Tag Archives: ride report

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.”

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse

It was a few weeks ago that my friend Will had mentioned Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse, saying it looked like someplace we should check out. For some reason it popped into my head as I was polishing some chrome on the bar-hopper. Their lineup for the evening was Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride presented by The Slipper Room In Exile. The Slipper Room is a variety club on the Lower East Side, currently closed for renovations. Could be fun.

We found the place easy enough, although I thought it would be closer to downtown. I needed to execute a quick U-turn in a dimly lit gas station because I initially passed the entrance. The guy by the pumps gave us a funny look from under his turban as I rumbled the bike around, as did the LEO in the parking lot across from Roxy. Parking was ample and easy and we carried our lids inside. The place takes reservations but we had none. Didn’t matter, we were a bit early for showtime and took a table for two in front of the stage.

A waitress soon appeared with a couple of coldbeers. I was a little put off when she told me that in order to run a tab they’d need to hold my ID and credit card. Being a privacy/security freak I was ready to fall back to greenbacks. I spoke of my disapproval of their policy as I fingered my wallet. She took my Mastercard, presumably to swipe for my initial order, and quickly reappeared to tell me I could have my tab while not turning over my credentials. Not quite sure why it went that way but it made things easier than dealing with the interruptions of incremental payments as the evening progressed.

If you follow the Roxy link and check out the menu you’ll find that it’s kind of limited. I had the Rockabilly Road-dog Ripper and some fries, a footlong in a bowl of bread, sauerkraut, onions and peppers, etc. The dog overhung the bowl by a good deal and when I lobbed off the end it fell to the floor. (Sorry!) I’m sure I wasn’t the first to do that… Anyway, Roxy’s isn’t the place to go for dinner but the selections fit the venue and atmosphere perfectly – the beers are cold and the snacks are good.

So was the entertainment. Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride was a four-part combination of deliberately cheesy stand-up, exotic dancing, and strength/agility acts. Don’t think The Sands, think Fremont Street. That they’re based in the Lower East Side is perfectly appropriate. The entire show was quite entertaining, very real, a lot of fun.

Afterward I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tab for food and night-full of coldbeers was under forty bucks. Very, very reasonable. Between that, tips, and the $10 cover, this was a seriously inexpensive – and very entertaining – night out.

My conclusions? Recommended stuff, two thumbs up, we’ll absolutely be back to see other acts.

The ride home through the mix of town and country roads was uneventful. It’s a blast meandering through little towns, late on a summer night on a loud bike. From the standpoint of others… well, there’s pretty much no middle ground; people either love it or hate it. Doesn’t matter much to me.

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.

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!

Northeast Motorcycle Expo

the sparse hall
the sparse hall

To say this was a crappy show would be an understatement! Everything was stacked against success. It had been rescheduled from February and today’s weather was outstanding. There were bigger events this weekend in Pennsylvania as well as Wildwood. Oops. Kevmark really dropped the ball on this one and I’m sure everyone involved lost wads of cash. (This was a stark contrast to last November’s show, where we had a ball.)

Pam and I arrived thirsty from Long Branch. Convention Center parking was easy and there was no line for entry. That should have been a warning sign, but it was late afternoon so we paid it no mind. We paid the gate and Pam chastised me for neglecting to print the discount coupon available online. (We learned later that the gate was the discount price – I guess the ticket seller sympathized, knowing what we were in for.) So we walked in and… whoa! You could have scraped my jaw off the floor! The place was freakin’ empty! We bought a couple of beers and started to walk the aisles.

Can you ee me in your rear-view?
Can you see me in the rear-view?

It was a tough call. Walk slowly to make it last or move quickly to avoid the spammers. Spammers? Yup, dare to saunter and they’d assault you, pitching their “free” vacations or whatever, shoving clipboards with forms into your hands. Y’know, filling out one of those things constitutes a “business relationship” which gives them the right to call you or email you mercilessly (and sell you to others), immune from FTC regulations. We’ve learned to avoid ’em. The number of non-biker vendors, compounded by the emptiness, was just staggering. All I gotta say is if I wanted a ShamWow or a Gutter Helmet I’d have bought one long ago.

art plus 615 CID of V8 power
art plus 615 CID of V8 power

We refilled out beers. There were some decent bikes to see. There’s so much detail in an Indian Larry build, say, that you can see it again and again and it just doesn’t get boring. I stopped to talk for a while with a guy from Boss Hoss of Stamford when one of their heavily customized monsters caught my eye. He welcomed a break from the boredom. The paint on this beast was stunning, and the engine – closer than not to twice the displacement of my Ford pickup – would be very respectable in any vehicle, never mind a bike. I had to ask. With over 40K in the build, he said, if it were for sale it’d go for at least 120 large. He invited me to climb on and stand it up. Despite the thousand-pound-plus weight it felt amazingly light and well-balanced. Can you just see me approaching in your rear-view?

And that was that. There’s nothing else to say because, um, it really was that empty. On the way home we stopped at the Brunswick Grove for a couple of beers and some fries. You hear it said all the time: “It’s all about the ride!” Today that was well and truly accurate.

Long Branch H-D Open House

The Saturday just passed was the first day of what I would call great weather for 2009. After a winter like the one we’ve had, there’s only one thing to do – go riding. So Pam and me blew off the gym and headed down to Long Branch Harley-Davidson for their annual open house. As H-D dealerships go, they’re a good bunch of folks and I’ve been known to take my business there even though they’re out of the way.

The local traffic was heavy. Gas prices have dropped to less than half what they were last year so hitting the road isn’t quite the expense it was. But soon we had filled the wallet with cash, tank with 93 octane and left the local roads for the freeway. I settled into an easy cruise, about 65-70 MPH, and stretched my legs, one hand on the throttle and the other on my leg. I usually like to be moving a little bit faster than the prevailing traffic – it’s less stressful to be overtaking traffic than the other way around – but this felt great and I wanted it to last.

Cokes & Footlongs
Cokes & Footlongs

Way too soon we were off the freeway and into the local traffic stream in Eatontown, which absolutely sucks in the best of circumstances. There’s this several mile stretch of route 36 between 18 and Broadway that’s full of traffic lights, timed such that you hit each one – several times. It’s always choked with traffic and it can literally take 20 minutes to cover two miles. It’s a moneymaker, too. I’ve never NOT seen police in the area, lights a flashing. We sweated our way through it. I mentally calculated how many degrees I might lose with better fuel management, perhaps an oil cooler, while cursing the EPA.

We parked right outside the dealership and joined the fray. Wow, what a crowd! It was lunchtime so we queued up for a couple of sodas and footlongs while the band played. The guy manning the grill was obviously a graduate of the r.plav school of incineration! Say, wasn’t that one of the parts guys playing bass? I chuckled to myself. The Harley crowd’s an older crowd, mostly aging Boomers. The songs being played were probably written before most of the band members were born!

We wandered the merchandise inside and out, but neither of us found anything to buy. That’s sort of unusual; we usually come away with at least a t-shirt or two. I didn’t feel too bad about it though because the lines to each register were quite long. There was very respectable amount of business being done. You’d hardly think that the economy was in the toilet.

After a while we hit the road again. Our next stop was the Northeast Motorcycle Expo in Somerset. We worked our way back through that stretch of hell – er, route 36 – and got back onto route 18. Again, we took it easy. We’d get to Somerset soon enough.

Benefit Run

Today was the benefit run for David Wilson, a Hillsborough, NJ police veteran and motorcyclist, now battling leukemia. Cancer sucks.

The weather turned out to be fantastic and the turnout nothing short of amazing. Judging from the staff comments, the number of bikes that showed up far exceeded expectations. Staging and parking were, well, chaotic. We arrived to stage at Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Company #2 literally minutes before scheduled departure, registered and entered the queue. It’s not my favorite position, way in back. Last out is last in, and that makes for long lines later for food and beer.

I heard that about 1,500 bikes were expected. I think there were quite a bit more than that. From a rider’s perspective, these group rides are considerably more perilous than ordinary traffic. The riders around you are often strangers, their skills unknown. You’re riding in close formation, sometimes on unfamiliar routes, and situational change occurs constantly at speed. You’re looking out not only for yourself but for those around you. There’s simply no room for mistakes.

We were fortunate, those around us proved competent. Well, there was one bagger nearby that had trouble keeping his position; I guess he was into his music too much. I quickly adapted to giving him plenty of room. It was a short ride, maybe 35-40 miles through the rolling Sourland Mountain area. (They call it a mountain but hey, this is New Jersey – there ain’t no real mountains here!)

These events usually follow a pattern. You register, stage, ride, return, then eat and drink to live music. This was no exception. The roast pig was delicious, the beer flowed freely and the weather was perfect. I saw the colors of more clubs than I could count, a heavy representation of law enforcement and related public service clubs.  (There was a distinct lack of 1%ers, conspicuous by their absence.) Everyone was smiling and laughing and having a great time.

This winter’s been one of the worst in a several years, not much snow but bitter cold. Finally, way too many days after the calendar says, it felt like spring had finally arrived!

I heard that David, having been hospitalized in New York for chemotherapy, had been discharged to rest at home nearby. It’d be nice if he had been able to see the turnout. If not, I hope he at least heard the thunder of thousands of bikes. Here’s to your recovery, David!

Ed. March 6: A newspaper article today that David did indeed make it to the event. The link I had placed here expired after a time and has been removed.

New Jersey Motorcycle Spectacular 2008

A week and a half ago Pam and me rode over to the CyclePro show at the Garden State Exhibit Center. The funny thing is that I probably wouldn’t have gone except that Pam suggested we ride over. Now, I ride pretty much year-round. Pam doesn’t, but this year she’s been challenging her tolerance of lower temperatures – this would be a good ten degrees lower than her usual lower limit. It wasn’t something to be passed up – she wants to ride, we ride – that’s good enough for me.

Pam on stage showing her ink to the MC
Pam on stage showing her ink to the MC

The show itself was pretty good! It wasn’t too crowded, which probably didn’t thrill vendors too much but was fine for me. Probably yet another effect of today’s troubled economy. I was hoping Dr. Dyno would be there; my Dyna’s been running strong lately and I kinda wanted to measure it. It wasn’t to be. But there was a good mix of vendors in attendance. Bikes new and old, of course, and more individuals than usual with parts arrayed on the floor. An indication of a resurgence of the swap-meets that seem to have been displaced by commercial interests? I snapped a few pictures between beers as we wandered the floor.

There was the requisite tattoo contest and, much to my surprise, Pam wanted to show off her ink! So up on stage she went…

Pam getting photographed for the magazine
Pam getting photographed for the magazine

Well, she didn’t win (she says it’s because all they look for is super-ornate stuff) and that was a little disappointing but it was a lot fun anyway. And now we have a reason to visit the shop more often – to pick up the magazine with the pictures.

Afterward we went for some food (and more shots and beers) over at the Brunswick Grove. The sports-orientation ain’t exactly what I look for in entertainment, but the atmosphere and food are pretty good. Excellent pizza. Pam and me try to drop in every now and again.

By now the sun had long set and the temperature had dropped some more. Decision time: slow ride takes longer, fast ride chills you faster. Six of one…

All in all, an unexpectedly fine day!

Brief Ride Report

Yesterday was quite a day.

I ‘celebrated’ eleven years of shaving my head. I went ‘down the shore’ with my wife and kid to walk the boardwalk, eat some boardwalk food (the Midway Steak House at Seaside Heights has the best sausage sandwiches around), play some games (a Ziplock full of quarters equals an afternoon of mindless fun), have a few beers (Jack & Bill’s). I’m not going to mention how the cost of such a trivial (in the days of my youth) afternoon has risen – what’s the point? When I got home I found my dad’s cat, Buffy, had died. Buffy was an old cat, suffered advanced kidney disease (just like dad), and wasn’t in the best of health. Still, I was stunned. I’ve been caring for Buffy since my dad’s hospitalization in mid-May, and he was looking pretty good. They say that pets get attached to their owners that way, maybe with dad gone he figured he had had enough. So you could say the day was kinda packed. And if that wasn’t enough there were a few other things rattling round in my head. I retired to an uneasy sleep.

This morning dawned beautiful, though. We’re two days into the first ‘heat wave’ of the season (it never gets hot enough, long enough for us, but everyone else complains) and it was almost 80 F a little past 7am. After a pot of coffee I put the computer aside and set off to do a hundred miles before breakfast. I’m breaking in an engine on the Dyna, so this would be perfect blend of varied travel. Plus, I needed some time to think.

Route 27 south toward Princeton is a good start, nice to get the fluids up to temperature. Few lights and little traffic. Passed through Princeton and picked up 295 south near Lawrenceville for a bit, a bit of freeway to let it breathe a little. There were some clouds ahead, but I figured if I hit a little rain so be it. I wasn’t dressed for it, but so what. Below Trenton I jumped on 29 north: through the tunnel, alongside Trenton proper, and soon onto the two-lane toward Lambertville. Traffic remained light, permitting a good pace that didn’t exceed the posted limit by too much. At Lambertville I peeled off to 179; the number of bikes on the road seemed to grow with every mile. I guess others had the same idea. By Ringoes, 179 changes to 514 but keeps its name – Old York Road – but where 609 crosses it changes to Amwell Road while retaining its 514 number. Who said New Jersey roads made sense? The clouds I mentioned earlier had given way to blazing sun, but there was evidence here that it had rained earlier. On through Amwell, Cloverhill, Neshanic, and into Hillsborough. I decided to divert a bit through Raritan, grab a bottle of water at the Wawa there, and stop out at Branchburg Park. My dad spent many hours there flying model planes. It would be good to sit, hydrate, and watch the models. This map shows where I parked. After that I headed home, with a much clearer head. Riding is good therapy! The roads home were more suburban and a good deal less interesting. 202 to 22, then Foothill Road to 607 into Bound Brook, followed by a quick hop over the Raritan River onto 527 into New Brunswick. Through the city – it’s a campus town – and onto US 1 south for a final blast home.

99 miles, close enough for government work. Time to fire up the grill for some breakfast.

 

You’ve Got Balls

I was in the parking lot of the local WaWa strapping a jug of milk to the sissy bar of my motorcycle. For a winter day in New Jersey this wasn’t a bad one – temperature around 40 and the rain of the past several days had given way to overcast. Today’s ride was a good one and now I was on my way home.

The old guy diverted from his path to the store and stopped to talk. “You’ve got balls,” he said, “out riding in this weather. I know – when I was younger I did it, too.” I hadn’t thought of the day as particularly cold. I’ve certainly been out in much worse. We talked for several minutes, and he smiled and laughed as he spoke of the past.

I thumbed the starter. The engine came to life and settled into that characteristic V-twin idle as I pulled on my gloves. I think the old guy walked a little taller, a little straighter, as he continued into the store.

Hit By A Car

I was hit by a car. No, it’s okay, really. I wasn’t hurt and no real damage was done.

It was my neighbor, Heather, that did it. My garage empties into a little court leading to the public street. I had rolled my motorcycle out, preparing to run some errands. I saw her car, motionless, and she was talking to another neighbor. I had my back to them as I wrapped some bungies around the sissy bar.

Suddenly, the rear of her car was pushing me against the motorcycle, my leg sandwiched between her plastic bumper and my license plate holder. I hollered, cursing, and she stopped immediately. She had been moving slowly and reacted quickly. The car halted less than an inch from the sheet metal of my rear fender.
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