Sunday, February 6, 2011

Polar Bear Blog New Brunswick, NJ; Jan. 23, 2011

Polar Bear, New Brunswick, NJ; January 23 2011

By: Chris Loynd

single digit temperatures to start, teens to finish

Wow it was cold. I mean nasty cold. Every extra layer cold. At least, that's what I thought.

I put on two sets of silk long johns, an extra sweatshirt and my windproof balaclava. In my boots I put not one, not two, but three warmer packs per foot.

When I queried my fellow bears about the special preparations they made for the coldest ride of the season they responded, to a man, none! Geeze! Guess I'm a wimp.

I've always said that I don't like to be cold. That may seem counter intuitive to riding a motorcycle in winter. But with my extra layers and heat packs and electric jacket and gloves, I was toasty warm all day. Still, I was glad for the extra layers.

My EMS balaclava is almost too warm. It's made with wind-stopper fleece. Under my helmet, it keeps my noggin well insulated. On anything but the coldest days, it induces sweat.

Now that we are into mid-season Polar Bear riding, it seems road conditions are getting worse. Potholes are appearing everywhere. I clipped a nasty one at the merge onto the New Jersey Turnpike. When we discussed it a lunch, we were thinking this is perhaps the same hole that claimed Token's tire last season. Fortunately my big Dunlops held.

I rode down into another pothole on the local road as we neared our destination. As I watched it swallow my tire, I could see the pavement's gravel underlayment, then an old cobblestone base, next an alluvial layer. I thought, oh schist! Finally my tire rode past some dinosaur bones and into a bit of lava in the very bottom before we started to climb the other side of the pothole.

Reacting in time, I stood up on the floorboards to allow the bike to pivot beneath me as my suspension attempted to compensate for the sudden drop in elevation. Fortunately, the big springer front end compressed and rebounded. I love this bike!

At Sir John's I asked Mr. “No Wet,” Ken Andrejewski about a flagstaff for my bike. His name refers to nothing sexual. It is instead a special process for cleaning motorcycles without water.

I have one of the older Polar Bear pennants that is larger than the small ones that fit on my compatriots' whip antennas. (That's fine 'cause my bike has no whip antennas.) In previous years I flew it from my chrome luggage rack from a “farmerized” Harley flag pole meant for tour pack attachment. (Ask Russ for the definition of "farmerized.")

Lacking a tour pack, I cut the base of the nylon pole down to fit between my luggage rack's rails with a hack saw and very poor technique. Then I zip tied the crap out of it to get it to hold onto the rails at speed.

When I saw Ken's flag poles actually meant for mounting on the round stock rails of any luggage rack via a very clean looking recessed set screw, I was ready for an upgrade. He asked me the diameter of my rails, half or quarter inch or some number of eighth inches. What do I know from diameter or how to measure it? Fortunately my rack is detachable. I told Ken to wait one minute.

I ran outside, popped the rack from its mounts, and brought it into Ken, striking a deal on a new flag pole -- installed. He gladly complied. It looks like it was made for the bike. I won't miss the zip ties.

We teased Jim about not having a date for this ride. Last year he rode with us to Sir John's, but then never showed for the ride home. It turned out a lady friend made him a better offer.

We had a smaller than usual group this ride. As stated in last week's blog, many of our Connecticut bears are driveway challenged. We may not see Bart until spring thaw!