Never ride with anyone whose title is “Director”

Back in October Dan Bateman had a great post on his blog about group riding. He asked me to come over to Musings of an Intrepid Commuter and post a comment on the topic since I obviously spend a great deal of time riding with my HOG Chapter. Thinking I’m an expert on the topic I left a lengthy comment.

When I say “my HOG Chapter” you have to wonder if I mean it is mine because that is the chapter I belong to as do all the members; or have I become posessive of the chapter since I became the Director? Jack Riepe who is another blogger (Twisted Roads By Jack Riepe) left the 20th comment in the form of a numbered list. His first rule about group riding:

1) Never ride with anyone whose title is “Director.” They generally prove to be real douches in the long run and can kill a good time in a flash.

I was offended the first time a read that and was tempted to respond in a snippy way. I didn’t. I have recently started to fear that I am that douche, am on my way to becoming that douche or was coming close to it. I am hopeful that I can undouche. I enjoy being Director but I don’t want to be a douche and I don’t want to kill a good time.

TruckChamp.com 2010 Motorcycle Sweepstakes

Fort Washington Pin Stop, Mount Vernon and Great Falls Park

Harley-Davidson of Fort Washington

Memorial Day weekend 2010 Diana and I rode down to the Fort Washington Pin Stop with our HOG Chapter on Saturday. This was a first for us. Thousands of motorcyclists descend on Washington, DC on Memorial Day weekend for Rolling Thunder. I have never been to the Harley-Davidson pin stop on Saturday or the Rolling Thunder demonstration (which is on Sunday) before. This is a huge event that draws bikers from as far away as New York if not further. It was incredible the amount of bikers that swarm to Harley-Davidson of Washington DC. It was mobbed! It was great to see friends from other HOG Chapters in Maryland and I was impressed with free grub. Our regional HOG manager was there and it was nice to see him. I believe the new CEO of the Motor Company was present as well.

Jay and Diana with Regional HOG Manager Ben Week

the best bikes inthe world

alot of bikes in Fort Washington

Like many motorcycle events it only took a few minutes to see everything so Diana and I mounted up to check out some roads I wanted to ride. First we crossed the Potomac from Maryland to Virginia on the beltway and immediately exited in Alexandria. I followed the signs to Mount Vernon which took us down to the bottom of the George Washington Memorial Parkway to the plantation where George and Martha lived. We didn’t pay the $15 per person admission to see the grounds, but it was tempting. 

Jay at Mount Vernon

Diana at Mount Vernon

From there we rode past Fort Washington on the Potomac River all the way up the 25-mile scenic byway passing through Alexandria up along to Potomac River past the Ronald Reagan International Airport. We were rewarded with awesome views of our nation’s capital city for a short time before we went under Arlington Memorial Bridge. We passed Theodore Roosevelt Island and again were rewarded with great views, this time it was Georgetown and its impressive university.

Diana and Fort Washington

Fort Washington

At the top of the George Washington Memorial Parkway we were dumped back onto the DC beltway but before we merged on the beltway we just reexited and followed the signs for Rt-193 Georgetown Pike. Georgetown Pike was a nice twisty road through the forest and took us to Great Falls Park on the Virginia side. Great Falls is an awesome place I used to vist when I was younger. Great Falls is a portion of the Potomac that has incredible rapids that are more a cascade than a waterfall but have been described as the Niagara of the South.

Diana at Great Falls

Diana gazes at the great Potomac

Jay at Great Falls

The mighty river

Diana grabs a slice of pizza at Great Falls

A cool salamander at Great Falls

I hate to go back the way I came. I prefer to do a loop. Problem is this is a huge loop. So what?! It’s not like we are going to turn into pumpkins if we get home after dark. So we took Rt-7 to US-15 until we could cross the Potomac back into Maryland at Point of Rocks. This was a long traffic light congested crappy ride… until we got into Maryland. US-15 was pretty nice country on Catoctin Mountain Highway. Soon we were in the Frederick area and caught Interstate 70 which I enjoy. What’s better than cruising a nice piece of highway that isn’t all congested with cars and travels through green hilly farmland? When we reached the exit for Rt-32 I let Diana take it from there as she knows this portion of Maryland like the back of her hand. Basically this part of our ride from Frederick to home was the preride of an upcoming chapter trip. Convenient how that worked out!

Cotoctin Mountain Highway

We put on over 300 miles and got home after 9:00 pm. We had a great ride with our chapter in the morning and then had a fun adventure on our own. It was a mile marker in our riding career. A few years ago we were newbies on HOG day trips dependent on our ride leaders and followed them like baby ducks. Now we have graduated to another level and can leave the pack and venture off on our own. It was agreat day! I look forward to visiting the Maryland side of Great falls sometime soon.

A Great HOG Chapter

This is my blog and all opinions expressed here are mine. They are not facts, just opinions. With that said here are some thoughts from The Jay Green on what makes a great HOG Chapter.

It’s all about creating a special place that differs from “real life”. We have fun, we have spontaneity, we have camaraderie, we have adventure, we have passion and we live our dream. With the exception of placing a top priority on safety, it’s one big alcohol and drug free party. Out there in the “real world” you feel like a cog in the machine. You feel like “the man” has you under his thumb. Out there people don’t connect. They don’t know your name. They don’t know your passion. They don’t touch. They don’t dream. When you show up to a HOG Chapter event you should feel special from the minute you walk in the door. I don’t care if it’s your first meeting, in this time and place you are family! You will be greeted with a handshake, a hug or a pat on the back. There are no newbies, no rubs, and no wannabes. We are all equal because we are all Harley-Davidson owners and we all belong to the same chapter. For a brief time you put aside your woes and share your passion for Harley-Davidson motorcycles with like minded individuals. There should be few rules. Everyone should understand this is not serious business, this is about riding and having fun safely. Ride and have fun, that’s the motto. That doesn’t mean do whatever you want to do. Our members represent the chapter and our sponsor and should always present a positive image and act responsibly. We are sponsored by the local Harley-Davidson dealer and are law abiding citizens.

If one of our members makes a mistake we do not shun him or her. We support our friends. We help them pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get them back on the road. If one of our members suffers a tragedy, we all feel their pain and are there for moral support. We do what we can. If one of our members isn’t pulling his weight or contributing, so what? He pays to be a member of this chapter and has the right to take from it what he wants. Everyone gets out of it exactly what they put into it. We focus on the positive and ride past the negative.

If you succeed at creating this atmosphere, you and your members will belong to something special. With that will come chapter pride. What could be better than belonging to a special group and being proud of it? There is nothing wrong with pronouncing your chapter as being the best or being number one! Sports fans do it all the time. The big difference between us and passionate sports fans is that we are not spectators. We wear our one piece patch and roar down the highway of adventure arm in arm with our fellow HOG members!

After a HOG trip, activity or meeting we go home, take off the leathers and return to the grind. We may not be hard core. We may not live “the lifestyle”. But we get it, we understand it and we respect it! We are 99%ers. We go back to work on Monday morning to our jobs and yearn for the next chance to feel the freedom of the open road. We also yearn for that special feeling we get when we walk in the door at a HOG Chapter Social. We yearn for the camaraderie, brotherhood and sisterhood we only know when we are at a chapter event. We yearn for that handshake, hug or pat on the back.

I feel sorry for riders and citizens who don’t know this camaraderie. I look on with awe at the members of motorcycle clubs who live the lifestyle 24/7/365. HOG is just the right mix of biker lifestyle and responsible living for me and many others who want to enjoy motorcycling as a recreational pastime. 

I also feel sorry for members of HOG chapters who have not created this special atmosphere. From what I read on the Internet you would think a HOG Chapter like ours doesn’t exist. Some HOG chapters and some Harley-Davidson dealers just don’t get it. I’m thankful I get it, our sponsor gets it and our members get it.

The real world sucks! Being a member of a great HOG Chapter makes it all good!

Mrs Road Captain is a Road Captain

HOG RC Patch

Holy road tar Batman I married Super Woman! It seems like just a few months ago I was teaching Diana how to ride a motorcycle in a school parking lot in Baltimore. Turns out that was 5 years ago. She has been a dedicated student of motorcycling ever since. She soaks up knowledge like a sponge… as long as it doesn’t come from her husband. Most say that she rides better than me. I say she rides better than most. On top of that she does an excellent job of navigating, mapping and creating great rides. When asked why we should ride through two hours of rain to get to a bike rally she responds with “because that’s what we do!”. So I guess it is only natural that she was patched tonight as an offical HOG Road Captain in First State Chapter. Congratulations Princess, I’ll follow you anywhere!

Delaware Maryland State HOG Rally

DE MD 2010 State HOG Rally

The below article is from guest writer Barbara Kerr, Rally Secretary. Please note registration deadline is this Thursday! If are are interested in volunteering please e-mail me your contact information at Director@FirstStateHOG.org (you must be registered for the rally to volunteer). 

If it’s June, then that means that the DE/MD “Blue Ribbon H.O.G. A-Fair” State Rally is just around the corner in Dover, Delaware – July 29, 30, 31, 2010.  HAVE YOU REGISTERED YET????  OMG!  Why not??? Do it now!  It is so easy – just go to www.demdstatehogrally.com.  Make sure you look carefully at all your registration options – dinner, Dover International Speedway Tour, and rally merchandise.  You’d be smart to select your rally merchandise purchases at the time of registration, as that’s the only way you’ll be guaranteed to get what you want.  Please note on-line registration CLOSES JUNE 10th!!!   After you register, check out the Sheraton of Dover, where we have a block of rooms being held; book now before they are all gone!

Thursday night, the 29th, is the Meet ‘n Greet social.  Plan on hoot’n and holler’n through the HOG Calling and Pie Eating contests.  Oh, don’t forget to get dressed up in your best (fanciest) bib overalls (I’ve yet to figure out how I’m dressin’ mine up – but am sure there will be plenty of laughs for all).

The rally gets into full swing with an early start for breakfast on Friday morning.  This is definitely the place to be on July 30th.  After you’ve gotten your fill at breakfast, decide whether you want to do the walking and/or riding poker run rides, Destination and Blue Ribbon Passport rides, and/or the ice cream ride.  Did you remember to pre-register for the Dover International Speedway Tour? When will you get a better chance to go behind the scenes at the track AND get to lap the track on your bike??  After an awesome day of fun, make sure you head to the Sheraton for Friday’s night wild and fun Midway games, DJ and cash bar. 

Saturday morning the 31st starts with another great breakfast ride.  After a full day of poker runs and another ice cream ride, make sure your back to the Sheraton in time for the Blue Ribbon Games/Field Events.   Oh, and plan on the group photo in front of Miles at the track.  What better way to close the event than with a great dinner, prizes and hoppin’ and laughin’ with our DJ Just Kidding Around?! 
See you at the rally!

Volunteering Makes Motorcycle Events More Fun

Setting up tents

Don’t Stand on the Sidelines! I can tell you from experience that the best way to enjoy the benefits of being a HOG member is to step up to the plate and get involved. It can be daunting to commit yourself to something and intimidating to meet new people. Don’t let that stop you! Don’t stand on the sidelines! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

“Volunteering” sounds like a punishment or a sacrifice but nothing could be further from the truth. HOG is primarily a volunteer organization. Nothing would happen if HOG members didn’t step up to help. Showing up to an event as a participant with no responsibility sounds like fun but in most cases it makes for a hum drum experience. I’d much rather create bonds with new people, keep busy and have a good time. The other options are to stand around with your thumb up your exhaust, shop and eat. If you show up to an event as a volunteer I guarantee you’ll make new friends without even trying. Event volunteers are busy at work, have purpose and are usually laughing their butts off. Having a job makes being at the event fun.

Our fellow nutty MAV peeps

The above pictures are from the second year Diana and I volunteered to help with the MAV Foundation Bike & Blues Festival. Look how much fun the volunteers are having. You probably don’t believe me when I tell you they are drinking water.

When I joined First State Chapter I jumped in head first. I volunteered to be the Activities Officer on day one. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew I wanted to meet new people who liked the same things I did… and that’s not easy to do out there in the real world. I organized two trips and had the time of my life. I wish I could relive those trips! The friends I made on those first two trips will always be special because they were present and supported me when I was born into the world of traveling by motorcycle.

Immediately after joining the chapter I volunteered at our chapter poker run. You would never guess how much fun can be had doing something as simple as passing out bags of potato chips in the food line until you do it. I met so many people and we laughed and joked the whole time. When my wife, Diana, arrived to pick me up and saw me having such a great time with everyone she felt left out. Ever since then we have noticed we have more fun the more we get involved. It’s gotten to the point where we invent things to do. For example we don’t just show up to a dealer open house at Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson. Instead we ask if we can do a breakfast fund raiser and cook breakfast… or if we can set up a membership table and try to recruit new members.

By volunteering to be the Director of the chapter I have probably made more friends than all the other friends I have ever made in my entire life. I have probably met more people through HOG in three years than most people have in their whole lives. I love showing up to an event several hours away and seeing members of other HOG chapters that I have met only because I took on this role. Every month First State attracts new members and I am usually fortunate enough to meet all of them. This past spring I attended HOG Officer Training in Reno, NV and made friends with other HOG members from Canada, Detroit, Wyoming, California and Texas.

Have I convinced you that volunteering is the best way to make an event fun? Are you are all revved up and ready to volunteer? If you live in Delaware or Maryland I have two huge events in July 2010 to tell you about and we need plenty of volunteers!

We have the Delaware and Maryland State HOG Rally right here in Dover this year. I volunteered to be the Volunteer Coordinator for the rally… go figure. I need lots of help! Please e-mail me at Director@FirstStateHOG.org with subject “volunteer” if you want to help. Send me your contact information. The only catch is you must be registered for the rally (you must be a HOG member to register). Rally registration deadline is June 10th! If you miss the deadline and still want to participate, contact me and I will see what I can do. Click here to register for the rally.

First State HOG is in a unique position to take an active part in a new annual event that could possibly become the biggest Mid Atlantic Harley-Davidson biker event. Our sponsor, Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson New Castle, will launch Mike’s Famous Biker Weekend next month. We are on the ground level of this opportunity to help make this a spectacular success and create visibility for our chapter. We need every active First State member to step up for two hours Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The dates are July 16, 17 and 18th. We have lots of different jobs to accommodate different people. If you have special needs let us know. We understand some people can’t stand for long periods of time, others don’t like the sun, etc… We will find something you will enjoy. I’ll probably lead a ride and direct traffic because I think I look good in a bright orange vest. Come to the June meeting and select the time slot of your choice. If you can’t make it to the June meeting, contact Diana or Gladys.