Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2015-16 Season out in Style

Final ride CT Bears, from left: CT Blogger, Grumpy, Captain, Pogy (down front), Mac, Princess, Token2.
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, ride to Cape May, NJ, April 17, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Finishing this season's blog has annoyed me like a left lane Prius. Our annual Connecticut Polar Bear Dinner is coming up in a couple weeks, so I figured I had best get to it.

Not many motorcyclists would ride from Connecticut to Cape May, NJ for lunch. Such is the nature of our clan of wacky enthusiasts.

I shortened my Sunday journey by taking a Saturday detour. My folks live in Wilmington, Del. And that shortens the Sunday morning drive by half. It's also more scenic to cut across New Jersey than down its length. A bonus was a brief visit with my sister who lives in Alaska. Timing was just right to catch her on a rare east coast tour.

My Saturday ride was horrible. It took me a full hour to get out of Connecticut, a mere 30 miles. It was so bad that at Norwalk I took Route 7 and switched to the Merritt Parkway. That road was far friendlier than the Interstate. So as I passed the exit to I-287 to the Tappan Zee Bridge, I was confident enough to stick with the Hutchinson Parkway toward the mighty George Washington Bridge.

Big mistake!

No sooner than I was locked into the Hutch did the traffic come to a dead stop. Next was a stop-and-go fight with the cheaters and beaters who ride down the disappearing left lane to jump ahead of the reasonable responsible people waiting their turn in the continuing left lane. What justifies such boorish behavior? You do not, I trust, butt in line in person, when you are out of your car.

I slowly clutch-and-braked my bike to the next exit. Off the exit, up and over the parkway, I was headed back north to the Tappan Zee. Smooth enough over the bridge and onto the Garden State Parkway. Ah, but my traffic adventures were not over. No siree Bob!

Approaching the first set of tolls a wankin' big SUV started cutting into my lane. You know those fancy blind spot alerts only work if you actually use your mirrors. I could see the warning blinking in her side mirror, but she just kept commin' on. I rolled off the throttle and beeped my horn. She immediately yanked her steering wheel, hard, to reverse her lane change. The high centered vehicle reacted wildly. She over corrected. The monster wallowed back and forth. I was well back now, picking escape paths should this idiot flip.

Some miles more and I made another traffic mistake. My GPS was directing me to move to the New Jersey Turnpike. I thought I knew better. I've made this trip a hundred times. In a few miles more I would run right into the Turnpike. I ignored the computer's advice.

I should take a lesson from my millennial daughter Annie. If her GPS advises her to run up a tree, she follows it. Me, I think I know better.

Same thing happened when we were both driving to our cabin in Pennsylvania. I hit construction a few miles before the turnoff. When we met up at the cabin I asked Annie about the traffic jam. Annie said, "What construction?" Then she described how she came a different way than she usually did. Her GPS routed her around while I slogged through the construction zone.

My arrogance was paid with another half hour of clutching-and-braking past a traffic accident that closed three of the GSP's five lanes. Ugh!

I cannot comment on our group's Sunday morning ride down to our mutual Cape May destination. I'm guessing it was smooth and trouble free. I was the one with the traffic jinx, which somehow transferred to the Captain who was ride leader.

When we joined up for the group ride home it was one of the ugliest rides I've seen. Captain somehow miscalculated his cruise control and was leading us down the left lane at less than the speed limit. This causes cars to get aggravated in the back and then fight their way up the right hand lane. After enough of them passed him by, Captain relented and cut us over to the right lane.

At one point he dropped his throttle whilst fiddling with his bike and we all had to seriously slow and wait for our leader to get back on the job.

Grumpy suffers no fools gladly. He telegraphed his tension through his riding style and a few Grumpy gestures. We'd all change lanes. Grumpy announced his disapproval by refusing to change with us, defiantly holding our former lane and thereby blocking traffic in both lanes.

When we finally stopped for fuel, we somehow spread across half the parking lot instead of grouping together. Fortunately a short pow wow mollified prospective mutineers. Captain picked up the pace. We had only the usual traffic idiots to entertain us the rest of the way home.

Too, Captain may have been suffering from a prolapsed ego. Famous as our long-standing, points-leading, perfect-attendance-pin-earning Connecticut Polar Bear, this season he was dethroned by Princess. She was less than gracious in her usurpation, dancing around, hugging anyone who got near, flaunting her pin, declaring her superior points. Hardly anyone in our group even noticed Captain earned the same pin and nearly, just nearly, as many points.

Okay, Joanna. If you want the glory, you need to earn the respect. Next year we expect you to take the lead in a few rides. Can't wait 'till October. #motorcyclepolarbeargoals

Monday, April 11, 2016

Perfect Penultimate

Easton Bears, from left: CT Blogger, Grumpy, Fonz, Pogy, QEd, Captain, Princess, Mac and unknown.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Cheeburger Cheeburger, Easton, Pa., April 10, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Our next-to-last ride of the 2015/16 season enjoyed Goldilocks Polar Bear riding weather. A not too chilly morning eased into a not too warm afternoon. At some point in the day I employed the full range of thermostat for my gloves, but only half so for jacket, pants and booties. Sun shined. Traffic was light.

Our confident and experienced ride leader kept a silky, sapient and steadfast pace. Our irascible sweep suffered no tailgater gladly and cleared lanes with alacrity. We enjoyed a few moments of drama, including my rather close encounter as a car rabbiting out of the tolls brushed aside my claim of right-of-way, despite the fact I was well ahead and indicating. You can never win a car versus motorcycle battle so I begrudgingly gave way with an astute throttle roll-off maneuver. "You were so calm, I didn't know if you didn't see the car or just had nerves of steel," commented Captain, my second rider, when we parked in Easton.

Somehow I missed exit 14 to I-78 west. It happens just as the NJ Turnpike splits into the truck and car parallels. Guess I missed the sign. My GPS gladly routed me off at exit 13. It was an effective, hectic, fusillade of exit ramps in rapid succession. Several of our riders commented on my exit 13 route. Token2 was representative, "I've never gone that way before. Let's never do it again."

Our destination was just right too. A tiny bit over 150 miles and a little under two hours. A bit less expressway would have been nice. But expressway riding is best in winter when conditions are unpredictable and ice threatens.

Easton, Pa. is delightfully quaint. Word around our lunch table postulated the owner of Cheeburger Cheeburger is politically connected. Easton gave us the street for a whole block in front of the restaurant, Easton's best manning roadblocks just for us.

The owner, big Frank Aversa, is also a biker. He knows what motorcyclists desire: bikes-only parking, great food and a raucous atmosphere. When "Sweet Caroline" came on the sound system, Frank loudly led us all in the chorus. The room roared, "Sweet Car-o-line, da, da, daah, good times never seemed so good, da, da, dum."

Most of us took advantage of the all American fare: burgers with your choice of tasty toppings, fries, onion rings, milkshakes, sodas. One of our group, who will remain nameless, went off the rails when she ordered a salmon burger.

We talked about motorcycles and riding. Mac captured Princess' undivided attention (no small feat) with two magic words: Hoka Hey. She took Fonz's seat and they started planning the next ride right there and then. Fonz suggested maybe there could be an organized ride like Hoka Hey, but with no time limits. You'd just go around and enjoy the scenery. Fonz shared that riding sleep deprived is the equivalent of a 0.05 alcohol buzz.

One of our newest riders, Ed, was more ebullient than usual. I think he's getting the measure of our group. Due to a family obligation, this was also his last Polar Bear ride of the season. Maybe he wanted us to remember him fondly to ensure an invitation next year. Heck, he even bought coffee and hot chocolates at Chez GSP. Yet Ed never partakes.

Token2 named him QEd for Quiet Ed. Of course Token2 is educated enough to be making a pun. QED also is used to show you proved your point in an argument, quod erat demonstrandum. Urban Dictionary defines it as, "A mathematician's way of saying, 'I win.'" Its usage is more favored in British English. Hmmmm.

You can't see Ed in our group picture. He stoically assents to the weekly group photo at the top of every Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog ride post. He cleverly positions himself to be included but not seen. I didn't catch on until I caught up this blog after a period of neglect and thereby had occasion to view the group photos in an hour's time, as opposed to weekly.

He also fights off Princess' efforts to selfie with him. She does that to everybody. This week she selfied with another woman rider just because she had the same Harley heated jacket liner.

The photo's not mandatory, Ed. You're a good rider and fun companion and neither of those are required to ride with us anyway. Just look around at some of the characters in our group! We hope to see you next year.

First there is one ride more: far away Cape May. Right now the weather forecast is for rain. I never believe the long range forecast unless it is good. We'll ride whatever the weather. We'll be at the shore where a salmon burger is perhaps acceptable fare.

Fonz signs up for next season . . .

. . . and earned his gold rocker.

Matching jackets selfie.

Figuring the bill.

Never one of those bill checker pens around when you need one.

Dueling Photographers.

QEd bought a round of coffees and hot chocolates and an espresso for our one classy rider.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Snow Way!

Kingston Polar Bears drove in their car this Sunday, from left: Polar Bear Grand Pooh Bah, Princess, Captain.

Motorcycles Polar Bear Blog, DRIVE to Hickory BBQ House in Kingston, NY, April 3, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Our last ride we beat the snow by hours. This Sunday most of us chickened-out. The timing of the storm looked dicey. Our destination was north and west. And when Token2, who rode his bike to Alaska and back, says he doesn't want to ride in the high winds, I'm ready to call no joy.

Captain and Princess drove to protect their perfect attendance. When I saw Joanna's Facebook photo, I was very glad I stayed home.

We had a pretty mild winter this year. But spring, spring has been harsh!

Snow Beaters

Langhorne Polar Bears, from left: Token2, Grumpy, CT Blogger, Pogy, Mac, Captain, QEd and Princess.

Motorcycles Polar Bear Blog, ride to Brian's Harley-Davidson, Langhorne, Pa., March 20, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Snow was forecast for the afternoon. We looked at the hourly forecast and decided to risk it. Unfortunately, our route took us toward the approaching storm. Fortunately, we beat it home. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania sprayed that horrible, corrosive, sodium chloride and magnesium salt all over the roads, in great quantities.

We used our Early Departure Protocol (EDP) and arrived before lunch was ready. As soon as the local HOG Chapter hosts had the hot stuff available we ate and ran for home.

Except for my GPS taking me a way that I've never been before, with the pressure of a half-dozen riders behind me, it was a smooth and uneventful ride.

It snowed Sunday night.

Salt crap all over the highways.

Grumpy earned Red, Token2 60-point pin.

Monday morning.

Longest Distance Polar Bear Ride?

Augusta Polar Bears, from left: CT Blogger, Thumper, Princess the Long Distance Diva, Pogy down front, QEd hiding behind Captain and Scott.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Chatterbox, Augusta, NJ, March 13, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

This is one of those cool Polar Bear destinations that I keep thinking I should visit in the summer, maybe with wife Cynthia in the MX5 with the top down. It's a scenic delight, including horse farms and quaint towns. On the way is a coal mining museum.

But this week's ride was all about Princess.

She rode to Augusta, NJ directly from Daytona, Fla. Her timing was off only a little, she found a diner up the road that was open early and waited our arrival.

Joanna rode down to Daytona earlier in the week, an Iron Butt ride on the way down, another on the way back. She attended the Iron Butt meet and got to meet some of the world's toughest riders including Michael Kneebone. Joanna has taken to long distance riding like a fish to water. For those who do not know of the Iron Butt Association, it is a long distance motorcycle recognition organization.

We enjoyed lunch, heard perhaps only some of Joanna's adventures and headed for home.

CT Blogger leading the CT Bears.

Enjoying classic 50's fare, but we were too early for St. Patty's corned beef.

Joanna's odometer for the ride down to Daytona.

Princess and Michael Kneebone.

Daytona princess.

Polar Bear Overload

Waretown Polar Bears, from left: Mac, Captain, Grumpy, CT Blogger, Pogy down front, Princess, Token2, John J.
Polar Bear Motorcycles Blog, ride to Lighthouse Tavern, Waretown, NJ, February 28, 2016.

By: Chris Loynd

Restaurants don't believe our Polar Bear Ride Coordinators when they try to warn them what happens when you open your place to the Bears, especially on an unusually warm Sunday. Lighthouse Tavern was packed, full. We ended up sitting at the bar, and happy to have seats. Food was slow, very slow. It was tasty. The waitstaff did all they could to keep our spirits up. Man, they were running.

Spread out laterally as we were, there wasn't the same opportunity we usually enjoy for trading stories, and barbs. A few rain storms, and no recent snows, brought John J. out. Hopefully he can join us for some of the late season, no salt sprayed on the highway, rides.

Some of our Bears are making Daytona plans. We hope to hear of their adventures a few weeks hence.

John J.



CT Blogger.

Packed along the bar. All the tables were taken.

World's worst selfie?
Stop at the Top Selfie