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.

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.

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/

 

Waretown, NJ; March 1

Waretown rider, only Fonz braved the storm.
 

By: Fonz, the Polar Rican

I arrived at the gas station across the street from the D&D this morning and did not see any motorcycles in the parking lot.  At first I thought I was late, but after checking the time on my cell phone, I realized I was early.

I checked my email and noticed Captain had sent out a message looking for anyone willing to drive to the Lighthouse Tavern with him.  I called Captain and had a brief conversation about the weather.

He informed me that it was going to get crappy in the early afternoon and he did not want to chance it.  I decided to go South and told him that if it got bad while I was traveling, I would just turn around and go home.
 

Fonz made it there okay but it was snowing when he arrived.

I got to exit 80 on the Garden State Parkway when it started to flurry.  I was so close, I decided to continue.  When I arrived it started to come down a little harder so I opted out on lunch, had a 1/2 cup of coffee and took off.

The snow wasn't sticking at first and progressively got heavier as I continued Northbound.  It started to let up around exit 155, so I decided to stop at the bottom of the GSP for coffee and a quick snack.  After 10 minutes, the snow had caught up with me so I decided to chug and go.

The further North I got, the harder the snowfall.

The fun began when I merged onto I95.  It was a parking lot.  Clearly everyone forgot how to drive.  I passed so many accidents, I lost count.

At one point a fire engine was responding to an emergency, so I decided to ride behind just to make up time. 

It got real interesting when my idle got stuck at about 3100rpm's.  I was trying to keep my distance from the cars in front of me, but it felt like my cruise control was on and it was difficult backing off my speed.  The only way I could control it without hard breaking was to feather my clutch the rest of the way home.
 

Coffee kept to a half cup as the snow is falling.
 

There was no option to pull over.  I did not want to get stuck.  It worked well until a F#@*ing car would decide to cut me off. 

The final challenge to my ride was when I got off my exit.  Bridgeport was covered in snow.  I could only go 10 mph and I had both feet down to help with the slipping and sliding.  I made it home safe and had a great time!

I think I may have earned a Polar Bear Snow patch on this ride.

 

Fonz's bike in his driveway, safe at home.
 

Fonz at Waretown, far from home in an increasing snow storm.
 

Fonz's bike at top of the Garden State Parkway. Look at the ice build up on fairing and lights.
 


 

Safe at home!
 


 

The Polar Rican.
 


Back to top . . .
 

Long Valley, NJ; March 8

Long Valley Connecticut Polar Bears

Oh snap! Wind caused camera shake. Those fuzzy bears are from left: CT Blogger, Pogy and Captain.
 

By Chris Loynd:

Finally! Finally it neither snowed nor sleeted on Sunday. Finally I had no work obligation. Finally I got back on the bike.

When I went to sign my Flight B logbook I counted the missing weeks: seven. Seven!

I've not gone seven weeks without riding a motorcycle since Pogy taught me how in 2002.

I joined the Polar Bear Grand Tour my first year of riding because I refused to surrender my motorcycle for five months or more of winter. You can read a recollection of my first Polar Bear ride here.

This past February was the coldest month on record in Connecticut, according to the Hartford Courant newspaper.
 

Pogy and Captain phone home.
 

Not just the coldest February, it was the coldest of all months, any month, every month, since official record keeping began in 1904.

February averaged only 16.1 degrees, 12 degrees below the 110 year average.

New Jersey, home to many of our destinations, enjoyed the third coldest February on record, said State Meteorologist Dave Robinson. They've been keeping tabs since 1895.

Connecticut suffered more than cold this February. There were only nine days it did not snow or sleet.

Personally, of February's four Sundays, my driveway was a sheet of ice for the first one, black ice and sleet grounded our bikes the second week, snow was so bad the third week that Polar President Bob cancelled the Hooters run, Hooters!,  and we were snowed out the fourth Sunday.
 

This Sunday's warm weather offered a non sequitur to piles of snow surrounding
our destination, the lovely Long Valley Pub and Brewery.

Still, it could be worse. We can hope the pattern is broken. A miserable March last year served up one of the coldest winters on record.

Today's weather was no record breaker. But 40 degrees felt like heaven.

We had a bit of every weather on this ride. It was sunny, cloudy, we even saw snow flurries for a few, fleeting miles.

Three of our regulars had other obligations. Token2 was traveling for work, Fonz (last Sunday's hero or maniac) had an umpire association meeting and Grumpy is doing Daytona.

We got to Long Valley early enough to get a nice table by the fireplace. After a tasty lunch and conversation we rode home. I grabbed some GoPro footage and will release another video later this week.
 

Long Valley's buffet included monster croissant.
 

Captain and Pogy and coffees all around.
 

There was a bit of salt on the road.
 

 


Back to top.
 

Augusta, NJ; March 15

Augusta riders Captain and Pogy braved morning showers.
 

By: Pogy

Today's ride started with overcast sky and a call for rain showers on and off during the day.

I called Captain at 0910 at the DD and he advised that New Jersey Matt was on site. We still had 20 minutes to departure and waited in case more of the troops showed.

We knew that Chris was working ant T2 resting comfortably, but hadn't heard from the others.

We signed off with a, "see you in 50 minutes in Darien," and I agreed to lead. Sure, why not?

At 0955 I see the headlights and roll onto I-95 out of the rest stop. Only two bikes coming. So I roll into the lead and off we go to August, N.J.
 

Pogy earned a 60-point pin and NJ Matt a gold rocker this run.
 

The ride down was uneventful with little traffic. No rain, but the temperature had gone down to 37 and we had some snowflakes.

We arrived at the Chatterbox at 1115.

I checked in, got my 60 point pin, and Matt got his gold rocker.

Matt didn't stay to eat; he just had a quick cup of coffee. He only had a kitchen pass to ride, had to get home so the boss could go to the St. Patty's Day parade with her friends.

So Captain and I had some chow and got back on the road and were back in Connecticut by 1400.
 

Matt couldn't stay to eat.

Captain called me later to see if I was okay. He said he never saw me so aggressive on the bike. (We had some real idiots on the road on the way home.) Captain said he thought Grumpy had showed up! All in a good day. Hope to see you all next week.
 

Our Polar Bear hero! Leo came out to lunch with the Bears. At 99, yes 99, years old he's still sharp and spry.
 


Back to top . . .
 

Langhorne, Penn.; March 22

Polar Bear Motorcycle Blog, Chris Loynd, Captain and Pogy.

Langhorne riders, from left, CT Blogger, Captain and Pogy.
I had that red rocker sewn on my vest just in case. Bad winter weather, too many weekend work obligations
and Harley mechanical troubles threaten my gold streak this year. There's still a chance I can squeak my
way to gold if I make every ride and maybe donate a pint of blood. Stay tuned . . .

 

By: Chris Loynd

This was our first ride in the meteorological season of spring. Even though the temperature was 10 degrees below normal, it felt good with attendant sunshine.

Connecticut welcomed spring with a snowstorm last Friday, spring's first official day.

Frankly, I was afraid I might not see enough dry, and not icy, pavement by Sunday. But Saturday was warmer and sunnier, so Sunday roads were safe.

Sunday morning was still bearish, mid-20 degrees with plenty of wind.

My Honda started just fine with the space heater and blanket trick in the garage. My electrics worked okay too, keeping my hands and torso warm enough.

Still, I long for spring.

It has been a rough winter. The Polar Bears never cancel, but had to clip one ride this year.
 

Welcome to the first day of spring in Connecticut.
 

Many of the snowstorms came calling on Sundays and Mondays, threatening our rides.

While Connecticut did not have record snowfall, we still had near to 40 inches in my part of the state. (Winter of 1995/96 takes the record at 115+ inches.)

February did break a record for cold. It is the coldest Connecticut month on record, since 1904 when they started documenting such things.

I got dibs on the sweep position Sunday, where I may spend the rest of the season. The crappy weather has cut down on my chances to get my new Honda to a mechanic to install the electrical tether and RAM mount for my GPS.

Of course I used to find my way to Polar Bear motorcycle destinations before GPS. But it's easier to just let Captain do the path finding.

Funny isn't it? We've become so quickly attached to our electronics. (If you read blog posts from some years ago, I was not a fan of GPS.)
 

I wasn't sure if ice would form in front of my garage Sunday morn after I dug out Friday.
 

Recently I read how most people will now turn around and go back home if they've left without their cell phone. We now consider essential a device that didn't exist in any practical form 15 years ago.

Led by Captain, we enjoyed a smooth and uneventful ride down to Brian's Harley-Davidson. Captain, Pogy and I were the only ones to ride this Sunday.

Grumpy took an extra shift to help a fellow worker. Token2 wanted to ride, but after a short test decided he'd better give his guts another week to heal.

John J. is threatening to join us. But I'm guessing Friday's snow, and subsequent application of magnesium-chloride brine over every inch of interstate, kept him home. Maybe this week's rains, and no subsequent snow or ice, will bring his bike out of the garage.
 

As always the local HOG Chapter volunteers do a great job of parking bikes
and providing lunch. Thank you!

 

I am pretty sure I saw N.J. Matt riding in as we rode out, somewhere along I-95. It was at speed. But it looked like a Honda ST with a very tall neon clad rider aboard.

Our ride back was a bit more eventful, but we all came out okay.

The Garden State Parkway offered up its usual shenanigans. First there was the driver who realizes only at the last minute he's in the EZ Pass only lane and then proceeds to cut across 20 more toll lanes to get to the cash window.

Captain and Pogy mostly got around this bozo just fine. But I had to come to a dead stop as the wayward driver showed his broadside to the car directly in front of me.
 

Our destination hosts. With my Harley and Captain's both questionable for
long trips, we all three came to the Harley dealer on Hondas. Sorry.

 

Confusion abated, I came out of the toll lane with a broad expanse of clear road before me.

So I unleashed a bit of the "sport" in my "sport touring" Honda. As the bike leapt forward I could see Captain and Pogy just ahead. I would catch my companions in yards, not miles.

At the same time, Captain noticed my absence and slowed dramatically.

I overshot the mark by a bit, smiled at Pogy in the lane next to me, and fell back into line behind him. Vigorous waving got Captain to twist his throttle again and we were back at highway speed.
 

Connecticut Bears at lunch. Photo courtesy of Bernard Walsh.

The Garden State Parkway also treated us to an accident. Fortunately it was minor and the backup was due only to rubbernecking by the time we got the the scene.

Since Captain was leading we took I-95 back home through Connecticut instead of the Merritt Parkway. It may have been the better option. Snow piles along the more northern parkway melt and dribble across the highway. Each crossing of this snowmelt throws up a spritz of salt-laden water all over rider and machine.

However I-95 in Connecticut most always means traffic jams. And even on a Sunday afternoon the highway delivered. It's not the stop and go that gets me, although too much of that will wear out your clutch hand. It is the high speed rubber banding that makes me crazy. Traffic is moving at 55 then down to 5 in a few football fields' worth of space; then it moves right back to 55 again. Being the sweep bike I had special duties. I kept signaling by lights and hands to get the drivers behind us to slow, slow and stop.

Please, if you read this, do not tailgate motorcycles. A fender bender for you can be broken bones for us.

Bad drivers notwithstanding, we made it home in good order and thanks to daylight savings time, before dark.
 

If you have a hankering for riding before summer strikes, you're welcome to join us. Photo courtesy of Bernard Walsh.
 


Back to top . . .
 

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

Joanna shares her photos:

Last weekend... Helmet hair day! Priceless!

Posted by Joanna Wojtowicz on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

 
   
   
   
 

Back to top.
 

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!  http://motorcyclepolarbear.blogspot.com/