Wednesday, May 25, 2011

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Owning a Motorcycle

Just read this funny article about "6 Things Nobody Tells You About Owning a Motorcycle" and sadly it's funny and so true at the same time.   I'm sure everyone has done a long day's ride fully covered in ATGATT only to feel all stinky at the end of the day due to heat, rain, bugs or whatever was sent your way as you rode down the road.   I think this part pretty much summarizes that feeling:

But hey, sometimes you ride in the sun, and that's great! The open road, the warm summer air, and the heat ... oh God, the heat. A great deal of bikes, like mine, are air cooled. No radiator. So they're only really cooling down while you're in motion.  When you're stopped (say, at one of those lights that doesn't recognize  your existence) they're just radiating that heat upward, which happens  to be right where your genitals are trapped. Aside from sterility and  ball-burns, this also creates a nice pool of junk sweat. But don't  worry: It will eventually evaporate into the rest of your clothing  and skin, leaving you smelling like the floor of a teenager's bedroom  for the rest of the day.

Read more: 6 Things Nobody Tells You About Owning a Motorcycle

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why We Ride

I saw this video a while ago and I'm sure some of you have seen it, I think it's beautifully done and truly captures the spirit of why we ride so I decided to post it.  It's never to late to ride and dream.

Live to ride and ride to live.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Centralia (Ghost town)

I had heard about Centralia, a ghost town in Pennsylvania and when the Central Jersey Motorcycle Riders Group decided to make it a ride destination I was ready to go.  Centralia is about 155 miles north west of my house.  The group had set the meetup point north east of my location by about 30 miles.  I had invited my brother to come along who lives 40 miles south of me, this was going to be a problem for him, he would have to get up really early to make the group meetup.   After checking with Google map I decided to make a new route for the two of us.  I would meet him up just after the bridge toll in Pennsylvania and we would slab west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike until King of Prussia and then get off the highway and make our first stop in Valley Forge National Historical Park.  The park preserves the site and interprets the history of the Valley Forge encampment.  I have mentioned before that I love anything historical about the USA and this was the opportunity to see the site where the Continental Army spent the winter of 1777–1778 during the American Revolutionary War.   Wikipedia:

I left my house at 7am, earlier than needed and then waited for my brother at the toll before the bridge thinking he would have to pass there first.  He found another way and was waiting for me after the bridge tolls as we had planned.  Thanks to cell phones and SMS I found out where he was and 3 minutes later I was at his location.   We continued west arriving in Valley Forge around 9:30am.  We enter the park and make our first stop when we see canons.

We park our bikes and head towards the encampment structures.  We see people dressed as the Continental Army soldiers and civilians in period clothes.  These people are all volunteers who re-enact the time the Continental Army spent encamped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777–1778.

We start chatting with one of the officers and he informs us there will be live fire re-enactment in the next half hour.  We decide to stay to see the live firing, no real rounds were fired though, just the powder.  I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to see the shiny bronze canons thundering in the valley.  We watch the preparations which were lengthy with anticipation for the live firing.

The little one

Loading the big canon
The weapons are all in pristine condition.   The guys really take pride in their work and polish the barrels to a luster, the polished bronze reflecting the sun like a mirror.

The big one
The smaller one
The little mortar
Next I spot a big rifle mounted on a pedestal, too heavy to hold it up I guess.  The rate of fire must have been low on such a big gun and because of the way it's mounted but the damage must have been enormous, I wouldn't want to be in front of that barrel.

We meander through the encampment observing various utensil used by the doctors and the medicine boxes, I can hardly imagine the pain the poor injured soldiers must have endured after being shot in the field, the medicine not being what it is today, and where the rate of survival was pretty slim.


We wait for the drill before the live firing and then cover our ears as instructed by the officer just before the firing order is given.  It was a loud bang, so loud that your ears were left ringing.  I was filming with my camera, the following photos were taken by my brother Paul.

My brother was kind enough to let me use some of his photos.

We left the encampment and toured the park on the bikes, the winding road meandering through the 3,500 acres of the park.  We made our next stop at the top of the hill by the National Memorial Arch, dedicated "to the officers and private soldiers of the Continental Army December 19, 1777 - June 19, 1778"

It was getting late and we had a long way to go.  We leave the park and head north on route 422, aka Benjamin Franklin Highway. 25 miles later we take the exit for route 662, aka Old Swede Road.  I had read on a magazine the road was one of various scenic roads in this part of Pennsylvania.  We continue north until we come upon Hermy's Tire and Cycle, a BMW and Triumph dealer in Port Clinton.  They are having an open house, we pull in knowing there was free food and by now our stomachs were rumbling.

After a "pulled chicken sandwich", if you can call it that, they had ran out of "pulled pork", and some beans we were ready to hit the road again. We continued north for another 30 miles, now on PA-61, and as we round a turn I see a few motorcycles to my left in front of a restaurant.  I quickly recognize a few heads, specially with my friend Roger waving at me as we pass since he had also recognized my "Goldie".  We quickly turn around and meet the group from CJMRG.  What are the odds that we are near Centralia at the same time on the same road after traveling over 160 miles to get there.  After a little chat we all leave and head to Centralia down the road.  The current route 61 bypasses the destroyed "Pennsylvania 54" which is now closed. We park our bikes at the beginning of the bypass and walk the rest of the way to the destroyed part of the road, except for my friend Mike which decides to go over the sand barrier with his Honda Valkyrie and ride all the way.  Only Mike would attempt such a crazy thing and with such an heavy bike.  You can see him riding down the old road while the rest of us are walking.

Centralia is a ghost town as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962.  All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992 and all buildings therein were condemned.  There is not much to see.

Steam or smoke coming out of the ground

I climb a hill to investigate the surroundings but there are no houses in the area, they have all been removed.  I wait for everyone to go back to the bikes and then take a few more pictures.  I had to get a shot of myself inside one of the cracks just for scale.

The kids have had fun with the road over the years covering it in graffiti, most of it not safe for my blog but here's one I thought was cute.

As you can see by the photos, the weather had turned bad and by the time we got back to the bikes it was raining. My brother and I leave the group and head to the next town to find a place to have coffee and run away from the rain.  We wait for them but they don't show up, we figured they must have taken another way home.  After about 30 minutes we get back on the bikes and head home.  An hour later we see a Wawa gas station and pull in for another cup of coffee since it hadn't stopped raining.  We enter the station and come upon half the CJMRG group on the way home, they had split up with my friend Roger leading this group.  Again, what a coincidence, small world indeed. We all leave together with my brother leaving us about 30 minutes later and heading south towards Philadelphia while I continued east with the group into NJ.  We had rain for part of the way home but as I got near my town the rain had stopped.  I made one more stop when I saw what appeared moss on the side of the road but I don't think it is.  The area is weird with gigantic weeds spread all over, it looks like another world.

I covered over 330 miles, it was a long day riding to go see a non existent town but we got to see Revolution era canons firing in Valley Forge and had a free lunch courtesy of Hermy's BMW.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The ABCD Day Ride

On May 1st I had the ABCD challenge and a birthday of a fellow rider to attend.  The birthday party was at the Rhodes North Tavern in New York not too far from the Harriman and the Bear Mountain State Parks which I have visited and blogged in the past.  I had done a similar trip last year for the same reason, Brenda's birthday.  I invited my brother and Wayne to come along, unfortunately my brother couldn't make it. 
For the challenge I had picked the George Washington Bridge as a background.

A few facts about the bridge: Wikipedia

The bridge was opened in 1931, it has an upper level with four lanes in each direction and a lower level with three lanes in each direction, for a total of 14 lanes of travel.

As of 2007, the George Washington Bridge has the greatest vehicular capacity of any bridge in the world, carrying approximately 106 million vehicles per year, making it the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge.

The two of us left the house at 10am and were soon on the NJ Turnpike, part of Interstate 95, the main northeast corridor running from the south of NJ and crossing into NY through the bridge.  The highway is well maintained but the traffic makes the road horrible, it's mostly surrounded by industrial complexes and refinery's on the central part and runs right next to the main runway of the Newark International Airport.
We leave the Turnpike in Fort Lee and start the descent on Henry Hudson Drive towards the park near the bridge.  We stop to take a few pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We were about to leave when another rider stops to chat.   We meet Dan on his beautiful BMW K1200LT with an M3 badge in the back.  As he told us, it rides like an M3.  The back of the bike has a beautifully designed trunk that complements the looks of the bike and is very functional offering a lot of storage at the expense of the pillion seat.  He's originally from Argentina and has done a few adventure rides in his country.  He also owns a Kawasaki Concours so he's an automatic good guy.

We take a few more pictures and then invite Dan to come along with us to Bear Mountain which he promptly agrees.  We would travel north along the Palisades Parkway, a very scenic road along the Hudson River.

My trusty Concours
Wayne on his Triumph ST

We leave the park and continue down the road to go take the picture under the bridge for the ABCD challenge.  I'm walking around taking pictures when I see the police officer waving his arms while talking to Dan.  Only later did I find out you are not allowed to take pictures under bridges or monuments because of terrorism fears.  Apparently Dan convinced him I was not a bad guy.

We know the bridge is big but it's only when you stand at the base of the bridge that you realize how truly humungous it is.  The amount of steel that went into the construction of the bridge must have been enormous, in fact construction was delayed twice due to material shortages.  It's a magnificent sight standing next to this marvel.

With the picture taken we start heading north along the Palisades Parkway towards Bear Mountain State Park, the road winding along the Hudson River for a few miles and then moving inland towards the park.  We take the opportunity to open up a little and make good time arriving at the top of the mountain around 12:30.

There's always lots of bikers on any Sunday and this one wasn't any different.   We walked around admiring the other bikes and chatting with the owners.  As fellow blogger Brady explains it, "we exchanged the small compliments that allow for conversation".  Brady has a way with words, I love his views on motorcycling and life and if you haven't read his blog you are missing a great blog.
Bradys' blog: Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

I love this bike
Beautiful color on a Triumph Speed Triple
I still hope to one day own a Speed Triple, the Triumph 3 cylinder engine sound is intoxicating.  When I was a kid I loved Suzuki and at that time their 2-stroke, 3 cylinder bikes also had a wonderful sound.  We see one nearby and immediately head towards it.  In 1972 the GT380 was one of a handful of two-strokes produced by Suzuki.  The air-cooled GTs shared Suzuki's new Ram Air System and featured Suzuki’s refined automatic fuel and oil mixing system, called CCI, which helped lower exhaust smoke levels.  Read more here:

It was time to head towards Rhodes Tavern and meet the birthday girl, the meetup having been set for 2PM.  We leave the mountain and 30 minutes later arrive just on time for the beginning of the festivities.  We manage to slot our bikes in between all the others already there.

Beautiful Harley Davidson
Beautiful artwork - even the belt is painted
With our stomachs rumbling we quickly head inside to the upstairs place reserved for Brenda's birthday bash. We enjoy lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon with the group bantering with each other.  We sing happy birthday and end the party with a huge slice of strawberry cake.  Brenda was a happy girl, I saw a few tears as the group sang happy birthday.

The trip home was uneventful, just a quick dash down route 287 and the Garden State Parkway for me with Wayne having a slightly longer trip down the NJ Turnpike.  These two major highways crisscross the state.