5th Year of Moto Blogging

Jay on his first Harley Davidson motorcycle

Wow! Yesterday was the 5th year anniversary since publication of my first blog post titled “Discovery Channel Addict” on January 5, 2008 on this website. It’s a great post, you should click the link and read it now.

I wish I could go back in time and be a “newbie” again. Your senses are so keen when you are new to motorcycling. You can feel the adrenaline when encountering new obstacles. You fear coming to a stop light and a million thoughts come into your head. You’re not sure what it is like to stop your motorcycle, balance, put your feet down and wait for the light to turn green. Will it turn green? Maybe you won’t trip the light because you are on a motorcycle?

It’s the introspectiveness I miss most. As you ride you contemplate the usual questions: am I a biker, who is a biker, to wave or not to wave? Enthusiasm is a close second to introspectiveness. For a long time “obesession” would have been a more accurate word to describe our relationship with riding. I wouldn’t think twice about going for a chapter ride on a 36 degree Sunday in January a few years ago… but now? No way! I’m not leaving my cozy study to freeze my butt off! Even if I do own several pairs of thermal underwear, a heated jacket liner, heated gloves, a neck warmer and a full face helmet! 

I used to do a lot of product reviews… but now I have all the products I need. I used to do a lot of book reviews but I’m reading different types of books now, so no more book reviews. I used to go to a lot of motorcycle shows, but they all seem the same. What will I write about this winter?

Hopefully I’ll find more to write about than my waning enthusiasm, lack of introspection and challenge in finding motorcycle related inspiration. I hope you keep coming back to read what I come up with.

2012 Mostly Low With Some Highs

Jay Camping

I can’t believe the year is over! We bought a 2001 Dodge Dakota on New Years Eve last year so we are having a birthday cake tonight for the Baby Ram. The expectation was to pick up a used pick up, a trailer and drive off into the sunset. It didn’t quite work out that way. The Dodge turned out to be a little project needing extra love to nurse the Baby Ram back to health. No trailering but we did go fishing and camping (ar 15 parts for the activity) and the truck was fun for doing that. A year later and the Dodge seems road worthy and ready for 2013.

Our Home on the Road

our new half price tent

Fix My Hog Banner 4

The year started out at RC USA with a motorcycle maintenance theme as we added Fix My Hog DVD’s to our product line at www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com and did our own spring tune ups on the Harleys. With the addition of the needy Dodge the year quickly grew into a car, truck and motorcycle maintenance theme. The truck was a learning experience that carried over to the cars.

Diana draining her fluids

novice mechanic at work

Diana cleaning drain plugs and installing new o-rings

The year was supposed to have a HOG State rally theme to it with plans to attend three rallys. Our biggest accomplishment of the year was taking part in the organization of the Maryland/Delaware State Rally. The entire first half of the year was dedicated to making the rally a success. Organizing the rally killed our riding season but we got to bring a lot of joy to other HOG members and put on an incredible event! It was a lot of work but worth it! We didn’t go to the other two rallys we were planning on. We were burnt out and the whole trailer thing didn’t go as planned.

Riding on Ocracoke Island

sunrise on cape hatteras with a beach branch

Diana behind the Sandbar and Grill

The view from the deck of the Sandbar and Grill

two harleys at the sandbar and grill in buxton, nc

cape charles sunset

Diana in front of OBX bush

waiting for the ferry back

Jay on a sand dune

We took two major road trips on our motorcycles this year. In the spring we had an all out 5 day adventure and went down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Unfortunately the last leg of the trip had us return home in a U-Haul truck due to mechanical problems. oops ball bearings popping out

Two Dyna’s loaded in the U-Haul

After the rally in Deep Creek we treated ourselves to a 4th of July trip to Deep Creek Lake, West Virginia and Skyline Drive! it was an awesome trip but extremly hot!!!

shadey spot with a view of seneca rocks

jay Green at Seneca rocks Vistor center

Diana on top of the world!

motorcycle on skyline drive coming throughtunnel

hey I’m in a tree on skyline drive

Bear Creek Lodge in Cass, WV

After that we backed off motorcycles for a bit. I found myself for the first time in 5 years with no responsibilities to HOG. I had some catching up to do with my family and some new passtimes to try out. I tried fishing but it wasn’t for me. We went on two camping trips and had a great time!

There were some highs but too many lows. We finally sold our townhouse in Baltimore that took about three years. We lost our shirts but saved our credit through a short sale. Diana’s father passed away. A friend from our HOG Chapter fell ill and he too passed away. The year is coming to an end with me realizing my parents are both ill and need me to take an active roll in their lives. There has also been some lows at work so overall it hasn’t been a great year for us. On the bright side, Diana started an online graduate program this month and is doing very well with it. She will have her masters degree in the not so distant future! I am super proud of her for deciding to do this and doing so well with it. I’m also working on my education in a less formal way.

We’ll hunker down in 2013 and take care of my parents. First we’ll find them a place to live near me and then my life is in for some serious changes as I learn how to look after them. We’ll spend the winter on our respective course work. In the spring we are going to take an awesome vacation to San Francisco. Maybe we can even hook up with some west coast moto bloggers! Then we’ll come back, tune up the motorcycles and hit the road for another riding season. Good bye 2012!

Taking a Breather

This month has been the least I have blogged since the birth of this website in 2008 and for that I apologize to anyone who has been coming here looking for fresh motorcycle info. You may have noticed that the entire year has been a bit of a break from riding for me. I am a bit extreme (like many riders) and dove in head first into this sport that becomes an obsession for many including myself. You can say I over did it. I got so involved with HOG that I became the Director and a Road Captain for our local chapter. This past year I gave up those positions but continued on to play a key part in organizing the 2012 HOG state rally here in Delaware/Maryland. After the rally I backed off of motorcycling and picked up some new pastimes like automotive repair, camping and of course writing… just not so much on this blog. I’m reading a lot about advertising and taking a copy writing course. When my obsession was in full swing it was easier to write about rides and new products. Now my obsession with motorcycles has cooled off and I don’t need any new products and I go on less rides. So naturally writing about motorcycling has become a little less easy. I have been less inspired to blog but I do have some catching up to do on blog posts I never got to write but are still on my list of things to write about. So I just wanted to let you all know, I’m still here but I’m taking a little breather. In the immortal words of the Terminator: “I’ll be back.”

Wrench’n On Cars & Motorcycles

Now that we own a compact car, a muscle car, a pick up truck and two Harleys I have to pick up some of the maintenance or I’ll be in the poor house. How’s that for motivation?

I’m not a gear head or schooled in the fine art of automotive or motorcycle repair. However the need has arisen to pick up the wrenches. First out of responsibility to know what was done and how it was done. Secondly to save money!

Through my HOG mentor, service manuals, informative books, training DVD’s, online forums and YouTube I have gleaned enough info to perform maintenance on our vehicles. Yesterday I changed the rear brake pads and rotors on our Mustang GT and I’m damn proud of myself!

Fix My Hog Banner 4

I would like to plug Advance Auto Parts. They rock! I order stuff online and pick up at store sometimes saving 20% and receiving a $50 coupon on purchases of $100 or more to be used the following month. It’s a great deal! The service has been great! I have been able to return things for full credit that didn’t work for me. I have purchase parts that have a lifetime warranty and get replacements at no charge. I mistakenly forgot to put a 20% coupon code in during an online checkout at midnight. I e-mailed customer service and it was taken care of before I even woke up the next morning. And to top it off those parts were ready for pick up before lunchtime! The staff at the Newark, DE store are always helpful and full of information.

I would also like to plug YouTube! I have watched a number of video’s on YouTube showing me how to do a number of repairs on the Dakota and Mustang.

Doing my own automotive maintenance… saving hundreds of dollars… another benefit from our involvement with the motorcycle community.

Life, Death & Bikers

A week ago tonight a friend, a fellow Road Captain in our HOG Chapter, lost a horrible battle with cancer that lasted a few short months. We attended his viewing on Tuesday. Some of my friends, and sometimes their friends, meet death on the road in a flash of flesh, steel and asphalt. Unfortunately I have witnessed it. Sometimes my biker friends, and even my wife, lose a parent to old age. During my five years in the biker community I have been to the viewings of two friends lost to the road, four parents of fellow riders, my father in law and now a friend who died of lung cancer.

Before joining our HOG Chapter I wasn’t part of a community. Members from different riding clubs get to know each other. We see each other at rallies, bike nights and charity runs. It’s great being part of something! It’s like I finally joined the human race! But I see death and experience loss far more than before.

The members of this extended family support each other in grief. All feel the loss and share the family’s heartache. I can’t tell you if our community is more supportive than others. I don’t belong to a church group, a softball team or even a fantasy football league. I can tell you that leather clad bikers come out in droves to support their friends and pay their respects. At these viewings it’s hard to find a parking space. The line usually extends out the door and down the walk. Members of the biker community come to support the immediate family of the deceased. All members share the loss, lean on each other and embrace the family.

If I wasn’t part of this community, I wouldn’t know as much about life. I wouldn’t be as familiar with death. And I definitely wouldn’t know how people, who would otherwise be strangers, put aside their differences to comfort each other when faced with the loss of a friend, lover or family member.

RIP Bob aka Senior. You are missed.

Motorcycle Club Primer

I wrote the below blog post years ago during my HOG Chapter Directorship. I wasn’t sure if the topic was appropriate for me to write about. I could be completely off base. It’s not like I am an expert on the subject of Motorcycle Clubs. I don’t belong to one so who am I to write about them. But on the other hand this is geared toward people who are not in a motorcycle club and I think that what I have written here is correct, at least for the local area in which I reside. So I am finally publishing it after years of it sitting in my draft folder. 

As the Director of a HOG Chapter and a person obsessed with motorcycles maybe I should write a primer for Riding Club members regarding Motorcycle Clubs. It has been suggested to me that I write such a document or give a presentation on the topic for my HOG Chapter. I decided against doing that. In most cases what people don’t know won’t hurt them. I do not want to scare off any new HOG members nor do I want to focus on anything other than the HOG mantra: Ride and Have Fun. I also feel it is not my responsibilty as Director to educate people who have entered into a sport without taking the time to learn about it’s history, protocol and culture. That’s on them. As Director I provide them with fun things to do. However this blog is a different story; this is an educational platform.

When you buy a motorcycle, ride a motorcycle, go to motorcycle events and join a motorcycle organization like HOG you cross over into a new world. In this world you will likely cross paths with members of Motorcycle Clubs and therefore you should be familiar with biker protocol. If this is new to you and you are learning this here then it is fair to say you are a newbie to motorcycling. Being that you are a newbie and club culture started years ago then it is also safe to say this is their world and you are entering their arena.  When entering the biker community it is important that you show everyone respect and that you be yourself. Do not try to act like a biker, a bad ass or someone you are not. Be real. Do not wear motorcycle attire to create a new persona or to create a false image. Motorcycling is about respect and integrity. Being honest and genuine is key to earning the respect of others.

“Motorcycle Club” is the term used to designate an exclusive organization that is a brotherhood that adheres to a special set of rules. Members have to earn the right to become a member. New members enter into a probationary period and are voted on. MC’s are not open to the public. You can not sign up or buy your way in. These clubs are territorial and have a special set of rules. The existence of the term “Motorcycle Club” in meaning a territorial club that adheres to special rules automatically excludes other clubs from also being a “motorcycle club”. Motorcycle riding organizations that are not MC’s are considered “Riding Clubs”. A HOG Chapter is a HOG Chapter and that is the best way to define a HOG Chapter. It is not a club. 

You can not sign up or buy your way into an MC. You simply can not sign a form and buy a patch like you can in a factory sponsored organization like an owners group. You have to be invited to enter into a probationary period during which time you would prove that you are worthy of joining the specific brotherhood (or sisterhood). The club members will have to vote on allowing new members into the brotherhood. Prospects who are found to be loyal, trustworthy, and can represent the club responsibly and be counted on when a brother is in need will become members or “patch holders.”

New members of an MC will receive a vest with the club’s three piece patch sewn on. It is usually a denim vest with the sleeves cut off and is called a “cut” and also called their “colors”. The cut is club property. Wearing a club’s colors is an honor and club members will defend that honor at all costs. The vest and patches symbolise everything the club stands for. Do not touch someone’s cut! Do not touch a club members patch! This is considered a sign of disrespect. It’s best just not to touch people you don’t know.

If you patronize a business establishment that has a “no colors” policy you should remove your riding vest even if it isn’t a club cut. To go ahead and wear your vest when they can’t wear theirs would be a show of disrespect.

Show all patch holders respect. They earned it through the probationary period and sacrifices they made in order to wear their patch. They represent their club and showing a patch holder respect or disrespect is the same as showing respect or disrespect to his entire club.

Do not call someone you do not know “Brother”. The term “brother” is reserved for members of the brotherhood. If you belong to the same club you are brothers. If you are not a member of the same club than you should be careful using that term. A patch holder could be offended if someone outside his club referred to him as brother.

Most traditional clubs do not allow women to be members. Their member’s wives and girlfriends may wear a special “Property Of” vest. This vest will have patches designating the women as “property of” that member. Modern day women might find this repulsive. You don’t have to take everything so literal and you don’t have to like their practices! These bikers are not cavemen. They do not own, trade and sell these women. Their relationships are the same as ours. The vest is a symbol of their relationship just like your wedding ring, engagement ring or other sentimental item you have that represents your partnership. You should respect their traditions and keep your opinion to yourself if you have an issue with it. You have nothing to gain by making any snide remarks about their cultural practices that you know little about.

Motorcycle Clubs are not gangs although the police and government may label them as such. Obviously not all clubs members are outlaws. There are both law abiding three piece patch holders and outlaw patch holders. Some MC’s are made up of just law enforcement officers, some are just for fire fighters and others are just for military. There are many “Outlaw” motorcycle clubs. Many clubs adopt the “lifestyle” and in doing so no longer live by the rules and laws that confine most citizens. Instead they make their own rules like they did back in the wild west. If they have a problem they don’t call the police. They handle it their way which in itself is against the law and thus “outlaw”. Are Motorcycle Clubs criminal? The only people who know the answer to this are members of the specific  clubs. For us to try to identify which are which would be futile. The police are having a tough time figuring it out so you probably will not be able to figure it out. As a biker you should assume all bikers are good decent people; but be aware patch holders are a special breed. They answer to a different set of standards, they usually keep to themselves and they will not wave back at you on the road. As bikers we travel in the same circles. We need to coexist. So respect everyone and take the time to learn about the biker culture if you are going to ride on two.

Oh, one more piece of advice… I don’t recommend wearing Sons of Anarchy clothing that makes it look like you think you are a member of a real MC if you are not. You might think the MC lifestyle ended in the 60’s and the violence depicted on television is pure fiction… but you could be wrong and someone might decide to educate you.

One final word on the topic. If you are a member of a one or two piece patch organization like HOG you do not add a bottom rocker to your vest. A bottom rocker patch violates the copyright law on how the HOG patch is to be displayed and having a bottom rocker can possibly put you in danger.