Harley Princess Bids Fairwell to 2009

If you would have asked me a year ago where I’d be at this point in my life, my response would have been vastly different than what it has turned out to be.  I’d say “dramatic” is the most appropriate word to describe 2009.

There were many riding “firsts” for me – riding in the rain, crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, taking my own bike on an overnight trip, dropping my Harley, hitting the 10K mark on my new bike, and leading my first chapter ride.

Highway Cruising

My Super Glide has seen some dramatic changes too.  She has gotten a shiny new chrome fender rack & layback license plate frame, a sport bag mounted to said luggage rack, an engine guard, and 360-degree cruise pegs.  I have grown quite accustomed to cruising with my legs outstretched on my highway pegs!  There was also the handlebar-mount camera that permitted me to take some great live-action shots and video, until the bracket broke and I lost it somewhere along Rt-222 in Pennsylvania!

I was lucky enough to partake in some amazing experiences, like HOG Primary Officer Training and the Harley-Davidson 2010 model launch party in New York City.  I learned to play “butt-darts” and got to ride a Harley (complete with Wisconsin manufacturer plates) around The Big Apple!

I also experienced some tragedy.  The emergency room at Christiana Hospital became an all-too-familiar place after 3 separate incidents involving friends and fellow members of First State HOG.  (Thank goodness they have all recovered nicely.)  But my very dearest friend was not so lucky.  She was killed by a reckless and negligent driver while riding her beloved Softail Deluxe named “Beauty.”

Karen Big Girl Bike

While the loss of such an angel weighs heavy on my heart, a part of me can’t help but be a little envious.  She died quickly and painlessly while doing what she loved to do most – riding with her family and friends.  When it’s my time, I want to go out like that.

So in some ways I find myself way ahead of where I expected to be entering 2010, and in other ways I lost some of what I had gained.  In any case, it’s dramatically different than what I had expected!

As I enter the new year I look forward to putting that replacement camera back on my handlebar.  I hope to add a CB radio to that handlebar as well.  And it would be really awesome to get a backrest for my solo seat so I can ride my next 10,000 miles in comfort.  I look forward to becoming a grandmother for the first time.  I plan to complete my training and become patched as a Road Captain, and also get certified as a motorcycle safety instructor.  I will continue to mourn the loss of my good friend, but also celebrate her life and embrace her spirit by continuing to work just as hard as she would have in making First State the best HOG chapter ever!

Fairwell 2009!

2009 Was a Bitter Sweet Ride

Jay Visiting Karen

Only two more days left in 2009. This year will be etched in my mind forever. It was marked by numerous accomplishments and one horrific loss.

I began the year by taking on a leadership role that was a daunting but welcome challenge. The Director of my HOG Chapter resigned to start a new MC. It was agreat opportunity for her, unfortunately for me she took several of our key officers with her. I had been the Assistant Director for only a few months when I was asked to step up to Director. Not only was I a fairly new member taking the healm of a twenty year old HOG Chapter, but I had to put together a leadership team to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. Luckily an enthusiastic Ed and Karen Fortner came to my side and joined forces in the task. Ed became the Assistant Director and Karen was already the Activities Officer. Together with my wife Diana we spent many January and February weekend nights discussing how to increase particaption in our chapter and planning a spring trip to Outer Banks North Carolina.

The four of us went to North Carolina on Valentines Day weekend to nail down the details of the trip. We got along in a way that I can’t explain very well. I guess it is hard  enough to find a guy friend you see eye to eye with, but to find a couple that have the same likes and dislikes as you and your spouse… well that’s probably twice as hard to find and twice as valuable. We had a blast that weekend and over the next couple months we got to be closer and closer as friends.

Springtime came and we hit the ground running. The new leadership team created a fun atmasphere that made eveyone feel welcome at our HOG chapter events. We focused on the HOG mantra to Ride and Have Fun. Particpation shot up immediately in March and we ran straight into April. We had record turnouts for our first dinner rides and poker runs taking home the most particpation awards at the first two regional poker runs we attended. Then the four of us went to HOG Primary Officer Training with our Secretary and Head Road Captain. The six of us had a great time and got a glimpse of how impressive the HOG organization is. We got home from POT just in time to host our one big fundraiser of the year: our annual First State HOG Spring Poker Run. It was a huge success thanks to all the officers and volunteers… and the weather was pretty good to us.

Delmarva And First State

We gathered on April 24th for the spring trip that Karen and Ed had planned so well. It was a beautiful day! Ed took the lead Road Captain Position with his proud wife and Activites Officer riding wing. Their son Justin and two of his friends followed directly behind them. Diana and I were at the rear, me in the Sweep position wearing a flouresecent safety vest.

Outer Banks Spring Trip 2009

We were riding about twenty bikes strong with smiles pasted on our faces as we headed to North Carolina. Four hours into the trip we found ourselves in Cheriton, VA approaching the Chespaeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. In a flash lives changed forever! A deranged women in a Ford Taurus sped out from a driveway and plowed through our pack of motorcycles killing our dear beloved friend Karen! It was a horrible thing and there hasn’t been a day since then that I haven’t thought about it.

Karen on her big girl bike

The motorcycle community gathered around the Fortner family and offered their support as best they could. Our HOG Chapter became closer. We didn’t want to let Karen down, so we valiently continued on through the year succeeding at everything we set out to do. We won 10 awards and doubled chapter participation over the previous year!

Becoming Director and succeeding has been one of the best experiences of my life. It is a huge accomplishment and an honor to have people follow me voluntarily. It’s nothing like my job where my staff do what I ask them to because I’m their Supervisor. Being Director of First State will probably be the closest thing to fatherhood that I will experience. When our chapter succeeds at putting on an event or wins an award I feel like a proud parent. Our chapter has flourished this year and for that I am proud. My blog and online store have also done extremely well. My mail order business is a success, we have exceeded 6,000 hits per month and I am seeing some advertising income. I even started getting paid to write for other online publications. Diana and I have been recognized by Harley-Davidson and received a special invitation to come test ride their motorcycles in NYC and write about it on RC USA. The accomplishments have been many!

The numerous victories of the year however are overshadowed by the loss of a dear friend. The vivid memories of the carnage on Route 13 will be with me forever. April 24th, 2009 was the worst day of my life. If Karen were still here to relish in what we accomplished… then perhaps it would have been one of the greatest years of my life. But she is not here, the accident really did happen and it is difficult to savor the victories without her.

2009 was a bitter sweet year.

Ultimate Motorcycle Calendar

2010 Ultimate Motorcycle Calendar

Time is ticking and 2009 is winding down. It’s time to order your new 2010 motorcycle calendar. Click the above image or click here for more choices. There are plenty of 2010 motorcycle calendars to choose from featuring Harleys, Sport Bikes, Vintage Motorcycles and Custom Choppers.

Get Your 2010 Motorcycle Calendar Fast Dates

2010 Fast Dates Calendar

Click the above image or Click here for more 2010 motorcycle calendars.

Top Ten Motorcycle Music Videos

Here is a link to the top ten motorcycle music videos according to DC Motorcycle Travel Examiner Mark Poesch: http://www.examiner.com/x-2294-DC-Motorcycle-Travel-Examiner~y2009m2d3-Motorcycle-music-video-2–Joey-J-and-the-Shovelheads-Open-Road

Mark has Open Road by Joey J and the Shovelheads rated number two among some big names including Springsteen, Steppenwolf, Meatloaf, and Bob Seger… but I think Open Road is by far the best!

Joey J will be launching a new website in January 2010 at www.lowlevelflyers.com

Get Your 2010 Motorcycle Calendars Heels & Wheels

2010 Heels & Wheels Motorcycle Calendar

Click the above image or Click here for more 2010 motorcycle calendars to choose from. Make sure to get one before the new year arrives.