Riding on the Edge by John Hall

Riding On The Edge 2

Either I’m obsessive or this book was addicting. Riding on the Edge by John Hall was a fantastic story and I could not put it down; my nose was buried in it for three days straight! It was strikeingly different than the two 1%er books I read by Sonny Barger. Sonny’s books about the Hells Angels on the west coast happened far away from my home on the east coast and seems like another world. On the other hand John Hall’s book is about the Pagans on the east coast. Although the story takes place during the late 60’s when I was born, it seems way more real because I am thoroughly familiar with many of the towns in this story. Sonny’s books are an easy read for the average Joe but John Hall’s book is more sophisticated. Keep in mind John Hall got educated at Penn State while serving time and later became a college professor.

To illustrate the character of the members of the Pagans, Hall goes into detail about the character of the region which I found very interesting. I grew up knowing about Yankee’s and Rednecks. If you’re like me and from New England you’re a Yankee or a Northerner. Everyone from south of the Mason Dixon Line are Southerners and Rednecks. Other than New Yorkers I have never heard or read anyone describe the people in between; the people of Appalachia. John Hall goes into detail about the Irish, German and Polish blue collar workers living between the Midwest, New England and the Mason Dixon line; the area I now consider home.

John tells his story well and I want to believe every word of it. It depicts a young man coming of age during the late 60’s.  His leadership qualities land him smack dab in the middle of a growing brotherhood of east coast bikers that he see’s as a cross between teutonic knights and barbarian warriors of norse mythology. Everyone of the Pagans in John’s story is a righteous brother. Although these brothers pride themselves on being outlaws they are not “criminals”. They may get in brawls, demolish bars and violently crush rival clubs but they are in no way involved with criminal business acts. They are honest , hard working and straight forward people. It’s a Robin Hood story where our hero, the young John Hall, makes an honest living as a lithographer when he needs money. He is a hard worker but makes just enough to spend the rest of his time riding motorcycles, drinking beer and raising hell… like all red blooded americans should do. 

If you’re looking for a well written outlaw romance coming of age adventure story about bearded swastika wearing bikers (the good guys) doing bad things like drinking, fighting and more fighting then this is your book. Get it now before you die a tragic death or go to jail like the characters that Hall portrays so vividly in this mesmerizing account of his misspent youth.

Ridin’ High, Livin’ Free by Ralph “Sonny” Barger

I enjoyed reading Sonny’s first two books. Sonny’s writing style is easy to follow and draws you in; the mark of a great story teller! I read his first book Hell’s Angel while sunning poolside on a cruise ship in Bermuda on my honeymoon in July of 2007. I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it which wasn’t hard. It makes for easy reading; you don’t need a master’s degree to follow Sonny’s tales of two wheeled adventure.

Hell’s Angel is Sonny’s first book and is the medium for Sonny to tell his own story and how the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club came to be. The story immediately drew me in and each chapter was like it’s own bite size nugget. A self contained mini story that gives you that feeling of “well I’ll just read one more chapter and then put the book down”. I would just keep reading one more chapter after another until I read them all.

I just finished reading Sonny’s second book Ridin’ High Livin’ Free. I found it to have similarites with Hell’s Angel in that it was easy to read, interesting and each chapter was it’s own little story… except in this case they really were self contained short stories. Ridin’ High is a collection of short biker tales of the 1%er flavor. If you’re not a big reader then I reccomend this book full of entertaining tales of biker shananagans and misadventure. I read two or three stories at a time while relaxing in the den, sometimes in front of a warm fire… a great way to unwind!

Both of these books as a set will make a great Christmas gift for the biker in your family. Buy them now from my Amazon bookstore and be ready for the holidays.

Also visit Big Daddy’s Idle Thoughts at: http://bigdaddynelson.blogspot.com/ for original biker short stories written by a real down to earth biker blogger from Arizona known as Big D!

Special thanks to Ed for loaning me this book.

Fall Pictures Western Connecticut & Southern Berkshires Motorcycle Trip

Diana posted our pictures from last weekends fall motorcycle trip to western Connecticut and the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts. We crossed through New Jersey and New York to get there so of course these pictures illustrate autumn in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and some of Massachusetts. Click here to see the 300 pictures.

Back-Road Touring Guides for all four states are currently available at www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com

Moto Map CT

Introducing: www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com

Road Captain USA is dedicated to bringing you valuable information as well as entertaining stories. Diana and I strive to write articles real riders can relate to. We enjoy trying new motorcycle products that have practical application in the real world and writing about them.

One of my goals is to bring you unique motorcycle accesories via an online store. As some of you know, I launched www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com earlier this month with the introduction of a unique 12 Volt Power Port. I am also proud to offer you Moto-Maps Back-Road Touring Guides. Currently there are 25 Moto-Maps booklets available. I am in the process of programming the entire product line into our shopping cart software which is supported by www.GoDaddy.com and is secured with 256-bit secure sockets layer encryption for secure online purchasing. We accept PayPal, Visa and MasterCard.

Moto Map CT

To introduce you to the Moto-Maps Back-Road Touring Guides I have programmed in the Connecticut & Rhode Island set. This set of seven day trips was instrumental in planning our recent Leaf Peeping Trip to Connecticut. Please visit the store, let me know what you think and check back often as I add more Road Captain approved items to the store.

Thank you,

Jay Green, Editor

Leaf Peeping Motorcycle Trip to Connecticut and Massachusetts

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Our First State HOG Fall Leaf Peeping Trip to Western Connecticut and the Southern Berkshires of Massachusetts was fantastic. Although I didn’t see the explosion of color I was expecting, the foliage was beautiful. Maybe you have to go to Vermont and New Hampshire to see the really bright colors. I hope Jokers Peeping trip to Vermont with Blackstone Chapter proved more colorfull. Foliage color is a complicated scientific phenom involving the types of trees, temperatures, timing, wind, rain and a bunch of other environmental ecological sociological wizardry. Our trees were a mixture of green, bright yellows, oranges, some reds and trees that had already shed their leaves. I may not know everything about leaves but I do know this… I love motorcycle trips with my HOG chapter! What could be better than riding with Diana and my friends through the twisty back roads of Connecticut and Massachusetts with the leaves falling like snowflakes and the orange and yellow colors of autumn surrounding us? I loved every minute of it! I can’t wait to do it again next year!

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We had 13 HOGs meet up at Mikes Famous Harley Davidson in New Castle, Delaware on Friday October 17th. A big grin spread across my face as I pulled into the parking lot to find my favorite wingman and tailgunner waiting for me. The three of us are a winning team, just like the New England Patriots! Steve and Kathie joined us and I really have to give them credit because the first trip I took them on was the infamous Soggy Bottom Ride to Mansfield, PA in freezing pouring rain. They were good sports about that Mansfield trip and came back for another! Gordy and Dolly had their Dyna Low Rider loaded in a new trailer behind their new Toyota 4Runner. My buddy Skip and his lady friend were there too. We also had a newer member with us named Ed who is very well traveled but this was his first trip with us. We hit the New Jersey Turnpike at 9:00am sharp with six Harley Davidson motorcycles and a Toyota SUV. Everyone had a CB radio except me and Skip. I think they were all talking about me the whole time. Of course I think everything is all about me. Am I wrong?

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We successfully navigated the web of roads that is Route 95 North entering Fort Lee, New Jersey. If you’re not careful you can end up in the express lane that forces you to cross the George Washington Bridge to New York. Miraculously we all got off in Fort Lee with no problems and gassed up at the Kwik Mart Luke Oil on Fletcher Ave Route 9W. Then we easily jumped onto the Palisades Parkway and stopped for lunch at The State Line Lookout 2 miles past exit 2. I love this place and their hamburgers. I wrote enough about State Line Lookout in two of my previous storys, so that I can’t do it again here. Our timing was perfect. We got there exactly at noon as scheduled.

Click here for my previous story about our trip with Skip to Rhode Island.

Click here for my previous story on the Labor Day Weekend Pre-Ride trip for this trip.

We crossed the Hudson at the Bear Mountain Bridge Route 6 East which leads you to the coolest cliffside twisty road. This is a must ride road. Then we ventured up Route 9 which was new to me. I tried to get us onto Dennytown Road in the Clarence Fahnestock State Park. Diana read someone’s post over at the Road Runner Forum that said this was the best road ever! I missed it and resorted to plan B which was bang a right onto Route 301. Route 301 is another must ride road! This is where all the rocket bikers in full leathers pretend they are at Laguna Seca. It is a killer road that follows the edge of several beautiful lakes and ponds and crosses one on a stone bridge. Riding Rt 301 on Friday and Sunday probably counts as the high light of the trip. Route 301 ends in Carmel, NY where we caught Route 52 to Route 6 east. Route 6 took us into Danbury.

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We visited the Harley Davidson dealership in Danbury. As Diana and I were checking out the t-shirts one of the attractive young sales ladies came over. She was a tall busty raven haired chick wearing a tightly fitted black top with a plunging neckline showing enough cleavage to knock Joker over… if you know what I mean! Anyhow it was what she said that knocked me over! She said “I have a rack over here…”. I didn’t hear anything she said after that but Diana tells me she had a rack of t-shirts that were on clearance. I was thinking “You sure do!”

We cut over to our Motel on Newtown Road in Bethel and unpacked. The cheapest Motel in the area is the Travel Inn of Bethel and with the exception of having pillows that are too thick it is a really nice place for the dough. The number is (203) 743-5990. If you call, ask for Vinny and tell him you want the Jay Green discount. We unloaded Gordy’s Dyna from the trailer and that’s when we found out it didn’t want to start. We got it going the good old fashioned run, push and pop the clutch way! We all took a dinner ride through the woods to the Sycamore Drive In Restaurant which one of our readers, Doorman, reccomended in a comment. The Sycamore Drive In Restaurant is an award winning 50’s style diner with a ton of memorablia. James Dean, Shirley and the Fonze decorate the walls as well as juke boxes, old fashioned cigarette machines, model cars and vintage gas pumps. It made for a great dinner stop! Thanks Doorman.

It was dark when we headed back to the Motel through the woods again. Country roads are great in the day, not so great at night! I missed a turn due to the darkness so we had to make an official FSH turnaround. We were almost back to civilization when I had to stop on a backwoods uphill road because a big ass buck was standing in the middle of the street chomping on a tree branch. He looked at me as if to say “WTF, I’m trying to eat here!”

Gordy is the life of the party!

Saturday morning we put on our cold weather gear, wiped the frost off of our seats and saddled up. It was chilly! Gordy decided to load his bike back in the trailer, leave the trailer at the Motel and follow by cage again. This might sound like a bad thing, but it worked quite well. It’s easy to see your sweep rider in a big silver SUV! I’m glad Gordy stayed and didn’t go home because he is the life of the party! Those who know him will all agree. Later in this story Gordy and I become blood brothers! We let things warm up while we breakfasted at the Blue Colony Diner on Church Hill Road in Newtown, CT. They treated us great at the diner. We ate big and then it was slightly warmer out for us southerners.

Moto Map CT

We zig zagged up through Western Connecticut following the Moto-Maps “Southbury to Danbury” purple loop. In Norfolk I caught Route 44 briefly which is a fantastic road that runs East/West across northern Connecticut. Then we followed the Southern Berkshires ride mapped out in Motorcycle Journeys Through New England by Marty Burke. We followed Route 41 South back down through the Berkshires of Massachusetts and into Connecticut. This is another must ride road! We took Route 4 to Route 7 to Kent Falls where we stopped at the picturesque Kent Falls State Park. We hiked up the waterfall trail a bit until we noticed it kept going up a lot higher than we were prepared to hike. Back down to the parking lot where it was getting darker out. We decided to head directly back to the Motel and eat across the street at a Bertucci’s and call it a night. We had a blast at the restaurant. The food (and beer) warmed us up after 8 hours of riding the chilly New England hills. Then we went back to the Motel for a good nights rest.

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The next morning we started to pack up the bikes when Skip discovered a problem with his Dyna Street Bob. I had brought a spare pair of motorcycle tie downs in case my Dyna Low Rider needed to be loaded on the trailer. Lucky for me, but not Skip, it was his bike we loaded onto the trailer with Gordy’s. While loading Skips motorcycle on the trailer Gordy cut his hand and was bleeding and didn’t notice it. I saw blood on my hand and thought I cut myself so I sucked the blood off my finger. That’s when Gordy and I became blood brothers! We will be eternally bonded! We said “Sayonara” to Danbury and hit the road again!

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I was the only Dyna left leading 4 Ultra Classics. Steve had an errand to run in New Brunswick, NJ so he pulled out of the pack once we hit the Turnpike on his two tone blue Ultra. Then I was leading 3 Ultra’s. Of course they were poking fun at my expense on the CB’s again; evereything is all about me. Or perhaps they weren’t talking about me. Maybe they were talking about Gordy passing us on the New Jersey Turnpike at break neck speed in his shiney new truck with the little trailer bouncing in tow with two Harleys strapped in it… probably one more than should have been in it. Off they went rushing to get back to Mikes Famous Harley Davidson in Delaware before closing to drop off the bikes for repair. Al pulled out of the pack on his white Ultra to follow the bouncing trailer leaving me with 2 Ultra’s.

When we got back to Mikes Famous Harley Davidson in New Castle, Delaware we were all reunited again and it felt so good! We grabbed sandwiches at Primo’s for dinner. Primo’s makes awesome subs. Then we hugged and said our goodbyes.  We have covered a lot of miles with some of our FSH brothers and sisters and it really feels like family when we travel together. It’s a little sad when we have to say goodbye knowing the trip is over (and it will be back to the grind on Monday morning). What am I talking about… it’s alot sad! Argh! To make things worse this is the last trip before the end of the season! Soon it will be too cold for me to ride and it will be time to winterize. On top of that I think this might be the last trip for Dianacam. Diana wants to ride her own on the next excursion. I might have to hire a photographer to ride pillion if we want to keep bringing you these great pics.

Diana and Jay at Kent Falls

Diana and I rode home to Newark, started a fire in the fireplace and drank hot cocoa. We thawed out in front of the fire from our blustery adventure in New England and went to bed with visions of red, yellow and orange leaves swirlling in our heads.

The End!

Special thanks to Mikes Famous Harley Davidson and Custom Cycle & Machine for having my motorcycle ready for this trip.

Born To Be Wild: Adventures In The Art of Motorcycle Design

On November 2nd I will be going to the Born To Be Wild exhibit at the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA. Weather permitting I will lead a ride to the museum for First State HOG. If the weather is not permitting we will travel by cage. Keep an eye out for my pictures and review on the motorcycle design exhibit. 

October 3, 2008 – January 4, 2009

For nearly a century, the motorcycle has been an icon for innovation in design and engineering. More than any other form of transportation, it has come to symbolize the concept of freedom, and this freedom has been an engine of creativity in design.The sheer beauty of the best-designed motorcycles reminds us that motorcycle design is as much about the human spirit as speed and performance. It is about the edge of wildness that lurks within and that can break out with a motorcycle designed to liberate our wilder side.

This exhibition will examine the art and design of the motorcycle through the lens of classic and contemporary cycles. Forty-five motorcycles will be exhibited including two of the most famous of all time: the Captain America chopper and Billy Bike featured in the 1969 film, Easy Rider. They headline a section of the exhibition featuring early choppers of the 1960s and ‘70s.

The latest generation of choppers is represented by cycles designed by some of the most creative contemporary designers in the United States. These cycles includes the iconic, two engine Two Bad 2 designed by the legendary California designer, Arlen Ness.

Part of the exhibition is devoted to classic, historic motorcycles of the first half of the 20th century. Among the highlights is a selection of Indian motorcycles celebrated for their design sophistication and include the 1948 Indian Chief featured in the groundbreaking 1998 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum exhibition, Art of the Motorcycle. In addition, Reading’s own motorcycle company, the Reading Standard, is featured and includes a rare 1905 model, one of the earliest motorcycles ever manufactured.

The exhibition explores international motorcycle design, featuring British and Italian motorcycles. Contemporary Italian MV Augustas and classic British motorcycles, including a 1954 Vincent Black Shadow and 1957 BSA Gold Star, are exhibited in pristine condition. Harley-Davidson motorcycles also play a prominent role in the show and include historic police motorcycles and a classic 1958 calypso red and white DuoGlide with side car.

For more information visit: