Polar Bear Blog 2007/2008

Riding Motorcycles in Winter, on purpose!
Thanks to the AMA Polar Bear Grand Tour.


Polar Bear Motorcycles
by: Chris Loynd

If you've stumbled onto this page out of curiosity, you're welcome to stay and read the saga of riding motorcycles in the winter.

Several of us from Connecticut, participate in the Polar Bear Grand Tour, a winter-long set of destination rides sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA): www.PolarBearGrandTour.com.

Last year I figured my Polar Bear (PB) missives would be a good excuse to try this blogging thing. I enjoy writing and the antics of my fellow Polar Bears often provide good fodder. There were some pretty good stories over the past years. But they were written in transient e-mails now lost. I never expected this blog to reach out much beyond my Connecticut compatriots. But as the weeks went on and the stories grew, so did the blog's popularity.

Me, Chris Loynd, on my
very first Polar Bear ride.
To read the story of that
first ride, follow this link:
Polar Bear Story.

Our fellow PB riders throughout the tri-state area have e-mailed me or said hello at the Sunday meets to say how they enjoy reading about our adventures.

This blog allows me to preserve some great memories and to share them with my fellow Polar Bear motorcycle riders, you, and anyone else in the world. Enjoy! So despite my first editor's warning about committing to a weekly column, here it us, usually posted by the Wednesday after our Sunday ride.

If you're interested in riding with us from Connecticut, it is very informal. Each rider is responsible for his or her own safety. We meet at the Stratford (Conn.) Dunkin' Donuts, I-95, Exit 30, at the corner of Lordship Blvd., and Honeyspot Rd. To get on the e-mail list for weekly departure times, contact me:
Chris Loynd chris@InfluentialCom.com

Polar Bear Riders from 2004. Full face helmets, plenty of layers and electric clothing keep us toasty.

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.

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

Rides:
 

Use your REFRESH button to see the latest entries.


Join the CT Polar Bear Riders!

Special Notice to Prospective Polar Bears:
Someone who wanted to ride with us approached me and said he was concerned about keeping up with us on the highway. I assured him -- and now you -- that our goal is first and always: safe riding. If you are a novice rider, you're still welcome to join us. Because all the locations are more than 100 miles away, we do a lot of expressway riding. So you should be comfortable riding on I-95, the parkways and turnpikes in New York metropolitan area traffic. But we do not speed excessively, ride aggressively nor berate endlessly any new riders. Remember each and every rider is responsible for his own safety. If you're not comfortable, ride up to the leader, tap your helmet and we'll stop at the next rest area or exit and have a discussion.

You do not need electric clothing, or even any special equipment, to ride in the winter. John Kammerer simply bundles up in layers, the last layer a good riding jacket to block the wind. Investing in some electrics, long underwear, insulated boots and a full-face helmet can make your experience a lot warmer.

Check out these pages for some information and tips on winter riding: Winter Riding.

You can also find out more information at the Polar Bear (PB) web site: www.PolarBearGrandTour.com where there's a section for new members. And Walter Kern, the PB Webmaster, has his own super motorcycle site, Motorcycle Views: http://motorcycleviews.com/. The American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) web site also has a very good section on "How to do Winter Riding Right."

EZ Pass is strongly recommended. Most all our rides end up on the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. Having EZ Pass makes it very easy to keep the bikes together. It also saves a lot of time. We especially like the express toll lanes where we can ride right through as a group single-file without ever slowing down. Plus, you get a discount on most tolls, for example $2 off the GW Bridge off peak, 25% off NJ Turnpike. If you want to ride with us and do not have EZ Pass, we'll accommodate you on a few trial rides. Then if you decide riding with the Polar Bears is for you, apply for the pass. It's easy. Some of our members have the square, white pass mounted to their windshields. Others use the license plate mount and zip tie it somewhere on their front forks. You can find out all you need to know and apply here: www.EZPass.com .

Also, please be sure we welcome all bikes, all brands. Many Connecticut PB riders are on Harleys. But we don't discriminate. Randy Tefft, a PB rider from New Hampshire, has joined us on occasion on his Moto Guzzi. One of our regulars, John Howard, also owns a Guzzi, but is most often on his Honda ST. Tom is a Gold Wing rider. And one of our own Harley riders actually has a backup bike -- it's a Honda Gold Wing.

If you have any questions or concerns about joining us, call me or send an e-mail (my addresses are at the top of this page or on the contact us page of this web site).

Bonus Points for Bears:

You can earn bonus points by participating in these non-Polar Bear rides, as defined in their official rules.

Crotona Midnight Run:
Four Points awarded for this midnight to 6 a.m. time trial ride through Westchester County, NY, in February. This is the oldest organized motorcycle run in the country. The first one was New Years' 1911. Starts and finishes in Yonkers, NY. The 2007 ride is Saturday, February 10th. Since I've been riding PB I have always wanted to try it, but haven't worked up the courage to get lost in this part of New York that I don't know very well. GPS is verboten! "Girlie Men Need Not Apply."

Sponsored by the Ramapo MC Club:
http://www.ramapomc.org/Crotona07.pdf
http://www.ramapomc.org/index.htm

Photos:
http://www.ramapomc.org/Crotona 2005.html

 Stories by participants:
http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/rideanddest/new_york_crotona_midnight_run/index.html
http://www.roadtwist.com/crotona.html
http://www.dccycles.com/arch/1996/02/feb00068

Daytona:
Six points awarded for riding back and forth to Daytona in March. For us CT Bears it is about a wash with the points you would have earned by staying home and doing both weekend runs. Another way to look at is that you can go to Daytona and not miss any PB points. Making the Daytona trip with your bike on a trailer does not count.

Blood Points:
Two points awarded each time you give blood at the North Jersey Blood Center, 45 S. Grove St., East Orange. Be sure to credit your donation to the District Two Account # 2150. CT Bears can pick up another bonus point by riding a motorcycle to donate. The location is just a few miles away from the Hooters PB run, 176 miles round trip.

Chilly Chili Run:
Two points plus mileage points for participating in this event sponsored by the Blue Knights NJ IX. The 2007 ride is New Year's Day, sign-in 9:00 a.m. at Ogdesburg Firehouse, Route 517 n Ogdensburg, NJ. MapQuest says two-hours travel time and 100 miles one way. The Chilly Chili Ride leaves under escort at 11:00 a.m., returning at noon for chili, hot dogs and soda. PB Founder Bob Hartpence warns that this ride fills up quickly. His recommendation is to arrive at 8:00 a.m. That means us CT Bears would have to leave here at like 6:00 a.m.

The club web site is: www.bknjix.org

Here is an important message for motorcyclists and cars . . .

http://www.dothetest.co.uk/

 


Pre-Season

Connecticut Polar Bears at the AMA District II Corn Boil, July 22, 2007.

Polar Bear Founder Bob Hartpence invited us to his party in July. More importantly, he offered bonus Polar Bear points if we showed!

So in the midst of some very un-polar weather, a bunch of the CT Bears rode from Stratford, CT to Bridgewater, NJ.

Allowing for the distance we had to travel, we got there before the Corn Boil corn actually boiled. We did manage to get coffee, Entenmann's pastries (a plug honoring our retired "cakeologist" Russ) and just before we left, some good hamburgers. We could not resist after being well fumigated in the tasty-smelling grill smoke which seemed to follow us everywhere we sat.

We did not have time to do the poker run or other fun. But you can be sure we signed-in to get our points.

Russ mops his brow in the parking lot. Joe follows.

John Kammerer also scored another PB extra point appearance last summer. Along with his year-round blood points, the rumor is he arrived at our first meet in Cape May with near half the 30 required for his first rocker.

John K. also sent me the photo at right. He continues to clock some serious miles on his 1997 Harley-Davidson Road King.

John K's bike this summer.
His Odometer reads "222,222"

At left is the "when" and "where" he clocked the twos.
John is known for running up and down Route 8,
a local expressway, for the sheer joy of riding
and maybe to enhance his chances to win
mileage contests.

Over the summer your CT Blogger, Chris Loynd, also passed a milestone, 100,000 miles on my 2002 Harley-Davidson Heritage Springer. The Polar Bears get a good share of the credit for those miles. They also include using the bike for work and two trips to Daytona and one to Sturgis, never trailered.

Chris Loynd's bike this summer.
My first 100,000 miles.

At left, the "when" and "where." I was traveling
across Connecticut visiting dealers for a client
Vin-Mark® an anti-theft system that puts your
bike's VIN in the paint so that it is only visible
under ultra-violet light. If you would like to see
how it works, catch me at one of the PB meets.


Cape May, NJ; October 28, 2007
(as reported by Johns B & K)

First week bears: back row, from left, Tom (first ride), John K., Hawk, Bernie.
Front row, from left, Johnny B., John H.

morning 48, afternoon 64, mostly sunny

This week's blog is compiled from reports by "Captain" John Kammerer and Johnny "Grumpy" Bowlan.

Your blogger, Chris Loynd, had a more important engagement last Sunday. I helped my father-in-law celebrate his 80th birthday. Along with my wife Cynthia, daughter Annie and son Trever, I drove in a driving rain down the western side of New Jersey Saturday.

Fortunately for the Bears, Saturday rained itself out and Sunday was sunny. John K. says "crisp but clear." Not bad for bear weather!

I was glad to celebrate with Dr. Robert Trever, my wonderful mother-in-law Margaret and more than half their clan: sisters-in-law Elaine and Kathleen and brother-in-law Edward. I married the child in the middle of seven.

Instead of riding to Cape May, your blogger
celebrated his father-in-law's 80th birthday.
Congratulations Dad!

She is my wonderfully understanding and indulgent wife who laughs at me as I layer-up on Sunday mornings, then wishes me well all the same. She is relieved that I missed the first Polar Bear ride. She said, "Now you can get that 'perfect attendance' idea out of your head right at the start."

And yes, I did consider (for a brief moment) the possibility of riding my bike down to her parents' home in Easton, Md., then shooting across Maryland and Delaware to catch the Cape May ferry.  Missing that PB pin was well worth the quality time spent with family last weekend.

I also managed a delightful breakfast with Editor Emeritus Bruce Hotchkiss of the Delmarva Farmer. He gave me my first job and in so doing introduced me to my wonderful wife. But that's another story. And you're probably here to read about the CT Bears.

Early in line, John K. and Bernie, center photo.

"Captain" John K. adjusted his timing this year to a 7 am departure. Last year he had us in Cape May a full hour before registration began. John reports this year they arrived at a more reasonable 10:45 am. Being early, they were ahead of the traffic accident reported by Walter Kern on the PB site.

Fortunately, no one was killed. After hitting the median at speed on the Garden State Parkway near Tom's River, a Toyota Avalon flipped over twice then decelerated rapidly with the aid of a tree. Passengers were ejected from the back seat. Only the driver was wearing his seatbelt. And people say motorcycles are dangerous! Bears caught in the traffic jam had to wait for helicopters to land on the Parkway and carry victims away.

Our guys did hit some traffic on the way home. John K. reported minor delays from three separate accidents, including one apparently caused by rubber neckers of the Tom's River accident.

"Captain" Kammerer.
This week's ride leader, and PB points leader.

John K. said, "John B. is convinced all NJ drivers are nuts." While that may be true, I too know Johnny B., and my conviction is that "Grumpy" actually thinks most ALL drivers are nuts, including those in NJ, NY, CT, MA, VT, NH, etc. Spend enough time on urban East Coast roads and you'll likely be of the same opinion as well.

Personally, not being a Connecticut native, I think our state has drivers worse than Jersey's. Ours are a hybrid of the nastiness of New York City crossed with the craziness of Boston.

Here's an example. Perhaps it made your news. A New Jersey driver flipped his panel truck in the rain on Interstate-95 Saturday morning. He was ejected onto the roadway. Then our impatient Connecticut drivers ran his ass over, body parts being found on the highway 15 miles away. No quarter asked. None offered.

Early arrivals, John H. and our bikes in the morning.

The street fills fast. Our bikes after sign-in and lunch at VFW.

Parade of the bungied plushes begins.


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Douglas Colfer Tunes In Again

One of our New Jersey readers (not yet a PB rider), Douglas Colfer, sent the following note after reading our first blog posting:

Chris & Gang,

Nice to see you all back for another year of excursions to the Garden State, no pun intended. It was nice to see you all back again for another great season of riding and adventures as you all have done so gracefully in the past. Reading last weeks blog, you had made the right choice beyond a doubt, some things in life cannot be put on hold as you well know and being there for your Father in Laws  80th Birthday is a memorable event in itself.

Doug and his old dresser on a warmer day.

It is sure nice to see the crew again looking healthy John K looks the same as always, Johnny B has increased the waist size a bit, {only kidding John}  but pictures can be deceiving though right?, and also some new faces to the group as well. Well as always, I as many others enjoyed your road trip stories from last year and again it's seems your off to a good start, even with substitute writers, not bad at all. Anyway, here is to safe riding, good stories, happy memories, and good friends. I sure do hope to one day bump into you all, well not sure I want to bump into Johnny B....., aah I'm only kidding.

I cannot say that I myself has not gone out this year. We just turned 10k on the new Dresser, she was a year old on the 25th of Oct and it was all NJ and PA riding. I see the PB's are in my area for this Sunday, if time ever  permits I might just happen to shake your hands and share a coffee one of these days... All is well that ends well, so be good, be safe, Godspeed......


Lewes, Del.; November 4, 2007

Week 2 Bears, precariously perched on a finger pier for the optimum exposure and nifty background.
From left: John k., John H., Tom and Chris.

morning 39, afternoon 58, generally sunny but some long cloudy periods

John H. and Chris (your blogger) started our Lewes Polar Bear journey a day early to spend some time with Delaware residing family members. I say "residing" not "resident" to honor John who is paying "out of state" tuition for his daughter to attend University of Delaware in Newark. My folks are residents, as I was once, living in suburbs north of Wilmington.

I enjoyed catching up with my folks and doing a few chores, including setting a new mailbox post.

Since our general destinations were compatible, John and I traded some e-mails and decided to ride down together.

Mom and her new mailbox post, installed by the author.

U of D, my alma matter, is home to the Fighting Blue Hens, an anachronistic mascot from colonial days that has lost most all its ferocity over the past 230-some years. The name comes from Delaware's Revolutionary soldiers whose fighting spirit was favorably compared to their champion fighting cocks. No Michael Vick worries here; they no longer have cock fights at U of D, at least not with chickens.

Chickens are still a very big part of Delaware still, though now for eating, not fighting. Broilers are the state's number one agricultural export. Tiny Delaware ranks eighth in the nation for poultry production. Delaware farmers (mostly their wives) raised 45,649,977 chickens in 2002. Chickens outnumber people in Delaware by about 60 to one.

With the remnants of hurricane Noel churning off shore, John and I departed not too early Saturday morning. We did catch some wind. But with the exception of one notable gust near the approach to the GW Bridge, the riding was rather fine. Warm for Polar Bear weather. And by luck we got out early enough to avoid any rain. The sun even came out late Saturday afternoon.

Reviewing the weather radar before leaving Saturday morning, I knew the farther south we rode the better our chances of missing the rain. That's mainly because Connecticut juts out east above New York. Therefore, heading south through our state also means you're heading west. In fact, directions among local residents remain confused to this day. Even Interstate 95  which by its odd (versus even) route number is Federally recognized as a North-South highway offers both North-South and East-West designations on signs at different spots on the same road.

So although the offshore hurricane was following the Gulf Stream up the coast, it didn't slam back into land until Boston and Cape Cod, which stick out far enough to intercept it. Connecticut, mostly the eastern half of the state, got a glancing blow. But long before that landfall, John H. and I were safely riding through sunny Delaware.

Our Saturday departure was timed to allow John H. and I adequate time with our family members. Plus, John H. had a few extra stops to make on his ride. He is participating in the AMA's GPS tour. Like the HOG ABC's of touring contest (mentioned before in this blog), John H. has to take a picture of him, his bike and a sign designating proof that he found the spot. Oh, and he also had a goofy little flag, I suppose to prove the year of the contest.

Originally I had thoughts of meeting John H. again Sunday morning in Newark to ride with him to Lewes for the PB meet. But he had still more AMA Contest stops to make, which would push my departure time back an hour-and-a-half or more. So I wished John H. the best, and used that time instead for a leisurely wake-up time and hearty breakfast with Mom and Dad.

Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. (while I was still blissfully sleeping) John K. and Tom were leaving Stratford, Conn. for the ride south (and west). I'm not sure when John H. got on the road.

We all ended up at Fisherman's Wharf in Lewes within half an hour of each other. A very nice buffet of chicken and vegetables with apple cobbler dessert was set for a rather reasonable $10.

John K. had not much to report on the ride down.

Tasty buffet at Fisherman's Wharf.
Why don't more PB destinations do this?
It is a fast and efficient way to feed our crowd.

For our group picture I convinced the guys to shuffle out onto a very narrow finger pier at Fisherman's Wharf. That put the sun optimally over my shoulder and gave us a backdrop of a boat with flags. I thought it was a great idea until I had to walk the plank myself with the camera timer running.

Fortunately we all held our footing on the nervy bit of boards and got the photo you see at the top of this week's entry.

John K. also got a official ruling on his PB blood points. A quick council of the PB Parliament ruled that since there are four lines for blood donation on the PB sign-in sheet, a maximum of four donations can be counted for extra points.

Twelve extra points is better than none, John!

John K. feels that is not what the written PB rules say. He graciously accepted the ruling all the same. Such is the way with the law. Compromise is the coin of politics and one never gets all he wants.

Not to worry PB Rulers, John K. will continue to donate in your name, extra points or no. In fact, he and I plan to ride down November 15th. I include myself, because for all the fun I make of John, there are at least a couple of blood-letting extra points entries on my sign-in sheet from last year too. Hey, it's an excuse to ride!

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a meal and a bit of story telling but were soon headed home.

Dark came an hour earlier this Sunday.

Bob and his Flight Leaders ruled on how much blood
John K. can donate (at least and get points credited).

So despite our best efforts, we made the final leg of our run in the nighttime, from "Chez GSP" (last rest stop on top of the Garden State Parkway), over the Tappan Zee bridge and up the Merritt Parkway to home.

A long day for John K. and Tom, we were treated to a typical ride home with the usual bit of construction, toll booth slow downs, and volume traffic.

At one of the slowdowns I caught a glimpse of a new level of stealth in unmarked cop cars. The NJ troopers have themselves an SUV, complete with Thule carrier on the roof. You would never in a million years spot this as a cop car in traffic. Fortunately for us he was stopped on the shoulder assisting a breakdown. Except for his multitude of flashing red and blue strobe lights, there was nothing else to suggest law enforcement.

Facing forward from left, Ed, Rich and Dave invite us back
for another PB season. Thank you Flight Leaders!

Geeze! It used to be an unmarked car was just that, a standard issue police car without the stripes, shields and "protect and serve" police paint. You could always spot them by the model of car and those dead giveaway black wall tires.

Now the NJ Turnpike Police have upped the ante. I have to give credit where it's due boys, the Thule rack is a very nice touch. Now go out and catch some of those high speed, multi-lane weavers who are so fond of your toll ways.

Meanwhile, our CT bears will be motoring along on our bikes, enjoying the cachet of being out in winter when most riders have surrendered their steeds 'til springtime.

Oh and I did have someone stop me in the crowd to say he enjoyed reading this blog.

Two Johns and a Tom enjoy coffee and
stories after buffet lunch.

I am sorry to say I was distracted at the moment and badly fumbled the introduction. Except to say "thank you," I did not manage to get your name or exchange more pleasantries. Please give me another chance next week. I'll be the one with the all orange Harley hat hiding helmet hair.

It is always fun to meet folks who enjoy reading my weekly missives. And I apologize for not being more polite this time. One of the fun things about riding the Polar Bear circuit is the instant camaraderie we all enjoy by virtue of our shared insanity.

We can't promise an amazing story every week. But you know as well as I that one never can tell what will happen when friends saddle up and ride together. Thanks for reading!

Friends gather on the deck in a warm November sun.

John K. and Tom suit up for the ride home.

"Captain" John K.

Pirate skeleton bike would have been good for last week's blog.

"No Quarter Asked. None Offered. Arrgh!"


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Old Bridge, NJ; November 11, 2007

Week 3 Bears: (from left), Chris, author; John K., and Tom
We had our NJ riding buddy Matthew take the picture, which explains the HIGH camera angle.
I joked at the time that we were getting "aerial photography." Thanks Matt!
(Photo by Matthew Goddard)

morning 36, afternoon 48, bright & sunny

Chilly. Sunny. Perfect for Polar Bear riders. Our Connecticut crew enjoyed a leisurely ride down and back up the New Jersey toll ways. We arrived in Old Bridge a little before noon and ended up on the side of the road because the parking lots were full beyond capacity.

I parked in a pile of pine needles between the road and the parking lot, preferring that to the grass past the pavement in the back. John K. and Tom basically took similar positions along the outer edge of already parked bikes, perhaps pushing the legal limits of the parking lot proper.

Inside the line was all for Flight A when we arrived. Both being B's, John K. and I rapidly registered and retreated to the sunny outdoors.

Bright sun brought beaucoup bikes!

We met Matthew on the way in. He was there with his friend Anthony who shared a table with the CT crew at the PB banquet last spring at this very same location.

As you can see by the photo at right, Matt stands above the crowd. He was gracious enough to take our CT Bears' group photo of the week, saving me 15 tortured minutes of setting up my very pack-able, barely manageable, Rube Goldberg tripod.

The tripod fits into a saddlebag. It stands maybe four feet tall but collapses into less than nine inches. The hardest part of using it is getting the spidery-thin legs to lock into place whilst my fellow bears lob comments and criticisms from their posing place.

Matthew had a good story. He will miss next week's ride for a trip to England. That's cool enough. (Too bad our own CT PB Brit John H. wasn't along on this ride.)

Matthew, Anthony and John K. enjoying the sunshine.

But what sounds even more exciting, Matt is introducing his wife of nearly a year to his parents in England for the first time. In sales that's what we call the "presumptive close." In Vegas it's a "push." Hope you like her Mom and Dad because she's a keeper.

Longtime blog readers may recall from last year that I first met Matt when he used the blog to find fellow riders for a jaunt to Daytona. His new wife was willing to drive his truck and trailer by herself, while Matt rode alongside on his bike. I could not find a reference in the blog, but I also seem to recall in my fuzzy memory that Matt's wife is some sort of travel expert and found them some sweet Daytona lodgings for free. Yup, she's a keeper.

Outside socializing in the sunshine, I also met Mike from the Ocean Thunder HOG Chapter out of Lakewood, NJ. He came up and introduced himself and we chatted about the blog.

One of his Chapter's members Patrick Weaver also has a web site linked to the PB Member Links page. Patrick's web site is named "Doing Time Behind Bars." I knew the site right away. "Lots of pictures," I said, and Mike nodded.

Matthew and his new bride.

From the looks of some group pictures, Ocean Thunder HOG turns out some big numbers for PB rides.

Mike said he hasn't seen Patrick around as much this past year. But if it wasn't Pat, someone took pictures last Sunday and posted them on his web site. Hopefully I can run into Patrick at a future PB meet. Unless he shaves, he should not be hard to spot.

I also made the offer to Mike, and now to you, if you have a comment you would like to make in this blog, send me an e-mail for consideration: chris@influentialcom.com

And while we're acknowledging them, isn't "Ocean Thunder" a great name for a HOG Club?

Beautiful burlwood dash.

Most are named for their town or dealership, mine included, "Bridgeport HOG." Not as inventive as "Ocean Thunder." I had someone come up to me in Baltimore one time. Commenting on my HOG Chapter vest he said, "Yeah, Bridgeport, great place to do crack." Which it may be. But the dealership is actually located in Stratford, Conn.

The new owner of our dealership, Fritz Blau, also owns Fritz's Harley-Davidson in Stamford, Conn., and that HOG Chapter has a cool name, "Ghost Chapter." Maybe with a new owner we'll get a cool new name? "Haunted HOG" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Unfortunately for us, coming from Connecticut, we do not have so much time to socialize at the PB meets as I would like. Some of our riders frown on riding in the dark. And with the hours we have to ride home, dark comes up pretty fast in winter.

In honor of Veteran's Day, "Captain" John K. had all the flags flying, one from every branch of military service.

John K. who is perfectly comfortable shooting through the sea completely enclosed in a black steel tube with no windows is not comfortable riding his motorcycle in the dark.

One advantage of the shorter days is you get those beautiful long-shadow lighting effects. Riding down the Merritt in the morning the leaves were spectacular, lit up by slanting rays of a still rising sun. Our part of the state seems right about peak for fall colors, maybe a tad past. We all commented on how many green leaves were still on the Jersey trees. Crossing the Tappan Zee into New York the far bank of the Hudson was still mostly green with bright yellow and orange splashes only dotting the landscape so far.

We passed on the K of C's boiled hot dogs and therefore left even earlier this week to find some lunch. We ended up at a huge diner, 'pert near the turnpike. Our waiter provided much of the entertainment. His haircut, thin face and fidgeting mannerisms reminded me of a chicken. But that takes us back to the Lewes blog entry. (Tom commented that our waiter's feet never actually touched the floor.)

Fortunately our luncheon dilemma forced us back toward the turnpike. Route 18 turns rural right there at the truck cap place and we were doubtful of our restaurant choices farther on south.

I say fortunately because my two GPS disabled riding partners kept arguing for a return wholly on the Garden State Parkway. Actually they suggested Parkway all the way at the very start of our ride.

The way we come, we do travel down the GSP because we take the Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson. George Washington's namesake bridge is almost always too crowded and crazy.

I said then, and stand by it now, that the GSP was out of the way this week because of it's eastern course after it crosses the turnpike. Old Bridge does stand somewhat in the middle of the fork. But it's a straight shot up and down 18 to the turnpike. The GSP would have required us to go south on 18 to go north on 9 to intercept the GSP just moments before it crosses the turnpike.

My theory is that these GPS guys get used to only seeing two miles at a time on their tiny screens and thereby lose the bigger picture. Since I still rely upon printed maps, I believe I have a better spatial sense of the geography and route. Except for a moment's confusion at turnpike Exit 9, I got us down and back in good order.

I balked at that darn Route 18 North/South exit. For THIS ride we do in fact go south. For the ride to Sir John's in North Brunswick, we go North on 18. I got confused on the North Brunswick ride last year and I guess the memory lingered with me this year. I shoulda' checked my blog before the ride, not after. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

HOUSEKEEPING NOTE:
Some e-mail issues seem to be cropping up for the weekly CT Bears' departure alerts. I have now divided the distribution list in half. If you did NOT get an e-mail from me Thursday afternoon (or would like to be added to the list), please contact me: chris@influentialcom.com or 203-377-8852.


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Port Jervis, NY; November 18, 2007

Week 4 Bears, from left, Chris (your blogger), John K. and Ken Morel (his first appearance this season).
Taken at the entrance to town with old fashioned Christmas decorations that looked to me like "Bedford Falls." (Above and below.)
(Photos by Chris)

morning 37, afternoon 42, overcast, a few snow flurries

Fool that I am, I succumbed to the weather forecast. Photos above are from our return ride. (I saw the old fashioned Christmas decorations on the way into town and liked them for our weekly group photo.) If you saw a picture of me on the ride over to Port Jervis, I had my rain jacket over my leather.

Radar maps showed snow and rain headed our way from the west. TV forecasters confidently called for intermittent rain showers, mixed with snow.

I honestly was not sure I wanted to go.

But I knew John K. would be there, early, waiting for me at the Dunkin' Donuts in Stratford, Conn.  And I honestly considered what would happen to this blog entry. What began as a whim has evolved into a mission.

Maybe it was my reluctance to ride in the rain. Perhaps too it was the extra time required to add extra layers and suit up for anticipated bad weather. In any case, I was lagging.

So I called John K. on his cell. Yup, he was waiting and ready to leave. The other rider this week, his first appearance this season, was Navy Chief Ken, our other CT PB submariner. These are the two guys who rode to our Bridgeport HOG New Year's Day "Cold Butt Putt" in a pouring rain last year, the only two to ride.

Our CT Polar Bear submariners fear no water.
Ken, left, John K. right, with their respective rides.

I knew if I did not go, I would never hear the end of it. Plus I would have had to write this blog from John K.'s typically terse, prosaic and perfunctory report.

Well, what the heck! I've ridden in worse. I suited up, extra layers for warmth and rain protection, and headed over to our departure rendezvous. Late. Annoyingly late for a by-the-book guy like John K. Turns out later Ken told me he and John K. were fruitfully engaged in working out some CB radio issues anyway.

As it turned out, if I had been on time, we would have arrived in Port Jervis too early.

Pulling up next to Ken, I flipped up my helmet and asked, "Were you waiting for a prediction of rain to ride with us?" He just laughed. Last year, the first time Ken joined us was for our ride to Old Bridge under threat of rain the whole way there and back. It never did actually rain on us on that ride.

Turned out the same for us this time too. Rains never came ― at least for us. Our northerly home played to our advantage, for once . Shooting a bit farther north and then straight west across Route 84, we encountered only flurries. As we crossed the second and higher mountain peak on our route, 1,272 feet, a spate of snow flurries greeted us on the western side.

Flurries continued all the way to our destination at the Cornucopia Restaurant. Nary a flake accumulated. As we cleared the mountain on the way home, flurrying ceased. A smudgy sun still appeared in an overcast sky.

Meanwhile the scenery was spectacular. Fall fell late this year. Looking back at last year's blog entry for this ride, I commented on the amazing willow trees, bright and yellow against their brown and leafless fellow trees. This year the willows were silvery green. Most trees still had leaves, however with their color largely spent. It was a landscape shaded mostly brown and gold.

Except for the maples. Here and there a blazingly bright yellow maple would appear. Some truly did mimic fire. Their leaves glowed with yellow centers and red edges. And along the highway the yellows were brightened by all-red bushes.

Fall colors in the background are past peak.
(Photo courtesy of Bill Marion and the GrandTour web site.)

Arriving in Port Jervis we heard from the few riders (and car drivers) who did attend that weather was worse in Jersey. Flight B leader Rich rode to fellow B leader Dave's house, then added two wheels, coming the rest of the way with Dave in Dave's car.

Another rider told me snow was accumulating in his part of Jersey. He too opted for four wheel transportation. Others showed up in full rain suits.

We expected, and fortunately never found, some of the same.

Inspired by my hearty submarine buddies, I even packed away my pessimistic rain jacket for the ride home. For us, even the temperatures were moderate, upper 30s in the morning and low 40s in the afternoon.

Bad weather stayed south of Port Jervis. Turnout was seriously dimmed since most riders come from Jersey.

Wearing so many anticipatory layers, I had little need for my electric jacket.

Weak Polar Bear numbers must have disappointed our restaurant hosts. Is it the wisdom of our PB organizers or just serendipity that they have us at an eatery named "Cornucopia" the Sunday before Thanksgiving?

True to the traditional symbol for our national eating holiday, Cornucopia puts out a "horn of plenty" buffet. Sitting around eating an excellent lunch, we commented on the vagaries of restaurant management.

As John K. said, "You catch Hell for coming up short if you don't prepare enough food one year, then the next year you have way too much food left over."

Polar Bears who did show were treated to
a great buffet for a mere $10.

My naval companions and I enjoyed a lively luncheon conversation as to the naming conventions of submarines and other ships. I am not sure where we all ended up on the sliding scale of opinions, but probably reached consensus that there's too much politicking in the process nowadays.

Turns out Chief Morel was on most of the diesel subs left in the Navy during his service. This includes some "guppy" subs of smaller size. In line with naval tradition, most of these were named after fish. (I did not take notes. I think "Mackerel" was one. I am pretty sure "Flounder" did NOT come up.)

John K. served a little later as a Quartermaster, and only on the more modern subs of the nuclear navy. His boats, "Plunger" and "Barb" are proudly displayed on his motorcycles' tour packs. (The plural is correct. John has a Harley Road King and Honda Gold Wing, perhaps the best of two worlds.)

We had a bit of fun teasing this server who was new and learning the finer points of serving on the buffet line.

John K. asserted that nuclear subs, specifically the big missile boats called "boomers" were the capital ships of the fleet. We were not sure if aircraft carriers had reclaimed that distinction. But we did note that carriers once named for important naval battles were now named after U.S. Presidents.

We agreed to disagree whether Gerald Ford was deserving of such honor. What did he do besides pardon the criminal Nixon? I suggested that while Ford may have made some small contribution to our country, is he really more deserving of an aircraft carrier moniker than say U.S. Grant or Andy Jackson? How about Woodrow Wilson who tried to end all wars, or Harry S. Truman who ended a war by dropping the big one?

I think we all agreed the most recent naming of an aircraft carrier after George Bush was blatant political pandering by the failed administration of his son "W." Frankly I think Warren G. Harding would be as deserving. But that's my opinion.

We enjoyed sharing our varied opinions all the same. Ken thinks sliding down sub ladders cost him a few years' use of his knees. John K. damaged his crawling across ceilings, balancing on rafters by only his knees as he wired alarm systems in his youth.

All the same, our lunches were finished. So we saddled up and enjoyed a scenic, largely uneventful, ride back across Route 84.

John K. and I stopped for a coffee close to home, Ken having taken an alternate route by then. We struck up another whole line of conversation about our career adventures, including firings and entrepreneurial challenges. But I've written enough for this week.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ken signs in for the first time this season. Family obligations and riding offers from his many other clubs have kept him from Polar Bearing 'till now.

John Kammerer

Ken Morel


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Another blog reader checks in.
Thanks for the kind words! I'm not sure about that Monday deadline pressure though. I always try to get the blog up ASAP, but Monday may be optimistic! Nonetheless, you keep reading, I'll keep writing and riding. Ride warm, Chris

Sir:

Each Monday after a Polar Bear Ride (B Flight) I have a choice after work and dinner. Either sit down with my coffee and channel changer and go through 100 channels with nothing on or read your blog.

Since I had Army training this weekend I couldn't make the run. After reading your latest Cornucopia entry and sharing this time with my wife, we both came to the realization: throw out the TV and wait for the entry on Monday. It is storytelling in the truest sense of a community newspaper.

When my wife read about your reasons for delay, she said the only difference between you and I was that going out to my garage to get the bike to ride, I'm also delayed as a result of stepping on landmines left my my dog.

Dave Moore

AKA First Sgt.

By the way, your discussions about navy ships--Well my dad was retired Navy from WWII. His ship the U.S.S. Lexington was sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the story he told me about his abandoning that ship included a rescue mission--save all the ice cream since it was hot topside.

Editor's Note:

Another one of our CT PB riders, Russ Curtis, is also former Navy and was stationed on an aircraft carrier, the USS Essex, CVS-9. An interesting connection between Russ and our submariners, Russ' carrier was outfitted for anti-submarine duty. I could fill pages with Russ' Navy adventures. If you see him at one of the PB meets, well, just wind him up, then sit back and enjoy.

We hope to see Russ on a PB ride soon. He's one of the founding CT Bears. But his bike is laid up. That six-speed transmission I teased about in last year's October Cape May ride cracked its case. So his bike is in a few million pieces over at the dealership with Russ getting more disgruntled by the day. His other ride (shown at right) is not up to the rigors of winter riding. Hope to see you soon Russ!

CT Polar Bear Russ Curtis and his Wide Glide.

USS Essex, CVS-9

Russ' Navy "adventure" was ABOVE water,
unlike our other CT Polar Bears.

USS Lexington, CV-2, October, 1941

Here's another coincidence: in his letter (above) Sgt. Moore states his father was on the USS Lexington. That ship actually had a second ship named for it:
USS Lexington, CV-16 (shown above).

Like the Lexington, one of John Kammerer's boats, Plunger, SSN-595, show at left, was also named for an earlier boat, USS Plunger, SS-2, steam powered and commissioned in 1903. It was the first submarine to carry a U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt, who ventured below the waters of Long Island Sound on March 25, 1905.

Not to leave him out, here's a picture of what I believe to be one of
Ken Morel's boats, Mackerel.

SSN-596 Barb, photo of what I believe was
John K's other boat on launch day.
Our fellow NJ, NY, Penn. & Del. Bears have to remember
U.S. submarines are built in Groton, Conn.

Departure for November 25 is 9 am. Happy Thanksgiving!

One thing I am very thankful for is the Polar Bear volunteers who put in so much of their time so we have a fun excuse to go riding all winter. Thanks guys!


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Hopewell, NJ; November 25, 2007
morning 31, afternoon 48, bright, brilliant sunshine

When I first started riding, a magazine editor asked me a seemingly simple question, "What is so special about riding a motorcycle?" I did not have a good answer.

That was frustrating for me. I am a professional writer. My avocation is story teller. Certainly I could put into words what made riding a motorcycle so addictive. (A hundred-thousand miles later I may have succeeded in a small part. My essay follows this blog entry.)

John H. rode up from Ridgefield to Stratford, Conn., Sunday morning to meet us at the Dunkin' Donuts for a spot of coffee and camaraderie. He said it was the closest Dunkin' he could find. Hmmm? Well, it probably was the closest Dunkin' with motorcycles at 8:30 on a November morning. Any excuse to ride!

He broke out his Guzzi, suited up in the multiple layers required, rode 30 miles to then turn right around and ride back home to Ridgefield. Work obligations prevented him from joining us for the rest of our ride to Hopewell this morning.

Poor bastard had to travel on this perfect Polar Bear day to Puerto Rico instead. Who among us would swap that moisty warm climate for our crisp, skin-cracking dry, November? John H. probably won't even pack his long johns. He may even be forced to wear shorts, or, gasp, a swimming suit!

Bet John H. won't find this kind of cozy comfort on his
business trip to Puerto Rico. He missed out on the warm
Hillybilly Hall smelling slightly of wood smoke under
heavy rafters among creaking leather and clomping boots.

What's on tap at Hillybilly Hall.

He may have to drink Pina Coladas with little umbrellas or maybe more upscale Mojitos with sprigs of mint.

Perhaps Hillybilly's bar tender would make you a Pina Mojito if you asked. (You might risk a beating by fellow patrons.) But he seems to have more beer taps than paper umbrellas.

John H.'s work travails aside, I wonder why he rode this morning. What did he tell his wife as he suited up?

Why do we ride?

The answer is far more complex than the question.

That's easy for me to understand. I have always been one to want to play with a new possession, preferably on the way home from the store. My first car was a MG Midget, way back in high school days. I got the car in January. Of course I drove it home from the dealership with the top down.

Sunshine generated gobs of motorcycles.
We parked back, way back, on the gravel.

It was a bugger to get those ragtop snaps snapped back in place at the end of the ride. With the vinyl so bone chilling cold, that top was tight as a drum. Fortunately, the MG had a heater that would melt the polish off your shoes. So later that week when my dad needed a ride home from work I showed up with, you guessed it, the top down. He just laughed. Like father like son. He wasn't at all surprised. Although he feigned disapproval, his smile belied him.

Clark, whom I have mentioned in earlier blog entries, took his brand new Harley V-Rod for its maiden voyage on a Polar Bear ride. That was back before the blog. If you will tolerate a quick diversion, I will tell you how I nearly ended up as a feature on one of those "Wildest Police Videos" television shows.

Clark did not tell us it was his first ever ride on the V-Rod. He met us in Jersey with the gleaming machine. This was the first year the V-Rod was introduced and Clark took delivery in November. He offered to lead, which he rarely did.

What we did not know was that Clark was still breaking in the motor and therefore wanted to keep the speed below 50 mph. So instead of jumping back on the Turnpike or Parkway, Clark offered a "scenic" route on local roads. Next thing we knew we were riding through Newark and Elizabeth to points south. None of the rest of us realized Clark's motive or plan at the time. With each mile the "scenery" looked more and more frightening.

We had five or six bikes. I was sweep rider and running every "dark yellow" traffic light necessary, absolutely determined not to be left behind under any circumstances.

Sitting dead stopped at a traffic light on a city surface street in Newark, I noticed a car coming up fast from behind. I flashed my brake lights. The car kept coming. I started to look for an escape route. A solid line of parked cars is on our right. An oncoming traffic lane is on our left. Our bikes are side-by-side with an oblivious Clark in front waiting for the light to change to green. I start waving now. The car keeps coming. I beep my horn to alert my fellow riders. They don't see it. The car is coming still, faster now that he's closer. About the time I am deciding to abandon my bike and dive over the parked cars, the onrushing driver cuts over to the left, flying the wrong way against traffic down that lane, scattering cars from his path. At the last possible moment he cuts in front of Clark to avoid an oncoming dump truck, nearly clipping Clark's front wheel, then cuts back left behind the truck, tires screaming, up a side street. Only then did my panic-driven tunnel vision open up to see the three, yes three, cop cars chasing the guy, lights flashing, sirens wailing. A moment later they were all gone. It was like a brief nightmare. I never did have enough time to scream.

In fact it was over before I had a chance to figure out any safety option to save my life. I didn't even have time to soil my underwear, although after it was all done I seriously considered that as a viable option still, finally rejecting it since we had a long way to ride yet, and in the cold, and I was wearing so many layers.

We made it to Polar Bear sign-in alive. Only then did Clark 'fess up. We offered to escort him in the right hand lane of any New Jersey expressway, four-way flashers flashing, at any speed he wished. Fortunately by then Clark decided the V-rod motor could handle 60 mph and we took the more familiar expressways back to Connecticut. And that was Clark's first ride on the V-rod.

Clark was a long time motorcycle rider. He had a Harley Daytona anniversary model that he sometimes rode for Polar Bears. He was a member of two HOG Chapters, ours in Connecticut and another in New Jersey near his father's home where he often stayed to take care of his elderly dad. Certainly he rode for the companionship. He also liked to do the miles and won our HOG Chapter's high mileage contest. He would ride his bike over from Nutley, NJ to Bridgeport, Conn. for an hour long HOG meeting, then turn around and ride back to his father's house. Clark was one of the first to join me when I discovered the Polar Bear Club. He was first of our crew to go for perfect PB attendance, dropping his V-rod in the snow on a miserable Sunday when the rest of us stayed home.

Clark's last ride was a Polar Bear excursion. If you are new to the blog, you can read about Clark's last ride here.

John K. does not truly ride for points, although he amassed enough for his Polar Bear rocker two rides ago.

Last week as we were driving together 77 miles one way to donate blood in East Orange, NJ when I can walk from my office to the local blood drive in Stratford, Conn. John was saying how much he enjoys the Polar Bears. (By the way we drove, instead of rode, because it had snowed earlier that day.)

John K. rides when he has a mission. If he did not have a Polar Bear destination each Sunday, he would probably not ride much in winter. For him it is about having a goal. Points and patches and pins are mere certification of mission accomplishment.

For example, John K. and I have talked about taking a cross-country motorcycle trip. I figure I would need a minimum of three weeks. John wants to ride to California in 50 hours or less, thereby qualifying for another Iron Butt patch.

Riding contests for patches, pins and bragging rights are certainly motivation for many of us. In this year's Lewes, Del., blog entry I rode with John H. to take pictures for an AMA contest. In earlier blog entries I have talked about the HOG ABC's of Touring contest. Each summer I try to get an extended ride just for points.

Still, John K. has it right. It is not the actual patches or pins.

John K. and his proud patches and pins.

For those who do not ride it is hard to understand. Those who do ride know there is a story and memory backing every patch and pin. I am proudest of my Polar Bear patch and rockers, next of my Iron Butt patch. Then comes the "I Rode Mine" patches for Daytona (twice) and Sturgis (once). No trailers for me.

This week I was wondering why I ride, especially after John H.'s surprise appearance. I wondered why even more as my clutch hand started to go numb waiting to get to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Oh yeah! We forgot! It is the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

Our ride down to Hopewell was unremarkable. John H. peeled off in Norwalk for Route 7 north to home to change clothes and catch his plane to the tropics.

As we signed in, John K. presented his last set of blood donation bonus points. I submitted my first. And when I did, Flight B Leader Rich said, "Oh no! You too?"

When I signed in and presented my blood donation points, Flight B Leader Rich's comment was, "Oh no! You too?"

Rich then observed that in all his years of donating blood, quarts of it, he has never done so in the name of the Polar Bear club to earn the extra points.

Hopefully I won't be disqualified. As I signed the back of my PB sheet I meant to write the date we donated, taking it from from the New Jersey Blood Center form. But I think I wrote down the first part of my blood pressure instead: 11/8. I figured it out later when I saw the "date" on my form was for 1976, not 2007. Mistaking a numeral one for a slash, I ended up with 11/8/76 for a date, when the nurse wrote 118 slash (over) 76.

Meanwhile, our flight leaders and Bob Hartpence have ruled that John K. can claim only four donations for bonus points. But John is already working up a new proposal to boost his blood bonus just a bit more. Oh boy!

Flight B Co-leader Dave just smiles at John K.'s
blood bonus machinations. Rich is the agitator.

Rich jokingly told John K. that he could earn another set of donation points if he brought Rich the blood or donated on site at sign-in or something to that effect. (I am getting it second hand from John.)

Rich, if you read this, that may have been a mistake! You're not scaring John. He's now working to find a nurse willing to ride with him to a Polar Bear meet. His friend Sue works in the lab at a local hospital. Heaven only knows what could happen next!

After a tasty lunch by a crackling fire we suited up for home.

Our ride back was pretty uneventful too, until we hit the "top" of Interstate 287, where it departs with I-87 and curves east to the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Suddenly we had lots of traffic. Twelve miles to the bridge and stop-and-start every inch.

Ken, center, suits up for the ride home.
John K. is over Ken's shoulder to the right.
Fellow on the left is unknown to us.

After a good 20 minutes we reached the top of the Garden State Parkway exit on 287 and exited south. We figured to give our clutch hands a rest and grab a coffee at the last rest stop on the GSP.

What we did NOT figure upon was that the GSP itself was jammed going north to the I-287 Tappan Zee Bridge exit. By jumping off for a quick diversion, we picked up another couple miles of traffic jam.

So we had our coffee and lamented our bad judgment. We also discussed some options like splitting lanes and running the shoulder. In the end we decided to be safe, and fair, and wait our turn in line like everybody else.

Fortunately traffic finally started to move better a mile or two after the GSP-287 merge. Maybe that clog was the reason for the jam in the first place?

We stopped once more at the first rest area on the Merritt Parkway to change glasses from darks to clears. And we finished up in a still falling dusk.

I caught this "rare" picture of Polar Bear Grand Pooh Bah Robert Hartpence, but it is still not the picture I wanted.

Last week I took a picture of Bob and he asked me to e-mail it to him. I did not because it came out blurry (my fault, not Bob's). So this week I went over to see Bob and get a better picture to send him.

But he was busy helping sign-in a new member, as shown at left. I grabbed this shot.

B Flight Leader Rich said this is a very rare photo indeed it actually shows Bob being busy.

Rich also bragged that he has an even rarer picture, "the only one in existence," of Bob . . . washing his motorcycle.

Sorry Bob! I'll try again next week.

I thought this was a cool looking police bike.
Being a BMW it seemed a European style police bike.

As I snapped the photo, a friend of the bike's
rider sang out, "Get him in the picture."

Why do we ride?

Send me your thoughts: chris@influentialcom.com (You'll have to follow the automated return mail link from my spam blocker to get through.)

Mike Sparandera from Ocean Thunder HOG offered these thoughts:

Hey Chris, Mike from the Ocean Thunder HOG here. My family and I got a kick out of mentioning me and the club in your Old Bridge run blog. I didn't make the Port Jervis run (family obligations) but I should be in Hopewell.

Some of the people I work with know I ride a motorcycle, and I usually get one of them asking me around this time of year if, "I put the bike up on blocks for the winter." So naturally I give them the whole Polar Bear explanation and experience, and, "no we don't jump into the water when we get there," statement. "Why would anyone want to bundle up and ride a motorcycle in 20-40 degree weather?" they ask. Yes, it takes us an additional 15 minutes to get dressed and an additional 5 at the restroom but . . . I guess it's the sense of adventure, man and machine against the elements, being outdoors, freedom, the camaraderie, doing something not many others do, and well it's fun . . . yeah definitely fun.

See ya soon, ride safe

Mike

Why do I ride?
Here's an essay I wrote for our local Connecticut Cruise News:

Dimes and Throttles

By: Chris Loynd

            My day turned on a dime with the twist of a throttle.

            I slogged through a summer midweek workday, torrents of rejections beating my brow. First I traveled a goodly distance only to witness a deal fall through. If the numbers didn’t work, why not tell me over the phone? You had to drag me halfway across the state to disappoint me in person? Besides, it was your proposal in the first place!

            Next I get an extremely firm “no” on a sale that I was so sure would be an easy “yes.” (As my friend Al says, “There are no ‘slam dunks’ in sales.”) Then a story I wrote was rejected. Finally phone calls were not returned.

            As they say, “Some days you eat the bear; some days the bear eats you.”

            What to do?

            I could have sulked home to wallow in self pity, mindlessly melting into cable TV. I could have had a drink or five at the bar. I felt like punching something.

            Instead at the end of this very frustrating day I saddled up my Harley and rode off to attend a cruise night.

            My big Springer respects me, and I her. She’s only stock, still her TwinCam 88B leapt to my command as I shot up the ramp to I-95, once again in control of my world. I demanded and received my space in traffic, signaling my intentions to other drivers who acknowledged my presence.

            Farther up Route 25 past Monroe the road narrows as traffic lessens. A push on the bars here a stomp of the shifter there and the road flowed under me and in its current my troubles dissolved, washing away down the stream of pavement behind me.

            My thoughts cleansed too as memories of rides past danced around the edges of my road-ahead concentration. Rides in the sun. Rides in the rain. Closeness of Kangamangaus. Openness of Wyoming. Fun of Daytona. Solemnity of Rolling Thunder.

            Reverie was broken by destination as I rode into the warm and familiar embrace of my fellow bikers, most all of whom I did not know. Nevertheless there is instant camaraderie born of shared passion for chrome and common challenges in riding two wheels instead of four.

            Chatting with other riders about all things motorcycles, I munched on a free hot dog and enjoyed deejay music. All was right with my world once again.

            Then my phone rang.

            Good news on a national story I had pursued since May! The editor is interested. How soon can we do it? We set an interview two weeks hence.

            Finishing my phone call I saw a familiar face across a row of bikes. A sales prospect I had been pursuing had time to talk. We shared some stories – I got a chance to work in my pitch – and we both agreed to pursue the next step in the near future.

            Have you have heard of the Law of Attraction? It is a new age concept asserting that what we see in our lives is mere reflection of our own attitudes. To get what you want, you must BE what you want, the Law says.

            Actually it is an old concept. The Bible says, “Judge not, lest you be judged. For with what measurement you judge, you shall be judged; and with what measure you give, it shall be given to you.” Or in a more positive reinforcement, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Closed course, professional rider, do not attempt!

          Many others have tried to explain the Law of Attraction. James Allen in his book, As a Man Thinketh. offers, “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” Napoleon Hill wrote a famous book in 1937, Think and Grow Rich, condensing the wisdom of 500 of the world’s wealthiest industrialists. The book’s title shows how Hill felt about the Law of Attraction. He wrote, “Truly, thoughts are things – and powerful things at that . . . . Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Psychologist William James put it this way, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind.”

          These wise men tell us the Law of Attraction is as sure as the Law of Gravity. But we doubt it is so. After all, it is very easy to demonstrate the Law of Gravity. On a warm summer night with a wondrous ride on my motorcycle, I came to see that it is just as easy to demonstrate the Law of Attraction.

Departure for December 2nd is 8:15 am. Our destination is Montgomeryville Cycle Center, a three-hour ride but with great food at the destination if we arrive early enough. Right now the weather forecast says 40% chance of snow. I will broadcast our CT Bear e-mail later in the week. Meanwhile, let's hope that weather forecast improves!

 

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