Polar Bear Blog 2009/2010

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.

I enjoy writing and the antics of my fellow Polar Bears often provide good fodder. 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 Saturday after our Sunday ride.

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

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

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!)

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

A great motorcycle safety video from England.
Found it thanks to a Facebook post by fellow Bridgeport HOG Joanie Thomas.
Guy at the end definitely needs EZ Pass!



Sorry, last season, 2008/09 there was no blog.

You can also follow this blog -- without pictures -- on Blogspot:
http://www.motorcyclepolarbear.blogspot.com/ where you can "follow" the blog for automatic notice when the newest post appears.

Use your REFRESH button to see the latest entries.

Other essays:
My first Polar Bear ride.
Dimes and Throttles.
Tribute to fellow CT Bear Clark Makinson.

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. 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. 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/Crotona 2005.html

 Stories by participants:

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, generally 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

See the Polar Bear Grand Tour site weekly for pictures of riders from all over, not just the Connecticut riders featured on my blog. Grand Tour photos are mostly taken by Walter Kern. Check out his blog "Motorcycle Views" for all sorts of useful information and motorcycle news: http://motorcycleviews.com/

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



Cape May, NJ; October 25, 2009

First week bears: back row, from left, Carl, John J. Bart (first ride), Grumpy, Chris (me) with new helmet.
Front row, from left, Russ, Captain K., John H.

morning 42, afternoon 64, mostly sunny

In Medieval times winter was a fearful time. Families huddled in their huts, ventured outside very little, desperately tried to stay warm.

Now as the days get shorter and crisp mornings herald colder nights, I feel a bit of that winter depression and fear. Maybe it is instinct left over from caveman days. You know it's coming. You know it is only going to get colder and colder and darker and darker. This is freakin' New England. Winter can be rough. There is only one cure for me. Get on my motorcycle and ride!

Nowadays, I spend my winter Sunday mornings motoring through New Jersey, exposed to winter's fiercest chill. Yet I enjoy a unique comfort.

A warm cocoon of silk, teckwick, thinsulate, fleece, wool and codura retain most all my body heat. What leaks away at 70 miles per hour is easily replaced by electric threads sewn into my jacket and gloves and chemical heat packs under my toes.

A long ride to Cape May means an early morning start for the Connecticut Polar Bears. Carl is getting ready to ride.

I am blessed to enjoy these adventures with a group of like-minded riders. They are all as crazy as am I; some are more crazy; others are less so. Some ride without electric clothing, relying entirely upon insulation and their own rugged constitutions. Others ride with electric everything, fingers to toes.

The Polar Bear Grand Tour is not really meant for us. Most of the rides are in New Jersey, with a few in Pennsylvania, one in New York and one in Delaware. Even so, the Bears have graciously embraced us, riding in as we do from Connecticut.

I read about the Polar Bears in a magazine article in 2002. It sounded like great fun and I took my first ride that year. I have not missed a season since. As Connecticut riders learned of it, they decided to join in and today we have a half-dozen stalwarts, plus twenty-some others who ride when they can. You can read about my first Polar Bear ride here.

If you would like to join us, we meet at The Dunkin' Donuts in Stratford, Conn., just off Interstate 95, Exit 30, corner of Lordship Blvd., and Honeyspot Rd.

Three years ago I started capturing our adventures in this blog. It turned out to be a lot of fun -- and a lot more work -- than I ever expected.

Early morning at our Stratford, Conn. Dunkin' departure.

Last year job difficulties and an unfair share of wicked weather, meant I missed a lot of rides. My Polar Bear vest of honor now has a red rocker at the bottom of my short string of gold ones. And the blog just never got off the ground.

So my few but intrepid readers, the blog is back!

If you care to read it, you should know a few ground rules.

First and foremost, I write this because I enjoy writing. It is something I do for myself. It is a wonderful place to exercise the muse without commercial purpose tainting the outcome.

That said, I do not mind sharing. And I appreciate comments, good and bad. To that end, I will explore this year double-posting these musings to Blogspot www.motorcyclepolarbear.blogspot.com/  where you will have an opportunity to post your comments and participate in my Polar Bear musings.

Second, and this is important, I have no obligations to my readers. I make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the value of this narrative. Furthermore, I feel no obligation to report accurately, or fairly, or even to tell the truth.

Early morning Captain K., background; Carl, foreground
getting ready to depart.

Third, it may take me most or all of each week to get this thing written and posted. I am trying to write this on the train to and from work, during True TV and South Park commercial breaks and in any other free snippet of time. I make no promise as to the timeliness or regularity of my postings.

If you want to sign on as a friend on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/chris.loynd I will make a wall posting each time the blog is posted. Otherwise, just keep checking back, it boosts my Google rating!

I already know I will not make every ride this year.

One ride is already preempted by a weekend getaway with my patient and understanding (or at least silent suffering) wife. By the way, I will NOT be answering my cell phone that Sunday morning! I made that mistake several years ago, taking a call in bed in a Newport bed and breakfast, from Clark no less, and my wife Cynthia did not appreciate the interruption. As women do, she will never let me forget the infraction.

Russ gets ready at 7 a.m.

Certainly I do not have the drive of a Captain K. or Grumpy who will drive a car or truck through the most hellacious winter storms, risk life and limb, spend hours in miserable traffic, just to sign-in to earn their perfect attendance pins.

For rides I miss, I will reach out to my fellow Connecticut bears for correspondent reports.

Fourth and finally, please remember the opinions expressed in this blog do not reflect the thoughts of management, nor any authority, nor good taste even. Advice in this blog is taken at your own risk. Metaphor, simile, and flat out prevarication are often used in an attempt at humor.

Your blog may vary. Past blog performance does not guarantee future results. Blog results not typical. No warranties are expressed or implied. These claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This blog is void where prohibited. Your continued reading constitutes acceptance of these terms. I am Chris Loynd and I approve this message.

John Jackson ready to ride.

So here's what happened last Sunday . . .

We were eight. Most all the usual suspects were there, including our hardest core of John Bears. No, they do not fancy prostitutes, and I am not making any disparaging potty references. It's just that somehow three-quarters of the Connecticut Polar Bears have the same first name and that name happens to be John.

New to our group was Bart. Now there's a great riding name. Actually, it's a better cowboy name. But it does just as well for a rider, especially a Harley rider, which Bart is. I guess Bart had a favorable impression (or he is just a wild optimist) because he signed up to try and earn the coveted Polar Bear Patch.

Captain K. was definitely rusty on his pack leadership skills. Usually a very disciplined rider, you can set your cruise control to John K.'s pace. If you're like me, and do not have cruise control, well you can just spin that throttle lock tight, sit back, and enjoy the ride. (See above disclaimer about reading this blog.)

Bart, newest Connecticut Polar Bear (prospect).

We did a lot of rubber banding. Riding sweep, as I was, the effect was multiplied. We spent some much time going slow in the fast lane Winnebagos with handicapped stickers were flying by us on the right. "Go around them Mother! Dang motorcycles."

Not yielding the passing lane incensed one cager so much, this nutcase passed a slower car in the right lane by using the shoulder. That was after trying several times to break our line.

We arrived in Cape May at just about the right time. We parked close to the VFW, waited less than half-an-hour, and checked in for our PB points.

Cape May crowd waiting to claim their PB points.

I took advantage of the extra time it took Bart to sign up to purchase some new gear from Len from MLDS.

I splurged on the new, microwire, top-o'-the-line, Gerbing T-5 heated gloves. You will have to wait for my review in a future blog. The weather on the ride home never got cold enough to even turn them on.

Seven-year-old Harley-version Gerbing leather electric gloves were my previous hand warmers. They worked only so-so. And when it got really cold, I resorted to a set of down-filled hiking mittens with a chemical heat pack under my fingers. That combo kept my fingers warm in any weather, especially when snuggled deep inside my hippo hands.

All registered and recorded we took the weekly group photo.

Bob busy checking in new Bears.

Actually, we did not take it. Johnny B.'s camera decided to conk out just at that moment and we had to rely upon the kindness of strangers because my little camera has no tripod mount. Still we got it done and the Connecticut Bears are recorded for whatever time the perhaps transient Internet storage offers.

We stopped in at our favorite sport bar in Cape May for lunch. As was the case last year, we were their first customers of the day. Being eight in number, they seemed happy to have us.

We started up the road to Connecticut riding as before . . . too much as before. So at the first gas stop I offered a word to the wise to our ride leader. You don't gotta ask twice with the Captain. He quickly smoothed out his ride technique.

Your blogger enjoying lunch.

The crazies still beat around us a bit. Eight motorcycles in staggered formation makes for a pretty long line. Most cars are gracious and stay out of our group.

Things were pretty uneventful on the ride back until Grumpy started fiddling with his EZ Pass. As we were crossing to the exit lane on 287 to catch the Merritt Parkway home, I saw the white cube take one bounce and then slide, spinning for the shoulder, ahead of my bike.

Wasn't quick enough to catch it on the fly. But I checked my mirrors, pulled hard on both brakes and dove for the shoulder. I jogged back south 50 yards and there was Grumpy's EX Pass, intact, resting safely on the shoulder.

He will have to wait until this week to see if it survived the fall.

Chris trying to figure out the new controller for his electrics.

Our next ride is another long one, Lewes, Delaware. I will sneak down the day before to have dinner with the folks in Wilmington, Del. It saves me getting up early. My Mom delights in making my favorite foods. And there is sure to be scrapple for breakfast. (Last year the scrapple was not served in Lewes.)

Hopefully we will get a bit more quality time with our Flight Leaders Rich and Dave in Lewes. We always enjoy visiting with them, but they dismissively waved us off in Cape May. Something to do with a new sign-in system to manage the always crowded first ride process.

Or maybe they just did not want to hear about the Captain's blood points so early in the season.


Back to top

We are equal opportunity riders. Here is John H.
(also known as "Token") with his Honda ST.

Lewes, Del.; November 1, 2009

Week two Connecticut Polar Bears (with a New Jersey Bear thrown in).
From left are: Russ Curtis, John Kammerer, Johnny Bowlan, Chris Loynd (your blog author),
Matt Goddard (CT Bear Exofficio from New Jersey) and John Howard (British Expat).

As I often do for this run, I rode down to Wilmington, Del. Saturday to spend the night with my folks. It splits off a bit of distance for me on our longest ride of the Polar Bear season. Plus, taking it in two chunks, I don't have to get up so dang early for Sunday's ride down from Connecticut. Plus, plus, at this time of the year there can be quite a temperature difference between sunrise and a couple hours after.

Saturday I spent too much time puttering around at home, in part completing the blog from the previous Sunday's ride to Cape May. By the time I finally got going it was late afternoon. Saturday started partly sunny, progressed to mostly cloudy and all afternoon I was thinking the rain predicted for late day just might catch me if I waited too long to start. It did.

Freakishly warm, the temperature even after the sun went down was 70 degrees. Most of the ride was dry. Now and then I would hit a few areas where it had rained, recently enough for cars to be throwing spray. But drops from the sky did not actually fall on me until I was crossing the Commodore Barry Bridge from Jersey into Pennsylvania. It was like the Delaware River was a magic rain barrier.

Sometimes you get lucky. Twenty minutes' ride in mild rain and I was at my folks' house. I rode through the same showers that delayed the World Series game that night just a few miles north.

Arriving too late to join them, Mom saved a dinner plate for me even so. As always, she makes my favorites. Saturday night it was fried eggplant (except now it is heart-healthy baked) and stuffed mushrooms.

Friends of my folks were visiting. Mom and Dad have known their friend Judy since junior high school. Her friend Jim has been their friend for years now too.

Judy and Jim own a barbeque place in Gloucester, Mass. I haven't been there yet. But ever since reading “A Perfect Storm” I have wanted to see that famous fishing town.

Dad and the rest of us enjoyed the World Series. The Loynd family roots for the Phillies. Judy and Jim, Red Sox fans, are rooting for the Phillies too. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

It is a shame they lost, despite Utley's best efforts, I fear the New York machine, the best baseball that money can buy, is overwhelming. But as Stephen Colbert said, the Yankee victory is, "proof the free market system works!"

Next morning when the rest of the Connecticut Bears were saddling up in the cold dawn, I was enjoying scrapple for breakfast. (It's a Lancaster County thing.)

It was raining still Sunday morning. How did they fit a baseball game between bands of rain?

With the weather, cooler now that the front was moving through, I was in the mood to just motor down state. So I took the new Delaware Route 1 from Interstate 95 which nowadays basically makes a run to the beaches expressway all the way. Not like the old days I remember growing up in Wilmington when you had to stop-and-go your way through New Castle and Dover.

Arriving at our new “South Pole” venue, Irish Eyes Pub, I gingerly picked my way across the not-so-packed gravel parking lot to a place where I had enough strength to back the big Harley into a spot along a grey freight container.

No sooner was I off the bike and out of the helmet, here came my guys. I motioned them to where I was parked and offered a bit of reversing assistance, even had to help John H. with his lighter ST. He immediately made some joke about me “touching” a Honda. Hey, I even rode one once. John K. offered me his Gold Wing for a Polar Bear ride last year when my Harley was in the shop.

My bear compatriots arrived just after I did in Lewes, Del., Sunday. That giant, walking caution light is Matt, who catches us on en route. Even though he is from Jersey, we have adopted him as one of our own. Grumpy, standing next to him has a new camera. Johns H. and K. in background are checking in with their sweeties; a weekly ritual.

And if we are getting technical, I have spent hours and hours on Hondas, Suzukis and Kawis, if you include the training bikes in the Connecticut Rider Education Program. I am a Rider Coach.

Isn't that Honda Nighthawk a POS? Honda engineering? Drum brakes front and rear on a modern motorcycle? Really?

Maybe it isn't fair to judge the whole line by all its products. On the other hand, my Dad bought one of the first Civics sold in the U.S. That thing was as bad as the Nighthawk. It spent a lot of time in the shop. I hear the lawnmowers are pretty good.

Even so, the Honda ST seems like a nice bike. But I just don't see me riding with my heels tucked behind me all day.

Parking was not the best. Gravel, especially when it
is loose and deep, is not a motorcyclist's friend.

On my Harley I can stretch out, feet on highway boards (not just pegs) mounted outboard on the engine guards. I can also sit up straight. Once in a while, I will even tuck my heels behind me, European style, toes on the back of the riding boards.

(This first segment I was able to write on my train commute to The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk Monday morning. This will be the one way I can find the time to get this blog written.

Last Friday I tried the same thing. But Metro North showed up a couple 'o cars short. I got started on my minibook all the same but in Fairfield this giant old lady with a cane suddenly slammed herself into the middle seat next to me. When she shifted her hips to fit, she bruised mine against the wall of the train.

Some people take up more than their fair share of the planet.

Our new destination. Something of a phoenix,
according to Bob Hartpence.

Instead of sitting there smashed against the window seat for two more stops, I got up and stood until South Norwalk station stop set me free of the overcrowded car. Even with the minibook, it's kinda hard to type standing up on a bouncing, jolting, train car no less..

Needless to say, this morning's ride was much more civil. I will pick up my narrative on the ride home.)

Back again . . .

So we saunter into the Irish Eyes Pub in Lewes, Del., the Grand Tour's "South Pole" to sign-in for our Polar Bear Points. Captain K. was ready with 31, enough to qualify for his rocker on his second ride.

Polar Bear Grand Poo-bah Bob Hartpence even memorialized John Kammerer's accomplishment on the Polar Bear Grand Tour site; check out last week's photos at the bottom, on the Grand Tour site: http://www.polarbeargrandtour.com/lew09.htm

“Captain” John K. accomplishes this feat by giving blood all summer in the name of the Bears. So it is hard to find fault with such dedication. Coming all the way from Connecticut, we earn about half the points we need to qualify on the first two rides. Add John K.'s blood points on top – oh and he also attended the District II Summer Corn Boil – and well, there you have it.

Even so, John K. almost shorted himself. Not only do you get two points for donating blood, you also get round trip mileage points if you are crazy enough to ride your motorcycle to the blood bank and back. John forgot to take credit for these mileage points, but Flight Leader Rich came and found us at lunch and called John back to his page in the book to tally up the extra credits.

And then we have Russ.

"Captain" John K., 31 points. Second ride of the season.
Note blood points in foreground.

Russ earned his Polar Bear patch years ago and a few rockers hence. Some years, when he knows family obligations will diminish his riding opportunities, Russ did not even sign up for the points. He just rode along for the fun of it. Can you imagine?

Well this year I guess Russ is feeling optimistic. In Cape May he signed up to earn his points. But when we arrived in Lewes, Russ' page was not in the book.

Because they are so many in number, the Polar Bears are broken into two “flights” labeled “A” and “B.” Most all the Connecticut Bears are in “B.”

When Russ' page was not in the “B” book he started getting all worked up, as only Russ can. Well, actually, Grumpy can get pretty worked up too. But, trust me on this, it is safer to laugh at Russ.

Polar Bear sign in, Lewes. That's Flight B in the foreground, Flight A in the background. Standing in the yellow shirt is Polar Bear Grand Master Bob Hartpence. Russ is the center of attention, I am just behind him, John K. at far right.

I even survived laughing at Russ when he was as angry as I have ever seen him.

We just completed the Iron Butt, 1,000 miles in 24 hours or less, ride. We may be on record for the ugliest accomplishment of this task. A disasterous early morning start idea, a lollygagging first half and a pouring rain storm in the last 20 miles had frayed everyone's nerves to the rawest edge of sanity.

Twenty-three-and-a-half hours later, as we are gassing up and getting our final receipts, it turns out the odometers on John K. and Russ' bikes are showing just shy of 1,000 miles. Mine was a hair over.

John K. being so much the cross your t's and dot your i's kinda guy, starts on about how he damn well better qualify for the Iron Butt. Russ takes the criticism personally because Russ set up the ride.

Russ Curtis.

John was oblivious to Russ' growing blood pressure. Pretty soon they are nose to nose. Russ was dropping one leg back, squaring his hips, getting ready for action. He was quite the boxer on the Navy aircraft carrier during his shipboard days.

It was at this point Russ threw out the nastiest epithet he knew. Sputtering he shouts, “John . . . you were in the Navy! And I hate the Navy!” I roared with laughter. For someone who can curse like a Sailor, this was Russ' worst. The juxtaposition from what I expected and what Russ delivered was the funniest thing I have heard my friend say to this day.

Back in Lewes, Del., I suggested maybe they put Russ in Flight A since he had dropped out for a year or two. Well it turns out the new Flight A leader had taken Russ' application last week, but had not handed it over to our Flight B Leaders. Fortunately Russ' sheet was right there handy on the Flight A desk ready for insertion in the Flight B logbook.

Russ started grousing all the same, but Bob Hartpence cooled him fast by threatening to put Russ in Flight “C.”

Irish Eyes seemed nice enough and the food was good, if a bit slow in arriving. I ordered “bangers and mash” because it sounded so delightfully British. Imagine my surprise when it turns out to be just sausage, mashed potatoes and peas. Geeze! Back home in Stratford, Connecticut we call that sausage with mashed potatoes and peas. Being a marketing guy myself, however, I smiled admiringly, knowing how the right name can boost sales.

Polar Bear Chairman Bob Hartpence.

Johnny B. ordered fish and chips and it turned out to be fish with french fries. John K. and Russ ordered Irish stew and it turned out to be stew, so I guess they weren't fooled.

Happy with full bellies and bulging Polar Bear points sheets we posed for our weekly group picture then suited up for the long ride home.

If you read last week's blog, one of the things I promised was a review of my new Gerbing T-5 electric gloves, purchased from Len in Cape May. Well it was still too warm to turn them on. I did not even wear them on the ride down.

But for the ride home I pulled them on and plugged them in. Still it remained warm as we rode north. When we stopped for gas, just before the Delaware Memorial Bridge, it was one of those deals where we gassed up but then reassembled in a parking area.

Flight B Leaders, Dave, left, and Rich, right.

John K. had missed the turn for the bridge. So I knew I was going to get off the bike right away. Which meant after I gassed up, I just pulled on my gloves, rode over to the parking area and got off to offer the Captain a bit of local Delaware navigation advice, once a former resident of these parts myself.

We conferred. We mounted up. And off we went.

John ignored my advice, doggedly stuck to I-95 North, despite numerous signs pointing to “New Jersey, New York, Delaware Memorial Bridge.”

Grumpy finally flew up from the sweep position, threw a lariat over Captain's handlebars and led him off the proper exit.

Over the bridge now, onto the NJ Turnpike, we steamed for home.

As we reached north to the Garden State Parkway, and the clouds cleared just enough to show a sundown, it started to, gasp, get cold. Not Polar Bear cold. But chilly.

Suiting up for the ride home are John K. and un-missable Matt in yellow in the background.

Here's my chance! I turned up the gloves with my new dual “temptroller” thermostat. My hands were warm enough. But not hot. For miles I fiddled with the switch. Weak.

In the last 30 miles to the top of the Garden State where we always stop for coffee, I was getting aggravated. My hands were getting cold.

Figuring the gloves and controller were new, I started blaming my 120,000 + miles Springer. How long does an alternator last? Maybe this thing just wasn't putting out the current. I am aggravated but forgiving. Next I try flipping the switch to turn off the passing lamps, hoping more current will be available to warm my fingers. No effect. Now I am figuring how, and who, and when, I can get it fixed.
As we pulled into the rest area to gas up I pulled off my glove and it came free immediately.

In my plan for a temporary on-off to talk with John K. at the last gas stop, way down in Delaware, I had not gone through the formal procedure of linking the gloves to the sleeves of my electric jacket. Electric gloves don't work without electricity.

We all had a good chuckle at that one. Of course there is not a rider who at some point hasn't left without plugging something in or has never ridden off with a saddlebag lid flopping because it was left unlatched.

When I did connect the gloves to the power source of my motorcycle, they performed wonderfully. Hey, I guess I learned the gloves are pretty well insulated too. They kept me warm even without electricity.

Unlike my old gloves, these heat instantly. You can feel the warmth all around your fingers. It wasn't really cold enough to give them a really good test. But hey, it's only the second ride of the season.

See this blog entry with an opportunity to comment on Blog Spot: http://www.motorcyclepolarbear.blogspot.com/
I am still experimenting with Blog Spot, but it has several tools built in that I have not taken the time to figure out how to duplicate here. One is that you can comment. Two is if you "follow" the blog, it will send you an alert to let you know when a new one is posted. Third, because it is type only, I will be able to post to it a bit sooner than here.

Back to top.

Not all the CT Bears are getting e-mail alerts. I switched to a new Outlook e-mail program and may have lost some of you in the process. If you want to be on the distribution list for departure times, or used to get the alerts but do not now, send me an e-mail at: chris@influentialcom.com

Old Bridge, N.J.; November 8, 2009

Week 3 Bears. Let's try this from left to right, regardless of rows. Follow the heads . . .
John H., John K., Russ, John J., Matt, Nick, Chris (your blogger), Ralphie (new guy), Bart & Johnny B.

Near 70 degrees. Bright, cloudless blue sky.

We did not have as big a turnout as I would have thought. Despite a beautiful day and temperatures predicted for the high sixties, we had nine bikes; 10 riders with Johnny B.'s grandson Nick. Maybe some of our bears were busy with raking leaves, or chose shorter rides.

Sunday we picked up a new bear. Ralphie Fonseca, a fellow Connecticut Rider Education Program instructor. He signed up for the full deal in Old Bridge. Ralphie is now a Polar Bear Flight B.

We had a great time. The shorter run and warm weather and beautiful day made for high spirits all around. Well not quite everyone was in full revelry. John K. seemed impatient and more snarky than usual.

Newest Polar Bear Ralphie Fonseca.

He had reason to celebrate. Today Bob Hartpence, Polar Bear Grand Pooh-bah, had John's red rocker. Bob's getting hip to the Captain. In past years, Bob had not even thought of ordering the season's patches and rockers when John K. had already earned his first 30 points.

Bob told me a story Sunday about how he was really looking forward to handing John K. his rocker that day, our third ride of the season. Bob called the patch company Saturday morning to see why they had not delivered. I guess he put the order in extra early. Of course the company was closed Saturday. Bob left a message on the answering machine and went back out to his yard to, like many of us I bet, rake leaves. No sooner was he started again at his task than the mailman hailed him, “I have a box for you, Bob.” Bob went back inside and left another message on the patch company's answering machine, “never mind.” And with fanfare and a hearty handshake, he presented John K. the first Polar Bear rocker of the season.

John Kammerer holding first Polar Bear rocker
of the season, presented by Bob Hartpence.
Photo by Nick.

Still John was snippy. He was anxious to get off to lunch. He accused us of lollygagging, of being “tourists” he taunted Grumpy when Johnny B. was having trouble with his new camera for the group shot. Hmmm. What's up?

We all kid each other, and generally John K. takes and gives as good as anyone.

Then it hit me! A vision of Nancy Pelosi flashed in my brain. And I smiled. I whispered to John, “It's the health care bill, isn't it?” John replied, “It ain't law yet.”

It's okay John. It's only money, money that none of us have, including the government.

I don't know if the Captain's attitude improved with a bit of lunch. Denny's did not have a table big enough for all of us. We sat at two.

Captain John K.
Photo by Nick.

We reassembled in the parking lot, with the Captain walking around the bikes whipping us into shape, exhorting us to button up faster.

We rode a very short distance to gas up for the ride home. Somehow I was the last one out. My fellow bears would likely say I am always the last one out, dressed, ready to ride, etc.

At the top of the Garden State we stopped for coffees. It was the usual torture to get our order assembled and paid. The servers at the Dunkin' Donuts in the rest stop at the top of the Garden State Parkway are so slow you can actually test Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Here's an example. John H. treated us all. As such, he was stuck being the last to leave the counter, paying after we all carried our drinks away to a table. We were all sitting and enjoying our hot drinks, but John H. was back in time still trying to figure out the bill with the slow clerks.

John H. tackled a much easier line at K of C
in Old Bridge to get his Polar Bear points.
Buying coffee turned out to be a lot tougher.
Photo by Nick.

He finally caught up to our time, but just as he was about to sit down, it turned out that two of the coffees did not have milk. John H. had to go back, back in time, back to the counter to retrieve creamers. Just as he was about to catch up to our time, there were no stirrers for the recently retrieved cream. Back in time John H. went again. As John H. kept going back in time, we were all progressing forward, drinking our hot drinks. When John H. finally got a chance to sit down, he was now way behind us in time.

Chris, your blogger, came to the rescue. By being slower than most normal coffee drinkers, Chris was able to retard present time enough for John H. to catch up and drink his coffee.

So except for the frustration of multiple forays back in time, oh and the “pleasure” of paying for coffees and hot chocolates for a bunch of whining, ungrateful, riding buddies, John H. finally caught up to drink his coffee in present time.

As we got ready to go in the parking lot, my special time talents were recognized by Russ. He said , I think derisive, about not even turning on his motorcycle until I had my helmet on and my bike off the sidestand.

Even-tu-ally . . . I did. And off we roared home to Connecticut.

See you next week. I will be the one rolling in just moments before the rest of us are ready to leave next Sunday morning.

Note a certain similarity? At left is Top Bear Bob Hartpence,
at right, Bear Cub Ralphie, as they complete sign-up paperwork.

Jackets off, Connecticut Bears enjoy an Indian Summer day.
Waiting for a table, from left, Matt, John H., Russ and Ralphie.

Johnny B. enjoys lunch with his grandson Nick.
That's big Matt at far left, still years away from grandkids.

John Jackson enjoys the sun waiting for Dennys.
He entertained us with stories of explosions.

Captain John K. is all smiles. Already a red rocker and well on his way to gold!
John K. has become one of the most ambitious Polar Bears. Not for glory. But because he can.
He's a rider. This summer John completed an Iron Butt Saddle Sore inadvertently one day as he
cruised across the Midwest. When John finally decided to pull in, he had a 1,050 mile day.
You can also see a Blog Spot version of this blog where you can get automatic notifications when it is posted, usually before the picture version, and make comments, bring it on!  http://motorcyclepolarbear.blogspot.com/

Here's a shout-out from Russ:

Hi Chris,    Len the" Gerbing Guy" replaced a five (5) year old harness that broke this past week for free. Maybe you can give him a shout of thanks in this weeks blog.


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Port Jervis, N.Y., November 15, 2009

Week 4 Bears, from left to right: Bernie, John B., John K., Russ, John H., Rolly, John J., Bart, Billy, Steve.

60's early, 70's later; morning drizzle, sunny afternoon

Blogger's Note:

Unfortunately your blogger Chris Loynd was busy at The Maritime Aquarium this Sunday. I was working with a troop of Girl Scouts from Monroe to build a wigwam to promote our showing of "Where the Wild Things Are" appearing now in IMAX.

So I put out an invitation to my fellow Connecticut Bears for correspondent reports. Here, with a bit of minor editing, are their reports.

Wigwam with Monroe Girl Scout and Leader.

From Captain John Kammerer:

We had a good turnout for Port Jervis, N.Y. Roll call in order of appearance were: Russ, Johns K., J. and B., Bernie, Rollin (Rolly) Dawlin, Steve D., William (Billy) Gargone, John H., Bart, and Matt G. (Full names provided for our new riders.)

We formed up and departed Dunkin' Donuts at 9 a.m. sharp with John J. taking the lead and John K. as sweep. Heading south on Interstate 95, the route turned onto Route 25 north into Newtown, Conn.

(Editor's Note: Newtown retains a bit of its Yankee charm with a flagpole right in the middle of main street. Here the Conn. Bears turned right and a short distance down the road merged onto Interstate 84 west at speed.)

John J. took exit 2B to pick up our more northerly members,  the group arriving at 9:45 on the dot with John H. and Bart scrambling to get going.

Port Jervis attracted some new riders for the Connecticut Polar Bears. Here new Bears Billy, left, and Rolly, center, chat with Bernie, right, a Bear of several seasons.

Once the two final bears finally caught up, John J. settled the group into a steady pace west for the Delaware River.

We encountered fog at mile marker 57 in New York. It lasted for two to three miles. Visibility was a hundred feet or so.

The group navigated the mist without mishap arriving at Cornucopia at 11:10 a.m. Adopted Conn. Bear Matt was there already and after the group photo by John B., we went inside to check-in and have lunch.

As sweep I was trying to keep track of everyone. (Editor's note: The Captain takes his Road Captain duties very seriously.) During lunch I was looking everywhere for Steve D. and finally realized he bailed without saying a word to anyone. (Editor's note: Considered poor Polar Bear manners when riding in a group.)

Bernie, right, expresses his satisfaction with
the Captain's, left, sweeping abilities?

At 12:15 we left the restaurant and headed to the gas stop on the New Jersey side and yes, John H. was right about the crash site!

After fueling we headed east on Interstate 84 to our pit stop at the Starbucks in Danbury, Conn., exit 2, arriving at 1:30 p.m. This week John J. treated.

John H. split off at Interstate 684 to head for Ridgefield. Billy G. left after coffee.

We were on the road eastbound by 2:10 and Bart split off at Route 7 north. From Interstate 84 the group took the more scenic Route 34 south. I arrived home at about 2:50 p.m.

It was a great day with good company and I managed to piss off everyone by noon.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Last sighting of Steve D., far back, center.
Otherwise sharing the moment are, from left,
Polar Bear Chairman Bob H., Steve D., Russ and John H.

Next report from a first-season Connecticut Bear . . .

From Bart Cole:

Because of the early morning rain and wet roadways, I had decided to leave a little later and hook up with John H. at exit 2. After receiving my text with my change of plans, John H. called John K. to let him know that I would not be coming down to Stratford and not to wait. John K.'s response to the Token (John H.) was basically, "what the hell do I care!" It's just so nice to be loved and embraced by John K.!
Then when the boyz rolled down exit 2 to meet up with John and I, upon being waved into the pack I didn't give my Dyna Low Rider enough throttle and proceeded to stall the engine. John K. took note of this as he saw me rolling back to restart my bike.
We rode through some dense fog in spots on I-84.

We had some major issues at the Newburgh Bridge toll. The EZ-Pass wasn't reading our tags and the toll booth attendant proceeded to give some of the guys a hard time for trying to drive through. John J., Russ, Grumpy and myself made it through and had to wait for a good five minutes plus for the others to rejoin the ranks.

From left: Bernie, Bart (correspondent),
John J.'s head and John K.

Stopped at the Starbucks off exit 2 on the way back. John J. treated everyone to their favorite beverage. Grumpy didn't care for his hot chocolate. He claimed it tasted like a dark or semi-sweet cocoa.
I'm sure the others will fill you in on some of the other events. Some guy, I think named Steve, rode up with us and then disappeared without telling anyone!

The day was so short that I didn't know what to do with myself when I got home so early.

Even Russ busted on you in your absence for you propensity to take forever to get your gear on and be ready to roll after we stop. Russ was being Russ!
You were missed Chris!

Flight B Leaders, Rich and Dave at Port Jervis.

From one of our founding Connecticut Bears, everyone's favorite people person, Grumpy . . .

From Johnny Bowlan:

Hi Chris! I hope your project went well. We missed you.

We had 10 bikes and riders today. Weather was great; we needed no heated gear at all.

The ride up was good. We had to stop only once for a red light. John J. did well for his second, maybe third, time leading the group.

Ten bikes may be too much. Next time we might want to break it up into two groups.

We got there after 11:00, stood around shooting the (stuff) and took the group photo.

Nice days have been turning out a lot of riders.

Lunch was edible. The menu included: French toast, chili and rice, something the server said was mini-sausage meatloaf, a chicken dish and mac and cheese.

About 12:30 we headed out to New Jersey for gas, missing Steve D. He left after taking the group shot.

Then toward home we went. We had some problems at the toll on Interstate 84. It took a little while for everyone to get through. Guess this is another toll road we can't use.

(Editor's note: We have had troubles before on the last parkway toll before the GW Bridge. Captain had a famous gate-busting adventure there a few years back.)

We lost the Brit at exit 2 as we got off for coffee.

Some of the Connecticut boys at lunch,
from left, John J., adopted Matt and Bart.

No Dunkin' Donuts, so it was Starbucks. It was a small place so we got our drinks and went outside to chat.

We then saddled up for home, losing people along the way.

It was a NICE day, there I go using four letter words again.

Next report from this week's ride leader.
All paragraph and sentence breaks are best guess estimates by the blog editor . . .

From John Jackson:

Hello Blog-master,

Sunday morning arrived a little misty and 58 degrees. Side roads were covered with slippery, wet leaves, so the ride to Dunkin' Donuts was slow and steady. That will be an important standard for the day.

When I got to Dunkin' Russ and John K. were enjoying their hot beverage of choice already. John K. informed me that this Dunkin' Donuts was now offering Same Day Service. So I took them up on it, and damned if it wasn't true! I got a muffin and a cappuccino within five minutes!

By the time I got back, Bernie and Rollie had arrived. Later came Steve D., who was greeted appropriately by Russ, Johnny B. and finally Bill.

Enjoying a laugh in Port Jervis, from left, John J. (led this week's ride), Polar Bear Chief Bob  H., and Token.

John K. asked, to no-one in particular, looking at Russ and I, "Who's leading today?" Russ answered in the negative, so, by default, I said I would. I had it in my GPS.

John K. and I briefly discussed the route to the meeting point on Interstate 84 where we were picking up John H. and Bart. Taking Interstate 95 to Route 25 to Newtown to Interstate 84 was the preferred route.

Promptly at 9 a.m. we lined up and off we went. As I was reading my GPS, I noticed the "arrive" time was 11 a.m. So I planned to keep the pace on the moderate side after we picked up our two northern polar bears, which we did at precisely 9:45.

Onto Interstate 84 west, the train of 10 bikes sauntered. Speed limit 65 mph, I set my cruise control at 64.

Weather was gray with some hint of sun breaking through off to the southwest. But up ahead it was just clouds. We rode through a cloud going up one one those mountains. Visibility was next to nil, so I kept the pace down a little.

I didn't want to slow down too much to prevent riders from bunching up unexpectedly. And I stayed in the lane we were in because I sure as heck could not see my sweep John K. in my mirrors. If he was clearing a lane for me, I couldn't tell.

After about a mile of clouds, we broke through. I do NOT like not being able to see ahead!

New Connecticut Bear Rolly looks like he's checking something in the mirror upon arrival in Port Jervis, N.Y.

I cranked the speed back up to a blistering 63 mph and the GPS still says "arrive" at 11:01.

We got stuck behind a creepy crawling Toyota Camry on the Newburg bridge, doing about 45 to 50 mph. I saw this as an opportunity to knock our arrival time back a notch or two, so I stayed behind, later to be ragged-on mercilessly by our Captain when we arrived and unsaddled at 11:10.

John K. is the best sweep that I have ridden with. He just KNOWS when you want to change lanes. I look in my mirror for a lane change and he is already there, waiting for me to turn on my signal. Perhaps this is why he was so fast to comment on why I stayed behind that slow poke on the bridge.

Anyway, we arrived, all 10 of us, early.

Bob Hartpence (Polar Bear Chairman) was out in the parking lot and came over to say hello. We took the group shot, Johnny B. having figured out his new camera's timer mechanism. Then we went to sign-in and have a lunch a litle before 11:30.

The buffet this year was pretty good: chili, biscuits and gravy, mac and cheese, little meatloaf patties in gravy and some sort of chicken thing, all very edible.

During lunch I asked where Steve D. was. Nobody had seen hide nor hair of him. When we finished lunch and went outside, I, being the leader, searched down the line of bikes where we parked and noticed that Steve's custom painted Fat Boy was no longer there. Some metric cruiser of a similar color was parked where Steve's bike used to be. John K. asked where Steve was. Nobody had heard from him. The evidence pointed to him no longer being anywhere near the Cornucopia anymore, so I felt secure in leaving as a group of nine, knowing the tenth had gone on by himself.

The ride back was at a more brisk pace, more like my speed, cruise control set higher and throttled up to pass the occasional slow moving truck.

Back at Port Jervis it had been decided that we would stop for coffee at Starbucks in Danbury, off Exit 2, which we did. John H., having to be home early, rode on. And Bill left before we went to get coffee.

I treated, with the caveat that if you wanted anything special, you would have to pay for it yourself. Of course Johnny B. took this to mean I would not buy him his hot chocolate. But I calmed him down with the explanation that "special" meant lattes, cappuccinos and espresso drinks. Bernie slipped a frappuchino by me anyway!

So after we were all properly juiced up with Starbucks caffeine enriched coffee we continued on our way.

Bart took off up Route 7 and various others slipping out of my slipstream as we wound our way back down Route 34, arriving home at 3:10 on a 70 degree afternoon.

The day was very enjoyable. John K. exaggerates his power to piss off. I think he does an admirable job. But we all look forward to it, the same way we look forward to Russ' crude innuendo.

That's MY story, and I'm sticking to it.

Finally, here is Russ' report . . .

From Russ:

John K. missed me. I don't think I was pissed off all day. I did miss Chris not showing 'till the last second.


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