Polar Bear Blog 2014/2015

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.


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.

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.

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/


Howell, NJ; December 14

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 sleep.

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 met."


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 home.

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 him.

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.

We 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 bike.

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.

Back to top . . .

Fieldsboro, NJ; December 21

Fieldsboro riders 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 Blogger.


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 in advertising.

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 home.

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.


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.


Waiting for 11:30 when the logbooks open.

Setting up the group shot in Grumpy's absence.






Talking politics again!



Classic diner.



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Sloatsburg, NY; December 28

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 viewing pleasure;

CT Drive By

Captain Explains (Explicit)


Aside from momentary displeasure the ride leader accumulated 45 points or more on the ride and was rewarded with a gold rocker and we were rewarded with a Captain’s smile.

Chris,  I cannot comment on lunch as I did not stop as I headed home to join the rest of the family gathered at home. One of the small number of coastal CT riders will no doubt fill in the blanks.

Onward to 5 Points Inn, Vineland.


Captain's Reply:

Dear Mr. Token 2:
You cut me to the quick with your hurtful remarks. I am very sensitive about such things. Did I mention I received my gold 45 point patch.
John K.

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Vineland, NJ; January 4

Vineland riders, from left: Too Tall NJ Matt, Captain and Fonz.

Editor's note 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 12:15 PM.

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.

From Fonz:

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.

Back to top.

Lake Hoptacong, NJ; January 11

Bundled Bears at Lake Hopatcong, standing from left: Too Tall New Jersey Matt, CT Blogger Chris,
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 day.

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.

All the 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 cold toes.

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 ever was.

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 rocker.

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.)

Except 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).

















Blogger at work! Picture by Pogy.


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Rockaway, NJ; January 25

CT Polar Bears that made it to Rockaway: stalwarts Captain and Grumpy.

No report from the two riders, but they were kind enough to share these photos.

Myself, I was working the Chocolate Expo at The Maritime Aquarium, see below.

Bob photo of the week.

CT Blogger Chris Loynd was at work: Chocolate Expo at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

Schaefferstown, Penn.; February 1

Reported by Pogy:

Day started off nice and crisp, 19 degrees in Norwalk. Talked to the Captain at 0730, who said he heard from Chris (CT Blogger) whose driveway was iced-in and so would not be coming.

Haven't heard from Grumpy. Mac opted out yesterday because of ice as well.

So it was John and I unless Fonz showed.

Sure enough at 0825, I see two bikes approaching the Darien rest stop. So I put 'er in gear and joined up. It was me, the Captain and Fonz with Captain in lead position.

At about 130 miles down the road we stopped for our first pit stop.

Fonz and onion rings at this week's host, Franklin House Tavern.

By now the temp was hovering at 30 degrees Fahrenheit.We arrived at Franklin House just at high noon. Three burgers, hot coffee and the bill and we were on the road heading back by 1310.

One pit stop on our way back was required. I broke off at Exit 16 at 1620.

The Captain did a great job in the lead. Our three different GPS units all said something different but the lead got us there.

Captain earned his 60 point pin on this ride and we forgot to record it.

Thanks for the ride; see you next week.


Shamong, NJ; February 8

Shamong CT Bears, from left, Captain, NJ Matt, Pogy and Grumpy.

Report by Captain:

Sunday's ride started with calls back and forth early because of the weather.

Pogy called to inform that the roads in Norwalk had black ice all over.

I spoke with John B., Grumpy, who wasn't going because of an ankle injury.

Pogy and I decided to go by car, so I called John B. back and he limped to the DD for the ride south in my car.

We picked up Pogy at his home and headed south.

On the NJTP we fell in behind Matt just before the exit to 206S.

Bob picture of the week at Pic-A-Lilly.

We arrived at the destination at 11:30 a.m. It was awkward explaining the car with the sun in a cloudless sky and the temperature at 45 degrees.

We signed in for our one point then had lunch with Matt. Pogy treated.

The ride home was uneventful and finished at about 4:00 p.m.

Wayne, NJ; Bridgeport, CT; February 15

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.

See you next week.

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Highlands, NJ; February 22


Snow wasn't so bad in New Jersey, so many of the Bears got to the destination Sunday, albeit most of them in cars.
This video shows what I was doing this particular Sunday. Turn up your sound! Dub Step Driveway.

Back to top. Next Ride -->


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