Joining A Motorcycle Organization

So you’ve taken the plunge and bought a motorcycle.  You have instantly become a part of arguably the largest fraternity on earth – the brotherhood of bikers…or have you?  You cruise down the road and other motorcyclists drop you a “low two” or give you a nod in acknowledgment.  People talk to you at gas stations about how cool your chrome looks, how many miles you get to the tank full, or how much they’ve always wanted to get a bike.  But somehow you always seem to be riding alone.

Somehow these “brothers” seem more like random passers-by than people with whom you share a deep bond.  But yet you see large groups of them riding together down the street, and there are all kinds of group insignia worn on the backs of the dudes at your local bike night.  That, my friend, is where my story begins…

There are countless motorcycle organizations across the globe.  Most are drawn together by some bond such as firefighters, law enforcement, military/veterans, races, religions, or even the brand of bike they ride.  Some are family-oriented.  Some worship leather, spikes, and tattoos.  The beauty of it all is that there are so many motorcycling organizations out there that you are sure to find one that fits your niche.

Once you find a group that suits you, you are very likely to get much more than you bargained for when you joined.  A riding organization or club can offer some of the deepest friendships you’ll ever find, a support system for whatever tragedies life throws your way, and a wealth of information on places to ride, motorcycle safety, gear & accessories, getting through the inspection lanes at the DMV, and even the best insurance, breakdown cover, and roadside assistance plans!

The best part of all is that when you are a member of a motorcycle riding organization, you will never have to ride alone again.

Rolling Thunder Pinstop and 2011 Patriot Tour

Fort washington pin stop rolling thunder 2011

Today was a great day! Saturday May 28th, 2011 was the launch of the 2011 Patriot Tour and the annual Rolling Thunder HOG Pin Stop at Fort Washington Harley-Davidson.

The Patriot Tour opening ceremony took place this morning at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson. For the second consecutive year the Nation of Patriots will send an American flag around the country to honor the US armed forces. The flag will travel from one Harley-Davidson dealer to another traveling 14,000 miles through 48 states in 100 days. HOG Chapters like First State will carry the flag and do most if not all of the riding. This is a fantastic undertaking and I will be receiving the flag at Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson on Fathers Day. I will escort the flag to Harley-Davidson of Washington DC on June 20th with members of First State HOG Chapter. Once there I will pass the flag on to Assistant Director, Dan Claffey, of Fort Washington HOG Chapter. I saw Dan earlier today and got this awesome action shot of him directing traffic.

dan Claffey expert traffic volunteer

Harley-Davidson of Washington DC hosted the launch party and HOG pin stop for Rolling Thunder XXIV as they do every year. Hundreds, if not thousands, of riders congregate at the dealership the day before the Rolling Thunder demonstration. There are vendors, bands, free food and VIP’s from Harley-Davidson. If it weren’t for other local businesses, volunteers and their HOG Chapter the dealership would be shut down. However the Fort Washington HOG Chapter and other volunteers do an amazing job of directing traffic and helping out in a number of ways. I have seen them work the pin stop, help out in the parts department and hand out water bottles. In fact I got a great picture of Director Sandi Claffey aka Sparkles of Fort Washington HOG giving out water to hot ladies walking by. I personally want to thank Sandi for our water and Papa Johns for the mountains of free pizza that they gave out to hungry bikers like me and Diana.

sparkly sandi giving hot diana sparkling water

Doc directing pedestrain crossing

the crowds at Fort Washington

Below is a picture of the band stage, notice there is no orange in this one picture.

the band at rolling thunder XXiV

Here is a picture of two HOG regional managers, one officer of Fort Washington HOG and others working the Harley-Davidson Pin Stop at Rolling Thunder XXIV.

Fort washington hog officer and two HOg regional managers at rolling thunder pin stop

We went to the pin stop in 2010. Click here to read that story. The main reason we traveled down again this year was to test out our ride route for the upcoming Patriot Tour Ride on June 20th. I do not want to ride the DC beltway, too dicey! My goal is to avoid the beltway and take scenic backroads. Many of you may be thinking that there is no way to get to Fort Washington, Maryland without hitting the congestion of being in our nations capital. You might not believe there are scenic backroads in this area. But you would be wrong. I have a pretty good route and I am proud of it. Most of you reading this can handle getting down Rt 301 from Delaware and crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and getting off of Rt 50/301 in Annapolis at the exit for Rt 2 South which is Solomons Island Road. This is the same exit you take for Harley-Davidson of Annapolis.

From Rt 2 South, Solomons Island Road, I do the following:

  1. Take a left at Rt 214 East Central Ave
  2. Take a right onto Rt 468 Muddy Creek Road – Awesome backroad!
  3. Take a right on Swamp Circle Road – this is just a cool little farm road short cut, you can take Rt 256
  4. From Swamp Circle or Rt 256 take a right on Rt 258 Bayfront Road East – Nice backroad!
  5. Get onto Rt 4 North – a very nice parkway!
  6. Get off at the exit for Rt 223 South and follow Woodyard Rd – still nice backroad!
  7. You’ll start to come to some congestion and cross under Rt 5
  8. Woodyard becomes Piscataway
  9. Take a right on Steed Road
  10. Another right on Allentown Road
  11. A left on Tucker Road
  12. Take Tucker to Palmer Road
  13. Follow Palmer across Rt 210 Indian Head Highway and you are there!

The Mrs and I had another fantastic ride, I won’t call it an adventure. But we had a great ride today with the minor exception of riding under a few sporadic rain clouds and Diana getting hit in the eyes by small insects several times throughout the day. Some say she attracts small pests!

God bless all HOG Chapters around the world! Without the great HOG organization and people events like the Patriot Tour and Rolling Thunder Pin Stop might not be able to happen. You guys and gals in Fort Washington are awesome!

We welcome your comments below. Thank you in advance.

Dark Custom Motorcycles Video

Virginia Beach And Back – Riding For Karen, Victor, Women Riders and the Special Olympics

eastern shore

Adventure number two for 2011 is now in the books. Diana and I took a special overnight trip to Virginia Beach with a small group of members from our HOG Chapter. We left Delaware on Friday the 13th and came back on Saturday the 14th which was Harley-Davidson’s Womens Ride Day. The trip was full of meaning. There are several themes that tie together here so bear with me as I try to bring you up to speed.

Two years ago we were heading down to North Carolina with twenty or so members of our HOG Chapter. There was an accident. A women on drugs drove through our pack of motorcycles and killed our friend Karen Fortner. The first responders from Cheriton, VA and the surrounding area took good care of us and we have become friends with the police, firefighters and EMT’s. Terry Thomas, the President of the Cheriton Volunteer Fire Departmentand Investigator for the Northhampton County Sheriff’s Office, keeps in touch with members of our HOG Chapter and he invited us down to participate in the 2nd Annual Ride The Bay event. This is a charity motorcycle ride that benefits the Special Olympics of Virginia and crosses the Chesapeake Bay via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. We felt this was a good opportunity to go down unofficially as a second year anniversary to memorialize the loss of our dear friend.

Gladys, our Assistant Director and a Road Captain in Training, was close to Karen and eager to lead this trip. My wife Diana was also close to Karen and helped Gladys plan the ride. The ride would take place in May which is Women Riders month and the event was scheduled on the same day as Harley-Davidson’s Womens Ride Day. It was fitting that Diana and Gladys lead our HOG Chapter down to Virginia Beach to help the Special Olympics and honor Karen on Womens Ride Day. Unfortunately Gladys had to fly down to Florida to help her parents out and wasn’t able to make the trip. Diana who is a patched Road Captain took over the trip for Gladys.

I was also riding for Victor. Victor is a Harley rider from Pennsylvania who is currently fighting cancer and undergoing chemo treatments. His sister contacted me via e-mail asking me if I had any pictures of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. She said that Victor’s special place he likes to ride is the Bay Bridge and Tunnel and that pictures would help keep his spirits up. Although I never met Vic or his sis I wanted to help out. I couldn’t help but feel there was a special reason all these events were tied together. I was able to get a DVD documentary from my brother’s mother in law about the building of the bridge and I forwarded that to Victor. Terry Thomas, mentioned above, stopped at the gift shop on the bridge and picked up a book for Vic that also illustrates the building of this historical engineering marvel. Yes, there is a gift shop on the bridge as well as a restaurant and a fishing pier. This is the most amazing bridge ever built! I don’t know if Victor knew all this much information about the bridge before, but he certainly does now. I tried to get some original pictures of the bridge from members of the Tidewater HOG Chapter but was not successful. So guess what?! This trip was for both Victor and Karen and I would go down and take some pictures special for Vic!

this is for you Vic

The weather report wasn’t exactly calling for sunshine for this trip. We had two riders back out in the morning before leaving because of the threat of rain. So what was originally going to be be four guys and five ladies each on their own motorcycle became three and three. Six is the perfect number for group rides so I was happy about having six. We got down to Virginia Beach by dinner time without any problem. One of our guys (Mike the 2010 Chili King) went on to visit his Mom, so we were down to two guys (me and Eddy) with three lady riders for the rest of the trip. The other lady riders were Erin and Dana. Erin was riding her husband’s Heritage and on her first overnighter as a rider and not a passenger. She was very excited and proud of her accomplishment. Dana was with us on the ride in 2009 when the accident took place and this was her first time back to the area since then.

Erin and her Heritage

Erin, the proud rider of this Heritage

the ladies and eddy

Diana, Dana, Erin and Eddy (all officers of First State HOG)

Later that evening we got a call from Terry Thomas saying that some of the event volunteers were backing out because of the weather report and they had to cancel the charity ride for the Special Olympics. He was upset because he felt responsible for us traveling all this way and having the event canceled. We didn’t mind. We had a plan B that was in tune with our other themes.

Back in 2009 we were going to meet up with Tammy Walker of Diva Customs. She owns a custom motorcycle shop in Virgina Beach that caters to women, and she published a book called Why We Ride that includes 101 uplifting stories of women and their motorcycles. Karen, Diana, and Dana all contributed stories as well as many of you lady motorcycle bloggers out there (BB, KT Did, LadyR and Boston). So now that the Ride The Bay event was canceled it only made sense to drop in at Diva Customs to celebrate Women Riders Day. Tammy keeps a special copy of the book in her shop where she tries to have as many of the ladies who contributed their stories autograph the book. Dana got to sign the book!

visit diva customs on women rider day

everyone having a good time at diva customs

I own this place

After visiting with Tammy it was time to gear up to cross that long bridge and then stop to visit the cross erected at the accident site in honor of Karen. I dropped to the sweep position so that I could take pictures while riding across the bridge. Please do not tell anyone I was taking pictures while riding sweep on a chapter ride. Not exactly safe Director/Road Captain behavior. But I had to do it for Vic! If I get in trouble for this it won’t matter because I got the picture of a lifetime! As we crossed the first section of bridge and approached the first tunnel a Navy ship crossed the bay right in front of the tunnel! I got the most amazing picture of us that looks like we are riding into the ship!

ship 1

Ship 2

ship 3

ship 4

going down

After crossing the bay we visited Karen’s cross. Then we headed home. Diana picked a route that skirted the rain and the Dover NASCAR race traffic. It was the long way, but it was also the scenic way. We had a great ride home, we avoided the rain, and we arrived in Newark, Delaware safe and dry. Dana and Erin did catch a little rain as they headed north to Wilmington.

diana and dana and karen

We had a great trip! 500 miles in two days. Nothing beats travelling with friends who can switch from plan A to plan B and enjoy themselves the whole time. Visiting Karen’s cross two years and three weeks after the accident had deep meaning to those of us that knew her and were with her that day. Taking pictures for Vic… awesome! I can’t wait to send these to him. You can have a sneak peek by clicking here.

Return From Waldorf, Maryland

After bonding with our instructors and classmates at Ride Like A Pro of Maryland for four hours the morning of May 1st, 2011 it was finally time to say good bye. It had been a long morning of teaching, learning and practicing motorcycle riding techniques. We had a 3.5 hour ride ahead of us and it was looking like we would get wet before the day was done. We said our heart felt goodbyes to our new friends (and Mo too) before we hit the road.

The Ride Like A Pro of Maryland classes are taught at the parking lot of Regency Stadium in Waldorf, MD off of Piney Church Road. You have to ride the entire length of Piney Church Road, it is a good one. It reminded me of Skyline Drive as we cruised through the curvy S-turns in lush Maryland greenery. From that we followed a series of great backroads in southern Maryland that put us on Rt 382. Rt 382 is listed as an alternate in the Maryland/Delaware Moto-Map. It was really nice!

So we were cruising these nice backroads of southern Maryland just an hour after practicing proper braking at Ride Like A Pro Maryland… and a huge rottweiler jumped out of the woods and chased the car in front of me. I am scared of big dogs who are known to be unpredictable and can pull humans apart from limb to limb. So what do I do after practicing proper braking? Of course I go into major panic mode and lock up the rear wheel! Of course my cool wife could care less about the dog but was terribly alarmed by my six foot skid.

After we got by killer dog alley without a problem the rain started. We stopped for lunch on Rt 301 in Upper Marlboro which is a good thing to do in the beginning of a rain. It gives the rain time to wash the road oil off the pavement. After lunch we put on our rain gear and pointed our motorcycles toward Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I experienced more anxiety thinking about the bridge crossing than it was worth. Not really a big deal. Halfway up route 301 we stopped at the rest area between the north and southbound lanes but it was closed. We had to pull into the truck parking lot and so I could use the port-a-john. That’s when Diana told me my headlight was out. I was not happy to hear I was riding in the rain with no headlight. I started to get off my bike to check it out… but I didn’t put the kickstand down. The new Cobra engine guard did a great job of catching the motorcycle. That makes tip over #2 for me!

I used my high beam the rest of the day and we got home without further incident. This particular weekend trip was more than just an overnight trip, it was a little adventure and a great way to welcome in the new riding season.

I thank my wife for sharing these adventures with me. I thank Dave, Christine and everyone at Ride Like A Pro Maryland for having us down to Waldorf and their great instruction. I thank Mo for attending the class with us, it is always great to spend a little time with Mo! I thank the car in front of me for distracting the Rottweiler. I thank my high beam for being available when my low beam didn’t show up for work. I thank Mother Nature for waiting until after the class was done to rain on us. I thank all of you for reading this post and leaving comments below.

Ride Like A Pro of Maryland

our ride like a pro classmates and staff

Diana and I took the Ride Like A Pro class taught by Dave Russell and his staff in Waldorf, Maryland. This class is ideal for someone looking for more training after taking the MSF or Riders Edge Experienced Rider courses. It is also ideal for anyone having trouble with cornering or slow speed maneuvers.  The instructors teach the same three police officer motorcycle training techniques taught in the popular DVD series Ride Like A Pro by Jerry the Motorman Paladino. To get the most out of this class you can purchase the DVD’s and practice these techniques before attending the class. You can purchase them at my store www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com

jay rocking the cones at ride like a pro

Diana kicking the boys butts

When I met Dave at the 2010 Delaware/Maryland State HOG Rally he encouraged/challenged me to install an engine guard on my bike. The idea is that I will not push my bike to the absolute limit without one. So two weeks prior to the class I ordered on on eBay. That one hit a snafu and I had to order a different one from an outfit close by. It arrived in the nick of time and I installed it for the class. I also removed saddlebags upon arrival at the class. Everyone who could, removed their saddlebags and some wrapped their chrome guards with tape or foam to prevent scratching or scuffs. The premise is that you probably will have a tip over during these exercises and it is no big deal. Tipping over is part of learning how to handle these motorcycles at slow speeds. Dave leaned his Ultra Classic over on it’s guards to demonstrate that the motorcycle manufacturers are putting out good motorcycles that are built to withstand tip overs now and then with little to no damage. In the end the only tip over I experienced that day was on the way home when I forgot to put my kick stand down in a parking lot after Diana informed me that my headlight was out. Good thing I had the new Cobra engine guard. It looks great and protects the motorcycle from dumb moves like that. Diana has a Jardine engine guard on her bike.

Diana coming out of the circle

jay is kicking it at RLAP MD

jay and diana both in the course

jay and diana soaking in the knowledge

The class attracted a wide variety of rider skills. There were riders like me and Diana who could handle these exercises on our own but were looking to move to the next level. There were riders who had never practiced these moves but were glad to learn them. Then there were a few newbies who didn’t know what they were getting into. Some of the guys could barely lean their motorcycles over or do a tight u-turn. I have to hand it to everyone for sticking with it. All attendees graduated at the end of the day. No one gave up. I believe everyone came away from the class a better rider regardless of their level and that speaks volumes.

Diana enjoying the class

jay waiting his turn

Dave, Christine and his staff have succeeded at creating an environment where people are comfortable learning new techniques and are bettering themselves. The class is enjoyable and I’m glad we did it. Check the Ride Like A Pro website to see if there is a franchise near you. If you live in Delmarva look no further than Ride Like A Pro of Maryland.

Ride Like A Pro of Maryland: www.ridelikeapromd.com/

Other Ride Like A Pro locations: www.ridelikeapro.com/locations

Click here to see all the pictures Christine took with our camera and then I cropped and loaded to Flickr. 

Here are my recommendations to become a better rider:

1. Take the Beginner MSF Class

2. Watch Ride Like A Pro training DVD’s

3. Practice, ride and practice continually

4. Take the Experienced MSF Class

5. Take the Ride Like A Pro Class

6. Read as many riding safety books that you can

7. Seek out a mentor, training and anything available to help

8. Practice more, read more, ride more

9. Always check in with us at www.RoadCaptainUSA.com and check this link regarding posts about riding techniques: http://roadcaptainusa.com/category/motorcycle-rider-skills/