Why Bother With Maintenance?

Once upon a time a well respected rider and reader of this blog purchased his dream motorcycle. A Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic! The Caddy of touring motorcycles! He purchased it new with extended warranty and the whole bit! He was mechanically inclined and good with his hands. He was capable of doing the maintenance on his new motorcycle himself but he trusted his new love to the professionals. You would think this would keep the warranty intact and ensure all proper procedures would be followed. A smart move… you would think. I did the same thing for several years until…

One day he picked up his motorcycle from the service department and only made it a few miles before noticing bad noises coming from the transmission. Very bad noises! Noises you don’t want to hear coming from your new love, or your old one for that matter. Turns out the transmission fluid that the dealership put into the motorcycle disappeared! Just like that! No fluid!

So next time you bring your car, truck or motorcycle to a trusted professional, remember this story. Ask any employee at a quick lube joint and I’m sure they will tell you of at least one occurance they know of where a professional forgot to fill the oil after draining or they forgot to put the drain plug back in yielding the same result. I’m not saying this happens at Jiffy Lube, but I’m sure the kids who work there will know of someone somewhere who knows this happens… and they might remember the sound of an engine trying to turn over with no lube in it! Yikes!

So who can you trust? The low wage rookie who gets assigned to oil changes? I don’t think so. Even the most experienced professionals in any field make mistakes. Do you want them making that mistake on your prized motorcycle? The only person you can really trust is YOU! The only way you can know it was done, is to do it yourself. Right, wrong or otherwise you will at least know WHAT was done. Don’t be a fool and trust the professionals with easy stuff you can do at home. Save yourself some major cash too!

Remember the old adage: if you want something done right, do it yourself. If you don’t know how to do it right then immediately go to my online store and purchase the Fix My Hog training DVD right now! You can change your fluids, spark plugs and air filter easily and this video will show you clearly how to do these things and much more.

Click this banner now for more information!

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PS – I’m not saying to do your own wrenching on everything. I’m not saying to not trust trained professionals. I’m just saying to save them for the stuff you don’t know how to do, don’t have the right tools for or the knowledge. You can do basic fluid changes and know it was done exactly the way you want it done. Click here to purchase Fix My Hog DVD’s that will show you how!

PSS – It is unfortunate that anyone had to go through what my above mentioned friend went through. But at least we can all learn a lesson. If you can do it yourself and know it was done right, then investing a small amount in tools and the training available on the Fix My Hog DVD will be a small price to pay to know it was done right.

PSSS – all you new biker ladies out there should get these videos! Sick of mechanics talking down to you. Feel like you are in left field and have no idea what guys are talk’n bout! Want to at least understand how your motorcycle works and be able to have a two way conversation with your mechanic where you call the shots and know what needs to be done and what doesn’t? Get some education! Get Fix My Hog DVD’s! Click here!

Do Your Own Harley Maintenance

Sometimes it pays to hire a professional who has years of knowledge and experience in addition to having all the right tools and a lift. On the other hand there is no reason for you to shell out hundreds of dollars for a professional to perform basic maintenance you can do in your own driveway. When it comes to doing things yourself, sometimes it is better to know it was done right than to find out the hired help forgot to fill your transmission with fluid or didn’t tighten your new ape hangers down with Loctite. These are the reasons I have added the Fix My Hog DVD series to my own personal collection and made them available to you through my online store www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com

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I Hate Motorcycles!

The three worst things that ever happened to me are motorcycle related!

When I was about fifteen I had a 1980 YZ 80 and I wanted to race motocross. That motorcycle was my bestest most prized posession ever! My father took me to race my Yamaha. I thought that was the beginning of him taking me racing every weekend. Not so! He thought I would get it out of my system if I raced the one time. I was crushed! Realizing my dreams of motocross stardom were over I hopped on my motorcycle and illegally tore through town on that dirtbike with no license. I was caught by the police and spent a few hours in a jail cell! Not a happy memory!

Shortly after that episode I turned sixteen and sold that 80cc for a street legal 250cc Honda enduro. I loved that bike because I got around! I got a job, took it to work, made a little money and had a way to get around in high school while most of my friends were still saving up money for their first car. It got stolen when I was eighteen during my senior year! I was very depressed about it. I moped around for weeks like I lost my best friend.

In 2009 a friend of mine was killed while we were riding together. We had a group of about twenty motorcycles and were heading to North Carolina when a lady on drugs drove through our pack in a Ford Taurus and killed Karen. That was the worst experience of my life!

I love motorcycles! Is it ironic or logical that some of my most unhappy memories are motorcycle related?

Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay

crab decks too

Most Delmarva motorcyclists have a handful of favorite crab decks and biker friendly bars situated on the water in Maryland that they like to visit from time to time. Some well known ones that come to mind are Red Eye’s Dock Bar in Kent Narrows and Waterman’s Crab House in Rock Hall. One of my lesser known personal favorites is Harrison’s Chesapeake House on Tilghman Island. I’m sure there are visiting bikers from outside our area that would love to ride to a genuine Maryland crab deck to get the insider feel of the Chesapeake experience. Unfortunately our visiting friends may have no idea where to go to pick some jumbos at a fair price with a great view. And then there is the rider who is tired of going to the same places and needs some new places to partake of legendary crab and seafood dishes, specially recommended by Jimmy John’s Owner. After all, we know we ride to eat and eat to ride… or something like that!

Hush Puppies, Jumbo Crabs and Yuengling Beer

Susan Elnicki Wade and husband Bill Wade have published a book called Crab Decks & Tiki Bars of the Chesapeake Bay. I thought this book would make a great addition to my riding resources library and I was right! This book lists over 150 Maryland seafood eateries and bars on the waters of the Chesapeake and it’s tributaries. If you’re a seasoned rider with Old Bay in your blood and need some new destinations this book will serve you well. If you are visiting from out of state and want to get the full Maryland blue crab experience by eating at a remote crab deck on the bay at sunset then you too will love this book.

Diana doing what she does best

onlyhalf the roof is missing

bikers at harrisons chesapeake house
I semi randomly picked a ride destination from the book called Rolph’s Wharf Sandbar. It turned out to be a neat ride destination. We cruised down Rt 213 and then turned right on Rolphs Wharf Road just past Chestertown. We found this remote open air bar at a small marina on the beach. The bar itself was a grounded boat underneath a shelter. Boaters and bikers alike were enjoying the breezy beach and pulling up a bar stool to the rail of the boat for their favorite beverages. We had a great ride and look forward to our next semi random pick from one of the 150 locations in the Maryland edition.

The Sandbar Bar & Grill

The Sandbar on the beach in Chestertown

Diana at he sandbar

the bar is a boat!

If you hale from the lower portion of the Delmarva Peninsula then you will be happy to know Susan and Bill have just released the Virginia edition. I met with Susan and Bill at the Sunset Grill in Cape Charles, VA . I have passed the Sunset Resort many many times and had no idea there was a party on the beach behind the resort every Sunday. The Sunset Grill is a gem of a destination! It was hopping with live music, cold drinks, great seafood and lots of pretty young ladies prancing around in bikinis! If this place is an example of the other places in the Virginia edition than this book is worth its weight in crab seasoning! I know the Maryland book has already served my stomach well! Both are available at www.Amazon.com

Three Types of Road Trips

There are two ways to road trip in my book of road travel. There is a third way but that is not in my book yet. The first is the type of road trip where you stay at one place and that is your home base for the trip. The other is the nomad experience where you travel from point A to point B and stay the night. Then you pack up, check out and travel to point C and stay the night.  Then you do it again and again until your vacation time expires and you arrive back home. This method of travel lets you cover the most ground but leaves you at the mercy of the road. Mechanical malfunction, sudden illness or bad weather are all more challenging when you have no home base. Having a home base lends itself to a more relaxing experience. You can play things by ear rather than stick to a schedule. You don’t have to worry about covering a certain distance in order to be at your next destination by nightfall. When you do the home base vacation you can shop, sit by the lake, explore state parks, play miniature golf or whatever. It doesn’t matter because you’re on vacation and you can go back to your base camp whenever you feel like it. The third mode of road tripping is not my thing… yet. That’s where you hit the road with no plan, no motel reservation, no nothing! Just a full tank of gas and the open road! I call it Hobo mode! Maybe I’m saving the best for last but I haven’t tried it yet on a motorcycle.

Reflections on Directorship

Here is another journal entry I wrote two years ago while reflecting on my service to First State HOG. It is similar to the recently published post on enthusiasm but includes some other toughts as well. 

I have served as the Director of the First State Chapter of the Harley Owners Group® since January 1st 2009. Having two months left before I turn over the chapter to a new Director I find myself in a state of reflection but not able to organize my thoughts. I guess that is the advantage of a journal as you can reflect freely. So consider this a journal entry.

In 2008 our HOG chapter was more of a social club than a riding club. The same six to ten people showed up for all the rides. It was a rebuilding year and low particpation could be expected. The owner of the Harley-Davidson dealership that sponsors us had fired the volunteer officers of the chapter in 2006. Many members left with those officers. Both 2007 and 2008 were rebuilding years. The dealership was sold to a new owner in the fall of 2008 and it seemed like we were off to a bad start with our new sponsor. About that time a large group of men and women left the chapter and joined a local MC and WMC. Those members included people in key positions: Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Activities Officer and a former Head Road Captain. As the Assistant Director I was the only primary officer left.

I met with the General Manager of Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson to discuss my being Director and we agreed on everything we talked about. The relationship was off to a good start. I made some calls and filled most if not all the available officer positions. At this time I was still rather new to riding and to HOG®. My enthusiasm was high and that enthusiasm was contageous. I was so excited to ride and to make new friends that liked to ride I was burning with a passion for this chapter. Being exposed to riding beyond what I thought riding was about got me fired up. I was excited! And that caused other people to get excited! They got behind me and supported me. It was a great thing! Maybe the second best thing that has ever happened to me!

I put together a great team of leaders and together we more than doubled participation. We developed an outstanding relationship with our sponsor. Our chapter rides grew to having roughly twenty riders on every ride. And they weren’t the same twenty riders! It seemed like each Road Captain had his/her own twenty riders! We won numerous awards for chapter particaption (10 in 2009 in honor of Karen Fortner). We took third place for particpation with 52 members at HOGs at the Beach last month (our first showing at this event in years). Most importantly this group of leaders fostered an atmasphere where everyone enjoyed each others company. Conversation came naturally and new members felt welcome from day one. No one felt left out, unwelcome or new. It was difficult to start meetings or end breaks because everyone was having such a good time socializing. The enthusiasm created excitement and excitement resulted in particaption! The chapter is a success!

A lot has changed since 2007. My enthusiasm isn’t what it was and I feel guilty about it (yes I am jewish so guilt is part of the territory). It is natural to experience spurts of motivation. We all experience spurts of motivation when we start new diets, exercise programs and even career changes. It’s also natural to want to move on to something new like the members who left First State to join the MC and WMC in 2008. They moved on to something they were excited about. Everyone is friends and we still appreciate the affect those leaders had in rebuilding the chapter. Even this year we had some members leave to start up a new riding organization and we wish them well as they undertake the excitement of starting a new group.

I try to remember the excitement I had back in 2007. I went on every chapter ride! I never checked the weather, where the ride was going, who was leading, who else was going or how early it was leaving. I didn’t care, I was excited to go on any ride with other like minded people. I was so excited I would wake up early like it was a big event no matter what! Now I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed on Saturday or Sunday morning for those same rides. I started finding myself picking and choosing which rides and events I would participate in based on the above mentioned criteria. Four years have passed since I joined the local HOG chapter. Two months left of Directorship and I hardly go on any rides other than the ones Diana organizes. What has changed? I have changed and so has the chapter. Maybe I just need a little break.

I am definitely not as excited to do the things I was excited about three or four years ago. I need new experiences to fire up my furnace. Doesn’t everyone? Maybe it’s just me because I do suffer from depression and it’s always been difficult for me to get excited about anything. It’s only fair that I step aside and pass on the Directorship to someone with fresh ideas and excitement. In fact that has always been the plan, it was a three year commitment based on the fact that someone can only have a passion for something like this for about three years. I feel strongly that the most important piece in this equation is enthusiasm. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

I feel a like a victim of our success. My vision was always for growth, prosperity and huge particpation for the chapter as well as that “one big happy family” feeling. We achieved that! But like many things I thought I wanted this might not be the best thing for me. I miss those 2007 rides with the same six to ten people every weekend. I swell up with pride every time I see new people at our events but I also feel strange about it. Sometimes I feel like a stranger at our own events with all the new people that have joined. I’m lucky to be part of an organization that offers the opportunity to meet new people that love Harleys. But I miss the tightness of the smaller group we had. I obviously have conflicted feelings.

It is definitely with conflicted feelings that pass the baton. Being the Director has somewhat defined who I am for the past three years. No matter where I go I carry that pride with me. I am the leader of a special group of people. The best people I have ever met. I have no children of my own but can only compare this feeling with what I think it feels like to be a proud parent. For me it is a little like the scene in the movie The Jerk when Steve Martin’s character saw his name in the phone book for the first time. “I am somebody now!” I fear I am really going to miss that feeling of being special. 

I still love HOG®. In fact I love HOG® beyond our local chapter. I love being a part of the Maryland/Delaware HOG® chapters who have a special kinship. I love being a leader in this international organization and I enjoy the company of being with other leaders in this organization. HOG Officer Training has been one of my favorite experiences. Thus it is natural that my next challenge involves the 2012 Maryland/ Delaware State HOG® Rally.

It was through writing articles for the chapter newsletter that I discovered a passion for writing. I like writing about riding almost as much as I like the riding. I have always loved motorcycles since before I could walk. I can’t explain that but I love everything about motorcycles. I love motorcycle: books, movies, tv shows, magazines, calendars, museums, dealerships, culture, parts, clothes, accessories, collectables, images, races, and competitions of every kind. I like tools but not maintenance or repairs. I like cleaning and polishing products but not the actual cleaning and polishing. It’s not logical to love a dangerous sport that is dependent on the weather. It’s not logical to love a form of transportation that is limited by night vision, ones visibility to others, the temperature, daylight savings time, the seasons, the movements of critters and ones ability to focus intently for hours. Logical or not I have a passion for traveling and for motorcycles and like to write about both. My involvement with HOG® has given birth to a new passion! I have to explore this and see where it leads. It could be our future. I don’t believe retirement will be an option for us, at least not in the sense of previous generations. I would like to think that our writing and photography could possibly provide a form of retirement income. Someday when we have no debt we might be able to live on the income from travel writing. For now we are busting our behinds doing what we are good at.

After providing four plus years of very rewarding service to the chapter in four different positions I shouldn’t have to have reasons for moving on but as I said before I feel guilty about it. To sum things up it is safe to say I don’t have the same spark for riding and socializing as I did a few years ago. I want to work on the 2012 State Rally and then work on my writing and see where that takes me. I also want to experience being an active member at large. I don’t want to have the pressure of setting the example. I want to do things because they fit my schedule and I truly want to do them… just like everybody else. At the very least maybe I just need a short break.