Polar Bear Blog 2011/2012

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.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog Author Chris Loynd on first polar bear motorcycle ride.

Me, Chris Loynd, on my
very first Polar Bear ride 2002.
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. Past blog performance does not guarantee future blog results.

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.

Rides:

Sorry, for 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.

Connecticut Motorcycle Polar Bear Logo
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, owns a BMW and Honda ST. Pogy and Tom are Gold Wing riders. 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).

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/

 

Cape May, NJ; October 30, 2011

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog by Chris Loynd

First week bears from left: Fonz, Grumpy, Captain, Chris, Pogy.

By: Chris Loynd

You know how sometimes in winter you are driving along in a clean car, surrounded by clean cars and then you see a car so crudded up with salt and junk you know it must be from up north and sure enough the license plate reads, "Maine" or "Vermont"?

We were those guys Sunday.

What is it about the Cape May Polar Bear ride and Nor'Easters?

A doozy came through Saturday. And while along the coast we only got a few inches, our friends in northern Connecticut got up to 18 inches.

New Jersey got a dusting to mostly just rain.


CT Motorcycle Polar Bears came over salty roads

Connecticut polar bears were salt covered before we got out of state.
 

When we got to Cape May we were surrounded by shiny, clean bikes. We held our heads a little higher as we parked our crudbikes.

I felt like a true Polar Bear. In late August, just before Hurricane Irene, I put my bike in for an engine remanufacturing.

It had 137,000 miles and I figured I didn't want any troubles during Polar Bear season.

When I called Marcel, the service manager at Brothers Harley-Davidson he asked, "Are you sure you don't want to keep it a little longer to enjoy the riding weather?"

"No! I got to get it ready for Polar Bear season. So I need it by the end of September to get my break-in miles done," I replied.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bears had an October blizzard

My bike with it's brand new chrome and engine.


"You have this riding season thing upside down," Marcel laughed.

I didn't even need to shovel my driveway Sunday. Fonz did a bit. Grumpy has a ski slope and had to clear it. Then he dropped the bike in an icy Ansonia intersection on his way to meet us at Dunkin' Donuts. He, and his ride, were fine and he made it to Cape May and back.

Grumpy said in his e-mail the week after the ride that he was a bit sore.

Our northern pals Token and Bart were completely snow bound. They may also still be without electricity. Because the snow was wet and heavy and trees still had all their leaves, the damage to power lines here was worse than with hurricane Irene.
 

CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Driveway in October

Fonz's driveway. Not too bad along the coast of Connecticut.

Some areas of Connecticut are without power still. The utility is promising 99 percent restoration by end of day Sunday, more than a week after the storm.

Fortunately, even with our early start the temperature was above freezing. Unfortunately, they had been spraying salt on the roads all Saturday and into Sunday morning.

Still, our morning ride was not so great. In fact there was a time there when I was entertaining thoughts of turning around.

I mean, I am out here to have fun. And with the spray and wet roads, with strong and gusty winds, with the slabs of snow blowing off roofs of lazy car drivers, with a few sphincter moments of less than optimal traction, it was becoming a chore.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear salt

Fonz's ride. That gloss black paint job and chrome nicely show the salt deposits.

We figured to keep within the warm embrace of Long Island Sound. So I opted to follow I-95 all the way to the George Washington Bridge.

Only the New York State Patrol had other ideas.

The Cross Bronx Expressway was closed, shut down. Fortunately the NY trooper was standing outside his car and gave us easy directions to the bridge.

Traffic remained heavy until we got well south on the Garden State Parkway.

Polar Bear Grand Poohbah Bob Hartpence sent out an e-mail on Saturday to ensure all Bears that Sunday's ride was a go. He said the roads were dry.

Motorcycle Polar Bear salt

Fonz decorated the fairing of Grumpy's Road Glide.
 

We did not find those dry roads until we were about halfway down to Cape May.

Fortunately, roads were dry for the whole ride home. And the sun was shining. It even warmed up a bit.

But the long ride meant a sunrise start and a finish in the dark.

I led the ride because I wanted to vary my speed a bit. I had 'pert near a thousand miles on the new motor. Still, I didn't want to crank it the whole way to Cape May.

It worked out just fine. The ride down was so crappy, I kept speeds below the posted limits.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bear starting point in Stratford

Fonz, Captain and Blogger bikes parked in a Dunkin' Donuts sunrise.

For the first time I can remember, Cape May sign-in was a breeze. No waiting.

We bought our "this season" shirts, made our acquaintances, I teased Bob about his "dry roads" e-mail and we were off.

Over brunch, some had breakfast, some chose lunch, we caught up with riding buddies. It hardly seems seven months have passed.

With a very demanding workload this year, I will definitely do more riding in winter than I did all summer.

Hopefully the weather will be kind. But it is winter. And we start from New England. There are no guarantees.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Grand Tour Bob and his minions

Bob Hartpence, Polar Bear Chairman at sign-in. How does he do it?

 

Motorcycle Polar Bears

Clean bikes at Cape May.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Grand Tour Flight B Leaders Rich and Dave

Rich and Dave our Flight B leaders.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bears Fonz, Chris Loynd and Captain

Starting out with a bit of snow in the background: Fonz, Chris, John K.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Polarican Fonz

Fonz, our very own Polarican, at the ride's start.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bears from Connecticut

Grumpy, Chris and Pogy, partway down.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Grumpy at last stop

Grumpy at our last stop of the day.
 

CT Motorcycle Polar Bears have long rides on short days

Starting out just after sunrise we ended up at home after sundown.
 

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Lewes, Delaware, November 6, 2011

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog by Chris Loynd

Week 2 Polar Bears, from left: Mac, Bart, Captain, Pogy, Chris (your blogger), Fonz, John J, Grumpy and Token2.
 

By: Chris Loynd

Lewes, Delaware, is a long way from Stratford, Connecticut, especially on a motorcycle, even in summer, I don't care who you are.

What a wacky ride. It's basically a 12-hour day for us, 10 of those in the saddle. It's like 270 miles one-way. It's a good touring day. And in the quest for the coveted Polar Bear patch, this ride takes our Connecticut bears a long way.

There are not many 7 pointers in the schedule.

If you ride the first two rides of the season from Connecticut, you are 'pert near halfway to the 30 points needed to qualify.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bears Lewes, Delaware

Made it! Irish Eyes Pub in Lewes.
 

Or if you are like the Captain, you will have donated blood  in New Jersey, traveling there and back on your motorcycle, four times before the season even begins, for extra points,.

Plus you will have attended every extra point ride Bob Hartpence offers.

So John K. likely crossed the 30-point threshold on this ride.

While I am not as crazy about points as some of my compadres, I cannot deny the prize was nestled in the back of my mind as I contemplated going or not.

Several of us came off a tough week to ride this Sunday.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Points King Captain

Captain John Kammerer, our Polar Bear points king.
 

I was on antibiotics, but feeling much better. A simple cold morphed into a nasty sinus infection the week before our Lewes ride. On Thursday the sinus pain was so bad it made my teeth hurt. But the miracle of fighting fungi had me feeling chipper and barley sniffling and no longer contagious by the weekend.

Our northernmost CT bears, Bart and Token2 were snowed under from the freak Nor'easter mentioned in last week's Cape May blog.

As it turned out, Bart needed only to dig out his driveway. His was a lucky oasis of electricity in an otherwise dark grid. He even rode up to the Dunkin' to start out with us Sunday.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog Author Chris Loynd fighting a cold

Achoo! That's me, Chris, your blogger, on the right. I was feeling much better by Sunday, no really.
Fonz, at left, was busy snapping away as we waited to sign in for the big points.
 

Token2 was not so lucky. He was without power the whole week, sending furtive e-mails to fellow riders when he could from random cafe wifi hot spots. But the juice came back on Saturday night in his house. And I guess John felt he had spent more than enough quality time with his wife Lynn sitting in the dark together and so he took off to ride with us Sunday.

Mac was undeterred even by the lack of a motorcycle. He followed us down and back in his car. His bike's in the shop. All the same, he said he wanted to sign in and get the season started. Unlike us, Mac earned just one point for bringing his car.

Except for a gravel parking lot, and a lot of that gravel fresh and deep, Irish Eyes Pub is a fine destination.
CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Bart

Bart.
 

The food was great. All the dining room tables were filled by the time we arrived. So we pushed together the bar tables and high stools and perched together like a flock of birds.

Token2 was sitting next to me on one side of the table. Being more toward the center, he heard more of the conversations at both end of the table than I could. At one point he turned to me and said, "You know you're riding with old guys when they are comparing PSA scores."

Still, there are a few perquisites to being an old guy. They don't always balance out the detriments. But young guys can miss a lot due to lack of seasoning. More on that later.
Connecticut Motorcycle Polar Bears at Irish Eyes Pub

CT Polar Bears take over the bar for lunch. From left: Token, Grumpy, Mac, Fonz and Bart.
 

Pogy entertained us with his long awaited comeback to Token. Apparently they made a bet or something LAST season and Pogy owed Token a dollar. Well Pogy carried that dollar around the world and waited all summer to make a special presentation of it to Token last Sunday.

Oh the places that dollar has been! And the things that dollar has seen!

These two guys are our worldly ones, both having jobs that take them far and wide. Token is a British expat and world traveler. Pogy is a first generation AmerHungarian working for a worldwide helicopter company. Me, I've been to Canada . . . several times.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Pogy had a whole story about this dollar

Token's dollar after its 'round the world trip with Pogy. John J. in the background is an innocent party.
 

Back in Delaware, I decided that while it certainly is wonderful that Gerbing Co. has a lifetime warranty on their electric motorcycle clothing, it is not much help when you have to send your stuff out for repair during winter riding season. I mean, when else are you going to discover that your jacket liner is no longer getting power to your gloves?

So I bit the bullet and bought yet another liner. This way I can ride warm while my old liner makes its way to Tumwater, Washington, state for chrissakes, for repairs. (At least my liner won't have traveled as far as Token's dollar.)

The replacement liner was an almost $200 investment. But I like to ride in winter and I hate to be cold.
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Token was dollar recipient

Token-squared, not for his British affiliation but for his not one but two foreign motorcycles.
 

Grumpy started busting my chops about being a "rich" guy. I don't think he's seen my house. And I gave him as much back. I'll bet he makes as much or more than I. And I told him so.

For one thing, Johnny B. has a gigantic diesel, scratch that, TURBO DIESEL truck with dual gas tanks, dual tires, dual other stuff, you get the idea. I'll bet his truck costs more than a gaggle of Hyundais like I drive, the Accent, bottom of the line, 2005. (Hey I got a kid in college and a Harley. We gotta cut corners somewhere.)

Plus, Grumpy is supporting a colony of folks at his house. The way he tells it he has relatives coming from far and wide to reside under his roof.
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear John J. and Mac

John J., left, and Mac. Mac drove all the way down in his car for one point.
 

The coup d'etat came when, as we're getting dressed out in the parking lot, Grumpy reveals that he, too, just bought a new liner. "It was only like two hundred bucks," he grinned.

As I started my bike, it didn't. Boy, oh boy, that is a sinking feeling. Hoping against hope, I turned the switch off and back on again. This time it started.

But I soon discovered I had no reading on the speedometer. And as I rode back toward Connecticut, it soon became clear I had no brake lights or turn signals.

A dark cloud of despair filled my helmet.

But I am an old guy, well at least an older guy. And as I mentioned earlier, we have a few advantages.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear bike parking

Returning to the bikes, Captain far left, John J, center.
 

One of these is experience.

As I rode along, worried for my bike's failure at any moment and so far from home, my brain polled its database. A faint memory clicked into place. And as I rolled it around and examined it, the memory grew stronger and more appropriate.

Yes, it was years ago. Same thing. No speedometer. Riding by myself up in Massachusettss I think. I recall the bike ran okay, all the way home in fact. Then they replaced my ignition switch.

I felt a little better. Despair faded into mere dread.

When we made our last gas stop on the Garden State Parkway, it was getting pretty dark. 
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Grand Tour Chairman Bob Hartpence

Bob picture of the week.
 

I enlisted the help of my fellow riders. Fonz, who was behind me, was warned to watch out for my lack of brake lights. "If you feel a little bump, it's just me," he assured me. Captain said he would follow me all the way home acting as surrogate brake lights and turn signals.

Fortunately the bike started right up. And then I tried turning the ignition switch just a little toward the "off" position. Instantly the speedometer lit up. I checked the turn signals. Yup, they're back, brake lights too.

Dread was shredded by the bright light of knowledge. And I rode comfortably home.

Remembering the previous ignition switch symptoms reminded me of a conversation I had just had that week with my son Trever. He was agonizing over a problem with his Camaro. Just could not get it to run right after he installed a new distributor. It was backfiring through the carb.

Trever works as a mechanic. And apparently he mentioned the trouble to his fellow mechanics. One of the more experienced guys suggested a very simple solution. Trever came home that night, tried it, and the Camaro purred. "How the heck would that old guy know to try that?" Trever asked me. "I just smiled and said there are a few, just a few, advantages to being an old guy."

 

Guest Contribution: Fonz
Irish Eyes Entry:
 
Even though I had an extra hour this Sunday, I still miscalculated and almost ended up riding to the Irish Eyes Pub alone.  Luckily for me, the CTPB's are great for leaving on time. 

I usually gas up in the AM near my home and then print out a gas receipt to check the time.  The latest I have been able to depart from that gas station and still make the departure time has been 9 minutes. 

On Sunday, I fueled up and then printed my receipt.  I looked at the time and thought...HOLY Sh*#, they're leaving in a minute!  I quickly took off not knowing exactly where I would catch up.  I may have violated a few laws along the way :)  

 
CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Polarican

Fonz arriving at Irish Eyes Pub, Lewes.
 

Normally I commute on RT 8 Southbound and then merge on I95 North to make it to our start point in Stratford.  Due to my tardiness, I decided to merge on I95 Southbound and took my chances catching up with the CTPB's while en-route.  Lucky for me I saw my fellow bears about 10 miles from the merge and quickly joined in on the formation.   Whew, that was close.  I've missed the group in the past and had to travel alone to the destination.  Its not as enjoyable so I'm glad the timing was just right.  I'm going to have to work on my arrival time. 

The ride was exceptional thanks to Captain who rode at a great pace.  I was actually able to average about 50 miles per gallon on this ride due to our speed.  I did make a personal observation this week.  When we stopped for fuel on on the GSP, I was informed by CT Blogger-Chris that his rear lights were not operating.  He asked me if I had noticed.  I quickly replied "NO" and felt confused.  How could I have missed that?  I concluded that I have reached a mental comfort zone with the bears, that did not allow me to see the obvious.  Good hand and arm signals and a sweep to protect my rear may have played a part as well.

 
I do have to make a safety suggestion.  Let's make sure that we do not choose a gas up location that is just prior to a toll booth.  I saw Captain almost get creamed by a vehicle that refused to allow him to merge.  I'm thinking that Captain was attempting to merge to the extreme left of the highway in order to make it to the Ezpass lane.  Not really sure what happened...maybe he's reached a mental comfort zone as well.  Good times!
 
Fonz
PolarRican

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Old Bridge, NJ, November 13, 2011

Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog by Chris Loynd

Week 3 CT Polar Bears, left to right, back row: Ken, Token2, Russ, John J, Captain, Chris (your blogger), Jim and Mac.
Down front from left: Bart, Fonz, Grumpy and Cindy.

 

By: Chris Loynd

Ahhh, the joys of group riding.

Riding with a big group of fellow motorcycles has its appeal, and its foibles.

Last Sunday we did group riding by the Pirate Code.

The Connecticut Polar Bears have had discussions over the years about how many bikes we should have in a line before we divide the riders into two or more independent groups.

Some say the threshold is six bikes, some say eight or even 10.

I'm pretty sure 12 is too many.
 

Connecticut Motorcycle Polar Bears launch point, Dunkin' Donuts Stratford

Polar bears preparing to leave our Stratford, CT, Dunkin' Donuts departure point.
 

Nevertheless, Sunday's unseasonably warm weather and reasonably close destination turned out the Polar Cubs who engorged our group.

We started out with a threshold nine bikes. Then as we were riding along the Fonz suddenly appeared, pushing us to an upper limit 10. Somewhere before we hit I-287 Jim materialized, as he is wont to do, and we were 11. Token was waiting for us at his usual pickup point and that made it a dozen.


Twelve can be tough to manage. It is a long line of bikes. Leading a group that big is sort of like managing a train. That many bikes stretches the length of maybe three or four tractor-trailer trucks.
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog Author Chris Loynd on his Harley-Davidson Springer

Chris, your blogger, arriving at Dunkin' just in time and ready to ride.
 

Before we even got to Token our leader inadvertently broke the group by merging in front of a slower car. Our sweep rider came up to add to the confusion. Then one of our more expert riders decided to cut off the cops who were creating the traffic jam in the first place, riding up in the unoccupied lane next to our group to form up again in front of the slower car.

When I saw him come up, he was wearing a different jacket than usual. I did not recognize him. My first thought was, "Who is this jerk?" Boy was I surprised when our group reformed and I got close enough to read his license plate. (I won't mention any names but later Fonz told me he was surprised the cops didn't pull him over.)
CT Motorcycle Polar Bear leader this week John J.

This week's ride leader, John J.
 

And no sooner did we assimilate Token and head for the Hutch than a couple of cars once again cut into our line as we went to merge onto the parkway.

They created a pretty big gap. Once they cleared out of our path our ride leader and just two other bikes were a spec on the horizon and fading fast.

The cars cut me off so I was de facto lead for the moment. So I slowed a bit to get the rest of us to form up, and then tried to catch the leader.

He didn't make it easy.

Once I got the rest of us within striking distance, and I wanted to get us all together before the move onto the next expressway, I zoomed ahead and gestured to the leader to slow down -- even just a little -- so the rest of us could catch him.
 

Motorcycle Polar Bear Fonz decked out for Veteran's Day

Fonz in his Veteran's Day vest.
 

Of course with full face helmets at highway speed communications options are limited. I got a puzzled look from our leader, but while he was puzzling he did back off his throttle just enough for the rest of the group to gather -- once again -- behind him.

I fell into line and we soon transitioned to the next mix master, the merge onto the GW Bridge.

Once we reached the order and regularity of the New Jersey Turnpike, things settled down. We grabbed our own lane and owned it.

Now I have assiduously avoided mentioning any names.

CT Motorcycle Polar Bear Girl Cindy Fox

Cindy Fox joined us for her first Polar Bear ride of this year, and this time riding her own bike.
 

And later in the day John Jackson asserted that this blog and the ribbing from fellow Bears may be the reason we have a hard time finding ride leaders.

Wait, we have a hard time finding ride leaders? Grumpy will lead any ride any time. Oh, he grouses about always having to lead. But he's just living up to his nickname.

The Captain will volunteer to lead any ride. But do you really want him to?

I've led my share of rides.

And reviewing past blog posts I see that I always lead a picture perfect ride.

Motorcycle Polar Bear Ken

Ken also put in his first Polar Bear ride of the season. Coincidence?
 

When we finally got down to Old Bridge and got our helmets off, I understood the morning's problem even better. John J. revealed that his Harley mirrors only reach two bikes behind him. So he really could not see that he had no more that two followers  as he blasted down the Hutchinson River Parkway.

And the Pirate Code? Certainly you remember, "Them that falls behind is left behind."

So if you wish to join us on a ride next Sunday, and you have moderately good riding skills and a decent GPS in case we lose you, you are welcome to join the Connecticut Polar Bears. If you have a thick enough skin we may even let you lead.

Motorcycle Polar Bears turn out in force in Old Bridge, NJ

Big turnout in Old Bridge thanks to the unseasonably warm weather.
 

Prologue:

I did get a new switch installed on my Harley the Saturday before this ride. It feels noticeably tighter.

As I perused my records, I see I installed my first replacement switch in June of 2007, five years and a month after I bought the bike. I had 102,210 miles at the time. Bridgeport Harley-Davidson charged $185, but it was covered under my extended warranty.

My second replacement (third switch) was due four-and-a-half years later, November of 2012. I had 138,474 miles at the time. Brothers Harley-Davidson charged $154.50.

So it appears that the bad news is that I am needing switches more often.

Motorcycle Polar Bear big turnout

We ended up parking on the road before the KofC.
 

The good news is that they are getting less expensive.

Maybe I am just twisting too hard, 'though I don't think so.

When I first mentioned my switch troubles in the blog for the Lewes ride, I talked about how experience serves us old guys.

Well it turns out I haven't learned all my lessons.

I blithely rode out of the Branford dealership and all the way back home to Stratford with my new switch, the keys safely stored in a zippered pocket.

When I went to put the bike away, I naturally went to lock it. Wrong keys! Someone with more experience would have checked that detail back at the dealership. Ah well.

Connecticut Motorcycle Polar Bear Fonz

Fonz.
 

CT Motorcycle Polar Bears dismount
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog Author Chris Loynd laughing
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Russ
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear John J
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Grumpy
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Russ arrives
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Captain, Grumpy and John J.
 
Motorcycle Polar Bear Blog Author Chris Loynd rides into GSP rest stop
 

 

 

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Sugar Loaf, NJ; November 20, 2011

Week 4  CT Bears, back row from left: Grumpy, John J. Captain, Fonz, CT Blogger, Dolly, Token and Mac.
Down front from left: Pogy and Bill. I thought it would be funny to do a profile picture too.

 

By: Chris Loynd

When I saw Polar Bear Grand Poohbah Bob Hartpence in very nearby Sugar Loaf' N.Y., he joked that maybe this ride wasn't even worth the Connecticut bears getting out of bed. I told him we were experiencing Polar Bearing as our New Jersey brethren do.

This Sunday's destination was so close we only earned a single mileage point. Heck, we usually achieve one point just getting out of state.

A few of our members flirted, albeit briefly, with a point stretch. We even racked up a few extra miles thanks to a closed road around which Token, our ride leader, had to detour.

Grumpy and Mac, start deeper in Connecticut than most of us. Those two did pick up the extra point.
 

Polar Bear Grand Poohbah Bob Hartpence (right) with Flight A Leader John Bachota.
 

But we dissuaded the others with peer pressure. Most of us accurately recorded between 160 and 180 roundtrip miles.

Token lives close to this Sunday's destination and so promised us a scenic ride. He led us over parkways and through state parks. The afore mentioned closed road caused him a bit of consternation, most dramatically represented with not one but two circuits of a traffic roundabout.

Slavish following of his GPS also caused him to head back into town after a Dolly-mandated early gas stop. We dutifully followed Token through every U-turn.

The only time in the ride where we did break formation on Sunday was in the Barn Sider Tavern parking lot.

Token2, center, at the end of a successfully, circuitously led ride. Your blog author, at left.

Even though we arrived before 11:30 sign-in, the lot was already full. Token threaded his way back around to the street and found a good spot we could all share. Being his wingman, I was right there with him. But when we went to back our bikes into our spots we discovered only Token and I remained.

The rest of our guys decided to block in some other bikes in the parking lot. The bike-bound riders soon saw the Connecticut plates and coming into the restaurant went straight to the Captain. It's the hat, John. The offenders went back outside to move their bikes, releasing the other riders.

To his credit, Token did find plenty of twisties for us to ride. His was a welcome respite from our typical Interstate expressway dominated Polar Bear motorcycling.
 

John J. blocking in bikes. His other Connecticut conspirators are parked left and right of him.

Unfortunately the distances we typically travel, and the Captain's flag, generally mandate faster and more direct routes than the luxury we rode Sunday.

The Captain has a new American flag flying on a pole at his house and was very concerned about striking his colors before sunset.

A light fixture is on order and hopefully arrives and is installed before Montgomeryville. There's no way we get back from there before sundown.

Our Connecticut Polar Bear ranks continue to swell.

We picked up two new riders on this trip.

Did Pogy start the third row?
 

Dolly is Fonz's wife. Not exactly new to the Polar Bears, she rode with us as a passenger last year on the back of Fonz's Harley. Sunday she was at the helm of her Honda Shadow.

Fonz had bought Dolly one of this season's spiffy new red Polar Bear Grand Tour shirts. But he said she could not wear it until she actually rode with the Bears.

Fortunately Sunday's ride was not at all bearish. With our shortest distance of the season and temperatures nearing 60, it was a perfect ride for cubs.

I think Dolly found it to be quite enough. At our end of day coffee stop Dolly asked me, "What does it mean when you start seeing things?"

"Seeing what?" I asked.

"You know, like two roads," she replied.

"I think it means you drop out of the group," I said. Geeze, she rode behind me most of the day. I kept a keen eye on my rearview mirrors the rest of the ride.

Dolly rode her own Polar Bear, um, ride, on her own bike.
 

Bill also joined us Sunday. He has a New Jersey Polar Bear friend but lives in Ridgefield. Perusing the Polar Bear Grand Tour site, www.PolarBearGrandTour.com, Bill found the Connecticut contingent's blog on the Grand Tour's "Members' Homepages" page and contacted me.

We liked Bill almost immediately, well right after lunch for sure. Bill picked up the whole lunch tab, for all of us! I sought him out later and assured him there are no initiation rites, nor secret conclave votes, to be a member of the Connecticut Bears. You pretty much need only to show up on a motorcycle. Buying lunch for everyone is certainly not a requirement.

Bill was also a new rider with us this Sunday.
 

Oh, if you desire the coveted Connecticut patch, you must firsf earn the Grand Tour patch. But so far we have rejected no one from just tagging along on our rides.

There is also the Connecticut Polar Bear pledge. And I forgot to administer it to Dolly or Bill. It's very simple, raise your right hand and repeat after me, "I am responsible for my own safety."

That's it!

Sort of like parachuting, the real challenge is not in getting someone to join us for the first ride; we won't really know if Dolly or Bill likes us until she or he show up for a second ride.

Meanwhile Dolly and Bill are immortalized in the Polar Bear Motorcycle Blog. And not everyone can say that.
 

It appears Bill enjoyed riding with the CT Bears. So we may see him again.

From our Ride Leader:

Being a Connecticut Bear....….one has to have the ability to laugh at oneself, enjoy the consequences of one’s actions and the helpful advice that often follows. With that in mind I offer the following ditty for the blog… (to be recanted to the tune of the “hokey pokey” which I understand is as well known in the US as the UK… and if not here is the tune:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxb0OBq7N3Q )

“…you put your kick stand down,
you put your kick stand up (duh!),
up, down, up, down and you shake it all around,
you do the chokey chokey on Bear Mountain Bridge
that’s what it is all about….”

I give thanks for being a CT Bear and hope all  kindred  Bears have a good Thanksgiving holiday!

See you  for the Montgomeryville, PA trip. I still have been denied a spousal pass to ride to Richmond, VA for the holiday so I could then ride up to Hillbilly Hall; negotiations have been terminated.

T2
 

Bill came dressed for bearing the weather. I did not get a chance to ask him about his experience with cold weather riding.
 

Dolly came ready for the cold too, electric gloves and vest. But she wore a half helmet, either because she expected
it would be warm enough or to make room for those big hoop earrings.

 

Of course Dolly, right, may have gotten some good advice from her experienced CT Bear, Fonz, left, our own Polarican.
 

This week's Ride Leader, left, and Wingman, right.
 

Dolly, left, maybe getting some advice from Mac, far right, with Fonz in the middle.
 

Captain upon arrival.
 

Another view of "third row" parkers.
 

Your blog author, Chris, certainly enjoyed the ride.
 

Finding a lunch spot. The Barn Sider filled up fast.
 

Waiting for our orders, from left, John J., Captain, Token2.
 

What did you say?
 

Suiting up at the start, John J., left, and Mac.
 

Chris says, "Don't rush me!"
 

Conversation with your riding pals is something we enjoy. Lots of laughs and good stories.
 


 

 

 

 

Pogy promises another dollar a strange and unusual journey. Around the world in 80 days?
 

Flight A Leaders: Luis Granados, left, and John Bachota, right.
 

Flight B Leaders: Dave Cushing, left, and Richie Leyh, right.
 

John J. racking up the Polar Bear points.
 

The Dolly Show. Dolly seemed to enjoy posing with everyone and her hubby and others snapped away.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fonz gets some good coffee for the final stop while Mac, left, and Bill, right, seem nonplussed.
 

Suiting up for the last leg to home.
 

We will lose Grumpy soon to the late shift at his company.
 


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