A Bat Outa Hell

The only riding I got to do today was to the local shop to fix the leaky fork I blogged about yesterday. You know what a biker does when his bike is in the shop? Yard work! Well at least I mowed the lawn, whacked the weeds and took down the inflatable pool. That helped keep my mind off the expense of replacing a car tire last weekend and now this repair.

I told Diana to give me a half hour head start before heading down to pick me up at 301 Cycle in Middletown, DE. I got caught up in something the next neighborhood over and Diana ended up getting a little ahead of me… but not for long! She was on Rt 896 when I buzzed by her. Now keep in mind my princess drives a Mustang GT with a V8 and a lead foot. The only thing I usually do faster than her is eat!

So here is a deep biker question: when I ride by myself I ride like a bat outa hell. Not all the time but definitely a lot more agressive than when I ride with others. When I lead Diana or a group of riders I ride like a granny. I’m super conservative when leading one or more people. Anyone wanna take a crack at explaing what you think is the difference? It’s like I’m a whole nother person!

Motor Oil Tastes Great!

Today I rode my motorcycle for about 200 miles, noticed one side of my motorcycle was covered in oil halfway through the ride and finished the day by digesting a fair amount of motor oil!

This was the first weekend that I can remember in long time where I had a full weekend open for riding. It was a fantastic day, no rain, no clouds but a little gusty. I picked up an old project and planned a ride route that would take me up and over Philly from Delaware without any Interstates. Diana and I had a good time riding but the route wasn’t my favorite after we got north of West Chester, PA. It was slow going and I pulled into an Exxon station to discuss turning around so that we could be home by a decent hour. Diana wanted to continue on to our destination of Frenchtown, NJ before turning around. I agreed and started to gear up.

As I got ready to ride I started noticing oil on the left side of my Harley. First on the primary case, then on my air horn and then on the front and underside of the gas tank. I saw some pooling at the end of a fuel line and thought for a moment it was gasoline! Diana took a finger swipe of it and said it didn’t smell like gas. It was oil. It was all over my engine guard. I was starting to wonder if I was behind a truck with a leak that was spraying me; but that was unlikely. Then I saw it, the left leg of the fork was all covered in oil. A blown fork seal was the culprit!

I wrapped a white bandana around the fork to soak up the oil so it wouldn’t drip down the fork leg to the front disk brake. Then we turned around and headed for home. Shortly after, I became concerned the bandana wasn’t catching all the oil. We stopped at a Wawa parking lot. I took a few sheets of my directions that were printed on copy paper and formed a paper tube around the fork slider and used a strap to tie it in place. Amazingly this actually contained most of the oil for the remainder of the ride home.

When we got back to Newark, DE we stopped at Woodside Farm Creamery for ice cream. All good rides end with ice cream or beer! When looking through the flavors there was one that jumped out at me and was the clear choice for the day: Motor Oil!

Two scoops of Motor Oil in a sugar cone was definitely sweet and I licked up every last bit of it. But I’m bummed about not being able to ride tomorrow. Sweet sorrow.

Enthusiasm Is The Key

I wrote the below post almost a year ago having only 2 months left in my Directorship of First State. Being Director of First State was one of the most important and rewarding experiences of my life. I am still confused about where to go from here in regards to being part of the group. The important thing is to recognize that Enthusiasm is the catalyst to achieving great things. 

I have served as the Director of the First State Chapter of the Harley Owners Group® since January 1st 2009. I joined the chapter in 2007 and have always been in a officer position. In two months I will turn over the chapter to a new Director I find myself in a state of reflection but not able to organize my thoughts.

A lot has changed since 2007. My enthusiasm for riding my motorcycle and for chapter events 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. New is exciting!

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 my wife, 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 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 I 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.

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 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.

Stick A Nail In Your Tire!

We were on a road trip last weekend and had just gotten out of our car at the Cracker Barrel in Winchester, VA when I heard it! We were starving for dinner and the hiss of air rushing out of the front passenger tire was not the most welcome sound in the universe. At first I wondered out loud to Diana “what’s that sound?”. It was much louder than most tire punctures because most tire punctures have the protrusion, such as a nail, stuck in the hole. This hole did not and all the air was rushing out of the tire with a vicious hiss! As much as I wanted to go inside for dinner I knew if we didn’t act fast the tire would be flat in no time flat and it would be dark soon and my car would be stuck at the Cracker Barrel. I wondered if I should hop in it and drive across the parking lot to our hotel so the tire could deflate there. Then I wondered if I should call AAA. Instead I directed Diana to go to my Home Depot tool bucket in the backseat of the car and fish out a nail from the bottom of the bucket! She was like “What?!”. And I was like “get a nail out of the bucket!” while I held my thumb over the hole like the little dutch boy. 

Earlier that day I had gathered up enough tools to do some chores at my mother’s house. Unfortunately we got into a little argument and I didn’t get to hang the pictures she wanted me to hang. The good news is I had plenty of nails! Now why would having nails be a good thing in a case like this? Well I stuck that nail right into the hole! The hissing stopped! We ate dinner and then drove to Pep Boys.

Unfortunately Pep Boys had closed a half an hour before we got there. Darn! So close! I didn’t think the nail and the air would last enough to drive back to the hotel and I didn’t want to walk back. I wasn’t sure if there was a sidewalk and it was dark. So I dug out the jack and doughnut spare. I got the car jacked up and all the lug nuts off… but the wheel would not come off! I tugged and hammered and it just stuck to the hub like it was welded on. A nice young guy (about my age) with a southern accent stopped in his Hummer to ask if we needed help. I swallowed my pride and said “yes” and explained I didn’t know why the wheel wouldn’t come off. The good samariton was a carpenter and he got to hammering on the wheel with no luck either. Then I told him it would probably be less hassle for all of us if we just left the car at Pep Boys and he drop us off at our hotel which was just five minutes away. It was very nice of that guy to stop and help us and I feel bad about all those thoughts and assumptions I made about southern guys and people who own Hummers.

The next morning I walked to Pep Boys and it turns out there is a sidewalk and it took me less than 15 minutes to walk it. My car was still there and the nail was still holding because the tire looked about the same as I left it. I was the first customer in and the first one out. I was back on the road with a brand new Futura tire by 10:00am. I get punctures so often I refuse to replace all tires at once anymore. Not even in pairs! I replace them as they get flats. This is the third Futura leaving only one of the original Goodyears on the 2007 Toyota. Between our 3 cages and 2 bikes I feel like I replace tires every other month! This one had barely any tread left and needed to be replaced.

I drove back to the hotel and woke Diana up. We checked out of the Travel Lodge. This is the same Travel Lodge we stayed at after riding Skyline Drive on July 6th. It was sweltering the morning we left in July on our motorcycles but it was pleasant on this breezy September morning. We drove over to Katie and Allen’s new home. You might remember we had to load our motorcycles into a 16′ U-Haul back in April at Katie and Allen’s house in order to finish the last leg of our Spring Break Outer Banks trip. Well now we got to unload everything Katie and Allen own from a 24′ U-Haul and carry it into their new home just a few miles from the head of Skyline Drive. Nice! Stay tuned for more adventures to the Blue Ridge Mountains!

So again we were not on our motorcycles but we still had us an adventure on the road and you can imagine stuff like this happening on motorcycles. You know it does! So you know what else?! I’m gonna keep a nail in the glove compartment of each of our cars and maybe even in our saddlebags!

Tripping By Bike vs Truck

There is a certain amount of adventure that comes with leaving your house for an overnight trip with just the shirt on your back. I’ve done it, but it might have only been one time back in college. For the record, I had on more than just my shirt; I was fully clothed. When it comes to motorcycle trips you have to be a minimalist because most motorcycles only have enough storage for essentials. So “yes” you can bring more than the shirt on your back, but not a lot more! Hmmm, what can I fit in my saddlebags besides a full set of rain gear, a compact air compressor and some tools? Not much! Pack your toiletries and a change of clothes! Maybe a bathing suit, sweatshirt and a camera. Clean underwear and socks optional! Just kidding.

On the other hand when we travel by car we take everything because… well because we can! And we have a set of matching luggage and a slew of coolers that need to be utilized or they collect dust bunnies.

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Traveling by truck is something new to us and it has added a new flavor of adventure. With the pick up you can load up enough gear to make a home away from home for a couple of days and that is also a little adventurous. When traveling by motorcycle or car we know we’ll stay at a motel and eat at a restaurant or gas station. What we don’t bring with us we’ll buy on the way. No worries! When we go camping we need to think of EVERYTHING we’ll need including food and shelter. Not only do we bring the food and beveridges but the means to prepare it, cook it and shovel it into my smores love’n pie hole. The goal being to not leave the campground once we get there. To disconnect from society. So this is the flip side to motorcycle packing. We have one chance to think of what we need for the entire weekend and pack it in the truck.

full load in the Dodge bed

Car, truck, bike. All different flavors of road tripping. Packing is different for each and an integral part of the adventure that is unique to the mode of travel.

SOA Season 5 Starts Tonight

Just a reminder. SOA Season 5 starts tonight. Nuff said!

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