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):
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 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
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.
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.
these pages for some information and tips on winter riding:Winter Riding.
also find out more information at the Polar Bear (PB) web site:
www.PolarBearGrandTour.com where there's a section for new members.
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.
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).
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:
Since Grumpy was not with us
we departed from the traditional group photo.
Thanks to our waitress for catching, L-R, CT Blogger, Token2,
Fonz and Captain.
By: Chris Loynd
We were three headed to The Cabin in Howell, NJ, this Sunday.
However just as we were un-biked and walking into the restaurant
a familiar bike came riding into the parking lot.
"Is that Fonz?" I asked T2. "I think it is," he answered. He
must not have missed us by much back in Connecticut.
In fact Fonz was coming off a long day and late shift and cut
his prep time just a bit short this morning in favor of extra
Those of you who enjoy the blog and plan to someday join us,
keep in mind we leave on time.
Our destination host this week. Sorry I
cropped off the familiar saying, it is,
"Where there are no strangers . . . Just friends you've never
My Polar Bear buddies left me one time I was
maybe five minutes late. It seems like you could make that up
and catch them, but you may be surprised. I rode a long trip by
myself one way and joined my buddies for lunch and the ride
Fonz did the same. We had a nice lunch and he joined us
for the ride home.
With a small and tight group the riding was easy. Captain
led. He offered it to me but I'm still waiting to get my GPS
holder installed on my new/old Honda ST. So I fell in behind
Before we left Dunkin' Pogy was there in his car. Turns out
he needed some work on his bike. Since this was the toy run
weekend, the Pogster came in his car and exhorted us to stuff
all we could in our saddlebags.
This was the Polar Bear's toy run week.
It looks like the kids at the
Children's Hospital should do okay this Christmas!
Pogy headed back to home to work on his tractor.
Captain and I hit the road on our respective Honda bikes.
picked up T2 at the Hutch, he astride his BMW. It was an
all-metric ride down. Fonz broke the symmetry on his Harley for
the ride home.
In true Harley fashion, his shifter rod disassembled itself.
Fortunately he was riding with his Polar Bear buddies who
quickly contributed an assortment of zip-ties, tapes, wire, etc.
A quick bit of Macgyvering at the Montville services and Fonz
was shifting his way to home.
We stopped at the top of the Garden State Parkway for a
coffee, our first time we think this season. Then had a great
ride home in light traffic, even over the Tappan Zee.
Shifter rod came disconnected on Fonz's
Fixed . . . at least
good enough to get home.
Flight B Leader Joan got into the
spirit . . .
. . . as did Natalie . . .
. . . and some of our fellow Bears!
Token2 earned his red rocker
this ride and pulled a unique pose to show it.
At the top of the
Garden State Parkway we ran into a busload of biker chicks coming
from the NYC motorcycle show.
were few, in part due to a bit of morning flurries, some of
which accumulated in the north.
From left to right: Token2, Pogy, Captain and CT
By: Chris Loynd
A spate of morning flurries kept some of our riders home
behind icy driveways.
But in the warm embrace of Long Island Sound the flurries
melted on contact.
Our ride this Sunday was to the not-so-Cool Cricket in
Fieldsboro, NJ. Longtime readers of the blog will recall this is
the place that skunked us on lunch service two years' running.
Captain noticed the sign at right hanging on the wall. It
seems to encapsulate the place.
He also overheard one of the waitstaff saying the cook was
expected to be in by noon. That was at 11:30 a.m. sign in time.
On the wall of the Cool Cricket; truth
Needless to say, we'd already made other
luncheon plans. We signed our logbooks and headed back north.
We found a diner with decent service and okay food and were on
our way in time enough to get home before dark on this the
shortest day of the year.
Grumpy will be bummed to learn our sandwiches came with a
full pickle. That's right! Not a slice or eighth or quarter. A
full, round, crunchy and tasty pickle. And not one of those
barely steeped cucumbers. These were dill and sharp.
Otherwise our route and ride were prosaic. I was excited to
see the New Jersey Turnpike added lanes are now OPEN! Yay! This
will help immensely for my drives and rides to the ancestral
Grumpy missed us doing the full pickle
in New Jersey.
I did take a shot at a helmet-mounted GoPro cam
and you can see the result here.
We would have had an all
Honda outing, except Token2 couldn't get his ST1300
started and thereby showed up on his BMW.
T2 had some cock 'n bull story about battery tenders. But in
a post-ride e-mail he confessed. The engine cutoff switch on his
Honda ST was NOT set to RUN.
FINE-C Token, FINE-C.
Until next week, enjoy the photos and share the memories.
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or whatever
turns you on!
One of my other favorite Cool Cricket
photos. Needless to say
the clock stopped hours, maybe days, even weeks ago.
Sloatsburg bears, from left: Mac, Pogy,
Captain and Token2.
CT Blogger was driving home from Christmas
vacation Sunday. This week's post comments come from T2.
By John Howard:
Hi Mac, Pogy & Capt.
Nice to catch up with you guys
albeit briefly, it has been a while Mac!
My ride was uneventful, 50.3
miles one way, so just enough for three points…no, really. I
thought Capt. was a little short and that was the
explanation for the drive by and subsequent circle through
the a nearby parking lot and looping back to the Tavern.
The drive by was capture
on video and so was the explanation from Capt for the
extra 1/10th of a mile…it was not what I
thought and the video clip is marked explicit for a
reason! Both can be uploaded from this link for your
Vineland riders, from left: Too Tall NJ
Matt, Captain and Fonz.
by Chris Loynd:
Sunday was a crappy, rainy day.
Despite the promise of near spring like warmth, Vineland was too
far away for me in the rain. However we do have riders crazy
enough to do 3 hours and 170+ miles in the rain.
Captain and Fonz held up the Connecticut end this week. Here
are their accounts.
From the impatient Captain:
Sunday's ride was messy. I arrived at the DD at 7:00 AM I
spoke to Mac and Grumpy Saturday evening who indicated that they
would not be riding because of illness and weather; their
northern locations left them with ice.
Fonz earned his red rocker this ride.
I spoke with Pogy after I
arrived at the DD and he opted out not sounding too good either.
At about 7:45 AM I suited up and 5 minutes later I was outside
ready to go. Thinking you (Chris) were not coming, and as I had
not heard from The Fonz for weeks, I decided to depart early.
It was raining when I left the DD and lasted for about an
hour. The temperature ranged from 38 when I left to 44 in NY and
46-48 in NJ to Five Points where I arrived at 11:00 AM with the
Fonz parking in the row ahead. Oops.
We met Mat while enjoying breakfast who earned his 30 point
patch. We checked in after a great buffet and departed about
Our Flight Leaders.
The return was
uneventful and dry with the temps from 50 when we left to a high
of 57 along the way and when I arrived at the Shell Station at
4:00 PM it was 50 degrees.
Captain left 10 minutes early so I rode down solo today. He
apologized. He thought no one was coming based on your e-mail.
Fonz and Captain rode alone but met up
together this week.
Bundled Bears at Lake
Hopatcong, standing from left: Too Tall New Jersey Matt, CT
Token2, Captain and down front Grumpy and Pogy. None
of the Connecticut Bears wanted to
wait to get geared up for the ride. Big Matt's bike, and helmet,
were parked across the lot.
By: Chris Loynd
Cold! Lake Hopatcong was our first Polar Bear ride with bearish
weather. It was 17 degrees to start our morning. That's not the
coldest I've done, but it's darn cold.
It's the coldest I've done on the ST1100, which thought I was
crazy. She did not want to start. The fuel-injected, air cooled,
Harley would crank a while but always started on the first try.
The carbureted Honda took four cranks to catch and keep
running. On the fourth she sputtered for what seemed forever
before the choke's fast idle finally took hold.
To the Honda's credit, once fired she ran fine rest of the
I pulled out my best cold weather gear,
including my Freeze-out clothes from booties to gloves. I added
a extra pair of leggings and my extra duty balaclava. I even
added hippo hands to the Honda for the first time.
layers and electrics worked and I was comfortably warm for the
100-plus mile ride.
I was amazed to see Grumpy in a half helmet at the Dunkin'
Donuts. He brought his full face but never donned it. Captain
rode without electrics as he always does, complaining only of
Of course not everybody feels the cold. Our Grand Tour leader
Bob was out in the parking lot, clad only in one of his many
themed sweatshirts, greeting riders.
He reminded me that Lake Hopatcong is always one
of our colder rides.
Memory bears him out. I think we've been
here over frozen roads through deep cold before.
The Warehouse Grill has changed its name to Upstream Grill,
but the food was as tasty and the service as excellent as it
Management here really knows how to do Polar Bears best.
There's a fixed menu with tasty options covering everything from
salads to sliders.
We had a great meal and signed our logs. Pogy earned his gold
Our ride home was 15 degrees
warmer, which is not insignificant. The difference between 17
and 32 degrees is definitely discernable. (Imagine the
difference between 75 and 90 on a hot summer's day.)
for the too many, too tight,, layers I was toasty and
comfortable the whole way home.
All the extra layers worked, but were less than comfortable.
The seams of my balaclava are visible on my forehead still as I
write this blog some hours later.
After tucking the bike back in the garage atop its plywood
insulation squares and plugged back into its battery tender, I
peeled all those layers.
Wife Cynthia made me a cup of hot chocolate in the Polar Bear
mug NJ Matt made for us a few years' back.
And now I'm ready to go again, well maybe by next Sunday
(hope the weather's warmer).
You can't cancel on
the CT Bears, shown here at decidedly not Hooters in Wayne, NJ.
Report by Pogy:
Way before the notice was sent out this morning
from the Grand Poopah in Jersey saying the ride was cancelled,
we Connecticut Bears were getting ready to head south by car. So
with cancellation in hand, the Captain and I talked and decided
to do lunch locally. The Captain extended the invite. In the end
there was myself, The Captain and T2.
We met at the Pho Saigon in Bridgeport
(Connecticut) and each of us enjoyed a bowl of Pho (soup). As
you can see from the picture, T2 showed up wearing a great
winter hat (Da!!!). All in all there were no miles accumulated
or points earned, but a nice hot soup was consumed.
Snow wasn't so bad in New Jersey, so many of
the Bears got to the destination Sunday, albeit most of them in
This video shows what I was doing this particular Sunday. Turn
up your sound! Dub Step Driveway.
You can also sometimes 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!