Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mea Pie

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour, ride to Wayne, NJ, February 26, 2017

By: Chris Loynd, a.k.a. CT Blogger

Dear readers, at least once a season my fellow Connecticut Polar Bears suggest, sometimes strongly, the slings and arrows of this blog be also directed at its author. So every now and again I write a mea culpa and eat some humble pie. This week seems appropriate.

Fonz will be pleased to know his fellow bears rallied to his defense in his absence. Fonz was on vacation with his wife Dolly, riding rented Harleys from Las Vegas to California.

This Sunday I am accused of alternate facts and fake news. Token2 made an amazing confession at lunch. Pogy's back. Our favorite 100-year-old Polar Bear made an appearance. And we were at Hooters. Oh, and yes, I made a mess of those pre-Hooters twists and turns with which I challenged Fonz in last week's missive.

Wayne, N.J. is one of the Connecticut Bears' rare sub-one-hundred-mile rides. For most of us, Mac always being the mileage exception, our round trip distance won't break 200. We earn just three points. On the other hand, the variety of a short ride now and again is not all bad.

A leisurely 10 a.m. start time is rare for us. I even showed up to the departure point early . . . and that may have been a mistake. Usually I arrive just as my fellow riders are lining up read to go. But the later departure made me antsy. So I rode over with a whole 10 minutes to spare.

Much of that 10 minutes was spent poking holes in last week's blog. It was Token2 who actually blocked traffic when Anonymous Ed missed the turn at the fork. Grumpy was first to abdicate, not Fonz. Numerous other errors and omissions were pointed out to me by my critics. Then they accused me of fake news and alternate facts.

My reply is simple. I never made any such promises of facts and accuracy in the first place. I am not about to let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. And I'm pretty sure Fonz can take the criticism, however unfair.

When I hosted the blog on my website I offered this permanently placed disclaimer:

Please keep in mind I sometimes exaggerate here in an attempt at humor. I make no promises for the veracity of any statements. No warranty is expressed or implied. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited. Past blog performance does not guarantee future blog results.

Read this blog with a very big grain of salt. (And discount anything Russ Curtis tells you by at least 30 percent!)

I do understand the righteous indignation of my fellow riders. Each of them has been victimized by me in this blog at one time or another, rarely even rightly so. This week, with me arriving early, they turned on me. The upshot was challenging me to lead the ride. Of course I said yes. Of course I regretted it.

Perhaps frustrated by the short mileage, Token2 rode all the way north to Stratford from his Ridgefield hinterlands only to ride south again as we headed for Jersey. Typically we pick him up somewhere near the intersection of I-287 and the Hutchinson Parkway.

So we were seven in number departing the Stratford Dunkin' Donuts.

Prescient of the danger, I studied the route and map this morning whilst breakfasting. As leader I suggested we take the parkways to the George Washington Bridge then proceed straight out Route 80. This was immediately met with a disgusted look by Grumpy, verbal protestations and his favorite hand gesture. Feeling the heat over the blog already, I gladly switched my route to Tappan Zee.

We picked up Pogy and Scott at the Darien rest stop and were now nine.

Pogy's back riding with us after missing most of the season for personal reasons. Pogy actually taught me to ride. Then we saw a lot of each other at the now defunct Bridgeport Harley-Davidson dealership. Pogy eventually talked me into becoming an instructor; now he and I teach motorcycle riding together for the Connecticut Rider Education Program. It took me years, literally, to talk him into giving the Polar Bear rides a chance. Now he's addicted.

Scott called me, as he always does, Sunday morning of the ride to tell me to look for him at the rest stop. Temperatures were about 20 degrees less than last week when Scott famously rode in a tee-shirt, fleece vest and windbreaker. This week, Scott told me he was going to break out his electric jacket. At Hooters I learned he dusted off his gear and suited up but then, when he started the bike and plugged in his jacket, the heat controller started smoking. Yikes! He toughed it out . . . without electrical warmth. Fortunately the ride home was a bit warmer still.

I would not have made it. On one ride some years ago Token2's electric gear thermostat quit working. Fortunately we were at Montgomeryville Cycle Center and he was able to buy another. Since that day, I keep a second thermostat packed on my bike . . . just in case.

Nine is an awkward number of bikes in line. Not quite enough machines to break into two independent groups, it is a heck of a long line to do things like change lanes and exit interstate highways.

John J. was sweep. I found out at lunch his nickname is "Scoop." Some of us choose our own nicknames, others have nicknames thrust upon them. He shall be Scoop from now on, at least in this humble blog.

Scoop did a great job blocking lanes. Anonymous Ed (who had his nickname thrust upon him) offered his services as a sort of middle sweep, holding a lane open so those trailing could come up and squeeze in. We had cars in our line here and there and one real jerk who rode up on the left at the approach to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Despite more than a mile of warnings punctuated by big flashing arrows that the left lane is disappearing, he still came shooting up on our left at the last minute.

I cut my guys short trying to get over for the exit from I-287 to Route 80. There was a bit of a scramble, but we exited with just one car in our midst. Route 80 was worse, always is. But that wasn't the worst of it. Next came that loopy Route 23 exit with which I challenged Fonz. Only this time, I was the one being challenged.

My decision making and navigation skills came up short.

Signs appeared too fast. GPS was trying to keep up. I slowed the line of bikes. Still, at the last minute, I chose wrong, putting us onto a "service road" rather than Route 23. Captain was holding back, but to his credit he stuck with me this time. Fortunately my Garmin figured it out pretty fast. We went only a short ways, looped up and over and back around and soon were on Route 23 headed south to our final destination. Curses! Foiled again!

Grumpy was thrilled. My unexpected detour tipped him over the 100 mile mark, just. He claimed his two mileage points while most of us got only one.

At lunch Pogy made a presentation to Token2. If you're a blog follower you will recall Token2 had a bit of trouble with his Moto Guzzi a couple of rides back. The upshot was he had to ride in the passenger seat of Grumpy's bike to get home. The next day Grumpy went back to the destination with his pickup truck to retrieve Token2's bike. This is the second time Grumpy has rescued Token2. Grumpy's heart is bigger than his nickname would have you believe.

I will let the photo do the talking. Token2 didn't just hold up his shirt for a photo, he put it on and promised to wear it with pride.

(For any blog reader unaware of biker lore, the passenger seat on a motorcycle is generally occupied by the rider's girlfriend, wife, female significant other. Some bikers use a derogatory name for females to describe that seat. My apologies to anyone offended. Sorry, Mom. It's not what I call it.)

Lunch at Hooters is always, well, a hoot. Token2 got a table for us and we expanded it still. He also secured the Hooters girl with the biggest, uh, enthusiasm in the place. Cierra did a great job. Scott asked what was good on the menu. Token2 replied, "Everything's fried, so that's a good start." Even so, he and Captain had salads. More in the spirit, Grumpy ordered fried pickles for the table to share.

Service was a bit slow. However Polar Bear Chairman Bob told us that would maybe change for next year. For all the years the Polar Bear Grand Tour has been coming to the Wayne, N.J. Hooters, this was the first year the store owner came to see what we were about. Previous years only the manager attended.

Once he understood the Polar Bear challenge, and perhaps the money to be made, he was receptive to Bob's suggestion they present a special, and limited, Polar Bear menu. We're easy. Limiting choices speeds the kitchen and I would guess makes their job a lot easier too. Many of our destinations now offer a special menu, which I've lauded in earlier blog posts. We'll see what Hooters decides next year.

We were pleased to see Leo Chlebinkow walk into Hooters. He was using a walker, but lucid and bright and the assembled bears treated him like a rock star, taking pictures with him, shaking his hand, talking to him. Leo looked like he was enjoying every minute. February 23 was Leo's 101st birthday. I shared a biography of Leo last year.  CLICK HERE to read, or reread his 100-year story, which involved motorcycles nearly from the beginning. Until just a few years ago, Leo was riding on a trike to our meets. Before that he was on two wheels well into his nineties. Today a friend brought him in a car.

Yes, yes he is.

Anonymous Ed remains . . . anonymous.

Guest Post from Scoop

Approaching home our group split in half on I-287. One set exited to the Merritt Parkway for the ride home through our home state. I led the second group up I-95. Our interstate ride was a bit congested, but apparently not nearly so exciting as the Merritt Parkway group's ride. Here is Scoop's report:

By John J., a.k.a. Scoop

I don’t know how the remainder of your ride went on Sunday from 287 to 95, but our ride back on the Hutch and Merritt Parkways was more a battle than a ride, at least as my view from the back.

 Let me start by saying “No one was injured during this skirmish”. That’s more like it, it was a “Skirmish” of sorts. Mac (Speedy) led, with Grumpy in the middle, I keeping Sweep position.

As we entered the Hutch we had to battle for position to get heading towards the Merritt, as usual, traffic was dense, so we found a spot in the left lane and wound up behind a Crossover doing 60 mph just because it could. Mac held lead just behind his rear bumper, until it pulled over to the right lane just before the rest area on the CT/NY line. As the Crossover pulled over, it decided to increase speed (as those kind of drivers so often do) but Mac drove us by at a goodly clip.

Traffic on the Merritt can be thick and clumpy on Sunday afternoons (as you well know) and Mac was soon on the back bumper of another slowpoke who was afraid of corners it seemed, as it would slow down to 55 mph at every curve on that beautifully curvy section we all know and love. This slowpoke finally pulled to the right lane and we got by it only to be plagued by the very same vehicle all the way to when I pulled off onto the Milford Connector! This a**hole was constantly trying to pass us on the right all the way home! We were doing as I said before a goodly clip in a lot of spots, but were hampered by the speed of the vehicle in front of Sir Speedy most of the time, and in those areas, the Crossover wanted to be in front of our little motorcycle train at any cost.

At one point the Crossover driver actually cut in between Mac and Grumpy, creating a space where there was none. This created an opportunity for Grumpy to have a rather lengthy conversation with the Crossover driver while riding alongside it! I think if Grumpy had had a grenade, or something of that nature, the Crossover would have crossed over into the other dimension of non-existence. I felt like I was watching a Chess match gone horribly wrong. Mac constantly protecting our position from an enemy charging up from our blind spot trying to steal our hard fought territory, adrenaline running high, gasoline fumes permeating the air as throttles open and close! Man! I though the ride down watching the end of a 9 bike train was exciting! That was nothing compared to this!

I hope your ride was less eventful. Anyway, we all (I assume) made it home in one piece, and I had a wonderful single malt Glenfiddich when I got home. So much for a leisure ride home!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Respect My Authoritay

Connecticut's Rockaway riders, from left: Grumpy, Captain, Token2, Fonz, CT Blogger, John J., Anonymous Ed and Scott.

Connecticut Polar Bears at lunch, from left, Anonymous Ed, Token2, Scott, John J., Captain, Fonz, CT Blogger and Grumpy. Photo by Grumpy using wide-angle mode on his new LG cell phone.
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour, ride to Rockaway, NJ, February 19, 2017

By: Chris Loynd, a.k.a. CT Blogger

Mark Twain, longtime Connecticut resident, famously said, "If you don't like the weather in New England now, wait a few minutes." We weathered a wacky weather week. Last Sunday we were forced by snow to drive. This Sunday we were almost too warm, almost.

 In Connecticut some of our foot-deep snowfall lingered still a week-and-a-half later. What was left was decorative in places. It accented craggy rock faces and lightened shadowy forest floors. Admittedly we also saw side of the road snow banks black with dirt. Still, I thought snow added an appropriate winter look to what felt all of a spring day.

Even at daybreak our temperatures were above February's average daytime temperature. Due to our relatively close destination, we had a late start, 10:00 a.m. By then the temperature was near 50 degrees; on the ride home it climbed nearer 60. Our CT Polar Bears were changing out gloves and shedding layers.

Anonymous Ed took the lead. He was great on the highways. Once we exited, he struggled a bit. At lunch he said something about the GPS on his bike being different from the one he was used to in his car.

I give him a B+, four out of five stars. On the highway he was steady and reasonable and that counts for a lot. That right fork turnoff for Main Street in Rockaway is a bit tricky. Lucky for Ed I was riding in third position. Also lucky for Ed there was a connecting side street closeby, albeit down a wicked-steep hill.

Captain was riding second position and tried to signal Ed he was missing the turn. The turn once missed, Captain hesitated about whether or not to follow. Hey, you gotta stick with your ride leader, even if he leads you to the wrong destination. In third position I kept coming and urged, nearly pushed, Captain to follow his leader, rather than making the over-the-berm hard right turn he desired.

Fonz who was second to last in line, and therefore not the sweep, wanted to sweep still. Token2 as sweep is obligated to stay with any rider who falls out of line. So when Fonz ditched the rest of us, instead taking the correct right fork, Token2 had to follow.

As we descended the cliff, I mean sidestreet, we found Fonz doing his authoritarian thing and blocking the road to help us enter. Of course that did nothing for the closer lane of oncoming traffic. Fortunately that car driver took pity on us and blocked cars behind him to let us out all in a line.

Anonymous Ed did see the big "The Exchange" sign of our destination, but appeared challenged in making a split-second decision to park on the street in front or the parking lot in back. He went for the back and we followed, well some of us followed. Fonz went for the street and took a couple of our riders with him. Parking lot choices were slim; there is a wicked-steep hill built into the lot. Maybe a low-slung car would be able to park parallel and not roll over. I was taking no chances with my high center of gravity Honda ST.

After all the fork-of-the-road and parking confusion, you know what happened? We all found our Connecticut mates and a big booth and had lunch together, despite our bikes being scattered across two parking lots and the street.

The Exchange parking lots and street front were packed, but the restaurant and bar were not. Our theory was because it was such a beautiful day a lot of the more local Polar Bears rode to the destination early, signed-in, then went touring around in the unexpectedly warm February sunshine.

This is often one of the brutally cold rides on our schedule. Was it two years ago the temperature started in minuses and never went above five degrees on this run? Grand Tour Grand Pooh Bah Bob told us his outdoor thermometer said 52 degrees when he awoke at 5:00 a.m. Assuming the thermometer was broken, Bob booted up his computer to check the weather.

Scott rode in a windbreaker over a fleece vest. He's never cold. He said he was tempted to choose a tank top instead of the short sleeve tee shirt he was wearing as his base layer just to tease me. Me, I still wore my silks and electrics then actually turned up my electrics, just a little.

On the way home we decided to shoot over to the Garden State Parkway so we could enjoy our stop-at-the-top. Once again Captain tried to drive Anonymous Ed from the second position. Ed made a right turn right in front of a big sign that said go straight for I-80 East. I don't know if it was luck or lucidity but no sooner than we turned we picked up an I-80 East on-ramp.

There was still a bit of confusion getting to the Garden State Parkway. At one point our sweep shot to the front, partly to help Ed find the GSP and maybe also out of Fonz frustration. We called Fonz out at our stop-at-the-top and he admitted to being challenged in having the patience to wait for the sweep on lane changes. Maybe we make him sweep next week, or leader.

Any of us who have been at the front or the back of the pack can attest that it is not easy. I had one of the most disastrous leads with a confused and likely illegal loop at the foot (or was it head) of the Whitestone Bridge. I too blamed my GPS. I too was saved by my sweep.

So kudos to Anonymous Ed for stepping up for the lead. Study your maps and set your GPS Fonz, I hereby publicly challenge you to lead next week's ride to Hooters. There are some nasty turns on the local roads after you exit I-80. If you like, I can ask Captain if he'll ride second. And we will all respect your authority . . . at least for the duration of the ride there and back.

Bob pic of the week.

Renegade sweep and leader Fonz, left, with never-cold Scott, right. What you see on Scott is the totality of his warm gear.
Scary parking lot for motorcycles.

John J. climbs the hill.

Captain earned his 60-point pin.

Chris did too.

Flight B Leaders Rich and Joan.

Ski slope parking.

It was . . .

. . . and some did!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Better Part of Valor

East Hampton "riders" CT Bears came by car. From left: Captain, CT Blogger, Grumpy, Jim and Connor.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour ride to East Hampton, NJ, February 12, 2017

By: Chris Loynd, a.k.a. CT Blogger

Our Sunday freeze line hovered somewhere over New York City. To the south our New Jersey brother bears would experience only rain. North, at departure time in Connecticut, snow was falling and accumulating. Since it would rain only in Jersey we were sure the ride would not be cancelled. Our perfect attendance was at risk.

Riding looked pretty dicey, so Captain and I decided to drive, a fairly long drive, 150 miles and 2 1/2 hours one way. Grumpy came along even though he was not going for perfect attendance. Plus we picked up Jim and his son Connor driving in their own car, a Jeep, at the Darien rest stop on I-95. We convoyed across the parkways and over the GW Bridge. Captain led and Jim did a great job as sweep, clearing lanes and keeping pace.

It's a little nuts, we all admit, to drive to New Jersey for lunch in the snow, sleet and rain. All to sign a paper proving our consistent feasance.

Truth is, the Polar Bear Grand Tour is a great excuse to get together, tell stories, rip on each other, debate politics and get out of the house. It's better on a motorcycle. But we had a great time Sunday without the bikes all the same. Driving in a car together actually gave us much more time to talk. On our motorcycles we are isolated in our full-face helmets.

Our destination, O'Connor's American Bar and Grill, had a distinctly Irish theme, despite the "American" adjective in its name. This is a great destination, new to the Polar Bear Grand Tour schedule. Hopefully they will stick with us. Turnout this year was pretty light. It rained fairly steady most of the day. Good food, plenty of space, plenty of parking, easy to get to, O'Connor's has it all.

Connor and I enjoyed the shepherd's pie. It was excellent and almost, almost, more than I could eat. Captain had the chili and pronounced it spicy.

Because we came in a car, we received only a single point at sign in. So Captain and I still need one ride more for our 60-point pins. What a difference a week makes. The coming Sunday is forecast to be sunny and near 50 degrees.

Can't really see it in the rainy, blurry photo taken through the car window, but we were fascinated by this Polar Bear's ponytail. Either the ponytail is fake and stuck on or she drilled an appropriate hole in her helmet. We'll have to see if we can find her at another Polar Bear ride to find out.
CT Bears catch up with Quartermaster Gary Rosen outside the restaurant. Photo by: Bernie Walsh.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Baptism by Ice

Schaefferstown CT Bears, from left: Grumpy, new guy Paul, CT Blogger, Captain, Token2 and Mac.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog, Polar Bear Grand Tour, ride to Schaefferstown, Pa., February 5, 2017

By: Chris Loynd, a.k.a. CT Blogger

Admittedly riding interstate highways at 20 degrees Fahrenheit on a motorcycle is not for everybody. Even so, anybody can be on the Connecticut Polar Bear distribution email. So what happens is I send weekly emails about our Polar Bear departure time to many more motorcyclists than show up for any given ride. Some never show. Some ride occasionally. And every now and then an email recipient surprises us all.

Sunday may have been our coldest ride of the season so far. It is long too, a rare six-pointer. At 200+ miles and four hours' travel one-way, the cold can start to get annoying. Even Captain, who eschews electrics, admitted he was getting more than a little tired of being cold that last half hour of our morning ride to the destination. Coming back home in the afternoon we enjoyed another 10 degrees of temperature, still chilly but not biting. Believe me, it makes a difference. On the way over I cooked my toes.

People who don't ride motorcycles in winter ask me, "Well when it's that cold, what does 10 degrees really matter?" But if you think about a summer day, the difference between 80 and 90 degrees is the spread between hot and miserable.

Just because I ride in winter does not mean I like to be cold. In fact, I am fairly cold intolerant. Not like Polar Bear Grand Pooh Bah Bob who strolls around the parking lot as bikes arrive in 20 degree weather in nothing more than one of his hundred polar bear themed sweatshirts. He's like our Scott, never cold.

Last season I switched to the full electric set after years of toughing it out with just an electric jacket liner and gloves. I used to wear multiple layers of long johns and put those disposable HotHands(r) packs under my toes. On really cold days I'd put two under each foot, one for toes another under the insole. One year, early on in my Polar Bear riding experience, a couple of us went in together to buy a case of the things directly from the manufacturer. The next year they would not sell them direct. Now, every November I'm stalking sporting goods aisles, buying a full box when they first appear.

Retailers are season sensitive and you cannot find the warmers in March, sometimes neither in October. When you do find them, you must guess correctly about how many you will need to fill out the Polar Bear season, I ran out one year when my daughter was a high school cheerleader and we blew through my supply trying to stay warm at football games.

I carry them still on the bike as backup in case my electrics fail. If your electric clothing stops working, you still have to get your motorcycle home. Unless you're like Token2 on this ride. You'll have to read a bit further before I get to his drama. Right now I'm writing about, what was it, oh, cooked toes!

I have my new, full-suit, Warm and Safe gear wired with a dual thermostat. (If you don't know, the electric clothing plugs into a lead attached to your battery terminals. It runs off the alternator, electric current coursing through multitudes of special wires woven into the special clothing.) One thermostat dial controls my gloves, the other is for the rest of the suit: jacket liner, pants liner and socks all together. That way I can control the amount of heat for the suit versus the gloves.

This is helpful because I've not yet found a pair of electric gloves that truly keep my hands warm enough. For one thing, I have long, thin fingers. For another, my hands are the part of me most exposed to the wind, unprotected by windshield or fairings. So on a day like last Sunday, I have the gloves at full crank -- thermonuclear hot. If I had the suit at the same setting, my body would melt. I've yet to see a day cold enough to turn up the jacket, pants and socks full blast.

After our last few rides I tried something new last Sunday for the inadequate gloves and it seemed to work. I supplemented my electrically heated gloves with a HotHands packet in each glove. Not bad! My fellow Polar Bears tell me I need heated motorcycle grips. I am amenable, but my finances are not.

So the hands held up fairly well last Sunday. Unfortunately, I did not properly set up the rest of the getup. My heated socks were over just silk socks. Overtop both silk and heated socks I wore heavy, insulated wool socks. Whereas the pants and jacket liner were over my insulated riding onesie. Therefore my chest and legs were cold, my feet were hot, too hot, way too hot. I couldn't crank the thermostat on my riding suit enough to warm most of my body without burning my toes. And it was cold enough toward the end of our morning ride to Schaefferstown, and I was annoyed enough with being cold the past 100 miles, that I did just that.

When we got to our destination restaurant, Franklin House Tavern, as discreetly as possible, and before lunch was served, I took off my boots and socks to check for damage. There was a red circle on top of each foot from the heating element. One toe blistered on top pretty bad . . . it is blistered still almost a week later. Lesson learned. I switched my heated socks to the outside of my heavy insulated socks and rode home warm and happy.

Our new rider last Sunday, my friend Paul, picked one heck of a cold and long Polar Bear challenge for his baptism. We've known each other for years as Stratford neighbors. He was also in one of my motorcycle riding classes, where he first heard about the Polar Bears. After being on the Connecticut Polar Bear email list for something like a year-and-a-half, Paul was suddenly there Sunday at our departure Dunkin' Donuts ready to ride. Paul complained not a bit. (In contrast to me whining to everyone about my cooked feet.)

Paul fit right in, rode well in formation and seemed to like it. In fact, he's looking to do a late season signup for the Grand Tour. Chairman Bob was willing, but did not have his release forms with him. Paul will sign up on his next ride and we hope to see him earn his red rocker this season. There are plenty of rides -- and miles for Connecticut Bears -- for him to achieve it.

(If you're not familiar, the Polar Bears give you two points for showing up to the destination on a motorcycle, plus one point for every 100 round trip miles you rode to get there. Being from Connecticut, we have much longer rides than a majority of our fellow Bears from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware. The Grand Tour is not really for us, but they have graciously accepted us for 15 years now, since I first discovered them in a magazine article.)

Paul rides astride a big Honda Valkyrie with lots of personality, the bike, not Paul. Paul is more quiet and mild mannered than the skeleton hand mirror mounts and gun permit saddlebag statement would have you believe. Although we did not talk much politics, I am guessing he's a conservative, so that faction of our group will be pleased.

Thumper, if you're reading this, Captain actually said he missed you. I guess I'm not strident enough a liberal to keen his conservative sparing wits. We have some shorter rides coming up. Chances are good that President Trump topics for discussion will continue to proliferate.

As I hinted earlier, there is one part more to last Sunday's story. Token2 earned his nickname for riding foreign motorcycles. At first it was just one. Then he bought another and we squared his nickname. I guess he couldn't help himself because he tumbled down the exotic bike brand slippery slope finding Moto Guzzi somewhere near the bottom. He hasn't found bottom yet. There's probably a Ural or Royal Enfield or Hyosung somewhere further down the slope in Token2's future. (Sorry Lynn, your travails may not yet be concluded.)

Owner of a rock-solid Honda and well-engineered BMW, Token2 decided to bring his Guzzer on this long and cold ride. And it operated as expected.

At least the Italian showed good manners. It stranded Token2 in the parking lot of our destination. We could have all been piled up on the shoulder of an Interstate instead. His bike rode just fine to our destination. But after sitting out in the cold parking lot while we ate lunch inside, it refused to shift into gear. Token2 is a pretty good mechanic; he was stumped. After some fits and starts around the parking lot, he gave up. The folks at Franklin House were very supportive. They gave him a place to park his wounded bike directly in the unblinking gaze of a security camera.

Logistics of getting Token2 back home without his bike were our next priority. Captain suggested I take him. Certainly I was willing, but I have the worst second seat of our crew, with the exception of Paul who has none. Our next challenge was finding some power for Token2's heated clothing. No one had the right adapter for the outlet on Captain's Goldwing. Fortunately I had a Y splitter cable that allowed Grumpy and Token2 to share the same lead on Grumpy's Harley. And we had those extra 10 degrees of warmth for the ride home.

We got to the stop at the top of the Garden State Parkway just fine. There Token2 called his wife Lynn who fortuitously was out driving nearby and she picked him up there. Token2 rode the rest of the way home in warm car with a full seat.

Grumpy offered rescue the next morning. He and Token2 drove back out to Schaefferstown in Grumpy's monster truck to retrieve the Guzzi. I will post Token2's technical explanation of his mechanical travails below.

I do not believe in jinxes, but Token2 pointed out this is the very same destination where Fonz had an issue with his bike. He, unfortunately never made it all the way there. And the broken springs fished from deep inside Token2's Moto Guzzi make the number 60 (see photo below). And the New England Patriots came from behind in an unprecedented sudden-death Superbowl win, the final score 34 to 28, added together that's 62, all made possible by a second Patriots 2-point conversion. Subtract that 2 points and the Patriots never had a chance. Take two away from 62 and you end up with . . . 60. Coincidence?

Token2's Account:

Hi All:

First of all big props to Grumpy for retrieving the bike and getting me to the dealership on Monday. Thanks Big Guy.

I spent a couple of hours in the shop with the tech yesterday trying to get to the reasons for the mechanical problem.

So here is the skinny, the starter motor was removed and yielded a steel fragment (the larger of the two in the picture) from the gear well. After examination and checking another Guzzi starter for appearance it was concluded that it did not originate from the starter. It looks like a fragment of a spring, but does not fit the shaft diameter of the starter. However it was sufficient to  wreck the starter.

After removing the starter and turning the crankshaft the clutch was locking up at certain points. The bell housing was scoped and another piece of metal was fished out from the bottom of the housing, it appears to be another piece of spring but of different diameter to the first part. Take a look at the clutch friction plate pictures from the shop manual I have attached and you will see four cush springs (which appear on pictures to be a spring within a spring), the belief is that one (or more) of them failed, or were released from the captive housing. (You are viewing the engine block looking forward).

A piece of the larger spring ended up in the housing of the starter as the clutch rotated, probably before arriving in the FH. That was jamming the first attempts to start the bike after lunch. It moved a bit allowing it to start…which is when the death rattle was heard. Thankfully the busted clutch made it to the destination and after we got it started at FH the rest of the spring was rattling around and with the difficulty changing gears it was parked.

The motor was then started in the shop, no rattling, so it was possible all the pieces were ejected. Today with better weather we pushed the bike outdoors and ran it through the gears under power with the bike on the center stand several times. At one point as it was running (low revs of course) through the gears the motor locked a bit like a stall. Then reason to run it is that those springs only serve to reduce clutch chatter, one missing would leave the bike serviceable. The other parts of the spring could have dropped through a drain port at the bottom of the bell housing.

So the conclusion is that either more bits of failed spring are in there or there is a more significant failure of the friction plate, which released the spring and is now interfering with the smooth operation of the clutch. To find out it needs to be opened up, open it up you put in a new clutch of course.

So, new starter motor and new clutch assembly required. Eye-watering repair bill as the engine has to be dropped and the back half separated to get to the clutch. Before the job is started I have asked for the tranny oil to be drained, if there is metal in there as well then even more damage has occurred at which point I will reconsider options.

Just have to shrug and be happy the problem did not reveal itself at speed within the center of the CTPB group and reflect on the fact that with 200,000 miles under my belt since getting back in the game this is the first serious pocket hitting repair event (got the money returned on the Buell thank the Lord for CT lemon laws and warranty).

Of course such a catastrophic failure should not happen on a clutch that has not been abused with only 24,000 miles, but it did. I got unlucky with the failure,  but lucky with the point the failure revealed itself.

Hope we get out on Sunday.



A bit of the local charm in this beautiful colonial town.

Our destination really is an old colonial inn.

Token2 earned his gold rocker on this run. Hmmm, maybe wrongly so. He likely reported ROUND TRIP mileage for points and I don't think riding back with your Moto Guzzi in the back of Grumpy's pickup truck counts for that. But then again, I do believe passengers get equal credit for miles and points and rockers. So Token2 is likely okay.

Grumpy to the rescue did earn his gold rocker this run.

Mac has furthest to go of our CT Bears so he earns big miles. But he misses some rides due to Caribbean vacations and other such retirement distractions. 

Newest CT Bear, Paul.

Is this thing on?

Non-CT Polar Bear proudly displays her red rocker. It's all about the patches and pins!

Flight B.

Flight A

Bob Pic of the Week

Photos of us Astride our Rides by Polar Bear Photographer Bernie Walsh: