Happy Frideday

Posted: August 10, 2018 in Frideday, General Musings, Maps, Rides, Travel
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Yesterday I enjoyed some open road and during my two-wheeled alone time I realized it wasn’t just a regular Friday. It was the first day with no rain; the first day with little to no humidity; it was the first day I was out in a while. Friday wasn’t Friday at all. It was a Frideday. And with that, a new feature was born in my mind. Of course, this might be a bit ambitious on my part as every Friday I will not be able to make it out for a ride, but let’s see how well it goes. If anything, maybe it can be a simple collection of enjoyable rides.

The Players: My friend Mike joined me on his 2016 Triumph American LT. We had no passengers, no time constraints, and no expectations.

The Plan: Ride to Newport, RI for lunch. Spoiler alert: it never happened. The morning was rather leisurely, and Mike and I spent some time putting the highway pegs back on my bike, which I took off a few years ago when I was unimpressed by their feel. We had one thought on our minds when we finally donned our gear and twisted the throttle. We wanted food. We were hungry and there was no way we were making it to Newport without filling our gullets first. A quick change of plans for a few of our favorite B’s: barbecue and beers.

The route: We departed Enfield, Connecticut about noon. We worked our way into Massachusetts and north on route 83 into Hampden, then to route 20 east and finally on to B.T.’s Smokehouse (previously reviewed here). The trip was approximately 45 minutes and included back roads, some smaller twists and sweeps, and a touch of two lane highway. After a little more than an hour at lunch we again headed east on 20 to Treehouse Brewery in Charlton. The lot was full and the lines were long. The brewery was just an add-on to the trip so we did not mind skipping out on can sales. We left almost immediately, continuing east on 20 until we hit 169 South and followed it into Connecticut.  Mike lives in Norwich and this was a route that would take him south and hook me up with a road west to head home. I decided not to turn away. “Go west, young man” was not in my cards for today – and this has little to do with the my age. I was enjoying my ride and other than my dog, I had no reason to get home early.

Route 169 is packed with gorgeous scenery. The only downfall of 169 is that the route is a little straight, but a nice canopy protects riders from most of the sun on hot days. The cool part about this impromptu ride is that it covered the main portion of our original planned trip to Newport. We stopped for a quick 5 in Putnam to figure out the remainder of the plan. We were only 45+ minutes from Mohegan Sun Casino. So… why not? We swapped bikes for the next leg. We eventually hit Route 12 in Norwich and continued on to Mohegan Sun.

Mike made a comment to me after we parked, but I’m not sure if it was a compliment. It was something along the lines of “you worked that bike harder in 45 minutes than I ever have.” In my mind it was a compliment. Who knows though. One beer and a leisurely stroll through the casino later it was time to head back. For Mike, the commute was no more than 10 minutes. For me, just a tad longer.

I was dedicated to the back roads home, including route 87 in CT, however major traffic delays in the middle of nowhere altered my plan slightly. No one really knows this, but sometimes I refer to Garmin as Chewbacca because of its ability to get me out of, and sometimes into, trouble. I took a random left and let my electronic Wookie-for-a-first-mate figure out the best way home. I was back on track. When I hit Route 6 and 44 in Coventry I made the choice to jump on 384, and enjoy the pace and peace of empty highways.

The ride was a great way to reconnect with both myself and with my bike. I would be remiss if I said riding with Mike wasn’t too shabby either.


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

It Was the Best of Times…

Posted: August 8, 2018 in General Musings

What’s that common maxim about life on two wheels? It’s about the journey, not the destination. For me, the past three years has been one heck of a journey. A monster of a roller coaster of challenges and changes – and it ain’t over yet. But whether for good or for bad, I’m back. And I am a man with a semblance of a plan. Rather than complete the many drafts I have yet to publish, I will start off fresh (for now), and work some of the drafts into new material. Heck, I might even have to take some of the rides all over again (alas, poor me!). Some of the bigger pieces will still be completed and filed close to when they were originally drafted, so don’t be surprised to get an email that there is a new entry but that entry is dated a few years ago. I can assure you there is nothing wrong with your email delivery. As for now… it’s time to get back to two of the things I love doing most: riding and writing.

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Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.


Dig in Deeper

Posted: July 16, 2015 in General Musings, Photos

Less than 3 hours in parking lot on a gorgeous 82 degree day. Sun was shining, but was not unbearably beating down. It wasn’t oppressive. It was the closest thing to San Diego weather we have on the east coast. I never saw it coming. Nice to know my kickstand plate was secure in my saddlebag.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

9 Days, 2603 miles: The Blue Ridge Parkway twice (south to north in one day), The Dragon’s Tail, The Devil’s Whip and Diamondback, Hellbender, The Cherohala Skyway… and I am ready for more.


Photo Credit: Sheila Chudik

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Way back in June I purchased and installed the Harley Daymaker Reflector. Installation was, by my standards, quick and easy. The entire stock headlight and mounting ring had to be removed, and the new mounting ring installed (this is shown in the pictures). Once installed, the light plugs into the harness, and mounted onto the ring. The trim ring screws back in place, and voila, you have daytime at nighttime. Total install took less than an hour.

Verdict: I have ridden with these lights in direct sunlight, at sunset, at night, in fog, and in rain. And all I can say is, “What a difference a day(maker) makes!” These lights truly do create daylight at night. With the stock headlight, I often caught myself using the high beams when alone on the road, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. With the Daymaker Reflector, there has been no need to use the highs. And on the topic of the high beams, if there is a weakness, it is in the high beam as it does not offer exponentially more light than the low. But I wonder, is it that the high beam is weak, or is the low beam that strong? I tend to side with the latter rather than the former. And the other drivers on the road tend to agree. Day and night I am constantly flashed to turn the high beam off… I would love to know what they are thinking when they realize they are my lows. This headlight provides an exponential increase in nighttime visibility and is well worth the money – especially if you can find it at a 20% discount from certain online retailers.

Couple this upgrade with the Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz and really let yourself be seen by the other drivers on the road.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

For those familiar with Harley touring models, you know that in 2010 Harley Davidson abandoned the large taillight in favor of two dual purpose brake lights and turn signals. Although it adds to the sleek look of the bike, it really allows for poor visibility to other motorists during daytime riding, especially on sunny days.  I have been told countless times by those I ride with that my bike is virtually invisible when I”m braking – especially in direct sunlight.

After doing numerous cosmetic and “performance” upgrades to my dearest Beatrice, I decided it was finally time to do something that could potentially save us both.

I ordered the Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz, LED brake lights, and load stabilizer online for $172 shipped. They arrived within eight days, and they took all of 30 minutes to install.

Installation in the front and rear is as easy as popping off the existing lens covers, unscrewing and removing the halogen unit, and inserting the LED unit. Pop the lens cover back on. Many choose, at this point, to run smoked lenses on all four lights. I chose to install clears in the front, and I kept my red lenses in the rear. I felt it was a better aesthetic fit for the bike. A flat head screwdriver is all you need to complete this task.

The load stabilizer was the longest and trickiest part of the install. The load stabilizer mounts underneath the bike’s side panel and connects into the main wiring harness. Positive and negative terminals also attach to the bike’s battery. Truthfully, this wasn’t an arduous process – once I located the main wiring harness. Connecting to the battery requires nothing more than a screwdriver, just do me a favor and make sure you properly feed your wires underneath the frame otherwise the seat will be resting on them. As you can surmise, I had to reroute my wires because I screwed it up the first time.  Syncing the lights and stabilizer are simple. A few left blinks followed by 10 or so right blinks, back to the left and done.

Front: The Dynamic Ringz convert the stock halogen turn signals to full time LED running lights and, when activated, amber turn signals. They have 48 LEDs on each insert. The outer ring of 24 are white, and the inner 24 are amber. The outer white ring is very noticeable to oncoming traffic (see pic below). At night, it does not light up the road too much more, as the LEDs are aimed straight out, but they do reflect brightly off of any reflective surface – for example stop signs, road paint, and the eyes of animals watching from the side of the road.

Rear: The improvement from my stock tail lights was remarkable. In direct sunlight daylight, the rear running lights are brighter than the stock brake lights. And the brake lights, when activated, are extremely hard to miss.  One of the first upgrades I made when I first bought the bike was the tri-bar upgrade, which converted the tri-bar on the bottom of the fender to running and brake lights. These new Custom Dynamics drown out the tri-bar brake light entirely. The photos below show the Custom Dynamics LEDs as running lights on the left, and as brake lights on the right.

Rear OneRear Two

The Verdict: This upgrade is a must for anyone concerned with increasing their likelihood of being seen by other drivers on the road in all riding conditions at all times of the day – the bike is highly visible from the front and the rear. It is a relatively low cost upgrade which requires minimal mechanical skills to complete.

Visit Custom Dynamics on the web.


Up Next: Harley Daymaker Reflector

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

From the Archives

Posted: May 16, 2014 in General Musings, Photos

From the Archives – June 2013


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

I’ve been wanting to try B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge, Massachusetts for quite some time now. And when I say “quite some time,” I’m not talking about weeks, or months. It’s been more than a couple of years. Alas, poor B.T.’s, I can attribute my failure to get there to nothing other than pure laziness. Finally the wait was over and this review has since been written based on my first experience at 7:15 at night Thursday, April 24,m 2014, and my second at 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014.

First Visit: April 24, 2014 (7:15 on a Thursday Evening)

It really says something for a BBQ joint to be packed at 7:15 in the evening. Usually I would expect that to be an off-peak time. Less people. Less waiting. I was wrong on both counts.  But that’s OK. My wife and I weren’t in a rush. A table opened up and we grabbed it. Looking around I realized B.T.’s was BYOB – coincidentally we had a 6 pack of Baxter Brewing Co.’s Stowaway IPA in the car. It wasn’t ice cold, but it held us over. The soda cup looked so sad and useless at the table as we drank our beer.

I figured I would use the wait time to grab an assortment of sauces and garnishes. The “Hellish Relish” was great; the pickled onions and habanero infused carrots were good – although I’m sure much better on a sandwich. I dipped my finger in the “meat heat” sauce, as well as the other sauce options. They were good – some hotter than others, and neither of the sauces had a thick consistency. After the anticipation and buildup, I expected greatness. My wife ordered a brisket platter, and I ordered a brisket sandwich. We also had macaroni and cheese and slaw as our sides. Finally my name was called to pick up the order. Everything looked really good on the tray, and the brisket was cut thick and piled high. Finally I was able to dig in…

…I hate writing these words, but I was disappointed. And I felt dirty thinking it. But my head was filled with some of the adjectives any Q’er hates to hear describing their art. The brisket was lean, dry, and tough; I had to bathe it in sauces to get it down – once again, I tried all the sauces, only this time out of necessity. Fortunately for both my taste buds and B.T.’s, I have a “try everything twice” policy. [As an aside, we were in a car and not on a bike, so maybe the motorcycle gods were getting back at me.]

Second Visit: May 3, 2014 (2:00 on a Saturday Afternoon)

Saturday morning I get the call: “Garganoooooo, I want to ride today. Let’s get some brisket.” And with those words, I was ready to give B.T.’s there second chance. I hoped it would be busier on a Saturday afternoon, resulting in food that wasn’t sitting around as long; with this logic, the quality had to be better – of course there is a fundamential problem with this logic. Go ahead, think about it for a minute.  That’s right, B.T.’s was very busy on that Thursday night,. so my rationale, at least in theory, makes little to no sense. I can only assume on that night it had been a short while since the brisket left the smoker. But back to the now… We (Todd, Angela, and myself) arrived at B.T.’s at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Although parking was sparse – as I imagine it usually is when a joint has fewer parking spaces and many diners – surprisingly the wait was not long at all. We had either come at the tail end of a rush, or we just beat it. Or it wasn’t a busy Saturday. Either way, we weren’t complaining. We quickly ordered and easily found a seat. Once the food was ready and the pictures were taken, it was enjoy time.

The Order: Andrew – Brisket Reuben and a side of pulled pork. Todd – Brisket sandwich and pulled pork sandwich. Angela – pulled chicken sandwich and french fries. And a round of bottomless sodas. Those cups now had a new found purpose!

The Reuben: This was an interesting choice. I’ve wanted to try this sandwich for a long while. The brisket was definitely tender and juicy. The bread was soft, but had the nice crispiness to it one can only get from the grill. It had a very good flavor, however I felt the dressing overpowered the taste of the brisket. Meaty brisket was definitely the mildest of the flavors of this sandwich.

The Brisket: Todd proclaimed this to be the best brisket he has had in his  life. And I will vouch that it was very very good. Heck, it was excellent! Tender. Juicy. Nice smoke ring. Easily pulled apart with fingers. What more can you ask for?

The Pulled Pork: My portion of pulled pork was fatty and it contained a lot of bark. Typically I don’t complain about too much bark. But if I separated the shreds of pork from the fatty pieces and bark, I would be left with a pile of pork significantly smaller than the rest.

The Chicken and Fries: Angela thought the chicken was slightly dryer than she anticipated, and less flavorful than the other foods on the table. The tiny forkful that I had was dry. The portion of french fries was heaping, and as far as french fries go, they were very good.

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… Wow, I am glad I made it out a second time. You know that old adage “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression”? Well, it’s wrong. When one takes advantage of a second chance in the way B.T.’s unknowingly did, it really makes you forget the first impression. Portions are a good size. I would recommend trying the brisket. And on future visits I must try the ribs. Every order of ribs I saw go out to the customers looked absolutely succulent. There are many more options on the menu than your typically BBQ place. That’s OK. Breathe. Choose wisely. You will be back a second time. And most likely a third. There will be plenty of opportunity to sample the remainder of the menu.

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B.T.’s Smokehouse on Facebook

B.T.’s on Twitter

B.T.’s on the web

Address: 392 Main St., Sturbridge, MA 01566

Phone: 508-347-3188


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” 

― Hunter S. Thompson


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.