Sunday, December 12, 2010

My other Passion in Life

With winter upon us and not much riding going on I would like to share with you my other passion in life, the glamorous and adrenaline filled world of Formula 1.   I have loved Formula 1 since I was a kid, probably my father's fault since he would take me to all kinds of motor racing events all the time and I still follow Formula 1 passionately.  I have attended numerous Formula 1 races in a few countries and read about it all the time.  Every time I hear the shrill of a formula 1 engine revving up to 19000 rpm's I get a rush of adrenaline through my body and start behaving like a kid.  The Formula 1 season and championship ended recently and my favorite team was not able to take the crown, I'm talking about Ferrari.  I am happy for Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel, as he has proven to be a very fast competitor, for winning the championship. I would have preferred Fernando Alonso and Ferrari but he came second in the championship, Ferrari made a mistake on the last race and lost the championship.
I found a video that captures the essence of Formula 1 perfectly.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Formula 1 Season Highlights

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Washington Crossing Historic Park

I had another Polar Bear Ride but the meeting place was at a motorcycle dealership in Hatfield, PA with nothing interesting to see nearby.  The location is 70 miles from my house so I plan my route to pass through George Washington Crossing Historic Park.  The temperature was going to be in the mid 30's and I can only imagine how cold it must have been when Washington crossed the Delaware river on December 25th, 1776 with the river half frozen.  Washington's Crossing is a U.S. National Historic Landmark area and it marks the location of where George Washington crossed the Delaware River during the American Revolutionary War.  The park includes historic buildings including McConkey's Ferry Inn, where General George Washington and his aides ate dinner and made plans prior to the crossing.   I am sure everyone knows the famous painting by Emanuel Leutze depicting the crossing.

Emanuel Leutze oil on canvas
I decide to ride alone today and when I ride alone I tend to stop more and take more pictures.  Sometimes it feels good to ride alone. I open my garage to get the bike out and was greeted by 28 degrees (-2.222 degree Celsius) but it felt way colder because it was windy outside.  I suit up and for the first time this season had to plug in my heated vest. Nicely insulated I hit the road going towards Trenton on I195 and then follow route 29 along the Delaware river.  Traveling at 80 mph made the air feel like it was in the 20's with the windchill effect.  My first stop is on the New Jersey side near the metal bridge that crosses the river at the Washington Crossing.

I cross the river but decide to continue and spend time at the park on the way back.  I head towards New Hope on route 32 and then take route 202 west making a right onto route 309 and a few miles later arrive at the Montgomeryville Cycle dealership, it's a quick 29 miles with not much traffic on the road.  The place is already packed with riders.  I head inside to take refuge from the cold and find the perfect couch to take a rest.

I walk around admiring all the new bikes but if I had to pick two, one for solo riding and one to take my wife, they would be the beautiful flat black Kawasaki Vulcan custom and the red Kawasaki Nomad.  I have always loved the Vulcan's and miss my old Mean Streak.

The store has a plethora of old bikes on display and I spend some time admiring them and particularly the 2-stroke, 3 cylinder Kawasaki 500.  I still remember the wailing the 2-stroke engines made when I was a kid.  I join my friends and have some hot chili with corn bread the dealer had graciously made for us.

I leave the dealer and retrace my steps back to New Hope where I make my next stop near the historic "New Hope and Ivyland Railroad" station.  The steam train travels through the rolling hills and valleys of historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I take a few shots as the train leaves the station and wave at the kids.

I continue south on route 32 now heading towards the Washington Crossing Park and eight miles later I arrive at the park.  I leave the bike near an old canon while I walk around admiring the old and historic buildings.  These historic buildings have been well maintained and offer an opportunity to see how people lived in the past.  They are closed during the winter season but otherwise are open to the public.

I walk over to the metal bridge using the pedestrian walkway as the bridge is quite narrow and cars have to be very careful when passing each other.  I then walk across the street to the Washington Crossing Inn where I take a picture of the monument depicting the famous crossing.

I leave the park and head home stopping again about an hour later to get a few shots of the bike with the sunset behind.  I take the first silhouette of the bike holding the camera and then decide to put the camera on the ground and use the timer to take the shot.  I didn't compose, I simply put the camera on the ground and pressed the shutter, how surprised I was when I reviewed the picture and saw a beautiful shot with the sun peeking through the opening on the bike just below the carburetors.   I then took another shot with the camera in "sunset" mode only to get another beautiful silhouette this time with me in the shot.

I went home having completed around 140 miles on the coldest day so far this year, the highest number I saw on the thermometer was 37 degrees.  The entire east coast is under a cold spell and they are predicting very cold weather for the next few weeks. Tonight is going to be in the upper 20's and the entire week will be in the mid 30's.  How I wish I was back on route 50 in Nevada with the thermometer showing 105 like last July during my cross country trip.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Cold Sunday Ride

Another Sunday, another Polar Bear Ride but now winter is starting to show it's ugly face. Serious cold weather is upon us.  The ride was to Hopewell, only 45 miles from my house but after meeting my brother and the RAT group (Rider Association of Triumph) we did what motorcycle enthusiast do and did a ride after the ride, destination; Van Sant Airport in Pennsylvania, a little west of the town of Erwinna.
I pull my bike out of the garage at 8:15am and got my first taste of winter, a chilly 29 degrees (-1.66666667 degrees Celsius for the metric readers) but with a beautiful sky above me.  I suit up and hit the back roads of Jackson heading towards JB's Diner to meet the Monmouth County Kruizers MC Group for breakfast.  I stop to take a picture of the bike in front of a dilapidated farm house.  Farms are quickly disappearing from Jackson.

After gassing up and stopping by the bank for cash I arrive at the diner and meet the rest of the group already sitting down.  We have a nice breakfast and then go outside to wait for two fellow riders that were running late.  The diner is decorated with all kinds of rock and roll era paraphernalia.

While waiting for the others I take a walk to a nearby Chevrolet Bel Air and snap a few shots, I have a soft spot for the 50's and 60's cars and this Bel Air is in beautiful shape.

We leave the diner and head to Hopewell with Chris, "The Ground Hog" from the Monmouth County Kruisers leading us through some nice winding country roads.  We arrive at the Hillbilly Hall Tavern & Restaurant and meet the rest of the group who had been waiting for us.  My brother had met the RAT group earlier on and had driven up from South Jersey with them.  There's hundreds of riders out on this day even though the day had started cold but by now the temperature had climbed to the upper 40's where it stayed for the rest of the day.

Monmouth County Kruisers

The RAT group

We quickly decide the day is still young and we want to ride.   Some of the riders had never been to the Van Sant airport and the roads leading to it are nice country roads along the Delaware River so a plan is put in place to ride there, by now the group has grown to nine riders.  The airport is a big hangout place for bikers in the summer but now it's literally empty, we arrive to see one lone biker with a beautifully maintained 1990 Honda Transalp. I had never seen one up close.

Nearby I spot a Ford Thunderbird and I quickly snap a few glamour shots.  I have already said I have a soft spot for old cars.

The airport is known for the glider and bi-plane rides and in the summer there are usually hundreds of bikes lined up along the road leading to the airport.  I am going to shoot for a glider ride next summer, it must be exciting to soar along the Pennsylvania countryside using only the air currents.

We leave the airport and head south making a stop in Stockton for lunch.  We pick Meil's Restaurant and Bakery at the suggestion of my brother who had been there before.  It's a nice and cozy little restaurant right across from the Stockton Inn.  The food was very good, I had a mushroom soup and Country Smoked Ham & Baked Beans with Cornbread, I cleaned the plate.

Meil's Restaurant and Bakery

Stockton Inn

We depart Stockton and head home, each following the shorter route home since the sun was quickly disappearing behind the Pennsylvania hills.  I get home just before dark covering about 150 miles for the day.

Bridge across the Delaware River