle ride, this time with my riding friend Tom. I don't know where we're going. Winchester, maybe?

9 November 2020

On Friday I did a ride with the HOGs, the "45 MPH Ride." It was called that because the leader was riding a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA and that's as fast as they go. At one point I got just behind the bike, and, getting gassed by fumes, faded back in the line. Nevertheless it was a fun time, and I enjoyed looking at this 78 year-old motorcycle. VIDEO.

The next day, Saturday, I went on another HOGs ride! There's a video with that as well

2 November 2020

On Friday I did one of my rare Not-Really-Diggin'-It Rides. The weather was overcast and between 50 and 52 degrees, and I didn't have the zip-in liner in my leather jacket, my heated gloves or my scarf and so I was somewhat cold and not enjoying the ride. So I rode for only four hours out towards Marshall, stopped for lunch at Patriot Harley-Davidson and called it quits. The cold weather riding season is officially here; best be prepared. That evening we dined out with friends. 

26 October 2020

Friday's ride was fun! My friend Tom and I rode to Gettysburg and toured the battlefield, the town and the Harley dealership. VIDEO. I left the house at 9 AM and returned home at 6:15 PM, riding 237 miles.

The metal "Harley-Davidson" label on my gas tank was in danger of coming off in Gettysburg (good thing I noticed it), so I had to figure out the proper glue to re-stick it on. Carpet tape to the rescue! That stuff is incredibly sticky, more so than Gorilla tape, even. I think two layers of that will do the trick.   

22 October 2020

We did the HOGs October birthday dinner last night at a local eatery. Lots of people there. As it turned out, my wife was the only one present whose birthday took place in October! It was fun. I had a meatloaf made with bison meat. I could hardly tell the difference. 

19 October 2020

Let's see... the weekend. I went on a very short HOGs TGIF ride on Friday. Rain was a constant threat, so we merely biked to a barbecue place and had lunch. There was mostly dry pavement, but there was a spitty rain now and then. No video!

13 October 2020

On Friday I test rode a Yamaha Star Venture (VIDEO) and a couple of Indian bikes (VIDEO) at Demo Days. 

8 October 2020

The weather looks great tomorrow - I want to visit a couple of motorcycle dealerships who are having a demo day. At one, Yamaha (the company that makes motorcycles and grand pianos), will have a truck there; I want to ride a Star Eluder (pictured). It's Yamaha's version of the Honda Gold Wing. At another an Indian truck will be present; I want to ride a Challenger. The Challenger is supposed to be the competition to the Harley Road Glide, which I have ridden and like. Both have chassis fairings

5 October 2020

On Friday I took a ride to Colonial Beach, VIDEO. Would I like to live there as a retirement home? Yes, I think so.  

28 September 2020

On Friday I rode out to the Shenandoah Valley for an all-day, 248 mile ride. Lots of fun, despite the fact that it rained when I rode home. I used my new National Parks Lifetime Pass to get onto the Skyline Drive. (I paid $80 for it and so far I've gotten $45 use out of it.) Yes, there is a video

21 September 2020

Weekend recap! Friday: I did the HOGs ride - which I have designated as "the Gravel Ride" due to the unusually high amount of gravel on the roads we encountered - and afterwards Tom and I headed west for a few more hours of riding when the others went home. HOGs ride video, Subsequent ride video: Lovettsville. The weather was perfect; very pleasant. 

16 September 2020

Yesterday I brought my Harley in to the local motorcycle shop for a consult. Lately, occasionally, when I make a somewhat tight left turn (left turn only, not right turn) I hear what sounds like a soft scrape. It's not loud, like the ground meeting the floorboard - I don't lean far into into turns for that to happen - and it's also not the kickstand dragging on the ground. Otherwise the bike rides just fine and I can detect no wheel wobbling or anything that might suggest, say, a tire scraping on a fender. I see no scrape marks on the base of the frame. The mechanic suspects it's probably a brake pad shifting onto the rotor a little in turns and not to worry about it unless it gets worse. I think I'll post this to the Harley Road King Facebook group and see if this has happened to anybody there...

14 September 2020

On Friday my riding friend Tim and I rode out to the Journalists' Arch, the Kennedy Farm, the Red Byrd and Antietam in Maryland. VIDEO. It was a great ride! Fun sights, good weather and a ride on a road I have not previously been on, the link from Route 9 just east of Hillsboro, VA to Brunswick, MD through Lovettsville. I gave Tom a little guided tour of the Antietam Battlefield based on historical observations and reenactor lore. (Did you know about the Coffee Bill monument?) As for the Red Byrd, it's the same great experience it has been since I first dined there in 1984. The blonde waitresses call you "honey" and "sweetheart," and I learned that the place was originally opened in May 1960 - it's it's been in business for 60 years.  

On Friday evening my wife and I did the annual 9/11 Never Forget HOGs ride to the Pentagon Memorial; that was good, too. VIDEO. I was going to do last year's but (1) My tires were iffy, (2) It rained, so wet pavement, and (3) I had to get up super early for a plane ride to Utah the following morning. So I passed. I couldn't chance an accident. 

On Sunday was the monthly Bikes and Breakfast event in Clifton: VIDEO. I really liked that British Mod scooter. "I ride a GS scooter with my hair cut neat/I wear a wartime coat in the wind and sleet...." - Pete Townshend, Quadrophenia. The old Indian bike was pretty cool, too. There's always something interesting to see at this event. 

11 September 2020

Last night I watched a 73 minute-long documentary called Biker Dreams (1998). It's about a cute young couple who ride from Seattle to Sturgis to get married. (I wonder if they still are.) It also features some crusty older bikers who are nowhere as cute. I won't elaborate.

8 September 2020

Friday: I rode to Woodbridge to take part in Coleman Powersports' Kawasaki Demo Day. Unfortunately, I only got to ride one bike because of the way they did scheduling; it was a retro-styled W800, the kind of bike I'd probably have ridden back in 1974 had I been riding motorcycles back then. I was not really impressed. It felt too light, too small and too underpowered. I'm spoiled with my Harley Road King. New resolution for Demo Days: No more rides on unremarkable standard Japanese bikes! The Kaw W800 was the 32nd different bike I've ridden thus far, mostly at various dealerships. I still want to test ride a Harley Fat Bob, a Triumph Rocket Three, a Suzuki M109R, a BMW R1200RT, a Yamaha Star Eluder and an old school hardtail chopper of some kind.  

After a quick lunch I rode up to Great Falls Park and bought a senior's lifetime National Park Pass for $80. Video.

On Sunday Cari and I took the Harley to Great Falls for lunch, and returned via the George Washington Memorial Parkway along the Potomac. A nice ride! (Except for the long line to get into the park - it was busy. Bumper-to-bumper traffic sucks on a motorcycle.) When we got back I washed the bike and we napped and otherwise had a placid Sunday. 

2 September 2020

The September HOGs newsletter, the Stars and Pipes, got distributed yesterday; I am 21 pages into the October issue, hahaha! One subject of my editor's page - which appears after the cover - is hitting deer. It scares me: "I’ve hit a deer in a car before, and it isn’t fun. There’s a sudden extreme mental WHAT WAS THAT? and then an intense annoyance that something living would be foolish enough to step in front of your car. And then there are all your hunting friends asking you if you didn’t endanger life and limb to dodge your way across the interstate in order to drag and heave the deer into the trunk to keep the meat. I can only imagine what hitting a deer is like on a motorcycle, but I do know that whenever I ride by a deer carcass I shudder. There, save for a disconnect in time and space, go I. I’m sure somebody reading this has hit a deer on a motorcycle. Drop me a line and describe the circumstances and outcome, and I’ll run it here as a jolly little feature. As always, send photos."

31 August 2020

I did do a ride on Friday; Tom and I had lunch in Warrenton and then rode out to Fredericksburg to Classic Iron, where I bought my Harley. Inventory is way down since the last time I've been there. Apparently people are buying bikes but not selling them or trading them in. There was a stop at Carl's for ice cream, of course, and then a very hot ride home. I-95 backed up and bail-out traffic appeared on Route 1. Not fun!

The weather being just about perfect yesterday I took another ride, this time out towards Front Royal. There are times I like just blasting down I-66 west. A big church is clearly visible from the freeway, so I took some back roads and found it. It's on a the campus of a Roman Catholic-associated college, Christendom College, in Front Royal. Nice campus. VIDEO. On the ride back home I was on some shady path while the sun was getting lower in the sky; the cool air was wonderful. Yesterday seemed like the first typical fall day.

27 August 2020

On yesterday evening, after a long, hot, bright day, I took a ride to Quantico cemetery (where I expect to be buried someday) on the Harley - a very pleasant attitude-adjustment ride lasting just over an hour. Being out in the cooler eventide wind was quite nice. That's one of my usual rides, done using the I-95 express lanes south and blowing past all the traffic that normally piles up at the Occoquan, when one lane disappears. (What genius engineered that?)

Friday's forecast: 91 degrees, mostly cloudy, 10% chance of rain. That's riding weather! But where?

24 August 2020

I did a HOGs ride on Friday - just a fairly local thing, not a big deal, but it was fun. I took a video. Special guest rider: My friend Tom, whom I'm usually riding with on Fridays. After that, the weekend was pretty sedate: we shopped for food, watched TV, napped, visited the local grandsons, read a book, visited a thrift store and a fabric store, etc. Nothing colossal.

20 August 2020

I did that little parade ride for Gene Tatum, the 95 year-old veteran in Fairfax yesterday; I took a video. It was fun. Here's Supervisor Pat Herrity's Facebook video of the drive/ride-by.

19 August 2020

Today at Noon I'm taking some leave time to take part in a little Happy Birthday parade for a 95 year-old World War II, Korea and Vietnam Marine Corps veteran. This will take place outside his home in Fairfax; we start out from a police barracks and are led by Fairfax Police who will be stopping traffic, etc. It ought to be interesting. I'm the Fairfax Harley Owners Group representative.

The September HOGs newsletter is ready to go. All I need is the director's article. I work a month or so in advance, but have articles in place for future newsletters.

17 August 2020

Despite the threat of rain I went on a bike ride on Friday - that video is here: Manassas and Middleburg... and a fabric shop. And yes, I did indeed step into a fabric shop. Turns out my wife already knew about the place and has been there.

10 August 2020

I did take a motorcycle ride on Friday although I wasn't expecting to (the forecast was for rain, but it never rained). After lunch in Manassas, my riding friend Tom and I wound up in Bealeton, VA and a place actually called Casanova, VA. (There's a Roxy Music song entitled "Casanova" with the lines, "Casanova/Is that your name?/Or do you live there?" that I finally understood because Casanova means "new house.")

While in Casanova we didn't see Melrose Castle, however, and for that I'm sorry.

We also stopped by a Civil War site I've never been to called "Coffee Hill," so called because J.E.B. Stuart and two cavalry brigades attacked Union Gen. John C. Caldwell’s forces as they brewed coffee and prepared breakfast on the hill. Not only have I never been here before, I've never even heard of the battle.

I rode to Bikes and Breakfast in Clifton with some HOG friends who live nearby, but I didn't take any videos. The most notable bike I saw was a 1958 NSU, a German bike. (NSU is one of Audi's four rings, btw.) 250cc engine, 16 horsepower.

6 August 2020

I washed my Harley. I took it out to Clifton for lunch yesterday, as the temps were below the mid-Nineties and not too humid for a change. It was very refreshing, being in the coolish, not-so-hot slipstream, so I took the long way home as is my frequent wont on the Road King. I could have easily have ridden for hours more. I probably should have. Work is really getting on my nerves. 

5 August 2020

Bikes and Breakfast in Clifton, VA this Sunday from 8 am to 11 am; this time I invited the HOGs to attend via an unofficial Facebook group.

29 July 2020

I got the August issue of the HOGs newsletter - my principal creative effort these days - out to be posted and linked yesterday. It's only 26 pages this time. Going to a 10 point font makes me work a bit harder to fill pages.

27 July 2020

Weekend update: On Friday I took a short ride to Manassas for lunch and just to get out on the Harley; one of my "Better than Nothing" rides. We were supposed to get thunderstorms but didn't. It was pretty hot so I spent the day in the air conditioning. 

22 July 2020

The July weather here in the D.C. suburbs has been severe. Last night Doug Kammerer, a local meteorologist, gave the ten day forecast - all in the 90s. If this holds up, 30 days out of 31 in July will have been with highs at least 90 degrees; this is unprecedented. 

Lunch was at Clifton yesterday, but we are now in a situation where it's almost too hot to ride. My route to Clifton from where I live has a lot of shady roads, but, geez.

20 June 2020

Weekend recap... On Friday, despite the heat, I did indeed go out for a motorcycle ride. Me and my riding pal Tom rode out to Clark Brothers shooting range just south of Warrenton and used a couple of their loaner guns to blow through two boxes of ammo.

We fired a Springfield Armory XDs chambered in .45 ACP and a Glock 19 chambered in 9mm. I liked the Springfield a lot. The recoil isn't as wild as I thought it might be, and I like the superior stopping power of the round. One hit is all it ever takes with a .45. The Glock 19 misfed at one point (Clark's loaner guns get a lot of use). I liked the Glock 19 just fine - it has an great reputation - but preferred the Springfield. We also fired my father-in-law's Ruger Mark One .22; no recoil at all. That evening I watched gun test videos.... I like the Springfield XDs. Clark Brothers sells them for $549, a good price. Hm. Maybe this is all the testing I need to do.

We had lunch at a new place just outside of Remington, VA and then took the long way home. By then it was really too hot to ride - despite the breeze. (Stop lights were a real bear.) I got home a bit early. Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are all supposed to be dangerously hot days in the D.C. area.

13 July 2020

On Friday I did indeed take a motorcycle ride on a very hot day. I checked out the Clark Brothers gun store on Route 28. Here's my video. And then I did something I've always wanted to do: I test rode a Harley-Davidson Livewire, their electric bike. Video here. The Livewire is amazing! Text from a write-up I'm doing for the HOGs newsletter:

Mounting it and starting it is unremarkable. Unlike the roar of a big v-twin engine with a gasoline-powered Harley there is nothing that suggests what a rocket this thing is. But, wow, can it ever accelerate! On my test ride I kept fading back from the fellow who took me out only to catch up in an incredibly short amount of time. If the 0 to 60 time is short, the 35 to 60 mph time is astonishing. The uncanny thing is that it does it with so little fanfare. During my ride I kept thinking of those racers in Tron. The way you go from slow coast to very fast is so silent as to be otherworldly. All you hear is the sound of wind on your helmet. The Livewire weighs 549 pounds but it feels far lighter than that. It is very nimble and agile, traits that are entirely lost upon poky, slow, scenery-observing, touring bike saddle-wanting me. Someone who knows a thing or two about taking curves on two wheels at high speeds can provide a much better assessment of this bike’s capabilities.

On Saturday I did a HOGs ride to Colonial Beach, VA. As it was the first big ride of the season it was well-attended: 22 bikes! There's a video for that as well. It was fun despite getting hot in the afternoon. I've never been to Colonial Beach before; the "beach" there is on the Potomac River. It seems nice. Zillow says that home prices are definitely in our range for a retirement home. It's 73 miles away from where we are now, and an hour and 20 minute drive down I-95. (When I-95 is accommodating, of course, which isn't often.) Westmoreland County. Wikipedia: "In 2019, Colonial Beach was named The Nicest Place in Virginia and a finalist for Nicest Places in America by Reader's Digest." Hmmmmm.

On Sunday I stayed indoors and mostly recovered from the prior two days of being out in the heat.

9 July 2020

I went to my HOGs meeting last night. Nothing to report there save that HOGs group rides begin again this month. It's about time!

8 July 2020

I did the primary oil change in my Harley yesterday. I thought I had the necessary T27 Torx bit but as it turned out, I didn't. Well - not that I was sure about, anyway. I had a bit that probably was a T27 but I didn't want to risk stripping any screws (it's a difficult recovery if you do that) so I bought a Torx socket set. Nice thing to have. I also justified the purchase of my digital torque wrench by appropriately torquing down the various bolts and screws to the specified levels. A motorcyclist once told me that he found working on his bike relaxing. At the time I thought it a strange comment - working on cars has never really been what I call fun - but I see now he has a point.

So - will my Harley perform any better, smoother or quieter running Redline dedicated-use transmission and primary oils instead of the Harley-specified Syn3 that's specified for all three uses? I shall determine that over the next 10,000 miles. My bike turned over 20,000 miles yesterday. (I put 18,000 of those miles on it over the last 18 months.) Out of curiosity I stopped by the local bike shop and asked just how long I can expect my Harley with the 103 Twin Cam engine to run. 100,000 miles or more, I was told, as long as I maintain it. And when it comes time to rebuild the engine, shall I? Possibly!

7 July 2020

I changed the transmission and motor oil in my Harley yesterday - a hot job in my uninsulated garage. You can remove a Harley oil plug two ways: by using a 5/8ths socket wrench or a hex wrench into the hole in the plug. The plug fits into place with no more than about 20 foot-pounds of force, but my crappy Harbor Freight hex tool snapped off. I suspected that using the socket was a better idea...

There is still the primary oil left to change. That one's a little trickier so I put it off.

6 July 2020

Weekend recap... starting with Thursday: We got off early so I did a ride to Gainesville and Front Royal. Riding out there was fine - coming back was HOT (my thermometer was reading between 98 and 100 degrees). I wore a tee shirt and forgot to put on sun block. Yes, I do have motorcyclist tans on my arms now. My Harley is now at 19,990 miles - I've put 17,800 of those miles on it. Time to do what is called a "three hole" (primary, transmission, motor oil) oil change this week. Fortunately there are YouTube videos and websites describing torque specifications (so I can use my new digital torque wrench).

1 July 2020

I got the July Harley Owners Group (HOG) newsletter out last night. At the advice of my wife it is 28 pages rather than 33. It's that long because, it being a newsletter, I feel the necessity of including the Powerpoint slides describing upcoming rides in detail. But these can also be found on the HOGs website and social media sites. Perhaps I ought to simply list them and refer readers to the other sources of information which are much more easily updated. (The newsletter is a .pdf, so I can also merely supply HTML links.) Make the newsletter more of a journal, in other words.

I switched to 10 point font in these newsletters... my graphical artist son, who teleworks in the room near me (due to the impossibility of working at home with little boys), convinced me that 12 point was unnecessarily big. So when I received the HOGs Director's article and formatted it, it was only a half page: "I told you about my sarcastic graphic artist son in the makeshift teleworking office with me. After I finished editing Ray’s piece I wondered aloud, 'I have half a page left. What do I do?' He cheerfully replied, 'Put in a crossword puzzle!' Believe it or not I actually once came up with one for my Civil War reenactment group’s newsletter, but, no. They’re a pain to assemble. But, hold! My son tells me that there are websites that assemble them for you. So be warned: You may very well see a Harley-Davidson-inspired crossword puzzle appearing in these pages at some point."

Last night I found a site that allows users to generate crossword puzzles and came up with a good one in about 15 minutes. Ha! That'll be a feature of the August newsletter. I sent one of the other officers a copy of it to see how long it takes to work out.

29 June 2020

Over the weekend I watched Motorcycle Gang. (Yes, the very same title as the film I wrote about last week except that this is the original 1957 version.) Directed by Edward L. Cahn. Starring Anne Neyland, Steven Terrell and Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer. Plot: A troublemaker returns to town only to find his old tearaway pals have joined a supervised motorcycle club. Friction erupts between him and the new leader about this goody-goody setup, culminating in a cross-country race and four drunken motorcycle hoods abducting small-town Americans. You can watch the entire movie on YouTube!

It's a very dated but somehow still fun and engaging look at motorcycling in America in the Fifties. Anne Neyland is the hotsy-totsy girl in the tight sweater, Steven Terrell is the blond, all-American type and, fortunately for us all, Alfalfa doesn’t sing. He does eat a lot, however, wisecracks, and introduces us to his own hip jargon like “miger” (“mad tiger”) and “sholl” (“sharp doll”). Everyone also pronounces “cycle” like “sickle.”

1957 was clearly a long time ago. I didn’t see any Harleys; it looks like everyone in this is riding British bikes, Triumphs and BSAs.

26 June 2020

Last night I watched Motorcycle Gang (1994) - A rated R made-for-television move directed by John Mileus (Conan the Barbarian), a director who spares not the theatrical blood in trademark violent sequences. Motorcycle Gang is actually a remake of a 1957 film of the same name I'd very much like to see because Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer is in it. When asked why he chose to remake Motorcycle Gang, Milius said "Why not? I never saw it. I just took a story that was kind of endemic to the period. What happened in those movies is that they always had a family crossing the desert and the family is beset by giant ants, cannibals or a hot rod or motorcycle gang. So in this one I have a dysfunctional family beset by a motorcycle gang."

The plot: An Army veteran character played by Samuel "Major Dad" McRamey wants to get his somewhat slatternly wife and reckless sixteen year-old daughter safely from Texas to California. He's a cautious, quiet fellow who doesn't look for trouble. Unfortunately, it's what looks like the late Fifties and there's a murderous and psychopathic four man drug-running gang of motorcycle hoodlums who have targeted his family; they are led by Jake Busey, who sports blond, greasy hair, a toothy grin and a black leather jacket. He is especially murderous. They ride what look like vintage Harleys - one has a springer front end - but it's somewhat hard to tell as the bikes all appear to be flat black and are not really shown much. At one point three of the bikers surround the wife left in a locked car after Busey abducts the daughter. Why didn't she fire up that tank-like vintage Ford and simply mow them and their bikes down? Because we have to get to the bloody and violent conclusion, where McRaney and wife display hidden grit and fighting skills to rescue the daughter, that's why.

This film is no masterpiece, but it's fun. And I am happy to report that, by and large, bikers have learned to behave themselves somewhat better than they did in the late Fifties when they were the scourge of the roads. This movie is available via Netflix DVD.

(And yes, I'm using the above text in my next Harley Owners Group newsletter, so it serves double duty.)

23 June 2020

I installed my self-given Father's Day present yesterday: a chrome Harley-Davidson passenger footpad cover. It's the chrome piece in back in this photo. (It's hinged and flops down.) As my son said, "Yeah, just what you needed: Another thing that says 'Harley-Davidson.'" Hahahaha! But I like chrome... That piece was originally flat black and boring - the bike needed a bit of shine there. It also needs a wash.

My only complaint about my bike's styling is that bundle of wires that appears between the frame and the fork; you can see it to the right of the H-D label on the tank. Couldn't they have hidden that somehow?

22 June 2020

In between thunderstorms I took a ride out to Clifton and had lunch with a friend who also rides. We were planning to visit a Manassas gun shop when we heard thunder - we headed back to our homes. Good thing. I was power washing the ladder in my swim trunks when the rain came down.

15 June 2020

Friday: I did a ride with my friend Tom, 208 miles. We rode out to Strasburg to meet his cousin and a bunch of guys who ride for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Mechanized Cavalry. Interesting bikes, interesting bunch. They are not at all in vogue right now and they don't care.

We rode out to the New Market battlefield, but it was closed, the road past the battlefield as well as the museum. Then we rode back north on the old historic Valley Pike (Route 11) - a beautiful day in the Shenandoah Valley. No video, sorry. I have now taken the valley pike from Strasburg to New Market. It appears that Roanoke is at the southern tip of the valley, so there's another 128 miles to explore sometime. I found a remarkable plaque along the Valley Pike: Post-Appomattox Tragedy. And here's the creep himself, Lt. Col Cyrus Hussey - who apparently couldn't get enough of death and killing after a war that took more than 600,000 American lives.

Sunday: In the morning I rode to the Bikes and Breakfast event in Clifton and bumped into a HOG I had last seen earlier in the week. (VIDEO) More exterior masonry painting. I also replaced the vapor canister purge valve on Big Red and made an annoying Check Engine light go away.

12 June 2020

Beautiful day forecast; I'm going out on a bike ride with my pard Tom to Strasburg and the environs.

11 June 2020

I attended the first physical, in-person HOGs chapter meeting last night. The table centerpiece featured a large stack of individual toilet paper rolls, which I re-arranged into an "HD" (for Harley-Davidson, of course). Our seats were placed the mandatory distance apart, but most people didn't wear face masks. I suppose there's some government scold who would disapprove, but my sense of it is that people are pretty much over Covid Fear. (It's arguable whether or not motorcyclists - a segment of society who very much deal with risk of bodily harm - really had it in the first place.)

10 June 2020

Tonight we have our first in-person, physical, not virtual HOGs (Harley Owner's Group) meeting since March. Better yet, it's being held here in Springfield, VA. I'm bringing a laptop that's doing a looped video of recently newsletter pages as a table display; I'm also talking briefly.

8 June 2020

Friday: My riding pal Tom and I did a short ride to a barbecue joint outside of Aldie. Good but somewhat overpriced.  I bought my ABS sensor for Big Red. Our ride was cut short due to threats of thundershowers - which were some hours late in arriving.

Sunday: A ride to the Wilderness Battlefield on a really nice day. I'm almost done with Bullet and Shell - The Civil War as the Soldier Saw It by George F. Williams; it was unexpectedly good. Dated, but entertaining. So I wanted to visit a Civil War battlefield. I found a historical bronze plaque I've never read before from 1927. It has a grammar problem; do you see it?

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...

From this point on my motorcycle content will be in my usual blog .  It has become too clunky to type up text there and then re-post it here...