Category Archives: Motorcycling

It’s not just a ride.

Lit Up!

The other day I learned something about Florida traffic law. The fine for “obscuring your license plate” is eleven hundred and fifty bucks!

The short story goes something like this. My barhopper’s plate holder’s pivoted. It can fold flat against the bike, out of the way. I’d been working in the battery box the day before and had the thing pivoted backward. I’ve scraped my calf a couple of times on the damned thing. Before hittin’ the street I completed the usual first-ride-of-the-day checks as the engine warmed – lighting, control operation, etc. – like I always do. But the plate’s position just didn’t register.

I guess I made it about fifteen miles or so before I got lit up.

Considering the LEO commented “I could have sworn there was no tag at all” when I explained, the stop went well. I wasn’t ticketed and I learned something. Turns out the fine is steep from folks running tolls, covering their plates to avoid the cameras.

Tension eased, I took the opportunity to ask after something mentioned to me a while back, that vertically-oriented plates were illegal here. They’re not illegal, and the other LEO (yeah, by then another patrol car had joined us) concurred. I may remount the plate for a cleaner look – and to avoid another mishap.

In a few minutes I was back on the road. As I donned my lid one smiled and said “Try to stay under a hundred, okay?” “And keep the front wheel on the ground,” the other added.

“I’ll try.”

Wrenchin’ on the Dyna

Today I spent a goodly part of the day wrenchin’ the Dyna. An interval service was a bit overdue and I wanted t get it done before Biketoberfest. Bummer, I found a few issues…

There’s a bit of debris in the thick part of the tread on the rear tire. It’s about a millimeter thick by maybe 3 millimeters long. No leak, I doubt it goes all the way through, but I didn’t pull it out, either. When I get back I’ll order a new tire. I’m not happy because this tire, while not new, isn’t all that old either. But I don’t like to screw with tires, they’re too important. For the near term I’m going to gamble that it’ll survive the next week or so. I hope that’s not a mistake.

There’s been a nagging hot-start issue for a while now. No issue on cold starts at all, only hot. So I tore into the starter wiring which, for this bike, meant removing the battery and the caddy it lives in, along with associated hardware. I discovered the boot covering the battery positive on the starter had obviously been dislodged for a while. The terminal nut’s torque was a bit under spec, too, so I cleaned that all up and put it back together. Not sure if it cured the issue but it hasn’t been touched since 2008 so maybe…

While the battery caddy was out I had partial access to the back of the electrical caddy on the other side of the bike. I’ve wanted to get back there for a while. For nearly a year I’ve chased an intermittent demon that causes a fuse to blow. The fuse takes out the signals and brake lights. Not good.

Intermittent problems are hard, but careful observation has me believing it’s only triggered when actuating the left signal. It never occurs when I ride alone, only when Pam’s ridin’ bitch. The frequency has been on the rise.

So, poking around back there with a powerful flashlight I thought I saw the glint of copper through some worn insulation. Digging a little deeper confirmed it. The harness had rubbed the back of the starter housing, and apparently for some time.

It’s going to take some effort to effect a permanent repair. There’s very limited access there, and no less than three separate bundles enter the harness just upstream from that spot. It’s all got to come apart so I can open the harness. From there it might be as simple as wrapping the worn spots or as hard as replacing one or more individual wires.

I just don’t have the time now, I need the bike running for Biketoberfest. So I wrapped the offending spot with insulating tape as best I could.

The lesson here is not to put off service until a few days before an event. You never know what you’re going to find.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up, clean and put away the tools,  and give the ‘ol Dyna a much-needed bath.

See you in Daytona!

[UPDATE – August 20th – Not a single fuse has blown in several hundreds of miles of two-up ridin’ so I think that’s one problem fully identified. The permanent fix will be a bit of a pain in the ass, but that’s okay. The hot-start issue remains. Daytona was  a blast.]

Dyna Gunk

Dyna
The Dyna lookin’ awesome.

I gave the Dyna its first decent cleanup and detailing since I put tires on about a year ago. It was a lot of work – but worth it.

I was down to the last bit of detailing – the wheels. I don’t care whatcha say, handling laced wheels is the crappiest part of the job. I don’t mind the mechanical stuff – checking spoke tightness, wheel trueness, tire condition, brake pad thickness, rotor condition, and so on and so forth – but the actual cleaning itself has its own section next to “suck” in the dictionary.But this time I found some kind of gunk on *some* spokes, and on *some* of those the gunk had come dangerously close to getting through the chrome itself.

Now, by “some” I mean this. Imagine standing in front of the bike, maybe five feet to the right of the brake pedal, about a quarter-bike length ahead of the front wheel. Position a gunk-emitter at about air cleaner height and fire a bike-wide spray of gunk droplets at the rider’s ass but toward the ground. Considering that it wasn’t all the spokes and none of the rest of the bike had the gunk, it’s almost like the gunk-emitter was fired when it was parked.

It took serious work to get that stuff off. The best method turned out to be auto wheel cleaner to soften it, coupled with a razor blade to ease it off. A toothbrush was useful for applying the wheel cleaner, but the best way turned out to be manual. I got to learn where each and every hole in my hands’ skin was located – that stuff is nasty.

Job’s done now, and my hands have more-or-less regained their moisture. All that remains is to clean up the back end a little where water had splashed. Oh, yeah, and hit that back wheel with the other miracle product: NevrDull.

Still not sure where I picked that stuff up. It’s been about a year – the last tire change – I’ve given that bike a thorough cleanup. Even the last interval service didn’t get one. I hate working on a dirty bike, but I was so busy preparing to move…. It’s not on any of the other bikes, either. Probably a one-shot deal, no pun intended, when I rode through something or parked in a bad place.

I’ll just have to pay more attention from now on.

Good Ride in the Jersey Hills

Many motorcycle runs – most, it seems – take place to help one cause or another. The Katelynn Stinnett Memorial Run is no exception. You can catch the back story on that link, but basically this run is held simultaneously in many states each June. Each event is coordinated independently and benefits an area 501(3)(c) charity.

This year, here in New Jersey, the run was for the benefit of the NJ Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse. BACA is an international organization. Confused yet?

Pam and me have ridden this event for a few years now and it’s definitely trending downward. The NJ site I mentioned earlier still features the group shot behind barsmade that first year as a banner. (Well, it did until the site went away, as things sometimes do on the ‘net.) That image was made toward the end of the after-party. The crowd is still at a respectable number, some of the police escorts are still there, you can see some of the vendor tents and if you look carefully, you can see part of the band’s PA on the right. (The image, while a good one – Pam and me are on the viewer’s left, front row, in black tank tops – isn’t the only thing that’s outdated on the site. Keep your informational hunger in check if you visit.)

By contrast, this year’s after-party was a couple of dozen, tops, enjoying pizza and beer in a local restaurant.

Not sure what’s up with that, whether it’s the economy in general or what.

On a personal level, though, it’s the riding not the party that interests me and the leads from NJ BACA did not disappoint. We spent several hours – a good 160 miles or so – rolling through some of the better roads that the Garden State has to offer. This was in contrast to earlier years, where the run was basically from one of several registration sites to a central end site.

I’ve got some pictures from the day in my gallery. Not many, and not particularly dynamic, because Pam rode her own instead of as my passenger, where she usually snaps away. For her, with only a couple of years under her belt, this ride was a bit of a milestone for both distance and group size. She even scraped a floorboard or two on her Deluxe! Made me proud of how far she’s come as a rider.

Noisy 2008 Dyna Primary

The primary on my 2008 Dyna has been a little on the noisy side for some time now. Oh, it’s not so bad, just a little annoying intermittent noise, sort of resonating in the primary case, and only at low-speed deceleration. Hard to describe, as those noises tend to be.

The other day I was doing some interval service on the thing anyway so I decided to open it up.

Everything looked fine, I think. The chain looks great, no burrs or signs of any abrasion. This primary has the automatic tensioner, and its shoe looks great, too. No grooves or other signs of wear. If I press down on the bottom of the chain, simulating the forces of deceleration, I get about a half-inch of deflection, maybe a little less. There’s no specification for that in the service manual but it seems reasonable to me.

These images of the innards are clickable for more detail.

2008 Dyna Primary
2008 Dyna primary showing the automatic tensioner.

The only thing that might seem a little questionable to me is the toothed ramp at the bottom. There’s a toothed block that rides up the ramp with the help of a spring on the right side of the block, visible to the right of the wedge-shaped block in the image above.

In the image below it appears that the teeth might be a little buggered up. I could see that happening, maybe, under seriously hard deceleration. After all, the levers that translate the downward force to a force against the teeth would serve to amplify that force, and how much surface area could those teeth offer against those forces?? Well, it could happen…

Block and Ramp
Block and ramp detail, showing possible wear.

Trouble is, I’ve never seen a new automatic tensioner so I’ve got no frame of reference for what normal looks like. Tomorrow I’m going to be at a dealer for other reasons so I may have the opportunity to chat up a tech and/or see what a new part looks like.

Until then, if any readers have comments I’d love to hear ’em.

Bike Parts – Deal Gone Good

I love it when I have the opportunity to talk about companies that do things right. Here’s one: Will Powered Products.

Will Powered Products is a small company out of Dingman’s Ferry, PA that produces a limited line of high quality motorcycle parts. Hand grips, foot pegs, cable clamps – stuff like that. Simple stuff. But made from serious metal, cast and machined with quality and workmanship that you just know will last forever.

I first ran into Barry Will at a swap meet a couple of years back. I had gone through several sets of Harley-branded hand grips on my Dyna and I was sort of idly looking for something better. Funny thing, the Harley-branded grips start out looking and feeling great but they just don’t hold up over time. The Will Powered Products grips are machined from solid aluminum. They’re kind of expensive at nearly three times the cost of Harley-Davidson grips but they felt like they’d outlast the bike. I mulled it over as I wandered the show floor and ended up buying them on the way out. Today they look and feel just as good as the day I installed ’em.

Clutch Cable Clamp
Solid aluminum clutch cable clamp from Will Powered Products. Click for larger image.
I saw Barry again at the Jersey Giant show/swap meet last April. This time it was his polished cable clamps that looked interesting. Ever see the stock Harley-Davidson cable stays? Cheap, plastic-coated slivers of spring steel, they’re functional but kinda ugly. Anyway, I needed two clamps but there was only one on hand. Barry promised to ship another right away so I paid for both and took one, handing off a business card with my shipping address. As I walked away from the table – sans receipt for the cash purchase – Pam gave me a questioning look. “I don’t think I need a receipt, he’ll do the right thing,” I said. “It’ll be worth the price to find out if my judgment’s still good.”

This is where things got interesting. After the weekend Barry emailed that he had sent the camp. And a few days later he emailed again saying that it had come back for insufficient

Keychain as jewelry
Keychain as jewelry, Damian's idea. He's thinking it needs something in the center, hasn't figured out what yet. I'm wondering what the center is made from, just in case I need to put it on the drill press.

postage – and that another would go right out. A few days later it arrived. Bummer, though, it turned out to be the wrong size for my needs. I emailed Barry, sent it back the next day and left for some travel. When I returned from St. Louis the correct-sized clamp was waiting. But that’s not all. Also in the package were two key chains styled after their dipsticks, AND three bucks – cash – presumably to cover my return shipping.

There are a few basic principles at work in this story. The principles are proven – they work in business and in life. Do what you say you will do. Will Powered Products did exactly that every step of the way, from shipping to keeping me informed. When something goes wrong, assume responsibility and do what’s necessary to fix it. Don’t make excuses. Mistakes happen. There were a few in this story but each were always handled as well as could be expected. Barry even mentioned that they took the extra step to ensure that their stock was correctly identified for size in order to reduce the possibility of future errors. Delight your customer. Throughout this extended transaction I always felt like I knew where things stood, so there was no anxiety or tension. Then Barry stepped up with unexpected extras in the end.

So, two thumbs up to Barry and Will Powered Products! Check out their Web site and if you’ve got a need for that kind of stuff for your bike then don’t hesitate to do business with them. They’re an American company making high-quality products that are absolutely worth the cost. You’ll know that the moment you hold one of their parts in your hand.

As for me, maybe some of those spiky footpegs are in my future…

Obligatory disclaimer: I don’t have any interest in Will Powered Products other than that of a satisfied customer.

Steam Bike – 1896

Wow!

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Yesterday the folks at the parts counter over at Highroads  Harley-Davidson in Highland Park blew me away. I had a short list of stuff that I needed for Pam‘s Deluxe and I pushed it across the counter as I said hello. The surprise came when he returned – every single item was in stock!

Those of you that have used this dealership for any length of time have certainly experienced for yourself how often you need to place an order. When Liberty bought the place they said to expect improvements. It looks like that’s actually happening.

Thinking back, the number of times that I need to place orders for common parts has indeed been going down. I used to complain quite a bit, but I guess those days are coming to a close.

Go check them out for yourself!

Sometimes the Problem’s Not Obvious

On the way back from New York a couple of weeks ago – a spirited ride along the Hudson with the OCC crew – I noticed a rather loud clunking noise that seemed to come from the front end of the Wide Glide. It only happened on the worst of the road irregularities and didn’t interfere with handling, so I made a mental note and pressed on.

Over the next few days I made an effort to find the source of the noise. It sounded like metal-on-metal and it seemed to be getting worse. Neck bearings, fall-away, pinch bolts, motor mounts, swing bearings, everything in the Critical Fasteners list, and a whole lot more, all came under scrutiny. Sometimes, but not often, one thing or another would take a little torque. And several times I was convinced I had found the problem only to find that, no, that wasn’t it after all.

I’ve been convincing myself that major disaster was lurking to strand me, or worse. You know, that whole “death or serous injury” thing that you find on nearly every page of the service manual.

But today I found the problem!

I was riding with Pam. She was the lead bike; I was taking the opportunity to hit every possible hole in the road while placing my hands on everything I could reach. And there it was!

The fuel tank mounting bolts – probably the ONLY thing that had escaped my torque wrenches – had grown quite loose. The front was worse than the rear. Both are easy to reach.

There are plenty of good potholes just down the street from my garage. I guess I’m lucky that way. (Sarcasm cranked to 11. So happens I wrote checks for my property taxes today and I’m disgusted with the road maintenance – or lack of same – in my town. Shovel-ready my ass. But I digress.) A quick road test confirmed the clunk was gone!

Lesson learned: Sometimes noises come from places other than where they sound like they’re coming from. Check the easy stuff first and don’t skip a thing.

Dyna Clean

The other day I set aside some time to clean up my Dyna. For way too long – like since our stormy tour in the Poconos last August – it’s been the dirty bike in the garage. Not very fitting for a 105th anniversary numbered Wide Glide! Cleanup was long overdue.

Harley Care Starter Kit
Harley Care Starter Kit

As I collected my detailing materials I came across some Harley-Davidson branded cleaners. These are starter pack samples that the motor company hands out with new bikes. I’ve got a bunch of these, never opened, on the shelf.

The Harley Care Starter Set (94671-99A) consists of four products: Sunwash Concentrate, Bug Remover, Wheel & Tire Cleaner and Harley Gloss. All are labeled Biodegradable. What better time to check ’em out?

Product Bottles
Product Bottles

I mixed a batch of wash solution from the Sunwash Concentrate. The label states it’s formulated for use in direct sunlight, on all surfaces. It seemed perfect for this day’s weather – direct sunlight in the mid 60s. The product made some nice foamy water. But it wasn’t cutting the Dyna’s crud so I doubled up on the concentrate. That helped. I wash with plenty of water, keeping surfaces wet until I’m ready to break out the dryer but it didn’t matter. The result of the Sunwash Concentrate was tons of water spots. No harm, no foul, I’ve never used any wash solution that didn’t leave spots. The road crud was gone, though.

Next I broke out the Harley Gloss. They call it a UV Protective Detailer. It conveniently applies from a spray bottle, also safe for all surfaces. I also grabbed the bottle of Bug Remover. The box says that acid from insect bodies can damage surface finishes if not removed quickly. I’m not so sure I agree with that. I mean, maybe the damage can be measured somehow, but it’s never been visible to *my* eye. I got started. Know what I found? Neither product was anywhere near as effective as what I usually use following a wash! In fact, they kind of sucked. The Bug Remover just plain didn’t remove the crusty, hardened bugs. And the Harley Gloss was tricky to use according to the label: apply via rag or spray, wipe dry before it dries on the surface. It just plain didn’t work. I tried for maybe ten minutes before abandoning it for my preferred product.

By now you’re probably wondering what miracle product I use for a nice post-wash finish. Are you ready? Here it is. Lemon Pledge. (Link edited in December 2011. It looks like their product has changed, at least in the design of the container.)

Lemon Pledge
Lemon Pledge

There are no substitutes. It’s got to be this brand. And lemon, no other flavor will do. There must be something in that particular formula that has all the necessary attributes. It works on all surfaces, on all kinds of crud. (You still need to wash off the abrasive road dirt – with plenty of water – or risk scratching, but there’s no way around that step.) There are only two places I don’t recommend Lemon Pledge, for obvious reasons: the seat and tires. But paint, chrome, rubber and plastic, anywhere else is fair game.

The pre-soaked wipes will work, but I much prefer the spray. Use two clean cotton rags: one to apply and one to polish. As the polish rag gets laden and polishing becomes difficult, rotate it to become the application rag. Discard the original application rag and bring in a new polish rag. Don’t skimp on the rags! Use lots of ’em.

Shake the Lemon Pledge can well, often. Spray generously on the application rag. Wipe gently. It dissolves bugs and loosens tar, but stubborn areas might require multiple applications. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of spray. Hard surfaces (unlike your furniture) will not acquire a buildup! But resist rubbing too hard, let the product do the work. If you think you need more just spay the rag again and continue. Finally, with the clean, soft, dry rag, buff.

And those water spots? Erased, leaving a nice, crud-resistant finish that makes your next cleanup easier.

2008 Dyna Wide Glide
2008 Dyna Wide Glide

Kelsey Charity Run – 2009

The Kelsey Charity Run on Father’s Day was a non-run, a wash. At literally the last minute we headed over to Bridgewater for the usually-pleasant ride through Somerset County. Arriving a bit late, we were directed to park on the street leading down to the picnic area. That’s unusual, we usually fill the fields, and I thought it was just overflow due to lateness. But no, the fields were empty – waterlogged – and the street easily accommodated the bikes that showed.
A photographer from the local newspaper was shooting the line as I parked. I’m on the right alongside my Dyna, Pam’s in the background on my right (straightening her helmet-hair). There are other photos from the paper as well as a short article.
It’s always fun being in others’ pictures, and this year we made it onto the official event Web site’s pictures. Pam and I are on the right, walking toward the camera looking at each other.
So, the ride itself never actually happened but we had a good time anyway eating, drinking and listening to the bands. With the wet Spring, we’ll take anything that doesn’t leave us soggy!

The Kelsey Charity Run on Father’s Day was a non-run, a wash, as it were.

At literally the last minute we headed over to Bridgewater for the usually-pleasant ride through Somerset County. Arriving a bit late, we were directed to park on the street leading down to the picnic area. That’s unusual, we usually fill the fields, and I thought it was just overflow due to lateness. But no, the fields were empty – waterlogged – and the street easily accommodated the bikes that showed.

A photographer from the local newspaper was shooting the line as I parked. I’m on the right alongside my Dyna, Pam’s in the background on my right (straightening her helmet-hair).

Street Parking Only
Street Parking Only

The myCentralJersey.com site has many other event photos as well as a short article. [links died]

It’s always fun being in others’ pictures, and this year we made it onto the official event Web site’s pictures. Pam and I are on the right, walking toward the camera looking at each other.

Walking the Vendor Line
Walking the Vendor Line

So, while the ride itself never actually happened we had a good time eating, drinking and listening to the bands. With the wet Spring, we’ll take anything that doesn’t leave us soggy!

Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial Ride

Pam’s been great about filling our calendar with all kinds of great rides this year. We had a good time on the New Jersey segment of the Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial ride June 13th. The way I heard it, this was the first ride of its kind. It took place simultaneously in all fifty states, a separate event occurring in each state. Of course, if you were so inclined you could certainly ride to something other than your home state. I met some folks from Delaware that rode into Jersey.
We staged up over at Highroads Harley-Davidson, one of four staging locations for the New Jersey event. We weren’t sure what kind of crowd to expect. When we showed up at the Freedom Run to Ground Zero we were astounded at the thousands that showed up, overflowing their huge parking lot. The Highroads shop is small and there would have been some serious disruption if even several hundred bikes rolled in. But the lot easily accommodated our crowd.
The press was in attendance. You can see photos and coverage on the MyCentralJersey.com site.
The State Police escorted ride itself was kind of short and uneventful. Since the police at the front and rear couldn’t handle intersections the bike behind the lead would peel off to block traffic, taking up the rear position as the line passed. No, it’s not a legal move. Yes, it’s an effective and safe way to move a long line of bikes through suburbia. Our escorts kindly looked the other way, so to speak.
The after-party was pretty good. We took over the Dock’s Corner Tavern in Jamesburg. The way I heard it, the owner only warned the help of the onslaught the day before, not the best strategy. But the crowd was interesting. We met a number of people from BikerOrNot.com, where apparently much of the organization for the ride took place. Ah, social sites.
Then it began to rain. We sort of figured it would pass after just one more beer, but no, it just got worse. We bought some raffle tickets and Pam won a bunch of stuff. The rain kept coming, intensifying, and the crowd thinned, many donning rain gear and riding off. As for us, well, tank tops and jeans do not rain gear make and we put it off the inevitable as long as we could.
But finally, off we went. This was Pam’s first unprotected foul weather ride in maybe 25 years. She didn’t have much fun.
There’s a funny thing about the wet when you ride. Getting started isn’t easy, but once you get as wet as you can get and you can’t get any wetter, it’s not really that bad. In other words, the anticipation is worse than the act itself. As long as there’s a hot shower at the end.

Pam’s been great about filling our calendar with all kinds of great rides this year. We had a good time on the New Jersey segment of the Katelynn Stinnett National Memorial ride June 13th. The way I heard it, this was the first ride of its kind. It took place simultaneously in all fifty states, a separate event occurring in each state. Of course, if you were so inclined you could certainly ride to something other than your home state. I met some folks from Delaware that rode into Jersey.

(Google the title of this post and you’ll find tons of support sites. New Jersey’s is here, where Pam and me are in the banner picture, seated in the front row on the left.)

We staged up over at Highroads Harley-Davidson, one of four staging locations for the New Jersey event. We weren’t sure what kind of crowd to expect. When we showed up at the Freedom Run to Ground Zero we were astounded at the thousands that showed up, overflowing their huge parking lot. The Highroads shop is small and there would have been some serious disruption if even several hundred bikes rolled in. But the lot easily accommodated our crowd.

The press was in attendance. You can see photos and coverage on the MyCentralJersey.com site. [links died]

The State Police escorted ride itself was kind of short and uneventful. Since the police at the front and rear couldn’t handle intersections the bike behind the lead would peel off to block traffic, taking up the rear position as the line passed. No, it’s not a legal move. Yes, it’s an effective and safe way to move a long line of bikes through suburbia. Our escorts kindly looked the other way, so to speak.

The after-party was pretty good. We took over the Dock’s Corner Tavern in Jamesburg. The way I heard it, the owner only warned the help of the onslaught the day before, not the best strategy. But the crowd was interesting. We met a number of people from BikerOrNot.com, where apparently much of the organization for the ride took place. Ah, social sites.

Then it began to rain. We sort of figured it would pass after just one more beer, but no, it just got worse. We bought some raffle tickets and Pam won a bunch of stuff – she’s lucky. The rain kept coming, intensifying, and the crowd thinned, many donning rain gear and riding off. As for us, well, tank tops and jeans do not rain gear make and we put it off the inevitable as long as we could.

But finally, off we went. This was Pam’s first unprotected foul weather ride in maybe 25 years. She didn’t have a whole lot of fun with it.

There’s a funny thing about the wet when you ride. Getting started isn’t easy, but once you get as wet as you can get and you can’t get any wetter, it’s not really that bad. In other words, the anticipation is worse than the act itself. As long as there’s a hot shower waiting at the end.

Freedom Run to Ground Zero

The weather here in NJ hasn’t been the best for motorcyclists this spring. It’s made planning rides an iffy thing, at best. Pam’s been making it her business to fill the calendar with good rides and events now that my Dyna’s configured for passenger comfort. So I was glad when I woke to clear skies and reasonable temperatures for the Freedom Run to Ground Zero. Pam’s was really looking forward to this event.

We planned to meet some folks from bikerornot.com up at Bergen H-D. (We’re riding a charity run with them later in the month.) It meant leaving the house kind of early for a high-speed blast up the New Jersey Turnpike. The Freedom Run turned out to be a huge event – maybe bigger than the organizers anticipated. I heard estimates between 4,000 and 6,000 bikes and I believe it. Staging and registration were chaotic and eventually they shut registration down completely.  There was a definite advantage to being there earlier rather than later!

Even as close to the front as we were it took the better part of a half hour before we wheeled out of the parking lot. (Later, talking to others further back, I learned it took more than another hour to empty the lot.)

The route was to be a simple one: Route 80, across the George Washington Bridge, down the east side of Manhattan, across the Financial District to loop around the Ground Zero site, slightly north to the Holland Tunnel, then through the tube to Liberty State Park back in Jersey for the after-party. Now, how do you think they move that many bikes along that simple but well-traveled route? Why they close the roads, of course!

Have you ever experienced George Washington Bridge traffic? Even at best it’s awful, certainly NOT biker friendly. It’s very, very different when the police block traffic to let thousands of bikes pass. As for those that needed to stop and wait – probably for more than an hour – well, it sucked to be them.

The Holland Tunnel was interesting, too. Loud pipes are, well, loud in tunnels. Riding with a dozen or two is awesome. When the tunnel is filled with bikes it’s simply beyond description.

And that’s the way it was: roads closed to auto traffic, open to a rather large number of bikes. The entire route was, for the most part, non-stop – at least for those of us in the front. I heard that toward the back things were different. Drivers, after being trapped for a long time watching an uncountable number of bikes go by, were not pleased. The results of that were, well, predictable. I heard some less-experienced riders commenting that this Freedom Run was to be their last.

Ground Zero? As it happened we stopped briefly as we worked our way through traffic. But there wasn’t much to see – a chain link fence draped with opaque plastic blocked vision from the street. Pam, less familiar with the area from ground-level, didn’t even realize we were there until we had already passed the site! Still, it was an emotional moment.

We got plenty of pictures from the road. If you’ve got a few minutes then why not go and check ’em out.

The after-party was kind of a non-event. We ate a little lunch (no beer!) and wandered the vendors while listening to the band. Nothing we haven’t seen a million times before. We bought some helmet stickers (mine was fairly empty, having been replaced earlier this year) and found some excellent silver jewelry to follow up later. (edit: I’d give ’em a link – tildeath925.com – but the site’s dead. Jason’s a nice guy, I hope his business hasn’t gone tits up.) Must be the economy, the vendor turnout was pretty small, so we left. The Turnpike extension on the way back was jammed up solid with traffic. But we tagged along with a contingent of bikes using the shoulder, led by a couple of Hackensack Police bikes. That had to have saved at least an hour. It was much appreciated, thanks boys!

All in all it was a very good day!

Hot Rods and Harleys

Back in May Pam and I rode into Rahway for their annual Hot Rods and Harleys event. The emphasis was definitely on the hot rods. It was a blast wandering the city checking out the cool iron (amazing how the $50 junker of my youth has come to be worth a small fortune), drinking beers in the sun, taking pictures. Go check ’em out if you have a few minutes to spare.

Afterward we had a minor run-in with a local LEO, but it turned out fine.

Getting Lucky

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Pam and me rode out to Rahway for their Hot Rods and Harleys event. It was the first one of these that we’d been to.  What an incredible exhibit of vintage iron! What a trip down memory lane!  The weather was pretty good, too. 70s, mostly sunny, a fine day for walking around. We caught a bit of a sprinkle on the way out but it passed so quickly that it just didn’t matter.

After a stop for a quick beer, we left Milltown and entered the evening traffic of route 1 south. Accelerating into the left lane I worked my way through the gears rather loudly, smiling to myself, satisfied with the day. Then I saw the squad car under the flyover. It was much too late to do much about it.

I flipped the blinker and decelerated, moving back through the lanes, and left the highway for the Office Depot parking lot. There really isn’t anyplace safe to pull over, and I figured this would likely be a lengthy stop. I killed the motor and Pam and me dismounted, doffing our helmets.

The officer got out of his car and approached. “License and registration, please.”

“Yes, sir.” I pulled my license, handed it over and began sorting through the registration and insurance documents in my wallet, I have several.

“Mr. Plavnicky,” he said, “you’re local. You were doing seventy one in a fifty. You have yourself a nice day.” He handed my license back.

“Thank you, sir!” I said as he returned to his car.

We mounted up and left the parking lot. It could have gone very differently.

I didn’t catch the badge number or name, but if you happen to be reading – yeah, right, like that’s likely – well, thanks for making my day!