It’s not among the most aesthetically pleasing views in the world, but this is one of my favorites. Blink, and you just might miss it. Today I was lucky enough to capture the action. Spring is here…

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

image

A phenomenal Chipotle Pepper and Smoked Gouda pretzel with spicy brown house beer mustard. And of course, a Founders All Day IPA on the side.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Yesterday was supposed to be a beautiful day of riding around the Quabbin Reservoir in Mass. I met Jim in Sturbridge for breakfast at Annie’s Country Kitchen (much to my amazement, I was a few minutes late and he was about 40 minutes early so I didn’t have to wait for a table). Over a few cups of coffee and and egg sandwich we decided rather than ride the Quabbin, we would head south into CT, then head west across CT-20, north up 8, and scoot over the Pike so he could be home for a dinner reservation.

The ride south and west was uneventful, but after we passed through Granby and were headed toward Winsted, it occurred to me we had the New England Air Museum nearby at Bradley Airport. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, and I knew from previous conversations it was something Jim would enjoy. And so we turned around and headed to the museum.

As much as I am fascinated by airplanes, I don’t know anything about them and their history. Walking through the NEAM was great, and having it basically in my backyard makes me wonder why I haven’t been there in the 13 years I’ve lived in the area. We didn’t do a ton of riding, but that was OK.  It was more exciting to see and do something new…

Here is a gallery of Jim’s photos from the NEAM:

More Information:

New England Air Museum

38 Perimeter Rd., Bradley International Airport (Windsor Locks, CT)

Phone: 860-623-3305

Web: http://www.neam.org/

Admission: $12/adults (12 and up), $6.50 (ages 4-11), Free (3 and under), $11 Senior Citizens 65 and up

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

 

Portraits From the Ride

Posted: August 22, 2013 in General Musings, Photos

Here are two of my favorite photos Melisa took while staring at my helmet for five hours in Alaska. One is of me, the other is of her. Hopefully the distinction between the two is clear.

981848_10201183394402932_987941316_o

1102738_10201183395322955_445528339_o

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

 

August 16-18 were the dates for the 2nd Annual Weekend Motorcycle Trip. We (Melisa, Todd, Kim, and I) settled on Burlington, VT as our home base and rode up Lake Champlain and through the Adirondacks on Saturday. Sunday would be our long return trip home. Over the three-day span, we clocked almost 800 miles on the odometers, drank some decent (and some better than decent, and some not-so decent) beers, ate both good and disappointing food, saw some unexpected sights and places, experienced a ferry ride with the bikes, got crabs, cherished great company, and enjoyed every mile of the trip.

The one thing missing from this trip is a photo of the four of us. It really bums me out to realize we missed the opportunity to take one.

The Good

Asiana House (191 Pearl St. Burlington, VT) – This was great sushi. No complaints could be heard at our table. After a disappointing plate of chicken sate the night before, the sate here was the exclamation point on an eating experience filled with tasty rolls, and tuna and salmon sushi.

Fiddlehead IPA – This beer was consumed at Asiana House, not in the Fiddlehead taproom. It proved to be the best non-Hill Farmstead or Lawson’s beer I had all weekend. It was hoppy and citrusy with just the right bite! A close second was the Lompoc LSD at The Farmhouse.

Blackback Pub (Interesection of Main and Stowe, Waterbury, VT) – I couldn’t imagine being within 20 minutes of this place without stopping by. Faithful readers know this is a favorite location of ours, and the hour stop on Sunday early-afternoon was well worth it. Lawson’s Double Sunshine was my draft of choice.

The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was

The Vermont Pub & Brewery (144 College St. Burlington, VT) – I am hoping we were the victim of the late night menu. The food was sub par at best (in fact, my rare burger was probably the best offering at the table and that’s probably because it was unintentionally undercooked), and worse, the beer was not memorable.

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill (160 Bank St. Burlington, VT) – I don’t feel right putting this in the “The Could Have Been Much Better Than It Was” category, but it’s primarily because of the beer selection. For a 24 beer tap list, I expected so much more. The aforementioned Lompoc LSD and the Hill Farmstead Edward were the best offerings on Friday night. And both kegs were killed by Saturday night (fortunately the Edward was followed by HF’s Society and Solitude 7). Clearly this is the hip and happening place in Burlington. Another drawback in my book.

The Scenery – We’ve done some great riding over the last few years, and unfortunately we all agreed that the scenery on this route was a bit disappointing. All roads are not created equal, and it’s ok. We still had a blast.

The Unexpected

Lake Placid – Never thought I would ride through this town on this trip. I had seen a few shots of the ski jumps some friends took on a June trip, and I at that point I wanted to eventually get to Placid. The town was packed with tourists, and riding down the main street reminded me of riding through Freeport, Maine. Long story short, I would like to spend at least a day exploring Placid in the near future. Of course, riding through the town wasn’t enough to make me want to sit through the movie of the same name.

Fort Ticonderoga – It is difficult to ignore pieces of American history, and it seemed a no brainer to take the short road up and try to see the fort. It just wasn’t in the cards for that day. Unfortunately we pulled in minutes after the gates closed to the last tour. I think the $17.50 price tag per person to visit is rather steep, but it really punctuates the point that nothing is cheap nowadays – including history! When I visit Placid again, I will be sure to visit Fort Ticonderoga.

Breathe Right – Thanks to these wonders of modern medicine, Todd really didn’t snore. Of course, he supposedly woke up looking like he played the role of punching bag to Mike Tyson (1980’s vintage Mike, not the Mike we’ve been subject to in later years) – again, one of those photos that unfortunately was never taken on this trip.

780 miles later, here is a map of the route, with the letters representing our various stops along the way:

Screen shot 2013-08-20 at 3.36.16 PM

A: Starting and end points (Enfield, CT)

B: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

C: Jon’s Family Restaurant (Malone, NY) – A very enjoyable lunch stop. Food was very good with no complaints.

D: Lake Placid (Lake Placid, NY)

E: Essex – Charlotte Ferry (Essex, NY)

F: Hotel (Burlington, VT)

G: Blackback Pub (Waterbury, VT)

H: Start of Route 17 (Waitsfield, VT) – See below.

I: Fort Ticonderoga (Ticonderoga, NY)

J: Joe’s Crab Shack (Latham, NY) – First time eating at a Joe’s, and probably my second or third time eating crabs. Very enjoyable. And costly. But enjoyable and worth it.

Road highlights: Route 73 in New York, and Route 17 in Vermont. The recommendation is to ride all of route 17. The Mad River portion of 17 is very twisty with ascents, descents, and hairpins. Unfortunately, the road is in horrible condition.  In my opinion, riding the Mad River portion of 17 is best done west to east ending in Waitsfield rather than east to west. But of course, it’s all subjective. Route 73 was the best stretch of road on Saturday’s Adirondack ride. It meets with Route 86 south of Placid and meets up with 9N (N apparently does not mean north) which took us to the Ferry.

Although we didn’t stop, we passed a bbq joint called Tail O’ The Pup in Raybrook, NY. The place was packed tighter than a can of sardines (I think that’s a decent cliche). This is a definite must stop in the future. Further research shows it to be lobster and bbq. This may just be food Heaven, but I won’t know until we go back.

And finally, a gallery of our trip:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[Note: Purposely omitted was our stop at Green Mountain Harley Davidson where Kim fell in love with a Wide Glide. I chose to leave it out so this post does not pour salt in the wounds of her aching heart.]

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Benvenuti Nella Famiglia!

Posted: August 14, 2013 in General Musings, Photos

My good friend Scott (I wish I was blogging during our Italy trip but WordPress hadn’t even been thought of yet) and his wife Laura recently took the Rider’s Edge course at their local Harley Davidson in South Carolina. I am very pleased to welcome them to my riding family. It is only a matter of time before we hit the roads together! In the meantime, Scott and Laura, keep the rubber side down and as always, ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile!

Scott and his new to him CBR.

 

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Ride Date: August 8, 2013

I started looking into motorcycle availability and rental options 5 minutes after my Alaskan vacation was booked last October. And each time I said the same thing, “I can’t fathom spending $250/day to rent a bike.” Then the vacation came. I almost rented a 2002 Goldwing in Ketchikan but still refused to part with $125 for the first hour and $25 for each additional hour. And after that bug bit, stung, and drew blood, I inquired about renting a BMW or Goldwing in Fairbanks. It too would cost $250 for the day, with an additional $100 fee to ride the Haul Road – or Dalton Highway as it is known.

When I arrived in Anchorage I decided to make one last call to check availability at House of Harley. They had two bikes available and both had to be back by 4:00 pm. The rental rate was $25/hour (plus I would receive 20% off because of my HOG membership). How can I pass this up? I went to bed hoping for the weather to cooperate.

Waking up to rain is not a good sign when you want to ride. And it’s even worse when a dream ride is ahead of you. Melisa and I made it very clear to ourselves: unless the weather is horrible, we are going through with the rental and riding from Anchorage to Hope, Alaska – Hope was the site of the first gold strike… read about it here.

As luck would have it, the skies cleared. We set ourselves up with the rental of a 2013 Ultra Classic, spoke with Jolain at the rental desk about our route, and we were on our way. The journey wouldn’t be long, about 90 miles each way down the Seward Highway, but it was a perfect jaunt to fit into our 5 hour rental time frame.

Hopping on an unfamiliar scoot, or worse, one that doesn’t belong to you, is always nerve racking. A few feet into the trip the jitters go away and it’s time to enjoy the ride. After a few turns we were on the Seward Highway and heading south.

There is no sight like it in the United States – or at least none that I know of. While riding the highway, you are at sea level with the water on one side and the mountains immediately on the opposite side of the road. Train tracks run parallel the majority of the route as signs declaring avalanche dangers garnish the roadside. The water is known as the Turnagain Arm and it is part of the Cook Inlet. Apparently it was aptly named because of the glaciers that blocked safe passage through the water, and while Captain Cook steered the ship, it was always necessary to “turn again.”

We hit some rain for a 10 mile stretch. In fact, I think the rain stayed there all day. The cloud cover was low and the rain fell. And eventually we rode out of the rain. And it wasn’t until our return trip that we hit the rain again… for the same stretch of road.

Continuing down the Seward Highway, we passed the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and rolled by the Whittier turn off – we were now heading into the Kenai Peninsula. Water was no longer on our side, and instead, we cut through stretches of lavish greenery, snow-capped peaks, and valleys filled with lush vegetation. Occasionally rushing streams (or more like rivers) cut through the landscape.

Within time we hit the right turn off to Hope, Alaska – a sign promised Hope to be 15 miles away. As we rode toward Hope, we were on the opposite side of Seward Highway, once again with water separating us from the Seward Highway. We knew a city wouldn’t simply “pop up out of nowhere,” and it didn’t. But sure enough, at the 15 mile marker, we started to see signs of civilization; albeit, small signs of civilization. A motel, a grocery store, and a gift shop all in one. A café and camping ground. A sign welcoming you to Hope. And suddenly the sign I jokingly thought I would see. “Road ends in 1 mile.” Then “Road ends in 1000 feet.” Finally, “End.” If you chose not to turn around, you could continue into the Porcupine camp ground, but we weren’t camping.

Turning the bike around, we tried to find more of the city of Hope. Turning left at the Welcome sign, the half circle road took us to 4th street, 3rd street, 2nd street, and back to Main St (apparently Main St. is the unnamed stretch of road into Hope). Although the town with a population of 200 was sparse at best, it boasted a free museum touting Hope’s integral history during the gold rush.

We had two hours to make it back so we quickly hit the road. And we hit the road quickly. Making it back by 4:15 – we had a half hour window we could take advantage of and we opted to use it.

The only regrets of the trip would be time. In hindsight, seeing and exploring Hope’s history would have been fascinating, and stopping for a bite to eat at a barbecue joint called “Turnagain Arm Pit” would have been, if not tasty, a great photo opportunity.

Chalk this up as a great ride all around. I enjoyed it. Melisa enjoyed it. We experienced the wide sweeps of the Seward Highway, the vast Alaskan scenery, the ever-changing climate, the modern of Anchorage and the old in Hope.  Riding a rental wasn’t bad, but I can’t help to think how much better the roads would be on my Bea.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

For the last year and half or so, I have read, heard, and seen countless gripes about buffeting on a Street Glide. And for the last year and a half or so, I swore to myself and others that I did not feel any buffeting. Do I feel wind hitting me in the face as I look over a 4 inch windshield? Absolutely. Did it shake my head or make my ride uncomfortable and dangerous? Absolutely not. But in the back of my mind I always wondered how a new windshield would affect my ride.

The Design

Klock Werks owner, Brian Klock, designed the Flare windshield to help channel the air around the rider, while applying a downward pressure on the front of the fairing to provide better handling. Rather than write the information, here is a video by shield creator Brian Klock talking about the Flare design:


I have always put function over form, and the flare windshield is no different. Although I am not a huge fan of it’s looks, if it delivers on its promises, I can easily live and ride with the curvy design.

The Ride

In view of last Friday’s 450 mile run, I figured it was at last time to take advantage of the local dealership’s test ride program. I headed down to TSI Harley Davidson in Ellington and grabbed myself the Klock Werks 6.5 flare windshield. I brought it home, quickly swapped out shields (the three screw process is as easy as it gets), and immediately sat on the bike. As a tall rider, the 4 inch stock windshield is not in my line of sight at all. My initial thought when I mounted the bike was that the extra 2.5 inches were going to affect my visibility.

The first part of the trip was all highway riding and it took me all of 30 seconds to get used to the new windshield. I found the windshield worked well to limit the wind noise blowing by my ears, however it did little to reduce the wind that was hitting me behind the fairing. I was actually playing my stereo at 3/4 the volume I normally had it set to. And my initial claim was that I didn’t like it, but I would not change it out and I would give it a fair shake. 450 miles later, it had grown on me, but it wasn’t ride changing.

The Flare 6.5

Saturday morning I swapped the 6.5 for the 8.5 figuring the 8.5 might improve the areas the 6.5 was lacking. Much to my surprise, the 8.5 was intolerable at best. On the backroads and the highway I had wind hitting me from all directions behind the windshield and fairing. Head buffeting was at its highest I’ve ever experienced, making the ride increasingly more uncomfortable. As an aside, for those riders that utilize the 3 pouch windshield bags, the Flare 8.5 is designed to accomodate them.

The Flare 8.5

One thing I did not get to try with either of the windshields was 2-up riding. A common complaint from many riders seems to be the wind flow on the passenger. Truthfully, I have never heard this from passengers, only salesmen. Although I wanted to prove the truth or debunk the myth, the opportunity just did not present itself. Then again, my wife always says she gets no airflow sitting behind me, and I can’t imagine a windshield would change that.

The Verdict: Not Love at First Ride

If forced to buy a brand new windshield today, the 8.5 Flare is not the way to go for me. I found the air to be swirling behind the windshield, and perhaps due to the height of the air channels on the shield, I felt more buffeting from the sides out of the 8.5 than I did running both the 6.5 and the Street Glide stock shields.

This 6.5 inch screen was nice, but it was not love at first ride. Perhaps I was foolish to think all the wind would disappear entirely. And perhaps I was being even more foolish to think I wanted the wind to disappear entirely. The day of riding was in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s and I was baking on the bike. One thing I noticed, the swirling wind behind the fairing definitely wasn’t the same as the clean and cooling wind that hits you directly in the chest.

If the 6.5 was my full time windshield, I might learn to appreciate its benefits, but it did not provide me with enough of a positive change in wind feel to warrant the $150+ price tag at Amazon (the seemingly cheapest retailer at the moment including free shipping – eBay does offer it cheaper if you choose to go that route). I expect a major change for the price paid, and if the positives of the KW6.5 are few, then that may be money better spent else where.  I will not rule out the 6.5 entirely however, as I plan to take it out for a second ride at some point this summer.

In the future I also plan to try the Harley Wind Splitter, and would like to test the Long Ride Shields Ultra if I can find one (currently they don’t offer test rides), but for now, stock is the way to go.

To learn more about the Klock Werks line, please check out their website kustombaggers.com.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

451.9

Posted: June 22, 2013 in Destinations, General Musings, Photos

Yesterday I embarked on my longest day of riding to date… not in the number of hours, but in the number of miles. Left the house at 5:55 in the morning to meet Todd at 7:00 in Lee, MA. We hauled down 90W into New York and then up Route 30 through the Adirondacks. This was a work trip for Todd, but it’s hard to fathom a better way to spend a Friday.

Here are a few pics.

Along Route 28

Route 30 North

Todd riding up 30 (actually heading south)

The Route

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

Bikes and barbeque seem to go hand in hand. Like Tom and Jerry. Like ketchup and mustard. Like meat and potatoes. Like bacon and, well, anything. So when the opportunity to finally ride out to Wingdale New York to try Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Q presented itself, I couldn’t resist. Big W’s was brought to my attention two summers ago, and the first ride was planned for last summer until things, as they say, got in the way.

Now, I’ve been to Big W’s twice, and both times I was impressed. The ride on its own is beautiful, and the Q makes it even better.

The First Visit: Sunday April 28, 2013

Three of us (myself, Todd, and Kim) rolled into Big W’s around 2:00 pm. I didn’t think it until my second visit, but our arrival time might have made a difference here. We were hungry to say the least. And from the moment we pulled in we were hit with the sights and smells of barbecue; from diners enjoying large platters of food on the outdoor picnic tables, to Big W carving pounds of brisket, ribs, and chicken on the cutting board as you walk through the door. Our senses were hit immediately and stomachs groaned for food.

Big W’s serves three basic sizes: truly sensible, sensible, and roadside. Story has it that roadside, the largest portion, dates back to the earlier days of Big W’s as a roadside eatery without tables. Diners would get large portions of ‘cue and often split it amongst multiple people. One platter and multiple forks is a size option suitable for me, but even I couldn’t bring myself to order the roadside portion on this visit.

The Artist and His Canvas

After staring in wonder and awe for a few minutes, it was finally our time to order. There is something exhilarating about ordering for the first time at a restaurant you’ve looked forward to visiting. Am I ordering the right thing? This looks good, but so does that… I have a simple solution. Order more than necessary. That’s right, be a glutton when possible.

Between the three of us, we ordered 1/2 dozen of the smokey hot wings, and three sandwiches (or as they call them at Big W’s, Smokin’ Wich) – beef brisket, pulled pork, and burnt ends. Each Smokin’ Wich was ordered in the sensible size and came with a side of slaw and your choice of regular or spicy sauce (or both).

Neither of us was at all disappointed in the food. I focused my efforts on the brisket and wings, eating only a few of the burnt ends and a small portion pork. In fact, when sampling a new barbecue joint I will typically choose brisket as to me it is the best apples to apples comparison between restaurants. If one screws up their brisket, I probably don’t want to be eating there. Much like I will judge pub fare by nachos and wings. If you can’t make a good nacho platter, why am I to think anything else will stand out?

The wings and brisket.

So, on to the brisket. The brisket was extremely tender, trimmed perfectly, with the proper amount of char to get both the flavors of the meat and the flavors of the burnt ends in a single bite.  I found it much easier to eat some of the brisket with a fork, as the mountain of meat makes it a more difficult sandwich to eat by hand. And please, understand, this is a compliment to Big W’s, not a complaint. The more the better, especially when quantity does not sacrifice quality. This brisket rates much higher than many of the briskets I have eaten locally.

Between three of use, eating a half dozen wings should not have been a problem. Except for the fact that it was. We filled up on meats and could not bring ourselves to finish the wings. I brought three of the 6 home. They were smokey, and they were spicy, just as the name implied. The heat was not a buffalo/hot sauce heat however, and they were a welcomed change from traditional hot wings.

Kim ordered the pulled pork and she enjoyed it, as did I enjoy the bite or two I took. However the big surprise was the burnt ends. I get it, as I smoke by own BBQ at home, the burnt ends are the best parts of the barbecue. We make jokes that the burnt ends are nothing more than smoked carcinogens, but that doesn’t stop us from eating them. And fighting over them. In fact, it’s like fighting over the turkey skin on Thanksgiving, only no one makes a turkey skin sandwich (quite unfortunate I say). But Big W’s makes a Burnt Ends Smokin’ Wich with all the charred and meaty goodness. On this visit, the burnt ends were smoky, they were meaty, and they were still, surprisingly, a little moist.

The burnt ends were definitely the star of the show. With our Smokin’ Wichs gone and the wings packed to go, we made our way out of Big W’s and on home. I knew I would have to make the trip back sooner rather than later. And I did…

The Second Visit: Sunday June 9, 2013

Sometime after our trip to Big W’s in April, we all hopped on the bikes and made our way back to Bub’s BBQ in Sunderland, MA to compare the two. We remember Bub’s to be excellent. And next to Big W’s, it was not. So our mind was set to journey back to Big W’s. The biggest difference between this trip and the last, Melisa was able to join us. The second biggest difference, everyone had burnt ends on the brain.

I again ordered the sensible brisket. Only this time, instead of supplementing the meal with wings, I added the mac and cheese and the sloppy ribs instead. Ordering the sloppy ribs was actually a mistake, as I thought I was ordering a pound of ribs on the bone, not a pound of rib meat. Had I paid attention to the menu, I would have known the difference, but no harm no foul. They were certainly sloppy and the meat was extremely tender. I can only imagine how messy this would be on a Smokin’ Wich. And how tasty as well!

Melisa, Todd, and Kim all ordered the Burnt Ends Smokin’ Wich. The burnt ends on this visit were drier than the first visit, and accounted for a slight fall off in quality, but we could only attribute this to our later arrival time… after 5:00 on a Sunday. This will by no means prevent us from coming back and ordering them again. Interestingly, although I ordered the brisket, I ate more burnt ends this time than the last. And my wife ate the majority of my brisket as it was more tender. This again, is not the fault of Big W’s. Why a woman whose idea of cooking meat is walking a cow through a warm room would ever order something called burnt ends is beyond me. But she did. And her loss was my gain. Of course, I did lose out on my brisket in the process.

The short and skinny from the tall and fat… For the second time in less than two months we walked onto Big W’s hungry, and we left full and satisfied. It’s been decided that next time, and there will be a next time, we are cutting to the barbecue chase and ordering the “For the Table.” It will give us a great sampling of everything… 1 whole rack of ribs, 1 whole chicken, 1 pound each of brisket and pulled pork, and 6 large sides. I think the “For the Table” leftovers is the real reason I bought the tour pack…

Website: http://bigwsbbq.com/index.html

Address: 1475 Route 22, Wingdale NY

Phone: 845-832-6200

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.